Erin dropped her head into her hands as Holtzmann slammed something in passive-aggression for the nth time this morning. This time it was a screwdriver being slammed onto the worktable. A metal screw clinked to the table as Holtzmann softly muttered a curse word. Or, at least Erin assumed it was a curse word. With Holtzmann, it could've been anything.

Patty seemed to have the same idea. "Hey, Holtzy, is there a problem?" She sounded kinda fed up, just like Erin was.

Holtzmann looked up at her with an expression that would've read as alarm if her eyes hadn't been slightly narrowed. She quickly shook her head no and looked back down at her work.

Patty started to sit up straight from the chair she was reclined in, reading the newspaper. "You been slamming things all morning, and last night too. We just saved New York City. Like, yesterday. And you mad about it?"

Holtzmann gave her the same look as before, but her eyes were wide this time. "No." She said simply, lowering her amber goggles over her face, realizing her eyes might be giving away something.

"Then what's that all about?"

Holtzmann looked back down and began twisting the screw back into place. "Hadn't noticed." She shrugged.

"It has to do with last night, doesn't it?" Abby asked as if she already knew the answer. "During the battle, when the rest of us were immobilized and you weren't? That one ghost?"

Holtzmann went stiff, turning to Abby to shoot her a glare for bringing this up in front of the others.

Abby didn't get the hint. "She's mad at herself for freezing up."

"Is that what all this is?" Erin asked. "You're mad at yourself?"

Holtzmann glanced from side to side, as if looking for an escape route to dart out of if things took one more wrong turn.

"Holtzy, it's okay, no one got hurt. You did fine. You were our best fighter out there." Erin assured her.

"Except for when I froze." She muttered. "You could've been hurt. What would I do, if that happened?" Holtzmann was really glad none of them seemed to pick up on the emotion seeping through her words, and her voice only wavered a little. She bit her lip.

"It doesn't matter, nothing did happen. We got out of it just fine." Patty said.

"Yeah but what if you didn't?!"

"Hey. Holtzy." Abby tried to calm her down, knowing very well her friend's triggers. She walked over to put a hand on Holtzmann's shoulder, intending to maybe whisper a word or two to her so the others couldn't hear, to keep her in check.

The second Abby's hand touched Holtzmann's shoulder, she pivoted and walked quickly out of the room, leaving Abby's hand to fall.

The door just off the hall slammed shut.

After a silence, Erin gave Abby a questioning look. "Is there something going on here?"

Abby shook her head at the ground. "Let's just say Holtzy has a very strong fight-or-flight instinct. And her answer is always flight."

"Really?" Erin asked. "The woman who just designed a whole slew of nuclear paranormal combat weapons and participated in a massive battle in the streets of New York? And you're telling me her answer is always "flight"?"

"These past few weeks have been pretty out of character. Any kind of fight involving living humans and I guarantee you she'll run off somewhere and play dead as if it's a joke, or act like it's not happening. I've witnessed this I can vouch for this."

"I thought it had to do with what happened last night. When the rest of us were immobilized, and she was the only one free, and Ronan started talking to her." Erin said.

"It does. It does have to do with that." Abby sighed. "But it's not about Ronan, really. It's about the shape he took on for a few minutes there. That ghost. I think it was someone Holtzy knew."

"Did you ask her who it was?" Patty asked.

"No. I think I know who it is. I mean, I didn't know the person, but I know… who he was to her."

"Are you gonna keep being cryptic or are you gonna actually give us some background here?" Patty asked.

"I don't know if she would want me to say. It is a long story."

"So what does she want from us?" Patty asked, standing up to get a coke from the fridge.

"Nothing." Abby said.

"Okay, how do we get her to stop slamming things?"

"I don't know, ask her?" Abby got defensive.

"Let me rephrase for Patty," Erin said calmly. "How do we get her to stop blaming herself?"

"Oh. Well, I don't have an answer for you."

"Should I go talk to her? I've been told I'm… okay… at that sort of thing."

"You can try, I'm not going to stop you. But she's just going to push you away. It's not you or anything, it's just who she is. And I know for a fact that what she's thinking about is nothing you could ever relate to."

"Oh. Are you sure?"

"Like I said, it has to do with that man. The one the ghost looked like."

"Well," Erin started, almost jokingly sad, "there's probably a lot of things involving men that I can't relate to."

"Pfft. I can. I've seen em all." Patty offered, standing up.

Abby looked suddenly uncomfortable. "…I doubt it. Look, how about I talk to you guys about this later, after I've talked to Holtzmann."

"Okay. So… you don't want me to go in there right now? "

"You can try, but I really gotta work out this formula. And I think I'm close. Once I have this figured out, we can alter the flow of electricity through the proton packs and can make an energy beam that is resistant to the electromagnetism that naturally surrounds cats."

She got blanks stares.

"When we shoot the beam, if it hits a cat on accident, it won't hurt the cat. Holtzmann's idea."

"Sounds important." Erin nodded slowly, walking past Abby cautiously.

"It is!" Abby defended. "The next time you hit a cat with the proton packs without this upgrade, you'll feel so sorry!" She called after Erin as she walked down the narrow hall off the kitchen.

Erin knocked lightly on the door she saw Holtzmann go into. It was designed as a storage closet or food pantry, but they had never put anything in there.

Holtzmann opened the door about a foot almost instantly, already saying, "What's the password?" When she saw Erin she changed direction. "Oh. It's you. You can come in for free." She remained in the doorway though, blocking the entrance.

Erin was completely thrown off and didn't know what to say. Holtzmann noticed this and gave just enough of a creepy smile to throw Erin off again, before she stepped back and opened the door wider, beckoning Erin in.

"I thought this room was empty." Erin found her voice again and stepped inside, looking around the very much not empty room. One bookshelf in the corner was overflowing with cheap paperback copies of college textbooks. There was no lightbulb in the ceiling where one should be, just a hollow socket. The light source was a dim desk lamp that cast an orange glow over the room. Holtzmann caught her eyeing a large, disorganized scatter of papers on a makeshift desk.

"I'm writing a book." Holtzmann explained.

"Oh, that's so nice."

"I'm kidding. They're restraining orders."

"Oh. Um…"

Holtzmann couldn't believe she was still being taken seriously, and her expression reflected it. "I'm kidding again."



Erin looked hesitantly between the papers and Holtzmann, who was staring at her.

"I'm serious."


"Is it because they're not blue?" Holtzmann said in the tone of a racist joke.

"No, I can't- Are you being serious or not? I can't tell."

"Good." Holtzmann gave her that creepy yet charming smile again and kept her eyes locked on Erin's as she walked past her over to the desk. She picked up a thick stack of papers that were bound together. She flipped open a page and sure enough, blueprints.

"That's… a lot of blueprints." Erin said. She almost said "robbing a bank?" but though better of it, somewhat afraid that's actually what Holtzmann was planning. "Where'd you get them?"

"Fire department."

"They… gave you blueprints?"

"Gave… went missing… " Holtzmann shrugged but her eyes showed nothing but playfulness. Joy that someone was actually interested in what she was doing; and the fact that she got to mess with Erin at the same time was like a field day."

"You stole files from the fire department?" Erin whispered urgently.

Holtzmann grinned even wider, then swiped at Erin's shoulder playfully. "Relax. They only use computers now. These are just photocopies. They're obsolete."

Curiosity took over and Erin stepped around behind the desk, right next to Holtzmann, to look at the blueprints. "Why do you need these?" She did take Holtzmann as the hoarder type.

"Same reason as the fire department. When we get called somewhere, I wanna know what we're up against. I wanna familiarize myself with the top most common layouts of houses and apartment buildings. Any large establishment along the ley lines, I wanna know how to get through there. A minor advantage, but an advantage nonetheless."

Erin almost forgot what she was really there for. Again, Holtzmann's smile threw her off and made her forget that this woman was actively blaming herself for something out of her control, and now she was making Erin forget it entirely, which is probably what Holtzmann was trying to do.

"That's actually really smart." Erin said, then cleared her throat. "Are you okay?"

Holtzmann looked around then back to Erin and grinned wide, resting her chin on her fist. "Peachy." She winked at her.

"Um, because we noticed you were kind of slamming things back there and you seemed pretty frustrated-"

"Holtzy sorry." She kept the grin.

"We're worried that you're blaming yourself. For last night."

Holtzmann's smile faltered for a split second, but she looked like she had been expecting it. She reached up to tap Erin on the nose. "None of your concern, daarling." She dragged out. "Hakuna Matata."

Erin wasn't buying it so easily. "So you've accepted that you freezing up and all, wasn't your fault? You did nothing wrong? You understand that?"

Holtzmann took a bold step right up to Erin, their toes and noses practically touching. She wasn't smiling anymore. For a rare few seconds, she allowed Erin to search her eyes, without glasses or goggles protecting her. Finally, she repeated just above a whisper, "I said don't worry about it." She glanced down for a second, her eyelashes falling almost to her cheeks, looked back up, then took one step back and turned around, refusing to face Erin.

Erin blinked, a little bit stunned for a second. She most certainly had not been expecting that. Something about what just happened made Holtzmann seem more… human somehow.

Holtzmann was still turned the other way. Erin nudged a stack of papers towards herself and flipped it open. "So… blueprints, huh?" She tried to read the writing on it. "Jeez. I know physics is complicated, but this is like a whole other language."

"Geometric Tolerancing." Holtzmann said, then turned towards Erin but only looked down at the blueprints.


Holtzmann circled some symbols on the page with her finger. "That's the blueprint language. Geometric Tolerancing." She turned around again and pulled a book off a shelf, then set it down in front of Erin on the table.

"American Society of Mechanical Engineers Geometric Dimensioning and Tolerancing (GD&T) to English." Erin read the cover. "Shit. It really is a language."

Holtzmann nodded absently, lost in thought staring at the blueprints.

"So like, can you read this? Without the dictionary?" Erin tried to make conversation, hoping to bring the conversation back around to why Holtzmann was still upset about last night.

"Sort of."

"Well, there goes my plans of trying to learn Mechanical Engineering." Erin laughed. "I didn't know it was that complicated."

"You can still learn."

"I think we've got a pretty solid team as we are. A Physicist, an Electrical Engineer, and a Mechanical Engineer. And Patty makes a pretty good PR. We've got the bases covered for this line of work, huh?"

"I'm a Nuclear Engineer." Holtzmann said, finally making eye contact again.

"…You are? Seriously?"

Holtzmann nodded.

"Wow. That sounds…exponentially more complicated. How do you know Mechanical then? Oh, you minored in it, right?"

"No. I taught myself."

"With what?"

"…Books. Some class auditing. I maxed out on the number of credit hours you're allowed to take each semester, otherwise I would have gone for a minor."

"So you have a doctorate in Nuclear Engineering? I thought that was a pretty new field. For a doctorate's, I mean. When did you get your degree?"

"Three years ago."

"Three years ago?"

"Two and-a-half."

"Wait. You only graduated three years ago?"

Holtzmann stepped back, looking offended for a second, then scared.

"I guess that's a pretty long degree, huh?"

Holtzmann relaxed, letting out a small inaudible breath. "Yep."

"So what kind of books did you-"

"I gotta, you know… stuff." Holtzmann pointed to the door, picking back up that same goofy personality Erin had grown used to. She made a hand motion which Erin took as tightening a bolt. She pushed past Erin in the narrow space and towards the door.

"Wait! Can I… look through these? It's a really good idea, knowing where-"

"All yours." Holtzmann disappeared.

Holtzmann stood in the hall and pressed her back to the wall, letting out a breath. She was kinda pissed that her brain decided now to freak out like that, just when she was actually getting to spend time with Erin. Probably for the best though, she thought, those questions weren't leading anywhere good.

She walked back out into the main area and resumed her spot behind her worktables. Abby was behind another work table, poking through a box of spare wires.

"Patty went downstairs to pick up our lunches. The wait time for delivery was two hours." Abby explained, barely looking up.

Holtzmann nodded to herself, which turned into a beat in her head and she started nodding to her imaginary beat. She tapped her fingers along her equipment.

"Hey, Holtzy, I was thinking of telling Patty and Erin."

Holtzmann meant to ask what she was telling them about, but forgot to say the words out loud as she got into a little dance, replacing the screws that had fallen out earlier.

"So that's okay with you? I'm gonna tell them about, like, where you were before this and stuff."

Holtzmann stopped dancing. "You mean college." She concluded.

"No… no I meant, you know, where you were, who that guy was, the ghost. That is who that ghost was, right? The man you killed?"

Holtzmann's eyes fluttered closed and she cringed. She meant to say something along the lines of, "why did you bring that up?" but she wasn't sure how many of those words actually made it out of her mouth.

"He was a bad guy, right?! You told me he was the epitome of everything wrong with the world, the beginning and end of all evil. You said that."

"He is! …Was."

"They why do you still look sick when I say that you killed him? You should be proud."

Holtzmann muttered, "Well that just tells me you've never killed a man." She swallowed hard, then addressed Abby again. "I am glad he's dead. So very glad. But I was not expecting to see him last night."

"Well, I mean he is a ghost."

Holtzmann picked her head up and looked straight at Abby, suddenly dead serious. "How did he know? How did Ronan know who he was to me? How in the world could he possibly have known that? Do you see why I'm so thrown off by all this? Think about it."

Abby dropped her shoulders and gave Holtzmann a sympathetic look, speaking gently. "Look, that's exactly why I need to tell Patty and Erin about him. About you, so they can know about him. Maybe one of them has an answer or an idea."

"Unlikely." Holtzmann said matter-of-factly.

"Hey the ratio of won tons to soup was too high again Abby, so I fed some of them to Mike Hat." Patty announced, walking in the doorway. She began to pull containers out of the paper bag and set them on the work counters. "Holtzy I don't know what you wanted so I just got you what I got." Patty set a paper container on Holtzmann's work table in front of her.

Holtzmann made a disapproving O face and pointed her screwdriver at the container, shaking her head.

"You can't say no, y'all don't even know what it is yet!" Patty cried.

"That Recharger there has about 2,000 millirems of radioactivity. You don't want food near that."

Patty quickly swiped up the container and stepped back. "I don't even wanna know how many 2,000 whatevers is."

"Millirems. That's about two-fifths of your yearly radioactivity dose right there. It's not exactly exposed. But I wouldn't put food near it. Or important body parts. At least not the ones you plan on keeping past age fifty-seven."

Patty froze and frowned at Holtzmann. "That is scary specific. You truly concern me."

Holtzmann grinned wide.

"Stop it. That's creepy."

Holtzmann was clearly overjoyed that she was eliciting this reaction out of Patty. She saw Erin coming out of the pantry and instantly feared she was going to ask more questions. She started shoving some tools and parts she was working on into a small box.

"Ladies." Holtzmann mimed tipping her hat. She straightened her glasses and said, "Gonna finish this at home."

"Why?" Patty asked.

"I don't think my apartment has gotten enough radiation exposure lately. It's good for the structure of the building. In small doses. Just don't massage it into your carpets." She couldn't help but break into a grin with the last line.

"You've gotta be kidding." Patty said.

"She is." Abby called.

"Am I?" Holtzmann winked at Patty. On her way out, Holtzmann snagged the folded paper box of Chinese food Patty had bought and stuffed it in her overalls as if they were a pocket ."I forgot to DVR Tom and Jerry."

"Who the hell DVRs Tom and Jerry?" Patty asked Erin as she walked in.

"I gotta feed my cats." Holtzmann was having way too much fun with this.

"You have cats?"

"Just the ones in the alley." She winked directly at Erin this time as if it were a dirty joke.

"Okay I cannot tell when she's joking." Patty said to Erin.

"Me either."

Holtzmann had reached the stairway by this point. She turned around and said, "Gotta blast." with a cocky grin and a two-fingered salute. She disappeared down the stairs.

Patty shook her head. "Abby, can you translate any of that?"

"After three years of working with her… no. Any luck?" She asked Erin.

"You were right." Erin sighed. "She wouldn't talk about last night. Kept changing the subject. Are you sure it had to do with that ghost?"

"I'm positive. Alright, look, I gotta tell you guys something about Holtzmann. Where she was before this. And it's not as simple as a few sentences. I'll tell you guys at dinner tonight, if Holtzy's not there. She doesn't really wanna be around when I say it."