Warnings: Slight AU
Characters: Edgar Frog, Alan Frog, Sam Emerson
Spoilers: If you haven't seen the movie you're unlikely to be reading this. But still very few if any.
Synopsis: Edgar and Alan are less than pleased when a magic store opens up on the Boardwalk, but who are the newcomers to Santa Carla running the place, and what exactly are they hiding?
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4
Anthony grunted quietly as he got to his feet. It seemed like only yesterday he had been a sprightly teenager just like the boy from the comic store. A whole world of discoveries stretched out in front of him. Now there was still so much to discover, but he was an old man, running out of time. He would have to leave it to the next generation. His granddaughter had an impressive talent. The boy, Alan, too. As would his brother, but Anthony held out little hope of convincing him to start out down the path. If anything, he was going to hold Alan back.
His legs ached as he walked to the door and locked up for the night. Upstairs, he could hear Sophie moving around. The smell of roast chicken drifted down temptingly and his stomach growled in appreciation.
Sophie was taking the dinner out of the oven and placing it on plates by the time he arrived in the kitchen. “My favorite,” he said.
“Well, you've been working so hard, I thought you deserved a treat.”
Anthony smiled as he sat down to eat. “So, it's your first day of school on Monday. Are you looking forward to it?”
She shrugged, “Gotta say, not so much. Are you sure you don't want me to stay back and help in the store? It's coming up to summer, the tourists are going to be all over us. No offense, grandpa, but are you sure you can keep up with them?”
He laughed, “There's life in me yet, Soph. You need to learn, finish school, go to college.”
“I'm already learning everything I need from you. I'm not going to college, I'm going into the Practice.”
“Oh, Sophie, we've talked about this.”
“Yeah, and I decided that's what I want. There's nothing for me in that world. This is what I love.”
Anthony sighed. “Well, for the time being, I'm still in charge. You might refuse to go to college, but I insist you attend school.”
Sophie tucked her her hair behind an ear and pouted. “Fine, Grandad. It'll give me a chance to get to know this kid you're so interested in. Does he really have that much potential?”
“Yes, though until I can work with him, I won't know for certain how much.” He sighed, “My strength isn't what it was, it isn't as easy for me to sense power as it used to be. But those who manage to unlock the talent for themselves are usually stronger than those of us who needed to be shown the way. He could be a powerful force for good. If his brother doesn't hold him back.”
“I hate that guy,” Sophie grimaced.
Anthony smiled, “The irony is that his brother has the talent too. Not unlocked yet, but definitely strong.”
Sophie licked her lips. “Really? Well, that's interesting.”
Even in the so-called murder capital of the world, news of a body washing up on the beach spreads fast. Especially when it has what looks like ritual markings carved into it's chest. And especially when it is found by two kids. The school was alive with gossip by mid morning.
Edgar leaned against the lockers, tapping his finger impatiently as Sam swapped history books for science and checked his hair in the mirror stuck on the inside of the door. Alan stood more calmly, waiting.
“This body has to be connected to the magic store,” Edgar said. “There was a pentagram carved into his chest.”
“I heard it was a bunch of runes or something.” Sam told him.
“Maybe it was both. The point it, it can't be a coincidence. That warlock guy is involved.”
Sam glanced at Alan, but the other Frog appeared uncharacteristically silent on the matter. Edgar appeared not to notice as he plowed ahead with his rant.
“It could be a coincidence,” Sam told him. “I mean, that's what a coincidence is, isn't it? Two things happening at the same time that aren't connected but it seems like they should be. This might have happened without the magic store opening.”
“Maybe it would have done,” Edgar agreed. “If the warlock moved to Santa Carla and opened an evil bakery or something instead of a magic store to keep him busy between murders.”
“They don't call themselves warlocks or wizards or anything like that,” Alan said. “It's just Practitioners.”
Edgar shrugged, “Fine, they can call themselves whatever they like. I call them warlocks. And we need to get rid of them before more bodies wash up.”
“How are we going to do that?” Alan asked.
“I'll think of something.”
The kid was never alone. It was so irritating. It wasn't like he was constantly surrounded by a group of friends like some of the popular kids, that would be better, she could tempt him away easily enough. But he was always with his brother, and this wasn't a discussion Sophie wanted him in on.
She waited almost all day until she finally found him walking to class without his escort. Then she sidled over to him and smiled.
Alan stopped walking and looked at her in surprise “Uh, hey,” he said eventually.
“Hi,” Sophie smiled. “Where's your shadow?”
Alan frowned. “If you're accusing me of being a vampire, that myth isn't true. And it's daylight.”
“And you've been in our store. It's warded so vampires can't enter. Relax, I meant your brother. I was beginning to think you were joined by an invisible string or something, he never seems to be more than a few feet away from you.”
“Edgar's in a different English class to me,” he explained, then attempted to step past her and to his lesson.
“English, huh?” She shrugged, “You already seem to speak English.”
Alan half smiled at the bad joke, then dodged past her and walked quickly down the corridor.
“Oh, come on!” She ran after him and grabbed his shoulder. He stopped and turned around. “I'm just trying to talk to you, you don't have to be so rude.”
He sighed, “You're right. I'm sorry.”
“Great, so how about you make it up to me? I saw a nice looking coffee shop not far away, buy me a cappuccino.”
Alan shook his head, “Now? We're in school.”
“So? You're already late for your class. We established that you already speak the language, so what's the harm?”
“Fine,” Alan adjusted his beret and marched away quickly in the direction of the doors.
Sophie hurried after him again, “What's the hurry?”
“When skipping out of school, the trick is to look as purposeful as you can. Trying not to be noticed, glancing around furtively, that draws attention to you. Follow my lead.”
“Oh,” Sophie giggled and tried to emulate his confident stride, “You've done this before.”
“Well, no. But the same principle applies in any situation where you don't want to be noticed.” They walked through the doors and outside without so much as a glance from a single staff member. Once they cleared the school grounds, he took a deep breath. “Made it.”
Sophie linked her arm in his, “You make it sound like we were breaking out of prison. Have you seriously never skipped a class before?”
“Not in the middle of the day. I've skipped whole days – only in the line of duty of course – but that doesn't involve escaping.”
They strolled slowly to the coffee shop. Alan tried to relax, but Sophie's close proximity made him incredibly uncomfortable. It wasn't that she was unattractive, quite the opposite, but she represented the thing about himself that scared him, and right now she was too close for comfort. Unfortunately, as much as he wanted to, he couldn't bring himself to push her away.
The coffee shop was empty, which wasn't surprising for a place away from the boardwalk and the main areas of town on a Monday afternoon before the tourist season started. They chose a table by the window and Sophie ordered her cappuccino.
The waitress looked at Alan for his order and he shrugged, “The same, I guess,” he said. As the woman walked away, he looked at Sophie and shrugged, “I have no idea what a cappuccino is,” he confessed.
Sophie laughed, “You'll like it,” she promised. “So, my grandad gave you some books. What did you think.”
He frowned, “I thought that was what you wanted to talk about. It's interesting, but I don't want to be a part of it. I like my life as it is, I don't want to be... that.”
“Well,” Sophie crossed her arms, “that's a little insulting.”
“It wasn't meant to be. It's just that we, me and Edgar, we're vampire hunters. We fight the monsters, we don't... I mean, I don't want to...” he felt the blood rushing to his face and sweat beginning to seep out of every pore. He waved an arm in front of himself as though he could erase the last minute. “I'm sorry,” he said.
Sophie shrugged, “Don't be. In our line of work, we're used to it. Anyway as it happens I know exactly what you mean. Everything supernatural you've encountered so far has been evil, and you hunt it, right?”
“Well, there are plenty of evil Practitioners out there too, if that makes you feel any better.”
They both hushed as the waitress brought over their coffees and waited until she was gone until they continued talking.
“No, it really doesn't.”
Sophie stirred two spoonfuls of sugar into her cup and breathed in the aroma appreciatively. “It shouldn't, they're not good people. I was eight when I found out about magic. A man came to my house and killed both my parents. It turned out they were Practitioners, he took their power to make himself stronger. He only left me alive because my powers weren't unlocked yet. He told me that when they were, he'd come back.”
Alan listened, unable to think of anything to say. Sophie took a sip of her coffee and licked the foam from her top lip.
“My Grandad took me in. For the longest time I was terrified of magic, I was sure that as soon as I used it, he'd come and kill us both. But eventually I started to understand that if I could learn and become skilled enough, if he ever did come back, I could help to fight him.”
“Did he? Come back, I mean?”
She shrugged, “There's someone out there. We don't know if it's the same guy, but he seems to follow us around. That's how come we don't stay in the same place for very long. But with you and your brother on our side, maybe we could finally beat him. And until we don't, by the way, you're in danger too.”
Alan massaged his forehead with the fingers of one hand, then took a tentative sip of his coffee. “Me and my brother? You want to drag Edgar into this as well?”
“But your grandfather said Edgar's power isn't... switched on, or something. Doesn't that mean he's not in any danger?”
Sophie nodded, “But my granddad's a great teacher, and he can unlock power. Not everyone can do that, but it saves years of study. You could both be ready to fight in a few months.”
“No,” Alan shook his head, “I don't want Edgar involved. If he's in no danger at the moment, he needs to stay that way.”
“Have you even told him about the magic?”
“I don't want him involved,” Alan repeated.
“You're ashamed, aren't you? It's not that you're scared, or that you don't understand. You hate the supernatural, and now you know you're a part of it, you're ashamed. You don't want anyone to know. That includes your brother even though he's part of it too.” She smiled. “You're trying to protect him.”
“I'm doing exactly what he would do for me.”
“Denying him the opportunity to make his own decisions?”
“Yes. He's been doing that to me for years. I don't really want myself involved either, but maybe I don't have a choice. Either way, leave my brother out of it. I mean it.” He stood up, leaving his almost untouched coffee on the table.
“I need both of you,” Sophie told him.
Alan pulled five dollars out of his pocket and put it on the table, “I said I'd buy you a coffee, I did. Now leave me alone.”
Sophie pressed her lips together in irritation and reached into her own pocket. Before Alan could react, she threw some kind of powder in his face and muttered a few words that he couldn't make out.
“What the hell?” Alan brushed the powder off of his face and used his beret to beat it from his clothes. “What was that?”
“Acne spell,” she said with a smirk, “I'll take it off when you talk your brother into helping us.”
Alan shook his head and left as quickly as he could. He had the overwhelming urge to go home and take a shower.
Alan turned the mirror toward the light and looked for signs of pimples. There were definitely a few bumps forming on his chin, but he couldn't remember whether they were there this morning.
“What happened to you today?”
He turned to see Edgar standing in the doorway to his bedroom.
“And what are you doing? Squeezing pimples?”
“No. I didn't feel well, I came home early.”
Edgar walked in and sat on the bed, “You look fine now. What was it, Englishclassitis? You could have told me, I'd have skipped with you.”
“I didn't skip. I didn't feel well, and I still don't. Can you just go away, Edgar? Please?”
“Fine,” Edgar stood up and walked out the door, “I'll take surveillance duty tonight, but you owe me.”
Alan shrugged, not in the mood to argue. As Edgar disappeared down the stairs, he locked the door, retrieved the magic books from under the bed and started to read.