FINALLY got this done because my life since Holtzbert Week has been absolute CHAOS. Like... good chaos, but still complete chaos.
ANYWAYS, big thanks to disdurbinglyaddictedtobooks on tumblr for beta reading this!
I have no idea if Princeton has a hall the size I'm thinking of or a layout like this, I'm of University of Toronto and Sheridan College stock, so that's my frame of reference for this type of higher learning. The tunnels are where we hid the prop design kids.
Full uncensored illustrated version on AO3 or my website.
Erin is anxious, but that's not unusual. She's normally at around a seven out of ten baseline of anxiety. She's at a solid eleven right now. What is unusual about right now is what she's anxious about: teaching.
She's standing in the biggest lecture hall she's ever taught in, getting ready to talk about a subject she's been mocked for her whole life. Here she is: Professor Erin Gilbert Ph.D., standing in the giant hall at Princeton, giving a guest lecture about ghosts. Erin wonders about the probability of a human heart dislodging and wedging itself in a person's throat. God, her palms are really really sweaty.
Erin barely hears as her colleague who'd invited her here gives her an introduction. There is a genuine round of applause and she sees the room settle into attention. Oh god, These kids actually want to learn. How does that make her even more nervous? Oh god. She shuffles awkwardly up to the podium, places down her notes and phone, then adjusts the microphone to her height with a jarring crackle.
"Hi- hello, thank-," She pauses to clear her throat, "thank you for having me," she says a little too fast.
"As um- as some of you have hopefully seen from the recent news, regarding the incident in New York City, there has been a credible development in the study of the paranormal. I am here today to give a brief overview of mine and Dr. Abigail Yates' initial theories and our current conclusions, based on field research by the um... the Ghostbusters."
Not bad, Gilbert. Not good, but honestly not her worst opener. She remembers that one semester she tried opening with a joke. The real joke was her, honestly.
She jumps slightly when her phone buzzes, the wood of the podium amplifying the noise. She glares at it, since it's supposed to be on "do not disturb" mode so that only the Ghostbusters can get through. A ghost emergency would be a welcome reprieve.
On second glance, it turns out to be a text from Holtzmann:
'You're doing great babe :D'
'And you look so sexy in tweed ;3'
Erin flushes at the words, then looks up perplexed at the massive hall of students. There, all the way in the back row, is a single raised thumbs up coming from her favourite blonde. She's beaming that thousand watt smile and Erin chuckles. Of course, Holtz would find a way to be here for her. Of course, Holtz had known how nervous she was and had come to support her. Of course, the gesture made Erin tingle all over.
She continues her lecture, her palms now significantly less sweaty.
An hour or so later, she's gotten through her lecture and she hasn't thrown up on the podium. Nice job, Dr. Gilbert. A+! The students seem fascinated, which is (hopefully) a plus. Or... she thinks the students seem fascinated. In all honestly, she'd been staring at Holtz most of the time. She was trying to be a bit more inconspicuous, the hood of Erin's grey MIT sweater pulled over her blonde mess of hair. She still had her calming yellow glasses on, though. Looking through them wasn't just calming Holtz today; Erin felt at ease gazing at Holtz' eyes though them.
"Before we get to any questions, I'd like to invite a surprise guest to come to the podium: Dr. Jillian Holtzmann, please quit hiding in the back row."
Holtz' laugh echoes loudly through the room and everyone is turning to watch her saunter to the front of the room. A din of excited chatter follows in her wake.
"You always need to make an entrance, don't you?" Erin whispers to her, once she's reached the front and is leaning casually on the podium.
"You called me up here," she winks.
Erin rolls her eyes and turns back to the class, "so, any questions?"
Nearly every hand goes up.
Holtz leans casually over the microphone on the podium, "Yes, Dr. Gilbert and I are dating. No, you may not have either of our numbers still."
A number of hands slowly fall. Holtz shrugs when Erin shoots her a look.
Erin's suspiciously quiet as they walk hand-in-hand through the campus. The Q&A had lasted much longer than anticipated, and it was dark by the time they had left the hall. They'd politely declined an invite out for drinks with the students. Or at least Holtz had, Erin was in a bit of a daze by the end.
"Penny for your thoughts? Your thoughts are more than that, by the way," Holtz bumps her shoulder.
Erin sighs, "That was… That was just a lot."
She sees inspiration hit Holtz and suddenly she's being whisked away into a darkened building and down an ominous flight of stairs and through another door. Erin finds herself pinned against the wall of a dimly lit classroom. An old, used mostly for junk storage, classroom.
"Holtz?" She squeaks. Her heart is pounding in her chest again, and liquid is pooling again, but it's not her palms that are wet now.
"Used to date a girl that went to Princeton. No cameras in this wing. We'd come down here and uh… make the most of our brief time together," Holtz chuckles, a bit nervously.
"Why didn't it work out?" Erin tries to play it cool, but the thought of Holtz dating other girls is making her already on-edge anxiety to flair.
Holtz locks eyes with her, "She didn't believe in ghosts."
Erin lets out a relieved little laugh. Her girlfriend smirks, before crashing her lips into Erin's. Just like that, all the tension seems to melt off of her. Being with Jillian Holtzmann is a bit stressful, when she'll do things like electrocute herself trying to get your toaster to have an even toast or show up to your out of town lecture unannounced. This right here though, this is the ultimate stress relief. Erin brings her arms up around her girlfriend's neck, tangles them into her mess of hair and just lets go.
Holtz presses her body against the taller woman's, their curves fit so perfectly together that Erin has courted the impossible idea that they had been made for each. Improbable, not impossible, she corrects. Everything about them is so improbable, but still, here they are. Erin gives a little contented sigh as Holtz' tongue presses past her lips, deepening the kiss. Her hands begin to roam up Erin's body, up her sides to cup her breasts through her jacket. She pushes into the touch and feels Holtz smirk against her lips. She presses a thigh between Erin's legs, against her centre. Holtz wasn't wasting any time, clearly.
Hands quickly travel downward, hiking up skirt fabric to reach the smooth skin underneath. Holtz' fingers trace patterns only she understands across the physicist's thighs, until one hand reaches the apex and the other lifts her leg up for better access. Erin tenses, whimpering and bucking her hips involuntarily at the caress. She still wasn't used to all this… attention from someone. She loved it, but sometimes her body forgot she was with someone she could trust and actually cared about her. Holtz understood that, somehow. She knew the stiffness in Erin's hugs was from not getting enough, rather than not wanting one. She saw the instant regret in Erin's eyes when she shied away from a soft touch. She knew how much Erin wanted things, but was so nervous about getting them.
Holtz withdraws her hand and reluctantly tears her lips away from Erin's. She leans her forehead against her girlfriend's. She always checks in with her and Erin feels a lump of emotion catch in her throat.
"Easy, easy, I've got you. Consider this my treat for doing so great today," Holtz whispers as she strokes Erin's cheek with a thumb. Erin melts into the touch.
"Yeah, you killed it out there. I've never actually gotten to see Professor Gilbert in action and fuck, it's kinda hot."
"Am I going to have to convince you how hot you are, again? Because I can think of," she gently brushes her knuckles against Erin through her panties, "a couple ways to do that. We don't have to, though. I can just buy teach' an apple."
Erin moans loudly. Holtz smiles.
"Shhh. The hallways echo. You have to be a good quiet girl," she chides softly as she places a shushing finger against Erin's lips. Erin blushes and nods. So they were playing that game now.
She comes back to herself to a vision of Holtz licking her fingers clean and staring at her. Her face is flushed, her eyes more black than blue. When she gives her a little wink, Erin whimpers, because that was way too much to watch with her whole body thrumming and her mind in a hazy euphoria. She lays her head on Holtz' shoulder.
Holtz laughs, "God, I was hoping we'd find some way to live out the fantasies I have about you in these little tweed ensembles."
"You have um… you think about me like that?" Erin manages through gasping breaths.
She looks back at Holtz, and her girlfriend brushes the bangs clinging with sweat to Erin's forehead away.
"Erin, I'm lucky when I'm not thinking about you like that."
The comment fills Erin with a feeling she can't identify, but she likes it.
Holtz laughs as Erin goes fully limp in her arms.
"Need me to give you a piggy-back back to your hotel room? I know a way to get out of here where no one will see us"
Erin is too tired to worry about how much Holtz knew about secret Princeton tunnels, so she just nods. Holtz turns and presents her back, Erin managing to cling around Holtz like a koala, even though her limbs are spaghetti. The smaller woman easily carries her up through the winding dimly lit halls.
"As much as I love the tweed and heels and tiny bow ties, I cannot wait to get you out of it," she says as they surface back into the world.
Erin couldn't wait either.