Next of Kin

by Nix
(crimsonquills AT gmail DOT com)

Author's Notes: This fic written for kalyw, who asked for Egon hurt and Peter angsting about him.

I hardly remember any RGB canon, so there are about half a dozen places where this could be totally off in the timing. Please ignore them. On the other hand, if I've messed up the characterization at the end, please tell me. It felt off, but I couldn't quite figure out why.

With Ecto's lights wailing and Winston driving, they almost arrived at the hospital before the ambulance did. Peter leaped out of the car before it had quite rolled to a stop, stumbling a little as he hit the ground, but his eyes were fixed on the back of the ambulance where the paramedics were unloading the gurney with his best friend strapped to it.

Peter wanted to race up to the gurney and grab Egon's hand, to let him know that a friend was there with him, but he was terrified of getting in the way of the paramedics. What if his interference got Egon killed? His impulsivity has done enough damage already.

Instead he trailed close behind them into the ER and then right up to the doors of the trauma room, where he pressed up against the glass, staring, until a nurse came and took his arms and guided him back to the waiting room. Winston and Ray took over from there, gripping him by the elbows and forcing him to sit between them.

"He's going to be okay, Peter," Ray said softly. "He was conscious and coherent when the paramedics got there. You know they only strapped him to the spinal board as a precaution."

Peter could only blink and stare at the doors behind which doctors were doing God only knew what to Egon. "He's never even broken a bone before," Peter said numbly.

"I know." Ray's voice was gentle.

"How could we survive something like Gozer without a scratch on us and end up in the hospital over a Class Five?" Peter demanded, hands clenching into fists. "The thing wasn't any worse than Slimer!"

"Bad luck, Pete," Winston answered heavily. "Just bad luck."

Peter snorted. "Bad luck and stupidity," he said bleakly. "If I hadn't gone running ahead like that..."

"You always go running ahead," Ray broke in, "and Egon always runs after you with his nose stuck to his PKE meter, and this has never happened before."

"And sometimes running ahead like that gets us there just in time to do the most good," Winston added.

Peter could only shake his head. We could get killed doing this, he realized suddenly. It had never seemed real before. When their most serious encounter ended with getting covered in warm marshmallow goo, it almost seemed funny. But now...the next time the floor gave way, Egon could break his neck instead of his leg. The next piece of old metal could hit something vital. The next time a ghost pitched something at them, they might not duck fast enough.

Next time, Egon could be dead.

Where would I be then? Peter asked himself hollowly. What would life be like without Egon Spengler?

It didn't bear thinking about. They'd known each other for more than fifteen years. Peter could hardly remember not knowing Egon...and he didn't really try too hard. Living together in the firehouse--the first time they'd shared a place--had been the happiest months of his life. Waking up and having Egon there, sitting up late at night and knowing he was just upstairs in his lab...

He didn't want to lose Egon, but he didn't want to lose the life that ghostbusting had brought him, either.

Selfish, a tiny voice accused him. But... Egon wouldn't want to give it up, either, Peter told himself. In fact, if he told Egon they had to stop, he was pretty sure the man would look at him with this supremely puzzled expression he could get, and ask why. This was Egon's life's work.

So when he opened his mouth, what he said was, "We need to get certified for emergency first aid." Somehow they'd never stopped and taken the time to do that, and there were no requirements for a business like theirs... Peter thought a moment longer. "No, we need to get certified for industrial first aid. Or that course that the paramedics take."

"We'll do that, Pete," Winston said calmly.

"And we need to start charging extra for hazardous sites," Peter added. "Old warehouses, industrial plants, that sort of thing. We'll need that to cover the extra insurance. Because we're all getting extra insurance. Lots of it."

Ray and Winston made agreeing noises, trying to calm him down. They'll figure out I'm serious later, Peter promised himself. He was going to take care of them, and he was going to start with Egon.

A doctor came through the doors to the waiting room. Peter straightened up and caught his eye. "Peter Venkman?" the doctor asked.

"That's me," Peter confirmed.

"Your friend is going to be fine," the doctor assured him. "He broke his leg, but it's a simple fracture and should heal cleanly. In addition to that, he suffered a dislocated shoulder and, of course, the puncture wound. We gave him a tetanus shot for the latter and he'll have to go on antibiotics for a while, just to be safe. Puncture wounds can be tricky, in terms of infection."

"Can we see him?" Ray asked anxiously.

The doctor hesitated, then shook his head regretfully. "Only family. Mr. Venkman can go back, but the rest of you will have to wait until he's released. He doesn't need to be admitted, so it won't be long." Peter let out a quiet breath, wanting to ask why he could go back, but afraid to push his luck. Still, the doctor must have seen the question in his expression, because he explained.

Egon had Peter listed as his next of kin.

As he was led back to the trauma room where they were getting ready to release Egon, Peter turned that little fact over in his mind. Both of Egon's parents were still alive. Why weren't they listed as next of kin? He could have changed it when they became ghostbusters, for convenience, but Peter didn't think so. If none of them had thought of increasing their health insurance, none of them would have thought of changing their legal next of kin.

Which meant that Egon had changed it some time ago. Who knew when. All Peter knew was that changing that sort of thing legally was a pain in the ass, and Egon had done it. Egon wanted him, Peter, to be the one that got called in an emergency. That got to make the decisions, if they needed to be made. Not his parents. Peter.

Peter's thoughts were interrupted by his arrival in the trauma room. Egon was struggling back into his coverall one handed, the other arm in a sling. They hadn't needed to cut it off of him--the injuries hadn't been that severe--but the leg had been split to fit over the cast. Peter rushed up to him and put one hand on the uninjured shoulder and the other on Egon's thigh. "You're okay?" he asked urgently.

"As I'm sure the doctor has told you, I'll be fine," Egon assured him.

"You gave me quite a scare there," Peter said. Without thinking he lifted a hand and cupped Egon's cheek, just for a moment, just to feel the warmth of the skin under his fingers.

Egon blinked at him. "I scared myself," he admitted, and reached up to take Peter's hand in his. Their fingers laced together naturally.

Looking down at the joined hands, Peter swallowed heavily. "I don't want to lose you."

"You didn't lose me."

Peter looked up at him then, straight into brilliant blue eyes. "But I could have," he said fiercely.

Egon just smiled a little. "You could be in a car accident tomorrow," he argued. "You can't let the possibilities control your life."

"Stop being so logical," Peter muttered.

"You like me logical," Egon replied, a trace of smugness in his tone.

"Yeah, well, count yourself lucky you landed the great Peter Venkman," Peter shot back, trying for his usual brashness.

Egon's brow wrinkled a little bit. "Have I...'landed'"

"The hand holding wasn't a clue?"

"Well, it could be interpreted platonically," Egon said.

So Peter kissed him. It was a short kiss, but Egon kissed him back. "That clear enough?"

"Perhaps another demonstration might be in order," Egon hedged, his eyes twinkling.

"You're angling for another kiss."


So Peter gave it to him.