"Are you okay, sweetheart?"

Holtzmann frowned over the rim of her beer bottle, then nodded. She was confused because everyone seemed really concerned for her, but she also felt like she didn't deserve it. Her mother may as well have been dead for the last 17 years and Holtz almost would have never known.

But before, she always had the option of going home, any time she wanted.

This was eating her inside more than she expected it to.

Her father shot a concerned glance at Erin. The four of them – including Spencer – were in a booth in the back of a relatively quiet bar.

Erin looked down at her girlfriend, realizing she should know more how to deal with this version of Holtz than they should. She covered Holtzmann's hand with her own. "You wanna talk about it, babe?"

"With all of you?"

"Well… did you want to talk to just me? Or just them?"

Holtzmann let out an almost comically quick huff, then raised the glass back to her lips. She never did well with serious situations, usually opting to turn them into a joke. But for some reason nobody seemed to want to joke about her mother's death.

"What is there to talk about?" She furrowed her brow and concentrated on the tabletop. "How absent I've been?"

"Oh shut the hell up." Spencer said. "You can't really be blaming yourself right now." He had had a few drinks already.

"Who I am blaming doesn't concern you."

"The only one to blame is cancer."

"Fuck off."

"I will not."

"Alright, you two." Their father said very quietly, as if he had no real interest in stopping them.

Erin was a little surprised by their language towards each other. She never really got to have a normal relationship with her brother, and she was trying to figure out if this was normal sibling behavior, or amplified by stress.

Spencer watched his sister for another minute, before saying, "Stop it!"

"Stop what!" Her hands jerked into fists.

"You're picking the skin around your fingernails. You do that when you feel guilty."

"Maybe because I am!"

"How? Fucking how?"

Holtz grabbed at her hair in frustration. "…so much more complicated than you know."

"Look: She died this morning, alright? For literally one day, can you just let that sit?"

Holtz ignored him and flicked a crumb at the wall.

Erin reached over and put her arm around Holtz's waist in support.

"We should be celebrating the life that she lived." Their father said, "Not fighting each other."

Holtzmann, still struggling to let her serious side show, pulled her head back a little bit which Erin immediately recognized as the prelude to a loud burp. Erin put her hand on Holtzy's arm quickly, and shook her head at her.

Holtz blew the breath out, disappointed.

"So um, Erin, it's so great to finally meet you. I've heard a lot about you." Mr. Andrews said.

"Oh, good things, I hope." Erin grinned.

"Nothing but. So you're a professor?"

"Yes, at Columbia University. Slow down." Erin lowered Holtz's beer away from her lips. "You don't want to get drunk."

"Why not?" Spencer said.

"You don't want to get "Holtzmann-drunk"" Erin rephrased.

Holtz nodded. "You really don't want me like that."

Despite this warning, two more beers and some light conversation later, Holtz had gotten… almost Holtzmann-drunk.

After Mr. Andrews had given Erin the whole, "I'm so glad my daughter has someone like you" spiel, Holtz had hugged Erin's arm and declared her love for Erin, pancakes, and neck kisses. The last one made Erin blush heavily.

At some point after Holtz had fallen asleep on Erin's shoulder, Erin decided it was time for them to head home.

~/~

That night, Holtzmann tossed and turned next to Erin on the bed, until she finally shook Erin awake and said she was going to sleep at home. Erin mumbled a half-conscious agreement and went back to sleep.

Erin was left in a dream, in which she was back standing outside the fire on Elm street. A few firefighters had just pulled a figure out of the 6th story window and were lowering the bucket to the ground.

Paramedics were waiting when the bucket door opened, and they pulled out a figure who slumped to the ground.

Erin already knew how this played out. They would lift Holtzmann onto the stretcher, coughing, and Erin would kiss her cheek and run her hand through her loose hair lovingly, and tell her how stupid it was to go back into the building, even though Erin knew she just saved every person within a quarter-mile radius.

But as Erin approached, the medics didn't lift her onto the stretcher. Instead. they were working on her as she lay on her back, emergency personnel surrounding her. Erin saw Holtzmann's face, darkened by soot, light blue eyes open and teary, though she was staring into space. The paramedics had cut her uniform open, and two stickers were placed on her bare chest, connected to an AED.

"I've got a shockable rhythm! Stand clear!" One of them shouted, and everybody moved an inch back.

Holtzmann's small body jolted sharply, and the paramedic put two fingers to her neck, shook his head, and began doing chest compressions.

"No, she's okay!" Erin shouted. "I've seen this part before, she's fine!" As if it were an old rerun.

Abby and Patty came and took Erin by each arm, gently leading her away, while Holtz's watery blue eyes stared at the sun, motionless.

"I'm sorry for your loss, Dr. Gilbert." Harold Filmore was saying to her from somewhere behind her. "Anything you need, you let me know."

"What a good guy, that Filmore." Someone else said.

"The Ghostbusters are putting everyone at risk. Stay tuned to find out what exactly the late Ghostbuster was trying to hide." A news reporter spoke into a camera as Erin was dragged past her.

"By the way," Jennifer Lynch matched Erin's pace walking, facing Erin as Erin continued to be dragged farther and farther away from Holtzmann. "The people of the city have decided. Ghostbusters is too dangerous. We're shutting you down. You guys should've just stayed in the Higgins basement, and Dr. Holtzmann might still be here."

Erin suddenly knew the answer, how to save Holtzmann. Holtz ALWAYS answered her phone if Erin was calling. At this point, Erin started to sort of realize it was a dream, and she KNEW that if she could just dial Holtzy's number, Holtz would pick up.

Erin yanked her arm away from Abby and pulled out her phone, dialing Holtzy. She watched Holtzmann's body on the ground, her phone lighting up in her pocket. The thin arm that had previously jolted with electric shock, now began to slightly reach for the phone all on its own.

"Yes! Holtzmann!"

But a cop noticed her phone ringing, and pulled it out of her pocket before anyone could notice Holtz reaching for it. "It's her wife" The cop said, checking the caller ID.

"Let her go!" Erin shouted, but nobody heard her. She broke free and ran back towards Holtzy, who now lay limp again. They stopped CPR, and an EMT gently pushed her eyelids closed over her watery eyes, forcing a tear out, which began to slide out the corner of Holtzy's eye, toward her ear.

Just as Erin reached her, they covered her with a white cloth, and Erin's hand closed around the empty sheet.

Erin slowly became aware of her bed again, and her pillow and blanket. She forced her eyes open, which felt glued shut by dried tears. Her hand clasped around the empty sheet next to her, where Holtzmann was supposed to be.

"Holtz!?" The panic in her own voice startled her. She sat up and looked around. It was still dark out, barely past midnight. "Holtzy?" Some part of her brain told her Holtzmann had gone home, but she couldn't shake how real that dream felt.

She gradually remembered about Holtzmann losing her mom today, how she tossed and turned trying to fall asleep next to Erin, and her fragile voice telling Erin she was going home.

After much internal struggle over whether Holtzy needed to be alone or if Erin should go check on her, Erin decided to be selfish and go check on her, just so Erin knew she was safe. She pulled on a hoodie and a pair of boy's shorts Holtz had left, and drove to Holtzy's apartment. Going completely off of memory, she went to the third floor and found Holtz's door.

Loud music pumped out from under the door, and Erin wondered if Holtz was even home. She knocked on the door a few times, until a man swung open the door.

"What?" He said.

"Does Jillian Holtzmann live here?"

"Why?"

"I'm her girlfriend. I wanted… to make sure she got home okay."

He glanced back into the hazy apartment. "She's sleeping."

Based on the loud music, Erin highly doubted that. "Can I see her?"

"I guess." He let Erin in and he stepped into the kitchen, glancing around to make sure no one was following him. Then he ducked behind a corner.

Erin walked past at least six people in the living room, and down a narrow hallway to Holtzmann's door. She knocked, got no answer, and began to panic. She tested the knob. It was locked.

Suddenly, the man who answered the door appeared behind her with a small key.

"What's that for?"

"Her door. I keep it hidden. She doesn't need any of these guys breaking into her stuff." He said in a low voice, nodding towards the living room.

Erin took a bit of comfort in the strange, protective vibe this guy gave off for Holtzmann. He unlocked the door and nudged it open slightly. Erin walked in and shut it behind her, locking it again.

Sure enough, in the darkened room surrounded by all this chaos and noise, Holtzmann lay fast asleep on the bed, snoring softly, face down with one leg tucked up under her and her arms out to the side, like a child.

Erin couldn't help the small smile that came over her. She gently climbed onto the bed behind Holtz to keep her company, settling in.

As soon as she let her weight onto the bed though, Holtz stiffened up and snapped her limbs back close to her, whimpering softly and practically cowering away from Erin.

"It's just me, Holtz." Erin said softly, before realizing Holtzmann was still asleep. "Holtzmann?"

Holtz's soft snoring had been replaced by uneven breaths, punctuated by small, almost inaudible whimpers, like a dog crying.

Erin decided to wake her up to let her know everything was ok, it was just Erin. But as she touched Holtz's shoulder, Holtzmann jolted so sharply in a way that reminded Erin of her dream. Erin snapped her hand back and saw Holtz's lips move in her sleep, and she thought she heard the word "don't".

Erin backed off the bed, afraid she had just terrorized her girlfriend's sleep after it had been so hard to fall asleep earlier.

As soon as Erin's weight was off the bed, Holtz visibly relaxed. Erin swallowed tightly, feeling guilty. She took a few steps backwards from the bed.

She glanced at the door. There was no way she was leaving Holtz with all these strangers in her apartment, even though she fought the idea that this was fairly commonplace.

She opened the closet and found an extra blanket that smelled of Holtzmann, and laid it out on the floor. She snagged a pillow Holtz wasn't using and curled up on the floor next to Holtzmann's bed.

The loud music gave way to muted voices, and Erin fell asleep to the rhythm of her girlfriend's breathing.

~/~

Morning light seeped into Erin's consciousness, and as she shifted slightly to stretch, she was greeted with an urgent tapping and pattering on the floor next to her.

"Wha-?" She sat up quickly, coming almost face-to-face with Holtzmann, who was laying over the edge of her bed looking down at Erin. "What are you doing?"

"I could ask you the same thing." Holtz said casually, placing a Skittle into her mouth from the bag she was holding.

Erin looked around to find Skittles all over the floor. "Why am I surrounded by Skittles?"

"…I can't ask the same thing."

"What are you doing?"

"I woke up, and you were on my floor. So I got some Skittles and started placing them on you while you were sleeping."

Erin couldn't process this. "What?"

"Why ya on my floor, hot stuff?"

Erin tried to remember the events of yesterday. "Holtz… are you okay? Your mom…"

"I know." Holtz rolled back onto the bed.

Erin got up, shaking any remaining Skittles onto the floor, and curled up next to Holtzmann on the bed, glad for the relief on her back.

Holtz flinched away from her and tensed up.

"What's wrong?"

"Nothing. Bad dream. It happens."

Erin immediately recognized herself as the cause of this dream, recalling Holtzmann's reaction to her weight on the bed last night.

Erin kissed the engineer's head softly. "I'm sorry, babe." She whispered.

Holtzmann lifted her head to Erin's lips for a kiss.

"So this is your bedroom, huh?" Erin had been to the apartment before, but never in the room.

"What? Oh, yep." Holtz was too distracted kissing her, trying to coax Erin into some morning sex.

"You okay?"

"Yeah. Like I said, bad dream."

"What does that have to do with-"

"I need your touch." Holtz stopped, looking straight into Erin's eyes, as if admitting something personal.

"Because of your dream?" Erin gently brushed some stray blond wisps behind Holtz's ear.

"I need it to be you."

Erin understood. "Of course, babe. Any way I can help."

"You can help by being your normal hot self and taking that shirt off." Holtz said, already pushing the shirt up Erin's chest.

Erin moaned softly at Holtz's fingers on her stomach, and gladly helped her get the shirt off.

Holtz rolled herself over so Erin was on top, forcing Erin to take the lead.

Just as Erin was getting comfortable with being in control, there was a loud knock at the door, making her jump.

"Come in." Holtzy said.

Erin had just enough time to whisper "What!?" and roll halfway off Holtz and pull the blanket over her chest before the lock turned and the door opened.

Her roommate opened the door wide, and Erin tried to imagine what he must be seeing.

Erin, barely covering her chest with one leg over Holtzy's legs, and Holtz, shirt pushed up to her armpits and boxers pulled about five inches lower than they should be, completely exposed, and not even caring. Erin threw part of the blanket over Holtzmann to try and cover her. It half-worked.

To be fair, it didn't look like her roommate really cared, either. "Oh." He said, casually munching on a bagel. "Just making sure it really was your girlfriend I let in last night. Didn't wanna wake up to find you murdered or anything."

"Yeppers, thanks Daryl."

"Welcome." He pulled the door shut.

Erin pulled the blanket back off Holtz and straddled her again, almost protectively. Although she did let herself appreciate how hot this clothes-on-but-still-exposed look was. "What the hell was that!? Why did you say "come in?""

"Were we hiding?"

"I'M NAKED!"

"He doesn't care."

"Jillian Holtzmann! I care!"

"Oh. I'm sorry." She sounded like she really meant it. "You don't have to be shy, babe. You're beautiful."

"That's not the point, Holtz. This is for your eyes only."

"I'm sorry."

Erin got off of her, feeling a post-adrenaline embarrassment creep in. She covered herself with Holtz's blanket and reached for her shirt.

"Where are you going?"

"I can't do this here, Holtz. What if someone else walks in?"

"Nobody else lives here. The door is locked."

"Well what if you tell them to "come in" again?"

"…I'm sorry. I didn't know it would upset you. Please, Erin. I still need it." She wiggled her bare hips. "You're not gonna leave me like this, are you?"

"I'm not really in the mood anymore, Holtz."

Holtzmann sank back into her pillows, bringing her arms across her chest. "Will you at least… face me?"

Erin stayed with her back turned to Holtz, trying to recover from her embarrassment.

A few minutes later, Erin felt Holtz reach for something on the other side of the bed, shaking the bed a little. She waited for the shaking to stop, but it didn't, and she began to grow frustrated. She rolled over quickly. "Will you stop—"

Holtz had been crying. That's what the shaking was. "Holtzmann! What's wrong?" Erin realized she had kinda just given the cold shoulder to someone who lost their mom yesterday, and felt guilt that was worse than the embarrassment. "Jillian. I'm sorry, baby. It's okay, I'm not really mad. I'm sorry."

The engineer took a shuddering sigh, and Erin realized she had been crying a lot harder than she thought. Holtz held Erin's hand and put it on her stomach, covering her hand with her own. "That's all I need." She said. "I need to know that it's you."

"That what's me?"

Holtz just sighed, blinking away tears.

Erin laid down next to her, snuggling close. "Do you wanna talk about your dream?"

"No," the engineer said quickly, her voice cracking. "I just wanna make it go away."

Erin kissed her, if anything just to make her bottom lip stop shaking. She covered Holtzmann's body with her own, protectively, and whispered, "It's me. It'll always be me."

~/~

A/N Erin's dream came from this guy I was doing CPR on the other day, and his phone started ringing in his pocket. It was his wife, calling from home. He was a professor on vacation. He didn't make it, but we couldn't tell her that.