By Fritz Baugh
GBI Case File GBNY-1999-17/613
"At the Cusp of Oranos, the Stars Will Seek Judgment
The Twelve stand Marked by their Destinies
The Five Who Are One Will Stand United Against Them
And then, When the Enigma Is Revealed
They Will Stand United with the Restless Warrior
And Secure the Destiny of Hermes,
Thus the Ascension of the Children of the Twelve..."
The Ghostbusters fulfilled their role in the Judgment, as I knew they would--but the Five Who Are One must also be instrumental to the Ascension. But what is that role?! None of them are Lord Gemini...none of their successors are Lord Gemini...none of their children are Lord Gemini...
I came here to find these answers...and after seven years I have few answers and even more questions than I started with. Why has so much gone wrong? I foresaw Egon Spengler embracing his destiny as the apprentice of Sarim-Lar...I foresaw the Melnitz woman finding happiness with that dolt Tully...I foresaw the death of Peter Venkman...
And none of these things occurred
It confused him. And confusion was the one sensation he could not abide. Confusion was caused by not knowing. And Knowledge was his reason for existing. Confusion was an affront to his very nature.
An alarm buzzed, and called for his attention. "The sample?"
He quickly opened the gateway to his extradimensional laboratory...and for a split second, the human being he had once been reasserted itself long enough to cause a gasp of amazement.
Over six years before, he had obtained a small fragment of one of the Zodiac avatars--in specific, the one belonging to the Avatar of Gemini. It had been his hope at the time that it might prove useful in his research...but it had proven useless. It's energy had slowly dwindled to near nothing over the years...
The room was filled with orange light.
"What...does this mean?!"
Janine Melnitz Spengler pushed a red hair out of her eyes, and gave him a mischievous look. "What makes you say that?"
"Last year I hadn't seen my three best friends in six years. You not only arranged to get them to New York for my fortieth birthday, you did it without letting myself or the younger Ghostbusters on to the scheme."
She placed her head against his chest, once more just taking a minute to listen to his heart beat.
"I love you, you know that?" she said, running a hand through his blond hair.
"I think that's well established. Between getting married after an absurd amount of years up to and including last night's..." Egon paused and a smirk appeared on his face "...experiments."
"Egon..." she moved up to look him straight in the eye. "I'm late."
"Late?" he asked, not following yet. "Did we forget the phone bill again?"
Janine rolled her eyes. "Egon...why did ancient humans decide to adopt months into their calendars?"
"The word month is derived from 'Moon', and the month approximates the twenty-eight day revolution period of Earth's Moon about the planet. " he answered.
"Why?" she asked.
He raised an eyebrow. Janine didn't usually ask him things like this when they were naked in bed. "Well, it was useful for measuring and predicting certain natural processes that were tied to lunar revolution, such as the tides, and other cycles that followed in proximity, such as the menstrual cycle of the human female..."
"That one right there, Egon." she placed a finger on his mouth. "That's what's late."
He was speechless for thirty full seconds, as the implication of what she was saying started to sink in. "How late?" he finally said.
"More than enough to make a doctor appointment for today--it's run like clockwork since I was fifteen, except for a while when the Lotsabucks was screwing up my system."
He lay back, and possibly the widest grin she'd ever seen him have appeared on his face. "Well, Peter did say we had to make up for lost time..."
"I thought about waiting to tell you until after the appointment, but I couldn't..." she kissed him. "I took one of those disposable tests yesterday, though you can't really rely on those things..."
"What did it say?" he couldn't help but ask.
"That we're gonna be looking for Baby's First Chemistry Set soon..." she replied.
He laughed deeply and heartily, and embraced her, turning them both in the bed to a new position, with her underneath him.
"Careful, Egon...this is how we got in this predicament..." she said teasingly.
"I love you, you know that?" Egon said to her, and then went on to show it...
"A little help here!!!" Ray shouted.
"Be with you in a sec, Doctor Stantz!!!" Roland Jackson called back, another giant penguin trying to peck him to death.
"Now I remember why I hated the second Batman movie..." Garrett Miller smirked, taking aim. His blast caught the ghost penguin. "Wak wak wak..." Garrett mocked it. "Hey, Ky, a new bird cage for Burgess here?"
Kylie Griffin threw the ghost trap. In seconds, Garrett's opponent was sucked inside.
"Hey! Look!!! Fish!!!" the Spanish-tinged voice of Eduardo Rivera called. The two remaining giant penguins turned to look.
"Duuuuuuuuuuude!!!" they cried excitedly, and run to where Eddie was holding up a giant bass.
When they were about two feet away, he stomped on the pedal of the ghost trap he'd set up, sucking the squalking creatures into its innards.
"Yuck." Eduardo said, dropping the fish back into the nearby vat.
"You okay?" Kylie asked him.
"Other than smellin' like a fish market, yeah." he replied.
"Yeah, well, I like fish..." Kylie grinned, and then kissed him.
Garrett rolled his eyes. "I think I liked them better when they pretended they hated each other."
Ray had just finished taking their fee from the guy who owned the fish market. "Bite your tongue, Garrett. Anyway, we got these Class Sixes all ready for their new home. I understand the inside of the Containment Unit is sorta cold, so maybe they'll like it."
"But what if they're really from Hoboken?" Garrett quipped. Nobody paid any attention.
Kaila Zeddemore, Winston's wife of almost seven years, was sitting at the reception desk, decorating the file cabinets with some banners.
Ray wandered over to Winston. "Those are looking good! Kaila, any more calls?"
Kaila mocked indignation. "What do I look like? Your secretary?"
"She's different looking." Garrett joked as he rolled from behind the ECTO-1. "Louder, shorter, redder hair. Not quite as tanned."
"And didn't Mrs. Spengler say she preferred the term 'Client Administrator' now, anyway?" Roland added.
"How was it?" Winston asked, finally climbing down the step ladder.
"Not bad at all." Ray answered. "Three Class Sixes. Giant penguins in the fish market."
"The usual." Winston nodded.
"So have you heard from Peter yet?" Ray asked.
"He called about ten minutes ago." Kaila answered. "He sprung for a rental and should be here about any time now."
Ray shook his head. "If not for that call we could've got him at the airport...too bad Dana couldn't make it, but Oscar's in school you know..."
Winston nodded. "Hard to believe that kid's ten. It seemed like only yesterday he was in diapers and Vigo wanted to possess him..."
"And next year it'll be ours in school, Winston." Kaila reminded him.
Winston sighed and stared at the ceiling. "Man, I'm gettin' old."
Ray laughed. "Ah, well, you know your parents are enjoying babysitting her today." Winston and Kaila's daughter, five year old Charlene, was in the care of her paternal grandparents, Edward and Lucille. "They didn't get to see her much when we lived out west..." Ray smiled. "And I know Aunt Lois was thrilled to get Eric today. He's too young to enjoy a birthday party yet anyway." Eric was Ray's two year-old son.
"And Charlene would've just been bored." Kaila added.
Slimer was floating around the garage, confused. He could swear he smelled food, but when he went over to where he thought he smelled it, all the packages had those words he had learned to avoid. "Steamed broccoli." He hated steamed broccoli. It scared him.
Then Slimer perked up, babbled excitedly, and flung himself at--and through--the front door. There was a loud, wet thud, and much yelling.
Winston and Ray looked at each other. "Peter's here." they said in unison.
Ray handed the ghost traps to Roland; the younger man went downstairs with them as Ray strolled to the door.
"Dammit, get off me!!! This is a new suit!!!" Peter Venkman was shouting at Slimer, trying to shoo him away.
"He's just glad to see you, Peter." Ray smiled. "He's still afraid that you're never going to come back--since we didn't for six years."
"Slime Ball, really--I'm here for a Birthday Party, not a Slime Party." Venkman said to Slimer.
Slimer babbled something, started laughing uproariously, and floated back toward where he kept smelling food.
"He said 'Does that mean you're wearing your birthday suit?'" Ray explained. "He clearly thought it was funny."
"He clearly was wrong." Venkman retorted, rolling his eyes. "Now where's the Birthday Girl? You know I gotta let her have it for this one...the Big Four Oh..."
"She's off on some secret errand with Egon." Winston said. "And you're older than she is..."
" 'Secret errand'...yeah right, there's your Birthday Suits, Ray..." Venkman chuckled, familiar Cheshire grin appearing. "And I was safely three thousand miles away from here when I hit that birthday. So she'll never ever be able to get me back for it."
"Until 2004." Kaila quipped.
Venkman feigned confusion. "I'm not sure I understand what you mean by that, Kaila..."
"They're coming!!" Kylie called from upstairs, where she'd been watching the window. "I just saw Janine's car pull down Moore..."
Everyone scrambled into hiding. Ray shut down the lights.
A minute later, the door opened. A Brooklyn voice said "Aw, Gee, if this ain't the oldest gag in the book. Like the lights would be out in the middle of the day unless they were lying in wait for someone."
"I don't have any idea what you mean." the voice of Egon Spengler replied, reaching toward the light switch.
"SURPRISE!!!" they all shouted.
Despite her sarcasm, and that it was nowhere near the surprise Egon Spengler had recieved on his birthday almost a year before, Janine nevertheless smiled widely. She was, after all, in a genuinely good mood.
"Soooo..." Venkman said, grinning mischievously, sidling up to her. "October 28, 1958. The Big Four Oh. Is that a grey hair or two I see?"
"Only from dealing with children most of my adult life." she retorted.
Egon nodded and chuckled knowingly. "It was good training of a sort..."
"Here--open mine first!!!" Venkman said, sticking a package wrapped in black paper in her face. She rolled her eyes as she pulled off the card--it had a cartoony drawing of the Grim Reaper on it.
"Oh, look, Egon--an AARP membership application, and a bunch of pamphlets from Florida retirement communities..." she gave him her own mischievous look. "October 25, 2004. It's not that far away..."
Kaila chuckled. "That's what I tried to remind him of..."
Winston was going over and removing the contents of the "steamed broccoli" boxes--Slimer's eyes went wide as suddenly there was a large cake and other treats.
After they forced Janine Spengler to sit through "Happy Birthday" (badly off key, and Venkman improvising an ending of "And at least a couple more...") the members of Ghostbusters New York were relatively quiet for a few minutes.
"It's amazing how food quiets this crowd up." Garrett remarked, belching.
"Some more than others..." Kylie rolled her eyes.
"I better not eat too much..." Janine remarked. "We still got dinner with my parents tonight..."
"I don't think leftovers will be a problem..." Ray noted, as Slimer watched them all with puppy dog eyes. One lesson he remembered was Do Not Attack Birthday Cakes.
"So, er...what was the 'Secret errand'..." Kaila asked. "Or is that one of those things we're better off not knowing?"
"Doctor appointment..." Janine said simply, smirking. She gave Egon a mischievous look. "This cake is great, but it needs pickles--could you go get me some?"
Egon smirked back. "Sweet or dill?"
Roland about choked. "Pickles? Er, I hate to criticize, Mrs. Spengler, but...that's kind of..."
"Gross? Nauseating? Disgusting?" Garrett offered helpfully. "Something not even Slimer would eat?"
"I'm entitled." Janine answered. "Mom ate pickles and cake when she was pregnant with me, and I turned out fine."
"That's arguable." Venkman replied, with the ease of years verbally sparring with this woman. Then he about choked on his cake, as he started to piece together what she had just said, and the 'mystery errand' "Wait a damn minute...you said you were just at the doctor?"
Janine flung an icing-coated pickle at Venkman. It bounced off of him, but didn't hit the floor--Garrett's earlier assessment aside, it didn't seem to bother Slimer a bit.
Egon moved behind the chair she was sitting in, and put his hands on her shoulders. "Do you want to tell them, or shall I?"
She beamed. "I've been wanting to say this for far too many years, Egon. I always said motherhood was a natural instinct for me, and time to prove it: I'm pregnant."
"Oh wow..." Ray's eyes went wide, and he about dropped his cake.
"My man!!!" Winston exchanged high-fives with Egon.
Venkman adopted a facetious expression. "Gosh, so do we know who the father is?"
Slimer...yes, Slimer slapped him for that one.
Kaila hugged the mother-to-be..."So how far along?"
"The doctor said about seven weeks." Janine replied. "Due date is June 13th..."
"Well, yeah, but no kid is ever born on his due date." Roland replied.
"I was." Egon replied. "Mom said it was just like a Spengler to be born exactly on schedule..."
"All kidding aside, Congratulations." Venkman said, giving his old friend a bear hug. "Damn, Ziggy...you two weren't quite as fast at it as Dana and I were, but I can see you're making up for lost time."
"I suppose that's one way to put it." Egon replied.
Kylie got finished giving a congratulatory hug to the parents to be, and noticed Eduardo was very quiet. "What? This putting some thoughts into your head?"
Eduardo looked like she'd just dropped ice water down his back. "What? No...hey, I think it's cool and all, of course. But ain't no way I wanna be in that situation any time soon."
"Well, as long as you keep the Burrito Supreme wrapped, I guess you'll be okay." Garrett quipped. "But remember, it only takes once..."
"Go fall down a staircase." Eduardo retorted.
"I guess it's too early to know what it is yet, right?" Ray asked.
"Well, I assume it's a baby." Egon deadpanned.
Ray rolled his eyes. "You know what I mean...a boy or a girl."
"They'll take some ultrasounds." Janine replied. "We're not to that point yet..."
Ray nodded. "I know...so, you still have the book Liz gave you when you got married?"
"Child Rearing the Hermetic Way?" Janine replied. "I don't think we're intending to raise a wizard..."
"Unless she chooses it on her own, of course." Egon added.
Everyone was quiet for a few minutes, letting the revelation soak in. Winston finally broke the silence "It's gonna change your life, old buddy. Trust us on this one."
"You'll have your very own needy, screaming poop machine." Venkman nodded.
Ray smiled. "No sleep, no money, constant aggravation..."
"And it's something you wouldn't trade for anything in the world." Venkman finished.
"I wouldn't have been ready for that ten years ago." Egon said, taking Janine's hand. "But just like finally marrying this incredible woman--I'm ready for it now."
"That makes two, Professor." she smiled in reply.
"It was Jay." she replied.
"What? She and Egon not gonna make it for dinner?"
"They'll be here." Denise smiled. "But she wanted to go ahead and tell us the news..."
"You're gonna be a Grandpop again, you old fool...Janine's pregnant!"
Fritz just about fell out of his chair
"Mom...Janine's pregnant. Some time on or around June 13, 1999...you will become a Grandmother at last"
For so long she'd fought the feeling that she'd failed her son. That she didn't fight her husband harder, to allow Egon some relief from the crushing academic pressure they'd put him under. That because of all that drive, he would become less a man and more a computer on two legs.
That was why Katharine had known, the second she'd met her, that if anyone was going to make that not happen, it would be Janine Melnitz. She was feisty, and stubborn, and had the energy it would take. Janine loved Egon the way Katharine had loved his father...
Edison she thought to herself, pulling a picture--their wedding picture from a sunny day in 1955--off the shelf. When she first met him, Edison Spengler was a shattered man...the cruel death of his first wife had pushed him into a deep shell. And maybe, somehow, as much as Edison loved Katharine...that experience was part of what drove him to push their son away from feeling, an unspoken--maybe even unintended--message of "Do not fall in love. It can only lead to pain."
When she talked with Egon during the six years he and Janine were apart...more than ever, she saw Edison in him. The Edison she's first known. The Edison who just simply did not want to live his life.
"Our son has become an even greater man that I ever hoped he could be Katharine..."
She'd heard Edison's voice when their son finally married that wonderful woman. It wasn't logical...but she knew, in her heart, that wherever he was, Edison Spengler had realized his mistakes, and was happy for his son.
"Well, Edison...let's see what Cyrus thinks of this..." she smirked at the picture of her dead husband. She knew it was only her imagination, but she could almost swear the picture smirked back.
"Tell me about it." Janine rolled her eyes. "It was kind of a sweet idea, though. Ray said 'Well, since you two are either going to be really busy or really uncomfortable on June 14th, we'll have a big party now!"
"Everything been going all right so far Janine?" Dr. Morris, the physician overseeing her pregnancy, asked.
"So far no complaints..." Janine answered. "Though I have started to get that fluttery or bubbly feeling you said might happen..."
"Typical around the third or fourth month." Dr. Morris nodded.
"Well, there's the inevitable weight gain jokes from Peter..." Egon rolled his eyes.
"And before that, the breast jokes." Janine added, similarly rolling her eyes. "He made a point to reprise every one from that time I wore those fake boobs..." she crossed her eyes and did an impression of Venkman's voice. "'in the case of a water landing, do those double as flotation devices'...'if I stand close to you and talk, will I hear an echo? "
"Are you sure you've only been married six months?" the tech asked.
"It's a long story." Egon replied. "We've known each other for over fifteen years, but...one complication after another kept us from marrying until recently."
"Now, like everyone likes to say, we're making up for lost time..." Janine added.
The tech looked a little confused about what she was seeing. "Dr. Morris?"
Dr. Morris went over to the monitor. "Hm..."
Egon and Janine looked at each other. "Is...something wrong?" he finally asked.
Dr. Morris looked at them. "Making up for lost time, you say? More than even you thought..."
"What do you mean?" Janine asked.
"From the looks of this ultrasound...Janine, you're carrying twins."
"TWINS?!" both Spenglers said at once.
"I see separate placentas...so I'd say it's a fraternal set...they won't be any more genetically similar than any other sibling pair..."
Morris had the tech move the ultrasound scanner a bit.
After a few minutes, she said to them "I think I even know what sex they are...if you want to know."
"A lot of people still like to be surprised." the tech noted.
"A good scientist likes to have all the available data." Egon said.
"We'd already discussed this." Janine added, feeling giddy. "Lay it on us, Doc."
"From the looks of things, I'd say it's one of each--one girl, one boy."
"That's what the doctor said." Egon replied. "I admit, I was excited before, but now I'm...nervous. This is a little more than we anticipated."
"You'll be fine, Spengs. You have got the biggest support system in New York City to fall back on. Ray, Winson, the Melnitzes...and all you have to do is say the word and Uncle Peter will be there too."
"Janine is ecstatic." Egon said. "She's forty years old, and this is likely to be her only pregnancy...so knowing we'll have two children instead of one is..." He paused. "It's like it really is restoring some kind of balance. Like her patience is being rewarded. I..."
"I'm not sure she's wrong about that, either."
"She isn't." Venkman answered, then sighing. "Look, Buddy...I have a meeting with Jon Dennison in about an hour. I don't know if I'm gonna make it back to New York for the holidays, but if not I'll see everyone after New Year's. You take care."
After exchanging goodbyes, Venkman turned off the phone and sat it down. He looked out the picture window into the Los Angeles sky...
He loved this city, but in his heart he would always be a New Yorker--and right now, he missed it more than ever.
As Prince's song fades out, the deejay came on "That's right, folks, it's only three hundred sixty four days until the new millennium..."
Egon made a dismissive grumble. "Actually, mathematically speaking, the first day of the new millennium will be January 1, 2001, not January 1, 2000..."
"Egon, in six years nobody will care." Janine rolled her eyes fondly.
The yellow Volkswagen pulled into its long-time parking spot behind Ghostbusters Central
Ray was adjusting one of the sensors on the roof rack of the ECTO-1 when they entered the garage. "Hey! Happy New Year!!!"
"Happy New Year to you too, Ray." Janine said, hugging him.
"And just think how completely different your lives are gonna be by the next New Year's Day..." Ray said amiably, wiping off his hands.
Since the Spenglers' marriage in June, Egon, Ray, and Winston had been rotating duties watching over the firehouse at night--they all agreed that at least one of them should be on hand there at all times (though actual calls were forwarded to a franchise specially commissioned for night work). Egon was now spending 2/3 of his nights with his wife, in the same apartment she'd been living in since 1995.
"Do you realize that this is actually the tenth anniversary of our defeat of Vigo the Carpathian?" Egon asked. "I realized it while we watched the festivities last night--they showed a shot of the Statue of Liberty. Curious that nobody mentioned that during the coverage..."
"Yeah, well, to some people ten years ago is ancient history, I guess..." Ray rolled his eyes. "I'll have to remind Peter of that later when I call him. Assuming he didn't remember that already, of course..."
Egon and Janine were then startled with the realization that Louis Tully, the Chief Financial Officer of Ghostbusters International, was coming down the staircase, trying to keep Slimer away from his bagel.
"What are you doing here, Louis?" Janine asked. "I thought we told you to take today off..."
Louis stammered something, then looked away.
"I asked him to come by today, just for a little while." Ray answered. "Winston'll be here in just a little bit, and there's something I want to go over when everyone's here."
The two Spenglers just looked at each other.
Ray shook his head, grinning.
"So what you are telling us is..." Winston said, hoping to lead to some sort of summation.
"You are all completely in the black." Louis finished.
"How often did we hear that?" Janine asked.
"Not very." Egon replied.
"So now here's my part..." Ray answered. "I had Louis go over my own finances, too. I mean, I wasn't exactly rolling in the dough from working for a used car lot, and the Missus's job requires certain...expenses, but between some money I had socked away--my Stanford payout, some leftovers I'd invested from the big payout in the Vashnivski case--I'm now in a position to do something I've been wanting to do since I got back here."
Winston and Egon looked at each other. "What do you mean?" Winston asked.
Ray got up and walked around, clearly excited at what he was saying. "I want to do some work on this place--real, major work. Renovate the electrical system, improve the computer network...the Internet's getting big, you know, and we should be aware of that. You should see the site about us this guy named Emkow's put together...GBI should be wired for the twenty-first century. We only have two years to go on that, after all..."
"Thank you." Egon smirked.
"And yeah...somebody I know deciding to start a family plays into this too. Redo the whole second floor, even, put in a room for the kids. I can't see you and Janine staying in that little place that much longer with Twins on the way..."
"That's what we get for ending up with a June due date." Janine joked. "Gemini is the sign of the twins, after all..."
"So anyway..." Ray continued. "The big change is on the third floor--I want to replace the bunk room as it is now with something a little more conducive to having a family live in it--a room for the parents, a room for the kids. And heck, I don't just mean for you guys--we'd still rotate in and out. Eric loves this old place..."
"He comes by that honestly." Winston quipped.
Ray chuckled. "Yeah, but he never gets to stay here...this way, he would every once in a while."
Winston, Egon, and Janine looked at each other. "I think I like this idea..." Winston finally said. "Charlene's already asking questions about what we do here--what better way to answer them than to show her?"
"There's always a danger factor." Egon nodded. "But if we also improve the lock-down system and the security functions of the Ecto Containment Unit, this should be minimized."
"There is a nice apartment in Soho that Shirl's been bugging me to go look at..." Janine added. "Assuming we could afford it..."
"Well, like I said the GBI franchise operation has been performing above expectations." Louis chimed in. "As a founding board member, Doctor Spengler stands to have a significant income stream to draw on..."
Ray cleared his throat. "But if we're gonna do this, we need to start now. We got six months to get things done before the Twins are born, and you're pretty much forced to move out of your current place."
Egon looked at his wife. "Janine?"
"It makes a lot of sense to me." she replied. She looked down. "And I hope that flutter means they like the idea too..."
"Winston?" Egon asked.
"You know I'm in." Winston replied. "I think I can even recommend a construction company that'll give us a good rate..." he grinned. His father, 'Big Ed' Zeddemore, owned a construction company.
"Well then, I would say that barring an objection from Peter, it's unanimous." Egon summarized.
"And even if he objects, he's still outvoted." Janine added brightly.
"Great!" Ray said. "And then after that I have some ideas for improving the proton packs..."
The three male Ghostbusters started discussing plans, and in a few minutes were going upstairs to plot strategies.
Janine chuckled something about "Boys and their toys" and stood up, moving her now noticeably swollen body out of the chair, and walked down the stairs to the reception desk.
Louis just shook his head sadly as she left, effectively oblivious to the fact he was still there. Mixed feelings swirled in his head as he watched her go...
He was genuinely happy for her, there was no doubt about that. But it also brought bittersweet memories of the times when he thought...he wanted...to be sharing this experience with her the way Egon Spengler was. That even though it was for the best that it didn't happen that way, it still felt like fate was rubbing in how wrong Janine and Louis were for each other: they tried for a good year before giving up. Then she marries Egon...and practically comes back from the honeymoon pregnant.
I guess some things just work the way they're supposed to...but why can't it ever work out for me?
Not for the first time in the last year and a half, it was a moment she wished she could trap in amber to save forever.
She was only a year out of high school when her sister Doris had announced that she was pregnant. The fact that her nephew Victor Irwin was now, in fact, technically old enough to be siring children of his own was a thought Janine tried not to dwell on...it only seemed to highlight how late she was having her children. Though I'm having two...I finally beat Dee in something she smirked.
As Egon had mentioned to Venkman, the fact that this would most likely be her only pregnancy had Janine savoring every second of it. Even when she woke up feeling sick...even when her back started to protest under the unusual weight it was carrying around...she felt like she had no right to complain about any of it.
But she had to face it...she couldn't help but be worried...
She finally said as much to her husband when she slipped into bed.
"Worried?" he replied. "About what?"
She inhaled. "Egon...I'm not a young woman in the prime of my life. I'm gonna be forty-one not long after the Twins are born...and..."
"Janine, the doctor said you're in perfect health." Egon reassured her. "That there are twenty-five year olds that aren't as fit to give birth as you are..."
"Perfect..." she repeated the word. "But that's what I'm worried about. Egon, I'm not perfect--but I tried to be once. I let myself be warped and twisted...I still can't believe I ever did that. But I did."
Egon knew what she was talking about. Makeoverus Lotsabucks...a parasitic vanity spirit. It had changed her over a period of years...turning her into some kind of freakish caricature of her true self in the quest for "perfection." It was almost too late when Egon and the other Ghostbusters discovered this...
"I was altered, inside and out. I mentioned how it was the only time in my life my Monthly Visitor wasn't right on schedule...I was worried for a long time that maybe the bitch had...broken something. Well...okay, now we know for sure the plumbing works...but what if there's something else broken? What if there's some damage left...that might hurt the babies? Or get passed along to them?"
Egon exhaled deeply. "I hadn't thought of that, to be honest. I've been more concerned about my own worries in that regard--think of all the things I've endured over the years. I got phased into the Netherworld. Possessed and transformed more than once--I've been a cartoon character and a werechicken. So yes, I've had my own fears that some sort of psychokinetic or genetic damage has occurred that might be passed along..."
He embraced her tightly. "But we've had every test run, and every result so far has not indicated anything other than completely healthy offspring. And remember that Ray, Winston, and Peter have been through just about everything we have, and that all of their children are healthy and normal--and not all of their wives have been unscathed by the paranormal either..."
She smiled, and felt a kick from inside. She just couldn't help but think it was a statement of agreement. "You're right...and somehow just hearing you say it makes it feel better. Though it's not going to make the worries all go away..."
"It shouldn't." Egon admitted. "But worrying about things that have already happened, and cannot be changed, is counterproductive. At least until it's possible to change time..."
"And how far away are you from that?"
"Well, I did read an interesting article on temporal integrity theory last week..."
She laughed, and playfully put her hand over his mouth to shut him up.
He heard Oscar trying to convince his mother that he deserved a later bed time, because No Eleven Year Old In The World has to go to bed at Ten O'Clock. It was probably a violation of the Geneva Conventions or something, etc... when the phone rang.
"Peter would you get that?!" he heard Dana shout, but Venkman was already halfway there. His heart skipped a beat when he saw the caller ID...
"Peter Venkman..." he answered simply.
"I just got the call from Katharine two minutes ago." Ray Stantz answered.
"I'll be out as quick as I can manage it." Venkman replied.
Dana came out of Oscar's room. "Who was it?" she asked.
"It was Ray. It's time." he replied, dialing a number on his cell phone. "Jon? It's Pete...I told you I was gonna need a charter flight back to New York soon? Well, the time is right now. Yes, right now..."
After he hung up, he kissed Dana hard. "Give them my love, Peter." she told him. "And my prayers--they've been through too much already to have anything go wrong..."
A nod was the only sign that Egon heard his mother, sitting in the yellow car's driver seat, as he led Janine inside the hospital.
Katharine sighed as she watched them go. She'd appeared at their doorstep a month before, insisting she had cleared things in Cleveland and wasn't going to be going anywhere until probably after New Years 2000.
When Janine had abruptly awakened an hour ago, Katharine had been there to handle getting the Melnitzes and Ghostbusters Central called and the car ready to go as Egon saw to Janine, and called the doctor. Katharine had driven them to the hospital.
She looked up at the night sky before heading to the parking garage. It's time, Edison...
"Looks like they're coming early..." Janine cracked.
"What do you mean by that?" one of the nurses asked, amazed that this woman was still making jokes during labor.
"Due date is tomorrow..."
"If it makes you feel any better, Mrs. Spengler, it's not unheard during first pregnancies for the labor to last that long."
"Bite your damn tongue." Janine retorted.
Egon finally made it into the room, having finished the paperwork that required his immediate attention. "I'm here, Janine. Er...how are you doing?"
"Not bad..." she joked blithely. "Though I was beginning to wonder..."
"The paperwork is ridiculous." Egon nodded. "I was afraid by the time I made it in here they'd be in kindergarten..."
He took her hand and kissed her on the cheek. "Unfortunately, the evolution of life on this planet has limited my ability to take any of this pain for my own. But I would if I could."
She smiled as best she could...his words causing a surge of warmth in her soul. "I know..." she replied.
"That's why I'm paying you so handsomely."
"Er...right. Well, the woman you told me to report on just got checked into the hospital two hours ago"
"Yeah...the Ghostbuster woman."
"She's in labor, isn't she?"
"That's correct Sir..."
"Thank you. You will find your bonus in your mailbox by tomorrow."
Josiah Nodus hung up the phone, and sat impassive for several minutes.
"Nothing yet." Winston said before Venkman could even ask. "She's been in labor for like seven hours now..."
Venkman shook his head. "May still be a long way to go...Jess came quick, but Dana still reminds Oscar how long he took every time he acts up..."
Winston nodded. "Charlene was the same too...I think one of the reasons babies are so cute is that it makes the Mom forget how much it hurt, and keeps her from murdering the Dad as soon as she can..."
"On his way to the hospital separate." Winston answered. "He had to wait until Roland got up to watch HQ."
"Glad you could make it." Ray said happily as he bearhugged Venkman.
"I can't believe it..." Venkman cracked. "This time, the whole gang's here..."
"We sent a nurse to let them know we're all here." Ray told him. "Though of course it's up to them if..."
Almost as if on cue, Egon appeared. Unsurprisingly, he looked exhausted. His mother gave him a quick hug before the Ghostbusters took their turn.
"There's been progress, but it's been slow..." he finally told them. "Since she's never been pregnant before, they don't have any comparisons other than what Denise and Doris have told them about their experiences..."
"So what does this mean? Is there a problem?" Marie asked.
"As of yet, no..." Egon finally answered, taking off his glasses to rub his temples. "Everything is within the parameters of first deliveries...but if there's no appreciable progress in twelve hours, we may have to consider Cesarean..."
"What about the babies?" Denise asked.
"There's no indication of any problems..." Egon replied. "It's just going to take time..."
"They can't use the most effective drugs for fear of causing a reaction in one of the children..." Egon pointed out.
"DON'T TRY TO BE RATIONAL WITH ME RIGHT NOW!!!" she replied.
"You're doing just fine, Janine..." Doctor Morris said. "It can be anytime now...just keep breathing..."
She exhaled heavily, and her best to relax as the contraction faded. It might be the last time...the big push is coming...
One of the nurses mopped Janine's brow.
It had been long and difficult...but around dinnertime, the doctors had told Egon to take her for a walk around the delivery area. She'd got to see her family and friends...and Venkman didn't even make any remarks about what a horrible mess she looked, probably for fear of being bludgeoned to death by a woman in labor wielding her IV frame as a weapon.
Valid fear too...
She looked up at her husband...he looked so worried, and tired. Damn, if that's how wore out he looks, I don't even wanna THINK about how I look right now...
"I love you..." he said.
"I love you too..." she replied. "Even though you did this to me..." she added with a weary smile.
"If necessary I'll remind you that there were no complaints at the time." he replied with a smirk.
"Janine..." the doctor finally said. "It's not going to take a lot more. Time for the big push...you ready."
She squeezed Egon's hand. He nodded.
She'd been in pain for most of the last twenty four hours. She was ready for this to be over. Ready to meet my son and daughter...
She pushed...the agony intensified...like her body was trying to rip apart....like every nerve of her body was on fire. The pain reached a crescendo...
...And then eased with a swiftness that caused her to question reality.
"1:30 AM" she heard one of the attendant nurses call out. "On the dot..."
"Wh..." Egon tried to say something, but the words were stuck in his throat.
"It's the girl." Doctor Morris finally said. "But we're not out of the woods yet...her brother's still waiting for takeoff..."
Egon looked dazed. He shook his head almost violently to collect his sense. "She's...she's right, Janine. One more time...one more push..."
Janine didn't want to push...she wanted to see her child...but Egon and the doctor were right. One more push...
The pain resumed once more...a little duller, but still considerable...and when it too faded away, she felt herself at the cusp of unconsciousness...her body so wanted to let it, to sleep. But...
"1:35 AM" the nurse called out.
"You...you did it..." Egon said, barely able to breathe.
"And that's the boy." Doctor Morris confirmed.
The nurses finished cleaning the newborns, and taking the necessary measurements for the records. Another was checking Janine's vital signs, making sure everything was all right.
"Textbook." the doctor said. "Janine and Egon Spengler, I think it's time you and your children got acquainted..."
"Slowly, Mrs. Spengler..." one of the nurses said as they moved her into a more upright position.
There were tears in Janine's eyes when they handed her the bundled pink blanket. All the moments from the last year and a half she'd wanted to trap in amber, this one outstripped them by far. She wanted to memorize every feature on that tiny wriggling face...that bald, wriggling face that was the most beautiful sight she had ever seen.
Some day I'm gonna have quite a story to tell you and your brother, aren't I? How it took sixteen years after I met your Dad for you two to get here...the days I thought this day would never come. But if that you ever doubt that dreams can ever come true, Kiddo, I'll remind you that you literally are a dream come true...
Egon, meanwhile, had spent the last few minutes convincing himself that this was all really happening. When Doctor Morris handed him that bundled powder blue blanket, however, it all became real
He was struck immediately how familiar the small face looked. How strongly it resembled his own baby pictures, taken both during his own infancy...and more recent one, taken some ten years ago during one of the Ghostbusters' more bizarre cases. But there was one obvious difference: the wisps of hair on his son's head had a distinctly reddish hue.
A wise man once told me that red is the color of passion, and that it would only be through the unlocking of that passion that I would unlock my destiny. This is what he meant, wasn't it? That if I'd denied my true self...denied all the passion in my soul...neither you nor your sister would be here. This is my destiny. This is our destiny.
He felt the tears coming. He had no wish to stop them.
"Eden Marie was born at 1:30 AM, her brother Johnathan Christopher precisely five minutes later. "
Marie Cavendish audibly inhaled. "Eden Marie? Oh my God...she did remember..."
"Remember what?" Doris asked.
Marie shook her tired head. "Back when I told Janine that Ghostbusters was hiring a secretary...I made a joke about 'Just promise that if you get the job and marry your boss you'll name one of your kids after me...' "
There was a hearty laugh around the room as Egon received a heartfelt hug from everyone in turn.
" 'Christopher'?" Katharine asked. "Is that..."
Egon nodded. "Janine and I split up the naming duties. I gave our son his middle name, Christopher, from Christopher Melton--my great grandfather. Johnathan is from her side of the family..."
"My older brother." Denise Melnitz said, eyes filling with tears. "He died in Korea...I once told Jay that if she'd been a boy I mighta named her that."
"Marie, as noted, was from a promise Janine made sixteen years ago." Egon nodded in Marie Cavendish's direction. "Eden...well, in addition to being a proper Hebrew name (something Janine felt important)..." he hugged his mother. "It's similarity to 'Edison' is not unintentional."
Venkman laughed. "And heck, you even gave them 'E' and 'J' names, to boot..."
Egon chuckled. "Well...that did occur to us afterward..."
"What are we waitin' around here for?" Denise Melnitz said with noticable glee. "I think it's time we got a look at my new grandbabies..."
"Our new grandbabies..." Katharine added with just as much joy.
"I can arrange that." Egon replied, with the largest smile that any of them could remember seeing on his face.
Watching them dance their pathetic human dance of emotion was making him ill.
He'd been patient, but now it was time for him to fulfill his destiny...
Egon stopped cold. A man in a black coat, his face covered by a mask sporting a featureless red visor, stood in his way.
"Nodus?!" Ray shouted.
"Were that I were only here to offer my congratulations, Professor Spengler, but that would be...inappropriate, somehow. If only you knew the irony...that in the choice you made, the choice I could never have foreseen, you solved the riddle that had confounded me, in a way I never could have anticipated. You have my appreciation..."
He gestured. A glowing forcefield appeared, blocking the hall.
"And now, the Gemini twins will be introduced to their destiny..."
Cold, horrific realization gripped Egon's soul. A dark fear, darker than any he had felt before, He wants my children!?!? "Over my dead body!!!" Egon snarled with a fury he'd never known himself capable of, and leaped for Nodus, murder in his eyes...
But the forcefield repelled him.
"Son of a bitch!!!" Venkman snarled.
"Call Roland at HQ!!!" Winston howled, throwing his cell phone to Doris Irwin.
Lacking any other weapon, the four Ghostbusters--as well as Victor Irwin--began to hammer the shimmering forcefield with nothing but their fists.
They were both so beautiful...she was, for only a fraction of a second, worried that when Egon handed her their son for the first time, that somehow it wouldn't seem as special as the instant she first held Eden...but she was wrong. It was different, but no less precious. Johnathan was no less beautiful. She loved him every bit as much.
As Janine fed the Twins for the first time, she and Egon laughed and cried as they'd made observations...things like John's "little tiny Egon hands" and Eden's scrunched-up face being very much the image of Janine's when she didn't want to get up in the morning.
She was anxious for Egon to get back. She wanted to see her parents, her sister, and the three men who were her brothers in all but the most literal sense of the word. She anticipated the joy on their faces when seeing Eden and John Spengler for the first time.
But when the door opened, it wasn't Egon, or her parents. It was a man in a dark, long coat and a featureless red visor.
"Nodus?!" she cried, every instinct starting to scream fear into her.
He just stood there for a moment.
"What do you want?!" she screamed.
"...never anticipated this..." he finally said, and shook his head with impatience. "I cannot turn back now."
He moved to the cribs. "Your children have been chosen for a higher destiny, Janine Melnitz, one far greater than a fallen intellect like him and a harlot like you could have ever given them."
"Over my dead body..." she snarled, her eyes flashing with murderous anger.
"He said very much the same thing." Nodus retorted.
Her body was aching, still weak from the most exhaustive ordeal it had faced since, probably, the day it had been born itself...but Janine Melnitz Spengler lept for Nodus's throat with a speed and fury that shocked him...
...But not fast enough to avoid the blast that sent her flying back.
Nodus gestured, and the two cribs began to float to him. The newborns began to howl in disapproval.
"John...Eden..." Janine muttered helplessly to herself, as she screamed at her body to move...
But it could no longer obey.
There was a new noise--the PKE meter that Egon was still wearing out of years of habit.
But it was Ray who plucked it out Egon's pocket. "What in the hell?"
Egon panted for a few seconds, as Winston and Venkman continued to slam the field. Egon grabbed the meter, enough rationality remaining in his exhausted, fearful mind that he realized that this might have something to do with Nodus and his plot.
"Delta energy pattern?!" Egon finally spat out. "Temporal flux is building...but I've never seen a harmonic like this before...what in the name of hell is..."
He didn't finish the thought. The meter began to smoke and pop. He dropped it, and it shattered into a hundred pieces...
...That stopped motionless in midair.
"What the fuck?!" Venkman screamed, as the world around them began to blur and fade.
Egon Spengler uttered one last feral howl...and the last thing he experienced was looking at his right arm appearing, for a fraction of a second, in two places, like looking through a camera lens that had lost it's focus...
...Before a wall of white oblivion claimed them all.
Extreme Ghostbusters Created by Fil Barlow