The Real Ghostbusters Fan Fiction
Title: All Things Come to an End
an alternate ending to Russian About"
by Olivia Sutton
Originally Written: 31 May 1997
Categories: Angst, Tragedy, death story, episode-dependent
Rating: T (PG-13)
Warnings: Minor violence and swearing, character death.
Disclaimer: I actually have no idea who owns "The Real Ghostbusters", but I know I don't. Additionally, this fanfic isn't meant to impose on the rights of whoever does, and no money is being made from this fanfic. This is for all the angst fans out there. Enjoy!
Author Notes: There's actually a story behind this particular story. I used to read a lot of The Real Ghostbusters fanzines (still would, except there don't seem to be many new ones coming out these days, and I'm pretty short of cash anyways). Anyway, the 'zines were filled with hurt/comfort and angst-- but there were NEVER any death stories. There were, however, a LOT of stories where a Ghostbuster appeared to be dead, only for it to turn out he wasn't. I began to want to read a real-live, honest-to-goodness death story. Eventually, I wrote one. And searched, and searched, and searched for a home for it. But no one would actually publish a RGB death story, much to my annoyance. Anyway, this story languished on my hard drive for years (through TWO computers). I finally decided to publish it here. I did try to catch any typos and punctuation mistakes, tho'. Read and enjoy! Please review, this may be old to me, but it's new to you and constructive reviews are most welcome. Oh, and please note, this story starts with a transcript of the relevant part of the original story, "Russian About", noted by the italics.
Summary: Although they never talked about it, the Ghostbusters always knew that at some point, their luck would no longer hold out, and they would lose one of their number. When the Ghostbusters face one of the Old Ones in Russia, will Peter pay the ultimate price?
All Things Come to an End
by Olivia Sutton
As the leader of the Russian cult shouted the last few words of the incantation to raise the Old One, The Nameless Book glowed with the power of the spell. Winston, Ray, and Peter, in perfect unison, fierce determination lighting their faces, fired their proton streams at it. The Book glowed as it absorbed the proton energy, then fell into the pit with the Old One. The entire cavern began to shake as Winston said, "Uh-oh."
The cult leader announced proudly the arrival of the Old One and his army.
"Excuse me, has it occurred to you," pointed out Peter, leveling his proton thrower at the cult leader, "that your biggest weapon against us was that book? And now it's down there and you're, uh, you're pretty much up here, with us."
"Good point," answered the cult leader as his minions began to flee, before he also ran away, trying to escape the collapsing cavern and the Ghostbusters.
"Okay, come on!" urged Egon as the four Ghostbusters and Katrina ran to the edge of the crater in the cavern floor. Inside the hole, the Old One was beginning to rise.
"Not too close," warned Ray. "There are things down there no one should see."
"What will you do?" asked Katrina.
A brilliant ray of light like a immense search beam shot up from the cavern floor.
"Egon?" asked Peter, hoping his friend had some idea to stop the Old One and save them and the world.
"I'm sorry, Peter," answered Egon, simply, stumped without a plan for pulling them out of the fire this time.
The five looked in horror at the cavern, then they heard a shout and looked up in surprise. Slimer had arrived carrying a box marked, "Big Trouble."
"Quick everyone, give me your proton packs!" yelled Egon, stripping off his own pack. The other Ghostbusters quickly followed suit. "It's our one chance," Egon continued, while working on his device.
"Hurry Egon, he's getting close!" Peter yelled, as he watched the Old One rising from the cavern. "Once he's out we're finished!" he added.
"What is this contraption, anyway?" asked Winston, as he watched the physicist furiously assembling the machine from the box.
"It uses the power of all four proton packs to create a rip in time and space. Like a black hole, it will absorb everything it touches," explained Egon.
"Boy, when did you find time to test something like this?" asked Ray, watching the scientist work.
Egon glanced up at Ray, "I haven't tested it."
"But if we give you our packs and it doesn't work, we're defenseless," said Winston.
"I'm hip," Egon agreed as he finished the last few connections and stood up. "That's got it," he announced.
"But it's so heavy," said Ray, holding up his hands in a gesture of futility. "We can't throw it into the pit from here!" Then he added in a no nonsense tone, "Someone will have to carry it right to the edge."
Peter had backed up to the group and stood behind Katrina as Egon finished his work and explained the machine. He had heard every word that Ray and Egon had said and realized how much danger they were all in. He gave Katrina a quick kiss on the cheek and said, "We'll always have Paris, kiddo." Then grunting as he lifted the machine, he ran for the crevice.
"Piotr, no!" said Katrina.
Egon grabbed her arm. "This way, hurry!" They all ran for the cover of some nearby rocks.
Peter set the machine down and flipped the activation/arming switch. The machine began a countdown in soft, feminine tones, "Twenty...eighteen...sixteen..."
Yelling, "Eat this, big shot!", he lifted the machine again and flung it into the gaping hole. He began to run, then turned. What he saw transfixed him in horror. Rising out of the cavern was a gigantic red and yellow tentacled beast. Peter's eyes opened wide in terror. He screamed.
"Fifteen...fourteen..." continued the countdown voice.
"Hurry, Peter!" yelled Ray.
The shadow of the Old One fell over Peter as it rose higher and higher. Peter turned and ran for all he was worth. But he was looking for some form of shelter and not where he was going. Peter's foot struck a rock and down he tumbled. He hit hard and began to scramble up. At that moment Egon's device exploded. It's energy began to draw in the Old One. The cavern shook. Falling rocks pummeled Peter.
Egon was huddled against a large rock, he had his knees drawn up against his chest. His head was resting on his knees and his arms and hands were over it, protecting it. Near by, Winston and Ray were in similar positions. The shaking continued a moment longer, then ceased. A few more rocks fell, then there was nothing but clouds of dust. Soon, that too cleared away. Egon carefully looked up, as did Ray.
Seeing Ray was unharmed, Egon yelled for Peter and Winston.
"Here!" yelled Winston as he uncurled himself.
"Peter!" yelled Egon, looking around in the shelter behind the rocks.
"Oh..." said Katrina, "My head..." She sat up, groggily, her hand covering a bloody cut on her forehead.
Egon, not seeing Peter with Ray, Winston, or Katrina, got up and shouted his name again. Then he turned, looking towards the gaping crater in the cavern floor. What he saw sent his heart leaping in his chest. "Peter," he whispered, shocked.
The psychologist was sprawled on the cavern floor. His jumpsuit was covered in blood and dirt. Egon ran towards his friend, "Peter!" he yelled, his voice returning, "Ray! Winston! Help, Peter's been hurt!" he shouted as he reached the downed man.
Egon knelt besides Peter, and felt for broken bones. Finding none, he gently and carefully turned him over. A gash along his forehead oozed blood from where Peter's head had struck a rock. Blood and dirt stained the front of his jumpsuit. "Peter, answer me," Egon pleaded.
There was no response from Peter. His face was white, the features lax. Egon checked that Peter was level on the ground, and bent to listen to his chest. He heard nothing! Winston and Ray had joined Egon. Winston knelt at Egon's side. "Oh, man..." he said, as he looked at the injured man.
Ray knelt at the other side of Peter, directly across from Egon. Katrina stood behind him and Slimer floated behind Ray. Egon began compressions on Peter's chest. "Ray, help me. Breathe for him, Raymond," insisted Egon.
Ray began to assist Egon with his attempt to revive Peter. Winston checked his watch, after five minutes he looked up at the two. "Guys, it's been five minutes."
"No," said Ray, as he pulled back from his friend, "No! We haven't..."
"Ray, help me!" insisted Egon, his frustration evident at Peter's failure to revive.
Ray put his hand over Egon's, stopping the compressions of Peter's chest. "Egon. It's too late, he's gone."
Egon stopped and looked up, "No..." he mumbled.
"There's been no breathing and no pulse for five minutes, Egon." Winston added, "You know I love Peter too, but it's over. We can't do any more for him.'
Egon reluctantly checked Peter's carotid artery. "Oh, god," he mumbled, "Please, no." Egon's eyes filled with tears.
Ray scrambled up from Peter's side then and went over to Egon. He put an arm around Egon's shoulders. "Egon... there's nothing you could have done. There's nothing we can do," he said, his voice cracking with pain.
Winston slowly got up, and went to Egon and Ray. He put his hands on their shoulders. All three hugged each other in a group expression of desperation, support and sorrow. After they reluctantly let go, Winston said, "Let's get out of here. We need to bring Peter home."
"Okay," said Egon, as he bent down and brushed Peter's hair out of his face tenderly. "Ray, Winston, you guys take his feet. I'll take his head," they each bent to their task. "One, two, lift," the three lifted the fallen Ghostbuster and slowly made their way out of the cavern.
The next couple of hours went by quickly. Egon made arrangements to fly Peter's body back to New York. He also cancelled the rest of the Ghostbusters' stay at the Paranormal Conference and booked three seats on the same flight back to New York. By mutual agreement, the three remaining Ghostbusters decided to wait until they saw Janine in person to tell her about what had happened.
Egon stared out of the 747 window into the black night, as the plane headed west. Ray sat next to him ignoring the open magazine on his lap. On the aisle, Winston sat, quietly contemplating. Egon sighed and continued to stare outside.
"Egon..." said Ray.
"Yes, Ray?" Egon answered without turning towards him.
"It wasn't your fault." Ray stated simply, as he looked at Egon.
"The hell it isn't," answered Egon, as he continued to stare outside, then he turned towards Ray and said, "My machine killed him."
"The explosion killed him," said Winston.
"Same thing," answered Egon dispassionately. "My machine exploded and it killed Peter. That's it. It's my fault." He turned back towards the window.
Ray whistled, thinking about what Egon had said.
Winston turned to Egon, "Your machine got the Old One. It worked, if it hadn't we'd all be dead," he pointed out firmly.
"Winston, I..." Egon paused and added, "No, I built the machine and it's my responsibility."
"Egon, you can't," Ray said, shocked at Egon's guilt-ridden insistence.
Egon turned towards him, "Ray..." he sighed.
Before he could continue, Ray insisted, "Egon, there's nothing you could have done. It's. Not. Your. Fault. The explosion killed Pet-" his voice faded and then gained strength again, "him. I mean Peter. We've always known the risks. How could you have prevented it? Thrown your machine in the crevice yourself?" He looked into Egon's eyes and saw only pain and guilt. "Then you would be the one in the box in the bottom of this plane, Egon." He put a hand on the physicist's shoulder. "Remember the look Peter gave us before he grabbed the device? He knew the risk but he did it anyway. He knew our only chance to defeat the Old One was to get it right in there. I'm the one that suggested someone would have to take it to the very edge." Ray let go of the physicist, and withdrew into himself.
Egon looked sharply at Ray, "Raymond, you can't..." He paused then started again, "Don't blame yourself! Peter wouldn't want that."
"Peter wouldn't want you to feel guilty either, Egon," answered Ray.
Egon brightened a bit at that, then fell into depressed silence. Little else was said as the plane flew on westward. Eventually, each of the remaining Ghostbusters managed a little sleep on the long overseas flight.
The door to Ghostbuster Central opened, and Janine looked up from her desk. "Back already, guys?" she asked, her tones sharp and nasal, with a Brooklyn accent.
Egon and Ray slowly trudged towards Janine's desk.
"Janine..." began Egon, his voice tight.
Janine sensed that something was wrong then, she noticed Peter and Winston had yet to walk into the building. She drew in a deep breath. "Where's Peter? What happened? How bad is it?" she fired off the questions rapidly. "How did Doctor Venkman get hurt? And where's Winston?" she blurted out, rising from her desk chair.
"Winston's okay, Janine," answered Ray. "He's just parking Ecto. Then he skirted around the corner of Janine's desk, until he stood behind her, on her right side. Egon also joined the secretary, standing on her left. Ray gently told her, "Janine, Peter's..." his voice broke, but he continued grimly, "Janine, it was an accident... there was an explosion..."
Janine looked at Ray, her expression horrified. "No... God, no, please..." her voice became quiet, "don't say it, Ray."
"Peter's been killed, Janine," Egon said, flatly, placing a hand on her arm to soften the blow of his words.
Janine's knees gave out and she put her hands on the desk to support herself. Egon, with one hand on her arm, and the other on her opposite shoulder guided her back into her chair.
"No! No, this can't be happening!" she shouted, automatically, as she realized her worst fears for the Ghostbusters coming true.
Ray knelt besides her chair and put one hand on her knee. "Janine... I..." he couldn't think of a way to help her and stopped talking.
Janine began to sniffle, then put her head on the desk and cried. Egon had tears in his eyes as he stroked her head. Ray backed away and stood up, but he stayed behind the desk, standing in shared, silent support.
Janine stopped crying as quickly as she had started and pulled herself together. "I'm okay," she mumbled. Egon pulled away from her, quietly.
"I'm okay," Janine mumbled again, and pushed her chair back from her desk. "Just let me go..." her voice cracked and she fought down a last few harsh breaths and sobs, "...just let me go freshen up."
She got up. Egon and Ray, got out of the redhead's way. She began walking towards the rest room, but her knees gave again. "Damn," muttered Janine, as she tried to regain her balance. Egon rushed to her side, and held her waist and shoulders, while she recovered her balance.
"Janine... I... I'm sorry," stammered Egon, his eyes bright with unshed tears.
"I'm okay now," answered Janine and she slowly wandered over to the bathroom.
Ray turned and watched her walk by him, her face full of pain and sorrow. "Let's go sit in the rec-room, or the kitchen or something," he muttered, motioning to Janine's desk and Peter's adjacent office. "This is... it's too full of memories."
"Agreed," answered Egon. "But let's wait for Janine, I don't think she should be alone right now."
The door opened and both Egon and Ray looked up expectantly. Winston entered and joined the other two Ghostbusters.
Ray again suggested waiting upstairs. Egon and Winston left while he waited for Janine. As Egon and Winston disappeared at the top of the stairs, Janine joined Ray.
The rec room proved to be full of memories as well. When Ray and Janine reached the third floor, they found Egon and Winston in the kitchen. Winston sat at the battered kitchen table with a mug of coffee before him. Egon was standing near the coffee maker. Janine moved over to the table and sat down, Ray sat to her right across from Winston.
"Coffee? Ray, Janine?" asked Egon.
"Yes," muttered both.
Egon poured out three cups of coffee and carefully balanced them as he walked over to the table. He put one at his place across from Janine and set one each in front of the others. As Egon sat down, he watched Janine and Ray each personalizing their coffee, the secretary with half-and-half and the engineer with sugar. Egon sipped his black coffee.
Suddenly, Slimer zoomed into the room. "Guys back," he said, then he noticed the missing Ghostbuster, "Where Peter?"
Ray swallowed hard. "Peter is dead, Slimer. You were there, at the cavern."
Slimer looked confused, then floated closer to Ray. Ray reached up and patted the ghost's head, then grimaced and absent-mindedly flicked Slimer's green slime from his hand onto the floor.
"No more Peter?" asked the confused ghost.
"That's right," answered Egon, "Oh, god, what am I saying?" he added.
Winston placed his hand on the physicist's arm, "Egon... I was going to say it's all right, but it isn't, man. But we'll survive this. We have to, for Peter's sake."
"Thank you, Winston," answered Egon.
Ray looked up at Egon and Winston, "The last thing Peter would want would be for us to self-destruct, or close the business, right Winston?"
"Right, Ray," returned Winston, his face set in grim determination.
The four and Slimer kept moody silence for what felt like hours. Any conversation anyone tried to introduce soon fell flat. They continued to sit and drink their coffee.
Peter became aware suddenly. He was lying on the cold stone floor of the cave where the Ghostbusters had faced the Old One. His memory was a little fuzzy. He remembered Ray's voice jolting him out of his terror-filled immobility. But everything after that was very, very blurry. Peter put his hand out to gain leverage to force himself upright, and his hand passed right into the stone floor. Uh-oh, thought Peter.
He managed to sit upright and he called out, "Ray, Egon, Winston! Hey, guys, Where are you?" No one answered.
Peter found himself upright, his feet floating a few feet above the cavern floor. Floating, he thought, that can't be right. Suddenly he was down again, landing on his keister. Peter thought about moving and found he was floating again. He made a thorough search of the cavern but found nothing. Egon, Ray and Winston were nowhere to be found. Neither were their bodies... much to Peter's relief. Katrina, he thought, then he concentrated on reaching her.
Suddenly Peter was in a small, cramped, but clean apartment. Katrina was standing near a small table, ironing a blouse.
"Katrina!" he called.
She looked up, a sad look on her face as if remembering something. Then she continued her ironing.
Peter moved closer to her, concentrating hard on getting his transparent form to solidify. "Katrina!" he called again, trying to reach her.
This time she heard him, "Piotr? Where are you?"
Peter concentrated harder on solidifying, "Can you see me now?" he asked.
"No," she answered, "I can hear you. Why are you here, oh spirit," she said, adding the last few words because it was something she had been taught in her studies of parapsychology.
"Drop the 'oh spirit' routine," Peter said dispassionately, "I'm Peter. What happened? Where are the other Ghostbusters?"
"The other Ghostbusters went back to United States."
She pronounced it, "ooh-ny-ted". She continued on, "You were caught by the explosion and..." she stopped, then said, "Are you a ghost, Piotr?"
Peter shrugged, then realizing Katrina couldn't see him he said, "Don't know... guess so," he paused. "I gotta get back to New York."
"How did you get here?" asked Katrina.
"I concentrated on you," he answered. "Oh, I see."
He concentrated and was gone.
"Piotr?" asked Katrina, but she was once again alone.
Peter found himself in Janine's Brooklyn apartment. He was exhausted. He twinged as a wave of pain hit him. He waited until it faded, then floated around the apartment. He floated into the kitchen at the sounds of Janine banging cupboard doors and kitchen drawers. He watched her as she made a drink and sat at her kitchen table. The look of remorse on the redhead's face sent splinters into Peter's heart. Peter had cared about Janine as the younger sister he never had, and it hurt him to see her so miserable.
"Janine," he whispered.
She didn't appear to notice; she just stared into her drink, lost in her own thoughts.
"Janine!" he said again, louder, concentrating on reaching her, and on forming even a little more solid ectoplasm. He knew from his experience at Katrina's that he had to really concentrate to hold a conversation with a person.
Janine took another sip from her drink, and appeared not to notice Peter.
Peter began to pace back and forth across Janine's kitchen. How was he going to reach her?
"Janine!" he shouted, then he floated over to her chair, and whispered in her ear, "Janine, it's Peter."
Janine blinked and looked around, but still couldn't see Peter.
Thoroughly annoyed and frustrated, Peter dragged his hand through his hair and said, "Damn it, Janine. Listen to me!"
Janine jumped. "Peter?!"
"You heard me!" Peter exclaimed, then repeated in a lost voice, "You heard me?"
"Peter!" Janine jumped up, "Uh, Where are you?"
"I'm right here," he floated in front of her.
Janine looked very scared at that, "Uh, Peter-- Why can't I see you?"
"I dunno," answered Peter, hanging his head.
"What's going on?" she asked.
"Janine, I don't know," Peter sounded very frustrated. Then he said in a very slow and deliberate tone, "I want you to tell me exactly what happened to me."
Janine blinked at that. "Peter, I don't know," she took a deep breath. "The guys didn't tell me many details. I guess I didn't want to know."
Peter considered that for about ten seconds then decided to blurt out what had been bothering him so much. "Am I dead, Janine?"
Janine lost all the color from her face. For a second Peter thought the feisty redhead would lose it. Instead she said, "We thought so, Peter. But if you're here, now, like this, maybe..." her voice rose in hopeful anticipation.
Peter got very, very quiet.
"Peter! Are you there?" asked Janine.
"Yeah, Janine," answered Peter, "Janine, I... I just wanted to say..." he stopped, shrugged, realized that Janine couldn't see him, and changed his mind about what he was going to say. "Goodbye, Janine."
Janine stared into space, then looked at her drink. I gotta stop buying such cheap booze, she thought, then went to bed.
Peter materialized in the firehouse. The weakness and pain that had hit him before, assailed him again, the second he materialized. He rested for quite a bit before floating up to the sleeping quarters.
"Ahhh!" yelled Egon, then he jolted awake. Momentarily he was disoriented, but as he sank back against his pillow he regained his equilibrium. He reached over to his bedside table and put on his glasses, then he glanced towards the bunk next to his. It was empty except for Slimer floating above it, sadly. It had not been a nightmare, he realized, but a memory. Peter really was dead.
Peter entered the firehouse sleeping quarters in time to hear Egon's mumbled, "Oh, Peter." Egon looked even worse than Janine had, Peter noticed. He took a deep breath, and pleaded, "Egon, What's happening to me?"
Egon looked up sharply. "Peter?" he whispered.
"Egon, I..." Peter floated closer to the bed.
Egon jumped back. "I must be dreaming," he said to himself, "Ray, Ray! Winston!" he called for the others, needing a confirmation of the voice he thought he heard.
Ray woke up and rubbed the sleep out of his eyes. "Egon, what's..." he sat up straight. "Peter!"
At Ray's cry, Winston woke up. "What's..." he looked over at Ray and Egon.
"You can see me, Ray?" said Peter, shocked.
"Well, yeah. You're kinda' faded looking, but yeah. What happened?"
"I wish I knew. What happened in that cavern in Russia?"
"Peter?" asked Winston, realizing something weird was going on.
"Hi, Winston," Peter answered Winston.
"You..." Egon took a deep breath, answering Peter's question, "You armed my black hole device and threw it at the Old One. And you were caught in the explosion, Peter." Egon's voice dropped an octave, "It was my fault. I should have programmed a longer timer sequence."
"It wasn't Egon's fault," added Ray. "I suggested someone would have to get the device to the edge of the crevice."
"It wasn't anyone's fault," said Winston, glaring at Egon and Ray, "It was an explosion. We miss you, Peter."
"Whoa... I'm sure I'm not here to assign blame," Peter answered the other Ghostbusters. A twinge of pain hit him, and he faded from Ray's view.
"Peter!" Ray jumped up and raced across to Egon's bed, where he had last seen Peter.
"I'm here, Ray," said Peter.
Ray looked at the area where the voice came from, "I can't see you, now."
"I really not surprised, Janine and Katrina couldn't see me at all. I'm tired, guys," he said.
"Peter, your voice is fading. Can you form more solidly?" asked Egon.
Peter concentrated, but the pang hit again and he gasped at the pain, then ignoring it, he put all his concentration into solidifying. Egon picked up his PKE meter.
"Can you hear me?" asked Peter.
The meter beeped, and Egon studied the reading. "Yes, I can, Peter," he said. "These readings show that you're a very weak Class Four, the reading even fluctuated into a high-level Class Three for a few seconds."
"That's bad, isn't it?" asked Peter.
"I don't know," answered Egon stoically, "Peter, I..." Egon swallowed. "I'm sorry, it was my fault."
Peter looked up sharply at that, his senses alert. "No, Egon. It wasn't anyone's fault. I knew the risk I was taking, I remember that much," Peter paused to let his words sink in, then added quietly, "I couldn't let one of you guys take that risk."
The physicist considered that. "Peter, I..." he stalled and then his voice strengthened, "Peter you can't imagine what... how I felt when Ray said..."
Ray moved closer to Egon and put a comradely arm on his shoulder.
Peter meanwhile thought back to the time Egon had been destabilized and had returned as a ghost, he knew what Egon meant. Abruptly, he changed the subject. He had to find an answer to what had bothered him since he'd awakened in the cavern in Russia. "Can you tell me what happened in the cavern?" he asked.
"What do you remember?" asked Ray.
"I remember hearing Egon and you discussing the machine. I remember thinking I had to take it over to the Old One before one of you. I didn't want to see one of you guys get hurt," Peter brushed back his hair and concentrated on forming more solidly.
"Hey, I can see you now!" announced Ray with enthusiasm.
"I remember grabbing the machine and saying something as I threw it into the hole. Then I turned and ran. When I looked back, I was so scared I couldn't move," Peter smiled at Ray. "Thanks, buddy," he said.
"After that I guess I tripped. I just remember hitting the rock floor, then an explosion, then nothing. It's all blurry."
Egon looked very quiet. "After the explosion, I called out to everyone. You were the only one who didn't answer, Peter," the physicist's voice shook, but he continued on, "I got there as fast as I could. You were already gone," Egon expelled the breath he hadn't realized he was holding.
Peter looked at Egon, and realized how much pain he was in. "I'm sorry. It must have been..." he didn't complete the thought, "Egon, I didn't want to make you remember, but I had to know."
"What now?" asked Egon.
"I'm not sure," said Peter, then he doubled up with pain, it took what seemed like forever to concentrate his thoughts together and re-form. He was barely conscious of Egon saying, "He's fading."
"I think I need to rest," Peter said.
All traces of the psychologist disappeared. Egon's PKE meter went dark and Ray deflated as he realized Peter was no longer in front of him.
"Uh, guys... What just happened?" asked Winston.
"That was Peter, I know it," said Ray.
The color drained from Egon's face, "I think we were just visited by Peter's ghost," his voice trembled, "God, it's so hard losing him, and now..."
Ray perched on the edge of Egon's bed. Winston moved in closer to lend his support.
"He sounded like he was in pain," said Winston.
"He was," answered Ray simply.
"Peter's readings kept dipping as he was talking to us. I've read a few cases of ghosts who only appear for a brief period before dissipating," stated Egon.
Ray whitened at that. "You mean this could have been the only time we'll see him?"
"Or that he has a limited time to finish..." Egon's voice faltered, then gained strength, "to finish what he has to do."
"What do you think he has to do, Egon?" asked Ray. "Something concerning one of us?"
"I don't know, Raymond," said the blond physicist. "First thing tomorrow morning I'm going to go through Peter's papers. Maybe I'll find something," he sighed.
Ray realized then, how much Egon was hurting, "Egon, I..."
"I know, I miss him too," answered Egon, refusing the comfort that Ray was offering.
"We all miss him," said Winston, his eyes downcast.
The three sat in companionable silence, then reluctantly each returned to his own bed and tried to sleep.
Egon awoke early the next morning. He couldn't return to sleep, so instead he silently padded to the kitchen and started the coffee. Once it finished brewing, he poured himself a cup and went to Peter's office. He opened the safe and took out four large tan paper envelopes, sifted through them and put three back in the safe. The envelopes contained the wills and papers of each of the Ghostbusters. Egon carried the envelope inscribed "Peter Venkman" over to Peter's desk, sat down and opened it. He took several papers out of the envelope, including: the business papers for Ghostbusters, Inc., the mortgages on the firehouse and Ray's parent's house, a general accounting register, Peter's will, and letters addressed to each of the Ghostbusters and to Janine. Egon carefully read everything except the letters. Once he finished the business papers and wills, he picked up Peter's letter to him.
Silently, Egon read the letter. Peter's words on paper broke all of his resolve. Egon lowered his face in his arms and cried. He cried for his friend that he had lost and the gaping Peter-shaped hole the loss would leave in his life. There was also the prospect of keeping the Ghostbusting business going... without Peter. And there was the sense of all the things that he and Peter would now never do together.
It was Ray who found Egon, asleep at Peter's desk, obviously exhausted from the previous night's experience. Ray saw that Egon had Peter's papers spread out in front of him on the desk. He was beginning to leaf through the papers when Egon abruptly woke up.
"Oh, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to wake you, I..." started Ray.
"Ray, listen to me. Peter paid off the mortgages, all of them, the one on your parent's house, the one of the firehall, all of them."
"But that's..." his gaze took an inward turn as he began to figure out the amount in his head.
"He has an adjusted scale here, Ray. The first three years we were in this business, we charged more than we do now. And there's papers showing how we make-up for the cases we do for free, like Mrs. Haversham's attic ghost, by charging extra to people who can afford it, like the city of New York."
"Well, I always suspected that Peter had a creative way of billing," Ray smiled, thinking back to Peter's loud griping any time they weren't paid for a bust.
"His will gives a few personal items to each of us, and he wants us to find his Dad and explain exactly what happened to him, the rest of his money is to be held in a trust fund, so we can keep the business going in rough times."
Egon continued, "He wrote me a letter. It's a beautiful testament to our friendship. There's letters for you, Winston, and Janine, too, here," He motioned to the sealed envelopes on the desk. "Peter had a premonition, Raymond, something he never mentioned to me. He says that he always felt he would be the first of us to..." Egon paused, and took a deep breath, "Die. He says he fudged the receipts and settled the loans and mortgages because he wanted the business to be on firm ground," Egon held up the letter and looked at Ray, "...for when he wasn't around anymore."
Ray moved to Egon's side and put a comforting arm around his shoulder, "I'm sorry you were alone when you found this Egon. It must have been a shock. God, this means Peter is really gone, he's not coming back."
Egon looked at Ray, whose chin was set, his mouth in a firm line. "Ray, I," he paused, "I'm going to miss him," he sat up straight. "Ray, all these papers are perfectly in order. Perfectly. There's nothing here that's unfinished or left open to chance. Peter even said he wanted to be buried in his Ghostbuster uniform, a clean one, and in a small private ceremony. There's nothing here indicating why he became a ghost."
Ray looked wistful as he listened to Egon's words, "Then why? Because of us? Is one of us in danger?"
"Maybe. Or... I don't want to have to say this, but I think... I think Peter may need our help to peacefully dissipate."
"You mean disresolve? Egon, don't you want Peter here?"
Egon looked sharply at Ray "Of course I do! Since college you and Peter have been like brothers to me. I love Peter. I don't want to lose him, even if all we have is his ghost!"
Ray was taken aback by Egon's anger, quietly he said, "But then why?"
"Ray," Egon grabbed Ray's arm, "Didn't you notice how much pain Peter experienced when he appeared to us?"
Ray brought his hand up to his chin and leaned into his hand, "Yeah, now that I think about it."
Egon carefully put both arms on Ray's shoulders and looked into Ray's soft brown eyes. "Can you do it, Raymond?"
Ray swallowed, "You want me to talk Peter into dissipating?"
"I'll be there. Janine and Winston will be there. But you are the only one with the background for this."
Ray sharply broke Egon's contact and turned away, "Let's ask Peter."
"Okay, Raymond," answered Egon, his voice dropping back into its stoic style.
The two scientists found Winston in the firehouse communal bedroom. Egon explained his theory. Winston remarked that although he didn't want to permanently lose Peter, if their friend needed their help one final time, then he was game to give it.
That night the three Ghostbusters fidgeted nervously while waiting for Peter to arrive. The night grew darker and colder but still no Peter.
At one am, Ray began to actively call out Peter's name. Egon walked over to the bed where Ray sat and placed a hand on his arm. Tears glistened in Egon's eyes as he said, "Ray, maybe..." But his thought was broken by noises downstairs.
Egon headed downstairs to investigate, Winston and Ray following. Downstairs they found Janine just entering the firehouse.
"I know you gave me leave, Egon," she said, in her nasal Brooklynese, "But, I couldn't stay away. I miss Peter. And I miss you guys, the firehouse, everything."
Egon smiled sadly at her.
As she passed, moving towards the tight knot of Ghostbusters, Egon put a comradely hand on her arm. Janine relaxed into the contact. "Oh, Egon. It's so hard to be at home, alone. All I can think about is Peter. I even imagined I heard him talking to me a few nights ago."
"I was!" said Peter, as he appeared.
"Peter!" shouted Egon, Ray, Winston and Janine in unison.
Peter flinched at the rising noise level, but Ray was still the only one who could see him. "Hey, hold it down, okay?"
"Peter, how do you feel?" asked Egon.
"How do I feel?" Peter repeated. "I feel dead. That Rimmer guy didn't know the half of it!"
Ray smiled, so Peter had paid attention to his collection of imported Red Dwarf videos. "Peter, we've noticed you seem in pain sometimes," he said, solemnly.
"Yeah, this materialization and conversation stuff really takes it out of me. I have a feeling that I'm supposed to be somewhere. You know, like an appointment that I can't remember?"
Egon looked oddly pleased by Peter's remarks. Then he smiled a sad but sweet smile as he remembered something, "Peter, thank you."
"For what?" Peter looked confused. But the flash of pain in Egon's eyes brought him up short. "Yeah, well, Egon, you and Ray are the best. Winston, Janine, I..." he broke off and began to pace. Ray followed the man/ghost's movements like a spectator at a tennis match. "You know, it's always been hard for me to express my feelings to you, Egon. And to all of you," Peter cringed with the emotional and physical pain he felt.
"Peter," whispered Ray, as he watched. "He's in pain, guys," he said unhappily.
"Peter, can you hear me?" asked Egon.
"Yeah, Egon," answered Peter.
"Peter, I have an idea. I've discussed it with Ray and Winston." He took a deep breath. "Peter... do you think that..." he took another deep breath. "Do you think you should, that Ray and I can help you, uh..."
"Spit it out, Spengler," said Peter.
"Disresolve," said Egon.
"What!" cried Janine. "Wouldn't that destroy him? His soul, spirit, whatever?"
"Not really. It's not like a proton beam attack, or being put in the containment unit. Peter would be progressing to a different level of consciousness. Or something. Ray and I have never truly discovered where ghosts go when they dissipate."
Peter sighed. "Egon. You won't blame yourself or feel guilty about this?"
Egon became completely silent.
"Egon, I think you did hit it right, and I can feel something tugging at me. But you guys and Janine," he smiled at the redhead, "you pull harder."
"What are you planning to do?" asked Janine.
"We're going to have a wake," answered Ray.
"Hey, great, I love a good party!" said Peter.
The Ghostbusters, their receptionist, and Peter's ghost all walked to the rec-room on the second floor of the old firehouse. Ray and Winston mixed the drinks. Everyone traded stories, laughed, and cried. All but Peter also slowly became smashed. Peter found to his chagrin that his inability to touch anything extended to the glasses and bottle of liquor that piled up in the rec-room.
Ray was tipsy, his face red and eyes moist. "Remember when..." but he paused, observing a change in Peter, "Peter, What is it?"
Peter's head had perked up straight. "I'm sorry. I have to leave. Goodbye."
"Peter, What?" asked Egon, through his alcohol-induced haze.
"It's time. I'm going. Really, forever. I love you all," he floated closer to Janine, "Janine, you've been like a kid sister to me. I care about you. Look after Egon for me, huh?" Peter's turned away from the redhead and moved towards Egon. "Egon, God, I wish I could hug you one last time," he sighed, "Egon, I meant what I said in the letter. And pay attention to Janine, eh Big Guy? And look after Ray," he turned towards Stanz, "Ray, I... There's a letter with most of what I have to say with my papers. Just... I love you, kiddo. And Ray, be careful out there." Finally, he turned to Winston, "Hey, Winston. Man we were close, weren't we? You clicked with us. Never think you're anything less than family, okay?"
Egon, Ray and Janine all were silent as each retreated into his or her own thoughts. Slowly, Peter began to fade.
Ray watched him go, tears sliding down his own face. "Goodbye, Peter," he whispered, then he downed the whiskey he'd been nursing during Peter's wake.
"He's gone. Isn't he, Ray?" asked Egon.
"Yeah," answered Ray as he moved towards the bar. Everyone gathered around, abandoning their previous glasses, as Ray poured out four shot-glasses full of whiskey. He set out an empty fifth glass next to the four. "To Peter Venkman!" said Ray, as he raised his glass.
"Peter Venkman!" answered the rest of the gathered group.
Then they raised their glasses in unison, drank, and returned the empty glasses upside-down next to the empty glass on the bar.