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Eat Me, Drink Me, Love Me, Make Much of Me

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The first time they kiss, Erin's surge of desire is sullied with shame from crossing another line that she was never supposed to approach, from yet another experience that she'd tried to pretend didn't exist. She used to be an expert at lying to herself and everyone else in order to be a good girl, to be successful, to be normal. Now she wakes up in the middle of the night with her heart rattling against her ribs because she was laughed out of her career in academia and because she wants to touch every inch of Holtzmann’s skin. On good days she knows her new life feels right but it's still just so wrong.

They're alone in the firehouse kitchen on a Friday evening; Abby and Patty and Kevin left hours ago to start their weekend “like sane people,” as Patty put it while sailing out the door. Holtzmann sucks peanut butter off a spoon while Erin watches the muscles in her throat move and muses aloud about her day’s work. Her words sputter as Holtz dips her spoon back into the jar of peanut butter.

"Ew! Holtzmann, no!" Erin lunges to grab the jar. "Don't put your germy spoon back in there. We all share that!" She clutches it to her chest as Holtz tries to snatch it back.

"What's a few germs among friends?" Holtz paws at Erin's arms as she dodges away. She laughs and shrieks, hunching her shoulders and curling up to avoid Holtz’s hands. Holtzmann grabs at her, seizes her roughly from behind, pinning Erin against her and pressing her mouth to Erin's ear.

"Eeerrrrin, c'mon." The hum of Holtz's low, cajoling voice and the brush of her breath set off a vibration that thrums every nerve in Erin's body. She goes still, aware of nothing but the parts of her that are trapped against the other woman: Holtzmann's hips cupping the curve of her ass, her belly and breasts molded to Erin's back. Warmth floods her pelvis and rises in a wave, threatening to spill over and dissolve her self-restraint.

"My germs are gonna getcha," Holtzmann says in a stage whisper, tightening her arms around Erin's waist, and she punctuates the threat by flicking her tongue across her cheek. Erin gasps in a high pitched squeak, every muscle going weak, and the jar drops to the floor. Holtzmann’s gleeful whoop turns into a disappointed whine as the jar rolls away, dust bunnies from the neglected floor clinging to the open top.

"Now it's ruined!" Holtz wails. "Noooo!" She thrusts wriggling fingers into Erin's sides, tickling her in vengeance. She wrestles with her, twisting and stomping until they face each other.

Erin pants and trembles, grabbing at her wrists. "Stop! Please."

Holtzmann freezes at her unsteady voice and lets Erin pull her hands away. She holds Holtz's wrists up in the space that separates their bodies, her heart hammering.

"You're really tense, did you know that?" Holtzmann says, studying her with an intense, wide-eyed stare. Erin recognizes her expression from the first moment she met Holtz; it had disturbed and intrigued her and ignited a tiny flicker of desire that she had been struggling to extinguish ever since. There is something deeper in her eyes now, something more than mere challenging provocation.

Holtz's body heat scorches her despite the gap between them. The electric tension of Erin's grip on her slender wrists is excruciating, sparking with the temptation of more skin to skin contact. In a moment of savage honesty she admits to herself, You want this. You want her. Stop lying to yourself. Suck it up and kiss her!

Holtz's lips part just the tiniest bit, quirking up at the corners almost imperceptibly, and before she can talk herself out of it Erin lowers her head to close the scant few inches between them. She's stiff and awkward, but her rigorous self control has torn loose and she wants to blot out the faint smirk on Holtz’s mouth.

She clasps the delectable softness of Holtz's upper lip between her own- so pliant, so receptive- and then Holtzmann's response shocks Erin with its raw fierceness and energy. Her tongue slips deep, deep into Erin's mouth with no prelude, stroking firmly, thoroughly, so sure of herself, so sure now that Erin wants this, and she does, she does want this. Erin whimpers into her mouth and Holtz crushes their bodies together, hips and bellies and breasts pressed tight in a mirror image as Holtz holds her, her forearms up the length of Erin's back, hands grasping her shoulder blades. A shot of pleasure ricochets inside Erin and lodges low in her belly, an explosion of melting heat between her legs, then an icy wash of shame because she’s aroused from kissing a woman, from one long-awaited kiss with this woman.

Holtz gradually withdraws from the kiss with softer flicks of her tongue inside Erin's mouth and on her lips; her grip relaxes, her arms loosely circling her waist. She nuzzles Erin's nose and cheeks, nudges her head back to kiss just under her jaw, and Erin’s breath catches. Her lips move against Erin’s neck as she speaks, the delicate caress a tantalizing contrast to the force of her first kiss.

"I like your outfit. But I think it would look better on my bedroom floor."

"Oh my god. Holtzmann!" Erin pulls back, her hands flailing in front of her face in frustration. "Still with the corny pick-up lines?"

"I would argue that they're working.” Her face is lit up with unabashed glee.

Erin groans and covers her eyes. "We should at least go on a date before..."

"Before what?" Holtz feigns ignorance, lazily caressing Erin's back, brushing her face against the back of Erin's quivering hands, kissing them with her smiling mouth.

"Before my clothes end up on your floor!" She fires Holtzmann's words back at her.

"Ohhh. First a date and then the clothes come off."

"Oh my god."

***

Huddled on the couch in the lounge, Erin knows she is babbling, she's folded in on herself, elbows propped on her knees, hands alternately covering her face and jabbing at the air. Holtzmann clings to her side, her face pressing into Erin’s hair, breath warm on her neck.

“I'm afraid of ruining our friendship and we work together and I was only with a woman once before- but I don't even really know if… And you must think I'm a pathetic flakey straight person and I'm sorry and we can pretend this never happened if you want but I just can't stop thinking about you.” She listens to her blood roaring in her ears, ruthlessly reciting in her head every awful and humiliating thing she's ever done.

“I don't think you're any of those things. Especially not straight.”

Erin's breath puffs out in a tense laugh but she says, “Can you please be serious right now?”

Holtz grunts and sighs and shifts, burrowing her face into the back of Erin's neck. Her usual flippant confidence has evaporated. Erin waits.

“I’ve wanted to be with you since the day I met you,” she mumbles into Erin's hair. “I don't want to pretend this didn't happen.”

Faced with Holtz's defenseless sincerity, the strands of Erin's worries are severed and she can't think about the future. All of her reasons to resist fade until they disappear. She reaches for Holtz and they collide. It is not gentle. All of Holtz's energy and intensity is focused on her and Erin’s anxious tension has snapped violently like a broken spring. Holtz's boot kicks the coffee table as she loses her balance, scrabbling for leverage; their foreheads knock together. Holtz laughs and Erin captures her lips with her own.

Holtzmann slides her fingers through Erin's hair, cradling the back of her head, her other hand tenderly clasping her neck. A shower of sparks prickle Erin’s skin from the contact. For just a moment, for once, nothing matters except doing exactly what she wants, without questioning it. She is the very center of the universe and Holtzmann is every galaxy in existence, spinning around her. Time is meaningless, the only measure of it is their reddened mouths from interminable kissing.

Erin breaks away to taste the skin of Holtz’s neck, tiny flicks of her tongue as she kisses her way from jaw to earlobe. She captures the tender flesh between her lips, licks and then nibbles it, the increasingly intense sensations drawing a long, soft moan from Holtz's throat. She is stricken by the sound. How can touching and hearing Holtz like this make her feel so good?

Holtzmann takes her lips again and a single sob rises in Erin’s mouth, a tremulous gasp of half pleasure, half apprehension. Holtz pulls back, cups her hands around the back of Erin's neck, her eyes darting over her face. “What’s wrong?”

“It’s just... a lot. Overwhelming,” Erin whispers.

“Sorry.” Holtz scuttles back, putting space between them. She doesn't look at her, a groove appearing between her eyebrows.

“No! No. Don't.” She scrambles to close the gap, grabbing Holtz's t-shirt and pulling them together again. “I just mean… There are a lot of new things happening at once.”

Holtz leans back, drawing Erin with her. She strokes her hair as Erin rests her head on her shoulder. An occasional spasm shakes her chest.

“It’s getting late,” Erin warbles. The thought of traveling back her apartment to sleep alone is daunting.

“Don’t go. Stay and sleep with me? Just sleep, I mean?” Holtz asks, and her embrace tightens.

Erin has trouble imagining sharing a bed with Holtz right now and just sleeping, but she nods. Holtz is delighted. She smacks a noisy closed-mouth kiss on Erin’s lips and bounces off the couch, tugging Erin up after her. Her mercurial moods leave Erin breathless but she's irresistibly swept up in her wake. She doesn’t recognize herself. Who is this person agreeing to share Holtz's shabby bed in the hazardous waste site of her lab?

***

Undressing in the bathroom, Erin finds her panties slick and soaked through. She washes up and the warm wet washcloth that she swipes between her legs makes her shiver. She changes into a t-shirt and leggings from her locker then steadies herself with deep breaths as she descends to the second floor and Holtz's makeshift bedroom.

Holtzmann is skittering about stuffing clothing into drawers and flinging scattered bits of metal and wire into a pile. A twinge flutters in Erin's chest at Holtz's little gesture to oblige her need for order and tidiness. She crosses her arms, hugging herself, stepping into the room slowly.

Holtzmann stops and faces her. “I meant what I said about just sleeping tonight, Dr. Gilbert.”

Erin sighs, both relieved and disappointed. “Are you trying to convince me or yourself?”

“Someone’s feeling sassy. I like it.” She tilts her head back and looks down her nose at Erin.

“I'm feeling exhausted and out of my mind,” Erin admits.

With sudden surprising gentleness, Holtz takes her hands and guides them both to the mattress on the floor. She fishes a tube of Pringles and a circuit board out of the tangled blankets and tosses them aside.

What am I doing? This is crazy, Erin thinks. Holtzmann flings herself down on the bed and looks up at her with adoration. Maybe being crazy isn't so bad.

Lying next to Holtz's warmth, sleep comes easily after all.

 

Chapter Text

The next morning they go out for breakfast and it feels both familiar and foreign. Erin is reticent at first but Holtzmann launches into a rapid series of cliché questions, beginning with “What's your favorite color?” Her exaggerated earnestness loosens the knot in Erin's chest and makes her laugh and she remembers that she doesn't have to hide from Holtz.

She keeps touching Erin, which is also familiar yet so very different now; she strokes her inner forearm, kisses the back of her hand, turns it over and touches her palm, traces the lines there with her fingers. This intimacy in public makes her flinch from the irresistible little shimmers that light up her body.

As they walk out of the diner, the backs of their hands brush together and Erin links her fingers with Holtz's for an instant before pulling away. She tucks her hands in her pockets, rueing her own timidity. Holtz turns the full wattage of her smile on her nonetheless and Erin is so captivated that her hand latches back onto Holtz under its own volition. She resists the urge to kiss her and pull her close right there on the sidewalk.

“Sooo…” Holtz breaks their keen eye contact and shifts her jaw pensively.

“Do you want to go back to the firehouse and watch a movie or something?” Erin blurts. What she really wants is to take Holtzmann home to her own apartment and bed. She doesn't say it.

***

They turn on a movie in the lounge and ignore it. They’re less frantic than the night before, but more purposeful, experimental, exploring action and reaction. The lust that Holtz kindles in her so easily embarrasses her, she's weakened, controlled by her longing.

Holtzmann slouches lower on the couch and pulls Erin onto her lap, parting her knees around Holtz’s hips. Erin arches as hands run up her spine under her shirt, fingers tracing the sensitive ripples of vertebrae, then blunt nails rake fiery trails down her back, making her gasp. Her feverish touch skates to the front of Erin's body, thumbs slipping under the bottom edge of her bra, setting off flares of heat in the tips of her breasts and between her legs. Holtz’s hands are burning her and she wants to be burned, she wants her impurities burned away like metal ore in a furnace.

Holtz grips her ribs hard and expels a harsh breath, rests her forehead on Erin’s collarbone. Her hands drop to Erin's legs, thumbs stroking firmly high up on her inner thighs.

“I want you. Is this too soon?” Holtz grinds out from between her teeth.

It hasn't been twenty-four hours since their first kiss, but this inevitability has been building since they met. The wait has been far too long.

Yes. I mean no, it's not too soon. I want you too.” Anticipation tingles every taut nerve. She waits for Holtz's next move, expecting to be taken to bed, or to finally feel Holtz touch her where she needs it most. Instead Holtz wraps both trembling arms around her and she murmurs, her voice so quiet that Erin strains to catch her words.

“I really like you, Erin. Care about you. So much.”

Erin melts, passion-drunk and blissful. “Oh, Holtz…” She can't find words, so she lets her head droop as she lifts Holtz's face to her mouth, placing soft kisses on her forehead, cheeks, and finally, gently, on her lips, pouring everything into the tiny movements, no tongue or teeth, just sensitive skin on skin, soft, soft caresses, lip to lip.

***

They fall into Holtzmann's bed, desperate and urgent, still wearing their clothes. Frightened by the force of her response to Holtz’s fingers on her nipples and her knee between her legs, Erin chokes back her moans. Fear and desire compete within her, tension building so she's shivering, she might shatter into pieces at any moment. She wants this so badly, but she's afraid to let go; Holtzmann makes her feel too vulnerable, too peeled back and painfully exposed.

She doesn't know what to expect, doesn't know what Holtz expects; her past experience was nothing compared to this. Questions float in her mind, What if she thinks I'm needy or boring or ugly? Too slutty or too prudish? Irrationally, against all the evidence of her own arousal, she wonders, What if I've made a huge mistake and I don’t like- doing things to her?

But she touches Holtzmann's breast and the curve of it under her hand causes a little, moaning “Oh” to escape from her own throat. Her fingers stroke the nipple that juts through shirt and bra, making Holtz toss her head back and quiver. Her hand was created solely to cup Holtz’s breast, it fits so perfectly and feels so right.

Her fascination with Holtz's response and her fear of losing self-control makes her bold; she pushes Holtz onto her back, rises up over her. She strokes her hands down her chest, toys with her nipples, clasps her waist with both hands, watching for any sign of objection, watching as Holtz's eyes squeeze shut and her lips part. Erin's hands run down the top of her thighs, fingertips digging into the flexed muscle.

I’m turning her on so much. It’s astonishing, dizzying, thrilling. Holtzmann's legs are splayed and her breathing is rough, thoroughly abandoned and trusting. She's still fully clothed but Erin has never seen anything sexier. Her quivering hands move up her inner thighs, veer out to squeeze her hips, her palms draw circles low on her tense belly. Holtz is making little low cries now with every breath, her thighs shake. A faint animal scent of arousal rises between them.

Some instinct deep within Erin takes over, all hesitance falling away, she's aching in sympathy with Holtz's need, high on the affect she has over her. Driven, panting from her own desire, she slips one hand between Holtzmann's legs and her palm presses the soft flesh between the thick coarse fabric of her trousers and the hard pubic bone beneath. A whine keens from Holtz’s throat and Erin’s hand keeps pressing, grinding in an insistent rhythm, her body rocking back and forth with her effort, until Holtz's hips jerk up off the bed. Erin is rapt as Holtz moans, starting low and rising in pitch on her name, “Fuuuck, Erin!” followed by an abrupt guttural, grating shout so loud it echoes.

Holtz collapses flat on the bed, her face slack, stunned. A moment’s pause to recover and then she’s reaching for Erin blindly; the room spins as Holtz pulls her down on top of her. Erin gasps as Holtz grabs her waist, fingers rough on supple skin, then Erin is helping to pull her shirt up and over her head and Holtz flips her onto her back. Breathless, Erin instinctively covers her bra-clad breasts with her crossed arms and Holtzmann pauses, hovering over Erin on her hands and knees.

That was unexpected,” Holtz says with a smile that makes Erin shiver, full of promise of what is to come. She shimmies her hips slowly side to side, and Erin thinks of a cat before it pounces. She rolls her torso to bring her lips just close enough to brush against Erin's, then undulates up and away before she can properly catch her. Erin's chin lifts to chase the kiss and she whimpers in disappointment.

Holtzmann hops backward and grabs the waist of Erin's jeans. She looks up into her eyes and traces a fingertip down her fly, the faintest ghost of a touch teasing her, her pulse thumping under Holtz's hand. Holtz holds her gaze steadily, mercilessly, as she pops open the button. Erin bites her lips together to restrain a groan. Her pelvic muscles jump at the sound of her zipper being undone and Holtz tugs her jeans down past her hips. Erin is delirious with both passion and self-consciousness as she helps remove them, can barely focus as Holtz then strips down to her underwear without hesitation.

She hastily pulls the bedsheet up, tucking it under her arms. Holtzmann watches her, and when she crawls under the sheet with her, her movements are slow and careful as she fits the length of her body against Erin's side. Propped up on one arm, she reverently touches Erin's cheek, guiding her into a kiss. Her hand leaves a heated, tingling trail on her chest as it slides to cup her breast, fingertips edging just inside the bra.

“Can I take this off?” she asks, yielding to Erin’s persistent shyness.

“Oh god yes,” she breathes. In the bright daylight of the room, her discomfort with exposing her breasts is momentarily eclipsed by her want for Holtz's touch. Holtz slips her hand behind Erin and her back arches to give her access.

Holtz smiles and shakes her head slightly. “You're so sexy.”

She releases the bra hooks then draws the straps off Erin's shoulders, running her fingers down her arms. Goosebumps prickle in their wake, her nipples harden and tingle in anticipation. She leans in to kiss Erin again as she delicately frees her breasts. Her hand explores the smooth skin, lifting the slight weight with her palm, rolling the deliciously fat nipple between her fingers. Sharp darts of pleasure pierce Erin to her core and she moans into Holtz's mouth.

When Erin can no longer stop her hips from moving, Holtz releases her breast, sliding her hand around to rub Erin's back. “What do you like?” she asks, her voice hushed and suddenly uncertain.

Erin’s eyes widen and she hides her face against Holtz's neck. “I don’t know how to tell you that.”

“So you're sending me on a treasure hunt?” Holtz asks with teasing eagerness. She continues to knead the muscles of Erin's back, growing lighter and slower when Erin doesn't speak.

“Promise you'll tell me if there's anything you don’t want,” she says.

Erin nods.

“Say it,” Holtz insists.

“I promise I'll tell you.” Erin’s voice is small and breathy.

There is a cautiousness in Holtz's exploration of her body that is both maddening and endearing but her mouth and hands are still agonizingly thorough; every inch of Erin’s skin becomes a receptor wired directly to her throbbing sex. By the time Holtzmann is kneeling between Erin's spread legs with her fingers hooked in the waistband of her panties, Erin is squirming helplessly. Her eyes are closed, she can't bear to see Holtzmann looking at her.

Holtz crawls back up her body and kisses her mouth, her clenched eyelids. Asks softly, “You ok? Do you want me to touch you?”

Erin nods then dares to open her eyes a fraction. “Please,” she hears herself ask. Looking at Holtz's face as she pulls Erin’s panties down is blinding as the flare of a welding arc, but now that Erin has seen it she can’t look away. As Erin watches, Holtz's eyes close and her mouth drops open when she touches Erin's bare sex for the first time.

Erin hums as gentle, trembling strokes skim over her labia and then delicately part them to swirl at her entrance. She's so slick that at first there is no friction from Holtzmann's light touch, only a tantalizing, slipping pressure.

“You feel so fucking good,” Holtz groans.

A hot blush reddens Erin's cheeks even as her thighs open wider for Holtz's hand.

A single finger glides up, strokes her clit from tip to base and back again, a riot of sensations exploding from just a few millimeters of movement. With tiny nudges and flicks, her fingertip catches the hood with the slightest tug, then circles the tip ever so lightly, eliciting little yelps and coos from Erin in response. She takes her time, maps out the way to Erin's climax using her sounds and expressions as a guide, testing the pressure and speed needed to reach the edge of the precipice.

Holtzmann kisses her with a deep thrust of her tongue, then shifts her mouth to her breast, working her nipple, flicking, circling, sucking sharply when Erin's body goes rigid. Knotted muscles vibrate, straining at the brink of her climax, then she falls into the pulsing release; her consciousness frays at the edges, an ecstatic, infinitely expanding fractal tearing her apart.

Her muted moan rises to a squeal as Holtz doesn’t let up, drawing out her orgasm. Finally she cries out to stop, the sensitivity growing painful. Holtzmann's hand stills, she flattens her fingers against Erin's slippery, swollen sex. She drops on top of her, her hand pinned between their hips.

“Erin. You're amazing. Erin...” Her voice cracks.

Through the haze of her release, Erin doesn't understand this attentiveness, this care being given to her. She distantly feels a little needle-prick of fear. Her arms wrap around Holtz, holding her tight, blonde curls drifting over her face, trying to calm her shuddering breaths and racing heart.

Chapter Text

They're dissolved, floating, stretched full length against each other, damp skin clinging, breathing in synchronized rhythm. The chattering fears in Erin’s mind have gone quiet for a moment. In all the nights she has spent alone in bed thinking about exactly this, she hadn't imagined this feeling of warmth and comfort, stripped down in every way, soothing and safe.

They kiss lazily for a while, eventually escalating until they're more vehement, verging on sloppy. Holtz is lapping into her mouth like she needs it to stay alive. Erin feels drunk. She's 39 years old and she's never spent this much time kissing someone before. Her lips are tingling and a little sore but she doesn't want to stop.

A dim awareness grows brighter of their hips circling against each other, tilting together in intersecting orbits. Erin goes still, self-conscious again about her body's instinctive response.

The pad of Holtz's thumb was stroking the sensitive spot where her hip bone dips into her belly, and now it slips down low into the crease where her thigh meets the edge of her hair. “Ready for more?”

She shakes her head and Holtz’s hand retreats to rest on her hip. Sharp blue eyes cut into her, scrutinizing her. Erin is nibbling on her own lower lip and fiddling with the strap of Holtz’s sports bra. She wants to ask, she thinks she already knows the answer, but she's unsure of the right question. The weight of her unspoken words drags her down.

Holtzmann leans in to kiss her ear, brushing it with her lips, scraping lightly with her teeth, and Erin shivers all the way down to her toes. After a silent pause Holtz breathes so quietly that it's felt more than heard, “Would you touch me? Make me come again?”

Erin’s breath rushes out. She’s never heard Holtz sound so uncertain, never heard her ask for anything without being confident that she’ll get exactly what she wants. She nods and snags her fingers into the slicked back hair on both sides of Holtzmann’s head, using it to pull her into a kiss, relishing the way her breath catches in response.

Holtzmann pulls away, up on her knees, scrambling to shuck off her sports bra. The band pinches as it rolls up off her body, her breasts popping halfway out the bottom before they're freed. Erin tries not to stare. She has to finally look away when Holtzmann pulls down her boxer-briefs, exposing a dark froth of hair and a hint of deep pink slit below it.

She looks small and unguarded when she lays back down, her petite bare body speckled with scars next to Erin's long, faultless limbs. Erin takes in every detail, drawn to the marks on her skin, the smattering of scars on her chest from the gap between her welding apron and helmet, more on her arms, a few larger scars from burns and gashes, red lines from her bra, faint silvery stretch marks on her breasts and hips. Her heart breaks a little over these shamelessly exposed, precious imperfections; she hates the thought of anything hurting her. Her hands avoid them, afraid to touch them. She hopes that Holtzmann hadn't noticed the faded, thin lines that Erin had inflicted on easily hidden parts of her own body so many years ago.

Pale blue veins are visible through the translucent skin of her breasts and there's something profoundly intimate about it, like seeing the life beating in her heart itself. Erin had always hated it in her own breasts, but now she thinks it’s beautiful. Her palm skims a nipple with teasing stimulation, and Holtz grunts in frustration. Erin feels something akin to an itch inside her mouth, gives in to the urge to cover her breasts with open-mouthed kisses. She runs her tongue flat up the underside of one breast, stopping short of the nipple before licking it with an experimental swipe. Holtzmann shudders. Erin steadies her with her hands on her shoulders as she applies her mouth more firmly, the erect little bud sliding under the spread of her tongue. Holtz’s body ripples against hers, firm muscle underneath softly padded skin.

She looks up at Holtz’s face, needing that connection, and sees that her eyes are unfocused, distant with lust, before they lock with Erin's. Their gaze holds steady while Erin closes her lips around her nipple and Erin’s cheeks burn. Holtzmann's hand slips into the hair at the nape of Erin's neck, pulling her closer, and Erin squeaks and draws more of Holtz's breast into her mouth. Her areola starts off so soft and smooth under her tongue, then contracts and crinkles.

“That’s so good,” Holtzmann mumbles, and it makes Erin shiver. Holtz kneads the back of her neck, her back arching to push her breast harder against Erin's mouth. Her hips wriggle in short, sharp thrusts, her hair tickling Erin's belly with her restrained grinding. She's moaning and she’s so loud.

She groans as she pulls away, Erin’s mouth releasing her nipple with a wet pop, cupping Erin's head in her hands and guiding her other breast to her mouth. Holtz flicks back the thick curtain of auburn hair that hides Erin's face, runs her hand up over her forehead to brush back her fringe. Erin's cheeks are flushed against her pale breasts, her eyes are closed, her eyelashes fanned against her cheekbones, lost in this world they’ve created.

Her hand trails down the side of Holtz's ribcage, into the dip of her waist, then up the rounded hill of her hip. Her breath catches and she retraces the movement. She’s found the meaning of life right here in this curve of her body. She’ll never be able to look at Holtzmann the same way again, without blushing; this incredible sensuality settles into her bones, something in her chest opens up. Her fingertips sink into the softness of her flesh, her nails cutting half-moon marks into her skin.

“Erin, please.” Holtzmann's voice is high and needy and wanting.

She's nervous again, afraid that she won't be any good, afraid that she won't like it, afraid that she will. But Holtz’s begging makes her brave and sends sparks of arousal spiraling inside her. A cautious hand trails down Holtz's belly, her fingertips swirl in her pubic hair, and finally make trembling contact. At first her touch is so light that it merely brushes over the wet hair, then strokes the hot, plush skin. Her fear is unexpectedly knocked out by a rush of pleasure. She wouldn't have believed a woman could get this wet, but she knows that when Holtz touched her, she was in a similar state.

Erin is lightheaded; her heart's no longer beating, it's vibrating like a engine. She feels Holtz’s muscles twitch as she dips down around her opening, and Holtz lets out a harsh breath. All of Erin's awareness is pinpointed on the slick heat as her finger creeps up, feeling gently for her clit. It's unfamiliar, she's never been comfortable touching herself, but this, this feels incredible. Holtz’s inner labia are smaller than her own, they’re already parted from her open legs and from her arousal. She traces the lips to their apex and strokes the tip of her clit with the lightest possible touch, she lets out a breath she didn't know she was holding- and Holtzmann yelps and jerks her hips away.

“Oh! God! I’m sorry! Did I-” Erin cringes.

“No no no, it’s ok. I- Ha! Uhmm. I'm just really sensitive right now.” She's talking too fast and panting and shaking. She rolls so they’re both on their sides facing each other, gathering Erin up tight in her arms.

“I’m sorry I don’t know what I’m doing. I want to…” Erin thinks she might pass out from humiliation. She trails her hand up Holtz’s shoulder blade, up her neck. Locks of hair that Erin has pulled free from her bun are sticking out from the sides of her head like she’s been electrocuted. It’s messy and ridiculous and gorgeous. She reaches up to twirl her fingers in it, and it’s stiff with hairspray.

“You didn’t do anything wrong. At all. And it’s not like there’s just one method to banging ladies. We've got the same equipment but there are some differences in the technical specifications. Biology is sloppy, so there's a reeeally wide tolerance for variation in the necessary operating procedures-” She's breathing hard, but she’s slipped into the same enthusiastic pontificating as when she talks about her work. Erin tucks her head down and rolls her eyes up at her, frustrated by her deflection. Eventually Holtz notices.

She sighs heavily. “Like I said, you didn’t do anything wrong. And. Look, I've had plenty of sex, but most of it's been with myself.”

“Very funny.”

There’s a pause. “That's, uh, not a joke. It's been a really long time. Years. And even then it was only a few times. So I gueeess I'm just not used to someone besides me touching me.” Her voice is tight and gravelly.

For a long moment, nothing makes sense. Pieces start to fit together, Holtz's slow, cautious hesitance while touching her, the repeated questions about what she likes and if she's OK, which Erin had assumed was entirely out of consideration for her shyness. The realization hits her in the chest and knocks the air out of her. How is that possible? She flirts with everyone… doesn't she? It can't be from lack of opportunities. Then why is she doing this now, with me?

She has to take a slow breath to try to calm herself, to stop herself from answering that question. She'd been doing so well at ignoring the looming repercussions of what they’ve started, of what this means, until now.

Holtzmann looks at her for a long moment, silent, then sighs and looks away. “I can hear the gears turning in your brain. Just- don’t over-think this right now.” She grabs Erin’s hand and lowers it to her mons. “Can I…?”

Erin makes a low, wordless but affirmative noise, her mind and her heart racing. She kisses Erin hard, making her whimper. She shoves both of their hands between her thighs, sighing as she presses all of Erin’s fingers flat against her, covering her from her entrance to her clit, her palm wrapped over the curve of pubic bone.

Erin keens and sputters against Holtzmann’s mouth. “Oh- fuck!”

Holtz chuckles, a low, luxuriant sound that turns into a groan as she guides the movement of Erin’s hand, pressing hard. “Just. Like. That.” And she gasps. Her hand lifts away and hovers over Erin’s, just feeling Erin’s hand as it moves. She meets Holtz’s eyes and Holtz is looking at her as if she’s given her water in the desert, as if she’s a miracle, as if she's god.

She’s so beautifully soft and wet that it seeps between Erin's fingers as they’re pressed tight against her. She feels the firm little prominence of her clit shift as she moves her hand. It doesn’t take long for Holtz’s hips start pumping against her, she grunting- growling, really- with every slow thrust. Erin watches her, incredulous that she could have this affect on her and that she’s so wanton and unrestrained. Her tension builds to a breaking point, her hips ratcheting up off the bed incrementally higher and finally her spine curls into an exquisite arch. She goes stiff and still, then spasms roughly, swearing incoherently.

Her fingernails remain sunk into Erin’s back as she comes down and Erin kisses her gently, in awe at what she’s just done, at what they’ve just done together. Erin puts her arms around her, careful and subdued.

***

Later, when Holtzmann returns from the bathroom and getting a drink- “I need to replenish my fluids,” said with a lascivious wink- Erin watches her from across the room. Without the sleight of hand of her loose and layered clothes, Holtzmann's body has unexpected curves that Erin can't look away from, upturned breasts capped with a dome of areola and petite nipples, a slight swell of belly dimpled by her navel, the flare of hips from her narrow waist, and oh god, the delicious rounded tops of her inner thighs crowned by the triangle of her pubic hair.

She wants to grip those thighs with both hands, sink her fingertips into the soft flesh, rub her face on the smooth skin. She's dizzy from of the depth of her own desire, still shocked that she could feel this way about a woman when she's not burying those feelings alongside every other thought and urge that threatens make her life difficult.

“My eyes are up here, baby,” Holtzmann says, and chugs from her bottle of soda.

“I wasn’t looking!” she yelps too quickly.

“Yes you were. Like what you see?” She does a burlesque shimmy with her shoulders and hips that makes everything jiggle.

Erin’s mouth drops open then snaps shut. She looks down at her hands, picks at the blanket. “Come back to bed?” she asks after a moment.

“Oh yeah?” Holtz wiggles her eyebrows. Erin blushes.

“I was thinking maybe we could take a nap? Or- Do you have things to do today?” The part of her brain that second-guesses everything comes back online with a jolt and it occurs to her that maybe she’s overstaying her welcome. “I can head home if you have plans.” She braces herself for the flippant dismissal that she's now sure is coming.

“The only thing I want to do today is you.” Holtzmann drops to her knees at the foot of the bed and crawls over Erin again, the sheet between them. “You sure you want to sleep already? You only came once.”

Erin wonders if it's possible to blush so hard that it becomes permanent. “I can’t- more than once.”

“Is that a challenge?”

“It’s not intended to be.”

Holtzmann hums skeptically, nuzzles her head against Erin's chest, wraps her arms and legs around her. Erin closes her eyes and takes a deep breath, inhaling the thick scent of sex, feeling Holtz’s weight on her ribs as her chest rises and falls. If they could just stay cocooned here in this bed forever, everything would be alright.

Chapter Text

Erin brings Holtzmann into the beige and taupe personal sanctum of her apartment late in the afternoon. She doesn't touch her or even walk too close as they cross the lobby of her building, but she still worries irrationally that passersby can tell that she just spent the night and half of the day in bed with the woman next to her, that deviance must be pouring off of her in waves. Stubborn thoughts batter at her artificial composure, Stop it right now, this behavior is unacceptable. She can breathe again only after she locks the door behind them in her apartment.

Holtzmann looks around, making no attempt to hide her appraising curiosity. She spots Erin's old stereo and ambles over to it, examining it with great attention, then swivels and stares at Erin above the yellow lenses of her glasses, making a dramatic moue.

“Erin. Are you a hipster?” Her tone is grave, accusatory.

“What? What does that even mean?” Erin hovers behind her as she spins back around and flips through a shelf full of records.

“I’m kidding. Sort of. You have a lot of vinyl.” Holtzmann pulls out Dark Side of the Moon. “Oh, the classics.”

Erin’s hands flutter and she stops herself from taking it away from her. “They were my older brother’s. I listened to them all the time when I was a teenager.”

“Did you and Abby used to smoke doobies and groove to Pink Floyd?” She waves her free hand in the air and does a slow, sinuous dance.

“Abby and I did not smoke doobies. Who uses the word ‘doobies,’ anyway?” She snatches the record and puts it back on the shelf. She doesn't mention the sole time that she got stoned in her junior year of college. It wasn't with Abby.

Holtzmann riffles through the records again and pulls out another, this time Hunky Dory. “Can we listen?”

Erin’s shoulders crumple. “Not right now. I'm going to take a shower.”

Holtzmann perks up. “Mmm. Would you like company?”

“Um, no, I'll be quick.”

When she comes out of the bathroom, some of her anxiety has dissipated as she settles back into the quiet, private refuge of her home. Holtzmann is sitting on the floor watching music videos her phone but she glances up, her eyes turning bright as Erin approaches. What did I do to earn that look? A knot ties up in her throat but she smiles back.

She sits on the couch and looks over Holtzmann's shoulder as Life on Mars queues up, leaning close as the song begins, the familiar piano notes sounding tinny on the phone's speaker.

“That's a great look. Hey! Hey, if I had a turquoise suit like that, who do you think would wear it better, me or Bowie circa 1973?”

Erin laughs, eying Holtz's tailored wide leg trousers and oversized, shabby button down shirt, a warm rush of attraction spreading under her skin.

“I guess that depends. Are you going to wear the bright blue eyeshadow too?” The song brings up memories over two decades old, not all pleasant, in her childhood bedroom drowning out all the noise in her life, but she pushes that out of the way.

“Maaaybe.” She pops to her feet and pulls Erin up with her, drawing her close. “Dance with me.”

Holtzmann's hands are steady, solid and grounding, one on the small of her back and the other on her shoulder, lending Erin strength that allows her defenses to fall away. She settles her own hands at the back of Holtz’s neck, the fingertips of one hand curling inside her shirt collar. Holtz burrows her face into the angle of Erin's neck and shoulder as they sway together, the minute sweep of her eyelashes tickling Erin's neck when she blinks.

It's not what Erin expected. There's no hip thrusting or arm waving dance moves from Holtz, just their bodies aligned, slow and harmonized. Warm puffs of air drift from under Holtz’s clothes as they move, carrying fresh sweat from their morning in bed, faded cologne, an occasional whiff of sex. Erin’s nose twitches but the enticing scent sends a tingle down her spine.

The song ends but they remain in their bubble for a moment longer until Holtz bursts it, asking, “You ok? You’ve been kind of-” she makes a squawking sound- “since we left the firehouse.”

“I have not been like that.” Erin tries to scoff away the question but Holtz looks at her expectantly.

“I can’t tell if this is more than your normal level of-” she squawks again.

“Stop that.” Anxious irritation takes hold of her. Another song had begun playing, this time it's Janine. Erin bristles and slaps the phone to turn off the music.

Holtzmann shuffles them back onto the couch and startles Erin by climbing sideways into her lap. Erin keeps her hands flat at at her side, lost and frozen.

“Holtz. I don’t know what I’m doing.”

“You’re snuggling on the couch with me,” Holtz observes.

“You know what I mean. What are we doing? Are we... dating? We went on one date, and-” She waves her hands, encompassing everything that’s happened in the last twenty-four hours. “Or is this just- a fling?” Her voice is almost inaudible by the end. Holtzmann had already made her feelings clear, as clear as she is capable of, but Erin half-hopes and half-fears that she will say after all that it’s just sex, that she still has an easy way out of what they've started.

She extricates herself from Erin's lap and sinks down low on the couch, facing her but halfway lying on her back, one knee drawn up and the other ankle propped atop it. Her fingers drum on her shin. Erin has to peer through the barricade of contorted limbs to see her face. Her oxfords are up on the couch cushion and Erin frowns with a flicker of annoyance. The silence ticks by. She stops herself from filling in the vacancy; she wants Holtz to say something.

“Ultimately we’re just animals experiencing chemical reactions and electrical impulses but... I figured out a looong time ago that I can’t do casual sex. There are always- feelings-” Her hands make a gesture mimicking an explosion. “It’s complicated and.. painful.” Her eyes are pinched closed, her whole face is closed.

“This isn’t just sex for me, either.” She releases a long slow breath. “But I don't know what to do. This is so hard. I don’t know if this is fair to you. I don’t know how to be… out about this.” The word “out” is a foreign object in her mouth, threatening to gag her. Gray edges creep around her vision; she has to close her eyes as familiar patterns inside her head shift out of alignment, fractal symmetry disrupted.

Holtzmann shrugs and doesn't look at her. “I don't know how to be in a relationship because nobody stuck around before, so I'll probably be terrible at it. Maybe we’ll both be terrible at it. I want to do it anyway. I told you I want to be with you. I thought… you felt the same way.”

She hates this uncomfortable dance, trying to comprehend feelings, trying to be honest without hurting each other. “I think I do. You're always on mind.”

“That's a good song,” Holtzmann mumbles. “Always On My Mind. Pet Shop Boys,” she clarifies when Erin looks lost.

It breaks Erin's unbearable tension; she breathes out a laugh. “Oh. I think most people associate it with Willie Nelson.”

“Oh. Right.”

“Ok. So. We’re dating then? Let's start there.” She feels awkward, like a teenager, or what she imagines it would have been like if she had ever dated in high school. She musters up an attempt at confidence, putting on an enthusiastic voice. “How about another date? Dinner later tonight?”

Holtzmann rolls up from her back and leans in to kiss Erin on the cheek. She's smiling but it's guarded, fronting a confidence, a casualness, that is not entirely genuine. “A second date on the same day as the first? That’s the most lesbian thing I’ve ever heard, besides bringing a U-Haul.”

“I don’t know what that means.”

“I can explain, but... You’re really going to make me work to earn my toaster, aren't you?”

“What?”

“Come on, everyone knows about the toasters! How big is that rock you've been living under?”

***

They barely make it inside the door after dinner before Erin is kissing her and tugging her shirttail out of her pants. She had avoided any overt show of intimacy at the restaurant, fear still reining her in. Holtzmann had been subdued and Erin’s chest hurt to know that she was the cause of it. Now with no one around to see and disapprove, she's determined to make up for her coldness.

Erin's hands are assertive in ardent contrast to the soft caress of her mouth; Holtz is still and yielding, buffeted by the flood of attention. Erin holds her breasts captive under her shirt, tipping her head to lift Holtz's upper lip, dragging her lips apart just slightly, turning so their mouths brush and slip past each other, drawing Holtz's lower lip between her teeth but so gently, delicately. She dips her tongue inside, finally, slow and feather light.

“God, I love the way you kiss me. I didn’t know it could be this good.” Her expression is pained as if a confession is being forced from her.

“Let's go to bed, Holtz,” Erin’s words are quiet against her lips.

“Lead the way.

The bedroom is dim; the only light weakly streams in from the hallway, scant illumination creating golden backlit outlines and glowing curves and planes of bare skin. The cover of darkness and the few drinks they both had at dinner- or at least the excuse of them- smudge the edges of Erin’s rules and fears.

She digs her fingers into Holtzmann's hair and fumbles with the pins. It's always in a teased up-do during the day and at night in a loose bun at the crown of her head, and Erin wants a chance to take apart this piece of her. She recognizes the depth of her desire, can admit now that she wants everything with her, wants every part of her, if only she can be brave enough.

Holtz brushes her hands away and removes all the pins, but only a kinked coil of hair falls down the back of her neck, most of it remaining frozen in place with hairspray and gel.

“It's so stiff.” Erin scrunches her face as she touches it.

“That's what she said. Nnngghh- don't run your fingers through it, it pulls but not in a good way.” She cringes and rolls her head away.

“Sorry.” She eyes Holtz intently in the dim light and takes hold of the ratty tail of hair, flush with the nape of her neck, using it to ease her head to the side and back. “Is this a good way?” A teasing note has crept into her voice.

“Yesss...”

Erin sucks on the smooth column of her exposed neck, seeking her most sensitive areas, leaning her weight into her, lowering her back onto the bed. She sits on top of Holtzmann as she reclines, straddling her hips, curling over her body with her mouth still fastened on her neck.

Holtzmann had showered before dinner and she smells only of soap and deodorant and cologne. Erin rubs her face on her skin, trying to find her natural scent. She has a fleeting image of pressing her face between Holtz’s legs, breathing her in, and it makes her hot with shame and desire. Her confidence falters and she slips off of Holtz to lay at her side.

Holtzmann’s response is visceral, she moves like a tide rushing to meet her, filling the space that Erin has left open, reassuring her that she can let go, it’s safe for her to float passively for a while. She handles Erin with firm, greedy touches, bringing her up until her hips rock in invitation.

“Do you want me inside you?” The question is artless, merely considerate, hopeful, but it earns her a desperately aroused mewl from Erin. She trembles violently and nods. She wants everything that Holtz has to give but it's all so unfamiliar; she braces herself, expecting something harsh and scorching, but Holtz becomes painstakingly gentle, rolling her fingers through the pool of Erin’s arousal, spreading it on both of them, making sure they’re both slick enough. She tests Erin’s entrance, finds tension there and acquiesces, humble, slipping just one fingertip tenderly inside.

Erin’s vision has adjusted to the low light and she can see the ferocity of the pleasure on Holtz’s face from this simple, mellow touch. She wonders how much she’s holding back and shivers at the potential as Holtz pushes inside her up to the knuckle.

“You're so warm and soft. And wet. God, you're so wet. I could do this forever.”

Erin closes her eyes, letting her words wash over her, warming her, arching to meet the movement of Holtz's hand as she pulls out and pushes back in with a second finger. There’s no thrusting, just curling and spreading her fingers, an exploration that sometimes hits places that ignite flares throughout Erin's body, while her thumb coarsely slips over her clit.

After an interminable period of euphoric torment that refuses to push Erin over the edge, Holtz asks, “Can you come like this? What do you need?”

“Um. It feels good but I don’t think I can get there. It’s- too much?” She pauses shyly, panting, before continuing, “What you did this morning was perfect. I’m sorry.”

“Jesus, baby, don’t apologize for that.”

There's a giddy moment as Holtz sits up, her fingers twisting infinitesimally inside Erin’s body, making her clench and shudder. Her free hand pets light downward strokes over her pubic hair and the silky skin of her thighs to calm her from the overstimulation. She waits for Erin to ask for more with the movement of her hips before gracing the edge of the hood of her clit with a precise touch, her other fingers making only slight movements inside her.

Jillian.”

Holtz exhales a short, bemused breath, not quite a laugh, not quite a sigh. “What, baby?” She catches Erin’s eye, smiling at her slightly.

Her only response is a long, high moan from behind her clenched teeth as the rest of the world drops away, the room falls away, everything except for Jillian touching her falls away. She sinks into the bed as her shuddering orgasm fades, Holtz half on top of her, her smile so wide, nibbling along Erin's jaw.

Erin rests in a haze before trying to roll them both over, still weak from her orgasm, both still just a little tipsy. Holtzmann makes no effort to move, smirking at her as Erin struggles with her dead weight. She grabs her under her arms, her fingers digging in as she lifts her. Holtz starts giggling, a high, sharp laugh that Erin hasn’t heard from her before. She finally gets Holtz onto her back, and sits with her shoulders drawn up near her ears.

“Don’t laugh at me.” Her face is flaming.

“I am one hundred percent not laughing at you, my little honey pot. I'm laughing because I'm having fun. And because that tickled.”

“Oh.” The flare of humiliation cools incrementally.

Erin slumps over, stretching out half on top of her with a sigh, nuzzling Holtz's cheek. Her hand traces the shapes of her shoulder and breast, belly and thigh.

Holtz bends one knee and lets it drop to the side, opening herself up to give Erin unfettered access. She's soaked and ready, turned on from making Erin come, and she insistently attempts to rub herself against Erin's soft touch.

Erin traces shaking fingers near her entrance, asking “Should I…?” in a faint voice.

Holtzmann has been holding her breath, her hands clutching at the bed. “...Maybe not. You seem nervous,” Her voice is strained.

“You're nervous too.”

“Am not.”

“You’re lying. I’m afraid I’m going to hurt you.”

“Not possible. Wait till you see my toy collection.”

“Oh god.” Erin gapes at her, scandalized.

Holtzmann laughs, but her fists are still twisting tightly in the sheets.

“I want to. I'm just afraid of doing something wrong,” Erin says in a frantic rush, her eyes closed.

“It's ok. Just- touch me instead?”

Erin kisses her and they breathe each other's air, relaxing and laughing a little, equally sheepish. She curls her hand into place, using all of her fingers to diffuse the pressure on her clit, just the way Holtz needs it. She's so warm everywhere but she's absolutely blazing there, radiating heat from her liquid softness like molten metal. Erin kisses her until her mouth hardens in a grimace and her body snaps taut.

“Wow. That was... fast!” Erin says after Holtz falls back onto the bed.

“Did I mention that I have a hair-trigger?” Holtzmann asks, breathless, snickering. Erin starts to remove her hand but Holtz touches her wrist. “Don’t stop.”

“More? Already?” She starts stroking her again, carefully.

Harder.” The impatience coloring Holtz's voice makes Erin's breath hitch, provoking the contrary part of her that takes pride in rising to a challenge and proving herself. So she obeys, grating at Holtzmann's clit and labia with a fierceness that makes her gasp.

Her second orgasm closely follows the first, Erin watching in amazement as she falls apart more thoroughly this time, breaking into smaller shards. She cuddles Holtz for a long while as she recovers, silent, sweating, sprawled open, her hips twitching; then, eager and curious to see how much Holtz wants and how much she can take, Erin begins yet again, stroking lightly right at her entrance, slipping up the center of her then parting her fingers to avoid her clit, dragging over her wet, fleecy curls. A high whine comes from Holtzmann’s throat and Erin moves impulsively, fast and smooth over the other woman's body in one heavy wave, biting Holtz's lower lip, balancing her weight between one hand on Holtz’s shoulder and the other on her pubic bone; Holtzmann rocks up under the intense pressure with a moan of surprise. Her fingers slide over the hot slickness, firm but agonizingly slow, speeding up when Holtz groans piteously, seeking the release that Erin is pushing her toward, grinding into Erin, driven and just a little rough until once again she hits the edge and she arches and bows and screams.

Afterward she's soft and melting, blushed fiery red all over her body, exhausted, cracked open far beyond any pretense. She rolls languidly, heavily, from her back to side, curling up kitten-like against Erin, butting the top of her head into her chest. Erin holds her, protective and pleased with herself, as Holtzmann falls asleep in the center of the bed, somehow taking up an unreasonable amount space with her small frame. She weaves her arm between Holtzmann's and holds her hand, feeling her breath on her breasts and the fingers she’s holding twitch unconsciously.

Chapter Text

“Did you have a good weekend?” Abby’s question is pointed and impossible to evade. She jabs her finger in the direction of the love-bites on Erin’s neck for emphasis. She’s wearing a scarf to make them less blatant, but the crimson and violet marks visible above it are vivid and unmistakable.

“It was... fine.”

Before Holtzmann left her apartment on Sunday, she had convinced Erin that there could be no secrets kept from Abby and Patty. Erin had spent the rest of the day in a fog of panic, rehearsing the imminent conversations in her head. This morning her stomach was in a tumult as old, familiar fears clamored around her, and she arrived half an hour late. She doesn’t dare to think about the tactless words that Holtz had likely used to describe their weekend, but she's relieved that her late arrival saved her from stumbling through outing herself.

Abby studies her, curious, and relents. “Are you ok?”

Erin avoids her gaze. “Maybe we can talk about it later?” “Absolutely.” Abby hugs her and doesn’t let go until some of Erin’s stiffness wilts away. Her voice becomes stern again. “Listen, if you two do it anywhere in this building other than her bedroom, I will know it and I will end you.” Abby points two fingers at her own eyes, then at Erin.

Erin starts and frowns. “Not going to happen,” she mumbles, and heads for the stairs.

“I don’t know why she moved out of her apartment anyway. We have a grant now…” Abby continues grumbling after Erin leaves the room.

Patty descends from the second floor as Erin climbs the stairs, holding her hand up for a high five and calling out, “Alright Erin!”

Erin stares at her. “You’re awfully excited.”

“I just saw this coming and I’m glad you figured your shit out so fast.” Her laughter rings in the stairwell before she takes a closer look at Erin. “You look like someone ran over your puppy. What’s wrong?”

“Nothing,” Erin said, shaking her head firmly.

“That’s a lie, but I’ll let it go for now.”

Erin sighs and rushes past her, the metal stairs clanging under her feet. She wants to skip the questions and explanations; she doesn't want to allow anyone to confront and dissect her thoughts. She wants only to carry on without thinking.

“There you are.” Holtzmann strides toward her as Erin lingers in the doorway of the lab.

“Hi,” she says softly. Holtz’s delight at her arrival relieves the pressure in her chest and makes her pulse speed up.

They meet and Holtz crushes her in a hug, rises up on her toes, and pulls her down into a deep kiss. Erin’s first instinct is to push her away because they’re at work and Abby and Patty are downstairs but she’s kissing her back, sucking softly when Holtz’s tongue enters her mouth then matching her with equal fervor.

“I missed you,” Holtz says when they finally part. Erin squeals as Holtz wraps her arms around her hips, her forearms snug under her bottom, and lifts her up off the floor. She starts to spin and Erin shrieks louder.

A shout from Abby floats up the stairs, “What did I tell you two? Knock it off!”

Holtz deposits her back on the floor, careful to keep her upright in her high heels.

“What’s with those shoes and the skirt? Haven’t seen them in a while. Do you have a job interview? Or are you possessed?” She puts her hands on both sides of Erin's head and makes a show of examining her for signs of a paranormal presence.

“Oh. Um. I felt like dressing up I guess.” In the face of her fear this morning, she had reflexively sought out the protective shell of her tweed suits. She had never loved them, but they had always felt necessary, until eventually they became part of her academic persona: professional, intelligent, feminine, and always seeking validation. It gives her a sort of comfort today, a shield that covers her.

She looks down at the diminutive, bold woman in front of her, wondering how Holtz had managed to dismantle Erin’s barriers enough to climb inside her chest.

“I just came up to say good morning. I'm going to work downstairs today.”

Holtz pouts. “Why?”

“If I stay here I won’t get anything done!” She brushes Holtz's hands away from her ass. “Don't look so smug. It's unattractive.”

“Oh yeah? Is that why you can't stop looking at me like that?” Her smirk remains firmly in place.

Erin huffs and walks to the door before turning back to face her again. “I’ll see you at lunch.”

“Wanna have a nooner?” Holtz calls out as she leaves.

“No!” she shouts as she goes down the stairs.

At first Erin slinks around like a stray cat expecting to have a rock thrown at it, but everything seems so normal. The firehouse is beginning to feel like a real lab and office and she’s doing work that she’s passionate about. She spends the morning helping Patty set up their archives and library and working with Abby to sort and store their equipment. She wonders how Holtzmann’s lab and bedroom became a wreck in the brief time that they've been here.

By the time they order lunch, she has almost put the upheaval out of her mind, until Abby corners her.

“How are you, really?” she asks bluntly.

Erin mulls over a reply, wishing she could escape. “I've been having a really hard time,” she admits. “But I think I’m going to be alright.”

“I wish you had talked to me about this,” Abby says.

“I didn’t think there was anything to talk about. I hoped it would go away.”

Abby is quiet for a moment. “We missed out on a huge chunk of each other’s lives. I really want to reconnect with you. I’m supposed to be your best friend and I couldn’t even tell that you were having a crisis.”

Erin's eyes prickle with a threat of tears and she throws herself into hugging Abby. She staggers under Erin's vehemence but regains her balance for both of them, holding on until Erin releases her.

There’s a squeak and a thump as Holtzmann slides down the pole from the second floor and a flock of butterflies take off in Erin's stomach. My god, I’m ridiculous. She turns and fumbles with a box of files to distract herself from watching her. Abby makes a hasty retreat as Holtz approaches, her eyes solely on Erin.

She sidles up to Erin’s back, hooking her chin over her shoulder. She inches closer until her lips just barely brush her neck, her breath causing strands of Erin’s hair to drift. A ripple races up her scalp and down her back, landing with a thump between her legs.

“You're cute,” Holtz murmurs into her skin.

Erin’s heart takes off like a rabbit and she stifles a gasp.

When Holtz spins abruptly and walks away, Erin thinks she feels fingers brush halfway up the back of her thigh, but it could have been the swish of her skirt. She watches the clock all afternoon, counting down until the end of the work day.

***

Holtzmann backs up against the edge of her workbench, hauling Erin along with her and settling her in between her spread knees. She unties the knot in Erin’s scarf and draws it from around her neck, steady and deliberate. Erin closes her eyes as the smooth fabric glides over her skin, opening them when Holtz snaps the freed scarf with a flourish.

Erin lifts her goggles from her face, the antique chrome and glass pair that are surprisingly heavy in her hands. Holtz approaches for a kiss, holding Erin's gaze until they're too close and her eyelids fall, and she devours Erin's mouth with every drop of her energy.

After a moment she tears herself away from the force of Holtzmann's lips and tongue, sucking in a deep breath. “Holtz, gently? Please.”

“Sorry, baby.”

“Don’t be sorry. I like it when you kiss me hard. But I like it soft too, this time.”

Holtzmann’s cheeks are pink, her gaze steady on Erin. “I like it when you tell me what you want.”

Erin turns red, far outshining Holtz’s mild blush, and she turns her head a fraction to look down, away from the eyes that always seem to see too deeply inside her.

Holtzmann curls her finger under Erin’s chin, traces her lower lip with her thumb. “Don’t be shy, Er.” Erin sighs and burns with a renewed flame of desire and kisses Holtzmann again, and this time they’re both soft.

Erin's hand slips inside the collar of Holtz's shirt, her thumb stroking near the hollow at the base of her throat. A thin layer of grit coats her skin. She usually showers as soon as she finishes her work for the day, but today she’d only taken the time to scrub her hands before they became caught in each other's orbit.

Erin's hands pause at the top button of Holtz's shirt. “Can I undo this?”

“Hell yes. What about you?”

When she nods, they both hastily pull apart buttons, giggling as the tension breaks when they get in each other’s way. They don’t bother to remove their shirts, satisfied with letting them hang open. Holtz is wearing a thin cotton bra with triangle cups and a bright print of cartoon skulls. Erin raises her eyebrows.

“Pretty cool, right? But I like yours much better.” She grins and slides her palms over her satin-covered breasts. Erin shivers and kisses her again, moving her hands up the soft skin of Holtz’s torso to her breasts, rubbing her thumbs over her nipples.

Holtz drags the cups of Erin’s bra down so her breasts rest atop it, pushed up as if presented for attention. The exposure feels unflattering but she isn't given much time to feel self-conscious before Holtz sucks a nipple between her lips. She lets out a high little cry at the jolt that courses from her nipple straight to her clitoris.

She feels wetness well up and her pulse swell in her clit and this undeniable physical proof of her own arousal turns her on even more in a feedback loop of desire.

She tilts her hips up against Holtz’s body, attempting to be surreptitious, but Holtz reads her and pushes her thigh between Erin’s legs, giving her relief from the agonizing need for stimulation.

Holtz presses her leg and Erin rolls her hips and she's lost in the pure sensation as her labia and her clit slide through the puddle in her panties, sensitive to every detail, the texture of the fabric, the flexed muscle and softness of Holtz's thigh, the swollen heat and drenching fluid of her own flesh. She can't bring herself to care that she's standing in the middle of the room with golden afternoon light streaming in through the huge window, and she's not embarrassed that she's riding Holtz's leg in desperate lust.

When Holtz pulls her thigh back, Erin feels the loss as if she’s falling, as if the floor is dropping out from under her. She whimpers and presses her trembling thighs together; her wet panties cling to her maddeningly.

“I want to touch you,” Holtz's says, thick and hoarse.

Erin’s yearning approval hums on Holtz's lips. Her skirt is rucked up as Holtz caresses her thigh, the skin of her hand a combination of smooth and rough, rising higher and higher and arcing around the curve from the front to her inner thigh until her fingers nudge Erin's crotch. Her hips twitch helplessly, seeking more contact. They begin a frustrating dance, a game of chase, Holtzmann's fingers brushing against Erin then retreating, and Erin’s hips dipping to follow them.

“Hoooltz...”

“What.” Holtz’s lips are damp and hot on her ear, her voice hard and provocative. She licks her lips and the wet sound of it makes Erin gasp.

“Please.”

Holtzmann relents; in one swift motion she tugs Erin's panties aside and sweeps her fingers back and forth through the slickness from her opening to her clit. Erin goes weak with relief, falling against Holtz as she focuses on rhythmically stroking her clit, her hips meeting her hand in synchronized movement and it’s perfect, no more teasing, just the steady, light strokes she needs.

She's so close. She has to lean most of her weight on Holtzmann now because her legs are shaking and she can't stand on her own and Holtz's other arm is tight around her, kneading her ass under her skirt to pull her even closer and hold her up. A high vibrato groan rips from deep inside her lungs, the energy of her arousal conducted through her body and emitted as an audible beacon of her impending orgasm.

Holtz suddenly gasps and shudders and the sound and feel of her pushes Erin over the edge. Her hands clench on Holtz's shoulders with enough force that her knuckles ache. The effort needed to remain standing holds back her euphoria from taking over completely so she chases more, thrusting against the hand between her thighs, arching to rub her nipples against the fabric of Holtzmann's shirt.

Holtz’s hips are jerking, grinding against Erin’s body, obscenities spilling from her lips. They move together, groaning and sweating and heaving, pulling on each other as if they can't get close enough, until they wind down into quivering heap. They prop each other up on the edge of the table, fused together even through all the tangled clothing they're both still wearing.

Erin tips her head back and peels sweaty hair from her face, panting. “Did you just…?”

“Yup.”

Oh.” She shudders with an aftershock.

Erin wraps her arms around her and Holtz’s hand drifts up Erin’s back, hugging tightly, pulling their pounding hearts together, blood and bone and electricity calling to each other across the wires of their nerves.

Then Erin steps back and puts her hand on Holtz's belt buckle, looking down coyly into her eyes through her lashes. She unbuckles it and slowly pulls it free from her pants. It falls to the floor with a clatter. Holtzmann grabs her wrist as Erin reaches for the button on her trousers.

“Bedroom,” she says, and Erin smiles and slides her arm through Holtz’s hand until their fingers meet and twine together.

Erin tugs her along as they cross the room. This is perfect, the two of them together, and it's almost as if this new life is not so strange and terrifying after all.

Chapter Text

“These are your colleagues?”

“Yes, and we’re dating.”

“No! I’m dating our receptionist.”

***

Erin is on the floor next to the bathroom door, her head propped up on her knees. It’s nearly midnight and she’s exhausted. An edge of anger has begun cutting into her remorse. She isn't the only one who was careless and cruel; Holtz had ignored Erin’s request to keep their relationship hidden for now. Holtzmann hadn’t spoken to her, hadn’t even looked at her since the incident, but pushed on through the rest of the evening with a brittle, forced humor. Everyone else has finally gone home, Dr Gorin has left for her hotel room, and Holtz has been in the shower for half an hour.

It's been one week; they’ve barely begun, and already there has been a meltdown.

The door finally opens and Holtz walks by without a glance or a word, a cloud of steam billowing out around her. Erin, speechless, watches her go before following. Holtz is wrapped haphazardly in a towel, bare feet leaving puddles on the tile floor, her long blonde hair dark with water that streams down her shoulders.

“Holtz. I’m sorry,” Erin says quietly when they’re both in her bedroom.

Holtz turns to face her. Her skin is scarlet and steam rises off of her from her scalding shower, her face puffy from crying. She looks small and young and lost. She stares through Erin without speaking.

“Will you talk to me?” Erin pleads, her arms crossed over her chest, hands squeezing her shoulders, clamping all the splintered, scattered pieces inside her chest back into one lump.

“What is there to talk about? Like you said, we’re not dating.” She's cold, shut down. A hollowed out husk of the Holtz that Erin knows.

“I panicked! I’m sorry! We talked about this. I’m not ready to go around telling just anyone about us.”

“Gorin isn’t just anyone,” Holtz mutters. She chews on her lower lip as she chafes herself roughly with the towel.

“She is to me!” It comes out louder than she means to be, the anger from her betrayed trust uncoiling and striking out, as if to overcompensate for Holtz's quiet monotone. She could have handled shouting, cursing from Holtzmann, but not this. Not this poisonous quiet. “You’re not being fair. You outed me after I asked you not to.”

“So you’re ashamed of me, but you’re willing to say you’re dating Kevin?

“I’m not ashamed of you,” she chokes out. It cuts too close to the bone and tears start falling again. She wants to object, but there’s a sliver of truth there. Holtz is just so weird, so obvious, and it’s one of the things that Erin loves about her but sometimes it also makes her freeze up in embarrassment, makes her bare her claws in a fight for control and order. It’s not right; it’s not what Holtz deserves. She silently, desperately resolves to be better, if she’s given the chance.

Holtz yanks on pajama pants and an oversized t-shirt, then furiously towels her hair. Erin realizes she has never seen her angry before. It's ingrown and festering, the sharp edge curled in against herself.

“I’ve been expecting you to decide this was just an experiment and a mistake. Maybe I made a mistake.” Her chest is heaving and her eyes are blank and distant.

Icy dread gathers into a sickening slush in Erin’s stomach. “Holtz, please don’t. It’s not a mistake.”

Holtz stalks out of the room, keeping a wide, barren space between them. Erin listens to her bare feet slap up the stairs, wondering if she should follow her. Maybe she should give up. Maybe she should go home and try to put the pieces back together on Monday as if she and Holtz were never anything more than friends. She fights back a wave of nausea and rushes after her.

She finds her sitting on the roof, looking out at the skyline. The validation that Erin craves for their work is spread out for the whole city to see in lights ten stories tall. Just in time to complicate the new lie that she's hiding behind.

“Holtz.”

“Don’t, Erin.”

“I’m sorry and I don’t want to lose you.”

There’s an unfathomable silence. Erin is leaden, hopeless, staring into a black abyss.

“Maybe I'd be better off ending this right now, but I can’t let you go,” Holtz finally says.

With a sad flicker of hope, Erin's heart starts beating again.

“Please come inside and let’s talk about this. It’s too cold for you to be out here wet and barefoot.”

Holtz gets to her feet and paces away slowly, her hands folded at the back of her head. “I’ll be there in minute.”

Erin returns to Holtz's room, curls up in an ancient, salvaged armchair and waits, turning her feelings over and over and examining the cracks.

It’s too soon and this must be simply infatuation, but it feels like something close to love and the torment is scraping all the pulpy flesh off the sinews of her heart. They're moving too fast, but the white-hot intensity of being forced together through an apocalypse has made recklessness seem normal.

Tonight she's worn out, stretched too thin from hiding when Holtz gets too comfortable and now fighting for her after she backs away.

Holtz doesn’t speak when she returns, simply kneels in front of Erin and rests her head in her lap. After a moment she presses lingering kisses on her thighs, her breath warm through the denim of her jeans.

Erin shakes her head, slides a hand under Holtz’s chin. “Talk to me.”

She slithers up onto Erin’s lap, cramming them both between the narrow arms of the chair, her icy feet on Erin’s thighs and her chilly nose against her neck.

“I’m sorry I outed you,” she says quietly.

“I’m sorry I lied. I want you to know I'm not ashamed of you. I'm ashamed of myself.”

“Er. No. There’s nothing wrong with you.” Holtz’s arms tighten around her, squeezing until her ribs creak. “You drive me crazy. I wish I could crawl inside your brain.”

“Why? What do you even see in me? I'm uptight and I'm too old for you.” She’s agitated, both trapped and comforted in Holtz’s arms.

“You have very symmetrical facial features. And you’re brilliant. And brave and ambitious.”

“You mean hard-headed and self-centered.”

Holtz chuckles and shrugs but when she speaks again, she’s serious. “Why are you with me?

“Because I like the way you challenge me, and the work you do is so incredible. And you’re gorgeous.”

Holtz leans back and puts her finger on the tip of Erin’s nose. “I do like pushing your buttons.”

“What happens when you get tired of it? When you get bored with me because I’m not like you?” Erin asks.

“There is no one else like me!” She lifts her chin in a haughty, aggravating way. In a less serious moment, Erin would have laughed and rolled her eyes, knocked Holtz down a peg. Instead she gives her time to continue. “Anyway, I can’t imagine being with anyone but you.” She looks nervous, as if she’s said too much, casting a sidelong look at Erin. “You’ll get sick of me pushing your buttons.”

“We can work it out. We have to find a balance, Holtz. Compromise, you know? And I’m sorry and I know I shouldn’t ask this of you, but I need more time before we tell anyone else about us. Just for a little while longer.”

There’s a long moment before Holtz answers and something seems to crumble inside her. “Yeah. Ok. But... I’m meeting Gorin for lunch tomorrow. Will you come along? Since I already told her?”

Erin breathes out a slow, steadying breath. She can push through the discomfort; she can do this for Holtz. “Ok.”

***

Holtzmann is brushing out her bedraggled hair in front of the mirror, an arsenal of styling products lined up in front of her. Despite all the time they’ve spent together this week, Erin hasn’t witnessed this process before.

She watches, in awe that she has the privilege of seeing this woman all disheveled, sluggish from sleep and with pillow creases on her face.

“Sweetheart. It’s too early to get up. We went to bed so late,” Erin says around the sleepy gravel in her throat.

Holtzmann shrugs. “I don’t need much sleep. You know what they say, late to bed, early to rise makes Holtzmann gather no moss.”

“Ok, no one says that but you.”

“Yeah, well.” She runs her fingers through her hair, lifting it up over her head and peering at herself in the mirror.

She’s too luscious to resist. Erin pries herself out of bed and glides up against Holtz’s back. Her hand circles Holtz’s wrist before she can begin assaulting her curls with a can of hairspray the size of a small fire extinguisher. She works her fingers into the hair above the nape of her neck, lightly scratching her scalp, and Holtz’s spine arches in pleased response, nestling back into Erin’s breasts and belly. Her blissful expression is reflected in the mirror and Erin understands what it means to describe someone as radiant. She lowers her face into her hair, unable to keep looking.

“You’re beautiful.”

Holtz snorts, shrugging off the compliment. “You’re beautiful.”

Erin sweeps a cloud of blonde hair aside, unveiling Holtz’s neck. She bends to press a kiss on the softest place under her jaw, causing a purring sigh. Muted desire builds inside her and Erin reluctantly takes half a step back.

“I’m going to take a shower. And then... I want you,” she murmurs.

Holtzmann turns, eyes flashing, and throws her arms around her. “You want me? To do what?” she teases, swaying from side to side and pulling Erin along with her.

“What I'm thinking about is... what I want to do to you.” With her face safely hidden from view over Holtz’s shoulder, she can let herself say what she’s thinking.

“Oh yeah? Tell me more, hot stuff.”

Erin laughs softly, not embarrassed but contemplative. “It’s still hard to talk about feeling this way about a woman.”

“But you do feel it.”

“I do.” Erin’s hands rise from the curve of Holtz’s waist up and over the rise and fall of her ribcage, her palms lingering on the sides of her breasts.

Holtz tries to kiss her but Erin ducks. “I need to brush my teeth!”

“Hurry!” Holtz lands a hail of playful smacks on her bottom and Erin twists and dodges out of reach. ***

Holtzmann’s hand squirms in between the tight press of Erin's thighs, skimming over her trimmed, coarse fur and slipping one finger along her slit, nestling snug in between her outer lips. Erin dips a hand into the pool of her hair and twirls up the full length it, using it to hold her close for a soft, slippery kiss of wet, velvety tongues. Holtz’s hand keeps toying with her, barely moving, and Erin mirrors the gesture.

They’re facing each other, legs woven together, wrapped in a downy tranquility. What had begun playfully has settled into something still and calm, a re-connection after the turmoil of the night before.

Erin hovers close to the edge for so long that her orgasm takes her by surprise, shrouding her in a hazy, subtle fog.

A few more moments of Erin's hand slipping steadily back and forth between Holtz's legs and she climaxes as well. She's still shuddering when she reaches down to touch Erin's hand.

“I want your fingers inside me, Er.”

That fast, the flavor changes from sweet to hot, excitement sinking sharp teeth through a narrow vein of doubt. She’s never done this before; Holtz hasn’t asked and Erin hasn’t offered since it was passed up one week ago.

Despite that they can’t keep their hands off each other, they’ve been circling each other cautiously, Erin still fearful of wanting the wrong thing, Holtz treating her as if she might break or flee if pushed too hard. She’s sick of being afraid of her own desires.

So she says “Yes,” but Holtz reads the ambivalence in her face.

“My pussy doesn’t have teeth. I promise.”

“That’s very romantic, Holtz,” Erin says dryly. “I just want to be as good to you as you are to me.”

“You are.” Holtz kisses her, a firm flick of tongue and a playful nip on her lower lip. “It's been a while since anyone but me has done this. Just, uh, take it easy at first, alright?” She tries and fails to sound nonchalant. “Let me…”

She takes Erin’s hand in her own, guides her middle and ring fingers down, traversing the slick heat to find her opening, and then in a dizzying moment she’s inside halfway up the slim length of her fingers, and the snap of Holtz's hips and her gasp and the look on her face is indelibly burned into Erin’s memory. Erin stops breathing and closes her eyes because the feel of her is overwhelming.

“Is this ok?” she asks. The sounds and expressions of extreme pleasure and pain are confusingly similar.

“It’s good. You’re so fucking good.”

Pride and pleasure bloom within her. There's a fetching little whimper from Holtz as Erin starts to move inside her and she thinks that sound just might be the death of her.

She maps her interior with questing fingers and memorizes every groan and every twitch, the disapproving noise when she presses up on her cervix, the way her eyebrows shoot up when her fingers go deeper, as deep as she can go, her knuckles straining at the vestibule of Holtz’s body, the thin whine when Erin pulls out almost completely, and a deeper, satisfied sound when she slides back into the softer depths, exploring the sensitive front wall. Her fingertips prod faint ridges, slightly swollen and firm. Holtz jerks as if Erin has plucked a taut string anchored inside the core of her.

“I can feel you getting wetter.” There's an unfamiliar heat in Erin’s voice, along with reverent wonder.

Holtz groans and her eyes open to meet Erin’s. “Forget about being gentle. Show me what you've got, Doctor Gilbert.” She bends her arms, elbows pointed at the ceiling, to hold on tight to the pillow under her head, bracing herself.

The challenge ignites a fuse of arousal in Erin's belly, a hunger for Holtz’s orgasm rather than her own.

She looks down at Holtz, her knees drawn up and dropped apart, baring herself in a way that makes Erin feel simultaneously tender and savage, and she dives in ardently, curling and rubbing and pressing, digging into the receptive softness.

She's relentless, working her over until Holtz’s grunts and moans are replaced with sharp, babbling curses, “Yes, right there, fuck fuck, oh god- nnnnfuck!”

Holtz rocks her whole body to match the motion of the hand that fucks her, riding Erin’s fingers urgently. She’s magnificent, teeth bared, her heels digging into the mattress, toes curling, her thighs spreading for Erin, straining so wide apart.

Erin captures the nipple of one tempting, bobbing breast in her mouth and sucks, wringing another high gasp from her lover. Satisfaction unfurls inside her, catching the updraft of Holtz’s pleasure. She moans against Holtz’s silky skin, scraping her teeth and rolling her tongue around her hardened nipple.

She clutches Erin’s free hand as her orgasm takes her, and their tangling fingers and fusing palms are somehow just as intimate as Erin’s right hand deep inside her, flesh entering flesh, where she flutters and melts around her.

Erin rides the high with her, pure, sinless joy and pride that this woman is shrieking under her, for her. She breathes in Holtz’s screams and groans, incredulous, ecstatic, admiring the quaking of her thighs and the sight of her own fingers disappearing inside her.

When Holtz’s hips drop back down upon the bed, Erin pumps into her with short, rapid thrusts, driving her, pushing her through the fullness of her orgasm until she’s dissolved and boneless and still.

She scoops Holtz up in her arms, placing her head over Erin's heart, a wild bird beating wings against a cage.

“You really like making me come, hmm?” Holtzmann asks when she can speak again, pleased humor in voice.

“God, Holtz, I love it.” She coils a lock of blonde hair around her finger and presses a kiss on the top of her head. “I didn’t know I’d be able to feel your g-spot like that.”

“Yours is tiny.” Holtz lifts her fist and wiggles her pinky finger.

Erin frowns. “Oh. Really?”

“Don’t feel inadequate about your small g-spot. Size doesn’t matter,” she deadpans.

Erin tsks. “I don’t! I’m just thinking. I’ve never had an orgasm from just, um, internally.”

“That’s normal. I’m the weird one.”

“This is very true.”

Chapter Text

Erin gets her period a few days later and turns down Holtzmann’s unconcerned offer of sex. Holtz rubs her back and brings her bottomless steaming cups of tea, sticky-sweet with too much sugar. In the evening they discuss the deeper, hypothetical areas of their work, ideas she had only spoken about with Abby. They bicker about the nature of psychokinetic energy in living people. She can't stop smiling.

Another few days and Holtzmann gets her period as well, along with a nasty cough and stuffy head, resulting in bellowed curses about being twat-blocked by her own body. Erin makes her take breaks and feeds her soup. She chides her gently, with chagrin about their argument, “I told you, you shouldn’t have been out on the roof barefoot in the cold.”

After one too many near-poofs in the lab under the dopey influence of cold medicine, Erin insists on taking Holtz home with her early on Friday and puts her to bed. Holtz surprises her by sleeping through almost all of Saturday, sniffling and drooling on the pillow, her hair a tattered mess working loose from the bun on top of her head. Erin catches up on laundry and the current Journal of High Energy Physics, content in the knowledge that Holtz is there, curled up in her bed.

She wakes up grumpy in the evening and rests her head on Erin’s lap while they watch episodes of Deep Space Nine. Erin keeps absent-mindedly running her fingers through Holtz’s curls and Holtz keeps ducking away, complaining about the tangles. They stumble to bed in the middle of the night after falling asleep on the couch together.

Late on Sunday morning, Erin nearly drops the mug of coffee in her hand when Holtz grabs her from behind.

“Jesus, Holtz, you- oh!”

Firm hands trail with clear intent down the outside of her thighs then back up to squeeze her slender waist, over her ribs, landing just below her breasts. Teeth tug aside the neckline of her robe and a warm mouth presses a kiss on top of her shoulder.

“You smell so nice.”

“Feeling better?” It comes out as something between a squeak and gasp. Erin manages to safely put down the coffee and turns to face her.

“Operating at full capacity, hot stuff. No more sniffles, and I’m no longer shedding uterine lining,” Holtz says proudly.

“I’m glad.” Erin recovers her composure enough to tease her. “You’re a real handful when you’re sick.”

“Aww. I’ve got a better handful for you right here.” Holtz grabs Erin’s hand and claps it on her ass.

“I like the sound of that, but, uh, you need a shower first.”

“What’s wrong, my natural womanly aroma doesn’t do it for you?” She raises her arms in the air and prances around, gyrating and rubbing her underarms on Erin.

“Ugh, stop! Not like that, it doesn’t!” Erin wards her off, hands waving up and down.

“Fiiine. Wanna join me?”

“I already showered, hence you telling me that I smell nice. Unlike you.”

Holtzmann draws her shoulders back and her face turns mock-serious, switching on a stare that bores right into Erin’s center. When she leans close, Erin’s breath catches, expecting a kiss. Holtz stops short and tilts her head.

With her breath tickling Erin’s cheek, “I’m not asking you to get clean with me, I’m asking you to get dirty.”

“Oh my god. Get out of here.” She grins through a swell of arousal as Holtz saunters out of the kitchen.

Despite everything, despite the uncertainty and the secrets, they're safe here in the sheltered nest of her apartment and she's happy, happier than she’s ever been with any other lover.

***

She’s on the couch working on a crossword puzzle when Holtz emerges from the bathroom, naked and damp and flushed all over. She has a moment to envy Holtz’s casual confidence, how comfortable and careless she is with her own body, before Holtz runs across the room and launches herself on top of Erin. It’s half frivolous, half intense, little pecking kisses fluttering all over Erin’s face, insistent hands tugging at her hips.

She revels in the attention and tries to catch Holtz's mouth with her own, but she eludes her, teasing her.

In spite of Erin’s caution, in spite of her self-doubt, when she finally makes up her mind about wanting something, she goes after it with all of her considerable determination. So she shows Holtz what she wants. Her fingers stroke up Holtz’s throat, tipping her chin until her head droops back, then the blonde’s eyes widen as Erin swiftly cups the nape of her neck and crushes their mouths together, her tongue firm and greedy.

Holtz sucks in a gasp through her nose; it has to be through her nose because Erin's mouth is sealed tight to her own.

When they break apart, Holtz is panting. “Oh god, Erin. That turns me on.”

She shakes her head like a wet dog to regain her senses. Erin grins and kisses her again and feels Holtz smile back against her mouth.

Here are brand new variables to be calculated; here are avenues that Erin has never had the opportunity to explore before, to inspire lust without fearing that her lover might demand more than she wants to give, without fearing that she’ll be judged guilty of a transgression.

They stumble to the bedroom, groping each other and laughing along the way. Holtz strips away Erin's robe and panties, leaving her bare. Her fingers search between Erin's legs and she gasps at the abrupt intrusion.

“Oh baby, you're already wet for me.”

“Yes,” Erin says, a cavalier smile crowned by flushed cheeks. “What are you going to do about it?”

Holtz's eyes light up. “Oh-ho, feisty! I'll show you.”

She throws both of them on the bed, pinning Erin down under the weight of her body, warm and humid from her shower. She breathes into her ear, “I wanna taste you.”

Every time they’ve done this, Erin has always stopped her too soon, nagged by the fear that it’s a burdensome chore, fear that she's too wet, too dirty, enjoying it too much.

But together they've been excavating desires that have been buried by Erin’s propriety, exposing them to the sun and warming them back to life.

Erin knows all about shutting down inconvenient truths. Knows all about the way they never stay hidden.

Together they’re discovering that Erin responds beautifully to sweetly obscene coaxing when her desire is trapped just under the surface.

Holtz’s lips curl in a smirk on Erin's neck. “Let me lick your cunt until you come. Please. Baby.” Her clever tongue flickers wetly under her earlobe and licks up the rim of her ear, a lewd shadow of her request.

Erin burns for her, immolated on a pyre of her own want. “Oh god Holtz. Yes. I want it.”

Holtzmann sits back on her heels, a hand atop each of Erin's knees. She raises Erin's ankle to her shoulder and traces the length of her calf, the sensitive back of the knee, up to her inner thigh. Her thighs part under her touch and she bows between them, a supplicant in an immaculate and erotic rite.

Where Holtz’s hands are nearly always gentle, her mouth is nearly always rough and coarse on Erin's mouth, on her neck, on her breasts, but now her tongue swirls an impossible arabesque that parts her labia, direct and unhesitant but achingly soft.

Erin surfaces just long enough to gasp, “Is it ok?”

“You're perfect, Er.” Another soft swirl of her tongue. “Perfect. Fuck.

Erin whimpers and coos and covers her eyes under a bent elbow. She lets go, allowing the waves to close over her head. The desire to kiss Holtz makes her mouth ache and she bites her lips together.

Then her brain stutters, overloaded by sensation, the hot and slick and velvety heaven of her tongue, the quiet, wet sounds of suckling and lapping accompanied by Holtz's appreciative little noises, the nip of fingernails into her thighs.

The breath is knocked out of her lungs when Holtz abruptly surges forward, grabbing the back of Erin's thighs, shoving her knees toward her armpits. Her ass is lifted up off the bed, her sex pulled open and spread bare. There's a brief but pitiless spike of shame from being so exposed, so unequivocally lascivious, so wanting. But Holtz is worshipping her with her mouth and Erin finds herself reaching out to hold her legs in place.

Holtz’s tongue drives inside her, hard and wriggling, the intricate flutter perfectly mated to her pulsing sensitivity. She palms Erin’s ass, her thumbs curved up and around next to her mouth, to press and circle and draw her even farther apart.

When Erin’s groans become loud and desperate, Holtz tongues her clit again, driving her toward her orgasm.

Erin is gasping now, belly drawn in tight and bearing down, legs shaking. Heels pointed at the ceiling, hands clasped around her ankles, her movement confined to nothing but tight rocking of her hips. Chanting, “ohgodohgod-”

“Mmhmm. That's it,” Holtz mumbles against her, speaking around strokes of her tongue without interrupting her rhythm. The urging pushes Erin right up to the edge. She hangs there, ensnared and waiting for release.

A single fingertip presses at her, just barely inside, rubbing, tugging at the bottom of the sensitive opening.

Erin screams.

Her arms are flung wide on the bed as if she's fallen from a great height, her orgasm spinning and twisting her until she’s disoriented.

Holtz heaves herself up on top of her as the spasms subside. She smooths Erin's hair away from her face with an unsteady hand. “Baby,” she says. And again, “Baby.”

When Erin finally opens her eyes, Holtz is smirking down at her.

“You screamed for me.”

Erin’s vocalizations were usually limited to bitten-back moans and squeals. She wrinkles her nose at Holtzmann's smug satisfaction.

“What? You have no idea how much I wanted to hear that.”

“Ugh! Holtzmann!” Erin squirms away and pulls the sheet over her head. Her throat is raw.

Holtz joins her under the sheet. “I love that you didn't hold back. You won't scare me away.”

Erin rolls over to face her, enclosed in the tent of the blankets together. She looks at Holtz, silent and serious. Holtz breaks the contact first, blinking rapidly and looking down. She sucks in a breath and seems about to speak, but after a moment she merely exhales, long and slow.

The moment passes and Erin kisses her, tossing back the bed sheet and rolling them so Holtz is on her back with Erin straddling her.

She makes Holtz look her in the eyes as she blazes a trail of open mouth kisses down her body, leaving scarlet signposts along the way. She has wanted this, but she couldn’t bring herself to initiate it until now. It was too forward, too bold, just a little out of reach. She's lingering in the dulcet cove between hip bone and belly, her forehead resting on Holtz's belly, when Holtz pleads her name, questioning, uncertain.

Erin-

“I want to. Can I?”

Yeah. I’m just… sensitive.”

“I know, sweetheart.”

She doesn’t fight her racing heart, just rides it, exhilarated. This is deliciously, frighteningly new. Holtz's hair tickling her nose. The scent of her arousal right at the source. A kiss, soft and sweet and innocent as any young lover’s first kiss. An exploratory swipe of her tongue right up the seam of her, a dainty kitten lick, tasting her, sharp and sweet.

Holtz's fingers close in her hair and she misinterprets Erin's gasp. “Sorry.”

“I like it. Don’t stop.”

Oh.” She runs her hand back and forth over her hair, not forcing or guiding, only feeling Erin as she moves of her own accord.

She wants to give Holtz the same intensity, the same devastating, drowning sensation that she felt, so she pushes up on the backs of her knees just as Holtz had done and watches as she spreads for her. It's all of those artistic metaphors that used to seem so cliché, a blooming flower, a ripe juicy fruit split open. But most of all it's vulgar and animalistic and raunchy, and she loves it. The intoxicating scent of her fills the space between them, rich and earthy and wildly alive.

Heat pounds dully between Erin's legs. It’s much too soon for her to be able have another orgasm, but her appetite sharpens nonetheless.

She lowers her head and presses her reverent mouth right into the slick of her opening. Holtz sucks in an enormous gasp as if it’s her first breath or her last.

Erin looks up at her and licks her wet lips. “Tell me if it’s too much. If you want me to stop.”

Holtz makes a strangled affirmative sound, her eyes closed, her lower lip held firmly between her teeth.

Her tongue slides flat over the shaft of her clit, side to side, slow and steady. The lightest touch of her tongue to the tip of her clit will push Holtz right to the limit of what she can bear. Erin is poised for a sign to stop but she also wants to see Holtz fall apart under this intensity.

Holtz is nearly there, she can tell. This close, she can see the muscles jump in her thighs, the ripples under her skin.

She moves fast and sudden and buries Holtz's clit between her soft lips, her tongue rolling over the firm and swollen head of it.

Holtz wails and chokes and lunges halfway up off bed, squeezing a fistful of Erin's hair as she comes. Erin moans, urging her on with her best attempts at affirming noises. She can’t keep pace with the erratic bucking of her hips, she can only allow Holtz to grind into her slack mouth, heavy and tempestuous, moaning in harmony with her until her movements slow to a stop like a clockwork all unwound.

Erin isn't ready for it to be over. She wants to drink her down and laps up a mouthful of her until Holtz squirms out of reach of her tongue, a hand placed gently on her head to stop her.

“That was amazing,” Erin breathes, and her eyes are huge and dark and ecstatic.

Holtz looks down at her in foggy astonishment. “You're going to kill me, Er-Bear.”

***

Holtz swore that she could cook when she was properly motivated. So Erin sits on a stool at the breakfast bar that borders her galley kitchen, watching her with idle curiosity. Holtz is wearing Erin’s champagne-pink bathrobe and dumping beaten eggs into a hissing skillet.

“I wish I had even half of your confidence. You never seem to second guess yourself,” Erin says.

Holtz shrugs. “You’re a badass, Er.”

“No I’m not, I just need a warning label that says contents under pressure. But everything you do seems so easy for you. And I’ve never been this comfortable in a relationship with anyone before.”

Holtzmann stares at her.

“Don’t look at me like that. I know I’m uptight but I’m much better than I was. Clearly.” Erin pauses and starts flexing and tugging on her fingers, a nervous tic that she’s barely aware of. “I’ve had some... less than ideal relationships in the past and a lot of bad sex. Nothing but, actually.”

Holtzmann stiffens and she speaks quietly without turning her head. “If we need to kill someone, I know how to make it look like an industrial accident.”

Erin laughs nervously. “I can never tell when you’re joking. But I don’t mean it like that, not really. I just always seemed to find jerks, or they always found me. I was engaged when I was 29 and it was… not good. He was so critical of everything, even in bed. And Phil… He pretended I didn’t exist whenever I inconvenienced him.”

Holtz frowns and shakes her head. She occupies herself with placing bacon in a pan with excessive care.

“You said you were with a woman before,” Holtz says eventually, glancing over her shoulder, cautious.

A reflex from twenty years of denial pinches Erin. It was a mistake. It had been her internal mantra for nearly a year afterward, until she managed to bury the memory in the recesses of her mind. She’s aware of a strange discordance; she’s comfortable here in postcoital domesticity with Holtz, but the memory of that past encounter still has the power to fill her with shame.

“I slept with a woman once in college. Just once. It was… very brief,” she says slowly. She’s never spoken a word of this aloud to anyone ever before. “What about you? What were your relationships like?”

Holtz starts fiddling with the defunct lamp above the sink, the one that Erin kept intending to call maintenance about. She wonders if Holtz is going to ignore the question, but then she starts speaking with great effort.

“Never had a real girlfriend. There was a girl when I was an undergrad. It turned out I liked her a lot more than she liked me. She said I wasn’t relationship material. I tried the casual thing a couple times. But I would end up feeling things and it was never right. So I just… stopped.”

“How long ago was that?”

“When I started grad school.”

“That’s a really long time, Holtz. So no dating, nothing since then?”

“Nope.”

Her reticence frustrates Erin. Holtz is always affectionate and attentive, but getting her to talk about anything other than work requires a hammer and chisel.

She's so physical, so tactile, quick to give a hug, a friendly kiss. So quick to touch Erin, in the most casual and the most intimate ways. What must it have been like to spend so many years without without any of this physical contact, when she seems to be made for it? When she’s under Erin's hands, naked in her arms, she opens up in a kind of quiet warmth, an expressive depth that she doesn't show anywhere else.

The smell of scorched grease interrupts Erins thoughts.

“Holtz! The bacon’s burning!”

“Whoops!”

“Holtzmann, we agreed to not have any fires in my apartment!”

“It’s not on fire! It’s just extra crispy.” Holtz holds the smoking pan at arms length. “Uhh, brunch is prepared.”

Chapter Text

Holtzmann rockets down the stairs outside the red brick rowhome, a trap held triumphantly aloft. Erin and Patty and Abby follow in close succession. The bust was quick with surprisingly minimal ectoplasm. The ghost of a disgruntled housekeeper from 1912, disturbed by renovations in the kitchen, led them on a chase that ended on the fourth floor of the narrow old building.

Erin's smile fades and her teeth clench at the sight of a man snapping photographs of them. She pauses and hangs back, allowing Abby and Patty to come between her and Holtz. She tries to act casual, as if she's not afraid that the journalist will see what's between them, as if her heart's not beating fast with a fear that has nothing to do with ghosts.

Busts have been few and far between since the Rowan incident, but when they happen there is usually someone there by the end, asking questions and taking photos. There are journalists and bloggers, some who accuse them of being frauds and some who take them seriously. Either way, they keep their responses curt. Half the city knows the truth about them but they're still under orders from the mayor not to discuss the city’s support of their work.

“Was it a successful bust, ladies? Can you tell me about the specter you encountered today?”

Erin knows she shouldn’t care, but her relief is immediate and complete when the journalist shows interest in their work rather than hurling accusations.

“We trapped a T4 apparition today!” She shouts. “This will be of great use to our research.”

As they load their gear into the back of the hearse, Abby wraps her arm around Erin’s shoulders. “It’s good to see you like this, Erin. You’ve been so serious lately.”

They pile into the car, shouting and laughing. Holtzmann had insisted on using their grant money to replace the original Ecto-1 with an identical model. Erin had backed her up because she liked seeing the engineer happy, though at the time she couldn't admit why.

Erin keeps meeting Holtz’s gaze in the rear view mirror and sees the smile in her blue-gray eyes. Holtz winks at her. Excitement from the bust transforms into arousal so quickly that it aches low in her belly.

Adrenaline and energy are still running high and hot when they arrive at the firehouse. Erin is so amped up she thinks she might crawl out of her skin. Holtz heads for the experimental containment unit on the first floor and Erin gives her a solid smack on the behind. Holtz’s head whips around to stare at her, startled and intrigued.

“You guys want to go out for dinner? Get a few drinks, maybe a little dancing?” Patty asks, breaking into some impromptu dance moves at a safe distance from Holtzmann as she transfers their catch from the trap to the containment unit.

Erin and Holtzmann’s eyes meet again, and hold. She doesn’t have to wonder if Holtz can see the heat in her eyes because she’s looking back at her as if she’s about to go up in flames.

“I think I’ll pass on that tonight, Patty,” Erin says and Holtz chimes in with agreement.

***

They’re in the bedroom and Holtz is dropping the top of her coveralls down around her waist and lifting her t-shirt over her head. Erin steps into her space so their bodies touch. She kisses her, swift and sure, until they’re breathing quiet moans onto each other's lips.

“I’m all sweaty, Er. Don’t you want-” Holtz says in a daze.

“I don’t care. I can’t wait, and I want you here in bed.”

Excitement from the bust still electrifies Erin’s veins. She yanks open the buttons down the front of her own suit, drawing Holtz’s surprised eyes as she strips it off entirely, kicking it across floor.

Holtz stumbles as she steps out of her suit, distracted by the sight of Erin peeling off her jeans and t-shirt and bra. Erin is rarely so brazen as she undresses, usually turning her back out of old, modest habit. She certainly doesn’t hold eye contact with Holtz the way she’s doing now. There’s nothing coy about it. She’s hasty and need is pouring off of her in palpable waves.

She tries not to think about her body as she undresses, her long skinny limbs, small breasts with dark areola that had always made her fret, narrow hips. Awkward. Beautiful, Holtz insists on telling her. Sexy. Erin doesn’t see it but by now she understands that Holtz really believes it.

Erin takes a deep breath as she drops onto the mattress on her hands and knees, glancing over her shoulder at Holtz and catching her eye in her best attempt at seduction. She arches her back, slow and audacious. Her hips tilt, presenting an unmistakable invitation. She could swear that Holtz’s eyes grow wider and darker as she watches.

She likes the way that she’s growing bolder with every passing day, little by little, sparks fanned into a flame, a flame into a conflagration. It's impossible not to. There’s little room left for self-doubt or hesitance when they’re alone together; her old fears are crowded out by the strength of the attraction and care between them.

The silence is so complete that their breathing is the loudest sound in the room.

Holtzmann's hand is on her ass in an instant, slipping down to the fragile crease where it meets her thigh, squeezing with breathtaking firmness. There’s a subtle but audible wet click as the kneading motion parts her lips without touching them. Erin takes a low sobbing breath as she throbs and twitches around nothing but her own desire. In a fluid movement, Holtz drapes her body over Erin’s back, a huff of air escaping her lungs as she takes their combined weight.

Heat from Holtz's breath grazes over the slope of her shoulder blade, followed closely by her lips and teeth. A groan rumbles in her chest as her hand slides across Erin’s belly to cup the soft weight of her breast, the pebbled nipple pressing into the center of her palm.

Her hips roll against Erin’s ass and Erin’s arms almost give out.

“Oh god-”

One hand squeezes a nipple as the other reaches between her legs from the front, over her panties, fondling her lightly. Erin’s back bows, tipping her hips to demand more. A firmer touch works the fabric into her folds, outlining her clit so fingers can rub along both sides of it, pinching it.

This time her arms do give out and she collapses down on her elbows, shuddering, her forehead pressed into one arm, pressed into the bed. She pushes back against Holtz’s hips with a frustrated little grunt.

Holtz straightens up and slips the fingers of one hand into Erin’s waistband, her knuckles on the small of her back. She slides her hand from side to side under the elastic, stroking Erin’s skin, making her whine impatiently and her toes curl.

Then the sensible beige cotton is pulled down around her knees and Holtz’s fingers drag up to her clit, her thumb presses into the wetness seeping at her entrance, and Erin’s hips snap into her touch.

She can feel the taut chain of Holtz’s restraint, feels Holtz holding back in her trembling, circumspect hands and in her held breath. It rankles Erin's pride. Being underestimated turns her spine to steel, being doubted makes her determined to prove herself, prove what she's capable of.

Her whole body is inflamed with longing and the narrow stimulation of the hand between her legs isn't enough to soothe it. She wants Holtz in her arms and between her legs and between her teeth all at once.

She rises up and attacks Holtz with kisses, biting, sucking, angling their thighs to press and grind. Holtz grabs her by the biceps to keep from falling over under the onslaught.

“Do you have any idea how sexy you are out there?” Erin says when she releases her to catch her breath.

“What?” Holtz struggles to focus under the force of Erin’s stare and the lingering burn of their kiss. Her gaze flicks between Erin’s lips and her eyes.

“When you’re blasting ghosts into puddles of ectoplasm, you incredible woman. You’re so gorgeous and...” Erin babbles, flustered, her nails clutching at Holtz’s back. “Competent.”

Holtzmann barks out a laugh and a slow, wide grin spreads across her face.

“Really? I like the way you handle my equipment. Is this your idea of talking dirty? Because-”

Erin silences her with another kiss. She tugs sharply at Holtz's hips so their bodies thump together.

“God, I want you. I feel like I can’t get close enough.” Erin’s body ripples against the other woman’s and she rubs herself on the angle of Holtz’s thigh.

“You want- What do you want?” Holtz blinks at her, her breathing heavy and uneven.

“Just- you. All of you. You told me not to hold back. I don’t want you to hold back either.”

“Oh. I didn’t know, Er.”

Erin softens. “I know. I just... want to feel you everywhere.”

Sometimes she forgets that Holtz has less experience than she does. From Holtz’s vague statements, Erin has pieced together that she is the one who has had more partners, and certainly the one who has had more sex, though not with women and never with a connection like this.

Holtz’s skill at pleasing her is the result of pure instinct and experimentation. What she might have lacked in experience is made up for with ardor and confidence and the force of the attraction between them.

Holtzmann puts her hands on Erin’s ass, using it to pull Erin up and down against her body, pushing her back and forth atop her thigh. Her grip grows slowly harder and harder until it’s nearly bruising.

“Oh god, Holtz. More.”

She suddenly pushes down on Erin's shoulders, reversing their height difference and bearing down on her as she takes Erin’s mouth. Her hand slides into Erin’s thick hair, tightening into a fist at the crown of her head and tugging to tilt her neck back. Her teeth catch in Erin's lower lip.

This feels so new. It’s not rough exactly, but so pervasive and unrelenting that Erin feels it even in the space between her atoms. There’s not a trace of fear or nervousness. It feels like playing and it feels like bliss.

Holtz lowers one hand to cradle the juicy peach of Erin’s sex in her palm. She curls her fingers around it, wringing it, slick seeping out to coat her hand until the soft flesh slithers between her fingers.

Erin hangs from her, arms propped atop Holtz's shoulders and wrapped tightly behind her neck. Her breath gone, her knees parted as far as she can with the flimsy fabric straining between them, rocking into Holtz's groping hand.

“You’re dripping all over me.”

“I wonder why,” Erin sighs tartly.

“It’s good?” Holtz teases her back, pulling on Erin’s hair and pinning her with her stare.

“So good,” Erin gasps as two fingers penetrate her before withdrawing just as suddenly.

Holtz lifts her slightly so her knees come up off the bed, leaving her balanced between her flexed toes and Holtz's body. She topples backward, pulling them both down with Erin seated astride her.

She clutches Erin’s breasts and tugs on her nipples, one hand hot and dry, the other glistening and slippery with Erin’s arousal. The contrasting sensations of the drag and the slide, her own wetness smeared on her breast, and the look on Holtz’s face as her gaze is trained on Erin’s breasts all conspire to leave Erin moaning with her eyes half-closed and her mouth half-open.

“I like you like this,” Erin breathes.

“Like this?”

“Like that. Oh.

Erin tries to prostrate herself on top of Holtz, seeking to close the distance between them again, but the hands on her breasts hold her at arm’s length. She squirms and bounces sharply on top of Holtz’s pelvis in protest.

“I want to feel you against me.”

“Wait. I want to look at you like this.”

Her hands cascade down Erin’s torso, churning over the cage of her ribs, her long tapered waist, her hip bones under their slim padding, Holtz’s expression growing more and more strained.

“God Erin, you’re gorgeous.”

Her hips buck up between Erin’s spread legs, a rough grind of bone and a tease of softness meeting below.

The friction and drag are almost too much but then Holtz uses the momentum of her hips to sit up.

She pushes her tongue into Erin's mouth, pushes her backward on the bed and crouches over her, pressing her thighs open.

She's muttering in a low, fierce voice, “I want you. I want to be close to you.”

“I'm right here, honey.” Erin croons encouragement, her hands on Holtz's shoulders as she shifts above her, lowering herself between Erin’s spread legs.

It’s graceless and strained and a little comical, but then the angle is right and they both gasp at the fullness of the contact.

Jillian. Oh fuck, baby.”

“You f-feel so good, Er.”

It’s a sea of slippery softness as Holtz grinds into her, grunting with effort as she drives her hardened clit on top of Erin's, slides in between slick plush lips.

It’s more fulfilling and intimate and right than Erin ever would have imagined.

Holtzmann is ruddy-faced and dripping sweat and when she rapidly climaxes, it's with a high tremulous “Ohhh,” then an exultant shout, and Erin steadying her with her hands on her hips.

Her legs give out and she falls on top of Erin, who sighs at the loss of contact. But Holtz is still rubbing against her, propped up on her elbows, calling out a litany of Erin’s name, with Erin responding, “I’ve got you, sweetheart, I’ve got you.”

She finally goes still, muscles shaking from her efforts, and Erin holds her tight, pressing kisses among the salty beads of sweat on her forehead until she starts to pull away.

“You didn’t come, Er.” It’s not an accusation, it’s an apology, but it doesn’t need to be.

“Wait, stay with me a minute,” Erin says, a small beatific smile on her lips. She isn’t ready to break this connection. Words are forming on her tongue, rolling in her mouth, but it's just the moment, she thinks. She says the next best thing, tempering her emotions with caution, with sensible reason.

“Holtz. I love being with you like this.” She cradles the arch of her cheekbones in her palms.

Holtz focuses her glassy eyes and Erin can see and hear the force with which she swallows.

“Erin.”

She kisses her but it’s too brief and then she’s backing away down Erin’s body.

Erin sighs and graces the back of Holtzmann's head with a touch of her hand and tilts her hips. She gasps and squeals as Holtz dives into her with unexpected force, fastening her mouth tight and shaking her head to tug on tender flesh. Her hips are jostled side to side from the energy of Holtz's devouring, sloppy licks.

Long slender legs confine Holtz’s shoulders, narrow heels dig into her back.

Under Holtz’s ravenous enthusiasm, another layer of her protective shell flakes away, another tumbler in the lock inside her is released.

Holtz breaks away just long enough to gasp for air, her breath a furnace blast on Erin’s skin. “Come for me.” And she returns to her frenetic sucking.

“I need- ease up a little please.”

Holtz settles and centers herself into steady, firm circles with the flat of her tongue, perfectly matched to the movement of Erin’s hips.

“Jilli- Jilli-”

The gear that’s been spinning wildly inside Erin suddenly catches in the teeth of her orgasm, winding up the tension and then unspooling it in an explosive release.

Jillian. Holtz. Oh god. Baby.”

Just as she starts to descend from the peak, she urges Holtz on, her fingers twisting in her hair, with words dredged up from long-buried depths, “More, harder now... Yes.

And she does, eagerly grinding Erin into her mouth, scooping up her bottom and lifting her up to feed on her with lips and teeth and tongue.

Then Holtz’s mouth is gone and her fingers are pressing inside Erin and she screams as Holtz fucks her, her single drawn-out orgasm turning her over and over until all the tension inside has sprung loose.

***

Erin's fingers travel in lazy exploration over the swollen creases between her legs. She's so wet, covered in slick from both of them, her own fluid mingled with Holtzmann's all over her, along with saliva from Holtz's mouth. There's so much, it's spread far down her inner thighs.

“Whatcha doing? Do you want more?” Holtz asks, intrigued, returned from the bathroom to see the movement of Erin's hand under the sheet.

Erin pulls her hand away but can't muster up any real embarrassment about being caught touching herself. She opens her eyes.

“No, I'm worn out,” she says, with a soft, sated smile. “Which isn't even fair. You did all the work tonight.”

Holtz curls up beside her, fitting her body against Erin’s, right where she belongs.

“It's not work when you love what you do.” Her contented mirth sets off fireworks in Erin’s heart. She lightly bites the top of Erin’s breast then blows air past her lips with a noisy vibration. Erin laughs and wrinkles her nose and brushes Holtz’s chin away.

It’s a revelation that sex could be so happy, that it could be playful but still so intensely satisfying. Compared to this, everything that has come before now seems like it was at arm’s length.

Holtz’s crotch nestles snug against Erin’s hip.

“I know you want more.”

Holtz wriggles. “Only if you're not too tired.”

“I seem to be experiencing a sudden burst of energy,” Erin says, and her smile deepens.

“Yeah?” Holtzmann rolls over, her arms thrown above her head, her dimpled knees bent wide apart, her lithesome spine arched. She looks Erin in the eyes from under dramatic fluttering lashes, her upper lip curled in a snarling smile that bares her teeth. “Fuck me.”

Erin wonders if she'll ever get tired of the high she gets from doing this with her. It's so good she can't believe it will last.

Harder, Erin. Fuck me harder.” The smoky-dark resonance of her voice soaks right into Erin’s bones, turning them to adamant.

Erin had asked her not to hold back and this, she realizes, is when Holtz likes to be demanding, far more harsh and demanding than when their positions are reversed.

There's a gasp as Erin complies, and Holtz grabs at Erin's hand, pulls on it even harder on the next thrust so her palm thumps roughly against her pubic bone, pounds on her clit.

Jesus, Holtz!”

“Oh god- Just like that. You’re so good. Fuck me Eriiin.”

She does so with a ferocity that she didn’t know she was capable of. A jumble of sounds crash around her, the solid wet slap of her palm, the soft squelch of her fingers, her own straining breath, all overlaid with Holtz’s rhythmic groaning screams until she asks Erin to stop.

Erin’s heart is filled to overflowing, giddy with joy and arousal from giving Holtz this much pleasure.

Holtz sighs as Erin gently unsheathes her fingers from the clutching heat of her body. Erin dips between her legs and kisses her, drawing up a mouthful of salt and sweet and musk, and Holtz cups the back of her head as if it’s the most precious treasure in the world.

Chapter Text

“Come on, man. You guys never go out with us anymore.” Patty is upbeat, wheedling, still hoping to convince Erin.

“Yeah, we haven’t done anything together outside of work since you two started boinking. It’s ok to come up for air once in a while and have a life, y’know?” Abby says, much more sharply than Patty.

Erin shrugs and tosses her head. “I just haven’t felt like going out.”

“Next time, Er-Bear?” Holtz glances up over her goggles at Erin, then back down at the heap of dull gray and glittering silver metal shavings as she sweeps her workbench.

Her casual tone is feigned, Erin can tell. She’s learned to decipher some of her deflections and her quirks, the moods occluded by the constantly shifting expressions and one-liners, the pointed silences.

Erin crosses her arms. “Sure. Next time.” She retreats to her desk and taps a dense stack of already tidy papers on the surface, fidgets with her empty coffee cup.

“All right, all right. Abby baby, how about it? Just the two of us,” Patty sings the last line, her smile turning from spring to summer as she looks at Abby.

Abby’s cheeks turn uncharacteristically pink. Erin’s eyes narrow then widen, glancing back and forth between the two.

“Absolutely, Pats. We’ll leave these party poopers behind,” Abby says, studiously avoiding eye contact with Erin.

***

Holtz emerges from the shower wearing slouchy pants and Erin’s MIT hoodie. Erin meets her in the firehouse lounge in fuzzy pastel pink slippers, paired with the jeans and sweater she’d worn to work that day. They’re quiet as they share leftover Greek takeout on the couch. The silence isn’t unusual, but the unease between them is. Finally Erin speaks, an excuse for reconnecting as much as wanting Holtz’s opinion.

“Did you notice anything different about Abby and Patty?”

“Hm?” Holtz looks up, her mouth full of food and her forehead scrunched.

“They seemed… I don't know. Never mind.”

She offers to share her plate of chicken with Holtz, who shakes her head and continues shoveling loaded forkfuls of moussaka into her mouth.

“You’re upset that I didn’t want to go out tonight,” Erin says.

Holtz rustles deeper into her seat. Her knee begins subtly bouncing. She doesn’t speak.

“I like being at home with you.”

“And you don’t want to be seen in public together,” Holtz says, spinning her fork in a figure eight through the remnants of the demolished meal on her plate, over and over.

Erin folds her arms stiffly over her chest and turns her face away. “I’m afraid some stupid tabloid will take a photo of us together and it will make us look like a joke. Four women chasing ghosts on taxpayer’s money and, oh by the way, two of them are screwing each other.”

Holtz leans back and tents her fingers, tapping her forefingers on her chin. “Erin. This is New York, not Bumblefuck Michigan. No one will remember it a day later.”

Erin drops her head, smoothing her hands over her face then up and over her hair. Her rumpled fringe sticks out above her forehead. She hugs herself and groans.

So much effort and so many years spent creating a meticulously scripted normal life. So much commitment to proving that she isn’t a weirdo, that she’s a serious physicist who doesn’t believe in the paranormal and who is also a perfectly ordinary heterosexual. Those patterns, those well-traveled neural pathways, are not easily re-routed.

“We can go out this weekend. I just want to be… careful. I’m not ready to deal with this.”

Cold sweat creeps along her hairline and her eyes burn. She scrubs her hands over her face again, trying to will away the feeling of dread. Holtzmann curls around her on the couch and gathers her tightly into her arms.

“I don’t hide, Erin. But I don’t want you to be afraid.”

“I’m sorry, sweetheart. I don’t want it to be like this.”

They hold onto each other as the rotation of the earth threatens to pull them apart and spin them off into the void. But they keep each other steady, tethered together so neither of them flies away.

Holtz puts the pad of her thumb on Erin’s chin and tilts her face down to kiss her, unusually soft and comforting. After a long moment, the tip of her tongue touches Erin’s lips. They part for her, and her tongue enters Erin’s mouth. She lifts Erin’s sweater and runs one finger where denim meets skin in a measured orbit from back to front. Erin whines, high and soft, and rakes her teeth over Holtz’s lower lip as her pulse begins drumming.

Holtz had piled her hair on top of her head after her shower and now Erin unravels the elastic, working her fingers through it to draw it down around her shoulders in a wild mane.

If Erin conceals herself in public, she’ll be bold and forward in private, inside the sanctity of the quiet, orderly rooms of her apartment, inside the firehouse with its cavernous, echoing ceilings and the distant, ominous hum of the containment unit. She’ll prove to Holtz that this won’t matter; Erin can be everything and give her everything else that she wants.

“Holtzmann. Will you show me your toys?”

Holtz grumbles in confusion. “I don't have anything new to show you. I already-”

“I'm not talking about your toys in the lab, Jillian.”

Holtz gapes up at her. For once her muteness is involuntary.

***

“You use all of these?”

“Not all at once. That would be weird,” Holtz replies archly. “This one’s my favorite.” From the drawer, she picks up a sparkly purple dildo, smooth and gently curved.

“If you hadn’t mentioned it before, I never would have expected you to, uh, like this kind of thing.”

Holtz tilts her head, a quizzical expression pinching her features.

“I just thought… You’re not interested in men and…”

Holtz’s eyes widen and her mouth contorts into a horrified frown.

“And I sound like an idiot, don’t I?” Erin concludes.

This is not…” Holtz shudders. She composes herself and continues, serious and reasonable. “This,” Holtz smacks the toy on the edge of the table for emphasis, snickering as it wobbles, “is 100 percent silicone, nearly indestructible, maintains ideal rigidity, odorless, warms quickly to body temperature, and it fills up my vag perfectly when I’m in the mood for it.” She pauses and nibbles on her lower lip. “If you’re not into it, we won’t use it.”

“It feels kind of silly. But… yes.”

“Really?”

Erin chuckles at the Christmas-morning excitement on Holtz’s face.

“I can’t help but think… At first you were nervous about my fingers even though you have this?”

“It’s different when it’s just me. Letting you root around in there for the first time was not the same thing.”

Erin sighs. “Why do you have to say it that way?”

Holtz brushes away Erin’s exasperation. “What about you? See anything you like?” She flourishes her hands over the drawer as if displaying prizes on a gameshow. Erin casts a sidelong glance into the drawer at the options lined up there. It seems so crude, but her curiosity far outshines any hesitance.

She snatches up a hard, translucent toy with an acute curve at the tip. “I want to try this.” She’s blushing so hard that she thinks her ears must be glowing from the heat.

“Excellent choice.” Holtz laces her fingers together and cracks her knuckles. “I’ve gotta rinse this one off. Silicone is a lint magnet. You can get started if you want.” She leers and grins.

Erin rolls her eyes. She pulls her sweater off over her head after Holtz leaves the room, stretching and sighing. Instead of hearing footsteps on the stairs to the bathroom, she hears water running in the lab. She marches out of the bedroom and across the hall.

“Holtzmann! Don’t wash the dildo in the utility sink! Go use the bathroom. I don’t even want to think about the chemicals you’re exposing it to.”

Holtz shakes it dry and drops fly off like a perverse blessing of holy water. “Who has time for that?”

“It’s one flight of stairs!”

“Why take the stairs when I can wash up or pee right here?”

“You- you pee in the lab sink?”

“Sometimes. When you’re not in the room.”

“Jesus Christ. It’s not a toilet!” Erin throws her hands in the air and stalks away.

“It’s all pipes!” She shouts, her maniacal laughter following Erin out of the room.

“You’re not really mad, are you?” she asks when she slumps down cross-legged on the bed, looking like a guilty puppy. She plays with Erin’s fingers, bending them, fitting her own into the spaces between them.

Erin shakes her head, peeved but indulgent. “No. But you’re so weird.”

“You love it.”

“Hmm.”

She wraps her arms around the back of Holtz’s neck and kisses under her ear, unsettled again, uneasy with Holtz’s playful, confident words. You love it. The unspoken question perhaps hinted at underneath, Do you love me? Erin sighs on Holtz’s skin and feels arms tighten around her, hears a faint whimper.

Words and worries fall away as they kiss, leaving behind only the feel of feverish lips and grasping hands. Clothing is shed and Holtz guides Erin back on the bed, her hands encircling her breasts, thumbing her nipples. The tension in Erin's body unrolls down her arms and legs and out the tips of her fingers and toes. Holtzmann is a virtuoso by now, playing her body like an instrument till it thrums with bass notes of desire.

She bites her lip when Holtz places the toy against her, pausing there, meeting her eyes. She nods. The cold shaft slides readily inside, the blunt point of the curve nipping sharply at her front wall before settling home within the bowl of her pelvis.

It’s slender and polished so there’s scarcely any stretch, but a shower of stars bursts all around her as the hard tip pushes up into a sensitive spot. It begins slowly, then the pace increases steadily as Erin’s hips respond and match the movement inside her.

The palm of Holtzmann’s free hand skims up just over the ledge of Erin's pubic bone, the heel of her hand pressing down into her belly as if seeking to meet the short but powerful thrusts within her core. Just a few tender inches of her body divide the forces exerted upon her, inside and out.

Depth charges detonate inside Erin’s belly, sending waves roiling out from the point of impact. White-hot lights flare behind her closed eyelids, but her orgasm eludes her. There’s no build up, there’s no tension winding up waiting to spring loose. She huffs in frustration.

“I need you to touch me.”

Holtz's fingers part around her clit, her fingers sliding along both sides lightly, teasingly.

God just touch me already,” Erin hisses.

“I am touching you,” Holtz says languorously.

“Touch my clit, damn it. Fuck,” she grinds out, her jaw clenched, a sneer of frustrated desire twisting her face at being made to say it.

“I love it when you tell me what you want.” Holtz’s fingertip seeks out the tender skin just below the edge of her pubic hair. She rubs gently, shifting the shaft of her clit where it meets the bone underneath. “How’s that?”

The vise in Erin’s belly has begun to tighten and she might be able to peak this way if it goes on long enough, but she can’t stand to wait any longer. “You know how I like it. Please.

Without warning Holtz buries her face between Erin's legs, licking roughly where the toy enters her, layers of sensation stacking up to unbearable heights, cool hard acrylic met by hot velvety tongue. Finally she gives Erin what she’s begging for and applies her tongue to her clit in a soft, rapid whorl.

Erin bends and screams in a banshee shriek, “Fuck!”

Her orgasm goes on and on, longer than she thought possible, as Holtz holds her hips down and thrashes her clit and pummels the spot inside her that threatens to lift her up off the bed.

As she comes down, Holtz replaces the toy with her tongue. Erin struggles to prop herself up on shaking arms, watching Holtz’s mouth cover the entirety of her sex, sucking her and dipping her tongue inside. Her hips twitch involuntarily, pressing harder and harder into the sweet torment, with Holtz welcoming her, encouraging her with hungry moans.

When Holtzmann finally lifts her head, a strand of fluid stretches between her lower lip and Erin's body, linking them. A second becomes infinite and she must be in zero gravity because the love and confidence and peace swelling in her chest feels so alien. She's not breathing and she can't move but she is perfect and whole.

Holtz looks up with a brilliant smile and licks her lips and Erin crashes back to earth with her, tugging at her arms to draw her up face to face.

She arches one eyebrow and diffuses the intensity of the moment. “It's sexy when you swear.”

“You're such a tease!” Erin pants, still unfocused from the power of her orgasm.

“It was good, though.” She smirks and looks down at Erin from beneath heavy lowered lids.

Erin huffs in annoyance. She flattens her hand on Holtz’s belly and slides down until she thrusts it between Holtz's legs, cupping her firmly enough to wrench a groan from her throat.

“You’re so wet. I haven’t even done anything to you yet.” Erin is teasing her, challenging her; she knows perfectly well the effect she has on her. She wants to hear Holtzmann say it.

“This is what happens when I touch you,” Holtz gasps, her voice all gravel, half a smile on her lips. She throws her head back and closes her eyes, rocking her hips on Erin's hand. “Baby. I want you.”

Erin’s heart springs into her throat and she reaches across the bed. She fumbles with the unfamiliar weight in her hand, meeting Holtz’s eyes, waiting for her to make the first move in this new game.

Holtzmann wraps steely fingers around Erin's wrists and pulls her upright so their bodies collide with jarring force, shaking the breath from both of them. They kiss with an equal measure of passion, biting and sucking.

Holtz rises up on her knees, her hips and breasts swaying as she straddles Erin’s thighs. Hard, rosy nipples hover near Erin's face and she catches one in her mouth. The sudden sharp suction draws out a yelp and a groan and Holtz pulls away.

She reaches down between her legs where Erin holds the toy pressed atop her thigh, upright and waiting, and smears it with a handful of lube. Her abdomen tightens as she begins to lower herself and all Erin can think about is how it must look as Holtz touches herself and guides the tip of the shaft inside her.

Her eyes roll back as she sinks completely, swallowing up the full length so that her wet heat presses onto Erin's hand.

She arches her spine and draws back her shoulders. All of her teeth show in a feral grin. Her head droops and she looks down at Erin from under heavy eyelids; her voice when she speaks is lower and quieter than Erin has ever heard it. “Ok hot stuff, how about we go for a ride?” The tip of her tongue curls up over one pointed canine.

She begins a hypnotic locomotion, her rolling hips describing circles in the space above Erin's lap as she rises up and down with increasing power and speed. Her leonine mass of hair swings, covering and uncovering her face by turns.

She utters expletives on each downstroke and punctuates each one with choked gasps when the toy bottoms out inside her. “Oh-Oh-Fuck-Fuck-Fuck-”

The muscles in her back contract and ripple under Erin’s free hand, slipping away from her grasp. She scratches her nails up the length of Holtz’s back until her fingers sink into her hair, twisting and tugging at the back of her head.

It pushes Holtzmann over the edge. A rapid blush blooms in her face and down her chest; she gasps and swears, her features screw up tight then flex in an unmistakable expression.

She grabs Erin’s hips for leverage to pull herself down even harder, her own hips snapping forward, heavy and greedy, seeking friction from the hand beneath her. The thunder of a roaring groan blasts out of her and Erin moans with her, carried along on the gale, spinning away together out of control. Their bodies slap and squeak, lubricated with dripping sweat, her own core throbbing in sympathy with Holtz’s orgasm. She slows but never quite stops before picking up the pace once more, until she comes again with her hands in Erin's hair and Erin's mouth bent to her breast.

They're panting in tandem when Holtz finally ceases her furious ride and collapses into dead weight. She groans deeply when she lifts herself off of the toy then hums as she sinks down onto Erin’s bare lap, grinding out the last aftershocks on her thigh.

Erin holds her tight and licks the salty sweat of her neck, bites down on the overheated skin of her shoulder. She raises her hand to her face, the hand that Holtz had used to ride out her pleasure, and breathes in the scent. Her mouth waters and her tongue flicks out to taste the wetness, its natural flavor marred by lube.

Beads of sweat still trickle down where their burning skin is soldered together, from under their arms, from beneath their breasts, from the creases where Erin's legs are folded up beneath her.

Holtz's rapid breathing begins to slow and Erin nuzzles her neck, cradling her in her arms more gently now.

Finally she murmurs, “Jilly, I love this but I can’t feel my feet.”

Holtz shimmies back off of Erin's lap, the wet skin of their chests peeling apart with pop. As they lay together, holding each other, Holtz traces patterns on the smooth planes and slight curves of Erin's body with warm fingertips.

“Are you satisfied with me? In bed? You don’t have as many orgasms as I do,” Holtz asks, muffled by Erin's clavicle.

“Yes, sweetheart. I can honestly say that I’ve never had anything close to this before. And I told you, I’ve always been that way. Even, you know, by myself.”

Holtz sighs and melts into her. A moment later she pipes up in an accent reminiscent of some James Bond villain, “Sooo, what do you do by yourself? Does Doctor Gilbert have toys?”

“I only have one,” she says defensively, “Just a little vibrator.”

“I wanna see it next time we’re at your place.”

“Ok. But I like your hands and your mouth much better.”

“You sure know how to flatter a girl, hot stuff.”

***

“Hey Erin. Can we get a harness?”

“What?” Erin stirs but doesn’t open her eyes.

“A harness. You know-”

Erin feels Holtzmann bouncing on the bed with what must be vigorous hip thrusts.

“...Let me think about it.”

Long minutes pass and Erin is once again in that liminal space between waking and sleep.

“Hey Erin.”

“Hmm?”

“I almost forgot. Rebecca invited us to Thanksgiving at her place,” Holtz says in a sleepy voice.

Erin’s head flies up off the pillow. “Doctor Gorin? Invited both of us?”

“Uh-huh.”

“Oh god. I don’t know Holtz. I don't think she likes me very much after the way things went the first time we met. I don’t think I should. But you should still go!” Erin says in a rush.

“You don’t want to come?”

Erin can’t see her face in the dark but she can hear the hurt in her flat voice.

“I mean, I do, but,” She trails off and concentrates on slowing her breathing. This is what couples do, she thinks. Spend holidays together with family. She pleats the edge of blanket in her sweaty hands. “Well. Do you really think she won’t mind me being there? Will there be a lot of other people?”

“I dunno. Some of her colleagues might be there. And she invited you, so that means she likes you.” She pauses. “Probably.”

“Ok. Yes.”

Erin stares into the dark, wide awake.