Nothing is working right. Abby’s pack is still making an awful noise when she turns it on and Erin’s proton shotgun is still smoking menacingly and Patty’s mini ghost chipper is still making the grinding sound when Holtz flips it on to test it. Exhaustion burns behind her eyes but her hands are as still and steady as always, so she doesn’t understand why she can’t get these to work. It’s been hours since the bust, and she should have fixed this easily, like she’s done half a million times, but nothing.
She grits her teeth, connects a wire in the proton pack, and flips it on. It makes a sound like deflating balloon.
Her scream of frustration is probably heard downstairs.
When Erin comes upstairs, Holtzmann is on the third floor, face down on one of the couches in their little kitchen-slash-common area, stewing in the frustration that’s making her chest tight.
“It’s official,” Holtz says into the pillow, not turning her head. “I’m done as an engineer. Can’t even fix a simple proton pack.”
“I wouldn’t call proton packs simple, Holtz.”
“They are to me!”
Holtzmann feels a weight settle next to her head on the couch, and she rolls over, blinking up at Erin. “I can’t get them to work, Erin! I don’t understand what’s wrong.” She flops her head down into Erin’s lap.
Erin’s fingers tangle in her hair, and Holtzmann curls around her girlfriend like a cat.
“Holtz, when was the last time you slept?”
“No,” Erin says, slowly. “Because yesterday you didn’t come home, and I doubt you slept here.”
“I was working on the proton gatling gun,” Holtzmann says, “Which is perfect and my new favorite, and then I decided to see what I could do to Abby’s P.K.E. meter, and then the history channel was playing this mockumentory on dragons and I had to watch it! I mean, dragons, Erin!”
“So you haven’t slept in…a least thirty eight hours?”
Holtz squints. “Maaaybe? Probably closer to, like, forty two.”
“See, that’s why your frustrated! Even genuis-brain isn’t a match for exhaustion.”
“Fiiine,” Holtz drawls. She fumbles behind her for a second and pulls on of the blankets piled at the end of the couch up over her.
Erin makes a little sound. “Oh, you’re going to sleep here? Okay…” she goes to get up, but Holtz curls her arms around her hips.
“No, stay. Cuddle me to sleep.”
Erin laughs, but does. When Holtzmann has finally, finally fallen asleep, she slips out from under Holtzmann’s embrace as carefully as she can. She tucks the blanket up around her shoulders then slips downstairs, leaving her to sleep.
Holtzmann sleeps for fifteen hours straight, then comes bounding downstairs the next morning, hair messy and tangled and eyes bright.
She fixes the proton pack in ten minutes flat, and instantly moves onto the shotgun. “I don’t know what I found so frustrating yesterday!” She declares, waving a screwdriver in Erin’s direction. “This is a simple fix! Easy-peasy.”