page 5

His lips trembled. Mr. Spengler was lying face-up in bed, his eyes closed. He looked ... frail.
The walls had been painted the happiest shade of yellow on Earth, and every family photo they owned had been framed and hung on the walls nearest the bed.
There was his parents' wedding day, Egon as a newborn, birthday parties of all ages, holidays, trips to the park, his graduation, his parents holding hands in the garden ...
For some reason, Egon held his breath and all but tiptoed over to the bed, as if the slightest noise or vibration might shatter his father like glass.
His mother's favourite armchair had been placed next to the bed, and there was a glass of water with a straw in it on the bedside table.
He sat in silence and gazed, mutely, at his father's palid profile.
He wanted to leave the longest silence ever, as if the power of his patience could stretch this moment for as long as needed. Forever, even. He wanted to watch the subtle rise and fall of his father's chest on a loop.
Egon felt a pain in his throat as the walls of reality pressed in on him from all sides.
Then, his father opened his eyes and saw him. The corners of the old man's eyes crinkled as his face broke into a smile.
"Egon!" he croaked, and cleared his throat a few times.
Egon handed him the glass of water.
"Hi dad," he whispered.
Mr. Spengler sipped at the straw, and Egon put the drink back.
"Thank you for coming to see me,"
He held Egon's hand in both of his, and Egon put his other hand on top.
He hated how his dad's voice sounded thinner than usual.
"I'm - I'm so happy you're here," Mr. Spengler went on, his eyes shining a little, and Egon realised with amazement that the man was close to tears.
"How have you been?"
"I'm ... I'm happy too, dad," Egon replied, honestly, smiling back and blinking more than usual.
Mr Spengler's eyes twinkled.
"That's terrific! Your mother told me you have a girlfriend,"
"Her name's Janine. Janine Melnitz," Egon said, gently.
"Have you been together long?"
"We're in love,"
Mr. Spengler sighed a long, content "Ohhhh!" and put both hands on Egon's face.
Egon felt his face pinking as feelings of great joy and sadness welled up in him. He let the tears trickle as his father tenderly stroked his hair.
His soul felt like it was being nourished after a long day of being starving hungry. He had wanted to exchange things like this with his parents for years!
But his old man wasn't finished yet.
"Son ... I need you to tell something," his father went on, earnestly, "I need to tell you what I wish I had told you every day,"
There was a pause as he dropped his gaze and collected himself.
Egon almost froze up as he sensed what he was about to hear.
"I need to tell you that I love you, and that I am so proud of you. I've always been so proud of you. I was overwhelmed that day you became a famous Ghostbuster, and I wanted to run around like a maniac, boasting to everyone it was my boy who saved the world! I have no idea where you get your amazing courage, your beautiful mind, or your heart of gold. I need to tell you that I'm sorry I haven't said these things before. To be honest ... I've always been socially awkward,"
Egon hugged him.
"I love you, dad,"
Mr. Spengler kissed him. "I love you too, son ... Don't make my mistakes ... If you love Janine ... tell her every day, no matter what,"

The funeral was held several months later. The day itself was grey with patches of sunlight. A rainbow broke out at one point.
Egon took a full fortnight off work. He didn't touch anything ghost-related or science-linked. He visited his mother a few times and just talked to her.
One day, they went for a walk in the park; the place was bathed in warm, evening light. She told him then that she loved him and that she was proud of him.
Egon was surprised to find that he didn't cry at all this time, and wondered why.
He sat on a bench with his mother, and she threw some bread for the birds.
It was a while before Egon realised the reason he wasn't crying was because he felt content.
"I'm not angry any more," he said, suddenly.
"Hm? Angry?" she said, looking at him.
"I used to be angry a lot. A whole lot. About how you and dad didn't show me affection the way I wanted. I wanted a lot more hugs, and to hear you say 'I love you' regularly, and even for you to shout when you were angry rather than bottle it up. But I get it now. You did show me how you felt, just in your own ways ... I'm glad you're my mother,"
They hugged for a long time.
*
"What did you say?"
Venkman looked like he had heard it was about to rain beautiful women.
Egon beamed and nodded.
"I asked Janine to marry me," he repeated, "and she said 'yes!'"
Peter's face crumpled and he gave Egon a big hug.
"That is the best news since Peck was kicked out the EPA!"
"That never happened," Egon muttered.
"I can dream!" Peter said in a high voice. He stepped back and put one hand on the back of Egon's neck, grinning at him.
"Ray!" Peter called over his shoulder, "Get over here and give Egon hug time,"
Ray was beaming like Christmas had come early, and he hugged Egon too.
"That's so great!" he said, much quieter than usual, but more fervently than he ever had. "Congratulations, pal,"
"In all seriousness, Egon," Peter added, and he meant it, "I'm happy for ya,"
"Thanks, guys," Egon smiled, bashfully, "Um ... There's one thing I wanted to ask,"
"Don't propose to me, big guy, I'm spoken for," Peter smiled.
There was chuckling, and then Egon looked into their eyes.
"I want you to be my best men,"
The atmosphere in the fire house changed as the other two went quiet.
Winston smiled toothily. "That's real nice, man," he said, softly.
There followed mutters of agreement and clearing of throats from the other two, to be finished with a little eye wiping from everyone.

The End

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