Club Limbo

~ Co-written with Wolfling. [website]

Winston folded his arms as he looked at the conglomerate of... whatever. Egon and Ray were still bent over one panel, tinkering and speaking to each other in tongues. He glanced over at Pete as the fourth Ghostbuster walked in.

"You got any idea what they're doing?" Winston asked, not sure if he'd get a useful answer or not.

Peter watched the two scientists for a few minutes then offered, "Trying to steal cable?"

Winston laughed. "Nah; they did that last year, remember?"

Ray looked at them, over the array of whatsis, and gave them a sheepish grin. "I wasn't *trying* to steal those channels. The modified relays just happened to pick them up."

"Do you hear anybody complaining?" Peter asked. "I always encourage useful applications of the sciences, you know that."

"Yeah, and who was it watched Playboy every night for a month?" Winston asked, with a gleeful grin.

"It was research. There's got to be something paranormal about some of those women." Peter grinned back, then arched an eyebrow. "Besides I seem to recall having company more evenings than not."

"Did I deny it?" Winston asked. Then he looked back at the two scientists crouched across the room. "So if they aren't stealing cable again, what do you think they *are* doing?"

"What did they say they were doing?"

Winston frowned. "I'd repeat what they said, but I'm afraid I'd hurt myself."

"That sounds about right. Let me give it a shot." Peter moved over and stared over Ray's shoulder. "Ray, Egon," he greeted, nodding at both men.

This time Egon glanced up. "Yes, Peter?" From his tone and expression, dry though they were, Winston knew he had overheard everything he and Peter had said.

Peter asked, "You mind explaining, in words of two syllables or less, what you are doing?"

There was a short pause while Egon's expression told them everything they needed to know about the accusation -- long and familiar -- before he answered. "We are attempting to create a new way to store ghosts. Is that simple enough?"

"'Attempting' has three syllables," Peter chastised.

Winston stifled a laugh. Egon merely gave Peter a dark look.

Ray piped up, "We're hoping to create a sort of 'pocket' dimension, one that's empty already, which we can then 'stuff' ghosts into. It'll alleviate -- sorry, Peter -- let up on some of the strain on the containment -- storage -- unit." Ray's eyes twinkled with good humor.

Now Peter looked interested. "Any luck so far?"

"Actually, we're just about ready to conduct a primary test of the circuitry," Egon replied.

"Should we stand back?" Winston asked, not entirely facetiously. He'd been a Ghostbuster long enough to know when to duck.

"Only if you're a ghost," Ray said, with a grin.

"Where's the spud when you need him?" Peter muttered under his breath.

"Peter, be nice," came the reflexive scolding from Egon. Winston rolled his eyes as Peter just stuck his tongue out at his friend.

"OK, I'm ready here," Ray said, interrupting them.

"Should we count down or something?" Peter asked in a helpful tone.

"That will not be necessary," Egon said. "All I have to do is flip this--"

There was a sudden flash of light that left Winston blinded, then he was falling for what felt like a couple of years. He finally landed on his stomach with a soft "oof;" he lay where he was for a moment wondering what had happened.

Then something landed on top of him with a much louder "oof".

Winston looked over his shoulder. "You OK, Pete?"

Peter nodded and then looked around their surroundings. "If this is heaven we've been gypped."

Winston laughed once, then rolled over and climbed to his feet. "Looks like a lotta nothing."

And it did. A huge, gray expanse with nothing in it. Nothing on it, and nothing... anywhere. Just two confused Ghostbusters.

"Offhand," Peter began conversationally, "I think Ray's and Egon's thingamajig needs more work."

"What was your first clue?" Winston frowned at what was, if Ray were right, a pocket dimension. "You think they're all right?" he asked suddenly, as the thought occurred.

"Yeah. There's some obscure law of physics or something that says experiments only blow up on the mad scientists' teammates, not on the
mad scientists themselves. Least that's the way it's always been around those two." The jovial tone didn't quite hide all of Peter's worry though.

"Well if they're not here, they must still be back at headquarters. Which means they'll have us back in no time -- and we can make them do our chores for a week." Winston looked around again, at their surroundings.

Nothing but a reasonably uniform gray.

"They should fire the decorator."

Winston shrugged, and sat down. "Guess there's nothing to do, but wait."

~~~~~

Four hours later they were still waiting. Peter was getting restless, and he finally got up and started pacing. "What did they do, stop for pizza?"

Winston didn't want to suggest that maybe they'd been hurt -- if the gizmo had exploded, like they tended to do. There was no need; both he and Peter were well aware of the possibility.

"They'll get us, Pete. You know they will."

"Yeah." Peter plopped himself down again, next to Winston. "If they weren't..." He trailed off, making a visible effort to derail that train of thought. "I bet this is all the spud's fault."

"Nah. Not his turn." Winston grinned. "I think it's your turn, actually." He gave Peter an accusing glare. "Spill it, Pete. What'd you do?"

"Me?!" Peter looked indignant, but his eyes were grinning.

"Yeah, you. It's your turn, says so on the fridge: 'Everything today is P. Venkman's fault'."

Peter's eyes narrowed. "Whose idea was that? Janine's? I'll take it out of her Christmas bonus--"

Winston kept a straight face and said, "I think Egon put the schedule up. I only say that because *his* name isn't on it."

Peter growled. "We'll rectify that when we get home."

Winston laughed. After a moment he shook his head. "I hope they get us back soon. I was hoping to catch the new episode of Inspector Norse this afternoon."

"They should. They better."

Winston leaned back, and found that whatever the gray stuff was, it made for a fairly decent wall. He couldn't tell how far it went before becoming a wall again... and didn't really feel like finding out.

"So," Peter said, after a silent moment.

"So. Wanna play some gin rummy?"

"I'd love to. If we had some cards."

"Hm. How about chess, then?" Winston held his smile back.

"No chess board. And I *hate* that play in your head crap. Gives me a headache."

"Don't knock it -- comes in handy sometimes." Winston thought -- briefly -- of hours spent sitting, watching, with nothing to do to keep
your focus except adrenaline and willpower.

But this was nothing like the war, even if it was proving to be as boring as some of the days spent doing nothing. At least then they'd had beer, or grass, and occasionally a letter home.

Winston sighed. "So."

"So."

"Truth or dare?"

Peter snorted. "Not a hell of a lot to dare in here."

"Truth or truth?"

Peter just grinned evilly at him.

~~~~~

Winston concentrated. "Bishop to Queen's four."

"Rook to King's two, takes knight, check."

Winston frowned. He could have sworn he had a pawn in the way... "You sure?" he asked after a moment.

"Of course I'm sure. Why? What's wrong?" Peter was frowning as well now.

"I think I've got a pawn there."

"You do? When did you move it?"

"Ten moves... no, twelve moves ago. Right before you took my first knight."

Peter groaned and rubbed his temples. "I *told* you this gives me a headache," he accused.

Winston grinned. "If you hadn't tried to capture my rook three times the first game, we wouldn't have had to start over."

"You saying I was trying to rook you?"

"I'm saying we need a real board." Winston frowned at the empty grey expanse between them. "Or a pad of paper and a pencil at least." He
paused. "Doorway home..."

"That would be nice." Peter was quiet for a moment, then asked, "How long has it been, do you think?"

"About ten hours, would be my guess," Winston answered quietly.

"Looks like you missed your show."

"Yeah. That's all right, they'll air it again on Saturday." Winston sighed and leaned back, finding that once again the grey 'walls' were sturdy and nearby. He wondered suddenly how far they extended -- there was no visual sensation of distance, here. He posed the question to Peter.

Peter shrugged. "No way of telling less we go look, and I don't know if that would be a good idea. It'll be just our luck to be off wandering when Egon and Ray finally come to rescue us and we'll miss it."

"Maybe one of us can go, while the other stays here? As long as we stay in sight of each other we should be fine."

"What we need is a ball of string."

"Catnip?" Winston offered.

Peter gave him a look. "To make sure we don't get lost when we explore. Like in the Greek myth about the minotaur and the labyrinth."

Winston grinned. "I know, Pete. But all we've got is our shoelaces and I don't think they're long enough."

"I know, that's why I said we *needed* a ball of string."

"Well since we don't have one, how about we take a look anyhow?" Winston found himself getting genuinely irritated at Peter, and calmed himself down.

Peter dug into his pocket and pulled out a quarter. "Heads I stay, tails you go?"

"Deal." Then Winston blinked. "Say *what*?"

Peter just grinned at him and flipped the coin. "Tails! Looks like you go."

Winston glared. "Suddenly I'm glad I switched the names on the calendar," referring to the list they drew up each month of whose turn it was to do which chores.

"That was *you*? I wondered why I always seemed to have laundry duty every time Slimer slimed one of the beds..."

"Why do you think Slimer slimes the beds every Tuesday and Friday?" Winston grinned. Then he surveyed the area, slowly. "I guess it doesn't matter what direction I go in."

"Just stay in sight, okay?" There was the sharp edge of concern to Peter's voice.

"I will. Holler, though, if you see anything strange." Winston picked a direction, more or less at random.

He took a step forward, then looked over his shoulder at Peter. "If Ray and Egon wander by, holler then, too." he teased.

"That would fall under seeing anything strange, I think."

Winston gave him a nod, then turned back and began walking. After a few steps he realised he couldn't tell if he was getting any closer to the grey, and put a hand out in front of him. Wouldn't do to bump into it and break his nose or something equally stupid.

Peter would never let him live it down if he did.

After he'd walked several more yards he stopped and looked over his shoulder. Peter was just standing there watching him.

"What?" Peter asked. "You expecting me to disappear?"

"Just checking. We don't know for sure that space isn't all twisted up, here. I might go around a corner and never know it." The thought had just occurred to him, and he didn't much care for it.

"I'll yell if you disappear," Peter promised.

"Great." Winston resumed his exploration.

Half an hour later he found another wall by bumping into it face first. Rubbing his nose, he put one hand on it and started walking to the left.

After a while the wall turned back towards Peter. Winston stopped; he was about two hundred yards away. Should he go back the other way? Or keep heading back towards Peter?

He shrugged. Might as well make sure this wall didn't veer off into an invisible room, or something. He followed it back.

"Wall?" Peter asked when he made it back.

"Wall. I'll keep going, see if it meets up." Winston kept his hand on the wall, and walked the perimeter. Soon he was back across the 'room'
from Peter.

He turned and looked back at his friend; Peter waved.

Winston sighed. Four walls. One not-very-big room. He went back across to Peter, finding nothing else of interest.

"So."

"So."

"Chess?"

~~~~~

Peter's groan of "Oh god, it wasn't a dream" woke Winston the next morning.

Not that he could tell it was morning. The place looked just the same: grey, grey and more grey. He didn't mention the obvious, that Ray and Egon hadn't shown. He was surprised, however, to find that he wasn't hungry.

Now that he thought about it, he hadn't needed to use the facilities either -- and one of them should've by now. "Hey, Pete? You hungry?"

Still lying on his back, Peter turned his head and raised an eyebrow at him. "Why? You gonna offer me pancakes and bacon?"

Winston glared at him. "Would you wake up already? Are you hungry? At all?"

Peter glared back. "What is with you? Get up on the wrong side of the empty grey dimension this morning?"

Winston rolled his eyes. Breakfast he might not need. But *coffee*, on the other hand... "I was just noticing," he said carefully, as if to a small child -- or half-awake Ghostbuster -- "That I wasn't hungry, and haven't had to go to the bathroom, in all the time we've been
here."

"Good thing considering the lack of both food and a bathroom," Peter responded, closing his eyes again.

Winston just sighed, and left Peter alone. He'd probably go back to sleep; Winston decided to leave him to it. Ray and Egon were probably
going to be here before long and it wasn't like there was anything to do.

Five minutes later Peter opened his eyes again and sat up. "Shit."

"What?" Winston looked over, alarmed.

"Time's not passing here is it?"

"You think that's why? I mean, you don't think there's some other reason, like..." Winston wasn't sure what other reason would be better, than time not passing.

"Like what?" Peter asked. "If you have another explanation, let's hear it."

"We're not here physically? Just... spiritually?" Winston finally offered.

"God, I hope not. I hate it when I'm out of my mind."

He couldn't help it. Winston began laughing.

Peter turned and glared at him. "*What*?"

For some reason, that only made it funnier. Winston fell backwards, clutching his stomach, still laughing.

Silent, Peter sat and watched him, cloaked in wounded dignity.

When Winston finally got control of himself, he propped himself up on his elbows. "So," he managed. "If we're not out of our bodies... maybe... maybe the dimension we're in is supporting us, somehow? Like life support?"

"As long as we don't end up shitting ectoplasm..."

"Hey, don't knock it. You'll be able to get Slimer back."

Peter raspberried him.

~~~~~

They passed the day tolerably well. They'd expected a rescue at any moment, but when Winston found himself getting sleepy again, no rescue had come.

Peter was staring fixedly at a spot that, for some reason, he had convinced himself was going to be where the rescue would appear. Had
been staring at it for hours.

Winston had said nothing about it, and was trying to decide if he ought to tell Peter to get some rest. He watched his friend for a while,
silently. Peter was trying to hid his worry, and fear, but Winston knew it was there.

He felt it, himself. That was why, in the end, he didn't say anything but left Peter sitting there, alone. Winston lay down and watched him, watching the spot of grey.

Suddenly Peter exploded into motion, getting up and pacing like a caged tiger. "Dammit! Where the hell are they?"

"They'll be here," Winston replied, almost automatically.

"When? A week from next Tuesady?"

"They'll be here as soon as they can. You know that." Winston tried not to think about what might be taking them so long -- and knew the
worry about what might have happened to Ray and Egon was what frightened Peter the most.

If they'd been injured when the gizmo went off...

"If they don't get distracted by another scientific discovery," Peter said, bitterly.

"Maybe they decided to paint the library."

Peter stopped and glared at Winston. "That's not funny."

"Any funnier than them getting distracted? You really think they aren't trying their damndest to rescue us?"

Sighing, Peter slumped down beside Winston. "Of course not. But... bitching about that means I don't have to think aobut the alternative." He rubbed his face, looking tired and worn. Worried.

"So? I can't bicth about them painting the library?" Winston asked quietly. "Although I wouldn't mind if we got back and it were done."

Peter half-smiled. "At this point, I'd gladly paint the library with a toothbrush if it got us out of here."

"I'll remember you said that," Winston said dryly.

Peter didn't answer, just nodded and went back to staring at the grey.

There was nothing more Winston could say, either, so he sat there and stared, as well. It was kind of a boring grey, actually.

Maybe they should forget the library and just paint this place.

~~~~~

"Blue." Winston leaned back against the wall, legs stretched out in front of him, trying to get comfortable. It wasn't all that easy -- the grey stuff wasn't all that soft. "Man, wish I had a pillow."

"Might as well wish for the whole bed while you're at it. And somebody in it to keep you warm." The suggestive leer on Peter's face didn't quite live up to his usual standards.

"Nah. A hammock."

"A hammock?" Peter echoed. "What, you see us as the Skipper and Gilligan?"

Winston raised an eyebrow. "At least they had coconuts and a golf course -- little buddy."

Peter stuck his tongue out.

Winston chuckled, then asked, "What about you? What colour would *your* dream car be?"

"Black."

"Black?" That surprised him. "What kinda car?"

"'64 stingray."

Winston grinned. "Yeah. I can see you in that." A moment later he sighed. "Man, I'm bored."

With a groan, Peter said, "I've passed bored yesterday. I'm working on comatose."

"Maybe we should...." Winston trailed off, as he was totally unable to think of *anything*. Anything they hadn't already thought of, and done, to pass the time.

"Should what?" Peter prompted, sounding only vaguely interested. Or like he knew there weren't any new ideas to be had.

Winston sighed, then pounded his hand downwards, against the ground. Floor. Whatever it was. "Hell, I don't know. It shouldn't be this
tough to wait, though. By all rights we've got it made."

Peter looked at him in disbelief. "This I've got to hear. How do you figure that?"

"Because -- we're not hurt. We're not starving. We're not being tortured by demons. Hell, we've even got a friend to keep company with no one threatening us if we talk to one another." Winston looked at Peter, point blank, though he could tell the other man had realised his point. "We could be a *lot* worse off, Pete."

"Yeah." Slowly Peter nodded. "Sorry."

"It's all right. It doesn't keep me from wishing we had *something*. A deck of cards. A book. Cable..." Winston tried to stop thinking about it as being trapped. Instead he tried to think of it as a long, dull vacation.

Peter was watching him closely. "This bringing back some bad memories?"

Winston shook his head. "I was never captured; I only heard stories. Makes me realise how lucky I was."

"Yeah, lucky. Survive all that just to end cooped up in a pocket of nothin' with me."

At that, Winston smiled. "Pete, of all the people in the world, I'm glad I'm stuck with you."

That got him a smile. "I don't believe you, but thanks."

A little embarrassed, Winston just shrugged. "I mean it. Ray or Egon would be cool, too, but I'm not sure I could carry on a conversation with either of them -- not for more than three days," he confessed. "And if I were here with a woman I think... well, it'd be rough." He couldn't exactly explain why. He just knew the tension would be there, between them, even if it were a friend like Janine and not a girlfriend.

"If I was a woman there'd at least be something else you could do to distract yourself."

Winston looked at Peter, appraisingly. He kept his face serious, giving Peter the once over. "Well--"

Peter stared back at him, then his eyes widened.

That was when Winston lost it. He began laughing, and sputtered, "Oh, man, the look on your face..."

Gathering what dignity he could, Peter sat and watched him laugh. "Glad I could be so entertaining," he muttered.

"Hell, gotta do *something*."

"And baiting Peter was at the top of the list, right?"

"Well, Ray isn't here." Winston grinned at the outraged expression on his friend's face. Peter was enjoying this as much as he was -- if only because it meant a successful diversion.

"Ray's too easy to bait anyway." Peter shrugged.

"And Egon's a little out of my league," Winston admitted. "And Janine fights dirty. So, all in all, I'm glad to be stuck with you."

"Guess the feeling's mutual. More or less."

Winston nodded, feeling a little uncomfortable. It wasn't that he didn't want Peter to know he liked him, and didn't mind being stuck in limbo with him. And it wasn't like they were making any sensitive new-age guy emotional declarations.

So why *was* he uncomfortable? He dismissed the concern. Probably just being stuck here, was reason enough.

"So if you could choose anybody on Earth to be stuck with, who would it be?" Peter interrupted his thoughts.

"Here?"

"Or somewhere equally scintillating."

"Huh. With just as much to divert myself, I'm assuming?" Winston considered the question seriously. A girlfriend? A celebrity?

A good storyteller?

"Yeah." Peter looked at him. "So who would you pick?"

Winston thought some more. Agatha Gristy, maybe? They could keep themselves entertained telling mysteries. But there was the length of the stay to consider. If he were going to be stuck here for a month, mystery-telling might get old. "I dunno, Pete. Who would *you* wanna be stuck with?"

Peter opened his mouth to answer, then closed it again without saying anything. He frowned.

And still didn't answer.

Winston grinned, then started thinking out loud. "What would the person need to be like? Intelligent, so you could carry on a conversation," he listed the first, most important quality.

"But not too intelligent, so you would have things in common to talk about," Peter added.

Winston considered sticking his tongue out for the slight, but let it go. Peter was right after all, but that didn't mean he shouldn't be teased for it. Instead he just added, "With a sense of humour. I'd go nuts if I had to be stuck here and take this all *seriously*."

"If I took this seriously I'd end up killing myself." There was a pause. "If I could figure out how to." Peter looked around the room thoughtfully.

"You annoy me to the point that I strangled you," Winston pointed out mildly.

Peter nodded. "Yeah, that would work."

"So what else? Good looks? Tight butt?"

Peter grinned. "Better than someone who looks like Quasimodo."

"What if you had to choose? Someone who was smart, funny, and ugly over someone who was almost smart enough, almost funny enough and really hot?"

"How hot is really hot?"

"Really, incredibly hot. Everything you've ever wanted in a lover. Except enough brains and wit to keep you amused for long." Winston didn't know if he were describing more than half of Peter's usual dates. But really, Peter tended to date longer the ones with brains and wit.

"Are they really hot for me?" The comment was accompanied by a leer.

Winston rolled his eyes. "I can see where this is going." He shook his head. "You'd really rather have a physical distraction, than mental?"

"You saying you wouldn't?"

"I'm saying--" Winston stopped. He thought about it for a moment -- ignoring Peter's knowing smirk. "I'm saying both would be nice. But if I had to chose, I'd rather have someone to talk to, than have sex with."

"Yeah, well so would I. Any reputation I have, aside. But you said someone who had brains and humor too," Peter pointed out.

"I said someone who wasn't smart *enough*. You know, someone you can talk to for an hour or so, but not all day."

"If they were hot enough you wouldn't have to talk all day."

"You don't think you'd get tired, eventually? Wear yourself out -- get blisters?"

Peter grinned again. "Would be fun trying though. See how long you could... you know."

Winston rolled his eyes. Then he gave his friend a straight-faced look. "So how do I rate? Smart enough to talk to, or should I be flirting instead?" He had to struggle to keep from smiling -- and to ignore the reaction he had to the image his question presented. He *knew* how he felt about Peter. That wasn't the issue.

The issue was entertaining themselves until they got rescued.

And he didn't mean like *that*, either, he reminded himself.

Peter shrugged. "We haven't strangled each other yet."

"Huh. Is that good, or bad?"

"Hey, if you have to ask..." Peter waggled his eyebrows.

Winston laughed. He had to admit that they seemed to be proving his point -- stuck here with Peter, talking, teasing, and carrying on --
was probably the best he could hope for.

Actually, being rescued would be 'the best'. But this was OK.

They fell into a companionable silence for a few minutes, then Peter asked, "What about me?"

"What about you?" Winston asked, wondering if what he thought Peter meant was what he meant; he didn't think Peter meant *that*.

"How do I rate?"

Winston held his tongue, and gave Peter a long, slow once-over. He 'hmmed', and stared at Peter's butt for a moment.

Peter blushed.

Winston kept his expression serious, and continued checking him out. It was nice, actually, to do so. As long as Pete didn't get tired of it and offer to wallop him.

"You'll do," Winston finally said.

"Thanks," Peter said dryly.

With that, the diversion seemed to be over. Winston didn't feel like asking again who Peter wanted to be stuck with -- he didn't want to think about being stuck here, at all. Much less dream about ways of making it better.

Silence fell then.

And stretched out.

"So." Winston looked around at the grey.

"So." Out of the corner of his eye he saw Peter doing the same.

"Chess, gin, or describe your dream vacation?" Winston asked, feeling tired.

"Nude beach in the tropics. Yours?" The jovial tone Peter used was definitely sounding forced.

Winston sighed. "Anywhere but here."

"I hear that."

They lapsed into silence, and this time neither tried to break it.

~~~~~

By the time several days had passed the silences were starting to outnumber the conversations, and Winston was sure they both would go stark raving mad from boredom any minute now.

They were starting to get a little frantic, both to find some way to occupy their time and to convince themselves that rescue would come soon. Or late, since it was too late to be 'soon' -- but at least that it would come.

Winston wasn't sure he really believed that anymore. And he was pretty sure that Peter's faith was stretched as thin as his own. Which only
added to their desperation for diversion.

Unfortunately he couldn't think of anything they hadn't already thought of, and talked to death.

He had a brief urge to suggest they play Twister -- but the 'left hand grey' and 'right foot grey' probably wouldn't keep them amused for long.

Everything else they'd already tried. Except...

No. He must be going nuts to even seriously consider that.

Still...

But what if, he asked himself, they were stuck here forever? What if rescue wasn't coming? What if they were stuck here for a year, a decade?

A century? If time really had stopped in this dimension, it was possible. If that was the case, wouldn't they eventually have to... for novelty's sake if nothing else. He wasn't sure he could go an eternity without doing it *sometime.*

Besides which, the more he tried not to think about it, the more he thought about it. Unfortunately, he kept coming back to the same realisation. If he suggested it, and Peter said 'no' -- things could be very uncomfortable. And it wasn't like either of them had anywhere to go, if Peter's reaction was bad enough.

On the other hand... things were already getting bad with each of them trying and failing to come up with new distractions.

He glanced over at Peter, trying to gauge what his friend's reaction would be. Trying to decide, almost seriously, what his opening line ought to be. Offer it as amusement? A diversion?

Admit how he really felt?

He was distracted from his thoughts by Peter jumping to his feet and starting to pace. He watched his friend pace for a few moments, then realised that it wasn't doing either of them any good. "Pete..."

He had no idea what he was going to say.

"What?" Peter didn't stop moving.

Winston stood up and reached out for him, but didn't grab onto him. "Pete, come on. This isn't gonna--" help. Solve anything.

"Got to burn off some energy somehow." Six steps, turn, six steps, turn.

"Yeah, well, you're making me dizzy. At least pace farther." Winston frowned as he watched. He wanted to grab Peter... he wanted to grab him and tell him that they *were* going home. Someday. Somehow. That all hope was not lost.

Except that he was beginning to be afraid that it was.

He grabbed Peter.

"Wha-" Wild eyes met his gaze.

"Peter." This was insane. He told himself to let go.

Peter didn't say anything just stared back.

"This is insane," he said again.

"Totally nuts," Peter agreed.

But we have to do something, Winston told himself. We have to... because if we don't, it will only be worse.

He started to shake his head, then he didn't know why he was protesting. He started to grab Peter, and stopped.

There was still time to not do this.

But then the decision was taken out of his hands as Peter grabbed *him* and kissed him.

Well. It was certainly nicer than he'd expected. Then, suddenly, it was *more* than nice. It was burning, and needing, and forgetting.

It seemed to last forever but was over far too soon. When their lips finally parted, they just stared at each other for a long moment, both of them trying to catch their breath.

Winston wondered which of them would say it -- the wisecrack which would make this a joke, something to be forgotten. His hands tightened on Peter's arms, and he pulled his friend in, gently, and kissed him again.

It felt incredible. The give and take of the kiss, the way Peter's body seemed to melt against him... more than that, it felt right. Like they had been heading here all along and this was a inevitable conclusion.

So he stopped worrying. He cast aside every doubt, hesitation, and reasonable argument that they should stop what they were doing and get back to something more suitable. More rational. More... pointless. Resistance is useless, his brain whispered to him, and he mentally cheered as he finally relaxed.

Peter's hands had started moving as the kiss continued, caressing up and down Winston's back, pulling him closer. Now that the matter was
settled, though, his brain started asking another batch of distracting questions. What should they do? How should they do it?

And how would they clean up, afterwards?

While he was busy thinking, Peter was busy acting. His hands had moved around to the front of Winston's clothes and were making short work of the fastenings.

'Good idea,' Winston thought. 'Sex first, details later.' He helped with the removal of his clothing, feeling the rise of goosebumps that had nothing to do with the comfortably warm temperature.

Peter's clothing quickly followed his own and then suddenly they were embracing skin to skin for the first time. Winston shivered and tried to slow himself down. There were so many things he wanted to do, and he could barely think of which he wanted first. There was the kiss which he wanted more of. There were hundreds of places he wanted to touch, hundreds of places he wanted to be touched.

There was a firm, hard cock pressed against his own and all other considerations became irrelevant.

The world tilted as Peter lowered him to the ground and covered his body with his own, his mouth nuzzling at Winston's throat.

Winston rubbed his hands along Peter's sides, feeling the ripple of muscles when he came too near to tickling. He grinned and moved his hands farther, cupping Peter's buttocks and giving them a squeeze.

Peter reacted by arching against him, which caused their erections to slide sensuously against each other. Winston gasped, then grabbed Peter roughly, pulling him down. As soon as he was within reach, Winston kissed him again, battling for possession of each other's mouths. They quickly established a rhythm, their thrusting tongues echoing the movements of their bodies.

Winston pushed his hips upwards; then Peter pressed down on him. Over and over, rubbing against one another until Winston felt Peter's fingers digging into his shoulders. Peter moaned urgently, his movements becoming even more frantic.

The sound of it made Winston shiver again. His own moaning was getting louder, though, and he had to hang on tighter. He brought on leg over Peter's, trying for more leverage to push.

With another groan Peter broke off the kiss, arching his neck and back, which served to push their groins together even closer. Winston looked up and felt his breath stop at the ecstatic expression on Peter's face.

Then his breath shuddered, and he was crying out. Body shaking, he found himself thrusting up against Peter uncontrollably.

Suddenly Peter froze, crying out loudly and Winston felt wetness against his stomach. Winston was barely aware of it, barely aware of anything besides his own orgasm, building and roiling inside him. He stiffened as it hit him, crying out once more.

He noticed that he'd called out Peter's name.

Peter slumped down on top of him, a boneless heavy welcome weight. Winston wrapped his arms around Peter and held him close, cuddling him with a sudden, and familiar, feeling of intimacy.

With a sigh, Peter said, "That sure beat chess all to hell."

"Captured your queen?"

"More like 'check and mate'." He grinned, leering.

Winston laughed. For a moment they remained there, neither trying to move away. Then the little questions back reasserting themselves in Winston's mind.

"One of us is gonna have to lose the use of his shirt."

"Huh?"

Winston ran a finger through the mess splattered across their stomachs. "Unless you wanna--" He was *not* going to suggest they lick it off. They'd barely made love once -- it was too early to get kinky.

"Wanna...?" The look Peter gave him was an interested one.

"Well, we can either wipe it off or lick us clean," Winston said quickly. There were times he was glad his skin was dark -- blushing furiously now and Peter probably couldn't tell.

Peter looked at him for a long moment. "If we do this again," he said slowly, the implication of the words causing Winston's heart to beat faster, "we could run out of clothes really fast. So maybe we should..."

Winston felt a sudden relief -- he hated being too embarrassed to talk to the person he was having sex with. It seemed incongruous to let somebody play with your body and not be willing to talk about where they ought to be putting their fingers, tongue, or toes. The fact that
Peter wasn't laughing, or halfway across the room told Winston he was probably an idiot for worrying in the first place.

"So?" Peter asked, sounding almost calm.

Winston rolled them over, dropping Peter to the ground and moving to lie on top of him. Then he moved his head down and gave a long, slow, lick. Peter gave a deep sigh and relaxed even more.

With each lick Peter seemed to relax further... until Winston worked his way down Peter's stomach. He felt the muscules under his tongue
twitch and jump at the same time Peter gasped. With a chuckle, Winston continued licking, swirling his tongue in lazy circles. He had to hold
Peter down at the hips, as he moved further down.

He continued the slow, deliberate movements, listening to the soft sounds the other man was making. "Winston..." Peter finally gasped, at the same time Winston felt Peter's renewed erection bump against his chin, demanding attention.

He ignored it, however -- or pretended to -- as he continued his cleaning. He licked at the hip bone which he'd discovered earlier was mildly ticklish, then moved out of the way as Peter reacted.

"Winston!" More demanding this time as Peter's hands closed around his shoulders.

Winston chuckled again. "Yeah, Pete?" he asked with an innocent tone.

Peter glared at him, though the expression lost something combined as it was with arousal. "Aren't you forgetting something?" he asked in an almost normal tone of voice.

Winston looked down at Peter's torso. "You look clean to me."

"That wasn't what I meant."

"Oh." Winston settled himself to one side, propped up on an elbow. "You want a handiwipe?"

"I want something, but it isn't a handiwipe." He arched his back and tilted his hips up suggestively.

"Oh." Winston reached over and flicked a finger lightly over the tip of Peter's erection. "This?"

Peter hissed and thrust upwards reflexively.

Winston decided to stop teasing his friend -- what comes around goes around, and it wasn't like he could *hide* from Peter's revenge, here. He leant forward and took the head of the cock into his mouth. His friend made a sound somewhere between a whimper and a shout, hands closing once again around Winston's shoulders.

When it was Winston's turn, after Peter had laid panting on his back for a moment, Winston was glad he hadn't teased as much as he could have. The evil glint in Peter's eye told him he'd probably regret the tiny amount of teasing he *had* done.

Peter took just as much time licking him clean as he had Peter, but he didn't stop at Winston's torso. Instead he continued downwards, running his tongue lightly along the inside of Winston's thighs, the back of his knees, even the soles of his feet. Everywhere but where he really wanted it to be.

Winston considered threats, bribes, and self-control as his best course of action. If it didn't feel so *good* he'd go ahead and pick one. As
it was, he lay there and groaned, and tried to make a decision.

He was still trying to when Peter relented and closed his mouth over Winston's cock.

"You don't fight fair," he muttered, as the last coherent thought he could form.

That caused Peter to chuckle, the vibrations of which sent Winston over the edge.

~~~~~

They lay snuggled together, dozing, for some time after. When Winston awoke, he realised he didn't really know *how* long he'd been asleep. He smiled -- an added benefit to fighting off boredom.

Peter was still asleep, curled around him and snoring softly. Winston felt stunned. It was perfectly understandable, he told himself. Of all the things you never expected to happen, this probably topped the list -- even for people for whom the life of a Ghostbuster was everyday.

They would have to talk about it, of course. That thought engendered a wave of unease.

Luckily he didn't think Peter was going to wake up and say "let's pretend that never happened". He might, however, say "let's not do that again". Winston shifted, slightly, wondering how long he'd have to think of all the things which could go wrong, before Peter woke up.

Not long, it turned out. Almost before he'd completed the thought, Peter snorted, groaned and opened his eyes. Winston offered him a smile.

Peter blinked at him then rolled over onto his back, away from Winston, and stared up at the 'ceiling'. "Guess it wasn't some kind of weird
dream."

Winston tensed, then forced himself to say calmly, "This whole place is like a weird dream."

"Yeah, cept my subconscious isn't that weird." He paused. "Least I hope not."

"Pete, I hate to say this, but I think it probably is. After everything you've seen, and been through -- it *can't* be normal anymore." His teasing covered the growing nervousness. Winston wondered if they were working their way towards pretending this didn't happen.

"Guess depends on your definition of normal. Given the right situation, almost anything can become normal." Peter glanced at Winston then went back to staring upwards.

Winston said nothing for a moment. This was definitely starting to sound like "makes sense in a place like this, but nowhere else". The disappointment surprised him. Did he think he wanted to continue this, after they were rescued?

That assumed they were rescued...

"Clouds," Peter said cryptically.

Winston waited for something else, to make the word make sense.

"It's funny what you end up missing. I miss clouds. Never would have thought it before we got stuck here, but-"

"Actually, we've got one *big* cloud. About to rain, too, from the look of it." The grey was just about that shade of a raincloud a few hours away from dropping rain. He felt a stab of something -- sorrow? regret? -- as the conversation seemed to turn away from what they'd
done. He told himself he was a coward for not saying anything, himself, but consoled himself that Peter obviously didn't want to discuss it.

Unless he thought *Winston* didn't want to discuss it.

"A shower would be a nice change," Peter said, in that same, even tone.

"I offered you a handiwipe," Winston said with a faint smile. He *was* perfectly fine with it. Maybe that was all Peter needed to know.

Peter smiled back. "Offered me something else too."

"I'd have offered to scrub your back for you," he replied, relieved to find that Peter wasn't explaining away their 'aberration'.

"There's other things I'd like to scrub." Peter leered, and suddenly everything was just fine.

Winston grinned. "You find us some hot water, you can scrub anything you like," he offered.

Peter made a show of looking around. "Doesn't seem to be any." He rolled over until he had Winston pinned underneath him. "Guess I'll
have to improvise."

Winston blinked. Well, it *was* better than talking. Especially when you'd just spent a week doing nothing, but.

And Peter was right, it did beat chess by a long shot.

~~~~~

A couple days days later -- he thought, it might have only been a few, but napping off and on during the 'day' was messing with his awareness of the passage of time -- Winston was standing in the middle of the room.

"Nice view." Peter was leaned against the wall, eyeing him appreciatively.

Winston glanced over his shoulder, and grinned. He turned back and took another slow step away from Peter. The game was 'name your
fantasy which involves no touching and can be accomplished in a room full of nothing'. Peter had asked to watch Winston moving around,
casually.

Naked.

Not that being naked was anything new. Since that first time together they hadn't bothered to get dressed again. There hadn't been much
reason to, considering they would just have been undressing again. But Winston could appreciate the allure of the situation. He was hard as a rock, after all, just from being watched.

He hoped the guys wouldn't take this opportunity to arrive for a rescue -- then again, he'd be willing to be caught in *any* compromising position if it meant going home.

Though there was a part of him that still wondered -- if they did go home, what would happen to this?

That was one thing they hadn't discussed. Of everything they *had* said, they hadn't said a word about that. Of course, talking about it meant talking about the chance of not going home at all.

"Don't suppose you'd feel like doing some calesenthitics?" Peter quipped.

"I've already *had* my exercise for the week, thanks." But he turned back around, and struck a pose. "I am Ghostbuster! Hear me roar!" It
seemed to be the only fitting thing to say, with the 'heroic' pose.

"Already did. Repeatedly. I've also heard you whimper, moan and squeak once or twice."

"Gimmie a break, man, I'm trying to get into character."

"I can think of something else to get into."

"I thought we agreed on some rules, here. No touching? Or you change your mind already?" Winston took a few steps back towards Peter, pretending to ignore the fact that *he* would rather be into, than merely being watched.

"You don't think I can keep my hands to myself?" Peter challenged.

"I *know* you can't." Winston walked closer, smiling.

Peter made a showing of putting his hands behind his back, and grinned back.

"Last four times you did that, you didn't last more then five minutes," Winston reminded him.

"You touched me first, the last time."

"I never said I was gonna keep my hands to myself." Winston was almost within reach, now.

Just as he leaned over and was about to kiss Peter, they were surrounded by a blindingly bright light. The light resolved itself into the lab. Winston blinked.

And saw Egon, Ray, Janine and Slimer blinking back at him.

Calmly, coolly, and with as much dignity as he could muster, he lowered his hands.

"Thanks for the rescue, guys. What took you so long?"

The other Ghostbusters seemed struck speechless. Not so Slimer. With a joyful, "Pe-ter!" the ghost made a beeline for Peter.

Peter's expression went from shocked to horrified. "No, Slimer, stay back. Don't!" But it was too late.

Winston burst into laughter. Relief and joy at being home again made him laugh longer, and harder, than the now-slimed Peter warrented.

After a moment of glaring, Peter joined in.

They were home. And Ray, Egon, and Janine were just standing there, staring. Winston kept his hands down in front. There was a quick round of 'are you all right', to which Peter and Winston both assured everyone they were.

No one objected as they excused themselves upstairs for a quick shower and some clothing. Winston knew Peter was as eager as himself to find out why the rescue had taken so long. But now that they were home, and they'd seen for themselves that their friends were OK, questions could wait until they were a little less embarrassingly attired.

Peter hesitated at the door to the bathroom. "Share?"

Winston grinned, and nodded. "As I recall, you offered to scrub my back."

"Hey, I'm the one who's covered in slime here!"

"Yeah, well then I'll scrub your back, first." Winston head the door to the bathroom open, and gestured for Peter to precede him inside.

"Deal. And then we order a pizza." He paused as he stepped in under the shower and adjusted the water. "On second thought better make it two pizzas. One as a bribe to the spud to leave ours alone."

"Three pizzas. I figure you and I can eat a whole large, by ourselves!"

With that, pizza was forgotten. Hot water, soap, and a naked Peter Venkman -- Winston suddenly had other things to do.

They ended up doing a quick wash with cold water, the hot water having ran out when they were... distracted.

Winston was pulling on a clean shirt; Peter across the room at his own dresser, when Ray knocked on the door and called in. "Yeah, Ray?" Winston answered.

Peter pulled on his shirt. "You going to tell us what went wrong now?"

Ray looked confused, but he came into the room. Egon was following, making calculations on his hand-held calculator.

"Well, we figured out why you two got sent into limbo," Ray began. "And I think the retrieval process allowed us to determine how to avoid it."

"Took you long enough," Peter grumped.

"Two point four hours is actually a very reasonable time to implement calculations this complex," Egon said, not looking up from the calculator.

Winston and Peter both gaped at him. "Two hours?" Winston repeated. Well, it made some sense -- he and Peter had figured that time wasn't passing in that grey room.

"Two point four hours," Egon corrected.

"Two point four hours. Oh. That makes a lot of difference," Peter said faintly.

Winston looked from Peter back to Egon, then to Ray -- then shook his head.

"Is there something wrong?" Ray asked.

"Wrong? What could possibly be wrong? Winston and I were only gone two point four hours after all. Just because it felt more like three weeks?"

"Three weeks?" Ray and Egon said together, with equal surprise.

"No wonder--" Ray cut himself off.

"No wonder what?" Peter challenged.

Ray blushed, glancing from Peter to Winston. Winston laughed. "It took us almost a week to get that bored."

"It really was only two point four hours?" Peter asked, sounding recovered from the shock.

Egon nodded, though his expression was thoughtful. Winston figured he knew why -- and he knew he wasn't about to talk about it. At least not until he and Peter had talked about it. He glanced at Peter.

Peter was scowling at Ray and Egon.

"Perhaps we should leave them to finish getting dressed," Egon said calmly. From his expression Winston knew there was more to it -- like giving them some time and privacy to adjust to being back.

"Yeah and you can order some pizza while you're at it," Peter called after their friends as they left.

Then they were all alone together again. Winston turned to look at Peter, and wasn't surprised to see the other man whistling cheerfully -- no doubt at the prospect of pepperoni and cheese.

Peter continued getting dressed, only stopping when he realized that Winston was staring. "What, do I still have slime in my hair or something?"

Winston shook his head. "No. Look, Pete--"

"Good. I hate that stuff! And it is impossible to get off. I tell you Winston, if the spud hadn't sorta grown on me I'd-"

Winston had grabbed Peter's arm, trying to get him to stop babbling. He knew exactly what Peter was doing, and had a good idea of why. He spoke quickly before Peter could interrupt. "Look -- you tell me you don't ever want to talk about it, say so and I'll turn around and pretend nothing ever happened."

For a long moment Peter stared at him. Then he dropped his eyes and said quietly, "I can't pretend."

Dropping his arm, Winston asked, "What do you want to do?"

Peter just shrugged, unwilling or unable to answer.

"Are you sorry we did it?" Winston asked, with the beginnings of an uncomfortable feeling in his stomach.

"No!" The protest was immediate and wholehearted. The uncomfortable feeling backed off a little.

Winston decided it was time to start giving a little, instead of simply asking. "You know, I--" But intentions were well and good, until you realised you had no idea how to say it. He tried again. "I'm glad we..."

That earned him a slight smile from Peter. "Yeah. I'm glad we... too. Would've gone insane otherwise, I think."

Winston nodded, but kept trying to put into words what he wanted to say. "Yeah. But... I mean, even before... um..."

"Before?" And there was something in Peter's eyes that let Winston know his answer would mean a lot.

Something that looked suspiciously like hope.

That gave him the motivation he needed to force the words out. "I'm glad we did, because even before, I wished we... I wanted to."

Peter sighed at that, a sigh that very much sounded like relief. But his first words brought the uncomfortable feeling in Winston's stomach
back with a vengeance. "I can't really say the same, Winston. I wish I could. But the thought never crossed my mind."

"And now?"

A harsh laugh. "Now I can't stop thinking about it."

The sinking feeling was back. "You don't sound to happy about it." Why couldn't things ever work out? Nice, simple, no worries and no problems? Winston held back a sigh.

"How could I be? You know my track record with relationships. Every one that's ever meant something to me I've screwed up. Hell, I screw up the ones that don't mean anything to me as well!" He looked at Winston, expression anguished. "And when I screw this up, I lose not only you, but break up the team as well."

He stepped closer, and put his hand on Peter's cheek. "What makes you think you're gonna screw this up, homeboy? What makes you think you can do anything that's gonna make me not love you anymore?"

Peter's eyes had gone wide. "L-love?" he mouthed, barely any sound behind it.

Winston nodded, though he felt suddenly more nervous than the first time he'd tried to seduce Peter.

"Why?" His friend asked, his expression bewildered.

"Why?" Winston was stunned. "Are you seriously asking me why I love you?"

Peter nodded, then added diffidently, "Nobody has before."

"You really believe that?" Winston asked gently. "Or do you just tell yourself that to make it easier when you break up?" He pulled Peter into a hug, before the other man could respond.

Peter didn't resist but he didn't hug him back either. "What's not to believe?"

"Don't you remember Carrie? The way she looked when she told you she was moving back to Virginia to take care of her mother? Leaving you was tearing her up, man."

"She still left. They all leave."

Winston surpressed the urge to throttle Peter. "She didn't leave because of *you*. And I'm not leaving, either. I haven't left in all these years -- why am I gonna leave now?"

"You will. They all do. Even-" Abruptly Peter shut up.

"So what do you want to do?" Winston asked, calmly. This probably wasn't something he could convince Peter of, just by standing here, talking to him. They'd had two weeks or great, no-strings-attached, sex. If they had to go back to being best friends for a while, so Peter could convince *himself*... Winston didn't mind.

"I don't know," Peter whispered.

"What do you wanna do while you figure it out?"

A blush rose on Peter's face. "I don't think I can go back to the way it was, before."

Winston thought things over for a minute. He realised they were both hoping to continue having sex -- the problem was the relationship beyond that. "It sounds like we got two choices, then. We can takes things slow -- or we can take things casual."

He watched Peter think it over. Eventually, Peter said, "I've done casual before. It hasn't worked. Don't think I've ever tried slow."

Winston grinned. "Then slow, it is. We'll sleep in our own beds tonight and on Friday -- we can go out."

Peter smiled back; it was a bit wobbly but it was definitely a smile. "Okay. Anywhere but pocket dimensions."

"Dinner?"

"I can do dinner."

"Movie?"

Peter's smile grew. "I can do a movie too."

Winston held his grin in check. "Dancing?"

"I get to lead."

Finally, Winston laughed. He slung his arm around Peter's shoulders. "Come on, Pete. I think I hear the pizza delivery boy screaming."

Peter groaned. "There goes our welcome home supper." He held back though when Winston started for the door. "Winston? What you said
earlier? Well I uh... I think I might... I mean I feel... y'know?"

Winston smiled. "I know, Peter."

Peter nodded. "Okay. Good. Now let's get downstairs and see if we can rescue the pizza."