Characters: Edgar Frog, Alan Frog, Sam Emerson
Warnings: Not really.
Spoilers: For Reign of Frogs, I suppose.
Synopsis: Set after Reign of Frogs. Alan drank vampire blood, and Edgar is going to save him even if he has to to tear down the whole town to do it...
Prologue | Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6
This was their fourth attempt. Attempts one through three had proven fruitless. Alan was hyper-aware of Edgar's eyes following him as he wandered slowly down the boardwalk. As best as he could, he ignored the assault on his senses that came from the large crowd of people. Solitude was more comfortable for him. It always had been, even before. He had never needed anyone but Edgar. Now, Edgar looked at him with suspicion, and Alan preferred to be alone than deal with the constant reminder of what he had become.
Being around Sam was easier. He at least acted the same as he always had. Jokes, grins, clothes that would burn your eyes right out of your skull if you looked too hard. But there was still the blood to consider. It pumped through both their veins, warm, rich and tempting. No, Edgar had been right all along, staying alone was better. Unfortunately, the plan to save him – the only plan they had – depended on him wandering through the crowds of Santa Carla nightlife, tailed by either Edgar, Sam or both.
Tonight, Sam was filling in watching the store. Tomorrow it would be Edgar's turn to pace, constantly check the clock and peer anxiously through the window hoping to catch a glimpse of his brother. After that, Edgar would be out following him again.
Alan wondered how long they would be doing this for. The vampire he had spoken to had not made a reappearance. He was beginning to wonder whether she ever would. His senses closed to the best of his ability to the disturbingly tempting smell of human blood, he was unlikely to notice its absence if he passed another vampire. He was relying on his eyes alone to recognize the one he had seen.
Attempt number seven. Sam didn't seem to understand the concept of covert surveillance. Every time Alan turned around, he was right there. Sometimes he waved. Once he even gave him an encouraging thumbs up and a grin. Alan wondered how much longer he would be able to keep this up. Even with the animal blood Edgar was somehow – he didn't want to ask for details – managing to keep providing for him, he could feel his resolve weakening. It was becoming harder and harder to avoid thinking about blood. About how satisfying it would be to sink his teeth into the artery of some unsuspecting person and finally quench the raging thirst. It had been just over a week, but it felt like a lifetime of struggling. He just wanted it to be over.
He had a stake in his bedroom at home. Edgar didn't know about it, he thought he had taken all his weapons. It was stored under his mattress, right in the middle. He could feel it there when he lay down in the morning, and again when he opened his eyes at night. Sometimes, he would get it out and just look at it, trying to stir up the courage to do what it was becoming increasingly obvious Edgar could not.
He couldn't do it in his bedroom though, it wouldn't be fair to leave his family to clear up the mess.
As he walked through the crowd, closely followed by Sam, he thought through his options. He had to disappear. Edgar needed to be told, or he would spend his life convinced that his brother succumbed to the bloodlust and was out there somewhere. A note could set him right though, and Alan could fly high over the sea, thrust the stake through his own heart, and drop into the water never to be seen again.
But he didn't know if he had the strength to do that. To actually end his life, to no longer be a part of the world. Just not to exist anymore. It was an impossible thing to imagine. There was so much he had wanted to do with his life, and while there was still a chance, however slim, it would be difficult to throw it away.
But that was the problem, wasn't it? That thin sliver of hope was keeping him alive, and while he lived, he had the potential to surrender to the bloodlust. In the end, hope may be his downfall.
Night by night, the weeks passed like a form of torture. Almost three weeks had gone by, and they had found nothing. In desperation, they had moved their search from the boardwalk into the better populated areas of the city, then into the quieter areas, then back to the boardwalk. Nothing. Alan searched by sight, by scent and by every other method available to him. The sliver of hope was becoming thinner each morning when he closed his eyes knowing that they had failed once again.
It wasn't just the vampire woman who was impossible to find. After a week, Alan had expanded the search to include any vampires at all. A few days later, Edgar had authorized doing just that, but there were none. He had detected no hint of vampire activity, the disappearances had all but stopped. Under any other circumstances, this would be a cause for celebration, but not only did every passing night bring him one step closer to turning, it amplified the feeling that someone other than Edgar and Sam was watching him.
A half vampire's body temperature is slightly cooler than that of a human. It meant he didn't feel the slight chill in the air this evening that was keeping the people away. The boardwalk was much quieter than normal. Edgar was invisible as he followed him, waiting, watching.
This was the night, he had decided. If they found nothing tonight, he would end it. It was the same decision he had made the night before, and the one before that. Somehow, he always managed to find a reason to continue. But that, he realized, was all he was doing now. Not living, simply continuing his life. Like dying man trapped in a hospital bed, unable to do anything but watch through the window as the world went by without him.
It was as he was cementing the decision in his mind, that he turned a corner and stopped suddenly. She was standing there, leaning casually against a wall, examining her black painted fingernails and looking as though she was waiting for someone. Waiting for him.
She smiled without even looking up at him, “You're following me again,” she said.
Behind him, he could hear the increase in Edgar's heart rate, and wondered whether she had noticed him. If she had, she gave no sign. “I can't follow someone I can't find.” he told her.
“True,” she said. “In fact, I've been following you. Watching you.”
Alan felt a chill at that thought. How many nights had she been watching? Did she know why he was looking for her, how he meant to use her?
“You're still resisting.” The vampire said.
Alan nodded, he could hardly deny that, not when he was clearly not a full vampire.
The vampire smiled, “Good. You're stronger than I thought.” The wind ruffled her impossibly shiny hair, but she gave no signs of feeling the chill in the air. “Or you've been drinking something else.” She sniffed the air in a way Alan found slightly disturbing and pulled a revolted face. “You have, haven't you? Why would you do that?”
He had rehearsed the conversation he would have with her a hundred times in his head. Sometimes it ended with her taking him to the Black Widow, sometimes with her killing him where he stood. He was fine with either outcome. But in all the times he had planned what he would say, he had never anticipated that question. “What choice did I have?” he asked.
“The choice not to foul your body like that. Drink pure, human blood straight from the source. You weaken yourself with every sip of that filth.” She seemed angry. That hadn't been in the script either.
“I'm sorry,” he said. It seemed the appropriate response if he wanted to keep her talking.
She shook her head and looked up at him for the first time, “I'm sure you're not.”
“But you will be.”
Alan frowned. The brief thrill of excitement at finally discovering their prey was rapidly turning to apprehension. “What do you mean?”
“I mean, little hunter, that I was waiting for you to finally surrender and drink. I've been watching you wandering through crowds of humans night after night, knowing that your resolve couldn't last forever. But you cheated, and now I have no choice but to move things along myself. I sent the others away, I've been waiting for you alone. I'm beginning to crave the company of my own kind.”
This really wasn't going according to plan. He could hear the increase in Edgar's breathing as well as his heart rate, and could imagine him crouching, stake in hand, ready to strike. In a final effort to stick to the plan, he feigned ignorance. “Others? Are there more like us?”
“Of course, we're everywhere.” The vampire laughed, “But why are you asking questions when you already know the answer? Did you really think you could trick me?” She shook her head, “You must be getting desperate to resort to this. Feed, and it will all be over.”
She spoke to the bloodlust inside him, coaxing it to the surface. The need filled him again, he was suffocating while simultaneously drying of thirst and hunger. Blood. Warm, delicious, blood. He needed it. Every cell in his body screamed for it. He could smell his brother behind him. He wanted to sink his teeth into his veins and drink his blood. The idea consumed his thoughts until it was the only one remaining.
The vampire stood very still, watching his internal struggle with amusement. “There are consequences, little hunter.” she said. “Did you think you could come into my home, kill my family and just go home to your own?”
Alan backed away from her, but that only moved him closer to Edgar. He stopped. “It's you,” he managed to say through trembling lips. “You're the Black Widow.”
She giggled, and if it was possible for such a sound to be sinister, she managed it. “Yes, they call me that. All this time looking for me and we'd already met.”
The crippling power of the need for blood was no match for the white hot rage running through his veins. “I'm going to kill you,” he told her.
The Black Widow smiled patronizingly, “Yes, I'm sure you want to. I die, and you become human again.” She shook her head, “But you're not going to kill me. You're going to kill your brother. Mmm, doesn't he smell delicious?”
Edgar chose that moment to step out from his hiding place, armed with stakes and holy water. He began to advance quickly on their position.
“No, Edgar, stay back!” Alan shouted. The scent of blood filled his nostrils, he held his breath but it made no difference. The closer Edgar moved, the weaker Alan's resolve became
Edgar ignored him and rushed towards her to attack. Alan felt fangs, sharp against his tongue. Every instinct screamed at him to attack. In desperation, he took to the air and fled, placing as much distance between himself and his brother as he could stand. The further he moved, the more the need receded. When he felt safe, he turned to watch, praying that Edgar had followed his lead and ran away. He hadn't.
Edgar held his stake rigid in his right hand and charged, screaming a battle cry. The Black Widow stepped easily aside and easily knocked the weapon from his hand. Momentum from the charge threw him forward and he almost fell. As he regained his balance, he reached for the water gun in his holster. Before he could pull the the trigger, she grabbed his arm tightly at the wrist and squeezed. The gun fell uselessly to the ground, its contents spilling and soaking into the concrete.
Still holding his arm, she pulled him closer to her. Edgar yelled in fright and struggled for freedom. As she griped him with her other arm, he fully expected to die. He looked around in desperation for Alan, but didn't see him hovering in the sky above them.
Acting on sheer impulse, Alan swooped down towards them. Edgar closed his eyes as he struggled and kicked. He didn't want to see her fangs before they pierced his skin, he didn't want to know when it was coming. But she didn't bite. Instead, she took off into the air, carrying him with her.
Alan arrived a moment too late to stop them. He watched in horror as his brother was lifted away into the night sky. Without hesitation, he grabbed Edgar's discarded stake and he launched himself after them. He flew faster than he had ever managed before, desperate to keep them in view. Edgar's extra weight might have been slowing her down, or maybe she wanted him to follow. Whatever the reason, he had no trouble tracking them. He knew that most likely meant he was being led into a trap, but it didn't matter. He had no choice. There was much more hanging in the balance now than his humanity.