The Wedding of Ms. Janine Melnitz
Professor Egon Spengler
By Fritz Baugh
Dedicated to those who made it possible: Dan Aykroyd, J. Micheal Straczynski, Annie Potts, Maurice LaMarche, and Laura Summer And to the fans who had to wait so long for this...
And to the fans who had to wait so long for this...
Some material adapted from previously broadcast, published, or posted stories. Writers cited include Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, J. Micheal Straczynski, James Van Hise, Francis Moss, Billy Brown, Dan Angel, Dean Stephan, Steven Slavkii, Ben King, Iain Bennett, Rosey Collins, and this author.
The car finally came to a stop at a section of the Jamaica Bay harbor. It was currently uninhabited, and had clearly seen better days. They walked to the railing, snow lightly crunching beneath their feet, and looked out over the Bay.
"Cold?" he asked.
"Not enough to worry about..."
"I came out here a time or two over the...intervening years. Sometimes I deluded myself into thinking it somehow made me closer to you. Other times I deluded myself into thinking it helped me let you go..."
She looked around..."Why here?"
He said nothing.
She looked around again...and it dawned on her that she had been here before...
She closed her eyes and nodded. "I understand...sorry, it took me a minute. It was a little better cared for and had less snow back in 1990"
"Indeed" he agreed.
"I remembered it in the middle of 1995..." she went on quietly. "It was one of the last things I remembered...it all came flooding back. The lotsabucks. What you said. The Chateau Ritz and the imps. And that night in June the Zodiac Lords ruined. I remembered us for the first time...it was right after that I moved out..."
"One more thing I did to you..." Egon shook his head.
"Egon, I wish you would quit blaming yourself for all of my mistakes." she replied. "I don't...I never did. What I said here that night was...well, I was angry and the damned bitch was still in my head..."
He stiffened. "Janine...don't you understand? It was all part of the same pattern. The way we kept torturing ourselves and each other over the years. You'd pour your heart into trying to get me to open up to you. I'd sit there like a piece of ice pretending I didn't notice. Then you'd do something rash, to either get at me or in a well-meaning attempt to get on with your life. I'd seethe and explode jealously, but you couldn't understand why. You'd have second thoughts and undo your rash effort. And I'd retreat back into logic. And the cycle repeated itself..."
She exhaled deeply, a long stream of frozen breath trailing from her mouth. "That's us...Mister Dysfunctional and Miss Codependant...it's a vicious cycle, Egon, I admit that. I've left behind the wreckage of at least one relationship that might have worked if I'd never met you. But here's the thing Egon--I did meet you. We can't pretend none of it ever happened...just like I can't pretend I don't love you. I learned that the hard way."
"I'm not asking you to..." he answered. His right hand reached into his pocket, and he pulled out a small object; a coin. "Do you recognize this?"
Her eyes went wide. "You still have that?" she asked, honestly shocked.
"For some reason I could never part with it, even in the depths of my depressions over the last six years. Because..." he looked uncomfortable admitted it. "I somehow had this odd feeling...that if I disposed of it, you'd never come back to me."
"Oh Egon..." she replied, almost speechless.
"That's what you've done to me, Janine. You've taken a man who was once ruled almost totally by the logical and rational, and turned him into someone who'd find supernatural power in an inert piece of metal."
He put the coin back in his pocket. "I had to bring you to this place...that has so much meaning. Connected to an event that embodied everything that was right and what was wrong about our relationship. Because seeing you again...working with you again...and having the others come back...I had a lot of time over the last six years to think about things, and I just don't want to go back to that old status quo."
Her eyes narrowed. She wasn't totally sure she liked what he was getting at. "Meaning?"
"Meaning...Janine, we're not in the middle of a crisis. No supernatural being is influencing either one of us right now. And we're not angry at each other over anything. We have the luxury of looking at this rationally. We make a mutual decision to break that cycle of codependency and dysfunction. Logically? We acknowledge the past. Acknowledge our friendship. Even acknowledge the feeling between us." He turned away from her. "But also acknowledge that 'us' is an illogical outcome. Part as friends, and never come this way again."
She suddenly felt her legs go rubbery, and her stomach ready to return the nice dinner she'd just had. I don't believe this...after all I've done he's brushing me off AGAIN?!
" 'Or' what?" she could barely choke out the words, anger and sorrow starting to rise up within her.
He turned back to her, taking her hands, his face no longer solemn. He had handed her something, a small box...
"Or you marry me."
She was struck speechless, the rising anger short circuited by the words he had said and the look on his face--unguarded, open, almost pleading. Her hands were starting to tremble as she opened the box, revealing a golden ring with a sparkling diamond. "Egon, I...I..."
"I'm tired of being logical when it comes to you, Janine. I want to be human...no more denials. No more confusion. I love you, and want to spend the rest of our time together proving that."
She just stood there, tears streaming from her eyes. It was a moment she just wanted to freeze in amber, to live again and again...she'd spent the better part of fifteen years imagining this...
Egon inhaled. "If...if you say no, I would completely understand. A lot has happened to both of us...I won't deny I would be devestated, but I'd understand."
She smiled at him as she pulled off her left glove, and placed the sparkling ring on her finger. "Egon Spengler, as if there was a snowball's chance in Hell I would say no to you..." She kissed him. "Yes. A thousand times yes."
June 14, 1998
Ghostbuster Omnibus Timeline Year Sixteen
"Knock Knock" Peter Venkman called out, opening the door.
His oldest friend in the world, Egon Spengler, was standing there adjusting his tuxedo tie. He looked around as Venkman and their two comrades--Ray Stantz and Winston Zeddemore--entered the room.
"I would say you have company..." the white-haired woman inspecting his jacket said simply. "Now hold still--this button is loose."
"We're just making sure he isn't trying to make a last minute escape..." Ray quipped jovially. He'd been thinking of growing a beard, and was somewhat scruffy-looking back during the Ghostbuster reunion the last November, but today he was clean-shaven. As the youngest of the four Ghostbusters (not even 39 yet) he looked effectively the same as he did in 1983 (save being a bit less hefty).
"He knows better than that." Venkman retorted. "He knows we would hunt him to the ends of the Earth and drag him back. In a Crimebuster trap if we had too."
"The big day at last, Homeboy..." Winston smiled.
"It only took about ten years longer than it should've..." Venkman nodded, chesire grin appearing. "Imagine how much aggravation would've been avoided..."
"Peter, ten years ago I was convinced that all I needed was my work. I wasn't ready for this then...OW!!" he said abruptly. "Mom, what..."
"Hush, Doctor." Katharine Melton Spengler replied. "You didn't fuss that much when you were six and set yourself on fire..."
"That was a scientific study of spontaneous combustion..."
"And this is a loose button. I doubt the needle is quite as painful."
"I'd say you should know by now your Mom is not one to argue with, Egon..." Winston laughed
Venkman chuckled "Yeah. Kinda like the woman about to finally be the newest Mrs. Spengler, huh?"
"Then why to you argue with her constantly, Peter?" Ray rolled his eyes.
Venkman feigned shock and indignation. "Hey, I can't help it if she likes to argue? Just be grateful I knew you liked her, Egon, or I would've fired her ass years ago..."
"And if she didn't know you were Egon's best friend she would've murdered you in your sleep..." Winston added.
"Pshoot. Slimer never would've let her."
"She could've bribed him with doughnuts."
"Egon, quit taking her side. Just because you're about to marry her and all..."
The four fortysomething (or in Ray's case nearly fortysomething) men got a big laugh out of it.
"Guys, I..." Egon started to say.
"What?" Ray asked.
"I'm sorry." Egon finished. "I missed all of your weddings.. I..."
The threesome looked at each other.
"I think I speak for all of us when I say--we ain't goin' nowhere." Venkman finally said, putting his arm around his buddy. "That's all water under the bridge, as far as I'm concerned."
"We all know you wanted to be there...' Ray added. "And it's our fault too. We didn't exactly move hell and high water to get you there..."
"Not the way that redheaded terror you're about to marry did to get all of us back together." Venkman nodded. "That's love, Spengs."
There wasn't anything else the old friends could say. They shared a tight group hug, and then the three men left the room.
Katharine Spengler stopped, and wiped a tear from her eye.
"I know your Father never approved of them..." she finally said. "He found both Peter and Raymond far too messy, illogical, and...well, in his opinion, far beneath you."
"And I am sure...even if he wouldn't admit it, would probably think the same thing about her..."
Egon inhaled deeply before he continued. "And he would be wrong."
"Yes." she agreed.
"I've seen what my life would've been like without them. A life of nothing but logic and work, nothing but equations, and test tubes, and computer screens...A life with no friends, only intellectual colleagues. A life without love. I lived that life for six years." He closed his eyes. "And I hated it more than I ever thought it possible to."
"They're good for you Egon. They've made you a real human being, not the machine Edison wanted you to be. And she's the best one of them all for you."
"I...thank you, Mom. I would marry her even without your approval, but it still means quite a lot."
"Call it Mother's intuition, but I think I knew before you did. It was when Peter mentioned her to me for the first time and you got so conspicuously angry about it..."
Egon chuckled and nodded.
There was a knock at the door. "Everybody decent in there?" a deep voice, sounding very much like Egon's actually, called through the door.
"As much as can be expected." Katharine answered. The door opened, and Dr.s Ellis and Cyrus Spengler walked into the room.
Ellis looked very much like his half-brother, though several inches shorter, and sporting a mustache. Even the pattern which his blond hair was turning white resembled his sibling's.
Cyrus didn't carry as much of the "Spengler look" as his nephews and late brother did, but was still a reedy man with a thin face. His hair and goatee had been much darker than theirs in his youth; but as he was now approaching seventy, were now quite grey.
"I would think I now win the bet with my wife, Little Brother." Ellis said with something approaching a grin.
"Bet?" Katharine asked, cocking an eyebrow.
"She was absolutely convinced Jennifer would be married before Egon was..."
"Nothing for you to worry about, then." Egon returned. "I get the impression Mister Holbrook is not the marrying type..."
Ellis rolled his eyes "Bite your tongue." and gave his half-brother an uncommonly warm hug.
"And how are you doing, Katharine?" Ellis asked, kissing her on the cheek.
"Relieved." she replied. "This took far too long..."
"Let's not start that again..." Egon said as he cleared this throat.
"Egon..." Cyrus finally spoke. "I know we've disagreed on a great many things before..."
"That we have." Egon replied.
"But you are family. This isn't the kind of choice Edison would've wanted you to make..."
Or you either Egon knew.
"...But you've proven you're more than capable of living your own life. I offer my congratulations, and honest hope that you will be happy."
Cyrus extended his hand. Egon shook it. "Thank you, Uncle Cyrus." he replied simply, but not without some honest warmth.
"Now you two need to shoo out of here." Katharine said with mock hostility. "I need to get my son the Doctor finished up..."
"I thought everyone called him 'Professor' now..." Ellis joked as he shut the door.
"Hey Janine--have I got great news for you!!" the woman said, coming in just as fast as Janine could open the door.
"Come right on in, Marie--I'm fine right now..." Janine muttered sarcastically as she closed the door behind her friend.
The bispectacled woman in the thick blue sweater, with unkempt brown hair, was named Marie Cavendish, and she was one of Janine's friends from back in school. Unstoppable perkiness was one of Marie's character traits--which sometimes could grate on Janine's nerves. She'd often pledged to herself if I ever get that agreeable and perky just somebody put a bullet through my head please...
"Oh! Hi Victor!! You keeping an eye on your Aunt Janine?"
"She and Mom are fighting about something as usual." Victor returned matter of factly.
"We're not fighting." Doris stated firmly, scowling at her son. "There's nothing to fight about."
"That remains to be seen..." Janine started to say.
"I came because I got great news for you, Janine!!" Marie said excitedly, apparently unaware of the argument she was trampling on. "I think I've found you a job!!"
Janine and Doris both stopped cold and looked at her.
"You know that university guy I was dating? Petey?"
"Oh yeah. Fink Man or what ever his name was..." Janine nodded, trying not to be too hopeful. She knew how quirky Marie could be...
"Venkman, Janine. Peter Venkman. Anyway, so like he and his two assistants got fired by the university and they're starting their own company. He called and said he needed a secretary, and knew that I'd taken those night classes on typing and asked if I still needed a job. Well, I don't of course since I started working for that cute orthodontist, but I told him I had a friend who just quit her job and took some of the same classes I did."
"So what'd he say?"
"He asked if you were cute." Marie chuckled.
"Well, that's not a fair question." Doris answered. "She got all the ugly genes in the family."
"Victor, look away for a second." Janine said. When her nephew did, she flipped her sister the bird. "Okay, you can look back now."
"So what does this guy do?" Doris asked.
"He's some kinda scientist...psychologist and something else, pseudopsychology or something like that..."
"A doctor?" Doris purred mischievously. "Those guys can pull down a lot of money..."
"Oh fercryingoutloud, Dee...that is not the issue here..."
"I think Petey said he and his partners are both single..." Marie chuckled.
"I never even said I'd go!! Now you're trying to get me to marry one of those guys!!"
"You're right, you're right..." Doris nodded, trying not to stifle a laugh. She admitted to herself that sometimes she tried too hard--she'd married Joshua almost right out of high school and had given birth to Victor at about the same age Janine was now. She just wanted to find some similar happiness for her grumpy little sister. "Listen, howabout we make a little deal?"
Janine's face scrunched up for a second. "What kind of deal?"
"Check out the job. If you get it, the rent I gave your landlord becomes a loan, and I let you pay me back for it."
"All right already!! Sheesh!!" Janine shouted with exasperation. She looked at Marie, her features softening. "Thanks a lot, Marie."
"No problem." Marie smiled. "Just promise that if you get the job and marry your boss you'll name one of your kids after me..."
June 14, 1998
"Oh oh oh oh oh...I think I'm gonna..." Marie Cavendish Rosenfeld's voice trailed off.
"Bathroom's over there, if you think you're gonna hurl." Doris Melnitz Irwin quipped, pointing to the side door.
"Hello!! This room is still occupied!!" a Brooklyn voice very similar to Doris's own retorted from the other side of the door.
"Us and Shirl had all those slumber parties together, remember? And I've had two kids myself--there's nothin' you have that would surprise me." Marie teased back. "I'm just so giddy about all this..I mean, sheesh, how long did we think this would never happen?"
"I think we're about done in here..." Shirl Johnson's voice called back. "Get ready."
When the door opened Shirl walked out with Doris's younger sister. Thirty nine years old, but looking younger than those years. Especially on today of all days.
"Wow..." Marie whistled.
"You clean up real good, Little Sister." Doris joked. "I like the new haircut. Or is it proper to call it that?"
"Just a little surprise for the bridegroom" Janine Melnitz winked back.
"I'd hope that's not the only one you have planned..." Shirl ribbed her (literally)
"Why, Shirly Ann Johnson, what a dirty mind you have." Janine retorted with fake shock.
"Be careful with that dress..." Doris scolded jokingly. "Mom would murder us if something happened to it..." Further comments were cut short by a knock.
"Hey...things decent in there?" a gruff male voice, also deeply accented with Brooklynese, called from the other side of the door.
"Well, Shirl's naked again, Pop, but what's new about that?' Doris answered.
The door opened to admit Fritz and Denise Melnitz; Fritz was a stocky individual (lots of years down at the Brooklyn loading docks) with short grey hair and a bushy mustache. His wife was a much more petite woman, with curled hair that was still dyed a shade of orangish red to match it's youthful shade. "Aw, just look at her! My baby girl, a bride at last..." Mrs. Melnitz gushed.
"Well, I mean technically..." Doris rolled her eyes, playfully.
"A civil ceremony in front of a rodeo clown ain't a wedding..." Fritz gestured dismissively. "That didn't count on so many levels."
Denise was picking at her younger daughter's dress, adjusting the way the strapless hem sat on Janine's chest. "Let's not have any unpleasant talk here, Melnitz. Ah, Jay...the hair, I love it...your idea?"
"Yeah...you think Egon will approve?"
"As I've said many times, that man'd be stupid not too. And despite trying to prove differently for so many years, he ain't stupid." Fritz chuckled. "I identify with you, Jay, you know that. I ever told you how many years it took for me to finally convince yer Mom to marry me?"
"Numerous times, Pop." Janine and Doris said in unison.
"I was just a lowly new dock boy, and she was workin' in the invoicin' office..."
"First time I asked her out she said 'not innerested'..."
"Fritz..." Denise's voice raised a little.
"Then after our first date she said she didn't wanna see me no more..."
"Oy vey..." Marie rolled her eyes.
"But then when I hurt my back an' she came to see me in the hospital, I knew she was hooked..."
"Awright, that's enough, you old blow-hard..." Denise finally said, putting a hand on her husband's mouth. "Janine's had way too much else to worry about to wanna hear your story all over again."
"Aw, Nissey, just tryin' to get a reaction outta ya." Fritz replied with a shit-eating grin, kissing his wife's hand "You know it turns me on when you complain about things..."
She smacked him. Then they both started laughing.
"Well, I think Shirl and I better get to the chapel...it is called a chapel, right?" Marie joked, as she and Shirl left the room.
The four members of the Melnitz family shared a group hug.
"Aw, crap in a hat, the air in hear is makin' my eyes water...must be too much hair spray..." Denise said, starting to dab her eyes.
"Tell you what, Mom, let's go on ahead. It's almost time to start anyway..." Doris Irwin gave her sister a thumbs up and led their mother from the room.
Father and daughter hugged each other again. "You look beautiful, Janine." Firtz finally said. "I'm glad this guy finally woke up...I was beginnin' to wonder..."
"I know, Pop...I had my moments of doubt too. A lot of them. But when it came right down to it...I just knew it didn't belong any other way. I tried it different. Tried to forget about him and move on. Tried an 'easy' relationship. I lived life that way for six years." She closed her eyes. "And I hated it more than I ever thought it possible to."
"I know exactly what you mean, Honey. He's the right one, and you'd rather live alone than with someone else. That's just the way you're put together. You must get that from me..." Fritz dabbed his eyes with a kerchief. "And thankfully, it works out for you too...you get your happily ever after...but I promise you one thing..."
"What's that, Pop?"
"If this genius breaks your heart again, I'm gonna break both his legs off and stuff'em down his throat."
They both laughed, and hugged again.
June 8, 1983
"As of yet, you haven't paid me for anything." Janine returned, walking over to the desk at the center of the garage. She'd seen it the day before, but it looked different now--there was a keyboard and a darkened monitor sitting on the desk, as well as cables everywhere.
"This is a damn mess..." she grumbled audibly.
"I intend to change that." came a response from behind her in a clipped basso.
She turned around and came face to face with the source of that remark; he was a good six and a half feet tall, very thin, and dressed in a lab coat and a tie. The blond hair on his head was configured into a pompadour with a squiggly tail at its neck.
Peering at her with dispassion, through round red-rimmed eyeglasses, were the deepest blue eyes she'd ever seen.
"If you'll excuse me?" he said with just a creeping tinge of annoyance. She backed away, and he went over to the monitor.
"Spengs, buddy, you are being rude to our new secretary." she barely heard Venkman say.
He stood back up, looking a tad bothered by the whole thing. "My apologies then. Doctor Egon Spengler." he extended his hand perfunctorally.
"J...Janine Melnitz." Adonai, did I just stutter? "Very nice to meet you, Egon..."
He grunted something that sounded vaguely approving, and went back to whatever he was doing with the monitor.
A little while later, Egon shouted for her. "Please sit at the desk to watch the monitor. I'm having some problems with the data junctions."
She sat down at the desk, Egon still under it. She found herself thinking about the feel of him against her nylon clad legs. She was fighting off the urge to purr "See something you like down there, Doctor Spengler?" And thinking about why he was getting to her so quickly.
"Crumbs...hang on a moment...this might get it..."
The garage opened and a decrepit black '59 Cadillac Miller Meteor pulled in only barely under its own power. Ray jumped out of the driver seat, popped open the hood, and began to merrily work on the engine. Venkman came over to the desk, muttering something about "Forty eight hundred my God..."
"Janine! Any calls?" He asked.
"No, Doctor Venkman."
"It's a good job, isn't it?" he asked, aggravated. "Type something, will you? We're paying you for this stuff!... and don't stare at me, you got the bug eyes"
Dick... she thought to herself.
Venkman walked over to his shabby office, located behind her filing cabinets. Then he leaned back over "Janine! Sorry about the bug eyes thing. I'll be in my office."
He's still a dick...
Egon emerged from under her desk, walking to the back of the monitor.
"You're very handy. I can tell..." She blurted out. "I bet you like to read a lot, too." No way in Adonai's name am I telling Doris or Marie about this...they'll never let me live it down...
"Print is dead." Egon replied simply, making the last connection to the monitor.
"Oh, that's very fascinating to me. I read a lot myself. Some people think I'm too intellectual, but I think it's a fabulous way to spend your spare time."
"I also play racquetball." she finished, winking at him. "Do you have any hobbies?"
Egon suddenly looked startled, like somebody had just dumped about fifty gallons of ice cold water on him. "I collect spores, molds and fungus." he replied with conspicuous quickness, moving away from the desk--he suddenly seemed almost glad that he'd finished.
To Be Continued...