The Ectozone is Proud to Present

FOREVER

The Wedding of Ms. Janine Melnitz
and
Professor Egon Spengler

By Fritz Baugh

Dedicated to those who made it possible: Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, J. Micheal Straczynski, Annie Potts, Maurice LaMarche, and Laura Summer

And to the fans who had to wait so long for this...


Some material adapted from previously broadcast, published, or posted stories. Writers cited include Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, J. Micheal Straczynski, James Van Hise, Francis Moss, Billy Brown, Dan Angel, Dean Stephan, Steven Slavkii, Ben King, Iain Bennett, Rosey Collins, and this author.
Then
December 1997
The car finally came to a stop at a section of the Jamaica Bay harbor. It was currently uninhabited, and had clearly seen better days. They walked to the railing, snow lightly crunching beneath their feet, and looked out over the Bay.

"Cold?" he asked.

"Not enough to worry about..."

"I came out here a time or two over the...intervening years. Sometimes I deluded myself into thinking it somehow made me closer to you. Other times I deluded myself into thinking it helped me let you go..."

She looked around..."Why here?"

He said nothing.

She looked around again...and it dawned on her that she had been here before...

She closed her eyes and nodded. "I understand...sorry, it took me a minute. It was a little better cared for and had less snow back in 1990"

"Indeed" he agreed.

"I remembered it in the middle of 1995..." she went on quietly. "It was one of the last things I remembered...it all came flooding back. The lotsabucks. What you said. The Chateau Ritz and the imps. And that night in June the Zodiac Lords ruined. I remembered us for the first time....it was right after that I moved out..."

"One more thing I did to you..." Egon shook his head.

"Egon, I wish you would quit blaming yourself for all of my mistakes." she replied. "I don't...I never did. What I said here that night was...well, I was angry and the damned bitch was still in my head..."

He stiffened. "Janine...don't you understand? It was all part of the same pattern. The way we kept torturing ourselves and each other over the years. You'd pour your heart into trying to get me to open up to you. I'd sit there like a piece of ice pretending I didn't notice. Then you'd do something rash, to either get at me or in a well-meaning attempt to get on with your life. I'd seethe and explode jealously, but you couldn't understand why. You'd have second thoughts and undo your rash effort. And I'd retreat back into logic. And the cycle repeated itself..."

She exhaled deeply, a long stream of frozen breath trailing from her mouth. "That's us...Mister Dysfunctional and Miss Codependant...it's a vicious cycle, Egon, I admit that. I've left behind the wreckage of at least one relationship that might have worked if I'd never met you. But here's the thing Egon--I did meet you. We can't pretend none of it ever happened...just like I can't pretend I don't love you. I learned that the hard way."

"I'm not asking you to..." he answered. His right hand reached into his pocket, and he pulled out a small object; a coin. "Do you recognize this?"

Her eyes went wide. "You still have that?" she asked, honestly shocked.

"For some reason I could never part with it, even in the depths of my depressions over the last six years. Because..." he looked uncomfortable admitted it. "I somehow had this odd feeling...that if I disposed of it, you'd never come back to me."

"Oh Egon..." she replied, almost speechless.

"That's what you've done to me, Janine. You've taken a man who was once ruled almost totally by the logical and rational, and turned him into someone who'd find supernatural power in an inert piece of metal."

He put the coin back in his pocket. "I had to bring you to this place...that has so much meaning. Connected to an event that embodied everything that was right and what was wrong about our relationship. Because seeing you again...working with you again...and having the others come back...I had a lot of time over the last six years to think about things, and I just don't want to go back to that old status quo."

Her eyes narrowed. She wasn't totally sure she liked what he was getting at. "Meaning?"

"Meaning...Janine, we're not in the middle of a crisis. No supernatural being is influencing either one of us right now. And we're not angry at each other over anything. We have the luxury of looking at this rationally. We make a mutual decision to break that cycle of codependency and dysfunction. Logically? We acknowledge the past. Acknowledge our friendship. Even acknowledge the feeling between us." He turned away from her. "But also acknowledge that 'us' is an illogical outcome. Part as friends, and never come this way again."

She suddenly felt her legs go rubbery, and her stomach ready to return the nice dinner she'd just had. I don't believe this...after all I've done he's brushing me off AGAIN?!

"Or..."

" 'Or' what?" she could barely choke out the words, anger and sorrow starting to rise up within her.

He turned back to her, taking her hands, his face no longer solemn. He had handed her something, a small box...

"Or you marry me."

She was struck speechless, the rising anger short circuited by the words he had said and the look on his face--unguarded, open, almost pleading. Her hands were starting to tremble as she opened the box, revealing a golden ring with a sparkling diamond. "Egon, I...I..."

"I'm tired of being logical when it comes to you, Janine. I want to be human...no more denials. No more confusion. I love you, and want to spend the rest of our time together proving that."

She just stood there, tears streaming from her eyes. It was a moment she just wanted to freeze in amber, to live again and again...she'd spent the better part of fifteen years imagining this...

Egon inhaled. "If...if you say no, I would completely understand. A lot has happened to both of us...I won't deny I would be devestated, but I'd understand."

She smiled at him as she pulled off her left glove, and placed the sparkling ring on her finger. "Egon Spengler, as if there was a snowball's chance in Hell I would say no to you..." She kissed him. "Yes. A thousand times yes."

Now
June 14, 1998
Ghostbuster Omnibus Timeline Year Sixteen
"Knock Knock" Peter Venkman called out, opening the door.

His oldest friend in the world, Egon Spengler, was standing there adjusting his tuxedo tie. He looked around as Venkman and their two comrades--Ray Stantz and Winston Zeddemore--entered the room.

"I would say you have company..." the white-haired woman inspecting his jacket said simply. "Now hold still--this button is loose."

"We're just making sure he isn't trying to make a last minute escape..." Ray quipped jovially. He'd been thinking of growing a beard, and was somewhat scruffy-looking back during the Ghostbuster reunion the last November, but today he was clean-shaven. As the youngest of the four Ghostbusters (not even 39 yet) he looked effectively the same as he did in 1983 (save being a bit less hefty).

"He knows better than that." Venkman retorted. "He knows we would hunt him to the ends of the Earth and drag him back. In a Crimebuster trap if we had too."

"The big day at last, Homeboy..." Winston smiled.

"It only took about ten years longer than it should've..." Venkman nodded, chesire grin appearing. "Imagine how much aggravation would've been avoided..."

"Peter, ten years ago I was convinced that all I needed was my work. I wasn't ready for this then...OW!!!" he said abruptly. "Mom, what..."

"Hush, Doctor." Katharine Melton Spengler replied. "You didn't fuss that much when you were six and set yourself on fire..."

"That was a scientific study of spontaneous combustion..."

"And this is a loose button. I doubt the needle is quite as painful."

"I'd say you should know by now your Mom is not one to argue with, Egon..." Winston laughed

Venkman chuckled "Yeah. Kinda like the woman about to finally be the newest Mrs. Spengler, huh?"

"Then why to you argue with her constantly, Peter?" Ray rolled his eyes.

Venkman feigned shock and indignation. "Hey, I can't help it if she likes to argue? Just be grateful I knew you liked her, Egon, or I would've fired her ass years ago..."

"And if she didn't know you were Egon's best friend she would've murdered you in your sleep..." Winston added.

"Pshoot. Slimer never would've let her."

"She could've bribed him with doughnuts."

"Egon, quit taking her side. Just because you're about to marry her and all..."

The four fortysomething (or in Ray's case nearly fortysomething) men got a big laugh out of it.

"Guys, I..." Egon started to say.

"What?" Ray asked.

"I'm sorry." Egon finished. "I missed all of your weddings.. I..."

The threesome looked at each other.

"I think I speak for all of us when I say--we ain't goin' nowhere." Venkman finally said, putting his arm around his buddy. "That's all water under the bridge, as far as I'm concerned."

"We all know you wanted to be there...' Ray added. "And it's our fault too. We didn't exactly move hell and high water to get you there..."

"Not the way that redheaded terror you're about to marry did to get all of us back together." Venkman nodded. "That's love, Spengs."

"I know."

There wasn't anything else the old friends could say. They shared a tight group hug, and then the three men left the room.

Katharine Spengler stopped, and wiped a tear from her eye.

"Mom?"

"I know your Father never approved of them..." she finally said. "He found both Peter and Raymond far too messy, illogical, and...well, in his opinion, far beneath you."

"I know..."

"And I am sure...even if he wouldn't admit it, would probably think the same thing about her..."

Egon inhaled deeply before he continued. "And he would be wrong."

"Yes." she agreed.

"I've seen what my life would've been like without them. A life of nothing but logic and work, nothing but equations, and test tubes, and computer screens...A life with no friends, only intellectual colleagues. A life without love. I lived that life for six years." He closed his eyes. "And I hated it more than I ever thought it possible to."

"They're good for you Egon. They've made you a real human being, not the machine Edison wanted you to be. And she's the best one of them all for you."

"I...thank you, Mom. I would marry her even without your approval, but it still means quite a lot."

"Call it Mother's intuition, but I think I knew before you did. It was when Peter mentioned her to me for the first time and you got so conspicuously angry about it..."

Egon chuckled and nodded.

There was a knock at the door. "Everybody decent in there?" a deep voice, sounding very much like Egon's actually, called through the door.

"As much as can be expected." Katharine answered. The door opened, and Dr.s Ellis and Cyrus Spengler walked into the room.

Ellis looked very much like his half-brother, though several inches shorter, and sporting a mustache. Even the pattern which his blond hair was turning white resembled his sibling's.

Cyrus didn't carry as much of the "Spengler look" as his nephews and late brother did, but was still a reedy man with a thin face. His hair and goatee had been much darker than theirs in his youth; but as he was now approaching seventy, were now quite grey.

"I would think I now win the bet with my wife, Little Brother." Ellis said with something approaching a grin.

"Bet?" Katharine asked, cocking an eyebrow.

"She was absolutely convinced Jennifer would be married before Egon was..."

"Nothing for you to worry about, then." Egon returned. "I get the impression Mister Holbrook is not the marrying type..."

Ellis rolled his eyes "Bite your tongue." and gave his half-brother an uncommonly warm hug.

"And how are you doing, Katharine?" Ellis asked, kissing her on the cheek.

"Relieved." she replied. "This took far too long..."

"Let's not start that again..." Egon said as he cleared this throat.

"Egon..." Cyrus finally spoke. "I know we've disagreed on a great many things before..."

"That we have." Egon replied.

"But you are family. This isn't the kind of choice Edison would've wanted you to make..."

Or you either Egon knew.

"...But you've proven you're more than capable of living your own life. I offer my congratulations, and honest hope that you will be happy."

Cyrus extended his hand. Egon shook it. "Thank you, Uncle Cyrus." he replied simply, but not without some honest warmth.

"Now you two need to shoo out of here." Katharine said with mock hostility. "I need to get my son the Doctor finished up..."

"I thought everyone called him 'Professor' now..." Ellis joked as he shut the door.

Then
June 1983
"Hey Janine--have I got great news for you!!!" the woman said, coming in just as fast as Janine could open the door.

"Come right on in, Marie--I'm fine right now..." Janine muttered sarcastically as she closed the door behind her friend.

The bispectacled woman in the thick blue sweater, with unkempt brown hair, was named Marie Cavendish, and she was one of Janine's friends from back in school. Unstoppable perkiness was one of Marie's character traits--which sometimes could grate on Janine's nerves. She'd often pledged to herself if I ever get that agreeable and perky just somebody put a bullet through my head please...

"Oh! Hi Victor!!! You keeping an eye on your Aunt Janine?"

"She and Mom are fighting about something as usual." Victor returned matter of factly.

"We're not fighting." Doris stated firmly, scowling at her son. "There's nothing to fight about."

"That remains to be seen..." Janine started to say.

"I came because I got great news for you, Janine!!!" Marie said excitedly, apparently unaware of the argument she was trampling on. "I think I've found you a job!!!"

Janine and Doris both stopped cold and looked at her.

"You know that university guy I was dating? Petey?"

"Oh yeah. Fink Man or what ever his name was..." Janine nodded, trying not to be too hopeful. She knew how quirky Marie could be...

"Venkman, Janine. Peter Venkman. Anyway, so like he and his two assistants got fired by the university and they're starting their own company. He called and said he needed a secretary, and knew that I'd taken those night classes on typing and asked if I still needed a job. Well, I don't of course since I started working for that cute orthodontist, but I told him I had a friend who just quit her job and took some of the same classes I did."

"So what'd he say?"

"He asked if you were cute." Marie chuckled.

"Well, that's not a fair question." Doris answered. "She got all the ugly genes in the family."

"Victor, look away for a second." Janine said. When her nephew did, she flipped her sister the bird. "Okay, you can look back now."

"So what does this guy do?" Doris asked.

"He's some kinda scientist...psychologist and something else, pseudopsychology or something like that..."

"A doctor?" Doris purred mischievously. "Those guys can pull down a lot of money..."

"Oh fercryingoutloud, Dee...that is not the issue here..."

"I think Petey said he and his partners are both single..." Marie chuckled.

"I never even said I'd go!!! Now you're trying to get me to marry one of those guys!!!"

"You're right, you're right..." Doris nodded, trying not to stifle a laugh. She admitted to herself that sometimes she tried too hard--she'd married Joshua almost right out of high school and had given birth to Victor at about the same age Janine was now. She just wanted to find some similar happiness for her grumpy little sister. "Listen, howabout we make a little deal?"

Janine's face scrunched up for a second. "What kind of deal?"

"Check out the job. If you get it, the rent I gave your landlord becomes a loan, and I let you pay me back for it."

"All right already!!! Sheesh!!!" Janine shouted with exasperation. She looked at Marie, her features softening. "Thanks a lot, Marie."

"No problem." Marie smiled. "Just promise that if you get the job and marry your boss you'll name one of your kids after me..."

Now
"Oh oh oh oh oh...I think I'm gonna..." Marie Cavendish Rosenfeld's voice trailed off.

"Bathroom's over there, if you think you're gonna hurl." Doris Melnitz Irwin quipped, pointing to the side door.

"Hello!!! This room is still occupied!!!" a Brooklyn voice very similar to Doris's own retorted from the other side of the door.

"Us and Shirl had all those slumber parties together, remember? And I've had two kids myself--there's nothin' you have that would surprise me." Marie teased back. "I'm just so giddy about all this..I mean, sheesh, how long did we think this would never happen?"

"I think we're about done in here..." Shirl Johnson's voice called back. "Get ready."

When the door opened Shirl walked out with Doris's younger sister. Thirty nine years old, but looking younger than those years. Especially on today of all days.

"Wow..." Marie whistled.

"You clean up real good, Little Sister." Doris joked. "I like the new haircut. Or is it proper to call it that?"

"Just a little surprise for the bridegroom" Janine Melnitz winked back.

"I'd hope that's not the only one you have planned..." Shirl ribbed her (literally)

"Why, Shirly Ann Johnson, what a dirty mind you have." Janine retorted with fake shock.

"Be careful with that dress..." Doris scolded jokingly. "Mom would murder us if something happened to it..." Further comments were cut short by a knock.

"Hey...things decent in there?" a gruff male voice, also deeply accented with Brooklynese, called from the other side of the door.

"Well, Shirl's naked again, Pop, but what's new about that?' Doris answered.

The door opened to admit Fritz and Denise Melnitz; Fritz was a stocky individual (lots of years down at the Brooklyn loading docks) with short grey hair and a bushy mustache. His wife was a much more petite woman, with curled hair that was still dyed a shade of orangish red to match it's youthful shade. "Aw, just look at her! My baby girl, a bride at last..." Mrs. Melnitz gushed.

"Well, I mean technically..." Doris rolled her eyes, playfully.

"A civil ceremony in front of a rodeo clown ain't a wedding..." Fritz gestured dismissively. "That didn't count on so many levels."

Denise was picking at her younger daughter's dress, adjusting the way the strapless hem sat on Janine's chest. "Let's not have any unpleasant talk here, Melnitz. Ah, Jay...the hair, I love it...your idea?"

"Yeah...you think Egon will approve?"

"As I've said many times, that man'd be stupid not too. And despite trying to prove differently for so many years, he ain't stupid." Fritz chuckled. "I identify with you, Jay, you know that. I ever told you how many years it took for me to finally convince yer Mom to marry me?"

"Numerous times, Pop." Janine and Doris said in unison.

"I was just a lowly new dock boy, and she was workin' in the invoicin' office..."

"Pop..."

"First time I asked her out she said 'not innerested'..."

"Fritz..." Denise's voice raised a little.

"Then after our first date she said she didn't wanna see me no more..."

"Oy vey..." Marie rolled her eyes.

"But then when I hurt my back an' she came to see me in the hospital, I knew she was hooked..."

"Awright, that's enough, you old blow-hard..." Denise finally said, putting a hand on her husband's mouth. "Janine's had way too much else to worry about to wanna hear your story all over again."

"Aw, Nissey, just tryin' to get a reaction outta ya." Fritz replied with a shit-eating grin, kissing his wife's hand "You know it turns me on when you complain about things..."

She smacked him. Then they both started laughing.

"Well, I think Shirl and I better get to the chapel...it is called a chapel, right?" Marie joked, as she and Shirl left the room.

The four members of the Melnitz family shared a group hug.

"Aw, crap in a hat, the air in hear is makin' my eyes water...must be too much hair spray..." Denise said, starting to dab her eyes.

"Tell you what, Mom, let's go on ahead. It's almost time to start anyway..." Doris Irwin gave her sister a thumbs up and led their mother from the room.

Father and daughter hugged each other again. "You look beautiful, Janine." Firtz finally said. "I'm glad this guy finally woke up...I was beginnin' to wonder..."

"I know, Pop...I had my moments of doubt too. A lot of them. But when it came right down to it...I just knew it didn't belong any other way. I tried it different. Tried to forget about him and move on. Tried an 'easy' relationship. I lived life that way for six years." She closed her eyes. "And I hated it more than I ever thought it possible to."

"I know exactly what you mean, Honey. He's the right one, and you'd rather live alone than with someone else. That's just the way you're put together. You must get that from me..." Fritz dabbed his eyes with a kerchief. "And thankfully, it works out for you too...you get your happily ever after...but I promise you one thing..."

"What's that, Pop?"

"If this genius breaks your heart again, I'm gonna break both his legs off and stuff'em down his throat."

They both laughed, and hugged again.

Then
June 8, 1983
"As of yet, you haven't paid me for anything." Janine returned, walking over to the desk at the center of the garage. She'd seen it the day before, but it looked different now--there was a keyboard and a darkened monitor sitting on the desk, as well as cables everywhere.

"This is a damn mess..." she grumbled audibly.

"I intend to change that." came a response from behind her in a clipped basso.

She turned around and came face to face with the source of that remark; he was a good six and a half feet tall, very thin, and dressed in a lab coat and a tie. The blond hair on his head was configured into a pompadour with a squiggly tail at its neck.

Peering at her with dispassion, through round red-rimmed eyeglasses, were the deepest blue eyes she'd ever seen.

Adonai...

He's...

He's...

GORGEOUS!!!

"If you'll excuse me?" he said with just a creeping tinge of annoyance. She backed away, and he went over to the monitor.

"Spengs, buddy, you are being rude to our new secretary." she barely heard Venkman say.

He stood back up, looking a tad bothered by the whole thing. "My apologies then. Doctor Egon Spengler." he extended his hand perfunctorally.

"J...Janine Melnitz." Adonai, did I just stutter? "Very nice to meet you, Egon..."

He grunted something that sounded vaguely approving, and went back to whatever he was doing with the monitor.

A little while later, Egon shouted for her. "Please sit at the desk to watch the monitor. I'm having some problems with the data junctions."

She sat down at the desk, Egon still under it. She found herself thinking about the feel of him against her nylon clad legs. She was fighting off the urge to purr "See something you like down there, Doctor Spengler?" And thinking about why he was getting to her so quickly.

"Crumbs...hang on a moment...this might get it..."

The garage opened and a decrepit black '59 Cadillac Miller Meteor pulled in only barely under its own power. Ray jumped out of the driver seat, popped open the hood, and began to merrily work on the engine. Venkman came over to the desk, muttering something about "Forty eight hundred my God..."

"Janine! Any calls?" He asked.

"No."

"Any messages?"

"No."

"Any customers?"

"No, Doctor Venkman."

"It's a good job, isn't it?" he asked, aggravated. "Type something, will you? We're paying you for this stuff!... and don't stare at me, you got the bug eyes"

Dick... she thought to herself.

Venkman walked over to his shabby office, located behind her filing cabinets. Then he leaned back over "Janine! Sorry about the bug eyes thing. I'll be in my office."

He's still a dick...

Egon emerged from under her desk, walking to the back of the monitor.

"You're very handy. I can tell..." She blurted out. "I bet you like to read a lot, too." No way in Adonai's name am I telling Doris or Marie about this...they'll never let me live it down...

"Print is dead." Egon replied simply, making the last connection to the monitor.

"Oh, that's very fascinating to me. I read a lot myself. Some people think I'm too intellectual, but I think it's a fabulous way to spend your spare time."

"I also play racquetball." she finished, winking at him. "Do you have any hobbies?"

Egon suddenly looked startled, like somebody had just dumped about fifty gallons of ice cold water on him. "I collect spores, molds and fungus." he replied with conspicuous quickness, moving away from the desk--he suddenly seemed almost glad that he'd finished.

Then
October 1997
"This time it's personal... his words from a scant hour ago rolled in his head as he absorbed the horrific scene before him.

"Your Janine is but a memory..." the enormous cockroach gloated. "Cherish it in the time you have left..."

Normally he would be concentrating on the self-aggrandizing speech Cojilla was giving...his boasts to mate with his new Queen, and birth an entire race of monstrous insect creatures that would then seed themselves into humanity before destroying it.

But all he could do was stare at the actually somewhat lithe and graceful looking creature that was once Janine Melnitz.

How could he be so stupid? Even after the heartache he'd put her through six years before...the lies, the angry breakup...she'd come back to him. She still wanted to be part of his life. And just that day, she'd tried to get him to accompany her to a restauraunt...and all he could do was babble about the lack of sanitation.

She wanted to be with him.

Did she still love him, after all of this?

Because he knew he still loved her...

"So what do you think of her now, Egon?" the Incan diety asked, accenting his name, stressing it with sheer contempt and self-satisfaction.

The female creature blinked. "...eegon?..." it croaked weakly.

Kylie shouted at him. "Egon! Tell her! Tell her how you really feel!"

Egon swallowed hard. The similarities to 1990...when the Lotsabucks had almost destroyed her...were overwhelming him. But at least then...he didn't have an audience. "Um, er...of course." he stammered. "Janine! You have to shake it off!!! You're too important to us--we could never find a Client Administrator as capable as you!"

He heard Eduardo mutter something in Spanish. Kylie growled at him..."Not that, Egon--Tell her you love her!"

"Would that be...appropriate?"

This time it's personal

"Janine..." he said, taking a deep breath. "Six years ago, I did the stupidest thing I've ever done in my life. Why you came back after that, I don't know..." and then the words came easier. "But it was a miracle--because I still love you!!! I never stopped!!!"

The creature blinked. "Eeegon?' it said louder, more firmly.

"Now, er, come over here and give me some sugar, Baby!!!" Good grief, did I just say that?

And the thing that was once his lover leaned over, and kissed him.

The strange thing was...despite being a giant bug...it was still her...he felt it...the passion welling...

"Step away from them, My Queen. It is time to fulfill your destiny." She blinked, and moved away from Egon, back toward the demon.

"Aw man..." Garrett muttered.

Egon found himself barely supressing a smirk.

"Eat the royal jelly, my Queen, and complete the transformation..." Cojilla purred.

"Eat this." Janine replied flatly, opening her wings...

...To reveal a ghost trap that sucked the insectoid demon, snarling and cursing, into it's innards.

Then
April 1984
Was it really less than a year before that he'd been in an eerily similar position?

"Arm proton packs, maximum force. Remove safety."

It was unfortunate...but a noble sacrifice. By doing this they would ensure the future of every man, woman, and child on the planet Earth.

"Initiate destruct sequence on my mark."

By cutting short their own.

"Mark." he said, voice calm. As always.

Beside him, his three comrades hit the buttons. There was a play of sparks around the emitters of the neutrona wands...and the cyclotrons aquired a new, menacing pitch.

Jeremy Whittington had initiated Ragnarok--the end of the world ("Ragnarok" being, more specifically, the Norse word for the concept)--to avenge the wrongs he percieved directed against him. With his communion with powerful supernatural forces, their own beams would not be enough.

"Well...I guess this is it..." Winston said simply.

Ray nodded. "Yeah...been nice working with you guys..." After a beat he made sure to add. "You too, Peter..."

Venkman shot him the bird. "Hey, ditto. Only next time don't call me, I'll call you, okay?"

He should be resigned to this. Curious, even, about what the Other Side would bring. A meeting with the greatest of minds, perhaps. Newton, Einstein, Rutherford, Maxwell...

A life lost in the sacrifice of others should not bring any regrets...

But it hit Dr. Egon Spengler like being attacked with a 2 by 4.

He suddenly realized, dying now, he had a regret. A powerful regret, something that meant more to him than he realized possible..

And that regret had a name...

"Janine..."

Then
August 1997


Egon arrived slightly late for the lecture, Paranormal Phenomina (101), however, it appeared that it wasn't much of a trouble, his largest class yet, four students sat before him talking quietly. He noted with slight amusement that the sole girl, who appeared the match the general description of the youth culture known as 'goths' was sat next to a considerable pile of occult related books, including his own Spirit Guide.

"...like those ghost blasting things." An African-American said as Egon walked out onto the stage.

"Proton Guns." Egon replied. "Actually to be more accurate, ectoplasmic molecular displacement beams." Egon continued as he reached the podium.

"It's Egon Spengler!" The goth girl said quickly.

"I'm all a twitter." A Latino sat in the same row replied sarcastically. Egon set his briefcase down, opened it and started to go through his notes, he then turned to face the small class, he crossed his arms as he leant against the desk.

"Four people are taking this class?" Egon asked.

"The average student just isn't as enlightened enough to be interested in the paranormal." The goth replied sympathetically.

"Great turnout!" Egon replied, surprising the group. "Double the class size I had last symester." Egon replied.

"Excuse me Professor, am I late?" A female voice shouted.
It was him, allright, it had been more the six years since they'd seen each other, but he was still pretty much the same to her, albeit slightly older and with white showing in the back of his hair. She'd stopped by at the Firehouse earlier, she still had her old door key, and surprise surprise, he'd never gotten around to changing the locks. But her being there only made her feel more inclined to see him again...
No, we were just getting..." He looked up, he couldn't believe it was her, he hadn't seen her in almost a decade, but to him, she'd hardly aged at all.

She was really there, walking down the ramp towards the small class. "Janine?" He asked, stupified.

Then
February 1986
"Whoa..." Winston had said admiringly at the car parked outside Ghostbusters Central. "Dig that limo..."

"Can't be anyone we know..." Ray said next.

"Not unless your Uncle Cyrus is making a surprise visit" Venkman conjectured, poking Egon. The door to the limo got out, and a man with an expensive suit, slicked back hair, beady eyes, and too-perfect teeth got out of the car

"Uncle Cyrus never makes surprise visits, he..." and then Egon's words trailed off as possibly the last thing he could ever have anticipated occured: Janine Melnitz got out the car next, taking the rat-faced mans' hand.

"Janine?!"

He realized later that he was the first one out of the ECTO-1. Ray, Venkman, and Winston exchanged worried looks, and were right behind him.

Janine was beaming. For some reason, that pissed him off. "Hey guys!" the familiar Brooklyn voice purred. "This is Paul Smart, President of Grossjuck Industries..."

Egon recognized the name--a new electronics firm, specializing in some unusual equipment, the kinds that might come in useful in his line of work--if Egon hadn't decided right then and there that he would never condone, sanction, or touch any piece of hardware bearing the Grossjuck logo.

Smart shook hands with Venkman. "It's a pleasure to meet all of you...I've seen you on television, and Janine has told me a thing or two about you..."

Ray responded. "Same here, except,um, she hadn't mentioned you at all."

Smart smiled an oily, toothy smile. "Well...I requested some discretion until I knew her better."

"Grossjuck..." Venkman ruminated as it was his turn to shake hands with Smart. "You're in that new highrise off 40th Street..."

Smart crinkled his eyes with false modesty. "It's nothing fancy, but we call it home."

Smart came next to Egon, extending his right hand as he had the others. The physicist's arms stayed cross. "Then what do you call that?" he sneered, gesturing to the limo. "Your jalopy?"

Smart stepped back. His fake smile seemed to fall just a bit.

"Egon..." Janine snarled, a look of unexpected confusion and hurt in her eyes.

Smart had just finished shaking hands with Winston when the cell phone in the ECTO-1 began to ring. Winston was the closest to the car, so he went off to answer it.

Smart looked back at Egon. Egon was giving him a look that could burrow holes through titanium shielding. Smart tugged his collar self-consciously.

"Egon..." Janine said, in an even firmer voice. "What the hell is up with you?"

"Spengs..." Venkman pleaded, grabbing his arm--Winston was signalling that they needed to come on--they had another job.

Egon shot one more skunk eye at Paul Smart and turned to join his comrades. Like I care...he told himself as he got into the car.

But even then he knew that was a lie.

Then
August 1997
Did I ever really love Louis Tully? she asked herself. He was there for me...when we both needed someone to be there... and it was certainly flattering to feel wanted. But that was all there was.

She was angry at herself for all of it. One of her old colleagues confused lust for love, and she had done something even worse--mistaken loneliness for need. She had been lonely, and let herself lead an innocent, trusting man on just to feel better about herself. There were other causes, including a malevolent force (though she didn't know it was malevolent at the time) egging her on, but ultimately, it was her own fault.

Even more so three years later, after their lives had fallen apart, the company she'd become such an integral part of disbanded in a blaze of acrimony. She'd turned to Louis for comfort once more when...well, with all of the hurt she could face only an outsider--and despite his own time with the company, Louis was still an outsider in her eyes. Hurt and lonely, she sucked him in again.

No....she admitted to herself. I never loved him...I never even lusted for him, really. Hell, I'm not sure I even liked him...I just didn't want to be alone.

So she married him. And about a month later was already sure it had been a mistake.

She'd hung in there for another four long years, stubbornness being a trait that had gotten her into more than one mess...she felt she owed the man who'd shown his love for her as much loyalty as she'd shown...

She shook her head angrily. "Just one ghost, Janine. And it was far too big for me to ever bust."

She took off one blue pump and threw it at the wall. Why COULDN'T I ever make it work!? Why COULDN'T I ever love Louis?! He loved me, he treated me the best he ever could, but...

She already knew the answer.

I could't love him because I was already in love with another man. And Adonai help me...

...I still am.

A rakish psychologist of questionable credential had once told her "Y'know, one of the clinical definitions of insanity is trying the same thing again and again while expecting different results"

Janine Melnitz, freshly minted divorcee, exhaled heavily. "So color me clinically insane, Doctor Venkman..."

Then
February 1986
"Egon, what the Hell is up with you?" Winston said, much sterner than Venkman's casual remark. "I've never even seen you even touch alchohol." Winston drank beer on occasion. Ray and Venkman seemed to live on it. He'd even seen Janine swig the stuff once or twice. But not Egon.

"It'sh an eshperiment to determine the alchohol toleransh of sheshually represhed physhishistsh...sho far I don't think I've been holding the shtuff very well..."

Venkman blinked. He'd known Egon Spengler a lot longer than Winston, but like Zeddemore he'd never seen the taller man even sip an alchoholic drink. Venkman even wondered once if he had one of those rare intolerances to alchohol. And yet here he sat, completely sloshed--so sloshed he was even admitting out loud to being "sexually repressed" I think that hits the nail on the head... Venkman mused to himself, but with no real satisfaction at being right.

"Egon...is this about Janine and Paul Smart?" Venkman asked point-blank. This was the time, he thought. He's drunk. His normally insurmountable emotional defenses were down--it may be the only time I can get a straight answer.

Egon stood straight up with an abrupt energy that took Venkman and Winston both by surprise. "You said her name!!!" he shouted, his bloodshot eyes flashing with anger. He didn't even seem to notice that his glasses came off as he stood up and clattered to the ground. "How in Einstein's name can I forget that such a creature existed if you keep saying her name!!! Damn you to Hell Peter Venkman!!!"

Both other men were thoroughly unnerved by this. He'd turned from Amiable Slurring Drunk to Angry, Semi-Coherent Drunk at the simple mention of that certain name. Egon tugged his tie and turned back to Harvey. "Time to redouble my effortsh..." he said, pulling out another twenty...

Winston scooped up Egon's red-rimmed glasses (he'd started wearing durable polycarbon frames and high-impact plastic lenses years ago; a six foot fall didn't even scratch them)

Harvey said simply. "I think you've had enough, Doctor Spengler..."

Egon looked at him as though he was speaking Martian. "You musht be joking...I'm a paying cushtomer...aren't you shupposhed to lie to me and kish my ash..." Venkman winced at hearing one of his political rants coming out of Egon's mouth.

Egon pushed a finger up his nose as though to adjust the spectacles that weren't there. He didn't seem to notice the difference. "Then, Good Shir, I fear I musht take my buishnesh elshewhere..." he swung around and talked to the air about a foot left of Venkman. "Peter knowsh all the nightshpotsh...perhapsh you could make a recomendashion..."

"Yeah...my recommendation is that you go home and get into bed."

Egon's eyes bulged, and without much more warning he projectile vomited all over Winston. He staggered for another second, then slumped abruptly to the ground, like a puppet with his strings cut. Venkman and Winston caught him.

"...Perhapsh that would be wise..." he agreed weakly before passing out completely.

Then
June 8, 1993
I've got to stop doing this to myself... he chided internally. You got what you always said you wanted--you always said a true scientist could not afford the messy emotional attachments...that all the "normal" things were for people who didn't have as much to accomplish as you do...

He jiggled the mouse to call up the display on his computer. After checking the weather, he noticed an alert...

Alert: Flag for Public Records

Egon grimaced. He'd set his computer to keep track of the public records databases--he just found himself unable to believe his friends would continue to notify him as to weddings, and births...but he unavoidably just had to know

Specify target hit?

Melnitz, Janine

His blood froze cold. What if something had happened to her? Again?

No. She'd endured enough bad luck for two life times. With him out of her life certainly this must be good news...

He inhaled. And clicked the link


Slimer picked through the remains of the breakfast Egon had dumped on the bed.

He was startled out of his lethargy by a loud crashing.

"YOU BITCH!!!" he heard Egon's voice shout, in an anger that unnerved him. Egon was never that angry. He was never angry, period.

There was a feral shout, and more crashing sounds. Glass breaking, electronic devices being smashed...Slimer hid under the bed, and wimpered mournfully.


Egon surveyed the wreckage that had once been his laboratory, his breaths deep and labored. The desk chair he'd sat in had been thrown against one of the book cases full of assorted electronic gear and test tubes. Several more items he'd grabbed and hurled into the wall.

State of New Jersey Marriage License Filed June 6, 1993

Tully, Louis B.

Melnitz, Janine

The phone rang. He grabbed it angrily. "WHAT?!?!"

A few second passed. "Egon? Is something wrong over there?"

Egon inhaled deeply, beating the uncaged beast back into his subconscious. "I..er, sorry about that, Edward...a bit of a lab accident, I'm afraid."

"Are you all right?"

"I'm fine. Though I lost something rather valuable and irreplaceable..." he found himself admitting out loud.

Then
November 21, 1987
"Hey there..." Janine replied warmly. As someone who'd spent some time trying to contemplate what a Spengler's genetic offspring might look like, she enjoyed the chance to meet one close up.

"You can call me Jen." the girl told her. "My parents and Uncle Cyrus don't, but my friends at school do...are you Uncle Egon's girlfriend?"

Janine made an effort not to appear fazed by the rather blunt question. "That's an awful personal question, Jen..."

Ellis coughed nervously "Jennifer..."

Janine smiled at Jen. "Let's just say...I haven't managed to convince him that that's a good idea yet."

Now
"Aunt Jay about ready?" Victor Irwin asked his mother as she, his grandmother, Marie, and Shirl appeared.

"Yep." Doris answered. "We probably better get to our seats soon..."

Marie waved at someone she saw. "Hey! Petey!!!"

Peter Venkman saw her wave, and came over. "Well, well, well...Marie Cavendish. Long time no see?" he kissed her cheek.

"Well, Marie Rosenfeld now--that's my husband over there with the two kids." she pointed to a nondescript man near a couple of little girls.

"Congrats." Venkman replied. "I got two anklebiters myself--that's them over there with the gorgeous tall lady. And I promise she's the mother of both of them."

Marie giggled. "I guess this is all our fault, isn't it? If you hadn't told me about that job you had and I hadn't told Janine..."

Venkman nodded. "It's all worked out for the best. Though damn if it didn't take way too long."

Marie rolled her eyes. "No kidding. Hm...I wonder..."

"Wonder what?"

"Wonder if Janine remembers something I made her promise all those years ago..."

"Which is?"

"I can't tell you!!!" Marie giggled. "You might squeal!"

"Y'know, as I recall, you were the one who squealed when..."

"Hey! None of that! My husband and your wife are right over there!!!" Marie winked at him. "I promise I'll tell you when the time's right. When they have kids."

Venkman found himself regarding the thought for a moment as he moved to rejoin his family. Kids, huh? Oh boy...with his brains and her loud mouth that could be a dangerous combination... He smiled to himself. I can't wait to see it

"Who was that?" Dana Barrett Venkman asked her husband as he sat down.

"One of Janine's friends." Peter responded, truthfully

Victor's attention was suddenly drawn by someone...a tall, blonde, female someone he estiimated was around his own age. A tall, blonde, not too bad looking female someone.

He knew the other people here his age--the four new Ghostbusters that Uncle Egon and Aunt Jay had hired last fall--but this person was a mystery. One he was quite intrigued by.

"Hey there." he finally said, going over to her. She regarded him quizzically with some disdain. "Whoa..." he blurted out. "I know that look. You gotta be a Spengler..."

"Jen Spengler." she replied. "Egon is my uncle."

"Whoa...hey, mine too. Well, it won't be official until later today." he extended his hand. "Victor Irwin. Janine's my aunt."

"A pleasure to make your aquaintance, then." she replied. "Technically, it won't make us related, but we will have mutual family. Especially if Uncle Egon and Janine have any children..."

"Yeah. But since we aren't gonna be related, really, there wouldn't be any harm in askin' you out to eat or somethin'..."

"Erm..." she froze. Certainly, the young man was charming. And the certain sense of verisimiltude--especially with their relatives about to marry--was striking. But the most surprising thing of all is that she found herself thinking of her new coworker, Bo Holbrook. "I don't really think this is the time for something like that..."

"Just think about it, okay? I am a Melnitz after all...and we know how great them and Spenglers go together..." he winked, and left her with a lot to think about as she went to the seat where her father was waiting.

Then
June 1992
"Why haven't you called Egon?"

She slammed the wine glass on the table so hard Peter was afraid it was going to break. "Dammit, Doctor Venkman, how am I supposed to forget about him if you keep saying his name?!"

Peter couldn't help but note an eerily similar response he once got in an eerily similar circumstance. "You didn't answer my question..."

"Maybe it's none of your damn business!!!" she retorted. "Why the hell haven't you called him--you've know him ten years longer than I have!!!"

"Yeah, but I never contemplated making the sign of the double humpback whale with him!!!" Venkman counter-retorted.

"You bastard..." she snarled. She just about wanted to tell him just to shut him up for a moment. See the look on his face. But decided effectively guaranteeing a hospital stay for Louis wasn't in her best interest right now. "Maybe I've decided to move on with my life, Peter Venkman. I put up with that man's inabillity to deal with his feelings for eight f***ing years, and I've had it. I'm sorry, Doctor Vee, just because you finally got the dream wedding with the person you love and suffered for doesn't mean everybody else does too!"

Peter shook his head and stood up. "Maybe not...but if there was anyone in the world who might deserve this more than Dana and I, it'd be you and Spengs. I'm just sorry to see you throwing it away like this."

She took another swig of her wine. "Mutual decision."

"And that's what makes it worse." Peter replied. "Promise me two things, as one old friend to another..."

"Depends..."

"Number one, get help. You're clearly sliding into something unpleasant--you need to deal with all that anger. I say that as a friend and a trained psychologist--I don't want you doing something rash you'll regret later. Which leads me to the second thing..."

She didn't look at him, staring at the table. "Which is?"

"For the love of God if you do something stupid and rash, don't do with with an ass-tick like Louis Tully. You drove off that bridge already..."

F*** you... is what she wanted to say. Instead, she nodded weakly, and continued to look at the table.

Now
Interlude the First: Ghostbusters Central
The phone rang, disturbing him from his contemplation.

"Ghostbusters New York how may I help you?" Louis Tully droned into the phone.

"Uh huh...okay...sure...we'll have someone out as quick as possible..."

He hung up the phone and dialed another phone number. "Hey, Mister Holbrook? We just got a call...cab going wild at 30th and Lex they say it started to drive itself and bark like a dog and it's chasing some guy up a light post. I know what turning into a dog is like and since when you turn into a dog the Ghostbusters help, well, here we are. Are you sure you'll be all right with just the four of you? I'm all ready to help if you need me..."

Louis was, indeed, wearing his green and purple Ghostbuster flight suit. A Mark 1 proton pack (the new Mark 2's scared him too bad) was sitting close by. Just in case.

"Oh okay...well, now don't forget the special we're running today and be careful because of that time last week Ecto Ernie forgot to get their credit card number and...well okay good bye..." Louis hung up the phone. "Guess Bo was in a big hurry to get going..."

He sighed, and slouched in the seat. Three members of the new Nightsquad team (Jen Spengler being the notable exception) and one of the newest hires of Ghostbusters New York (who didn't have the personal ties to the Spenglers the originals or even the Extreme team did) were serving as backup to allow the rest to attend the wedding.

Louis had been invited. The newlyweds to be had offered him a chance to be there, to show that bygones were indeed bygones...but Louis declined. Granted, he'd been far more in love with Dana Barrett than he'd ever been with Janine Melnitz, but he'd gone to Dana's wedding to Peter Venkman. Because Dana, while she made it clear she didn't have the same feelings and never would, still was his friend, from long before she had even met Peter Venkman. And because...deep down...he knew they shared a bond that noone, not even Venkman or Dana's prior husband, Andre Wallance, could touch: the shared experience as the unwilling minions of Gozer.

Janine? Well...that was different. In the pit of his soul he knew it almost from the first--he had been intruding. Stepping into something that he had no business being part of. As though some malicious god had ordained to use him as the agent of his vengeful quest to keep two souls who belonged together from being happy...if he had gone, he would be nothing but a reminder of the mistakes that both Egon Spengler and Janine Melnitz had made...and this day was about their triumph, not their tragedies.

Because it's also an act of love to let go...when it's the right thing to do.

Now
Interlude the Second: Nodus Plaza
The magazine sat open on his desk. Spooks Illustrated, a brief article titled "Ghostbuster Wedding"

How had this gotten to this point? Josiah Nodus wondered to himself. It just doesn't make any sense...Spengler denies his destiny with Sarim-Lar...Melnitz goes back to him...my gambit with Tully and the shard of Anthal-Noge failed...

And now they're married? And for only a second, he found himself hit by a pang of human emotion. Longing. Remembrance of the one he'd left behind after she'd betrayed him. And deep, pure jealousy at what had just transpired.

He suppressed the feeling with force. He had come to far to let human emotion cloud his judgement now.

He looked at the orange glow in it's canister. It had faded over the years despite his best efforts...

If things had not developed as he had anticipated...as he had seen....then there must be a reason. And he would find it.

Then
October 1989
Enough was enough.

It was bad enough she'd given in to a moment of weakness. Had let it get to her...

Things had been going so well. She'd worked at Columbia...took his calls, helped him remember what he needed to do to function in the "real world"...it was almost like being back with the Ghostbusters--except he wasn't going to get called in the middle of the night to go battle demons intending to turn New York into a crispy-fried taco supreme.

But then the Ghostbusters came back.

He tuned her out--he was too busy trying to solve the mystery of the River of Slime. Too busy dealing with criminals from the future. To busy helping Venkman score points by solving Dana Barrett's problem to pay much attention to her...

Louis Tully wasn't exactly her vision of studliness. But dammit...it was so nice to have a man actually pay attention to her...find her interesting...find her desirable...

He had barely said six words to her since Louis blurted all about their New Year's fling...Louis had innocently approached Venkman to ask a question about "girl problems"...Venkman was probably amused at first...

Until Louis told him who was confusing him by shutting him out.

Venkman had exploded.

There had been a lot of shouting.

Egon didn't say a damn thing about it.

And now they were getting ready to fly a zepplin into the Earth's core to fight an evil dinosaur (yeah, how many other people got to say that about their jobs?)

She swallowed hard, and walked up to him as he studied some blueprints, pretending not to notice her walking up to him.

"Egon, I've been waiting for a chance to talk to you, but I haven't seen you in days!!!"

He spared one quick look over the edge of the paper. "Unfortuntely, we're attempting to equip a state of the art zepplin, and that tends to be time consuming."

"I know that." she replied, trying to keep her voice under control. "You'll be gone for weeks. Should I just hang an 'On Vacation' sign on the door or what?"

He lowered the blueprints, looking ever so slightly annoyed that she was bothering him. Good. "There won't be anything else you can do." he replied flatly. He looked back down at the papers. "It'll give you more time to spend with Louis. But don't let him drive the Ectomobile. It could be..."

Oh, thank you for bringing that up, Doctor.

"Egon! Can't you see? Louis is sweet, but he's harmless." She stood on her toes to look him in the eye, and grabbed his arm, sticking her left index finger in his face. "He just happened to be there while you were too wrapped up saving the world to pay any attention to anything else!!!"

His teeth gritted. "Well, er, that is..." Then his face softened. Can it be? Is that actually...contrition in his eyes? And...hurt?

"Janine, I know what you're saying. I'd like to take you with us, but I'd be too worried about you to concentrate on the mission."

She felt her anger sliding away. He never said things like this. "Worried? About me?"

"We're going to enter a strange and savage domain. I can't unduly risk anyone, particularly someone I..." Adonai, he blushed slightly. "Well...care about..."

Maybe things were going to be all right after all...

"You're worried and you care." she repeated, not being able to help savoring the words. "Coming from you, that's almost as nice as a kiss..."

There was an uncharacteristically mischievous glint in his eye, and a hint of a smile as he replied "Perhaps when I return..."

She hugged him quickly. "I'll hold you to that perhaps, Mister Spengler..."

She strode off quickly. She had a lot to do...

Egon realized that Ray and Winston had seen the end of that little exchange. "Janine is a very enthusiastic young woman..." he noted sheepishly.

The two other Ghostbusters exchanged a look of mutual amusement. "We noticed..." Winston finally said.

Then
November 1991
Egon stood over by the staircase to the basement, he leant on the rail, he didn't want to face Janine and look her in the eye, from what he'd heard from Peter, he was sure she'd be giving him something of a look of betrayal. He wondered what else she may have rediscovered...he'd hate to think what may have happened if she'd forgotten about what had occured with Louis, and then found out. But if that was the case, she wouldn't find out from Peter, Ray or Winston, only Egon knew of what had happened.

"Egon...why did you keep this from me?" Janine pleaded, Egon finally looked up, he had a expression of extreme embarrisment and mixed sorrow for what he'd done.

"I...I didn't want to hurt you." He replied sheepishly.

"But I had a right to know. We'd finally gotten together...I had a right to be told everything that had happened during the bits of memory I lost. ...Is this why Peter's been acting the way he has?" Janine asked. "Is this why he's been so resentful along with the closing of the company?"

"I am willing to conclude that it may have played a part in how he was acting recently." Egon replied.

"I don't believe it...Egon, I expected more from you...I thought we didn't have any secrets..." Janine was starting to break down. "How could you do that to me? To Peter? To Ray and Winston, they're our friends."

"I didn't feel it would be in your best interests to tell you at that stage..." Egon swallowed. "I asked them not to mention it until it was necessary."

"And that's meant to make me feel better? Egon, I'm insulted by that...I'm dissapointed in you...I thought we had something going...I think I'm going to need some time to think this over..." Janine replied, shrugging on her coat and handbag while also managing with her crutch. "See you around Spengler, I guess you never truely know a person..." Janine replied, she then walked over to the door, opened it and stepped out, closing it behind her. As the door clicked closed, Egon's head lolled forward. He'd left the only woman he's really cared about after his mother walk out of his life, probably permanently.

"Peter was right..." Egon muttered, he then stood up and walked over to the staircase, he felt aweful, and he supposed that a sleep could help to start making him recover the past few days. However the weight that he'd caused a woman he deeply cared about to leave and that he'd created heavy friction between his friends would haunt his dreams for many nights to come
Then
June 1991
Janine took Egon's hand as they walked. "What the hell was that about?"

"She was commenting on how well I handle Victor."

"Well...you do..." Janine agreed. They arrived at the VW Beetle.

"Here...you drive..." Janine said, giving him the keys.

"Um...that would seem impractical." he said, getting into the driver's seat anyway. "Since I will be departing at the Firehouse, you would have to change positions to get home..."

She grabbed him, and kissed him full. The passion was obvious. "I got a better idea..." she purred. "Forget the firehouse...just come to my place..."

There was no doubt in his mind what she was proposing.

This would be the final surrender of all base logic to animalistic urge!!! the logical part of his brain was yelling desperately. Far more rash and impulsive than anything you've ever done!!! I must protest!!! In his mind, he could almost see this voice as belonging to Edison Spengler, a manifestation of the strict logic and denial he'd impressed upon Egon. But then there was his mother's words of not too long ago: Son, even Edison Spengler knew that there was more to life than science. Or you woudn't be here. Then, in his mind's eye, Peter Venkman appeared and slapped old Edison into a ghost trap. Don't worry, I'll let him back out in a few hours...now you go and enjoy yourself, Pal...

It's been eight f***ing years, Spengs--you're more than ready for it.

"Yes..." he replied huskily, removing his glasses to kiss her more thoroughly.

Now
Egon Spengler looked over the room, taking it all in once again. Practically everyone of any significance he'd ever known was sitting in the audience. His mother. Uncle Cyrus. Ellis and his wife.

He took note of the seat next to his mother. It had been left empty intentionally.

Janine's family: her mother Denise. Her sister Doris Irwin, Doris's husband Joshua and their son Victor. Janine's cousin Michelle Jacobs and son Alec. Aunt Bella and Grandma...They'll be my in-laws in a matter of moments...

Nearby was Janine's friend Marie Rosenfeld (along with Marie's husband and their two daughters)

Though quite elderly, having lived a good nine decades, Dr. Will Murray Hazzard was in attendance. Leader of the legendary "Crime Patrol" in the 1940's, he was also a friend of the late Dr. Frederick Melton, Egon's maternal grandfather--and had been invaluble help to the Ghostbusters on more than one occassion.

Hazzard was chatting with Ryan Harness. He'd been a classmate of Egon Spengler and Peter Venkman, before he sacrificed his academic career at Columbia for their sakes.

There were a few more faces from their years as Ghostbusters...Boris Meely, the photographer, who would be taking the official wedding photos (and, Egon remarked to himself wryly, had probably worked out a mutually lucrative disribution deal with Venkman for them).

No doubt at least one of those would feature the actors in the audience. Dan Aykroyd, who's idea to turn the exploits of the team into a big-budget movie had proven fateful, sat with fellow movie alums Ernie Hudson and Annie Potts. All of the actors had recieved invitations (though Janine had to be talked into sending one to Ramis) though these three were the only ones to accept.

Egon saw Alice Derleth, a Professor at Miskatonic University. Irena Cortez and Shannon Phillips chatting amiably with Dana Venkman--Peter, despite having his own daughter and stepson to raise, had kept in close contact with Irena and Shannon over the years. Five year old Jessica Venkman sat sulking nearby--she had vigorously protested having to wear the frilly dress she was now adorned in, and made it clear she couldn't wait to exchange it for something more comfortable.

Winston sat with his wife Kaila. Near them, Ray Stantz, his wife, and their two year old child, a boy with Ray's wide eyes and his mother's dark hair, albeit of a shaggier variety. His name was Eric Stantz, and he was completely fascinated by all of this, even if he didn't have the slightest idea what was going on.

Eric was currently being held and doted on by his great-aunt, Lois Stantz; she'd never married or had any children of her own, and Ray, of course, had been orphaned at age age ten. You couldn't tell this woman wasn't Eric's grandmother by looking at them together.

Not too far away from them he recognized Barney Lupin. How surprised had they all been to discover that Barney had married and had a one-year old daughter named Tsukiko (though Barney preferred to call her by her middle name Marie)?

And of course his newest charges were there: Roland Jackson, Garrett Miller, Vincent Belmont, and Eduardo Rivera.

"I think it's time, Ziggy..." he heard Venkman whisper into his ear, as the music began to start...

Then
January 1990
"Just say it, Janine...you want to be just like me..." it said in a silken voice.

"Just...like..." she started to respond, robotically...

Then a new voice broke in, a familiar basso "Janine! Get away from that thing!!!"

She turned to face him. "Egon?"

"You have to listen to me!"

"No!!!" she howled, a wind rising at the bidding of the power the Fairy Godmother had given her. "Don't you get it, you Asshole!? This is all your fault!!!"

"Janine..."

"I did it all so I'd be prettier...so you'd notice me...AND YOU NEVER DID!!!" And she whacked him with another telekinetic blast

"Is this better?" she snarled, adopting the form of an Egyptian princess "Or this?" becoming an Elizabethan lady. She flew into the air, morphing into a redheaded caricature of Marilyn Monroe. "You're all alike!!!"

Egon was trying to painfully pick himself up.

"Ever since I was a little girl, they made fun of me...said I wasn't good enough for them...I fed them their teeth, but they still said it...no more! I WANT TO BE PERFECT!!!"

"You are perfect, Janine." it said. "Now there's only one thing left to do--destroy him! Destroy him and the hold he has on you, and then you will be perfect!"

Janine spread her hands, an angry red ball of force forming there.

Egon's heart was beating through his ribcage. His mind was failing him...no logical solution came to him...no logical solution...

He unstrapped his proton pack and let it drop to the ground.

"That's what I'm trying to tell you...I'm here because I'm worried about you...because I care...not because of what you look like, but because of who you are

"Give it up..." the creature gloated. "You've lost"

No logical solution.

"If you want to destroy me, Janine...I can't stop you. But before you do, I have to tell you this..." and he looked right into her eyes. "I love you..."

The creature's expression fell. No logical solution would have saved her. But one illogical truth...that the lotsabucks thought the man would never have uttered...

Now
Eduardo Rivera about swallowed his tongue as the bridesmaids filed in...one of them was Kylie Griffin, looking perhaps the most gorgeous he'd ever seen her. While Janine and Doris hadn't convinced her to completely change her gothic look for this one day, they'd succeeded in persuading her to tone it down a little...her skin showed it's natural color, and the black lipstick had stayed at home.

Combined with the events of the day before...the words he and Kylie had finally exchanged...he was beginning to wish for some very cold water to splash onto himself.

Similarly, Victor had to take a suitably wistful look at Egon's niece Jen...maybe history would mark his crush as doomed, but at that moment he thought anything could be possible.

Shirl Johnson, and old friend of the bride, completed the bridesmaid procession.

One bit of symmetry with the wedding of Peter Venkman and Dana Barrett six years before came in the identity of the ringbearer: Oscar Wallance was now ten years old, and perhaps a bit older than the norm, but everybody thought it an appropriate choice.

Beside him, as flower girl, was five and a half year old Charlene Zeddemore, the first child born to the original Ghostbusters (at least by blood).

He spared one last look at Venkman, standing beside him. A quarter century before, a dorm mix-up in Columbia's bursar's office had thrown them together...and these two men who couldn't be any more different found the most unlikely friendship of all resulted. Egon Spengler's first true friend...his brother in a way Ellis never would be.

If not for that mix-up, he never would've met Peter Venkman. Never would've met Ray Stantz, Micheal Draverhaven, and Winston Zeddemore...

Never would've met the woman he was at last about to marry.

Venkman managed to give him a quick smirk of approval and a thumbs-up as Egon's attention was riveted on Fritz Melnitz and his younger daughter.

The dress was not overly ornate--Janine had never been one for frills and lace--but but elegant and refined enough to accomplish the task of only making the woman Egon already thought of as the most beautiful in the world to look even more so.

He blinked twice. Her hair had changed--not for the first time since he'd known her, granted--but it was the specific change.

He could tell, even under the viel, that her red locks had been fluffed, and parted from left to right in what almost looked like a cresting crimson wave: the very hairstyle she'd had when they'd first met fifteen years before.

The look of awe on his face was obvious. After all these years...all changes that had been inflicted on her...she looked, to him, so very much the same as she had that day.

And there was another surprise...a curious item hanging from her neck, one that looked for all the world like some sort of midway token...

Which was what it was.

"I want you to have this...it's my lucky coin. I got it at the 1964 World's Fair in Flushing Meadows"

"I don't believe in luck"

"Keep it anyway...I've got another one at home just like it"

The twin to that coin was in his pocket. The ritual does call for "something old"... Egon smirked to himself.

Fritz Melnitz shook his hand; then the bear of a man threw decorum to the wind and gave his son-in-law-to-be a quick hug before taking his seat next to his wife.

Janine looked at the man before her...one more memory she wished she could trap and amber and keep close for the rest of her days...their days...he had always had a certain sense of style, and the tuxedo fit him well. And he'd aged quite well..though, truth to tell, she thought he actually looked younger than he had when she'd first barged back into his life a year ago...rediscovering his purpose, his friends...and, she had to admit to herself, finally being with her...had rekindled the life within him. Other than the white at the back of his hair, he looked very much as he had fifteen years before, when their long journey had started...

Though the ceremony was handled in a mostly nondenominational way, the Melnitz's rabbi, Jasper Jacobi, had been asked to officiate. "Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to see the joining of this man and this woman in the bonds of most sacred matrimony..."

"I know this is an occassion of much significance to many in this room, perhaps much more than most...I've known the bride since she was very small...I know the road she and the one she has chosen, and has chosen her, has been long and very winding. A road filled with confusion, denial, and reversals...a road that led into many dark days where it seemed the light of love would never shine again."

"But today, we bask in it's brilliance...marvel in the glow...after so long apart, they have found each other again. As two souls joined together must ever do: this love goes ever more brightly for the challenge that it has faced, ever more deeply--because, having survived so much difficulty, it can only be the truest."

"For this occassion, the bride and groom have composed their own vows. Janine?"

"There's an ancient story called The Ramayana...and in it is written that a 'wife alone shares the life of her husband. To a woman, neither father nor son nor mother nor friends but the husband alone is her sole refuge here in this world and in other worlds, too. Hence I shall accompany you. Life with the husband is incomparably superior to life in a palace, or an aerial mansion, or a trip to heaven. With you [life] will be more than heaven to me. It will not be the least hardship to me; [for] without you even heaven is hell.' " Perhaps she could be forgiven for exhaling in a small degree of satsifaction at that point, as she'd spent quite a few hours memorizing the verse "That's what I feel for you in a nutshell, Egon, and will till death do us part. And beyond."

"Egon?" the rabbi asked.

"I got my first degree I was twelve years old. From MIT and Columbia I learned much about physics, quantum mechanics, occult lore, and languages of dead peoples. But all of that pales to what no textbook could have ever taught me--the lessons I learned from the people in this room, lessons of trust and friendship. From one, I learned courage in the face of whatever challenge life threw at me. From another, faith that all would be as it should in the end. And from the one who has stood with me longest, to not take life so seriously. But it was you who taught me the greatest lesson of them all--the power of unconditional love. And I hope to keep having you teach me that lesson till death do us part. And beyond."

The rabbi paused for a moment. It was such a tough act to follow. "Be there any who feels that these two should not be joined, speak now or forever hold thy peace..."

Venkman couldn't help himself. He looked to the door, swearing that if Louis Tully or one of those Egon-obsessed fangirls burst through it, he would murder them bloodily.

"The rings, please?"

Oscar held up the pillow, the two rings sparkling in the light.

"These rings, precious though they may be, hold no value compared to what they symbolize--the power of true love." the rabbi continued. "What we have witnessed today, let no man or god split asunder. By the power vested in me, by the law of man and the assent of Adonai, I declare you husband and wife. You may now kiss the bride, Mister Spengler..."

"Try and stop me." Egon smirked, lifting the viel; and though it was not the first kiss they'd ever shared, it was the first kiss as husband and wife...

Oscar's jaw dropped, as he looked up and realized his stepfather was in tears, in a way he hadn't seen since the day Jessica was born. And he could swear he saw Peter look to the sky and mouth the word "Finally."

"Ladies and Gentlemen, Professor and Mrs. Egon Spengler!!!" Winston announced, to a standing ovation. The newlyweds gave each other an amused look as they took their seats at the head of the table.

"Now, I understand our Best Man has a brief toast prepared..." Ray smiled.

Venkman took the stage, pulled a piece of paper out of his pocket, and suddenly the paper unfurled all the way down to the floor and about six feet away.

As he'd hoped, the crowd laughed, and he threw the paper to the side with a flash of his familiar Cheshire smile.

"Y'know, I remember when I was in college, my first day, in fact. It was back in 1973, and I got to my dorm to find this completely repressed nerd with a broom up his ass there...I thought he was my roomie's little brother, the dude looked like he was only fifteen...because, as I found out, he was only fifteen. And worse, he was my roomie--me, Peter Venkman, coolest guy on campus, roomed with some teenage dork prodigy. Can you imagine the embarrassment?"

The crowd was chuckling. Egon rolled his eyes.

"Not long after that, he made me waste my weekend in a drafty old fort, took me three states away to get the crap scared out of me, and accidentally burned down one of the science buildings. Then, in 1979, he nearly blew me up in an experiment gone bad--and not for the last time, either. I tell you, in the Eighties the guy couldn't go a week without getting blown up, phased into another dimension, possessed, or turned into a werechicken."

Venkman rolled his eyes. "And then when we started Ghostbusters...pshoot...we needed to hire some help and only one person showed up--a firecracker from Brooklyn with a shrill voice like an angry Bugs Bunny, and who wasn't going to let a little thing like the fact I was technically her boss get in the way of ruining my days. Like the day she actually told me to get my ass in gear on a case or she'd fire me. She'd fire me."

"What is this, a frickin' roast?!" a loud Brooklyn voice called out with mock aggravation.

"As you've just seen, Spengs has quite a handful." Venkman continued, without missing a beat. "But I remember noticing something pretty quick--the way she started to look at him like he was a blue plate special and she hadn't eaten in a year. And I really took note when we were going home from our first case. We'd caught this ugly, drippy, disgusting green blobby slimey thing in the Sedgewick Hotel..." There was another loud chuckle from the people who knew him best, and the full context of those remarks. "I said to Egon 'Don't worry. When our secretary asks, I'll be sure to tell her you're an expert at handling your wand,' and he replied 'What has that got to do with anything?' just a little too quickly..."

Dana groaned nearby, really wishing her husband hadn't related that double entendre with their five year old daughter present.

"Yeah, folks, I soon realized that my little Egon had finally found the woman he needed. I told him a long time ago...I think it was right before Chumboro House scared the crap out of me that I told him 'Finding you a girlfriend is going to be harder than I thought--she'll have to be weird enough to stand the sh...'" Then he remembered his kids and a few more were present. "'Stuff you're into, not to mention have the stubbornness of a mule and the patience of a saint to penetrate that barrier of yours'...well, and here she was."

"It wasn't easy, believe me. Fifteen years it took to get us here, but here we are, and..." he stopped, his smirking facade starting to crack. "I speak from experience, here, Buddy...after today, none of that time is gonna matter anymore. It doesn't matter how long it takes to get there, what counts is that you're together. And if anybody I know is gonna make it, it's gonna be you." He raised the glass. "To Egon and Janine Spengler. Forever."

There was hearty applause mixed with the clinking of glasses. There were many misty eyes after Venkman's toast--truth to be told, that included the bride's.

Though the ceremony had been mostly non-denominational, the newlyweds had agreed to one custom nodding to Mrs. Spengler's Jewish background--after finishing the first toast, they stomped the wine glasses into shards.

"I guess that's one way to keep the lovebirds from getting too drunk to dance for us." Venkman quipped.

"You know I'm a lousy dancer..." Egon quipped, as he was pulled to the floor.

"So am I..." Janine replied. "Maybe we'll cancel each other out."

"The same principle as multipying two negative numbers..." Egon mused, raising an eyebrow with amusement. "Worth a try."

Ray went over to the AV cabinet for the reception hall, and pulled a CD out of his pocket. After he primed it, he nodded at Winston, who nodded at Venkman.

Venkman smirked. "When it came time to pick a song for the first dance, there were a lot of really good choices out there. But with the help of my son Oscar--a musical genius--we found one that was perfect in more ways than one. Not his style, by the way, but he agreed it's the one."

Ray hit the button on the player as Venkman nodded. The tinkling tones of a piano reverberated throughout the hall.

When you say, I miss the things you do
I just want to get back close again to you
But for now, your voice is near enough
How I miss you and I miss your love
And though, all the days that pass me by so slow
All the emptiness inside me flows
All around and thereís no way out
Iím just thinking so much of you
There was never any doubt

I can wait forever
If you say youíll be there too
I can wait forever if you will
I know itís worth it all, to spend my life alone with you

"Air Supply?" Jen asked. "Not one of their famous ones, but I know I've heard it before..."

When it looked as though my life was wrong
You took my love and gave it somewhere to belong
Iíll be here, when hope is out of sight
I just wish that I were next to you tonight
And though, Iíll be reaching for you even though
Youíll be somewhere else, my love will go
Like a bird on itís way back home
I could never let you go
And I just want you to know

I can wait forever
If you say youíll be there too
I can wait forever if you will
I know itís worth it all, to spend my life alone with you

Where are you know?
Alone, with the thoughts we share
Keep them strong somehow,
And you know, I'll always be there...

I can wait forever
If you say youíll be there too
I can wait forever if you will
I know itís worth it all, to spend my life alone with you

"I sometimes think Peter knows us just a little too well... Egon whispered to his new bride. "It's perfect..."

"Not as perfect as you..." she replied, drinking in the sensation of being in his arms. Her husband.

Eduardo pulled his collar, and went up to Kylie. "I know this music is, like, totally for squares and old people, but you know...y'maybe wanna dance?"

"I dunno, Eddie. With who?" she teased him.

Eduardo rolled his eyes. "With me, I guess. I got here first, after all..."

With an exuberance he wasn't used to, but he wouldn't mind the chance, she laughed and let him lead her to the floor.

Garrett elbowed Roland. "Don't say a word to them." Roland said amiably, but firmly. More than once he'd wondered if the teasing Garrett gave them had slowed down whatever was trying to happen between Eduardo Rivera and Kylie Griffin.

"Okay...but I wanna know why nobody's asking me to dance..." Garrett retorted.

More couples took the the floor...the Melnitzes...the Irwins...the Stantzes and Zeddemores...

Victor tried to get Jen Spengler to dance with him. But she politely declined.

"Time for us to upstage everyone, Mrs. Venkman." Peter said to Dana, taking her hand as they joined the rest.

"I don't understand what that's all about." Jessica huffed. "Is dancing with some boy supposed to be fun?"

"I dunno...Dad always says we'll understand when we're older." Oscar replied.

Vincent Belmont watched silently. He wasn't completely sure it was the right decision to come...it was only adding salt to the wound of his recent breakup with Aya. And maybe it was that...maybe it was the mood of the day...but he found himself thinking ruefully less of Aya, and more of Jill...Another woman I blew it with. I wonder where she is now...

Katharine Spengler looked wistfully at her son and her daughter-in-law...memories of her own wedding playing in her head...memories of the day she held that tiny body for the first time...Katharine felt the tears welling. Her son...

"Our son has become an even greater man that I ever hoped he could be Katharine..."

She started. The voice was so clear...but when she looked around, there was noone there.

"Katharine?" this time, she saw Will Hazzard. "I know you must miss him terribly on a day like this..."

Did he hear it too? "Without a doubt..."

"I realize I'm not the husband you miss...but this old friend of your father would ask the honor of your presence in the dance..." the old man smiled, and stood up from his wheelchair.

"But...Will..I thought you were..." she gasped, surprised.

"What else are exoskeletons for, my dear?" he replied.

As she danced with Will Hazzard at her son's wedding, her thoughts were elsewhere...My son battles the dead for a living, after all... she thought to herself. Why couldn't it have been Edison? He is here...he didn't miss this day. I know it in my heart.

Unfortunately, as much as Janine Spengler might have wished otherwise, such days inevitably wind down.

"I believe it is time for us to make our exit." Egon announced. "I don't think the airlines can be persuaded to delay the departure of our honeymoon flight." As he said that, Egon wistfully remembered the Ghostbusters' custom gyrowing craft, the ECTO-4. I need to get it working again soon...

"Honeymoon? Holy crap, Unc...where you goin'?" Victor asked.

"Tahiti." Janine replied. "Our wedding present from one notably well-off Hollywood agent..."

"Even though, of course, Tahiti without Venkman is disgusting." Venkman quipped. "But it isn't the whole present..."

Dana made a show of putting her hands over Jessica's ears. "Moooom...." the youngest member of the Venkman clan protested.

"To help what should prove to be a most fascinating series of biology experiments, I'm sure..." he handed Egon a box.

"I'm afraid to open this." Janine declared.

"There are kids around anyway." Ray beamed, drawing an elbow from his wife.

"And our present from Liz was a book called 'Child Rearing the Hermetic Way'. What is this, a conspiracy?" Janine asked jovially.

"Only in the most benevolent sense of the word." Winston beamed, pulling Kaila a little closer. "You two have a lot of time to make up for."

"Er...ahem...if you'll excuse us, then..."

"Not so fast, Professor." Liz chided. "I think there's a ritual or two remaining...a bouquet to be tossed, I believe."

"You better do what the lady says, Egon." Ray smiled. "She could turn you into a frog..."

"I think I'll pass on that. Though I thought Janine would be the one throwing the bouquet..."

"Oh, God...she's giving him a sense of humor already..." Venkman quipped

Winston whistled loudly and pointed. "Single gals, over here! The moment is coming!!!"

When Janine sent the bouquet sailing, it ended up being protested so vigorously it ended up bouncing away from the crowd...

And right at the feet of Kylie Griffin, who'd tried to get away from it. Oh great...the last thing Eddie needs is more encouragement...

"Okay, Dudes. Your turn..." Venkman noted.

There were a couple of wolf whistles (including Barney Lupin's naturally) when Mrs. Spengler hiked her skirt to reveal the garter.

"Whistle all you want...this one is off the market." Egon said with an uncharacteristic smirk. He removed the item with some deliberate slowness.

"A sample of later..." he told his new wife, giving her a quick kiss to the cheek.

"Fifty bucks if the guy who catches it wears it on his head!!!" Barney Lupin called out loudly.

Egon gave the garter a good fling, and it ended up in the hands of none other than Victor Irwin. After a second contemplating the vague ickiness of catching something that had been on his aunt's leg a moment before, he noticed that Jen was giving him a quizzical look. Maybe this ain't a bad thing after all... he thought to himself.

Janine's yellow Volkswagen, now decorated with various traditional "Just Married" markings and cans tied to the back bumper, was waiting. There were waves, a few hugs, and another tear or two, before Egon and Janine Spengler began their newest journey together.

Epilog
The Morning of June 15, 1998
A Hotel In Tahiti
He drank in the warmth of the moment...the sense of peace...contentment of a sort he couldn't remember feeling...ever...

He felt the steady beat of her heart, and it was beautiful. Her cheek was resting against his neck, the soft roundness of her bosom pressed up against his lightly haired chest...a whiff of the perfume she'd worn the day before still lingered in the air, mixed with more natural scents...that seemed even more beautiful to him.

She opened one eye and looked up at him. "Good morning...Mister Spengler..."

"Good morning to you..." he paused, realizing he was savoring the sound of it. "...Mrs. Spengler."

She leaned forward and kissed him. "I suppose we should go outside sometime...otherwise all that money Peter spent is sort of wasted, huh?"

"Perhaps..."

She closed her eyes again, and nuzzled back up against him. "I wish I could just stay like this forever, though."

"Forever?"

"Uh huh..."

"Well...we've more than earned it." he replied, kissing her once more.

They would finally get out of the bed and enjoy the beach...

...The next morning...

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