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“Breathe, just breathe,” she whispers, and resolutely doesn’t look above her. Erin knows what’s there. It’s a target shaped like a ghost. Hovering over her head.

“Breathe, Erin!” Abby says helpfully from the sidelines. Patty is notably not saying a word which makes Erin more nervous than anything else.

Down the alley is Jillian with a very serious expression and a very tiny pencil-shaped item in her hand.

Earlier: “It’s like a dart with a remote-activated explosive in the tip,” Abby had said when Jillian stopped trying to explain exactly what it was. (Abby was rewarded with a few “ahhh’s” from the group.) Shortly after, Erin had asked, “But why me?” and Jillian had waved her hand as if irritated by the question. “With you there, I won’t miss,” she said as if it was obvious.

Now: Jillian adjusts her glasses, tilts her head from side to side, and flicks the dart thingie in Erin’s direction.

No one breathes.

It hits the target above Erin’s head, bullseye, and clinks down to the ground without exploding.

Erin wonders if crying is an appropriate response.

Rushing down the alley, Jillian is a blur of frenzy and giggles, and soon her arms are around Erin, holding her close and warm and for a moment too long. Erin’s embarrassed because she probably smells like a sweaty, terrified mess. Jillian pulls away but her hands are still gripping Erin’s arms. “That was good.”

“That was crazy.”

Jillian’s gaze is steady and she looks happy as sunshine. “That was crazy goo-ooo-oooood,” she sing-songs.

Erin thinks, well. I didn’t die. She counts it as a win.

*
I’m going to die, she thinks, as three ghosts batter her with something vaguely corporeal and she fumbles for the right weapon at her side. Mid-battle decisions are complicated for her; she’s used to spending time puzzling over an equation, not. You know. Quickly eradicating malevolent spirits.

Jillian, however, is in her element; easily alternating through her assorted weaponry and taking down the undead hosts with narrowed eyes behind golden glass. Erin takes a moment to watch her do her thing because it’s awesome and inspiring and a good way to learn. Determined, she grabs the gun holstered at her side that matches Jillian’s and tries the roll-to-the-ground and shoot-up method and it works.

Well, it works until the ghosts swoop in together to rush her (at her specifically, jesus god) and Patty’s screaming Erin’s name and Jillian’s rushing toward her with real fear in her eyes and Abby’s firing everything she’s got.

Erin throws the dart thingie (Jillian’s named it something but Erin can’t remember) and it hits the lead ghost square in the head. Jillian flicks her wrist and multiple darts shoot out, hitting ghost after ghost, and in a hot second, she dives over Erin to shield her from spectral axes thrown and the ensuing series of explosions.

Ghosts are vanquished, but, of course, of course, there’s slime and more slime and randomly, the sound of breaking twigs and Erin finds herself encased in Jillian’s arms, her back to the asphalt and her head buzzing with pain and confusion and relief.

“Hello,” Jillian says calmly, her lips close enough to kiss.

Erin flinches, just a little, just a bit, because this is awkward and she’s sticky and Jillian is, like, lying on top of her. Something twists in her gut and she’s not quite sure what it is, but man oh man, does she want a shower and a nap and a beer and maybe all three at once.

“Holtz, you took a hit—are you—” Patty says.

Jillian has a strange sort of smile on her face. “Oh.” She pushes up on one arm. “Huh. I just fractured my humerus.” She blinks slowly and stares meaningfully down at Erin. “Avenge me,” and she passes out straight away, her body crumpling on top of Erin.

*
The thing about hospitals is that flowers are acceptable presents but white boards and weapon prototypes fueled by nuclear power are not.

At least, that’s what Jillian grumbles about just before sniffing the beautiful bouquet Erin brought. She sneezes violently. “Allergic. Bring me salty things.”

“You’re a salty thing,” Erin shoots back.

Jillian raises her eyebrow in a distinct come on expression and Erin rolls her eyes. She rummages through her purse and finds some Starbucks salted cashews.

“Ugh, marry me,” Jillian says with one arm outstretched.

“In your dreams,” Erin replies as she hands her the bag and Jillian closes her eyes and makes snoring noises.

Erin laughs because it’s funny.

Erin stops laughing because Jillian winces and she remembers why she’s here; why both of them are here. “Yeah, so, thanks for the save,” she tries because she’s awkward and this girl gang warrior thing is new. “Thank you, Jillian.” She’s never called her that, but it seems fitting in this moment. And Erin thinks, randomly, how lovely her first name is.

Jillian looks at her and it’s a sobering type of expression. She looks like she actually may say something that’s not actually ridiculous. Unlikely, but possible.

But, that’s when Kevin comes in with another bouquet and Jillian begins to sneeze in earnest.

“Oh gosh, I’ve been told that I’m not good for a woman’s health,” Kevin says solemnly, shoving the vase in Erin’s face and turning on his heels. “Bye, don’t die!”

Erin sidles over to watch Kevin leave, enjoying the view before she has to deal with glass, water, and various flora. She chuckles and looks briefly over at Jillian who’s hiding behind tissues and sinking further into the bed. “Idiot,” she says dismissively and Jillian’s eyes narrow, just a fraction.

“Don’t die,” Erin echoes softly and wishes she could, just briefly, run her hand through Jillian’s curls. Something akin to desire slides from her fingers to her heart, like a feather against her skin. She shakes it off like a weird dream. “I also brought you the latest Physics World. I’ll read it to you.”

“No, seriously, marry me.”

Erin laughs because it’s funny, because Jillian is being funny.

*
It’s nighttime and they’re totally staying later than the nurse allowed them and Jillian is asleep and Abby is sitting close with her head on Erin’s shoulder.

“I think,” Abby starts. “I think that Holtz—”

“She’s going to be okay,” Erin says as reassuringly as she can.

“Well, of course she’s going to be okay, I just. I think that Holtz—”

“—Is the best of us? That we’d be lost without her? What? You don’t have to tell me she’s awesome.”

Abby laughs and it’s a sharp, almost cutting, peal of laughter, which gets under Erin’s skin for a moment.

“So, you know the time when she used you as target practice?” Abby says.

“Okay, she’s also insane. I’ll give you that.”

“That was—well, Erin, that was her trying to—I just.”

Erin’s on her feet before Abby can finish her rambling nonsense. Jillian’s shuddering in her drugged sleep and that’s not good. She thinks briefly of calling for the nurse; maybe Jillian needs more pain meds. There’s a blanket on the end of the hospital bed, so Erin pulls it up and over the sleeping woman. She watches, and watches till Jillian is still again.

“What are you trying to say, Abby?” Erin says absently. “Use your words.”

“Nevermind.”

*
Patty tells it to her straight the next morning: “You know the kid did it because she loves you, right?”

Erin opens her mouth and then closes it.

Patty hums a very judgy “mmmhmm.”

*
A broken arm - and a sentence of eight weeks to recover - keeps no mad scientist away from the lab. With her bad arm in a sling, Jillian tinkers one-handed while Erin sits with her. Erin’s hungover because right now, she has Things to Think About and Things to Drink About.

She feels stupid, well, stupider after too many vodka tonics the night before. She feels confused, and she feels unsettled, and she feels a little excited. Feelings are just information, she thinks. What matters is how you act.

Last night, her drunken energy hit right as she had almost made sense of it all, so she’s back to the drawing board. And as a scientist, she’s looking for more data points.

So, she watches. Jillian is ignoring her because there’s science to be done. Erin’s gaze lingers and she knows she’s awkwardly staring but there’s no harm in it. No intent.

At least, not yet, she thinks with a question mark at the end of the sentiment.

Paying attention to everything Jillian does or says is a new thing for Erin, especially as there is so much to notice. There’s the clothes, the hair, the glasses; the way she moves; the sounds she makes. How carefully she picks up some tools and casually throws others aside. The quirk in her smile and the crisscross of her ankles together as she sits. Her fingers against her temple when she thinks. Her broad gaping mouth when she makes a discovery. How she dances to music, both real and imaginary.

The little moments when she looks over at Erin just to check that she’s still there.

Erin breathes in slowly.

On occasion, Jillian hauls over some complex contraption and asks Erin to push three buttons while she adjusts the reversed polarity or some such. On occasion, she asks Erin’s opinion and more than once, she asks for Erin to write out a calculation on the white board.

All in all, it’s a strange way to spend the day; being so aware of another person. Being in the moment.

When it’s late, when Erin’s curled up in a ball on her chair, Jillian looks at her with one corner of her mouth raised. “You’ve been thinking really loudly today.”

“Mmm,” Erin says. “Tiring work.”

Before Erin can really register it, Jillian’s in her personal space. There’s a hand on her shoulder and yellow glass in front of her. “I think it’s bedtime for bonzos.”

Her face is crazy close and she smells like steel and grease and mountain dew and something vaguely sweet and soapy and Erin wonders about the next potential data point.

So she tries something: “Wanna tuck me in?”

Jillian blinks like something has shorted out in her brain, and she’s suddenly further away. Erin immediately misses the warmth of that temporary closeness.

“Ummm,” Jillian replies with the slightest sound of panic, and Erin shrugs her shoulders and says “Kidding, I’m good,” and Jillian just stares, like something isn’t registering, something isn’t right, and Erin can sense the raw nerve she just exposed.

See, Erin’s never consciously flirted back.

With that, Erin has all the data points she needs for a solid theory. And it’s a moment of pure euphoria before the crash of “what, how, why, oh god.”

*
It’s one thing to know that a girl likes you; it’s another thing entirely to know what to do about it.

Her longest relationship has been with the Scientific Method; so she observes, she hypothesizes, and she tests.

  • Kevin brings her a coffee and smiles and simpers and looks like Adonis incarnate and Erin feels oddly unmoved now. Which is weird.
  • She finds herself staring when Jillian does her physical therapy exercises: the length of her fingers, the slight curve of her wrist, the muscle in her arms.
  • In the privacy of her own room, she makes an adjustment in her fantasies and has surprisingly satisfying results.

It’s not enough to act; but it is enough to adjust.

*
It’s 7 am and coffee must be purchased soon or there will be hell to pay, and Erin walks out of her condo, straight into Dr. Gorin.

“Good morning,” she says crisply. “Jilly has not returned my calls and I was wondering if she was with you.”

Erin gapes, and then reaches out her hand. “Good morning. Uh.”

Dr. Gorin looks at her hand, incredulous, before shaking it. “Dr. Gilbert.”

Something stutters in her brain. “So, Holtzmann is fine. Well, she’s injured, but she’s fine. She’s not here. Why woul—. She’s at the firehouse, she lives there now. Why didn’t you— Uh. She’s fine. She’s great. How are you?”

There’s something like a growl as Dr. Gorin says, “Mmm. So, she’s not here.”

“She’s not here.” It’s too early for any of this, she thinks, and she says: “Would you like to pick up breakfast with me, and I’ll take you there?”

Later, with their arms full of coffees for everyone and boxes of baked goods, they’re met with darkness and silence in the firehouse. Erin quickly turns on the lights and Dr. Gorin stands, leaning against the receptionist desk, still as a statue. She looks expectantly at Erin.

“Right,” Erin says and runs upstairs.

Jillian’s room is adjacent to the lab and is a gearhead wonderland of bits and bobs, and after a few weeks of helping Jillian navigate the room with her injury, Erin doesn’t feel awkward barging in.

(No, no, that’s wrong. She feels awkward every time. She just ignores it, waves it off.)

It’s quite a sight. Jillian is a mix up of sprawled limbs and splayed out blonde curls, mouth slightly open and a snore sneaking out now and then. Boyshorts with Star Wars symbols, one sock, the shirt from the day before, her necklace.

Erin stares because she’s still in the data gathering mode, and because fondness is spinning a web along the walls of her heart.

Finally, she says, “Wake up, Sleeping Beauty.”

“Mm, she woke up with a kiss.”

“Hate to disappoint you, Holtz, but let’s go.”

“Shame.” And Jillian’s eyes fly open, and she’s wide awake. “I’m a really good kisser.”

They look at each other for a moment before Erin says “Dr. Gorin’s downstairs and—”

“She pissed?”

“She’s pissed.”

Jillian swallows, caught. “Ah.”

“Anyway, we’re downstairs, okay bye.”

Erin’s halfway downs the stairs before she realizes she’s holding her breath.

What’s funny: by the time Jillian makes it downstairs, looking a little neater than usual, Erin has Dr. Gorin smiling and drawing her idea for a new device on a napkin and saying, “You’re smarter than you look. I like you. Hello, Jilly.”

Jillian and Erin stand as straight and as tall as possible and Dr. Gorin finishes her drawing with a long, outdrawn “hmmmm.” Erin’s never seen Jillian this flustered. It’s, it’s, it’s— well, Erin has to bite her lip to keep from smiling.

What’s not quite so funny: When she leaves, Dr. Gorin grabs Erin’s hand and looks her right in the eye. “You take care of her.” Her grip is tight.

Erin’s response comes out before she can think of a better one, a proper one: “Yes, ma’am. Physical therapy three times a week.”

Dr. Gorin narrows her eyes and turns on her heels.

*
So, here’s the thing: ghosts don’t have the decency to slow their roll until Jillian’s back in action, and ‘busting with just three ladies sucks. They’re certainly not as good without their ace, and Erin tells Jillian exactly that after a rough encounter out in Astoria.

Jillian’s lips rise into something akin to a shit-eating grin and she proudly turns to show an odd looking proton pack on her back that is clearly set up for a one-armed ghostbuster.

“Dr. Gorin designed it. I’m—”

Erin holds up her hand: "Don't even consider it.”

“You're not the boss of me.”

“I'll lock you up here.”

“You can try, but I'm slippery.”

“I think I can take you.”

“You can take me anytime.”

Erin pauses because she's still new at knowing how to respond. How to flirt back. And she's also serious, so serious about not wanting Jillian in the line of fire yet. Not till she's better.

But something in Jillian deflates in the wake of Erin’s pause. “Look,” Jillian says and her voice sounds achingly young. “I can't be left out.”

“You’re not left out,” Erin counters but is silenced by a look.

“You need me.”

What Erin wants to say: Yes, we do. We are lost without you. We can’t do this without you. We love you. I—

What Erin says: “I have an idea.”

*
It’s a face off.

Two scientists. Two white boards. One Problem. One Winner when it’s over.

At the start: Abby says, “Competition as inspiration is inspired, yo,” and shares her popcorn with Patty as they watch and heckle.

Jillian blares her music and dances for the first thirty minutes as Erin fills up her board with endless calculations that add up—that add up—

She erases the board and demands some popcorn too.

Two hours in: Abby and Patty peace out because nothing is as Not Entertaining as two ladies staring at empty white boards and making grumbly noises.

Four hours in: There’s lots of calculations and lots and lots of scattered red bull cans and coffee cups.

“Gonna destroy you,” Jillian says while scribbling madly at her board in bright purple marker. Erin's board is half full and more orderly but the answer is still not there.

“You’re all talk.”

“And you’re sleeping on the job,” she says gesturing to Erin’s empty half of the board.

“I'm going slow so you can keep up.”

“Oh, I can keep up.”

“Oh, is that right?”

“All night long.” Jillian’s in her face when she says it. Punctuating each word by pressing her finger against Erin’s shoulder.

It’s electrifying and Erin does her level best to not betray the excitement shimmering through her, from sinew to skin. But there’s nothing she can do about the flush in her cheeks.

Jillian stares at her, mouth slightly open like she might say something else but nothing comes out.

Six hours in: Erin’s writing on Jillian’s board now. They almost have it. They’re this close to knowing how to encapsulate and eradicate ghosts for good. In theory, anyway. And Erin’s dizzy from the thrill of the chase and having skipped lunch and having drunk copious amounts of caffeine and her proximity to a real, tangible answer.

Jillian is kneeling next to her, finishing out an equation on the bottom edge of the board and the proximity to her is— is—. Well, see: Jillian’s hair is a veritable mess and she’s biting her tongue and humming and swaying a little, and Erin’s heart just sort of stutters from feeling— from feeling— a fondness? Is that it?

Fool, you fool, she thinks, and opens her mouth to say something incredibly stupid but then the answer to the problem blossoms out from the recesses of her brain.

So, she shouts that instead and she scribbles it on the board and when she looks at Jillian, she laughs to see the expression of joy on her face and purple marker smudged on her cheek.

“We don’t have to send them to Michigan anymore?”

“We’re gonna send them TO HELL,” Erin hollers because she’s feeling, feeling too much, feeling everything.

Jillian’s on her feet and grabbing Erin’s hand tightly. They jump up and down before Jillian’s enveloped Erin in an awkward one armed hug, cheek to cheek.

“I’m so in love with you right now,” Jillian says rapidly in her ear and Erin laughs because it’s funny— no, no, no, Erin suddenly doesn’t laugh, it’s not funny, and she’s not laughing, laughing isn’t right, she’s opening her mouth and she’s— she’s—

She’s kissing Jillian. Open mouth, nothing held back, no holds barred; it’s a kiss filled with heat and promise that turns dirty all too quickly. Her hands tangle in Jillian’s hair and she’s thoroughly unsurprised that Jillian knows how to a kiss a woman, and kiss her well. There’s something distinctly wibbly-wobbly going on in her knees right now and Erin’s grateful that Jillian’s good arm is holding her upright.

Erin thinks: This must be what falling in love feels like.

And she is surprised by the clarity and honesty of the feeling. Words are trapped in her throat, so she tries to show Jillian instead – with the way she cups Jillian’s face, the way she runs her fingers through Jillian’s hair, the way she kisses her now (gently, gently), the way she hums soothingly as she realizes Jillian’s face is wet. Erin should be terrified but she’s not even a bit scared.

A chasm of vulnerability opens and they’re both past the point of no return.

Which, of course, is when Abby and Patty return with take out and loud ‘hellos’, followed by immediate ‘goodbyes’, feet shuffling out the laboratory as if chased by a legion of doom.

Jillian laughs first and it’s truly the most beautiful sound Erin knows.

*
Moments later: Jillian looks at her and it’s a serious fucking look. “We gonna eat or we gonna bang?”

Erin blinks. It’s like her brain just lost power and is stuttering on the word “yes.” So she takes her time to consider the best response before landing on:

“I believe in momentum.”

Jillian carefully removes her yellow shades. “I’m gonna destroy you,” she says matter of fact, an echo from earlier.

Erin shivers all over but when she opens her mouth: “You are all talk, Holtzmann.”

And that’s when Jillian starts kissing her neck.

Here’s the thing: Erin hasn’t been laid in a few years (tenure was her focus, and relationships are hard) so she’s not sure if suddenly feeling like a live wire is because she’s more than ready or because Jillian is Definitely Not All Talk.

And here’s the other thing: Erin’s never been with a woman, and god, oh god, she hopes it’s not embarrassingly obvious. Like all things, Erin wants to do it right and do it right the first time.

So, they jostle each other in the rush to get enough clothes out of the way to touch skin; a different kind of competition that before. Even with the handicap, Jillian has her good hand up Erin’s skirt, pulling at a slip of lace so she can make purchase. Erin shudders but gets her hand to Jillian’s breast and squeezes briefly before—

“Foreplay is for children,” Jillian says pulling away and shaking her head. She starts clearing a surface. Erin is a bit winded. They’re doing this. And they’re doing it in the lab.

“Up,” Jillian demands and Erin hoists herself up, feeling absurd, and Jillian’s pulling her legs apart with ease. Jillian stops for half a second and her gaze is grave, like a woman on a life or death mission. “I was kidding about the foreplay thing but I have to taste you right now. Stop asking questions.”

“I wasn’t—” Erin starts but then there’s another word in her mouth, and it’s not for tender ears. She feels like she’s losing grip on reality as Jillian’s tongue slides slowly along her skin before reaching her clit and then remaining there; tongue in firm circular motions. Erin’s been recently thinking of, and thinking of, and thinking of Jillian’s tongue and all the wonderful things it could do. This, she thinks, this is a wonderful thing. And it’s a surprise when Jillian’s fingers add to the pleasure; long fingers pressed in where Erin is most slick.

Being eaten out is one of the weirdest sensations, and again, she’s never had a woman between her legs. Erin’s honestly never had someone between her legs who knew what to do there and do it well – and this is—this is— this is where pleasure builds and is steady and sustained with the beautifully constant pulse of Jillian’s mouth, tongue, and fingers.

When her orgasm hits and lingers, it lingers long and sweet.

Then: Erin says it before shame can stop her: “Again, do it again.” And she can feel the curve of Jillian’s smile against her skin.

The second time isn’t sweet; Jillian’s tongue twists and turns, and Erin just trembles against the table. As much as Erin knows that Jillian’s adept at the act, she notices that Jillian’s crazy good at adapting to her needs, tracking what works and what doesn’t. And oh does Jillian quickly learn what works.

There’s an ache that grows and grows; but she can’t come, Jillian won’t let her get there. Erin rises up to the brink and then sinks back down, and again, and again, and it’s torture and it’s bliss. She is, Erin thinks, she is going to tear me apart. She feels raw and unhinged, she feels used and she feels worshiped. It’s terrifying and it’s so very, very good.

When Jillian turns merciful, Erin’s unmistakably loud as she comes; loud and perhaps crying a little. It’s intense, and it’s a lot, and it’s Jillian Holtzmann staring up at her from between her legs with a reverent expression.

“I can do this all night.”

Erin believes her, and she believes that in other circumstances, she would say “yes please and thank you.” But she believes very strongly in equal opportunity.

“My turn,” she says shaking her head, breathless and resolute.

Jillian’s eyes widen before she rises to her full height. “Let’s see what you got.”

This is how it goes: Erin is gentle and precise. Every touch intentional, either delicate or firm; all leading to a goal. She didn't become an asset to modern physics by being sloppy. With the softness of her lips and the twist of her fingers, she plays at Jillian’s breast and notices how flushed and warm Jillian’s body is. She stops for a kiss, something long and drawn out and meaningful. Jillian clings to her like she’s drowning in a storm and it makes Erin ache all over again.

When she finally touches the heat between Jillian’s legs, Erin says her name like a prayer because it's a beautiful sensation, it's beautiful data point. Pride blooms out of her heart and she flushes with pleasure. “You are wet,” Erin says because it's a fact and Jillian says, “you are welcome?” and she looks only vaguely apprehensive.

Erin thinks: How the other girls must have found you strange, dear but strange.

Erin thinks: I am not other girls.

This is how it goes: Erin is gentle and precise until the moment when she sees that she’s completely undoing Jillian with the constant pressure of her fingers. Erin grins and Jillian looks almost panicked, and Erin begins to fuck her with abandon, with strong upward strokes that hit the mark every time. Jillian keens in Erin’s arms and shudders and quivers and growls and, when she comes, her eyes close and she sighs peacefully. It’s surprisingly intimate, like they have been lovers for some time. Jillian’s arm around Erin tightens and she just holds close, riding out the aftermath of sensation. Watching her now is like watching something secret. Erin almost looks away. Almost.

“Mmm,” Jillian finally says and opens her eyes. “Not half bad.”

And this is how it goes: They kiss slow and sweet and for a long time and Jillian doesn’t let go. She whispers her name in the space between their lips. Erin longs for time to slow, longs to be wrapped up in this embrace for days.

Jillian slides her mouth to Erin’s ear. “Wanna tuck me in tonight?”

Erin feels lightheaded. Affection overwhelms and almost suffocates, and she’s feeling the rising tide of desire all over again. She wants to say something that means everything. “What about every night?”

“Good answer.”

*
Erin is staggering a little as they make their delirious way downstairs for reheated red curry and a glass of rioja, and chocolate, god, all the chocolate. Jillian is more her usual self, boundaries up and sass in her mouth; and it makes Erin feel overly fond all over again for this hurricane of a woman. But Jillian then sits close to her, that’s different, and she sometimes touches Erin with her knee or her hand or her shoulder, and that’s different. It’s nice.

Abby and Patty look prim and uncharacteristically quiet and irritatingly smiley.

She loves them, she loves them all.

*
It’s a day of sunshine when Jillian shows them all her latest – a semi-bionic encasement for her healing arm. “And bonus—” She demonstrates by hitting the dumpster with her elbow and it halfway caves in.

Patty claps her hands in appreciation. “I have to get me one of those!”

Jillian winks and turns to look at Erin.

Erin shoots finger guns as awesomely as she can. “It’s hot.”

“You’d do me in this get up, then?” Jillian asks point blank.

Abby makes a scoffing noise, and Patty looks up and away.

Erin looks amused, and a little scandalized. But she mouths ‘yes’ before covering her mouth.

*
It’s a late night downstairs in the firehouse. Patty’s lost in a book, and Jillian’s lost in the lab, and Erin’s leaning her head on Abby’s shoulder. “Is it okay?” she asks quietly because it matters to her if Abby cares, if Abby worries.

“More than okay. Better than okay. The okayest that ever okayed,” Abby replies.

Erin chuckles.

“Are you happy?”

Erin thinks about it because her first internal response is too much, too much feeling for the moment. Too many words. “Yeah,” she lands on. “I’m happy.”

“Good.”

They lean against each other and it’s—it’s— it’s everything Erin missed when Abby was out of her life. Trust is such a beautiful asset, something to treasure and protect.

Abby clears her throat. “So, um. You break her heart, I’ll break your face.”

*
Shoulder to shoulder, they stand with knees slightly bent and they fire everything they’ve got at the latest malevolent spirit. He’s wily, but they’ve caught him. Endorphins off the charts, Erin darts her eyes to look briefly at Jillian’s face. She has a wicked expression, highlighted by the glare of their orange-red proton streams. While a little slimed, her arms are straight and strong. There might possibly be a hickey on her neck.

The words come out before she can stop them. “So, I think I'm in love with you,” Erin yells.

“Oh yeah?” Jillian hollers back.

“Yeah.”

The ghost caught in their streams makes a very pained expression.

“And you think now's the best time to talk about it?”

“I don't know, we might die.”

The ghost looks vaguely hopeful.

“Oh, please,” Jillian says, suddenly holstering her weapons and reaching behind her for something. Erin stands her ground, keeping the ghost precariously trapped.

“Help, a little help here,” she says and the ghost leers.

There’s a sharp whine and an almost blinding orange light as Jillian pulls something that unmistakably looks like a proton sword from her back. “Just something new I cooked up,” she says, wielding it with an unsurprising mastery.

“You're ridiculous,” Erin says.

“Your face is ridiculous,” Jillian replies before beheading the ghost with a triumphant yell.

Erin's vision is filled with blue and purple light, scattershot across the room, as the ghost disintegrates. It’s almost beautiful.

Jillian admires her handiwork before looking at her, and she looks— she looks— she looks so very dangerous. “So,” she says, “about what you said.” It’s firm, it’s matter of fact, and Erin swallows. Jillian closes in, close, so close, and she’s kissing Erin, lips soft and warm. Jillian’s got one hand full of nuclear-powered nonsense and her other hand grips Erin's waist, fingers digging in just a bit, enough to notice. It’s a brief, unexpected moment. When she pulls away, Jillian winks broadly and runs her tongue along her lip as if to taste Erin again.

It hits like lightning, the sweet shiver of desire, the kind that lingers in your bones. The kind that makes you wanna make out in the middle of a ghost fight. The kind that gives you the tingles in all the right places. The kind that drives you to press your girlfriend against the wall when this is all over and get her off in record time.

But, until then, they stand back to back, both brave and true and ready for anything.

#