"You know, if you stay up much longer I'm pretty sure the walls are going to start talking to you."

Egon, for his part, did not let on how startled he was at the sudden presence at the top of the stairs. He had been sitting at the basement desk for some time, studying the containment unit and composing a method of upgrade for it in his head. He looked up at Janine over his glasses, leaving her a vague peachy-red blur against an already red backdrop. She nearly disappeared. He adjusted his glasses so he could actually see her. "Remind me to regale you with the story of my conversation with Einstein someday."

He hoped that she would take the hint and leave him to think on his current issue but she just crossed her arms at him and waited.

There was really no winning with her.

"Did the insurance company get back to you?" He looked at the sketches strewn across the desk.

Her footsteps clanged down the staircase. "That actually isn't what I was here to talk about, but yeah, they got back to me and most of it's pretty much being taken care of. We aren't being sued for once, which is a miracle in and of itself." She halted at his elbow, looking over his shoulder at the sketches.

"'We'?" He questioned, scrawling an x through a design with no probability of becoming a reality.

"I sort of figured, you'd mentioned something about rising paranormal activity..." She let it trail off.

He looked at her - not at her face, but at her bandaged hands - and shook his head. "I don't know...I still can't lift a pack, your hands are injured, and the others are..."

"Very capable." Janine interjected. "Besides, proton slinging isn't in my job description." He could hear the smile in her voice.

"Oh?" He scratched another x and resisted the need to scratch the back of his hand while he was at it. Since Achira's defeat the scaly parts of his skin had been flaking off, leaving tender new skin underneath. He had learned very quickly that no matter how much it itched he must not disturb it if at all possible. It made sleeping very difficult both for the overwhelming irritation and the fact he tended to scratch in his sleep.

Waking up once with blood spots on the sheets was disturbing enough for him.

"I mean, someone has to look after the finances, right?"

"I was not aware you had not been taking care of that already," he reminded her. Janine had, ever since the closure of the business, still been handling their finances once Louis Tully was off their payroll. A few clever investments had kept the power running at least, with Egon himself taking care of most of the repairs out of his teaching salary.

It still struck him as so very odd that they had avoided seeing each other in person for so long. He studied her hands again as they hovered over the desk as though she wanted to lean on it but could not due to her injuries.

He scrawled several more x's through trap designs without sufficient insulation, perhaps a little more violently than he had intended.

"And have the kids decided this is such a good idea after all that?" He paused, pen poised above his sketches, to reconsider the circular trap idea. It might be easier to throw, but how were they supposed to get the ghosts into containment? It would require a redesign to the containment access, but would allow for more insulation and a wider base to prevent it being knocked awry.

He circled it and set it aside, wishing he had Raymond there to tell him when the theoretical was bordering on mythical again.

"Garrett was asking about it the day after. I think Roland's on board too."

He was surprised at her omission of Kylie; he had expected her, of any of them, to be the one most interested in taking up the profession if the opportunity presented itself.

"You can talk to them yourself at our next class." It was as if she'd read his mind.

He shook his head though. "No, I can't. It was specifically in the contract that I couldn't educate on the subject using any kind of reference to Ghostbusters. They'd either cut the class from the curriculum or fire me immediately."

"I think they might have a different opinion of that now..." Janine sounded more than pleased with herself and he looked up at her, crooking a brow.

"Let's just say Mayor McShane took a dip in popularity because he didn't listen to a certain someone, there was a mass illness cured, and all the papers know just where to point." She grinned. "Not one mention of that thing with the mental institution either, except one passing reference to a violation of doctor-patient privacy."

Egon allowed himself a faltering smile. "Well...That's good."

Her expression changed, becoming more stern. "In all seriousness, though, get your ass to bed. You look like death warmed over."

Egon held in a wince at the phrase. "I will once I finish this..." He scratched out another design.

She sighed behind him and he felt something warm touch his shoulder fleetingly, but when he looked up to question it she was already on her way to the stairs without a backwards glance.

He looked back at his work and was unable to stifle a yawn, removing his glasses to rub at his sinuses. It probably was quite late by now. Leaving his plans until later he stood, stretched, and made his way up the stairs. The clock on Janine's desk informed him it was only 9:00, and without another to confirm he accepted that as the correct time.

He started for the next flight of stairs, but a sudden need drew him to the phone. He sat down at Janine's desk, dusting it off and dialing a familiar number.

It rang once.

Twice.

"Hello?" A woman's voice came through, sounding a little confused.

"Hi Mom, it's me." He smiled. "How are you?" A pause while he listened. "Yes, I'm fine...Yes... Yes... No, no she isn't here... Mom. Mom listen. I just wanted to say...I love you."

He waited until she finished her half of the conversation, explaining what she had been doing lately - Tae Bo was her new thing apparently, she was still in surprisingly good shape for her age - and promised to call more often before giving his regards and hanging up, feeling much better in general.

He'd have to call the guys tomorrow.

"Yes...Ray. Really, we're fine."

He peered into the downstairs lab, where Roland was hard at work machining the parts that could be made on sight. He was no Ray yet, but he was naturally talented and with enough study he could very likely be strong competition for said engineer.

"I had my doubts as well, but the figures don't lie. We're on the brink of another spike in activity. I'm still trying to calculate how long it should last before we hit another valley." He wandered back towards the reception area, which Janine was guiding Garret and Eduardo in cleaning up. Since for the time being her hands hurt too badly for her to use them often the boys were doing the heavy lifting for her - gingerly, since Eduardo was nursing his broken nose. Kylie was seated at Venkman's desk, correlating his figures on the upsurging PKE to past figures. Tedious work, but it seemed to suit her. Maybe she would go into research.

"No, I don't foresee it falling that quickly. It is at least enough to warrant rebuilding the equipment now that we know degradation has caused defectiveness in some of it."

"Is that Ray?" Janine asked, looking over her shoulder.

Egon nodded at her.

"Tell him I said hi, would ya?" She went back to directing Garrett and Eduardo to move the scattered banker's boxes to the far wall so she could sort the files personally later.

"Ray, Janine wanted to say...Oh." He held the cordless out to her. "Raymond wants to talk to you."

She took the phone gingerly and got it up to her shoulder, where she cradled it against her ear. "Ray, how are you? How's the kids?...Mmhm." Though she had her back partially to him he could see the fond smile stretching her cheeks. "God, they must be getting huge by now."

Egon smiled faintly, casting another glance around at the proceedings before heading for the stairs, and further on the upstairs laboratory.

Things were about to change for the better, he could feel it in his bones.


Junktion is a song by Beats Antique.