LOVE SONGS:
INSPIRATION

By Fritz Baugh

Previously
Once upon a time in Romania, two teams met while investigating the same vampire lord. One team was the world-famous Ghostbusters--Dr. Ray Stantz, Dr. Egon Spengler, Winston Zeddemore, and Dr. Peter Venkman. The other team was the far-less-famous (by design) "Inquisitors" --Liz Hawthorne (the wizard Lady Enlightenment), Father Diego Portenza, Barney Lupin (the werewolf Nightclaw), and Lilly Peacecraft.

Boy (Ray) met Girl (Liz) and some sparks started to fly.

It's four years later. Boy and Girl are now planning to become Husband and Wife

Friendship, Maine
Friday, May 26, 1995
The Fourth Day of Gemini in the Fifth Year of the Age of Aquarius
Ghostbusters Omnibus Timeline Year Thirteen
Ray Stantz had spent most of his life looking for proof of the supernatural, and more than half of the previous dozen years since he'd seen a ghost up close in an occupation that dealt with them just about every day. He had developed some good instincts in the area.

"Are you sure about this?" he asked one last time.

A translucent white head nodded.

Ray sighed as he set the ghost trap back on the floor of the old mansion. He stomped on the foot pedal, and the trap doors sprung open. Three sheet-white Class 3's, somewhat indistinct in form--cartoony caricatures of what they had (probably) been in life--were ejected from their confinement.

The three ghosts were dazed for a few seconds, then as they got their wits they looked around. Upon seeing Ray they screamed and hid behind a couch.

"Okay, guys, now listen up. Your nephew seems like a pretty nice kid, and he says I should give you three another chance." He picked up the trap and attached it to its housing on the left side of his proton pack. "So treat him better, or I'll be back--and I won't take it so easy on you."

The three gulped.

Ray looked at the smaller ghost, indistinct and "cartoony" like his "uncles", but smaller, about the size of a child of about twelve. "Okay, Kiddo. I hope I won't regret this, but your uncles are free. And I think I know how I might convince those people out there to leave you guys alone."

"Thank you so much, Mister Ghostbuster!" the child ghost beamed.

"Th...thank you..." the three larger ones stuttered from behind the couch.

Ray messed up his hair, took a deep breath, and ran out of the house at full speed.

Liz looked out the window of the car when she heard crashing. Several pieces of dilapidated furniture were flung out the front door, and she saw Ray running out of the house.

Wow...that was quick...he's only been in there ten minutes...

An aristocratic looking woman and a man whom Liz swore looked like Monty Python member Eric Idle were waiting for him. Ray stopped in front of the woman. "'Who Ya Gonna Call?' Someone else!!"

With that, he ran to the car, and in mock panic begged Liz to drive.

They got about a mile away, and he had her stop. His face finally broke, and he started laughing uproariously.

"Okay, now I'm really confused." Liz said.

Ray calmed down. "Sorry, I...wow, I gotta admit, it felt good to be busting ghosts again, even if just as a one-shot deal."

Liz rolled her eyes. "Well, Ray Parker did say so in his song..."

Ray chuckled again. "Yeah. Find a Krazy's or something--I don't know if you're gonna believe this story."

Twenty Minutes Later
"...Miss Crittenden said that the old place, Whipstaff Manor, was haunted..." Ray explained, eating a fry. "So when they realized who I was they asked me to bust the place."

"Good thing you brought all your gear because Jay wanted to see it all, right?" Liz chuckled.

"Yeah..." Ray nodded. "Well, it was haunted: four Class Threes. The three 'older' ones were obnoxious and came at me, but even with a few years of rust...wow, it was like riding a bicycle. I barely broke a sweat zapping and trapping those guys. I really miss this."

"I know."

"But then the last one, he was younger looking, looked at me with sad eyes, and explained that his 'uncles' didn't always treat him well, but they were all he had, and could I let them out." Ray paused. "Well, I figured the kid seemed okay, and I realized I really couldn't keep the uncles without finding a containment unit to empty them into, so I let them out, kinda gave them my best 'Don't do this again' talk, and then when I went outside acted like they'd whipped me so that maybe the lady who hired me would leave them all alone." He shrugged. "Thought it was worth a try."

Liz laughed. "You always did have a big heart, but that's one of the many reasons I love you so much. I just hope you weren't being played."

Ray nodded. "I know...Peter will probably say the same thing. But honestly, there was something that the lady who hired me wasn't telling me--I hope maybe this puts an end to whatever she was up to." He chuckled. "Them throwing some furniture at me as I left was a nice touch."

Liz smiled and finished her drink. "Now that that's done, we can get moving. It'd be rather embarrassing to be late to our own wedding."

Truro, Nova Scotia
Saturday, May 27, 1995
Fifth Day of Gemini
"...Charged particles from the power cell are injected into the cyclotron, they're accelerated to make the positively charged ion stream we use to catch ghosts."

Ray gestured as he spoke, making a spinning motion over the cyclotron. Justin "Jay" Brushett, Liz's nephew--and thus soon to be Ray's nephew--nodded in understanding.

"So ghosts are negatively charged, like an electron, right?"

"Yeah." Ray nodded. "That's why we hit them with positive particles--protons--to weaken them and make it easier to trap them."

Jay lifted the pack. "Wow...it's so heavy. You and Egon ever think of making it lighter?"

Ray chuckled. "Actually, right before we had to go out of business, we made it heavier--a bunch of add-on modules like a miniature slime blower. But making it heavier made it harder to use, so we didn't keep that idea."

Ray adjusted one of the dials on the thrower. "There was a guy who invented a really small proton pistol, but it only had six shots before it had to be recharged. Egon and I did start some concept work on a smaller pack that split the difference, a pistol that worked off a sort of proton battery core carried on a belt pack, but never built one before everything went bad."

"So what's this thing here do?" Jay pointed to the large silver knob near the cyclotron.

"That's a Clippard R-331 minimatic modular valve." Ray answered. "It..."

There was a knock on the door, and Jay's mother Cheryl opened the door. "Sorry to interrupt, guys--but Ray's friends and aunt's train is getting in soon. We need to leave now to pick them up."

"Thanks, Cheryl." Ray said. "I'll have to explain the rest of it later. But you'e picking it up pretty quick."

"I always wanted to be a Ghostbuster when I grow up." Jay answered. "I guess since there aren't any anymore, being the nephew of one is I guess as close as I'll ever get."

Ray found himself saying "You never know, Jay. We went out of business but came back once before--who knows what the future will bring?"

Ray sighed.

"You okay?" Cheryl asked.

"Yeah." Ray nodded.

That wasn't totally accurate, of course. Talking with Jay about upgrading the proton packs, his recent bust of the trio of ghosts...it reminded him how surprisingly ambivalent he was about the fact that two of his dearest friends in the world wouldn't be at his wedding.

Ray and Egon had a lot of time to play around with the proton pack designs during the fall of 1991--the business had dried up terribly after the Zodiac Imperative incident in June. Even the fact that Egon was spending a lot of time away from the Firehouse, and coming back at odd hours with lipstick smeared on his face and the occasional red hair stuck to his clothes, still left them plenty of opportunity to tinker.

But then, just after the Architect incident, it all went to crap.

Ray wished Egon and Janine would be there. But they wouldn't be. Egon never answered the phone. Janine apologized profusely, but couldn't take the time off...and Ray, reading between the lines, guessed she and Louis were having some major problems. (Louis wouldn't be attending either, but frankly, that didn't bother Ray at all.)

At the same time, he was ambivalent because...if either, or worse both Egon and Janine, had shown up, the chances of the truths Ray and Winston had (reluctantly) agreed to keep from Peter coming out would have grown to near inevitability. He understood why they kept that drama out of Peter's wedding to Dana, and he certainly didn't want it in his to Liz. But at the end of the day...he was lying to his oldest friend in the world, he hated it, and feared the day it all came out.

And, though it made him feel guilty, he was glad that day had been delayed once more.

"...Swear if those idiots mess up the flower order I will not be held responsible for what I do to them!" Patricia Fielding Hawthorne snarled as she hung up the phone.

"It'll be okay, Mom." Liz rolled her eyes.

A blonde woman chuckled. "My Mum was on edge too when my brother got married." she said in a clipped English accent. "I suppose it's to be expected."

Liz looked at the woman, trying to figure out if there was some intentional subtext to the mention of her brother's wedding.

Nyssa Blake was an old friend of Liz's, one of the main ones she made while attending the Rein•Hagen Academy in Nyssa's home country of England. Nyssa's blonde hair was held back by a headband and she sported earrings featuring a crescent shape; all this time later, Liz couldn't remember which of the two had influenced the other in adopting that look.

Nyssa continued what she was saying to Liz before Patricia's outburst. "Anyway, Terminus has started treating patients with the antiretroviral Saquinavir, and it's going smashingly so far."

"Glad to hear that." Liz nodded. "It's a bloody beast of a disease." Even the Magi Aegroti haven't figured it out yet...

Terminus was the London hospital that Nyssa worked as a biochemist at. It was one of the leading HIV/AIDS facilities in the United Kingdom.

Patricia raised an eyebrow. "Wasn't Nyssa's brother Adric?"

Liz coughed. "Yes."

"Adric and Iris are going to celebrate their fifth anniversary in June." Nyssa explained. "Probably right around the time Zoe's little brother or sister will be born."

"Adric still teaching maths in Hertforshire?" Liz asked.

Nyssa nodded. "Yes, Ma'am. He complains about the 'little hellions' he deals with, but still quite enjoys it."

"I imagine." Patricia laughed awkwardly. "Sorry about my questions--an old boyfriend is the last thing Lizzy wants to be talking about today."

"True. But I suppose it was inevitable." Liz shrugged "Last time I saw Jun, she said you weren't overly impressed with Miss Iris."

"I wasn't." Nyssa admitted. "But she's grown on me. Still...she's not you."

"And Ray's not Adric." Liz noted. "Does that bother you?"

"Ray does seem very nice." Nyssa shrugged. "It's hard for me to compare him to someone I've known my whole life, though. You kept Adric on his toes...Iris just agrees with everything he says. Despite my best efforts she has a very soft backbone." Nyssa sighed. "I still rather would have had you as a sister-in-law, but that ship has sailed...twice after tomorrow."

"I did wonder sometimes..." Liz admitted. "What if things had been different?" She shook her head "But they aren't. Adric is part of my past, and there are some moments I'll always remember fondly. Ray's my present, and my future."

Nyssa rubbed her eyes and nodded. "So...speaking of Jun, do you think she's going to make it?"

Liz shrugged. "With her, you can never tell."

Truro Railway Hub
"Peter!!!" Ray couldn't help it--he shouted the name out loud like he was a little kid excited to see his big brother. Which is actually close to how he felt, save for the fact that even on this occasion Ray wouldn't be as happy to see his actual big brother.

"There he is!" Winston Zeddemore called and pointed. His wife Kaila was next to him. Peter Venkman, who was talking to one of the railway workers waved.

"Ray!!!" this call came from the portly, middle-aged woman with the group: Ray's Aunt Lois.

There was a quick round of hugs. "Dana couldn't make it?" Ray asked.

Venkman gave him noogies. "Somebody scheduled their wedding for the Memorial Day weekend before school let out in our district instead of in the middle of June like a normal person, so Oscar had to stick around to finish First Grade and his Mom had to stay with him."

"oops." Ray shrugged.

"But she sends her best." Venkman finished.

"Momma and Dad volunteered to watch Charlene." Winston said. "My niece Patty lives in New York now and wanted to see her too."

"Angie let her do that?" Venkman asked.

"Patty is almost twenty, Peter." Winston answered, rolling his eyes.

Venkman shook his head. "Man, somebody aught to do something about all that time passing and all..."

"So how was your trip?" Ray asked just a little too quickly, fearful that further contemplation of time distortion might bring another name into the discussion.

"Like I was telling this guy Joe..." Venkman's face lit up. "I love trains! I wanted to be an engineer when I grew up! I studied..."

" 'I studied engineering for two years before I realized it had nothing to do with trains' " Ray and Winston broke in in unison.

"They've heard that one before." Venkman said, not missing a beat.

"Hey, Joe!" Cheryl said. "That guy behave himself?"

"Eh." Joe answered.

"These will be my in-laws tomorrow." Ray explained. "Liz's sister, Cheryl Brushett, and her husband Joe."

"Well, I'd say that Joe, like Ray, is a very lucky man." Venkman made an exaggerated flourish and kissed Cheryl's hand. "Dr. Peter Venkman, Hollywood agent."

Cheryl rolled her eyes. "I was warned about you, Dr. Venkman."

"I am shocked!" Venkman replied. "Ray knows I've been happily married for the last three years!"

"Old habits die hard." Winston quipped, lightly jabbing Venkman in the ribs.

: "Yeah, well..." Venkman inhaled. "Great. Somebody just wants me to look bad today."

Ray and Winston saw Venkman's eyes go wide, and were not surprised when they turned and saw a very attractive Asian woman, her hair dyed green, getting out of the next passenger car. A very pale man who was a little more bundled up than perhaps he should be followed her. "Your bags, Miss Jun."

"Thank you, Mister Lee." she nodded, in a surprisingly non-Asian accent, sounding more like a posh Londoner. "So this is Truro."

"You want proof I've changed, Miz Brushett?" Venkman asked. "The guy I was ten or fifteen years ago would already be over there chatting that exquisite example of humanity up something fierce."

Kaila nodded. "He's got us there. Though I'd think that guy she's with looked tough enough to at least give him pause."

Ray squinted as he watched the couple head toward the rental car counter. "Especially since I swear he looks like Lee Fei Long."

"Yeah, but Fei Long is dead, Ray." Venkman retorted.

"What line of work were all three of us in again?" Winston countered.

"Touche." Venkman had to admit.

Truro, Nova Scotia
Sunday, May 28, 1995
Sixth Day of Gemini
"Well, it's your last chance now, Ray." Venkman quipped. "If you want to make a break for it, I can provide a distraction."

Ray laughed. "Peter, Liz is someone who could hunt me to the ends of the Earth with magic. Even if I wanted to run--and I most definitely don't--it's too late now."

"I know, I know..." he gently cuffed Ray. "But had to make the offer--that's what best friends do."

"What kind of distraction anyway, even though I'm afraid of the answer?" Winston asked.

"I thought maybe some showtunes." Venkman replied, and started to croon a song from Cats. Winston put his hand over Venkman's mouth.

"Are you ready, Raymond?" Father Diego Garcia Portenza entered the room. Portenza was a Catholic priest by trade, but as the former Ghostbusters also knew, a monster hunter in the service of the Vatican; it was the Ghostbusters' encounter with Father Portenza's "Inquisitor" team that introduced Ray Stantz and Liz Hawthorne to each other, and thus started them on the road to his day.

Ray nodded. "Just about, Padre." He gave Portenza a thumbs up.

Venkman and Winston gave their friend a hug. The three men left, and Ray was left alone for a moment to gather his thoughts. Alone for maybe the last time... Ray thought wistfully.

Aunt Lois had brought him something--a letter from his past. Elaine Fuhrman, the young lady he'd falled madly in love with as a child, and kept loving from afar for quite a few years afterwards.

Dear Ray,

I hope you're not mad that Aunt Lois let me know what was happening. She told me you were marrying someone you met as a Ghostbuster; I admit my first thought was "I thought the redhaired lady was going out with the tall blond guy", but Aunt Lois set me right on that--it was someone I'd never met.

I'm very happy for you, Ray. I know we didn't part on the best of terms; it was all my fault for not knowing what I wanted out of life or in someone to share it with. I don't know if I ever could have been what you wanted me to be, to feel about you the way you did for me for so long, so I'm glad you found someone who could be that person, and probably a lot more of her.

I've moved on in a way I never would have expected; I fell in love with Alan Favish and...





Dear God, no, but I had you going for a second there, didn't I?

No, what I really mean is this: a couple of years ago, two orphan children were found in a barn by the Morrisville police. They were only a few months old; despite their best efforts, the police and even the FBI haven't been able to track down their parents or figure out what happened or why the babies were left there.

Long story short, I ended up fostering them...and then adopting them. Their names are Carlton and Julianna, but ended up being called CJ and Jules. They fulfill me in a way I never thought I could be...and they're my everything.

Maybe someday, when you and Elizabeth get the time, I'd love to introduce them to Uncle Ray. And maybe a cousin or two if it's in the cards?

Congratulations and best wishes to you and the lucky Mrs. Stantz, with all my love.

--Elaine

Ray sniffled. Yeah...maybe we will at that... He wiped his eyes and set the letter down. For a moment he inevitably wondered what his life would be like right now if things had gone differently with her...but the moment passed quickly. One less loose end in my life..

"How do I look?" Liz asked nervously.

"Absolutely gorgeous." Patricia replied, eyes starting to mist.

"Now don't you start crying, Mom. Then I will too and my makeup will run..."

"It's amazing I made it through mine." Cheryl half-joked.

"I think it's about time to get your Father. I..." Patricia opened the door, and Lois Stantz was there. "Aunt Lois!"

"Hello, Patricia. I hope I'm not interrupting anything..."

"Nonsense!" Liz replied.

"I'll be back in a few." Patricia said.

"I think I need to make sure Jay's ready." Cheryl hugged her sister. "You're gonna do great."

Liz and Lois were alone.

"You look exquisite, Dear." Lois said. "I think Ray's going to be very pleased."

"I hope so." Liz admitted.

Lois wiped her eyes. "I feel like such a fraud...Caroline should be the one in here...and my brother David. It's not..."

"Hey." Liz cut her off. "None of that."

She had Lois sit down, and kneeled beside her. "Aunt Lois, you know deep down they're here. And don't think for a minute you're a 'fraud'..." She hugged Lois. "One thing Ray and I have in common...is that we were both blessed with more than one Mother. I'm lucky enough that the woman who birthed me is still here, and I love her dearly...but there's also my own Aunt Tegan, who gave me the love and guidance I needed when my Mom couldn't be there, out in England."

Lois was crying.

Liz was too. "And she's here. Which means that if Ray's other Mom wasn't here, too, it wouldn't be right."

"Oh Dear..." Lois laughed through the tears. "You're mascara's running all over the place..."

"I'll catch it." Liz chuckled.

"It's almost time, Ray." Winston said, giving Ray a last hug as he went to his seat. Ray didn't feel nervous at all.

He took a moment to look around. Aunt Lois was his only living relative in attendance; his second cousin Samantha had been invited, but couldn't attend due to her workload on the Peterson farm. Winston and Kaila sat with her; Venkman, of course, was going to be Ray's best man.

Liz's "side" was a little fuller, of course, being her hometown. Her mother Patricia, her sister Cheryl, brother-in-law Joe, and nephew Jay. Just behind them was Liz's "Aunt", Tegan Fielding--actually Patricia's cousin. But also, as Liz had told Lois not long ago, Liz's "other Mother"--her instructor in the Hermetic arts.

Also there was Liz's maternal grandfather, Matt Fielding. Ray was kind of struck how much the man resembled the first Doctor Who lead actor, William Hartnell, albeit with a steamshovel jawline.

Nyssa Blake, one of Liz's classmates from Rein•Hagen Academy was there; next to Nyssa was, surprisingly enough, the green haired Asian woman Ray and the others had seen getting off the train. Her name was Dao Jun, and was another of Liz's old classmates (and, as Liz had told Ray, another member of the Order). The man who looked just like Lee Fei Long sat with her.

There were a few faces Ray was more familiar with: Barney Lupin and Lilly Peacecraft, who had been in the "Inquisitors" with Liz and Father Portenza. Not totally surprisingly at this point, Ray's former student Mariko Fuyuno was there as Barney's date. Ray heard Barney saying to Lilly "So, do you think Sergei will show up?"

"I...I don't think he was invited..." Lilly replied.

Barney guffawed. "You think that'd stop him?"

Even the covenant of Dragonsfall, where Liz had spent three years, was represented. The Archmage, Zandrik Fallagar, was accompanied by his "Marshall of the Guard" Styx (who had been given a glamour that made everyone who didn't know what hobgoblins were not notice he was one) and halfling companions Coda and Terchi. They looked quite presentable, but Ray wasn't surprised to hear Coda complaining about having to wear a dress. "And Lor' look at me, I even shaved me feet...I 'opes Miz 'Lizabef appreciates me doin' this bullshit..."

"I finks y' looks lovely." Terchi told her.

She grumbled something about smacking him upside the head, but blushed and quieted down.

Father Portenza nodded, and the familiar strains of the "Wedding March" filled the room.

Ray grinned to himself, and spent a second holding the "good luck charm" he'd received from one of Aunt Tegan's covenantmates, which was in his pocket. For luck.

Ray about swallowed his tongue when she appeared.

Max Hawthorne, Patricia's husband, father of Cheryl and Liz was there, of course, but Ray barely saw him:

She wasn't overly made up. She wasn't wearing a veil --she'd insisted on avoiding that "cliche" element--and without a headband for once her hair reminded Ray a little of her sister's wild locks. Her hair was gathered by a long white bow that trailed behind her as a sort of pseudo-train.

The dress was simple; strapless, with flared sleeves. The combined effect made her look, Ray grinned inwardly, more like a white witch than a bride.

Ray felt a pang of self consciousness, standing there in the pea soup green suit Venkman had begged him not to wear; but the smile of approval Liz gave him made him feel ten feet tall.

And worthy of this woman.

Ray barely heard Father Portenza start the ceremony, barely registered the handshake from Max.

Oh my God...somehow the most beautiful and perfect woman in the world...is marrying me?!

Truth to tell...

...Her thoughts were much the same...

Dear God I never thought a man could look so good in pea soup green...and he's marrying me?!

"Raymond Francis, do you take Elizabeth Lucille for your lawful wife, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do you part?"

"I do."

"Elizabeth Lucille, do you take Raymond Francis for your lawful husband, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do you part?"

"I do."

"What has been joined together today, let no man or god split asunder." Portenza declared. "The rings, please?"

"Elizabeth, receive this ring as a sign of my love and fidelity."

"Raymond, receive this ring as a sign of my love and fidelity."

"Elizabeth and Raymond, my Dear Friends. By the power vested in me by the Queen of the United Kingdom, and by Almighty God Himself, I now pronounce you Husband and Wife."

The small room broke out in thunderous applause as Mr. and Mrs. Stanz kissed.

"Welcome to the family, Uncle Ray!" Jay shouted. His mother glared at him. "What? I've been waiting to call him that for months!"

An Hour Later; The Reception
"You got thrown out of Trader Vic's?!" Terchi asked incredulously.

"Not just thrown out, but banned for life!" Mariko added excitedly. Lilly was burying her face in her hands.

"The greatest night of my life!!!" Barney cried proudly.

Terchi and Barney were exchanging high-fives. Coda was nowhere to be seen.

"So you and Liz figure out what you're going to do now?" Winston asked. "I mean, after the honeymoon, of course." He added impishly.

"Sleep a lot, as a guess." Venkman quipped.

Ray coughed. "Well, I mean, I gotta admit, I wasn't surprised that the University fired me--that botched pyrokinesis experiment caused a lot of damage." He shrugged. "The Qu...her bosses want her to look into some situations in the Rockies. There's a covenant in Denver that might be able to help us get an apartment if nothing else."

"My offer still stands, Ray." Venkman said. "You decide to take that honeymoon in Tahiti later, I will set it up."

Ray nodded. "Thanks, Peter. We couldn't pass up a week in Dragonsfall, though. I mean, I guess it really is the place Liz and I fell in love."

Styx stared.

Lee Fei Long stared back.

Styx kept staring.

Fei Long kept staring back.

Styx grunted.

Fei Long grunted as well.

"Lor did I come to the wrong place to get away from the bull ruttin'." Coda snorted. "So you's two gonna gets a room or what?"

"I do not trust this undead abomination." Styx said simply.

"An oni in a place such as this bears serious watching." Fei Long said in response. "I will allow no harm to come to Mistress Jun."

"I don't's fink 'e likes you either, Styx." Coda said as she forcefully took off the shoes she hated and started to walk off barefoot. "Jus' rememba' th' Archmage said no trouble."

"I will not start it." Styx declared. "At least not this time."

"Mistress Jun has ordered my best behavior." Fei Long added. "I will not be responsible for any 'trouble' either."

"Oh, Lor, jus' pash already..."

"Everything is in readiness when you are, Raymond."

Ray was slightly startled by the Archmage's sudden appearance next to him.

"And of course, my deep congratulations to you and Elizabeth both." Fallagar continued.

"Thanks, Sir." Ray replied, shaking his hand. "Glad you made it. Liz didn't sound sure..."

"I wouldn't miss this for anything." Fallagar shook his head. "Elizabeth became a dear friend in the years she lived with us...and now, by extension, so are you. I..." He paused for a second, and his eyes seemed to be looking at a time or place far away. "I envy you both, finding each other, and being able to be together."

Ray started to stammer something, he wasn't even sure what, but the Archmage broke in "A good luck charm of some sort? From Elizabeth?"

"Huh? Oh...no Sir, from one of her Aunt Tegan's covenantmates." Ray answered, realizing what Fallagar was talking about. "A Magus Solificato, actually." Ray said more quietly.

Fallagar nodded, with an enigmatic slight smile. "Glad to hear it."

"I'll pass along your message to Liz." Ray said. "I think I'm about ready, myself."

"Absolutely amazing." Jun shook her head. "I remember back during the Grand Tribunal joking with you about whether the Ghostbusters were datable. I never would have expected you to marry one eight years later."

Liz chuckled. "I know, I know. Not the one you would have dated either."

Jun looked around with just a glimmer of mischief in her eye. "Too bad he's married now, too." She sighed with exaggerated wistfulness. "That night would have been memorable..."

"Don't. Even. Think. About it." Liz said firmly.

"I'm not." Jun laughed. "Though I may be remembering wrong, but weren't there four Ghostbusters? Where's the prissy blond one?"

Liz sighed, making a gesture to have Jun be quieter. "Sore spot. He and the others aren't talking to him anymore. Mostly his fault, from what I know."

"Just as well. I recall half the girls in Lian's class's science club were mad about him, even though to me he looks like he'd freeze you solid."

"At least he's alive." Liz retorted. She spared a glance at Styx and Fei Long's standoff. "What on Earth possessed you to bring your zombie to a wedding attended by three Ghostbusters and a Catholic Inquisitor?"

Jun rolled her eyes. "Lizzie, how many times do I have to tell you..."

" 'He's not a zombie, he's a Jiang Shi' " Liz joined her to finish the admonishment.

"Excuse me, Mrs. Stantz." Patricia broke in. "It's about time to wrap things up and throw the bouquet."

"And who is that with Mister Stantz?" Jun asked. "I don't think Lee likes that hobgoblin he arrived with."

Liz looked around quickly. "That's the Archmage."

Jun's eyes went wide. "That's the man who turned the Special Tribunal into a circus?" She elbowed Liz. "I can see why you spent three years with him...and Raymond is all right with that?"

Liz rolled her eyes. "I keep telling you, it wasn't like that. He's eight hundred years old, and...very eccentric."

"You have yet to say anything that sounds deal-breaking to me."

Beside them, Patricia coughed.

"You know, Jun, you think you can handle him go for it." Liz rolled her eyes. "I have a honeymoon to begin."

Coda, frankly, found all of this incredibly irritating. "You needs to 'ave a party to signify you're gonna shag and make sprogs? Don't seem worf the trouble to me..."

"The bride and groom are about to depart!" She heard Miss Elizabeth's mother say. Coda didn't understand this whole thing, but did want to wish the couple well, so she pushed her way through the crowd.

"She's throwing the bouquet now!" Mrs. Hawthorne announced.

A bundle of flowers was hurled through the air. "Seems a waste'a' good plants t' me." With little effort, she hopped up and snagged them.

The people around her started applauding, though one person tactlessly asked "Is she even old enough?"

"Old enough to whut, Baldy?!" Coda snarled.

"Get married." Miss Elizabeth's friend, the one with the green hair, answered. "It's one of the West's little rituals--according to the folklore, the girl who catches the bouquet is the next one to get married."

"OH 'ELLS NO!!!" Coda shouted, and flung the now-offending item over her shoulder.

"Hah! Got it!" The woman who came with the werewolf exclaimed. "Look at this, Fuzzbutt--we're next!"

"Doesn't count!" Barney protested. "The hobbit got it first!!!"

"I can'ts wait for this whole stupid day to be over...where is the Archmage?" Coda stormed off.

Archmage Zandrik Fallagar saw his impatient companion storming his way. Like everyone else, he was amused by the scene that had just played out.

" 'Ow much longer does we 'ave to stays here, Boss?" she asked.

"Elizabeth and Raymond are going back to the Hawthorne residence to change. When they return, the wedding party will have dispersed, and we will be safe to take them back to Dragonsfall." Fallagar answered.

"Nots soon enough." Coda said, arms crossed. "And if that dink Terchi gets all swoony on me just 'cause of that 'ole dumbarse flower business..."

Fallagar chuckled inwardly.

His thoughts returned to the artifact he'd sensed on Ray.

What have you foreseen, Master Zephyranthes? he thought to himself. And how does that charm factor into it?

You know our love was meant to be
The kind of love that lasts forever
And I need you here with me
From tonight until the end of time

--Peter Cetera & David Foster, 1984
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Based on Ghostbusters Created by Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis