When she was a little girl, Erin Gilbert had loved Halloween. She’d spent most her formative years dressing up as a ghost, the white, dirty sheet with holes cut into it being used year after year for the young girl from Michigan to dress up in.
Of course, after the haunting of Mrs. Barnard, Halloween had somewhat lots its appeal for Erin, the redhead simply staying home during the holiday.
As her parents and everyone at school kept reminding her, she’d had no friends to go trick-or-treating with anyway.
But with the Ghostbusters, Erin’s love for the holiday had returned, and she was more than a little excited to be dressing up again this year. The physicist had actually suggested they do something together, and when Abby had pitched the Nightmare Before Christmas, Erin didn’t hesitate a single second before agreeing.
Patty had also been very vocally supportive of the idea, already calling dibs on being Oogie, and trying to con the rest of the girls into being Shock, Lock, and Barrel, but Erin had a different idea.
She knew the movie – very well, in fact – and also knew one of the main characters had a terrible, unrequited crush on Jack Skellington. And was there really any better way to spend Halloween for Erin than to shamelessly ogle the woman she had a crush on, all in the name of character research?
Of course, even as she casually suggested her being Sally and Holtz being Jack to Patty and Abby – ignoring the knowing look both of them were shooting her – she knew she’d still have to bring the matter up with Holtzmann.
Which was exactly what brought her to their second floor lab later that day.
“Hey, Holtz?” Erin hesitantly knocked on the door to the lab. The blonde popped up behind a project, eyes about as wide as her grin as she noticed her visitor; she always loved it when Erin came to see her, even if the older woman did sometimes worry too much. Despite Erin’s nerves about some matter or another, she could also see the cogs turning in her brain, indicating the physicist was undoubtedly wondering of Holtz had even taken a single break at all already.
She was sure by this point, Erin thought the engineer ran on sheer force of will alone.
“I was just wondering…” Erin continued, fingers fidgeting at her sides. “Did you have a Halloween costume idea yet? Because… I don’t know… I thought it could be fun to… Maybe do something together? With the Ghostbusters?”
“Me? Nah, haven’t decided.” She tilted her head to the side as she listened to Erin’s offer. She had been considering her Halloween attire, of course, but hadn’t made any final decisions.
Mainly because she was pretty sure the girls wouldn’t let her really be a mad scientist, and create the reanimated giant with bolts on his neck to go with it…
“I’m a clean slate for suggestions. What’cha got in mind, sweet pea?”
Erin felt her heart skip a beat at that, a spark of hope igniting in her chest. Surely, at the end of the day, her little scheme would have no effect whatsoever - it was just a Halloween costume - but she liked to have the chance to pretend, even just for a day.
“Nightmare before Christmas?” She suggested hesitantly. “I already spoke to Patty, who is really excited about being Oogie Boogie. And Abby is also up for the idea.”
Erin smiled hopefully at Holtz, glad she already had both of the other Ghostbusters on her side for this. It seemed less like she was trying to get Holtz’s attention or like she was dropping completely unsubtle hints if she got the others involved as well.
(She’d learned a little from the Kevin fiasco; she didn’t feel like getting her heart broken by Holtzmann.)
“And I was thinking…” She continued, “Well… I think you’d be a great Jack Skellington.”
Holtzmann practically jumped up on a box filled with scraps next to her workbench, excitement filling her every fiber. The engineer loved that damn movie, it was one of her favorites of all time.
Did Erin know this? Did Abby tell her?
She shook the questions from her mind, straightening up dramatically, hands moving with a flourish.
“There are few who’d deny, at what I do I am the best. For my talents are renowned far and wide!” She grinned much like a skeleton as she stepped off the box with a bow, taking a few steps closer to Erin, who was gaping at her.
Actually, no. Fuck. Because this situation definitely called for the use of expletives. Erin had not expected Holtz to get as into this part as she did. Which was problematic for a number of reasons, because she was already crushing terribly hard on the engineer. She didn’t need to add ‘makes for an actually perfect Jack Skellington’ to the list of ‘reasons to like Holtz’.
(It was already 5 foot long. Double sided).
Realizing she was probably staring, Erin quickly shook herself out of her trance, laughing at Holtzmann. “That was perfect.” She grinned, indulging the blonde by clapping for her. “I knew I’d be right about that.”
Holtzmann laughed a little as the applause issued forth, bringing up her hands in mock modesty and a “Oh no, it was nothing, nothing at all” and shot the taller woman a wink. She always enjoyed flirting with her. Holtzmann was fully aware of her own huge crush on Erin.
(Well, not a crush really, probably more, but she had tried so hard to get her attention…)
“Who will you be?!” She asked, hoping to distract her mind from those thoughts.
The question made her nerves hit Erin again. Because what if Holtz saw through her flimsy attempt? What if she laughed at Erin right there and then?
“Well, umm…” She began hesitantly, fingers twitching at her sides. “I was thinking Sally? Maybe?”
Holtzmann’s eyes widened more if that was even possible, noting the slight uneasiness from the other woman.
Erin’s eyes widened a little at that, her initial instinct being to panic. Because of course it had been stupid to assume Holtzmann would want to dress as the Jack to her Sally, undoubtedly knowing about the relationship between the two characters (if her earlier impression was anything to go by). But she’d hoped to maybe get away with it anyway, to at least for one night get to openly stare at Holtz and indulge all in the name of ‘costume accuracy’.
But then Holtzmann took another step and a half forward, closing the distance and dropping down on one knee, taking Erin’s hand in her own, and her heart began to beat even faster.
“Dr. Erin Gilbert, I would be honored to have you as my Sally.”
Shit. Shit fucking fuck, she was a goner for this woman. It was impossible to hide that. Her cheeks were still slightly flushed from the wink Holtz had shot her way earlier, and she was sure the engineer could heart her heart racing in her chest.
Erin she smiled brightly, pulling Holtz up to her feet again and hugging her before she could change her mind. “Thank you.” She smiled, relief coursing through her. “This is going to be fun, you’ll see!”
Holtzmann’s heart stopped as she was pulled into a hug, almost uncertain as how to respond in this situation. People didn’t normally touch her, and she was more than a little unused to the contact as a result, but she decided that she loved it when Erin did. Of course, Erin had made it very apparent she just liked Holtzmann as a friend, so she wouldn’t read too much into this - she knew she didn’t stand a chance - but at least they could be cute together as characters for a night.
So she recovered quickly, saluting the physicist with two fingers. “Not a problem, hot stuff.”
She indulged in some wishful thinking for a split second, before suppressing things once again. “I know exactly what to do. I’m gonna be the best Jack, and you’ll be the best Sally!”
Erin smiled at her, her heart still beating twice as fast as was considered healthy in her chest as she looked at Holtzmann.
“I don’t doubt that for a second.” She replied, suddenly nervous again about whether or not this was such a good idea. Sure, Holtzmann made for a killer Jack, and Erin had always loved Sally, but them together? Erin and Holtzmann?
That was a ridiculous notion, and everyone knew it.
As Halloween drew closer, Erin spent a lot of her free time practicing her make-up routine for Sally, determined to get it absolutely right in order to not make a fool out of Holtzmann by standing beside her in a costume that could only be described as ‘lousy’. Pointless or not, she wanted to impress the blonde engineer, and having her costume work for her was one way to do that. She was utterly convinced that, even despite her best efforts, it still wouldn’t look nearly as good as it should, but at least she’d made an effort to fit in with the rest of her team.
(And that was another issue for Erin. What with everything that had happened, she was still trying to adjust to her new life as a Ghostbuster. And so far, she was still having a lot of trouble letting go of most of her old ideals. All in all, she just felt a little lost right now, which was part of what had prompted the costume choice in the first place).
Holtzmann, for her part, was practically vibrating, so excited to be a silly singing skeleton for Halloween. She had found a very slimming black suit, fashioning a very bat-esque bowtie, and adding the tattered looking white stripes. She located some old black oxfords that would do the trick as well. The only thing that took her time was her hair… trying to decide what to do with it. The engineer whited out her hair, but kept a little of her natural up-do before whiting out her face, finishing the makeup, and slipping on her set of skeletal gloves.
She couldn’t wait to see Erin’s reaction.
She startled a few people as she hailed a cab, but it wasn’t too uncommon for things to become crazy in NY during Halloween. A few kids became excited and asked for pictures before she opened the door to the firehouse.
The blonde was the second one to arrive from the looks of it, noting Erin’s jacket hanging up and an odd sense of quiet. Walking further into the building, she eventually spotted Erin in the kitchen, getting together candy bowls to set out for trick or treating children.
The physicist looked perfect, right out of the film, and it made Holtzmann’s heart stop for a moment as she slipped behind her patchwork beauty. Her grin was amplified by the painted black smile on her face as she carefully wrapped her arms around Erin’s waist.
She was the Sally to her Jack, might as well indulge in the pseudo-relationship for a night if that’s all they would be granted.
“My dearest Sally, look are looking positively lively for a dead woman.”
Erin had been completely lost in thought, mostly worried about what Holtzmann’s reaction would be, when a familiar voice startled her. She nearly dropped the bowl she had been filling, her heart racing in her chest for numerous reasons. Because as she should have suspected, Holtzmann was really getting into this character, and Erin herself was having some serious issues with that. As much as she had wanted to spend the night staring at Holtzmann without serious consequences, she hadn’t counted on actually having her affections returned for one night.
(And that’s what killed her about this all. It was just one night. But dammit, if that was all she could get, she was going to take it).
She wasn’t sure how much of her blush was visible under the pale blue face paint she was wearing, but she was pretty sure Holtz could hear her heart racing as she spun in the blonde’s arms. She had been about to reply to her, when the words died on her lips. Because not only was Holtz acting completely in-character, she very much looked the part as well.
“Wow…” She breathed out, her hands carefully coming up to ghost over the blonde’s face. “You look… wow.” Her face broke into a smile then. “My dearest Jack.”
“My darling Sally.” The engineer winked, smiling at the physicist before tilting her head to the side with a smirk. She lifted a skeletal hand, letting it comb through Erin’s hair as she looked at the details of the make up. “You’re perfect.”
Blue eyes then flicked back to Erin, the two still not having broken their embrace. Erin could just feel herself getting lost in Holtzmann’s eyes, which again, was problematic for a number of reasons. Not least of which was that this was just make-believe, and that under normal circumstances Holtzmann would never actually be interested in her. That didn’t mean she could stop herself from blushing at the compliment, her heart soaring when she realized that Holtz actually approved.
She had so wanted to impress the blonde engineer tonight, after all…
“Would you like a kiss?” The engineer raised a brow, grin still on her face. “It won’t smudge.”
Holtzmann couldn’t help the flirting, but she was well aware of the fact that they seemed very much wrapped up in one another, which confused the engineer slightly… but she’d take whatever her date for the night would give her.
“I mean, I AM the Pumpkin King and all.”
Erin almost did say yes to that, the offer more than a little tempting to the redhead. But while she was selfish, she wasn’t stupid. She knew she wouldn’t be able to hide how she truly felt if she ended up kissing Holtz. And with Holtz knowing, the rest of the night would just be painful and awkward for everyone involved.
So Erin shook her head.
“I’ll just take your word for it.” She said, taking a small step back just to make sure she wouldn’t end up changing her mind and ruining everything. “You do look amazing, though. The Pumpkin King would be proud.”
Holtzmann’s pout was amplified thoroughly by the make up, and her arms felt empty as Erin added a little distance.
“Damn, now whatever shall I tell the people of Halloween Town?”
She missed the contact, feeling like she overstepped a line that was blurred. Holtzmann was trying to hide the brief sadness, a little crestfallen.
Instead she went into a bow, taking Erin’s hand and pressing a kiss to the pale skin. She was silently hoping Erin would somehow notice she liked the physicist. Maybe she should drop a hint…
“Well, I do hope you enjoy your night enough with me… That you’d like to be the Sally to my Jack far more often.”
Her voice was a little soft, serious, but Erin didn’t seem to notice.
“I have no doubts that I will.” She replied, aware that her voice was shaking just a little. “If those future occasions are anything like tonight, it would be my honour.”
She was smiling, pretending to be acting. Because god, did she mean what she said. But Holtz couldn’t know that. She couldn’t find out. It would ruin their friendship, and it would ruin the team, and Erin wasn’t about to be responsible for that.
“Oh no, it’s my honor, love.” The blonde grinned, straightening back up as the door knob turned, the others slowly beginning to filter in. Patty did truly look amazing as Oogie Boogie, and Abby made for a very convincing Dr. Finkelstein, grinning at Erin as she wheeled herself in.
“Seems fitting, with all the betrayal.” She laughed, Erin simply rolling her eyes at the jab. Abby and her were on good terms these days, but that didn’t mean her fellow physicist would let Erin live down the biggest mistake of her life.
The first kids began showing up not too much later, and Erin was having a blast handing out candy to the trick-or-treaters with her fellow Ghostbusters. A few times, kids had asked for photos with them, which in general wasn’t a problem.
A lot of them wanted either group pictures, or ones with just one of them in it. However, there had also been multiple requests for pictures with both her and Holtz together, as the Jack and Sally couple they were meant to be, and those had only served to prove to Erin that this had just been a terrible idea. She could feel her self control slipping during those moments. This thing, their ‘relationship’… It was just a one night thing. It wouldn’t do for Erin to get attached and then get her heart broken when she had to return to business as usual the next day.
The fact that Holtzmann was clearly having a blast with the kids, acting animated and finding a perch near the platform she’d made for the candy, didn’t help at all. Especially because the engineer did her best to involve Erin in every photo he could, taking a few pictures with her arms wrapped around her. Her favorite was a picture Holtzmann had taken for herself, asking a parent to take it with her phone. It featured Holtzmann down on one knee and looking up romantically at Erin, and part of her wanted to ask for it.
(Not for the first time, she wondered if her little scheme wasn’t just backfiring on her in the worst way right now. She was playing with fire, and she was going to get herself burnt)
When Patty suggested they hit a karaoke bar after the last trick-or-treaters had left, the implication of getting drunk clear as day, Erin wasted no time in agreeing. She was going to need more than one drink if she was going to make it through the rest of the night without blowing her cover in the worst way.
Holtzmann was also incredibly enthusiastic, clearly excited for a night out coming up. To the blonde, having drinks sounded perfect. More than once that evening, she had tried to tell herself these moments between her and Erin were real. She wanted them to be real, but so far, she still hadn’t been able to get a clear read on Erin.
Sure, she would cherish that photo she’d taken of them forever, but she had hoped tonight would open up something new between them. Unfortunately, Erin was still unreadable as ever, so some distance and alcohol between them might actually not be such a bad idea.
She offered to take the Ecto, thinking it would be funny to roll up in it.
“Let’s get this party started!” She grinned, pulling Erin into a spin. Allowing herself to be spun around, Erin found herself laughing, the skirt of her patchwork dress twirling around with her.
Apparently, every time Erin swore she wasn’t going to get herself more involved, Holtzmann seemed to do something that made her break that promise to herself almost immediately.
“We’re going for karaoke, not dancing, Holtz.” She smiled, hands finding her way to the blonde’s shoulders to stabilize herself again.
(Wanting to look nice, she had opted for black strappy sandals, the heels of which were a little higher than she was used to).
“And are you sure taking the Ecto is a good idea? Do we have a designated driver to get it back?”
The implication that Erin sure as hell wasn’t going to be that designated driver was clear in that statement, and she looked from Holtz to Patty and Abby, wondering if either of them were willing to opt out of alcohol tonight. If not, it was probably for the best if they took a cab.
From the look Patty was giving her, it was clear the woman wasn’t going to remain sober tonight. She had already voiced her desire to perform the Oogie Boogie song, now that she was in full costume anyway, but she also claimed she needed to be a little more drunk for that. Which left Abby and Holtzmann, neither of which seemed to feel like being responsible tonight.
So Holtzmann pouted and consented to getting a cab, hailing one as they finished packing up. They settled into the back of the cab, and of course, of course Erin ended up sharing a cab with Holtz.
Because clearly, she thought bitterly, the universe had not yet made it obvious enough to her that she had been an idiot to suggest this in the first place. The closer she seemed to get to Holtzmann, the more attracted she became to the blonde engineer. By now, if Erin still had any doubts she was falling hopelessly in love with her friend and co-worker, tonight had dispelled them all. And that was really, definitely a problem. Because silly crushes she could get over. Properly falling for someone, however…
No. To put it plainly: Erin was fucked. And not in the good way.
On her left, Holtzmann was bouncing a little, hyper aware of Erin sitting next to her. Feeling a little brave, the engineer leaned over to whisper to Erin as she offered her a hand to hold, hoping more than anything that the hint she was about to drop would work. She wanted to know if this was a real feeling she was having, and if there was even the slightest chance Erin felt the same way.
“This is me, not Jack. If you want.”
Erin felt her face flush at those words, her heart racing in her chest.
Oh Holtz, you have no idea…
She bit those words back, though, keeping her feelings under lock and key. Again, she wondered if maybe she’d made some form of mistake. Of course, this had all been her idea to begin with. She should have known in advance she was playing with fire here, and she shouldn’t have started this if she thought she couldn’t handle the heat.
But Holtzmann was unlike anything she had prepared herself for, and Erin was pretty sure she had just found herself in a battle she was bound to lose before the night was over. Especially if the engineer kept acting the way she did. There was something about the way she spoke to Erin that made it difficult for her to separate character from reality, and just for a moment there, she could allow herself to believe Holtz was actually speaking to her, complimenting her. Which, of course, was dangerous.
Still, that didn’t stop her from taking Holtz’s hand in her own (still selfish, and the damage had been done already; she might as well indulge herself for the night), no matter how confused she was at that statement. She had no idea what Holtzmann was hinting at, and she was too scared to ask. If she was misreading this situation, it would absolutely ruin the rest of the night for both of them, and Erin didn’t want to do that.
Instead, she just changed the subject, smiling at Holtzmann as she spoke. “You’re having fun tonight, then?”
“I am, I’m with you.” The engineer grinned, her makeup making her look more manic as she beamed at the other woman. Her heart was beating in her chest as she tried to quell the warmth in her. She loved the closeness, hoping it would last. “I hope I can be a wonderful date for you tonight.”
Erin felt herself blush at that, still smiling at Holtzmann as she tried to convince herself not to read too much into this situation. She was only setting herself up for heartbreak if she did. Erin wasn’t blind, she knew how popular Holtz was with the ladies. Very few could resist the engineer’s natural charm and charisma. Holtz could get any girl she wanted; there was no way she’d go for Erin out of anything other than pity.
“You’re certainly one of the better ones I’ve had.” She smiled, lightly squeezing Holtz’s hand as she spoke.
Again, she had to remind herself that this was just a one-time thing, that this wasn’t serious, that Holtz was just saying this out of concern for a friend and maybe her own ego.
“And thank you again, for going along with this. I really do appreciate it.”
Holtzmann wanted to comment on that, her heart sinking a little. She wanted nothing more than to just kiss Erin, but she was worried that too much bravery would damage whatever it was that they had. Sure, they did a couple’s costume, but that didn’t mean they were an actual couple, no matter how badly she wanted them to be.
For one, Erin still didn’t think she was being serious with her affections. And of course, there was the problem of Erin still being potentially straight, but Holtzmann had actually begun to doubt that a little over the past weeks. Her gaydar wasn’t perfect, sure, but she wasn’t as convinced Erin was straight as she had been when they had first met. And as for Erin not believing she was genuine… it hurt, but maybe she could actuality convince her otherwise.
The cab stopped and the skeletal Holtzmann hopped out, helping Erin as she did so. From the looks of it, the other two ghostbusters were already inside, hamming it up, and a couple patrons had already noticed the entrance of Jack and Sally. The engineer kept a hand at the small of Erin’s back, stopping a little when someone wanted a picture, but her mind was buzzing with other things.
“How about I buy us drinks?”
Talk about another hint; Holtzmann never bought anything. Again, however, it seemed Erin hadn’t picked up on it. The redhead just assumed Holtzmann probably figuring it was the gentlemanly thing to do, what with her being Jack and all.
“I’ll get the next round, then.” Erin smiled, figuring it only fair she chipped in as well. “But yes, please. The usual for me.”
“Babe, you don’t have to. Let me actually take you out tonight.” Holtzmann was utterly sincere, trying her best at hinting that she actually liked the other woman, wanted to be more than a friend. But Erin was oblivious as ever, muttering a hesitant “If you’re sure…” in response, before the two headed off to find their friends.
As Holtzmann lead her away, the blonde’s hand still at the small of her back, the physicist tried to calm her still racing heart. Because as much as this was looking to be otherwise, this wasn’t a date. Holtzmann didn’t like her like that. This was just her indulging Erin for a night, actually letting her have a glimpse of what could have been between them if Erin had been a different person.
More attractive, less awkward, probably younger. If Holtz knew how she truly felt, the engineer would probably think it very sad and pathetic Erin even thought she stood a chance with her.
(Not that Erin thought she stood a chance with Holtz, but Holtz might think she thought that, and that was enough reason for Erin to keep her crush to herself)
At least so far Holtz didn’t seem to have a clue, which mean Erinwas just going to have to be content with one night, one evening of Holtz actually going all out on this character thing.
But as she spotted Holtzmann at the bar, ordering and smiling maniacally at people who wanted selfies with her, Erin couldn’t quite resist staying away from her, the redhead making her way away from Patty and Abby to join Holtzmann at her side again.
That’s when a young woman made her way towards Holtzmann, a move which had Erin’s blood boiling a little. Not that she had any claim on Holtzmann, especially now – if anything, she was probably holding the blonde back – but she still felt like Holtzmann was sort of hers tonight.
Which why it delighted her when she heard Holtzmann decline the girl’s offer to dance, even if she did feel a little bad about basically ensuring Holtz wouldn’t get laid tonight.
(Not that Erin wouldn’t say yes in a heartbeat if Holtz asked her, but that was just the point, wasn’t it? Holtz wasn’t going to ask her. And so Erin was probably being ridiculously selfish holding her back like that.)
“I’m sorry, my dear, but I already have my Sally. And we’re meant to be, love.”
The words made Erin’s heart sing, the redhead instead moving over and wrapping her arms around Holtz’s waist.
“You called, dearest?” She asked, smiling at the girl with an expression that clearly read ‘she’s mine, sorry not sorry’.
Which, of course, had been a shitty move on her part, as it seemed to draw the attention of a group of clearly drunk, younger girls. They looked to be about 21-22 years old, and were giggling like crazy when they spotted her and Holtzmann.
“You two look amazing!” One of them gushed, a bright grin on her face. “Can we get a picture?”
The engineer grinned and wrapped her arms around Erin, visibly telling everyone to back off, noting and filing away the content hum this seemed to elicit from her Sally. Interesting. And if the girls wanted a picture, she would indulge gladly. More than anything, she wanted to show Erin that she could be a good partner, and indulging the group of girls seemed like a good way to do that.
So she turned to the girls, smiling. “Of course, what kind?”
“Could you, like, kiss?”
The girls were drunkenly giggling like crazy, some of them already having their phones out as they looked at Erin and Holtzmann expectantly.
Erin turned to look at the engineer, wondering what she would do. Would she kiss her? She’d seen the blonde indulge a lot of crazy shoots at the firehouse already, and she had offered to do so earlier that night (for a reason Erin still couldn’t quite fathom).
“I, ummm…” But she wasn’t really sure what she could say to that.
If she said she wanted Holtz to kiss her, she’d essentially blow her entire cover. If she didn’t, she’d be lying, disappointing a group of people, and most of all she’d probably hurt Holtz.
After basically marking Holtz as her own for tonight, she couldn’t exactly claim to not want her.
Holtzmann, for her part, was smiling at Erin, blue eyes flicking over her and the engineer thinking the physicist looked absolutely stunning regardless of the makeup. Erin looked like she was going to do something, but had frozen up.
The engineer understood.
There was an expectancy hanging in the air. She had to do it, she had to take the plunge on this one. Especially because it would be easier for her to play it off if Erin really didn’t dig her that way.
She pulled the physicist close before turning her in her arms, swiveling to dip Erin romantically, pressing a soft kiss to her lips.
And it was right in the moment Holtz’s lips touched hers, that Erin knew she was fucked.
She all but immediately responded to the kiss, her hands wrapping around the blonde’s neck as she completely lost herself in the moment. Which, essentially was as long as the kiss lasted.
Only a moment.
Holtzmann was the one to break the kiss, opening her eyes and smiling against the older woman’s lips. There had been a spark, a big one, and the engineer hoped to whatever invisible dude there was in the sky that Erin had felt it too.
But she was done indulging the patrons; she would have rather kissed Erin in a more romantic way.
The girls thanked them both, saying that they were so cute together and that they hoped the two women had a wonderful night.
It was then that she turned back to Erin, handing her the drink she had bought for her. The physicist looked rather stunned, Erin standing there with a blush on her face and tingling lips as she just stared at the engineer.
“Ya know… I wish our first kiss could have been more private.” She took a drink, watching Erin as she did. In a way, the physicist represented a character from a rom-com, just staring at her crush completely stunned after a first kiss. Holtz even spotted Erin awkwardly bringing up her fingers to her lips, as if she still didn’t really comprehend that this had just happened.
She hoped that was a good sign.
“And, uh…” She lifted a skeletal hand and smoothed the side of her white hair. “I’d also like to… do that again.”
Erin still hadn’t said a word when Holtz turned back to her, her mouth still slightly agape as the blonde spoke to her.
“Wait, you imagined a first kiss between us?” She asked, looking over at Holtz with an incredulous expression.
Swallowing hard, Holtzmann nodded shyly.
“Yeah, yeah I did.” Holtzmann ran her fingers through her white-out hair, Erin still staring at her in shock.
Did that mean Holtz had thought about them together? Did that mean Holtzmann liked her? She hadn’t even so much as touched her drink yet, too busy trying to make sure that she wasn’t dreaming right now.
Before she could comment any further, though, Patty seemed to appear out of nowhere.
“Hey, you two! I booked us the next slots of the karaoke machine. Character songs, people! Now let’s go; you two better be watching me perform; I’ll show you how it’s done.”
With Patty’s appearance, Holtzmann had switched back to her bubbly self, assuring the taller woman that they were on their way over, essentially ruining the moment.
Not that that meant Erin stopped thinking about it. She had felt her heart skip a beat at that admission, her mind running a mile a minute as she tried to think of what this might mean.
Holtzmann imagined a first kiss between them. Holtzmann had wanted to kiss her. Did that mean Holtz actually liked her? Or was it just a one-time thing. Had Holtz just wanted to add her to her undoubtedly long list of conquests? After all, Erin wasn’t exactly a catch. Holtz could do better than her; much better, even.
After a moment, the engineer settled her skeletal form into a seat next to Erin,
Still, as Holtzmann sat down next to her, bold enough to let her arm rest on the back of Erin’s chair, her hand touching the physicist’s shoulder, she felt herself leaning in, resting her head against Holtz as they watched Patty perform.
(And Erin had to admit, her rendition of the Oogie Boogie song was frighteningly amazing).
Still, Erin’s posture was a little stiff, scared that she was crossing a line and that she was strongly misreading this situation. Holtzmann noticed as much, and was slowly beginning to realize Erin’s hesitation was born out of uncertainty rather than disinterest. So instead of moving away, she added a little more pressure to her hold, her gloved fingers tracing patterns on Erin’s shoulder.
Holtzmann vowed she’d get the message through Erin’s silly head if it killed her.
Much to her delight, Erin relaxed into the embrace, and she even saw the redhead smiling a little, her eyes fluttering shut for the briefest second.
And really, it was just the briefest second, as Patty finished her performance not long after that.
Holtzmann was on her feet in a flash, skidding to a halt in her full Jack style, whispering to the guy in charge of the tracks, who smiled and nodded. She had noticed the cheer after people spotted her near the stage - people obviously loved her Jack – but Holtzmann had eyes only for her Sally, only for Erin.
The physicist had been a little disappointed when Holtzmann got up as quickly as she had, but that disappointment didn’t last long. She could see the engineer wink at her, a skeletal grin spreading over her white face as a song she recognized as ‘Jack’s Lament’ began to play.
Erin had known Holtzmann could sing - she sometimes unknowingly showed off her talents in the lab, singing along to her own playlists - but this was something else. Her voice was rich and melodious, and Erin found herself completely enamored by it. The blonde was animated as she crossed back and forth, using people and objects close to her as part of her number, something which had Erin smiling a little dreamily as she watched Holtzmann perform, completely unaware of the world around her.
(And yeah, she had it bad. Very bad. This could potentially be a problem).
With her finale, Holtzmann went from stage, to a chair, and teetered it in a smooth motion, her heel against the top edge of the chair. Holtzmann stepped down fluidly as she ended up in front of Erin.
People then seemed to notice that this Jack had a Sally.
When Holtzmann ended up in front of her, Erin was still smiling, getting up from her chair. Standing in front of the blonde like that, part of Erin wanted nothing more than to kiss her. To tell her how she felt. But she found her own courage faltering, lacking somehow.
If Holtz didn’t feel the same, if she was just misreading all of this, then she’d end up making a fool of herself in front of not just her friends, but a whole bunch of stranger in a bar, too.
Her anxiety getting the better of her, she instead moved to just softly kiss Holtz on the cheek, unaware that the blonde had other ideas. With the contact, the engineer moved as quickly as her brain would let her, turning her head just enough to catch the corner of Erin’s lips.
Erin felt her face flushing in response, and not for the first time, she wondered if this move meant Holtz did, in fact, actually like her, or if this was just another accident. A coincidence. A… Whatever it was that contradicted the ‘Holtz liking her’ statement, because Erin still had a lot of trouble believing that could possibly be true.
However, the amount of evidence supporting that theory was growing significantly by the minute, and Erin felt her heart begin to beat faster in her chest at that thought.
The two of them stood there for a moment, lost, before Erin was jolted into motion again, Holtzmann let Erin pass.
It was her turn to sing, after all.
The blonde settled in her chair, booted feet propped up against the table, blissfully unaware of anyone else in the room but the physicist.
Erin’s initial plan had been to just… Well, sing. Just perform, just make it another part of the act or the costume. Perform for the audience, as it were. But try as she might, she couldn’t bring herself to look away from Holtzmann, meeting her eyes as she sang.
She supposed that it wasn’t such a bad thing. If Holtz got the hint, she’d undoubtedly get the answers she was looking for. If not…
Well, much like everything else tonight, she could always put it down to the character. No matter how much that might hurt.
Holtzmann’s face softened completely as the song washed over her, everything else around her was dull in comparison to Erin, utterly lost in her very presence. Sally’s song was always full of emotion. The engineer loved it, and she was quickly realizing that she truly did want Erin as more than a friend. Things were just cemented into place as she stared wistfully at the taller woman.
This woman would be the death of her, and damn if it wasn’t a good way to go.
She tilted her head as she heard the song key up, now lost completely. All she could do was wait until her Sally… her Erin, finished her song.
As the song came to a close, Erin left the stage, walking away and coming to a stop a few feet away from Holtzmann. The nerves were clear in her posture, the way she held herself, and if Holtzmann hadn’t already made her decision, this would have done it.
That’s it. She couldn’t hold it in any longer. She had to tell Erin how she felt. But even so, she wasn’t stupid. She knew how the other woman was in public, and she knew she couldn’t have this conversation in front of the whole bar.
So downed her drink, taking Erin’s hand as she appeared next to her. “Erin, can we talk?”
As Holtz took her hand in her own, for a split second, Erin dared to hope. She dared to think that maybe, just maybe, she had been reading this all correctly, that Holtz indeed liked her. But then the blonde asked her if they could talk, and Erin felt her heart sink.
That was it, then. She nodded glumly, allowing Holtz to lead her to the patio as she felt herself grow numb. Because of course Holtz wouldn’t return her affections. She was probably only leading her away so she could reject her without everyone watching.
Well, at least she was being considerate about it.
“Look, Holtz…” Erin began, as soon as they were outside, before realizing she had no idea how to finish that sentence.
So she fell quiet, allowing the engineer to speak instead.
Holtzmann took a breath, noting the sadness in the physicist’s voice. The engineer had a feeling that she knew what the other woman was thinking, and she desperately needed to quell that uncertainty prevalent in the older woman’s expression… no matter how immaculate her Halloween makeup was.
She didn’t let go of her hand, instead lacing their fingers together and tilting her head just enough that Erin could be coaxed into looking her in the eye. She needed to say something, she was starting to feel insane and she just needed to figure out what was happening.
“I know I’m crazy,” She began, her voice becoming a flurry of words without slowing down, “and I know you asked me to do this with you tonight, but I don’t want to feel crazy and not knowing how you really feel makes me feel crazy. I really hope I’m not reading too far between the lines but I feel like you like me, like REALLY like me and I… and I…”
She paused, swallowing hard, curious if her own uncertainty was showing through the black and white paint.
“I’m scared that I’m seeing things.” Another pause as she squeezed Erin’s hand, risking it as she gently wrapped an arm around her waist. “I want to be more than friends. I want to be more than just your Jack tonight… give me a chance to be your Jill?”
Erin could hear Holtzmann’s voice breaking just slightly at that final question. The engineer never used her own first name like that. And to use it like this in front of Erin… In this context…
Erin’s mind was in overdrive. On the one hand, Holtz was lacing their fingers together, holding Erin close and making her hope and making her dream and making her wish that what she was thinking was true.
On the other hand, she sounded nervous, almost scared when she had brought up the possibility of Erin liking her, and the physicist wanted nothing more than to quell those worries, to tell her it was all fine and that she could get over her stupid crush if Holtz wanted her to.
(No matter how much she would be lying if she said that. She had established early on that what once had been a crush had already developed into something more. She had fallen head over heels for Jillian Holtzmann, and no amount of time was going to be able to silence that feeling completely.)
But then Holtz pulled her close, and asked her to be her Jill, and Erin finally met her gaze, looking for any trace of mockery in those blue eyes. Because Holtz couldn’t really… Could she?
She felt herself smile, her hands hesitantly coming up to cup the engineer’s face. “I’d like that.” She nodded, her smile brightening more by the second as realization sunk in. “Because I do. Like you. Really like you. A lot, actually. I just, I never thought…”
She shook her head, not wanting those thoughts to ruin the moment as she leaned in, pressing her lips to Holtzmann’s.
The blonde melted completely into the kiss, all her worries washed away in a single action. She wasn’t losing her mind, she wasn’t completely bonkers… Erin liked her in the same way. Everything was calm, finally.
Holtzmann didn’t let her go, her arms now tight around Erin’s waist. They probably looked like a scene from some movie, but she didn’t care. She had Erin; that was all that mattered.
When they finally broke apart, Erin was still smiling, looking at Holtzmann with a combination of pure adoration and just a little disbelief. As if this was still all a little surreal to the physicist. As if she was still expecting to wake up, to realize this was all just a dream. But the way Holtz was holding her… It dispelled most every doubt in her mind.
Holtzmann reached out with a gloved hand, gently tracing the stitch lines that still looked perfect along Erin’s bluish skin, scared of smudging it. Her own make-up would be fine, but she knew the level of care Erin had put into her appearance tonight.
“I’ve wanted to do that since I first laid eyes on you.”
Holtzmann let out a puff of air, feeling at ease and content…even if she was painted up like a skeleton this very second.
“And… by the way, I’m exuding a large amount of self control by not making bone jokes right now.”
A laugh escaped her lips, Erin shaking her head at the comment that was so absurdly Holtzmann. (And she loved it. By god did she love it.)
“You’re ridiculous.” She smiled fondly, still not having let go of the blonde engineer. “But I’m glad we finally got here.”
“Of course I am.” Holtzmann grinned. “That’s one of my most charming qualities.”
“It really is.” Erin hummed in agreement, resting her forehead against Holtz’s, wanting to be as close to the engineer as possible. Holtzmann leaned a little closer, letting her hand drop just enough to rest at Erin’s neck, smiling at her before she pressed a softer kiss to the physicist’s lips. And Erin was beginning to realize all too quickly that she probably wasn’t ever going to get enough of kissing Jillian Holtzmann. And knowing the blonde meant it, knowing this wasn’t for show… It felt pretty darn amazing.
She wondered about what Abby and Patty would say. Maybe they already knew. Maybe they already saw this coming and had just decided to sit back and wait to see with one of the two women finally said something.
Either way, this was perfect for them, and Holtzmann couldn’t help but keep Erin pulled flush to her striped suit.
“I’m glad we got here too, by the way.” She admitted, after pulling away again. “I was beginning to think you didn’t like me at all.”
She winked at Erin when they pulled away just enough for air, the words ripping Erin out of her blissful daze as she looked at Holtzmann in shock.
“Seriously?” She asked, looking all too stunned at that piece of information. “I’ve been crazy about you for months! The reason I suggested these costumes to begin with was because I wanted to have an excuse to openly pine over you for one night.”
And oh, that was out in the open now.
Erin felt her cheeks flush a little, embarrassment coursing through her. “I mean… Yeah…”
“I thought you just really liked Nightmare Before Christmas.” The engineer grinned widely at Erin, her black and white painted face making her look even more comical than usual as she beamed at the older woman.
“Well, that too...” Erin admitted, a little flustered and more than ready to take back what she said, when she saw Holtzmann smile at her, and she felt herself relax a little.
“Erin..." The blonde began, her hands resting at Erin's waist as she tilted her head and smiled at the taller woman, admiring the sight in front of her. Because as much as she loved seeing her favourite physicist all flustered, at the end of the day, she did it all for the smiles she got from her. So she held Erin close, ignoring the rest of the patrons in the bar, her eyes focused only on Erin and how beautiful she looked - even in a patchwork dress. "You didn’t have to ask me to dress in a skeleton getup for me to be the Jack to your Sally. I always have been, you just didn’t know.”
Her arms still around Holtzmann, it was all Erin could do not to melt on the spot, the words making her smile more than she had in a while. “I’ll keep that in mind for the future, then...” She spoke softly, one hand slowly tracing a few patterns on Holtzmann’s cheek, Erin beaming at her before she pulled her in and kissed her again.
Back in the bar, Abby grudgingly handed Patty a crumpled 20 dollar bill, even as both women were smiling at the sight on the patio. With the moon hanging low in the sky, they looked exactly like the famous couple, and Abby made sure to take multiple pictures to tease them with later.
(And if one of those ended up as Erin’s new lock screen for the forseeable future... Well, that was her business)