Warnings: Slash (EgonxRay), angst, language, hurt/comfort and sexual depictions ahead.

Disclaimer: I do not own Ghostbusters or its characters and I make no money from my fanfiction.

Thanks to Strudelcutie427 for being my beta reader!

~ * ~ The Moment ~ * ~

Chapter Three

By Arcadia Eclipse

"This had better be important, Venkman. I was just starting to…enjoy myself." Ray darted a glance to where Egon stood beside him hoping to gauge the older man's reaction but the physicist simply arched one eyebrow inquisitively and said nothing. Inwardly however, Egon was using a considerable amount of effort to keep his smirk in check. It had been an awfully frustrating drive back to the firehouse with both men sporting untamed erections for a good thirty miles.

"Well gee, Ray. Glad to see you're all rested and refreshed now."

Although the Ghostbusters were generally accustomed to Venkman's particular brand of sarcasm, Peter seemed a little more petulant today than normal and it was starting to annoy the other three men cursed to endure his company on a daily basis. On good days it took slightly more than some unplanned overtime to fluster the psychologist, but after visiting the Central Park Zoo on a routine call and going head-to-head with a deranged lizard that seemed intent on ripping his face off Venkman was now pouring the pessimism on thick while his friends tried to discuss the situation with level heads.

"Did this lizard actually make physical contact with you, Venkman?"

"Egon, look at my face! You think I get my rocks off maiming myself?"

There were distinct claw marks on Peter's cheek and chin, and this in itself troubled Egon Spengler for more than one reason. In general, the physical harm that your average ghost was capable of inflicting was limited to moving objects or the after-effects of ectoplasmic residue; most ghosts simply didn't possess the ability to strike and harm a human on their own. Even if a ghost wanted to harm someone, taking on a corporeal form capable of inflicting real damage was a feat in itself that only the most powerful non-beings could accomplish. Of all the forms available to it, why would an otherworldly super-ghost choose the body of a lizard?

"If what you're saying is accurate then I don't think the reptile that attacked you is actually a ghost itself. I find it more likely that the lizard was possessed by a more powerful entity that was simply controlling it."

"Great, so you mean to tell me that there's a super-ghost out there that gets its jollies from smiting me? Thanks, Spengs. I feel so much better now." From the tone in Peter's voice it was clear that Egon's comment had absolutely not reassured him in the slightest. "Any chance we can cut the crap and all four of us go hose this thing together now?"

"We still have no idea what we're up against, Venkman."

"It's a ghost! Point and shoot and if its still kicking we cross the streams again, am I right?"

"Don't cross the streams." The 'I've told you this a million times' was unspoken, but Egon's expression did wonders to convey the remainder of his message.

"You said this thing could be another super-ghost, right? Crossing the streams worked for Gozer!"

"It worked because Gozer entered our world through an alternate dimension. The door to his dimension could open both ways or close both ways depending on whether the psychokinetic energy that formed the door initially was being collected or dissipated at any given time. By closing the door we severed Gozer's physical ties to our world."

"You know this story is so much more boring when you tell it, Spengs?"

Ray didn't know when his hands first clenched into fists exactly, but the desire to punch Peter probably manifested itself at some point during the fifty mile drive back from Islip. Although both Doctors Stantz and Spengler were not naturally inclined towards violence in resolving disputes, the unshakable urge to thrust his fist into Venkman's chiseled jaw finally came to a crescendo while watching his best friend torment Egon over his little lizard encounter. The brunette's knuckles cracked quite audibly but only Winston seemed to notice, turning his gaze away from their bickering partners and shooting Ray a questioning look.

"You gonna punch someone?"

"I'm considering it."

Their words must have drifted since Egon actually paused mid-lecture on the monumental dangers of total protonic reversal and instead took notice of his new lover's creased brow, clenched fists and the very un-Ray-like glare being directed towards Peter. It was both off-putting and also immensely endearing at the same time how pissed off Ray had become just from watching Venkman torment the physicist. Cute, but he couldn't exactly allow Stantz to deck his best friend just for being a pain in the ass.

"We don't have enough information about what we're up against, Venkman. I'll check 'Tobin's Spirit Guide' for any references to animal possession. Ray, can you research the Central Park Zoo and see if there are any new exhibits or acquisitions- living or otherwise?" The brunette nodded leaving Egon to turn his attention to both Peter and Winston. "Clean your face up and both of you get some rest. If the animals are this active during the day I really don't want to know what kind of evening encounter we could have, but I'll need you both to take a PKE and Giga Meter to the zoo first thing in the morning. Try to figure out where the strongest ectoplasmic concentrations are located and whether there are any kinetic energy fields that we should know about."

Venkman groaned from the thought of waking at an ungodly hour, but he didn't protest the offer of bed rest. Doctors Spengler and Stantz were generally the most skilled when it came to researching the occasional oddball ghosts that simply didn't want to make it easy for the Ghostbusters to trap them in the containment unit. Their departure left Egon and Ray alone in the lab once again, but although the younger man looked hopefully to his partner for a continuation of their earlier activities Egon was already opening a large filing cabinet and retrieving the extensive index of ghosts and otherworldly spirits. Ray's sigh of disappointment must have been audible since the physicist looked up from the glossary to regard him with a gentle and thoroughly apologetic smile.

"Not how I pictured spending my vacation time."

"I've noticed that any attempts we make to take time off rarely work out as planned, Raymond."

"Think we should just stop trying?"

Slowly Egon set the book aside and approached his seated friend until Ray parted his knees giving the older man space to stand between them, cupping his new lover's jaw for the second time that day and pressing a heartfelt kiss to the shorter brunette's lips. It was tender and brimming with love rather than lust this time around, although Ray felt no less desired than he had hours earlier when pressed beneath the taller man on his childhood bed.

"I am truly sorry, Raymond. I think we need to devote a few hours to looking for Peter's ghost, but tonight we can lock ourselves in the bathroom for a shower if you're still interested."

"Together?"

Egon answered him with a sly smile and this time Ray managed a grin of his own before reaching for a stack of discarded newspapers. Hopefully there would be an announcement or story of some kind that might point them in the right direction. Whatever it was making the animals go berserk at the Central Park Zoo, he had a sneaking suspicion it was probably caused by something large enough to garner at least a little media attention.

Six hours and two pots of coffee later Ray could barely focus his eyes on the black and white typeface, just barely catching himself from falling backwards off of the laboratory stool where he sat tiredly beside his fellow Ghostbuster. The bespectacled scientist seemed perfectly capable of functioning on caffeine and refined sugar, but Ray had to rub his eyes repeatedly lest he fall over and enter dreamland before even reaching the floor. Egon, for all his lack of normal people skills, had noticed his lover fading fast and for Ray's sake the physicist finally closed the Spirit Guide and rose from his seat.

"Find anything?"

Ray wearily forced himself to stand although his eyelids remained at half-mast.

"They're offering a lot of winter discounts and they did some remodeling of the African Safari exhibit this month; nothing unique or out of the ordinary and no mention of reptiles anywhere."

It was rarely ever an easy task recognizing the exact piece of information that they needed let alone finding it once they had a basic idea what they were looking for. Egon's research had turned up only a few far-fetched leads, and without additional data from the PKE and Giga Meters further investigating any of the possible culprits amounted to little more than a waste of time and energy. Rather than push his friend even further past the point of exhaustion, Spengler wrapped a gentle arm around the shorter man's waist and helped Ray up the stairs towards the second floor bedroom that they shared with their fellow Ghostbusters.

"Nn. Shower time?"

"You're exhausted, Raymond."

"No! I really…want to…"

"Shh," Egon cautioned, pointing towards Peter who was fast asleep in his own bed before guiding his partner deeper into the darkened room only to deposit Ray on the younger man's mattress. He did take a minute to press a goodnight kiss to his new lover's lips but before Stantz could deepen the contact into something more suggestive the physicist pulled away eliciting a tired whimper of protest. "We'll have one tomorrow, Ray. I promise."

"Sleep here with me tonight?"

As tempting as the prospect was, Egon darted one glance to the others still asleep in their respective beds and shook his head gently.

"I don't think that's a good idea. Not yet."

"Oh. I guess so."

Thankfully Ray seemed lucid enough to realize what a shock it would be to their partners should Winston or Peter wake to find them curled up together on a single bed. Although Egon was certainly not ashamed of his feelings for the youngest Ghostbuster he figured it would be easier to take each of their coworkers aside separately and have a heartfelt conversation about this so at least they could discuss any reservations that the others might have. Winston was at least moderately Christian and Peter was a devoutly heterosexual playboy. There was really no telling how each of them would respond to the news that Egon and Ray had decided to start a relationship.

The younger scientist seemed reluctant to let Egon leave his bedside, but as his exhaustion mounted Ray's hands finally released the fabric of his lover's shirt and the physicist was able to gently pull away after one last soft caress to the shorter man's hip bidding him goodnight. In retrospect, a lot had happened in just twenty-four hours. In one amazing day, Egon had admitted his feelings for Raymond, his partner had reciprocated the same, in an unexpected sexual frenzy they had just rounded third base and were heading for home when reality poked its ugly head into their private lives yet again leaving both men exhausted and unfulfilled. As much as he wanted to curl up on the bed with Ray in his arms Egon resisted the urge and instead made his way carefully over to the last empty bed, slipping under the covers and commanding his constantly-whirling brain to shut up and sleep.

Rarely did the physicist sleep for more than an hour or two at a time, but on this particular occasion nothing could rouse Egon, not even the sound of Peter stumbling around at dawn in the near darkness and stubbing his toe in the process of getting dressed. It was nearly nine o'clock before the smell of coffee and cigarettes drifting up from the downstairs kitchen managed to lure him out of bed with the promise of caffeine and his favorite sugary cereal. Ray was already awake and judging by the grin on the parapsychologist's face as he poured his lover a cup of the extra-strong Columbian blend Egon could estimate that his friend was already two cigarettes and at least one cup of coffee into his morning routine.

"You do know cigarettes are full of things that can kill you, Raymond."

"Life is full of things that can kill me, and unlike cigarettes life has been proven fatal 100% of the time."

Twisted logic maybe, but every time they had this discussion Egon was left without a follow-up argument and ultimately Ray would just light another cigarette in triumph before joining him at the kitchen table to partake in breakfast together. The smoke itself didn't bother Egon so much as the thought that the younger man was probably shortening his life span in the long run.

"Lung cancer."

"Diabetes."

End of discussion.

Every morning they had the same argument and yet it always ended with Ray puffing idly on his cigarette while watching Egon pour himself a large bowl of what his friend had lovingly termed 'sugar-frosted sugar'. Janine had been shocked the first time she discovered that 90% of all sweet treats in the firehouse were Egon's doing, but to Ray it seemed natural that the older man had to fuel his body on something considering the physicist slept an average of only fifteen minutes a day. Caffeine, even in the quantities that they consumed it, could only do so much and that's where Egon's sugar addiction took over.

"Shower after breakfast?"

It sounded like such an innocent question if anyone had been around and listening in on their conversation, but Ray's socked foot drifted beneath the table to gently brush up under the hem of Egon's slacks and that was enough to convey the full extent of what he was suggesting. The older man never paused scanning the morning paper between bites of cereal but he did offer a nod of agreement for his partner that brought a slight smirk to Ray's lips. There were certain occasions when science and invention could wait and this time it looked like both he and Egon were on the same page.

Hoping that the older man would take the hint and hurry the hell up, Ray stubbed out his cigarette and stretched languidly before making his way back upstairs and into the bathroom. He could certainly turn the water on but there was no telling how long his lover would make him wait. For now, the parapsychologist resigned himself to stripping naked and sitting on the edge of the bathtub waiting for Egon to join him, hopefully sooner rather than later.

He could just make out the faint scrape of a chair sliding backwards on the kitchen floor, could hear the swish of water as Egon rinsed his dishes and then the soft sound of footsteps climbing the stairs at an infuriatingly slow pace. By the time that his lover opened the bathroom door and entered Ray could no longer contain his eagerness, and in seconds Egon found himself pinned between the closed door and his lover's nude body while the shorter man crushed their lips together in a nearly desperate kiss. He could hear Ray slide the bathroom lock into place, but mainly Egon's attention was split between the cigarette-flavored lips moving hungrily against his as well as the younger man's fingers which were now ghosting down his abdomen with a more southerly destination in mind.

"Nnh. Judging by where your hand is I presume that we are skipping the foreplay."

"What do you think we just had?"

"I believe most people refer to it as 'breakfast', Raymond. Don't you think-…a-..ahh…"

Any further suggestions died on Egon's lips as his partner unexpectedly sunk to his knees and began sucking on the physicist's shaft in earnest. Although inexperienced with pleasuring someone, Ray's clumsiness and lack of skill were more than countered by his overall enthusiasm and eagerness to please. Considering how long it had been since Egon's last sexual encounter the scientist was more than willing to forgive his friend's lack of rhythm and an occasional tooth grazing against his most sensitive of areas as long as Ray kept his mouth exactly where it was and continued doing such amazing things with his lips and tongue.

One hand gripped the counter in an effort to stay upright while Spengler's other hand tangled into Ray's hair holding on for dear life. It was utterly perfect and nothing, not even the sudden rapping on the door behind his head could distract him from what was going on below waist level.

"Yo! Peter thinks we've got something huge, maybe even catastrophic on the PKE meter! We really need a second opinion on this one."

Slowly Egon's eyes fluttered open piecing together the words that he had just heard Winston utter from the other side of the door. Ray must have tuned it out entirely, but that left Egon waging a war between mind-blowing pleasure and also annoyance as the rapping and yelling continued from without.

"I'll be..out in a minute."

"Oh, Egon. Great. Do you know where Ray is?"

This time Ray begrudgingly pulled away from his lover's shaft but just as he was about to confirm his presence as well the older man's hand clasped over his mouth and Egon arched an eyebrow at the shorter brunette willing the parapsychologist to stop thinking with his dick for two seconds and use his brain again. It was a moment before understanding crossed Ray's lust-clouded eyes and this time he blushed, having realized that he almost just announced that they were locked in the bathroom together.

"He might be in the lab."

The sound of retreating footfalls and the ensuing silence seemed reason enough for Ray to continue his ministrations on Egon's shaft, but this time the older man begrudgingly tucked himself away into his slacks noting the other Ghostbuster's pained expression as he did so.

"I'm sorry, Ray." Boy, was he ever sorry. "They need our help, but once we have this issued resolved we can head back to Islip for a few hours. I think it might be a good idea to conveniently 'forget' our phones this time around."

Sighing, the younger man nodded his agreement and dressed quickly but he did manage to grab Egon for another deep kiss before departing the bathroom, grinning at the odd expression that came over Spengler's face afterwards. There was even the hint of a blush on his usually unflappable partner's cheeks.

"So, how do you taste, Egon?"

"I'd rather not think about it."

Again loud banging sounded at the door startling them both, but this time it was Venkman yelling from outside.

"C'mon, we're on a tight schedule here! I got a plane to catch tomorrow morning! Sun, sand and gratuitous nudity!"

"Alright already!"

Both men yelled the same words at once, afterwards standing there staring at each other wide-eyed while outside the door there was a moment of contemplative silence.

"…Ray, are you in there too?"

Crap. This wasn't exactly the way that Egon Spengler wanted to announce his newfound relationship with the youngest Ghostbuster to the others, but Ray was standing there frozen like a deer caught in headlights and that left Spengler as the designated excuse-giver.

"Yes, there was…a plumbing problem. …It's fixed now."

"TMI, Spengs. Let's get going, okay? There's something crazy brewing in the African Safari exhibit."

For once Venkman wasn't exaggerating. Egon could scarcely believe the readings on his PKE meter when running it past the tribal carvings and artifacts decorating the new wing, let alone the way his sensor squealed the second that he directed it towards an enormous stone statue, presumably of some African god or another. It would have been a little less awkward maneuvering through the exhibit if the lights had been functioning, but seeing as how the staff had only just started installing their new display it didn't come as a complete surprise that this portion of the exhibit hall was nearly pitch black and required the use of flashlights.

"'Abassi'," Winston shone his light upon the plaque displayed beside the stone altar reading aloud, "'Worshipped by the Efik people in Nigeria as the creator god of all mankind. At his wife Atai's request he created the first man and woman, but when they birthed their own offspring and became creators themselves she punished mankind by introducing death to her husband's creations.'"

"Sounds like a really sweet gal."

History and culture generally didn't interest Venkman as much as psychology did. Those less-desirable areas of study were usually left to the resident eggheads Ray and Egon who were currently crowding Winston away from the plaque to read the remaining text while scanning for any changes in psychokinetic activity. Peter wandered the exhibit fighting a losing battle with complete and utter boredom but something, or rather four somethings, perched on the altar beside a bowl of some tribal greenery caught his eye. At first he took them to be some backwoods, spiritual voodoo puppets, but upon closer examination with his flashlight even Venkman couldn't find his voice for a moment.

"H…Hey guys? …Come take a look at these."

"In a minute, Venkman." Ray's excitement was nearly tangible in the air. "Wow! The psychokinetic energy coming from this statue is incredible!"

"I think it knew we were coming."

Those were generally ominous words, especially considering Venkman's earlier attack confirmed this was not a peaceful spirit that they were dealing with. Slowly the others paused examining the stone deity and instead joined Venkman to shine their own lights upon the voodoo dolls placed perfectly in a row upon the altar, each one different and yet extremely familiar to the men who reached out carefully now to retrieve and examine the puppets up close.

Egon regarded the doll in his hand with a tight-lipped frown. It was primitive, but when he took into account the glasses, a miniature vest and the slate-grey slacks adorning its tiny form there was an uncanny resemblance to the physicist that Egon just couldn't deny. Whatever had left the doll appeared to have also fit it with an eye patch over the left eye and driven a rather wicked-looking pin straight through the center securing it to the face of Egon's tiny doppelganger.

"I don't believe in black magic."

"Egon, wake the fuck up. Doesn't THIS look familiar?" Venkman shoved his own doll into Spenger's face, watching as the older man examined it in silence.

"…This proves nothing."

"Do I gotta spell it out for ya, Spengs?" Subtlety was not Peter's specialty especially in times of great distress, and given that Egon seemed stubbornly determined not to put two and two together today Venkman snatched the doll from the older Ghostbuster's fingers, holding it up beside his own face and shone his flashlight on both to further illuminate the deep scratch marks in his flesh and how they matched those etched into his doll perfectly. "Got the picture now?"

"Ray is the occult expert here, Venkman."

He wasn't ready to admit that there could actually be evil magic at work, at least not until Stantz added his expertise into the equation. It was odd for Ray to remain silent for this long, especially around voodoo or anything having to do with the occult in general, but in shining his flashlight on the brunette next to him Egon felt his heart suddenly sink. The parapsychologist was unmistakably holding his own doppelganger doll, the leather jacket and even a tiny cigarette stuck in its mouth being the main distinguishing characteristics, but the greatest difference was that this miniaturized Ray was missing both arms below the elbow- something that most definitely did not represent the younger Ghostbuster given his current state of wholeness.

Gently Egon laid his hand on the parapsychologist's shoulder trying to reassure him, but instead the youngest jumped for a moment in surprise at the unexpected contact. Even after confirming that it was just his lover's warm palm on his flesh and not a ghost come to maul him Ray still seemed uneasy, which did little to reassure Egon that there was no historical, theological or otherwise valid reason for them to be apprehensive. Out of all of them, Stantz was the most familiar with voodoo and occult rituals. Given the sickened expression on Ray's face as he regarded his miniaturized self with the missing arms Egon began to wonder if maybe there were some things in this world, darker things, that even science and ingenuity could not resolve.

"What does it mean, Ray?"

"Uh…" The youngest Ghostbuster's voice shook slightly, "I'd say Peter already knows what his means, you…you might lose vision in your left eye and…" he trailed off for a moment seeking the courage to voice his own fate, "and…I...I-I'm supposed to lose both my arms somehow. Winston..."

Through all of this their newest member had remained completely silent but now that all three of them shone their lights on Zeddemore they could see the doll in their friend's trembling hand- its head mostly severed and barely hanging on by more than a thread before the shaking caused it to dislodge fully and tumble to the floor. There was no need for Ray to clarify Winston's prophesized fate at this point; the older man was absolutely quaking as a grim understanding sunk in.

That was the moment Winston Zeddemore realized that some jobs were not worth the risks involved.

~ * ~ To Be Continued ~ * ~