Fandom: The Real Ghostbusters
For posting to wwwfanfictionnet
Title: Ghosts of the Past
Author: Olivia Sutton
Rating: R (or M, for mentions of adult subjects)
Categories: Angst, hurt/comfort
Warnings: Mentions of adult topics
Disclaimer: I actually have no idea who owns "The Real Ghostbusters", it was an awesome animated series, based on the popular movie, but with the premise that these Ghostbusters were the "real" ones and the movie had fictionalized their exploits. There was even an episode where Peter, Ray, Egon, and Winston went to Hollywood to be advisors on the set of the movie. Anyway, I don't own "The Real Ghostbusters", this fanfic isn't meant to impose on the rights of whoever does, and no money is being made from this fanfic.
Summary: Peter Venkman receives a distressing early morning phone call, and soon Egon Spengler needs to find out what's wrong with his friend.
Author Notes: This has been on my hard-drive for years, but I never found a zine-home for it, so I'm posting it here. Read and Enjoy! Reviews always welcome.
Ghosts of the Past
By Olivia Sutton
It started with a phone call. Just a phone call, is all. And since Peter wasn't a morning person, you wouldn't think he'd be the one to answer it, but sure enough…
Brring, Brring, Brring…
I heard the phone, and rolled over, grabbing my glasses off the beside table. But Peter had already answered it. That's odd, I thought. I watched him as he spoke quietly into the phone. Gradually, I could see his face becoming more agitated as he listened. Then he began talking earnestly. He continued to talk, calmly, quietly, trying to persuade the caller of something from the set of his shoulders, and the expression on his face. I couldn't figure out what was going on. But I knew Peter would tell me once he was off the phone.
Suddenly there was a sharp, loud noise. It came from the phone, but whatever it was, was loud enough for me to hear it as well. Peter's face went white in shock. He sat, quietly, not moving for a moment, then dropped the phone in the cradle.
"Peter?" I called out, worried, then I got out of bed and moved to his side.
Peter looked dazed when I reached him. He gradually came out of it, grabbing my arm he said, "I gotta go, Egon. I gotta get there."
I looked into his blazing green eyes, something was definitely wrong. "Where, Peter? What happened? The phone call—who was it? Your Dad?" I asked quickly.
"No, not Charlie." He answered. "Egon, I… You know that Youth Centre I volunteer at? That was one of the kids I've been working with. He's in trouble. I gotta help him."
"Okay, okay Peter." I said calmly, I placed a hand on his arm, and tried to calm him down. "I'll get you to him. Whatever it takes. Give me an address, something, and I'll drive you in Ecto, right now."
Finally Peter was coming out of his daze. "No, Egon, I'll go. I need to get into some clothes, but I'll go."
"Peter! You're in no shape…" I started to say. Peter's dazed and shell-shocked look was really beginning to frighten me.
"I'm in a lot better shape than that kid." He snapped back. Then he swallowed, realizing how his tone sounded, I guess. "I'm sorry Egon. I really am. I didn't mean it. It's just… Look, this is something I have to do myself, alone. I'll tell you about it when I get home, I swear. Just, right now, let me handle this alone."
I sighed, taking in the psychologist, whose tone brooked no argument.
"All right, Peter," I agreed.
"I shouldn't be long. Don't take any busts until I get back. If another emergency comes up, call me on my cell phone."
He sounded worried, I just nodded at him.
"Hey," he smiled, "Egon, I really am sorry. I shouldn't have snapped at you."
"It's okay. Just be careful, Peter, and hurry back." I urged, calmly.
"I will," responded.
I watched as Peter got up from the chair by the phone, rushed to his closet and quickly dressed. He grabbed his keys and left the firehall. I watched him go with trepidation. Something was wrong, though Peter was better known on our team for relying on his gut instincts, I had instincts of my own when it came to my oldest friend. And those instincts were screaming that right now, something was very wrong with Peter.
When Ray and Winston woke up not even an hour later I told them about the mysterious early morning phone call that had called Peter away. Later Janine arrived and I told her that we wouldn't be going on any busts until Peter returned and maybe not even then.
Damn it, Billy. Thought Peter, as he drove towards the apartment the teenager shared with his mother in the Bronx. You better be pulling some gag, kid.
Peter soon arrived at a 5th Floor walk-up, in a run-down neighborhood in the Bronx. An ambulance and police cars were parked in front of the dilapidated brownstone. A police car blocked the street, and Peter stopped Ecto 1, turned her off and got out.
"There's no ghosts here, ghostbuster!" Shouted the cop, in a nasal New York accent.
"Look, buddy, that's not why I'm here. I'm a friend of the family, okay?" Peter winced a bit at the little white lie, but, from a certain point of view, he wasn't lying. He was friends with Billy. He rushed to the front of the building and pushed his way through the cops.
"Helen?" Peter called, as he reached the building. He saw her standing in the living room. The petite, brown-haired woman, her normally roses-and-cream complexion now red with crying. "Helen?" He said again, quietly.
"You? What are you doing here?! Why didn't you stop him?! Why didn't you warn me?!"
Her anger rolled off Peter's back like water on a duck. "Helen, I…"
She turned away and began crying.
Peter turned away from the woman and approached one of the cops. "What happened?"
"What business is it of yours, ghostbuster?" Said the cop, his voice a think Brooklyn accent.
"Look, I have PhDs in parapsychology and psychology. I volunteer my time at a local youth center near the firehall. I was working with Billy. He called me this morning. He was… distraught. I want to talk to him." Peter hoped that was possible.
"You can't do that."
"Can I just see him?" Peter asked.
The cop looked sympathetically at Peter, "Look, I'm sorry. I didn't know one of the ghostbusters was a shrink. I thought you guys were all scientists or something. The kid…"
"His name is Billy."
"His name was Billy. I'm sorry. He shot himself. In the head. He's dead."
"God…" Peter closed his eyes and swallowed. He'd heard the shot over the phone, but he had hoped it was some sort of mistake. That Billy had fired the gun away from himself. That a car had backfired on the street just as he hung up, anything but this.
"Okay, I…I get the picture. I'll need to make a statement, about what he said on the phone this morning. But right now, his mom, Helen, she needs me more. More than she knows, okay?"
"Yeah. Okay, I'll bring you over to her…maybe I can get her to listen to you."
The cop led Peter over to the now sitting, Helen and said a few quiet words to her. Peter could see she was somewhat calmer, considering… He sat at her side and began talking, quietly. He knew, somehow, what to say. The thought came to him that Egon had claimed on more than one occasion that he was a gifted psychologist, and Peter always smiled at that. But somehow, he just knew how to help Billy's Mom. He knew that there was nothing, nothing that could immediately heal the pain of losing a child. Especially in such a violent, painful way. But Peter kept talking, working with it, and eventually she responded. Eventually it was Helen who was doing the majority of the talking, and Peter just listened. That was the most important part of psychology anyway—knowing how to listen. After a few hours, he felt she was stable enough to leave. He gave her a business card with his private office number at Central and his cell number written on the back. Then he walked out to Ecto and drove home.
I heard the door slam shut and Peter dragging his heels as he entered the building. "Peter?" I asked, as soon as I saw him.
"Not right now, Egon." He said.
I looked at him, his eyes were dead, full of pain. What had happened? What the hell had happened? I thought. I was about to ask again, when he looked at me.
Peter sighed. "Not yet, Egon."
I looked at him, I had no desire to hide the worry from my eyes, so I let it shine on him as I asked silently for some explanation. Any sort of explanation.
"I know I promised Egon. But just…not yet. I can't talk about it, yet." Peter said to me.
I nodded. I knew when to push, but I also knew when to back off. "Okay, Peter, but…"
At that moment the alarm rang. We all rushed down to Janine's desk.
"Janine, I thought I said no calls," I told her.
"It's okay, Egon. Work would be the best thing for me right now," responded Peter.
I looked at him. "If you're sure…"
He just grabbed the slip from Janine and headed out to the garage and Ecto 1.
Ray and Winston soon joined the two of us in the car. Peter was quiet in the back of Ecto. Too quiet. My mind went back to the phone call this morning. I couldn't really remember anything Peter had said on the phone though.
We arrived at the address that Janine had scribbled down. It was an old warehouse. The ghost was a class five, messy but nothing we couldn't handle. I watched Peter like a hawk during the bust, but he seemed okay. Actually, running all over the warehouse seemed to be doing him some good. The exercise was relaxing him a bit and he seemed to be really enjoying it. Before long we had the ghost in a trap and we headed for home.
The rest of the afternoon was quiet. Dinner in the firehall, that night, was subdued. After dinner, Peter turned in early, and Ray went to watch a movie.
I joined Ray in the TV room, standing near the couch. As soon as I entered, Ray said, "Egon, What is wrong with Peter?"
"I wish I knew," I responded, "There was that call this morning, that I told you and Winston about. Obviously, it didn't go well, wherever he went this morning. God, I wish he'd just talk to us."
"Do you think it's his Dad? Maybe something happened to him."
"No. I asked this morning. He specifically said it had nothing to do with Charlie."
"He wouldn't lie about that. Not now, Raymond."
"I know, no I didn't think he would, but Egon?"
"I just don't know." I sat heavily on the sofa, dropping neatly next to Ray.
Ray sighed and continued to stare at the TV. Eventually the movie ended, and we both went to bed.
I slept lightly that night. Then I heard it—Peter had woken up. I listened as he rolled over and I knew he was just staring at the ceiling. Then he got out of bed. I heard him, and waited a minute, then followed. I found him on the roof, staring at the sky. Amazingly, even with New York's light pollution, you could still see a few bright stars. The stars, and the moon, a small white sliver on the south-western horizon. Peter didn't seem to realise I was there.
"Peter," I said, quietly, not wanting to startle him too badly, as I walked out onto the flat roof behind him.
He jumped, "Geez, Egon, warn a guy, will ya?" Peter swallowed, "Sorry."
"What are you doing up here?" I asked, concerned.
"Thinking," he answered, quietly.
"Weird place to think, for a man who's afraid of heights." I said, trying to coax something out of him, a reaction, anything.
"That's why I'm nowhere near the edge, Spengs." Peter sighed, then turned around. "Okay Egon, I'll tell you what happened this morning, okay?"
I looked at his blazing green eyes, trying to read his thoughts. Carefully, I said, "Peter…you sure? Look—I care about you, but I don't want to push you. Not until you're ready."
"I'm ready Spengs. I've got a few things to tell you—I'm finally ready, okay?"
There was something in his tone, something I'd rarely heard before. God, this was not going to be good.
He explained how he had been working at the youth centre. I knew that already, but I let him work into what was going on, and just nodded.
"There was this kid there, Billy. No father, just his Mom. Smart kid. And a real smart mouth." He harrumphed, "Remind you of anybody?" Not waiting for an answer, He continued, "Well, I was working with Billy. Talking to him. Giving him advice. Encouraging him, trying to help him."
I opened my mouth, about to confirm my belief in his considerable professional skills. But his eyes silenced me.
"He was a good kid, basically, Egon…a real good kid. I don't know how I missed it. Damn it, I should have realised, seen the signs, what good is my degree if…"
I noticed Peter's slip into the past tense. I gripped his arm. "What happened?"
"This morning, he called me. He was upset, distraught, not making any sense, going on and on, rambling." Peter stopped. "Then I heard the shot."
"God…" I mumbled, closing my eyes, "You can't think… It's not your fault, Peter!" I insisted.
"Egon, I failed him." He said the words quietly.
"No, Peter. He failed himself. It's not your fault." I insisted. How was I going to convince Peter he wasn't to blame for this?
Peter shrugged that off. "That's not all, Egon. There's something I've never told you. Or Ray. At first, I was ashamed. I didn't want you to know. Later…later, I just didn't want to hurt you. Okay? I knew if I told you, I'd hurt you, and god, I couldn't do that."
A cold fist slammed into my gut, in an instant I felt I knew what he was going to tell me. I simultaneously didn't want to know, and wanted him to get it out in the open so I could help him. I settled for just looked at Peter, earnestly. Then I grabbed him by the shoulders, "Peter…" I wanted to say more, but words failed me. I just held onto him, studying his face by moonlight and starlight.
But Peter pulled away from me, and turned away for a moment. When he turned back, his eyes were filled with memory, "I slit my wrists Egon. I was sixteen. My Mom had just died. The popular kids at school, the ones who had called me their friend, they drifted away. I think, looking back on it, I think they were too young to deal with death, they were just scared of it."
I closed my eyes, pain flooding my soul. Dear God. It was worse than I had thought. To think that I had been close to losing Peter and not even known it. That I would have never even met this man. "Peter…" I mumbled.
"I survived it, okay Egon? I…I found, I was assigned a doc who turned out to be great. He saved my life. Changed my life. Made me believe I didn't have to end up like Charlie. Became kinda' a mentor, helped me get into Columbia, inspired me to make psych my major."
"Peter, I…" I swallowed. "Thank god, that you, as you succinctly put it, survived it." I said, calmly. Then I stepped closer to him.
This time he didn't pull away. "This just… It brought everything back. So clear. If anybody, anybody should have known what was going on in that kid's head it was me. Not only did I study this in college. I'd been there. Damn it. Billy was only sixteen!" Peter had balled his hand in a fist, and he hit his other hand, angrily.
I grabbed his shoulders. Thinking fast, I said, "Peter, listen to me. I'm not a psychologist, not like you. But this I do know. Sometimes, sometimes people…" I could barely say it, "Sometimes people like you are calling out for help, they really don't want to succeed. But other people, other people they… Peter, Billy manipulated you. Why would he call you like that? Why would he fire the gun, while you were listening on the phone? He wasn't looking for help, Peter. He was throwing his death in your face."
He looked at the me, "Egon, I don't think…"
"Yes, Peter. I mean, yes, Peter, that was what he was doing," I sounded as resolute as I could.
Peter closed his eyes, then opened them, nodding. "I drove over there. Cops were all over the place, reporters, paramedics. I talked to his mom. Asked her a few standard questions, in between trying to calm her down and counsel her. She hadn't seen any sign either. Not even anything that she didn't realise what it meant. But he was sixteen."
"I know. And I'm sorry." I didn't know what else to say. I was still in shock about what he'd told me. And frankly, I was angry at the kid that upset him like this. But he was speaking again and I listened.
"Thanks Egon. Egon, one more thing. Can we not tell Ray?"
"Not tell me what?"
Ray had picked that moment to come out on the roof.
"About something mind-numbingly stupid I did as a teenager, Ray."
I saw Ray nod, "I think I can handle it, Peter. Anything you want to tell me."
Peter sighed heavily. "Yeah, Ray. I guess you can. It's just it was awful hard dredging up old memories once."
"I'll tell Ray, Peter, with your permission." I volunteered, even though I knew how hard it would be.
"Permission granted, Spengs. Just remember, both of you. I…I've kept this… Look I haven't talked about it since it happened to anyone. And I didn't tell you guys at first, because I was ashamed. Later, I just didn't want to hurt you. Okay, Ray? I just didn't want to hurt you."
"Yeah, Peter. Sure. Egon—What is he talking about?" Ray had turned to face me with the question.
I sighed, and with one hand on Peter's arm and one hand on Ray's, under the velvet black sky, I began to tell Ray what Peter had told me. First, I told him about Billy. I watched Peter carefully, he seemed okay so far. Ray nodded, calmly, as I told him, remarking, "Gee, I'm sorry." To Peter. I don't know if Ray really understood it all, but he was determined to be there for Peter. Then came the hard part.
"Ray, this…" my voice broke, and I tried again, "This was especially difficult for Peter because he had…" I calmed myself, then forced myself to say it. "He had tried to kill himself as a teenager, Ray." I know my head dropped.
Peter leaned over to me and put a hand on my arm. "I silt my wrists, Ray. When I was sixteen. I was going through a really rough time, and I got very depressed, and one day it just got to be too much."
Raymond handled it better than I did, I think. He moved closer to Peter and put a hand on his arm. "Peter, I love you. Egon loves you. Winston and Janine love you. You know that, right?"
"Well, yeah," said Peter.
"You're not to do anything like that again, are you?" Ray continued.
"Yeah, Ray, Egon. I won't. I love you guys. I love our life here—busting, the firehall, all of it. I won't leave you. Not if I can help it."
I was so glad to hear Peter say those words. And his voice, I knew from the tone in his voice that he meant it.
"Good." Ray nodded.
I reached over to Peter and embraced him. Peter returned the embrace, somewhat surprised. He knew I wasn't usually very demonstrative. Then I motioned Raymond over, and he joined us in another warm embrace. I loved him as well, I realised.
"Now I think it's time you get some sleep, Peter." I said.
Peter yawned, and nodded. We slipped quietly down to the bunkroom, and collapsed in our beds.