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 | Part 5
Alan lay on his bed, propped up by his elbows. He flicked idly through the large book leaning against his pillow. He had read it through once already, and a second look didn't provide any new information. The language was old fashioned and flowery in a way that made him think of the English class he had skipped that afternoon, where he was supposed to be studying Shakespeare. Complicated and frustrating too, but at least he would have avoided the unpleasant encounter with Sophie.
The silence in the room was broken as his stomach growled loudly and he realized that he hadn't eaten since the slice of pizza he had inhaled for breakfast. With a sigh, he rolled off the bed, pushed the two books underneath, among the garlic and the comic books, and went down to the kitchen.
The kitchen was a small room that could be reached by walking through the door that separated the shop from the living area of the building. Most shops on the boardwalk probably used that room for storage, but with only three rooms and a bathroom upstairs, a family needing three bedrooms had no choice but to do some of their living downstairs. The alternative was for him to share with Edgar, and although that had been fine when they were kids, Edgar snored at an almost inhuman volume. After the night when Alan had woken up confused from a nightmare in the early hours of the morning and thumped him in the nose, their parents had decided to separate them.
It was a good thing, Alan thought, because he didn't know whether he had done some permanent damage to his brother that night, but ever since then his snores were so loud they still frequently woke Alan even from the adjacent room. Sometimes Alan wondered whether his brother was asleep at all. He imagined him wide away, face pressed against the wall, making the sound deliberately, over and over with a grin on his face. All this, of course, had been back when their parents were still conscious and coherent often enough to care that there was a problem.
Some days now they barely seemed to notice their sons at all. Edgar was his only real family. And right now, Edgar was in the way. Alan had to get into the magic shop, he needed to talk to Anthony.
In the kitchen, he inspected the bread, thew out the two moldy slices at the top and made a mental note to buy more, then he made himself a ham sandwich, and threw in a few slices of tomato for good measure. Then, on a whim, he made one for Edgar too.
He dropped onto the beaten up couch that stood against the staircase, and wolfed down his dinner. He left the second sandwich on a plate in the middle of the table, and went out through the back door to avoid his parents who were watching the shop alone for a change. He didn't want to walk though and find them asleep with the cash register open again, or he would feel obligated to stay.
The night air was cool and fresh after stuffiness of the house. He moved quickly along the boardwalk, dodging from left to right as he avoided the slow moving groups enjoying an evening stroll or heading out to their favorite bar with the instinctual ease of someone who had grown up navigating crowds without being a part of them.
He sighted Edgar easily, standing guard in his usual spot directly opposite the shop. He leaned on the wall, with his thumbs hooked into the pockets of his camouflage pants, staring intently at the place as though he had the ability to make it disappear if only he could want it enough. Clearly, it wasn't working. Alan watched him for a moment, unnoticed, before he took a deep breath and approached.
Edgar glanced away from his target for a moment to register his brother's appearance with a curt nod, then immediately resumed his original stance.
“Sorry,” Alan told him. “About earlier.”
“I made you a sandwich.”
Edgar turned toward him, taking his eyes off of the store for another few microseconds, long enough to glance him over and register the lack of a sandwich. “Is it invisible?”
“No, it's at home in the kitchen. I'll take over here.”
“I've started noticing patterns,” Edgar told him. “We're getting repeat visitors, sometimes the same people on the same days.”
Alan shrugged, “Everywhere gets repeat customers.”
“But people coming here more than a few times are likely to be witches. Now we know who they are.”
Alan bit his lip and wondered how many visits were required to make someone a potential witch. He would almost certainly be included on the list if he wasn't saved by the fact that Edgar trusted him and that he had been careful. “How much longer are we going to have to do this?” he asked.
“As long as it takes. Sooner or later, we'll get proof that these people are connected to the murder. Then we can go to the police and get them shut down.”
“I thought you said all the higher up cops were werewolves. Why would they help?”
Edgar frowned for a moment, as though he had forgotten his own theory, and then shrugged, “Not all of them, just some. We can go at night during a full moon so we know we're talking to a human. Anyway, for all we know werewolves might hate warlocks as much as we do.”
Alan turned around and leaned against the wall next to his brother, and began to watch the door to the shop. “Go home, Edgar, it's supposed to be my watch tonight.”
After one final hate filled glare at the door to the shop, Edgar nodded, “Okay, I'll go get that sandwich. Be careful. There's a girl who works in there, I saw her at school today, and I think she was following us around.”
Alan shuddered, “I saw her too. Believe me, I'll definitely avoid her.”
Edgar nodded and left. Alan watched him go. In contrast to the way that he would sidestep to avoid the crowds walking in the other direction, Edgar simply plowed through them. He watched his brother disappear into the teeming masses that populated the boardwalk by night. Once he was out of sight, Alan waited a few minutes to be safe, then counted slowly to a hundred. When he was sure Edgar wasn't coming back, he glanced quickly from left to right, looking for anyone that might know him, and then walked into the shop.
To his relief, Sophie was nowhere to be seen. As the wooden door hit the bell, the old man sitting behind the counter looked up from his book and smiled.
“I was worried you wouldn't come back.”
Alan shrugged, “Your granddaughter told me this place is warded against vampires. Is that true?”
Anthony nodded. “Horrible creatures. I invented the spell myself.”
“Could you do it for us? For our house?”
“I can do better than that, I can teach you to do it yourself.”
“No,” Alan shook his head, “I don't want to do that.”
Anthony took a deep breath and sighed loudly. “It's been a slow night,” he said. “I think I'll close up early. Could I interest you in a cup of coffee? Or a glass of Coke, maybe?”
“I don't want to learn magic,” Alan blurted. He felt heat rush to his face and hoped that the blush wasn't too visible in the dim light, “That is... I mean, I don't think it's a good idea.”
Anthony smiled, “I offered you a drink, not a lesson.”
Alan sighed, “Sure, why not?” He watched with the tiniest hint of apprehension as the old man locked the door and pocketed the keys, essentially trapping him in the shop.
“Oh, don't worry. The back door is unlocked, and I have no intention of keeping you here longer than you want to stay. I need my rest. I don't have the energy for kidnapping.”
As the old man disappeared into the back room and Alan listened to the sound of a boiling kettle, he looked around the shop, located a stool by the window and dragged it over to the cash desk. By the time Anthony re-emerged and placed a glass of cola on the desk, Alan was idly flicking through a book from the shelf. He quickly put it down.
“So,” said Anthony, “Sophie told me what happened today. She sends her apologies.”
“She did some kind of spell on me,” Alan told him. He frowned at the memory and subconsciously ran a finger across the skin of his face, checking for any evidence that the curse had started to work.
Anthony smiled, “She told me all about it. In fact, all she did was throw sherbert over you and mutter a few nonsense words. It's one of her favorite tricks, unfortunately. There are no spells on you, I'd sense it if there were.”
“Oh. Good.” He spun his glass slowly on the table, and watched the pattern that the condensation made on the wood. “What about the stuff she told me about the people that kill and steal power, was that true? The book made it seem like it was all history.”
“Unfortunately, yes. They are real, and Sophie and I seem to have attracted the attention of one of them. The first body washed up this morning. You probably heard already?”
Alan nodded , “Edgar thinks it's you.”
“I think your brother would blame me for the weather if he could think of a way.”
“You have to admit it looks pretty suspicious. You turn up and a week later someone's killed by magic.”
Anthony calmly took a sip of his coffee and a calm, deep breath before he replied. “You wouldn't be here if you thought I was responsible. I'm sure by now you've realized you could be a target for this killer. If you thought it was me, you'd would be insane to be alone here. You're here because you want to learn to defend yourself.”
“Actually, I'm here for assurances that you and Sophie will leave us alone.”
“What do you think we're going to do to you?”
He hesitated before answering. Giving away too much might provide to old man with something he could use against him, to coerce him into learning magic. Unfortunately, he didn't seem to have a choice, he needed an assurance, “I think Sophie's going to tell Edgar everything, and I don't want him to know.”
Anthony nodded, “Understandable. I have no intention of telling your brother anything. The less he knows, the safer he will be,”
“Oh.” Alan frowned, “but Sophie wants to tell him, she wants me to convince him to learn magic so we can all fight off this murderer together.”
“Sophie has different ideas about how we should confront our problems. You, unfortunately, have little choice, You are involved, and if we're being watched, he probably knows about you too. Until Edgar's power is unlocked, there would be nothing to gain from harming him. The ability to unlock power is a very subtle magic, almost definitely beyond the capabilities of our killer, meaning at the moment your brother is safe. But whether you want to or not, you should learn to defend yourself.”
Alan drained his glass and set it down on the desk, “I can defend myself fine already.”
“I'm sure you can, but you've never come up against this kind of enemy before. I can teach you things that you can use to keep yourself safe. If you don't learn, he could kill you before you even realize what's happening.”
“What about Sophie's parents? It didn't help them very much.”
Anthony sighed and suddenly looked very tired, “My daughter and her husband had turned their backs on our way of life. They thought it would be better for their daughter. I wish I could have respected their wishes, but she needed to be able to defend herself. As do you.”
Alan pushed his empty glass away and stood up. “I'll think about it,” he said, “I won't make any promises, but I'll definitely think about it.”
Anthony got to his feet and followed Alan to the door to unlock it, “I'm sorry,” he told him as he turned the key, “If I'd realized we were still being followed, I would never have approached you.”
Edgar gave his parents an irritated glance as he walked into the shop. They sat behind the cash desk, his father leaning against the wall, his mother against her husband's chest. His mother's eyes opened as he passed and she gave him a smile before she drifted back into unconsciousness. He sighed and looked around the shop, they had no customers right now, and he wasn't in the mood to work. He reached into his pocket for his keys, locked the front door and walked past his parents on his way into the back. As he did, he picked up a large box from the floor and dropped onto the desk, it landed with a loud bang and barely disturbed them. Edgar shrugged. It looked like they were settled for the night.
He grabbed some of the latest issues, picked up his sandwich from the table and went upstairs to wait for Alan. N the way past his brother's room, he noticed that the door was ajar. He stopped at the threshold to the room. They had no secrets between them. Since they had moved into separate rooms, they had each treated the other room as an extension of their own. They usually slept in their own beds, but at all other times, if he was looking for Alan he was as likely to find him in one bedroom as the other. But today, for some reason that he couldn't quite put his finger on, Edgar found himself hesitating before he entered.
He shook his head in bemusement, trying to banish the strange feeling, then pushed the door open and went inside. He scanned the room quickly, looking for the magic book. He didn't want it in his house, but Alan had made a good point about understanding the enemy, and Edgar wanted the same advantage.
He checked the desk, the bookshelf and the pile of books on the floor, it wasn't among them. Puzzled, he tried to think of where he might hide something. He dropped to his knees and looked under the bed. Sure enough, there was a pile of books under there among lost comic books, cloves of garlic and an empty water pistol. He smirked to himself. Other teenage boys might hide a couple of copies of playboy, but not Alan. He reached under the bed and dragged out everything he could reach.
Edgar looked at the pile of stuff. It included a few random books that had probably been kicked under there by accident, the magic book, and something else. Edgar's eyes narrowed as he read the title. Another magic book. A warning flashed in his brain, something was very wrong.
Reluctantly, knowing he had no choice, he opened the second book to a page somewhere in the middle and began to read. Eyes widened in realization. Alan had two magic books, and this one had spells in it. Closing the book and putting it aside for the moment, he lay face down on the floor and reached further under the bed with his hand swinging like a pendulum from side to side, praying that he wouldn't find anything else. It hit a plastic bag. He grabbed it and pulled it out.
There was some kind of dried plant leaves in the bag. The hopeful part of his brain suggested that Alan might have borrowed some of their parents' stash, but the more rational part knew that his brother would never deliberately impair his fighting ability like that. Besides, it didn't look like weed. He opened the bag and sniffed experimentally. It didn't smell like it either.
He sealed the bag, grabbed the spell book and ran out of the room and down the stairs. He left the back door swinging open behind him as he sprinted back to the magic store to confront his brother. There was a rational explanation for this. There had to be.
Edgar ignored the boardwalk crowds as he ran, forcing them to jump out of his way or risk an injury. Any that dodged too slowly earned a growl of anger and a warning glare telling them to be quicker next time. As he approached the magic store, his eyes darted around quickly, looking for Alan among the crowd. He wasn't there. A feeling of dread began to seep into his stomach and he increased his speed further still, heading for the door. If the warlock had done anything to his brother, he was going to kill him.
Before he could reach it, the door opened. Edgar stopped dead in his tracks and watched. Alan stepped out onto the boardwalk. He turned and said something to someone inside, and then he door closed behind him. Edgar's stomach was churning as he hurried over.
When he saw his brother marching toward him, Alan's eyes went wide with shock.
“You'd better have a damn good explanation for this, Alan.”
Only then did Alan appear to notice the book in one of Edgar's hands and the bag of herbs in the other. When he did, his face took on a deer in the headlights expression.
Alan took a step backwards and held his hands up, palms outward, “Ed, calm down.”
“What are you doing in the magic store? And more importantly, why the hell do you have this crap in your room?” Edgar threw the book as hard as he could, it hit the wall of the store and fell to the ground near Alan's feet.
Alan tried to think of an explanation that wouldn't send Edgar into a further rage, but nothing came to mind. It wouldn't make any difference anyway, when he got in this mood, he wouldn't listen to anything but the sound of his own anger. Alan bent down, grabbed the book, then turned and ran in the opposite direction as quickly as he could.
It took Edgar a few seconds to process what was happening. By then, Alan was several paces away down the boardwalk. He took off after him, his muscles protested at another sprint so soon after the last one, but he ran through the cramp and chased his brother down the boardwalk through crowds of staring tourists.
When he reached the end of the boardwalk, Alan jumped down the steps onto the beach and carried on along the sand. Alan had the advantage of not having just ran from home to the magic store, and so managed to put some distance between then quickly. However as the chase continued, he began to tire and Edgar's better stamina allowed him to close the gap.
When Alan eventually stopped and rested, almost doubled over with his hands resting on his thighs as he gasped for air, Edgar was almost on him. Realizing the chase was over, Edgar allowed himself to drop onto the damp sand and enjoy a few moments of breathing deeply, recovering. When he was able to speak again, he glared at his brother. “What the hell?”
Alan didn't reply, he straightened up an for a second, Edgar thought he was about to start running again. Instead, he dropped onto the sand next to him, still breathing heavily.
“Alan, what's going on? Why'd you run?”
Alan spoke between gasps for breath. “Tire you out,” gasp.
“Yeah, you managed that alright. But you look worse than me.”
“Had to,” gasp, “calm you down.”
“Oh.” Edgar waited, giving his brother time to recover. As his breathing began to slow, he started to get impatient. “Okay, I'm calm. Explain.”
Alan lay back, allowing the moisture in the sand to soak through his shirt and cool his skin. “It's a long story,” he said.
“I don't care. Tell.”
Alan did. There was no point lying, Edgar would know, and he couldn't think of a believable story anyway. He omitted the part about Edgar supposedly having the same magical ability, justifying it to himself by the fact that he had seen no evidence. For all he knew, the old man could be mistaken.
Edgar listened as in the distance on the boardwalk, lights began to go out and the attractions began to close for the night. As Alan spoke, he looked out to sea, watching by the moonlight the small waves of the receding tide breaking on the shore. When he finished, he turned and looked at his brother. Edgar tried to think of a response.
“Well?” Alan asked.
“Aren't you going to say anything?”
Edgar shrugged. His fingers burrowed into the wet sand and for a few seconds he still said nothing. “This guy's obviously taking you for a ride,” he decided eventually.
“That's what I thought at first. But it makes sense. When Sam and I tried the spell-”
“We're going to talk more about that later,” Edgar interrupted. “What the hell were you thinking, messing around the magic? I'd expect it of Sam, he's new to this, but you should know better.”
“When we tried the spell,” he said again, “Sam couldn't do it, I could. If I have this ability, that makes sense.”
Edgar bit his lip, “Look, you're nuts for trying it, and maybe you do have a knack for it or whatever, but that doesn't mean you've got some 'ability'. You're not some warlock freak, okay?”
“But the fact that this spell worked, that doesn't mean the guy in the shop isn't the murderer.”
“If he was, why wouldn't he have killed me already? And his granddaughter, for that matter.”
“Maybe she's the murderer. She hasn't killed him because she needs him, and maybe she hasn't gotten around to killing you yet. We'll keep her under close observation, and I don't want you alone from now on, stay with either me or Sam at all times.”
Alan closed his eyes, the adrenaline from the run was filtering out of his bloodstream, leaving him exhausted. He shook his head. “The murderer killed her parents when she was a kid, he's been around a lot longer than her.”
“Then maybe...” Edgar sighed, “Shit, I don't know. There's something else going on here. They're tricking you for a reason.”
“Maybe they're not tricking me at all.”
Edgar reluctantly got to his feet and brushed sand from his clothing, “No more magic.” he said. “No more magic books, no more visits to the magic store to have cocoa with the warlock. If they've got someone out to get them, let him get them. It'd solve all our problems if he did.”
He offered a hand to Alan who ignored it and stood up himself. “If there's someone out there after them, he's coming for me too,” he said. “The old man said I need to be able to defend myself.”
“No way. You made a mistake once. Stupid, but forgivable. But you can't do it again, Alan. Not ever. You understand me?”
“Yeah, I do. I told him I'd think about it, but I'm going to tell him no.”
Edgar smiled grimly, “Good. Now lets get home and forget all about this, okay?”
Without waiting for a response, he began to walk down the beach back to the boardwalk. Alan hesitated a few seconds, before following after him.