This was the third time that week, she was woken up by her lover, Dr. Erin Gilbert. It was another nightmare. Except, this time, it was much worse. You see, Dr. Jillian Holtzmann went to a very religious, conservative high school on the outskirts of New York City. To make matters worse, she lived in an area where individuality was frowned upon. Though her high school days were nothing but a distant memory now, that didn't stop her tormentors from making their way into her dreams as an adult.
The hallways were always crowded, except for when Jillian was around. Then the students parted like the red sea.
"Well, well, well, look who it is. The fucking faggot."
Though she'd heard that word hundreds of times since she was outcasted in middle school, whenever Rowan North said it, it stung more than usual.
"Leave me alone Rowan. I have to get to class."
Stepping aside, the sophomore, looked to his left.
"Don't worry weirdo, we're not after you today."
Following his line of sight, Holtzmann froze.
It was hardly just a whisper, but she heard it nonetheless. Truthfully, she should've been in bed, but ever since her favorite engineer received a mysterious letter less than a month ago, she had been having horrible nightmares.
"Holtz?" she tried.
Though she was in her own bed, Gilbert could see her lover trembling underneath the covers.
She had no chance to react before she saw blood. Her nose was definitely broken The brunette struggled against Rowan's dastardly 'friends'. She was scared. She'd seen what they'd done to her fellow 'classmate' and decided to take up for her. But, that came with consequences.
Jillian screamed as the first punch connected to Erin's jaw, and each attempt to help her 'friend' was met with a swift knee to the ribs. The other students laughing and jeering as the star student watched in horror. She'd never felt more helpless.
It was when the tears streamed out of Jillian's eyes, that Erin moved. She'd read the letter, (well, invitation) that had made her lover so upset. Though they had brief conversations about her past, Holtzmann always seemed skittish and panicky. Clearly, this invitation to her high school class reunion fueled these nightmares, and Erin was determined to find out why.
Battered, bruised, and beaten, Jillian sobbed as the brunette's blouse was ripped open, and her bruises were set on display.
"See this four-eyes! It's all your fault!"
Helplessness turned to rage as an unconscious Erin fell to the ground. Struggling against her tormentors, Holtz tried to crawl over to her.
"You failed to save her again. Erin's hurt because of you. It's all your fault, you useless dyke."
Before she could get there, however, a crushing blow to the back of her head left her in complete darkness.
Now at her lover's side, Erin could tell it was another nightmare, and based on her rapid heartbeat, irregular breathing, and drenched clothes, it was a bad one.
"Holtz, baby, wake up."
She shook the engineer slightly, but to no avail.
Though Erin was in love with the nuclear engineer, she knew next to nothing about how to comfort her, or people in general for that matter. Due to Holtz's frequent tremors, she needed to act fast. So, she did the only thing she knew.
Slipping into the small, twin-sized bed, the physicist wrapped her arms around the small blonde. Shortly after doing so, she began to run her fingers through her matted, greasy hair. As she did, Holtzmann woke up, immediately throwing herself around her girlfriend, finding solace in her presence. Jillian sobbed and sobbed until her tear ducts refused to produce anymore liquid.
"Wanna tell me what happened?" Erin asked softly.
The nuclear engineer gave a slight nod and sniffled quietly.
"T-They hurt you, Erin. I couldn't s-stop them."
The blonde shuddered at the recollection of her hellish dream.
Erin tensed slightly, the content of her lover's dream brought an overwhelming feeling of rage to her heart. But, she had to remain calm for the shorter woman. Taking a deep breath, she continued tending to her genius partner.
"No matter how many times I try, t-they won't stop. They just keep getting worse Erin. I can't do this anymore!"
Though enraged, Dr. Gilbert steadied her breath and remained silent, giving the nuclear engineer time to speak.
The pair stayed like that throughout the remainder of the night, Erin rubbing small circles in the small of the blonde's back, whilst her lover sobbed quietly, nuzzled against the brunette's neck.
All the while Abby, Patty, and of course, Kevin, were all fast asleep in their beds.
The morning light always seemed to be the best alarm clock when waking up beside your loved one. This, Holtz can attest to. Last night had been rough, but she was determined to wipe the nightmare from her memory.
Slowly slipping out of her girlfriend's embrace, the engineer stretched.
"8:30. Time to get to work."
She planted a soft kiss on the forehead of a, very much asleep, Dr. Gilbert, before racing to her "lab" on the second floor. Dashing up the stairs, Jillian flashed a friendly smile at Kevin, their not so bright receptionist, before disappearing into piles of metal.
Now that they had the firehouse, everyone had plenty of room to operate. Patty, Abby, and Kevin operated on the ground floor, while she and Erin had the second floor and the garage. Their bedrooms, of course, taking up all the room on the third floor.
The downside, however, was that with all this newfound "fame", there was little to no downtime. Ghosts don't take vacations. Holtzmann sighed before attempting to lose herself in her inventions.
The alarm rang at approximately 12:30 pm, waking the physicist from her slumber. Though low on energy, she sprang into action, quickly running to her locker. Throwing on her coveralls, she spotted the engineer. Her hands trembled and her breathing was faster than normal. Before she could ask what was wrong, Abby and Patty hurriedly slid down the pole, already dressed.
"There's a few nasty apparitions threatening the ballroom of the Mercado Hotel. We have to act fast, apparently, there's a high school reunion currently taking place."
"I wonder if it's-"
Her thought was interrupted by the sound of Ecto-1 roaring to life.
"Let's go bust some ghosts!," the engineer shouted.
Yates and Tolan both exclaimed in agreement, hopping in the backseat of the barely-legal vehicle.
Much to the older woman's surprise, her girlfriend showed no signs of the nervousness she displayed earlier. Or so she thought.
Sliding into the passenger's seat, she noticed how Holtz's hand trembled when she put Ecto-1 in gear. Not to mention, she was gripping the steering wheel much harder than normal.
As they departed for the hotel, Gilbert silently comforted the blonde.
The Mercado Hotel was always busy, that's what made busts like these impossible.
Putting her "baby" in park, Jillian took a deep breath, getting out of the car slower than the rest of the team. She couldn't help feeling sick to her stomach. Just the thought of seeing her tormentors again made her want to hide.
Luckily for her, her lover knew her better than anyone else and was able to pick up on things like this. She was putting on her proton pack when she was pulled to the side.
"How ya feeling Holtzy?" her voice was laced with genuine concern.
The blonde just shook her head. Her curls sticking to her face due to the large amount of sweat she'd produced in the past 5 minutes. She tried to put on a brave face, but her efforts proved futile.
"O-Ok?," The crack in her voice only showed just how un-ok Holtzmann truly was.
Before turning and heading inside to join the other two, Erin gave the younger woman a quick hug.
"Please be careful Jill, they can't hurt you anymore."
Holtzmann stared after the physicist for a moment, before putting on her game face and dashing into the hotel.
"Alright ladies, we're out-numbered 5 to 4. This is gonna take serious teamwork and concentration."
The curly haired blonde heard Abby speaking, but the pounding in her chest occupied most of her attention. The engineer's head spun as the moment of "truth" grew closer.
"Patty and Erin, you guys go through the kitchen. Holtz and I will go through the front."
Holtzmann watched as Tolan and Gilbert sprinted away, inhaling sharply as they disappeared around the corner.
"Ok Jillian. It's cool, you're fine. It's just a routine bust. Rowan can't hurt you anymore, it's fine. You're fine."
Swallowing her fears, Holtz gave Abby a slight nod, prompting the older woman to kick the ballroom door open.
Yates's voice turned to gibberish, as the shorter of the two stared at the terrified faces of her tormentors. Though she could care less about the safety of those who made her life a living hell, it was her job to save them.
Spotting the other two, she smiled. Surveying the setup of the ballroom, she decided her pistols were more suited for this bust. The researcher was right, they were outnumbered. As quick as lightning she pulled them out and focused on the spirit closest to the various entrees of food. Within minutes she successfully captured and trapped the ghost.
Spotting her lover, she sprinted to assist her. Somehow her girlfriend's proton back malfunctioned, and she had nothing but the handgun Holtz made her, to wrangle the meaner looking specter. The engineer was almost to her, but was blocked by a table thrown by the entity the historian was struggling with.
Without much thought, she pulled out her blaster and aimed right at the anomaly. Jillian's grip on the trigger tightened slightly, she was just about to fully squeeze it when she was startled by a voice that was all too familiar.
"Hello Jillian. Long-time no see weirdo."
Startled, Holtzmann pulled the trigger. Her stream missing the ghost entirely and grazing Erin's forearm. Dr. Gilbert screamed out in pain, dropping her weapon as she did so. Now with an opening, the class 4 ghost grabbed her and threw her into a nearby wall, injuring the brunette even further.
Before the small blonde had a chance to check on her girlfriend, a pair of hands were around her neck. This wasn't what she needed right now. He was possessed. She tried screaming for help but the only other Ghostbuster in the room was badly injured. Abby and Patty were out chasing the other two ghosts that had left the ballroom. They were clearly working in sync.
"Well then, shall we get started?"
His voice was just as smug as she remembered.
At Rowan's command, the spirit that had thrown Erin now gained control of her body. The grip on Holtzmann's neck tightened as she was forced to her knees with her hands somehow bound behind her back. The physicist stood up and slowly made her way to the helpless woman. As her lover grew closer, Jillian begged and pleaded for her possessed childhood bully to stop.
Ignoring her requests, he made her look the older woman in the eyes. Holtz hoped that she'd see the blue orbs she fell in love with. But instead, she saw darkness. A sadistic smile painted its way across Erin's face, giving the nuclear engineer only a moment to breathe before the first punch connected with her jaw. The rest of her classmates were frozen in fear, silently watching the poor Dr. at the mercy of Rowan for the millionth time.
With each crushing blow that hit its mark, Jillian's heart broke a little more. The endless rain of blows continued for what seemed like an eternity to the blonde, and when a swift kick to her ribs knock the wind out of her, she sank into the fetal position.
"E-Erin please." she sobbed, hoping that the real Erin Gilbert was still in there somewhere.
She paused to cover her face to lessen the impact of the next blow before continuing.
"You've got to fight it. Please baby," she wheezed.
Peeking up at the brunette, the smirk on her face vanished and a look of pure disgust replaced it.
"How could I ever fall in love with someone like you, you pathetic excuse of a human being."
Holtzmann couldn't tell if it was Erin's words or the sharp kick to the ribs afterwards that took her breath away. Though she knew the brunette had no control over what was coming out of her mouth, the words still stung, it was her voice.
Rowan's wicked laughter echoed throughout the silent ballroom, everyone too scared to intervene. The blonde gasped as Gilbert grabbed her by the collar and brought her to look the brunette in the eyes. She knew she had one chance at defeating the ghosts that possessed Erin and Rowan, and her window of opportunity was closing fast.
As quick as a whip, the engineer placed a kiss against her girlfriend's lips before shoving a proton grenade into her mouth.
"Sorry hot stuff." she whispered before painfully diving out of the blast radius.
The explosion was small, and once the dust settled, she made out a motionless Dr. Gilbert lying on the ground.
Just crawling to her took all the energy and strength she had left. Collapsing on her lover's chest she listened for her heartbeat.
Ba-Bump, Ba-Bump, Ba-Bump
"Oh thank god!"
She was alive. Holtz shook her slightly, to that her only response was a soft pained groan, and slowly but surely Gilbert's eyes fluttered open.
Lifting her head to look at the engineer, she winced. The pain in her arm was nothing compared to the pain she felt at the sight of the blonde.
Her right eye was swollen shut, a large gash was above both her eyebrows, huge bruises were all over her neck and face, and those were just the ones she could see. Despite all of that, she was flashing a toothy grin as tears spilled out of her eyes.
"Erin! Are you ok?!"
"Am I ok?! Look at you Holtz! What happened?!"
The blood from the gash trickling down her face, and the swelling of her right eye made it difficult to see the expression on Dr. Gilbert's face, but she could tell it was a pained one.
"Well Erbear, it's a very long story that we don't have time for right now."
Standing up proved to be quite the challenge. The damage done to her ribs clearly more severe than she'd originally thought. Holtz didn't want to scare the physicist with the full extent of her injuries, so she tried to hide the mass amount of pain she was in, just helping the Dr. to her feet made her want to double over in pain.
"All that matters now is finding Abby and Pat-"
A groan from their right interrupted her sentence, and she instinctively put an arm in front of Erin. If he was still possessed, she wanted no further harm to come to the brunette. This was something she needed to handle herself.
The curly-haired man sat up slowly, the spirit possessed him clearly affected by the blast too. Blinking twice, he looked around, he knew where he was, but not how he ended up on the floor in quite the daze.
"Rowan, don't move!"
His confused expression did nothing to contain or reduce the massive amount of rage building inside of her. The very man in front of her made her life hell, not just during her formative years, but well after too. Every negative thought she'd had about herself stemmed from something he'd said, and she was not about to let him off the hook for it.
The engineer's injuries were the least of her worries as she stomped towards her childhood bully. Grabbing him by the collar, she yanked him up off the ground and pushed him against the nearest wall. Erin stepped forward to stop the blonde, but she fell onto one knee as she tried to step forward. That was the last straw for Holtz. But before she had a chance to unload on North, Yates and Tolan were thrown into the room.
Everyone in the ballroom falling to the floor as the ground below them shook violently. Looking at the other three injured Ghostbusters, Holtzmann groaned. They were in for quite the ride.
-To Be Continued.