“Christ, Holtzmann,” you say, “You’ve got more bobby pins in here than an entire toddler pageant.” You add two more pins to the mountain that’s been slowly rising on top of the comforter. It never ceases to amaze you that she can, and often does, sleep with all the little metal clips poking into her skull. You treasure the times you can coax her to let it down and keep it down for a bit. Even if her keeping it pinned up does minimize the chances of her catching her own hair on fire. Again.
Her low laugh vibrates through you. You can’t decide if she’s laughing at you or whatever she’s doing with the mini blowtorch that’s causing the noise vaguely reminiscent of a balloon losing all of its air. She’s nestled in the vee of your legs, blocking your view. It’s probably for the best. Part of you is tempted to remind her that you’d agreed no blowtorches or soldering when the nice sheets are on the bed. The rest of you realized a long time ago that it was a rule you’d never really enforce because you’re a bit helpless in the face of her utter delight.
“Nothing wrong with emergency lock picks,” Holtzmann says, turning just enough to peer at you over her shoulder. Some of her hair tumbles free as you pull out another pin. It smells vaguely of formaldehyde and cinnamon. You don't even want to know. “Broke out of a graveyard with those babies once.”
“I know,” you mutter. “That was our first date.”
She purses her lips. Makes an inquisitive face and an unimpressed noise. “Huh. Could have sworn that was our second.”
You roll your eyes. “I keep telling you, the lab accident doesn’t count. I didn’t mean to kiss you then.”
She grins, wide and goofy and like sunshine. It must be hurting her neck, gazing back at you like this, but she doesn’t budge. “Uh-huh. Never been accidentally kissed twice in the span of ten minutes before.”
“Turn around,” you say, flustered. “Let me finish.” Holtzmann clicks her tongue but does as you ask. You drape one leg over her thigh; she pinches it lightly before the hiss of the blowtorch starts up again.
You start combing through her hair in a search for more pins. The strands are soft, flowing like water between your fingers. Sometimes a curl spools around your finger before springing free and back into its previous shape. Holtzmann sighs quietly as your nails scrape against her scalp, leaning more heavily into your chest for a moment. You press a fleeting kiss to the side of her neck. And then curse as you stab yourself with yet another damn bobby pin. She laughs again.
It takes you five more minutes to pull out all of the bobby pins. Holtzmann is humming quietly to herself, one leg bouncing up and down off the edge of the bed. Every once and a while, she leans back into you. Her blond hair is brassy in the dim light of the bedroom and the concentrated flame of the blowtorch; the glow from the blowtorch keeps catching her blue eyes and turning them the color of the sea, even under her glasses. There's a grease smear on the side of her jaw. The pang of affection is so strong and sudden that it almost hurts. You twist her blond locks around your fingers and lean forward rest your chin on her shoulder. "All set," you say. You furrow your brow as her current project comes into view. "...Is that the toaster?"
“Finally,” she groans, rocketing to her feet and ignoring your question. The toaster-that-was thumps to the floor, along with the (thankfully off) blowtorch. She’s just as quick to turn around and settle herself on your lap. You can’t help the snicker that slips out. “What?” she asks, cocking an eyebrow above the daffodil lenses of her safety glasses, gazing down at you.
“You just look like even more of a mad scientist than usual,” you admit, taking in the unruliness of her unpinned hair. It’s going every which way, some parts straight, some parts still curling, and affection settles low in your stomach, soft and warm.
Holtzmann smirks and leans down, unhooking her glasses and letting them dangle from one ear.
“Then let’s experiment,” she breathes against your lips.
There's a part of you that wants to point out that she's actually more of a mad engineer and she knows it, but it's quickly quieted when she closes those last millimeters to finally kiss you. You weave a hand into her hair (some part of you registers a section that's crunchy with something but honestly, it's not that unusual) and pull her closer. She huffs a laugh against your lips and pushes you backwards.
Directly into the sea of bobby pins.
Your shriek of surprise is something Holtzmann imitates for months.