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 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9
Sam's mom folded a large feather duvet in half and laid it on the floor of Sam's bedroom. She apologized that they didn't have a bed for him, but Alan didn't mind at all. It was surprisingly comfortable. Possibly better even than his own bed at home, the mattress so old that it had become a landscape filled with hills and valleys that made it impossible for him to lie comfortably. The duvet was warm, and so soft that his whole body seemed to sink into it. He put both his hands underneath the pillow, supporting his head, covered himself completely with the second duvet with the Batman print cover and spent the night laying on the floor staring up at the ceiling.
This was, pathetic as he knew it was, the first night Alan had slept away from home. His family didn't take vacations. The comic book store was strictly a family business, they had no paid employees and they couldn't afford to close down for a week. Besides, they already lived right on the beach smack in the middle of a popular tourist destination, it made vacations seem pointless, really. Alan doubted that most of the time his parents even noticed where they were anymore, so a trip would be wasted on them. The only trips they were interested in taking didn't involve leaving the couch.
He and Edgar had not even spent the night at a friend's house before now because until Sam arrived they had no friends. It didn't bother them; their mission in life was the thankless task of protecting the innocent civilians of Santa Carla from the monsters that would kill them given half an opportunity. Something like that made a person a little unusual, and the other kids avoided them whenever possible. Alan didn't really care. Edgar actively encouraged it. Sam was odd too, but in a different way. And Alan suspected that had Sam's brother not fallen in with the vampire gang, Sam wouldn't be their friend either.
As though he sensed Alan's need for distraction, Sam obligingly filled the silence with whatever popped into his head. Comic books, movies, music, and any other random thought that entered his mind. Alan simply lay staring at the ceiling, replying occasionally. It was impossible to dwell on the problems trying to spin around his head when someone laying next to him kept asking his opinion on the latest Batman storyline and who made the best Robin.
Sam's mom knocked on the door several times during the night requesting they switch off the lights and go to sleep. Alan marveled at that. He wondered what it would be like to have a mother who actually cared about something so trivial as a bed time. Probably not that great, he decided. It would make going out in the middle of the night to hunt vampires more difficult. But on the other hand, a regular supply of pie like the slice she had given him earlier that evening might be enough to make having to sneak around worthwhile.
Each time she came in, Sam agreed to go to sleep, and then completely ignored her. He spoke more quietly for a few minutes, and then continued as though she had never said a word.
During the night, Sam's dog alternated between the bottom of his bed and sharing the space on the floor with Alan. He snored, and he growled and twitched in his sleep as though he was having a nightmare. When Sam finally dropped off some time in the early hours of the morning, he too tossed and turned. With the constant flow of Sam's chatter gone, there was nothing to prevent Alan dwelling on the evening's events. He switched off the light, and then lay in the dark, silently staring at the ceiling for most of the night.
He wondered what Edgar was doing, and whether he had noticed that Alan was gone. Whether, for that matter, he even cared.
Breakfast at the Emerson house meant fried bacon, eggs, pancakes and maple syrup. Sam grinned and whispered that they would normally have a slice of toast or a bowl of cereal, but his mom wanted to be a good hostess. Alan went to school feeling well fed to the point where he thought he might burst.
They rode their bikes to school. As they approached the gates, Alan slowed. Sam applied his brakes and turned to look at him while still peddling slowly forward, paying no attention to the road ahead of him. “We're going to be late.”
Alan slowed further and came to a complete stop just a few yards from the entrance. “Maybe I should go home.” he said.
Sam frowned. “Why?”
“Edgar...” Alan hesitated, realizing he wasn't sure whether he wanted to go home because he thought his brother would be there, or because he wouldn't.
“You can't avoid him by playing hookey, you'd probably get home and find out he did the same thing.”
Alan still hesitated.
“Anyway, you'll get in trouble if you leave now,” Sam added. “Mr. Mahoney's seen us.” He pointed to a thin man in his late fifties wearing a hideous brown suit and wire framed glasses.
Alan sighed in resignation, and nodded. They wheeled their bikes inside and locked them together before they split up to go to their separate classes.
Edgar was not having a good day. In fact, his day so far had been the very definition of not good. The night before, when he had returned home to find the store closed up early and Alan nowhere to be found, he had assumed his brother would be in his bedroom. He wasn't there.
He searched the house, wandered up and down the boardwalk a few times, and then went to bed worried and furious, and spent the whole night trying and failing to sleep as frightening thoughts invaded the half dreams from which he constantly woke.
That morning, despite being certain that he would have woken had Alan come in during the night, Edgar checked his brother's bedroom again, and found it empty. He started to panic. He called the Emerson house, hoping that Sam knew something, but the telephone just kept ringing with no reply. He checked the time, it was late. Sam would have left for school already, his mom was probably out or at work, and Michael might have been returned to fully human, but he still seemed to retain a few vampire habits, such as sleeping most of the day.
He waited at home for half the morning, pacing his room, wandering in and out of the store, looking for evidence of a fight. He walked up and down the boardwalk again, and around the back of the house. It was as though Alan had simply disappeared into the air. At around eleven, frantic with worry, he grabbed his bike from the back of the house. It was only then that he realized Alan's bike was missing.
Edgar stopped and stared at the space where the bike was suppose to be, wondering how he had missed it before. He checked the ground around the fence post where it should have been fastened, looking for the wire combination lock that usually held it in place. He didn't see it cut in half and laying on the ground, presumably the bike hadn't been stolen. That meant that wherever his brother had gone, he had gone under his own power. Unless whoever had taken him had also taken the bike to confuse anyone looking for him, but that was far too complicated a thought for Edgar to get his head around in the middle of so much stress.
Worry gave way to irritation in his mind. If Alan was going to deliberately disappear in the middle of the night, he could at least leave a note. Fuming, but still worried, he went to school, because it was the only place that he could think of.
He cycled so quickly that the muscles of his legs burned in protest, and when he arrived, scanned the row of chained bikes outside, searching for his brother's. He didn't see it, but there were so many that it would be easy to miss.
Teachers at Santa Carla's largest public school did not take kindly to kids wandering the halls when they were supposed to be in class. The size of the building and the number of students would make tracking down one person difficult when he didn't know his timetable. He had no idea where his brother would be at just after eleven on a Thursday morning. Not in a class they shared, he knew that much. Therefore his own history class was the one place he had no intention of visiting.
He went straight to Alan's locker, hoping that by some coincidental miracle, he would be there, but he was not. He wandered down a random corridor, peering through the circular windows in the classroom doors, checking the faces of the students, searching for either Alan or Sam. He had no luck. As he looked through the window of a math class, the teacher glanced up at the wrong moment and noticed him.
Edgar froze for a second too long. The teacher, a woman he didn't know, got to her feet and walked to the door. She opened it and looked at him expectantly. “Can I help you?”
Edgar shook his head and turned away.
“I don't think so, young man,” she told him.
Edgar sighed, accepted the detention and the escort to his own class. He sunk into a chair right at the back of the room and pretended he cared about the Civil War for half an hour. He was fighting his own war, there were much more important things going on in his life than school. Things that, terrifying as they were, he couldn't even afford to think about until he knew for certain that Alan was safe. History class was not high on his list of priorities.
He spent his lunch time waiting in their usual meeting spot, listening to his stomach growl but not daring to leave to buy anything in case he missed them, but neither Alan nor Sam materialized.
The relief he had felt when he discovered that Alan had taken his bike with him dissipated gradually as the day dragged on with no sign of him. Worry about Alan and worry about what Alan had told him mingled in his mind to create general feeling of unease. He should never have left the shop. He should have stayed and made sure his brother was safe. He should have stayed and made sure his brother had been lying to him. He should have been there to protect Alan as he had said he would. If he could just find Sam, he could ask what happened. He hoped that Sam was okay too.
Alan's last class of the day was Spanish. As he left the room after the final bell, he felt someone grab his shoulder tightly from behind. The unexpected contact surprised him and he jumped in shock. He instantly regretted that; the attacker would have felt it and know he had caught him by surprise. He spun around to face whoever it was, adopting a fighting stance, ready to defend himself. He might not know any defensive spells, but he could thump an evil Practitioner in the nose just as easily as anyone else. He turned to see Edgar, staring at him with a look of pure fury.
“Where the hell have you been?” his brother demanded. “You didn't come home last night. I've been looking for you all day. I thought something had happened to you.”
Alan dropped his fists and relaxed, just slightly. He was in no danger from Edgar. At least, he didn't think he was, but he kept his defenses up just in case. “I stayed at Sam's,” he said.
“Why did you do that?” Edgar asked, “Don't tell me you were doing more...”
“No!” Alan interrupted before he could finish. “No, I just thought it might be better if I kept away for a while.”
Edgar shook his head and grabbed hold of Alan's t-shirt, crumpling it into a mid chest handle, he pulled hard, half dragging his brother to a less populated corner. “Better how, exactly? You went AWOL with no warning. I thought... I don't even know what I thought. I almost went round to the magic shop to see if you'd gone back to the warl... to the wizard.”
“Practitioner.” Alan muttered, shaking his head. As Edgar let go of his t-shirt, he instinctively brushed out the creases, then folded his arms and treated Edgar to a carbon copy of his own angry glare. “You stormed out first. Where did you go, anyway?”
Edgar scowled at him. “For a walk,” he said. “So, you didn't go to him, and you didn't try any more... magic?” He dropped his voice on the last word and glanced around the hall as though he was discussing something illegal.
“No, I didn't.”
“And you don't plan to, right?”
Alan sighed. He still thought it would be a good thing to be able to defend himself, but considering Edgar's reaction to the idea, to do it would risk his relationship with his brother. If just the suggestion and the resulting fight hadn't done that already. He shook his head. Damage control, “No, I'm done with that. You're right, it was a stupid idea.”
Edgar looked at him uncertainly. Alan wasn't lying, but he didn't exactly mean what he said either. Edgar sensed that. Eventually, he let it go. “Yeah, it was. You're an idiot.” His expression softened slightly. “But judging by what I said to you last night, stupidity runs in the family.”
Alan almost smiled, until he remembered how angry he was.
“Look,” Edgar took a breath, and looked uncomfortable, as his finger played with the ever present strip of material tied around his head. “I'm sorry, okay? I didn't mean what I said. Well, I did mean that I don't want you studying magic. No way. But I didn't mean the other things. I didn't mean to call you... what I did.”
Edgar looked away. “Yeah, can we just drop it now? I said sorry.”
“Good. Now, talking of stuff running in the family, the thing that you told me..?”
Now it was Alan's turn to look uncomfortable. He forced himself to maintain eye contact. “I didn't mean to say it. I wasn't going to tell you, but I got so angry, and I just thought that if you knew about yourself you'd stop acting like I was...” he paused, “what you said.”
“So you said it to punish me.”
Alan shook his head in denial “No! I...”
Edgar held up a hand to silence him. “Yeah, you did. And I deserved it. But just for the record, is it true?”
There was a kind of pleading in Edgar's expression, as though he was imploring his brother to take back what he had told him. For a moment Alan toyed with the idea of doing just that, but they had never been able to lie to one another. Their truth detector was useful, it worked on other people too, with varying degrees of accuracy, but it rendered them both almost completely incapable of convincing the other of something untrue. If he tried to lie, Edgar would see straight through it. And that would further erode the trust between them.
Alan nodded wordlessly, looking downwards as he did, then slowly raised his gaze to meet his brother's. “I'm sorry,” he muttered.
Edgar appeared to slump slightly, but recovered almost instantly. “Okay,” he said. “That's okay. Not a problem. And it doesn't change a thing. If this is what we've always been, knowing about it can only be a good thing, right? Means we're prepared. Just as long as it doesn't get out to the monster hunting community, it'd ruin our credibility. Just tell me you didn't tell anyone else.”
“I told Sam,” Alan told him.
“Shit. Why would you..?” He shook his head in resignation, “Fine, that's okay, we can trust Sam. We'll just have to make sure he doesn't spread it around.”
Alan frowned. “There's a monster hunting community?”
“Of course there is,” Edgar smiled. “Somewhere out there. We can't be the only ones who know the truth. We just need to make a name for ourselves and they'll make contact.” He turned away and begun to walk down the hall. “Come on, lets get out of here.”
Alan watched his brother leave for a moment, not sure what to make of his reaction. Then he jogged a few steps to catch up.
They walked outside, side by side, the rhythm of their steps in time to one another again. Alan allowed himself a small smile, and straightened his beret. “What are we going to do about the warlock?” he asked.
“I thought we didn't call them that.” Edgar shot back at him.
Alan shook his head. “Not the good guys, no. The murderer we do.”
“Fair enough.” Edgar shrugged. “He's taking out the other magicians. Normally I'd say leave him to it, let him take care of our problem for us, but given the circumstances... He's killing innocent people. That's not okay.”
“I just wish I had an idea how to find him.”
They waited by the bikes for Sam to arrive. Around them, kids began to filter out of school, one at a time at first, then suddenly in their hundreds. As the crowd began to thin, Alan gave voice to the thought in his head. “We could ask Anthony for help.”
“Ask the wizard? The one that wants to train you up as his apprentice? I don't think so. I'm willing to admit he might not be quite as evil as I thought, but after what he did, as far as I'm concerned, he's still the enemy.”
“Ever heard the phrase 'the enemy of my enemy is my friend?'”
Edgar shrugged, “Sure, but sometimes the enemy of my enemy is a wizard who wants my brother to learn spells. I bet he'd by trying to teach me too if he didn't know I'd punch him in the face.”
Alan shook his head. “He didn't want you to know about it. Sophie wants you to learn, but Anthony would rather keep you out of danger. As soon as your power is unlocked, you're a target.”
Edgar's eyes widened in panic and he spun his head in all directions looking for anyone that might have overheard them. No one seemed to paying them any attention whatsoever. “Keep your voice down when you say things like that! Anyway, that's not going to happen,” he said, dropping his voice to a whisper. “Ever.”
“I know that, we're not even talking about that.” Alan lowered his own voice in order to feel less like he was shouting in comparison to Edgar. “But we're sill on the same side; us, Anthony and Sophie. We all want the warlock gone. And it makes sense to team up.”
“We're talking about two people whose response to being stalked by an evil warlock murderer is to keep moving towns, taking him with them on a killing spree tour of the country. They haven't exactly been going out of their way to stop him up to this point.”
Alan sighed deeply. Edgar was right, but that didn't mean working alone made any more sense. He scanned the school grounds and sighted Sam walking out of the building. Sam saw them at the same time, grinned and waved enthusiastically. Edgar and Alan glanced at him. Alan raised one hand quickly to return the greeting, and then they turned back to one another.
“Those guys aren't like us.” Edgar said. “Maybe we've got something in common with them,” his face distorted in disgust, “I guess there's nothing we can do about that. But they chose magic as a career. And now they go around trying to recruit other people, messing up their lives, accidentally setting psycho killers on them. As far as I'm concerned, they deserve whatever they might get.”
Alan sensed that Edgar wasn't done. He waited for the continuation.
Edgar noticed the expectant look and rolled his eyes. “But, a temporary team up to defeat a common enemy isn't unheard of in comic books. If we can't come up with anything else, then fine. Maybe.”
As Sam arrived, he placed himself between the brothers and slung one arm around each of their shoulders. He grinned happily. “See, together again. I told you you guys would be okay.”
Edgar stepped to the side, shrugging off the arm and escaping from what was dangerously close to becoming a group hug. “Lets go. We've got plans to make.”