A few weeks had passed and they had had a lot of work. It was after midnight on a Tuesday. Abby had gone home to write her new book, Patty had a date and had taken a very reluctant Erin with her to a blind one.
Holtzmann’s eyes were watering a bit, but she had wanted to finish the shotgun. Too many ghosts, and too many updates and repairs to their current equipment, along with the perfecting of the containment unit had resulted in a slow development of the shotgun. It should work like the grenades, but with better aim and not deflectable. Even though the impact of the grenades only hurt the ghosts, the mist was all but healthy, and it had an awful smell.
She took off her goggles, yawned and stretched, considering taking a nap. The past weeks had been fun. Lots of cases, lots of spirits for study, great food, funding for everything, a new family… and then there was Project Holtzwell as she had decided to call her attempts to get into Miss Halliwell’s pants.
The receptionist had been a lot less nervous around her lately. Holtzmann had wanted to flirt with her, make her blush, but they both were too busy. And the girl seemed to be more talkative in her presence now, and even had stopped staring. Holtzmann didn’t like that. She liked the stares.
She took her shoes off and walked barefooted towards the switch by the door, only then noticing that the lights from downstairs were on too. Could only be Marla. The other had said their goodbyes. But why was she there past midnight? She had never been alone with the pretty brunette, and making up her mind, she marched over to the intercom, giggling.
“Marla, could you come up a bit?” she said in her most bossy voice.
She heard a crash from downstairs. It made her chuckle. After a bit, a response was heard, “Sure, be right there.”
Holtzmann felt the tingles again and decided that although flirting was fun and she didn’t get to do much of it, this was an opportunity. She could finally do something about Project Holtzwell. She didn’t quite know what yet, but something. She turned off the main light and stood by the lamp on her work table, without turning it on.
“Hello?” Marla was in the threshold, seemingly reluctant to get into the workshop. She was for some reason wearing red tartan pajamas. Weird girl. Turning the lamp on, Holtzmann grinned her wickedest grin. “Hi there. Like the pajamas. How come you are here so late?” she asked.
“Oh, sorry” said Marla, walking in, all subordinated and business like and hiding behind Holtzmann’s work table “I asked Abby if I could stay here today because the radiator at my apartment broke. And the manager can’t fix it till Thursday… I thought you all guys left. Do you mind? Should I leave or something?”
It was indeed very cold outside. Marla had always dressed very sharply, like a secretary, but she definitively looked better in pajamas. Holtzmann walked around the table to her. Marla almost jumped out of the way but was stopped by a box on the floor. She seemed nervous again which made Holtzmann wonder briefly if it was out of fear. They were completely alone. “A broken something, eh. Can I take a look at it?” said Holtzmann, getting as close as she could without actually touching her. Marla was looking down at the tools on the table, and was blushing as she used to, which encouraged Holtzmann.
“You want to go fix my radiator?” she asked meekly, almost inaudible. She licked her lips. Fixing stuff and cute brunettes were Holtzmann’s favorite things.
“I would have to bring my tools and maybe stay over if it’s too broken. Or I could offer you my apartment if I can’t fix it. I have a comfy couch. Fine, a comfy bean bag. Fine, it has no lumbar support whatsoever. So, what do you say?”
Marla was frozen on the spot. She had been able to handle her crush the past weeks, but they had never been alone before. She had been told by Abby that Holtzmann had something to do tonight, and thought she had left with the others when Marla went to get dinner. But she stayed. Working quietly, too quietly, because Marla hadn’t notice her. And now she was too close, looking her in the eye, talking nonstop and… did she just offer to take her to her apartment? Marla decided to stop being a freaking teen.
“Do you want to go out with me?” she blurted out, interrupting.
Holtzmann was apparently and for the first time since she knew her, taken aback. She blinked twice and scrunched her nose. But she seemed to recover quite quickly. “Go out like on a date?”
Holtzmann hadn’t move. She smelled of fresh peaches and gasoline and something metal. “That would be the general idea,” answered Marla, nodding but at the same time losing nerve. She looked away. Yes or no she could handle, but a Q&A session? Yikes.
“Why do people go on dates?” asked Holtzmann, now looking down at Marla’s lips.
“Fancy meal, fancy entertainment of some sort… why do people do it?”
“Erm… to get to… know… the other person?” Marla took notice of how she was starting to sound breathless. There was absolutely no space between their bodies now, but they were not pressed together. It was somehow arousing.
“Well, you already know me. Why would you want to go on a date with me? I’m not the fancy type” Holtzmann sounded like her usual self. Chipper and a little too fast.
Marla summoned what was left of her wits. “There are other things that happen on dates.”
“What kinda things?” asked Holtzmann playfully, still not moving away.
“There’s usually a kiss at the end,” uttered Marla. Why were they still talking, she asked herself, still unable to make a move.
“So you want to kiss me?” said Holtzmann, as if she wasn’t at all affected by anything, so Marla took a deep breath and prattled on.
“I totally want to. Have you seen you? My strategy was to ask you out and do it at the end of the date, but you didn’t say yes, which makes me do my best not to kiss you, even though you are so close and so freaking alluring, but at least you managed to distract me with questions.” Marla had to shut up to take a breath.
“So you -do- want to kiss me?” Holtzmann smiled. For a moment, Marla had to pause. She had a beautiful smile.
“Fine. Yes. And I’m gonna.” Marla gave Holtzmann two seconds to push her away and when it didn’t happen, she decided to kiss her boss, the mad scientist. She had fantasized about this for weeks, and had always wanted it to be a slow, tender, romantic kiss. She closed the gap between them and gently caressed Holtzmann’s lips with hers, trying to live her fantasy, but managed to do that for just a brief moment. Holtzmann made a noise of pleasure that broke Marla’s resolution, and unable to contain herself, she pulled Holtzmann as close as she could, furiously kissing her, sucking at her lips, opening them with her own, and was about to break it and apologize when Holtzmann bit her lower lip and made Marla utterly lose it.
“So, we kissed,” said Holtzmann to Abby the next afternoon, after lunch, looking down at her fourth shotgun.
“What!?” Abby’s outburst made the others look in their direction.
“We kissed,” answered Holtzmann.
“And you waited all day to tell me?” somehow, Abby seemed annoyed.
“Holtzy sorry,” she said in the baby voice Abby hated. Erin and Patty were with them now.
“But how? When?” asked Erin.
“We had lunch together all of us! You two didn’t act any different!” exclaimed Patty.
“Yeah, we agreed to do that, it was worth the shock, don’t you think? We didn’t agree to shock you, we agreed to hide it,” answered Holtzmann.
“You are making a bang up job of hiding it,” said Abby.
“She won’t mind, I bet, we didn’t agree too strongly, actually I asked her to do it, for the shock, but we can always ask her about this” said Holtzmann, walking over to the intercom. “Marla, do you mind that I told them?” she asked, pressing the button.
Abby shrugged. Patty face-palmed.
“Erm. No. It’s ok, just please don’t tell the things,” came the voice from the intercom.
“I wont,” said Holtzmann, smiling fondly.
“Jillian… Hollywood. Please don’t tell the things,” Marla’s voice was very final.
“Right. I wont,” answered Holtzmann, while the others looked at each other.
“The things?” asked Patty.
“There’s things,” said Holtzmann, winking at her and smiling again.
“Things,” repeated Abby and Erin together while Patty guffawed.
“Wait, so now you two are dating?” asked Erin.
“I’m dating the receptionist,” answered Holtzmann, nodding.
“That’s accurate, at least,” said Abby. “What does -Hollywood- mean?”
“That’s a tale for another time, children,” said Holtzmann, then whispered: “It’s part of the things I’m not supposed to say,” then in a normal voice, she added, “Back to work,” and grabbed a screwdriver. They didn’t ask anything else for the time being. Project Holtzwell, baby!