TLC Part XX
A/N: Last chapter-the plot bunnies are finally satisfied! Thanks for sticking with my craziness! Love ya!
"What do you think?" Janine bit her lip nervously as Egon stared at the arrangement in her apartment. "I mean…if you don't like it, we can always change it back…"
"Janine, I…" Egon was stunned. The library bookshelves and a small worktable were set against the wall and boxes containing books and lab equipment were stacked near them. "I…really…don't know what to say."
"Do you like it?" Janine asked softly.
Instead of answering, Egon pulled her close in a tight embrace, holding her as close as possible. He couldn't believe that she had done this. After a moment, he pulled back enough to look into her eyes. "Are you sure?"
"Egon, you gave up your lab for me," Janine answered seriously. "I want you to still have a quiet place to work and do research."
"Janine, this was to be your apartment; you didn't have to—"Egon began, but she silenced him with a kiss.
"I talked this over with Peter this morning," she told him. "I want all of us to be able to enjoy the fireplace—and you have to admit, it makes for a great place for a library, doesn't it?"
"You're…amazing." Egon held her close once more as he tried to find the words to thank her. "If this is what you really want…"
"It is," Janine smiled, sinking further into his embrace. "I don't want to be alone anymore."
"You guys get the feeling that pretty soon it's just going to be three of us in here?" Peter asked as he walked into the bunkroom.
"What, you think Egon's gonna move in with Janine?" Winston asked with a knowing grin. He had been thinking the same thing.
"Yep, I think that's a very strong possibility," Peter smirked. "I'm surprised she hasn't asked him already."
"Maybe she's afraid he'd say no," Ray said quietly. "Or maybe they're just not ready to take that step."
"We'll just have to see," Winston said. "But I think that Pete's got it right on this one."
"You should think about getting some sleep soon," Egon smiled as he came into the TV room.
"I guess I should," Janine answered. "But I almost feel like I'm too tired to sleep. That sounds crazy, but there it is."
"It's not crazy." Egon sat beside her and let her lean against him for comfort. "Your life has basically been turned upside down in the last couple of days. It would make sleep rather difficult for anyone."
"You're right." Janine sighed tiredly and closed her eyes. "I was thinking about making some hot tea or something like that—see if that helps."
"I have an idea," Egon smiled. "Get ready for bed and I'll bring you a cup of hot chocolate, how does that sound?"
"You've got a deal."
"Mm, that always hits the spot," Janine sighed contentedly as she snuggled under the blankets. Egon smiled tenderly at her and slid his fingers through her hair gently. "Would you…would you like to stay?"
"Do you want me to?" he asked softly. At her nod, he slid under the covers beside her and took her into his arms. "Try to sleep now."
"Egon, what are we going to do?" Janine looked up at him, her blue eyes troubled. "I mean, when my room is finished…"
Egon hadn't really thought of what would happen when Janine finally moved into the apartment they had put together for her other than the fact that she would be living at the firehouse. And that she would be safe. "I…hadn't thought about it yet."
"I really hadn't either—not until we actually got all my stuff here. Guess it just didn't seem real until now." Janine cuddled closer and rested her head on his shoulder. "It's just…I guess I've kind of gotten used to falling asleep with you every night; I'm not even sure I could sleep without you now."
"Janine…" Egon didn't know what to tell her; the solution to the issue was obvious, but it would have to be her decision. For the time being, he just held her quietly until she spoke again.
"Will you…stay with me?" Janine wasn't sure she really wanted to ask, but was unable to stop herself. When he didn't answer at first, she shook her head and said softly, "Never mind; forget I said that."
"I can't do that, Janine." Egon gently brushed a kiss over her forehead. "I don't want to forget. I just want to be sure that it's what you really want."
"Egon, I know it's never been a secret how I feel about you." Janine spoke so softly he almost didn't hear her and he felt a blush heat her face. "But I don't want you to do something you don't want to. I guess what I'm saying is yes, I want you to stay with me—but only if that's what you want too."
He smiled and kissed her tenderly as an answer.
A few weeks had passed since Janine had moved into the firehouse and Egon had moved in with her. Much to the guys' amusement, they kept a professional distance in the office with only an occasional hug or chaste kiss every so often. After hours, the firehouse seemed much more homelike and many nights they would all settle down in front of the third floor fireplace after dinner.
Janine had taken over some of the household chores at her own insistence, arguing that since she was living there, she should share the responsibility. This often led to good-natured ribbing from Peter, but she wouldn't have had it any other way. He enjoyed teasing her and Egon every so often too, but it was obvious to all of them that he couldn't be more pleased to see them together. Peter had once confided to her that he'd never seen Egon happier in all the time they'd been friends.
Not all of life was so idyllic. Angela Dwyer's murder was solved a week after it happened, the killer being a fellow student who was jealous of her academic ability. Janine had attended the funeral and for several days after had been deeply saddened by the event, so much so that Egon regretted that she had gone. But Peter assured him that it had been necessary; Janine needed a sense of closure to truly begin to heal.
As things finally settled into a routine, it seemed like Janine had always lived with them. In a sense, she had; she was an irreplaceable part of their family. Many times they all relaxed around the fireplace or the TV, just enjoying the comfort of the special bond they shared.