The Right Moment

by Nix
(crimsonquills AT gmail DOT com)

Hey Spengs,

Yeah, I know, this is a horrible cliche. The letter from beyond the grave. I sure never expected to be writing one. For a long time there, there was no one important enough to get one. And then I thought that there was nothing left unsaid between me and the important people. Turns out life sure likes to throw me curveballs. I think I handled most of 'em pretty well.

But apparently not all, if you're reading this. I don't know how I went, but I replace this letter pretty regularly, and I'm not all that old, so I'm guessing a demon got me. (Not a ghost. Tell me it wasn't some measly class 5.) So, first order of business:

It's not your fault I'm dead.

And it's not Ray's fault or Winston's fault either, but it's especially not your fault because I know you, Egon, and I know how you're going to beat yourself up about how you should have thought of something that would have saved me. Well, I don't want you to do that. I love you guys, and I know that you'd die for me in a second. If there was any way, any way at all, that you could have saved me, you would have. I feel just the same about you three, so if I did what I had to do to save you, it was worth it.

I don't expect you to believe me the first time around, but I know you're gonna be rereading this, so I figure eventually the message will worm its way into that crowded skull of yours. I don't want you three agonizing and wailing and beating your chests over losing me. It might be good for the ego, but if I'm not there to enjoy it, there's no point. Kidding, Spengs. But I mean it when I say I want you to enjoy remembering me, instead of tucking me into some corner of your brain and trying to forget.

So, second order of business. Business. I want you guys to hire a new guy. No, you're not replacing me. No one could possibly replace the amazing Dr. Venkman! But you do need a fourth to watch your backs. That's why we hired Winston way back when, remember? If you guys let yourselves get fried (or eaten) out of some misplaced sense of sentiment, I'll be really pissed.

Third order of business. Actually, this one is mostly the reason I started writing these letters in the first place. (Yes, I said "these letters." This is incarnation number eight, I think. I told you I kept it updated before, didn't I?) This one's also pretty selfish, because I'm halfway convinced that it's going to make you feel worse, not better, and that's a really shitty thing for me to do, but I can't stand the thought of not ever telling you at all, and--

Yeah, okay, I'll stop babbling now. What I want to tell you is, I'm in love with you, Egon. In love. As in, there's a reason why I've never dated a girl longer than a couple of weeks, and you're it. You've been it for me since college.

I know I should probably have said something long before now. I mean, I kind of cheated you out of a proper reaction by dying, and cheating my buddies has never been high on my list. So, are they right when they say better late than never? Now, Spengs, don't yell...I'm trying not to freak out just writing this.

Anyway, why didn't I ever say anything, you ask? I swear, I had good reasons at first. I had the best reasons when I first figured it out myself. I was scared of what I felt, and I was scared of losing my scholarship and getting kicked out of Columbia and ending up just like my Dad. I was scared of losing you most of all. I knew you wouldn't freak out on my or anything, but I wasn't so sure you'd still be as comfortable with me and...yeah. So I dated like a madman for a while, just in case.

Later on, I think it was just momentum. We'd known each other for years and things were good, and who was I to spoil a good thing? I hadn't had too many good things before then. I guess I just wanted to sit back and enjoy life, you know? It always seemed like there was more time. And yeah, maybe I was still a little scared.

And then we started ghostbusting and I realized that maybe there wasn't going to be more time. I decided I'd tell you. Just as soon as I found the right moment, the right time, when I could spit it out and it would be okay.

I guess I never found it.

Yeah, so I'm in love with you. Completely, head over heels, gone. Worse than Janine, even. She's only been pining away for what, three years now? I've been at for nearly fifteen. Nobody does it better than me. But you're worth it, Spengs. Heck, anyone who can put up with me for that long deserves some kind of award, never mind actually liking me.

So I guess I'm writing this because I wanted you to know that Janine's fixation isn't some bizarre fluke. You're...incredible. You deserve to find someone. I know you've always been half convinced that you'd be single forever, too committed to Science to leave room for a person. Well, you just trust me one more time, okay? You're worth sharing. Coming from me, that's got to mean a lot.

Anyway, I've been rambling on a while, and I'm not getting any more articulate, so I guess I'll leave it at that. I'll be waiting for you, Egon. And don't be afraid to take your time getting here. I've had a lot of practice waiting. I don't mind.

Love, Peter

Egon carefully folded the much-read, crinkled paper of the letter into careful thirds, following the original lines, and tucked it into the breast pocket of his shirt. He patted the pocket for a moment, then turned back to the lab bench and picked up a screwdriver. The machine under contemplation was yet another attempt to find an alternative to the containment unit. This time, instead of alternate dimensions or molecular cohesion, he and Ray were concentrating on draining off the ectoplasmic energy that triggered the PKE meters.

But work had been slow. Everything had slowed down in the last three months. You'd think that removing the primary source of distractions would speed up work, but Egon had found it strangely hard to concentrate without Peter hovering over his shoulder, demanding that he reword his explanations two or three times...


That was Ray. A bust? But Janine would have hit the alarm if it had been a bust that would inspire Ray to yell. Leaping up off his stool, Egon managed two steps toward the lab door, barely hearing the footsteps pounding up the staircase. Then someone appeared in the doorway. Someone? No...


Egon stared at his familiar and much-missed friend and felt his knees go weak. He reached out to steady himself on the lab bench. "Peter?" he managed, his voice barely rising above a whisper.

"Hey, Spengs," Peter said, grinning. "Sorry it took me so long to get here. I came as fast as I could."

"Get here? From where?" Egon drank in the sight of his friend with hungry eyes. Peter was alive.

Peter took a couple of steps into the room and chucked his thumb over his shoulder. "From the same place as you," he said. "Only you were last there three months ago, and I was last there about half an hour ago."

"You vanished," Egon managed.

"Hey," Peter took a couple more steps closer, eyes twinkling. "Don't I get a hug? Ray hugged me."

Maybe he should have tipped his nose up and said something like, 'Really, Peter, you overestimate the effect your somewhat questionable charisma has on a rational person.' What Egon actually did was throw his around Peter and squeeze like his life depended on it.

"Whoa!" Peter gasped, a little breathlessly. He put his arms around Egon and hugged back, petting him soothingly. "It's okay, I'm alive. Just took a short jaunt through time. You should have seen Ray. I think if he hadn't been so worried about you, he'd have pulled out the PKE meter the second he let go of me."

Egon rested his forehead on Peter's shoulder and just held on for awhile. He's believed Peter dead before, but never for so long. Never for long enough to get an idea what it would really be like, to live every day knowing that Peter wasn't coming home. That he was never coming home again, that he was never going to hear his voice again.

"Egon? You going to be okay?"

"Three months, Peter," he said, taking a deep breath, but not looking up, not yet. "You vanished and didn't come back for three months. We looked everywhere for you. We even checked the Netherworld. Ray and I built a temporary containment field just so we could question the demon that..." The words caught in Egon's throat. "It told us there was no coming back from the place it sent you."

Peter was stroking the back of his neck now, so gently. "Hey, I didn't come back," he said, trying to tease a little. "You guys had to come forward."

"It took too long," Egon managed, slowly pulling himself together.

"I wasn't the one dragging his heels this time," Peter pointed out cheerfully.

Dragging his heels, Egon thought. Waiting. For the right moment. Associations linked together lightning fast in his mind, leading him inexorably back to the letter in his pocket. Egon couldn't think of any moment better than right now. So he straightened up and pushed his glasses into place and leaned forward to kiss Peter full on the mouth.

For a moment nothing happened, both of them too startled to react. Then Peter's lips came alive beneath his. Their arms would have tightened around each other if they hadn't already been clinging together. Egon lost himself in the heat of Peter's mouth, in the solid, sweet reality of this man in his arms.

The kiss went on and on, neither of them willing to part for a moment. Peter made a soft, choked noise in the back of his throat and wrapped his hand around the nape of Egon's neck, deepening the caress. Egon held nothing back, pouring all the desperate ache of need of the last three months into this touch.

When at last they parted, Egon took one look at the dazed expression on Peter's face and the flicker of his tongue over his lips and had to kiss him again. Peter didn't seem to mind, if his muffled moan was any indication.

Egon pulled away from Peter's lips reluctantly, but it was difficult to kiss and speak at the same time, and there were a few things that needed to be said. Like, "We thought you were dead." His voice had grown thick with emotion. "We thought you were dead, so we did all the things that would need to be done. Like delivering a certain letter."

There was a flash of automatic, instinctive panic in Peter's eyes. He broke into a sheepish grin. "I guess you read it, huh?"

Egon smiled slowly. "Repeatedly." There was a quiet moment. "If you're waiting for a better moment," Egon said at last, dryly, "I promise, there won't be one."

Peter gave Egon a little squeeze. "Hey, cut me a little slack here. I've never told anyone I love them before."

"Technically, you still haven't."

Peter grinned wider, if that was possible. "Hey, Spengs?"

"Yes?" Patiently.

"I love you."

Egon smiled brilliantly. "I love you, too, Peter."