Warnings: A bit of language, nothing major
Characters: Edgar Frog, Alan Frog
Spoilers: Majorly for the Thirst
Synopsis: Edgar finds himself fighting a war on two fronts when a power vacuum leads to an explosion in the vampire population at the same time as he finds himself learning how to cope with his own set of fangs
The night was finally coming to an end.
Edgar wondered whether things really were getting worse, or whether he was just starting to feel his age. Once he could have spent all night fighting, gone home for a few hours of rest, then got on with daytime life before the sun set and it all started over. Tonight, and the last few nights, he had come home exhausted and slept through to the next sunset.
He turned the faucet and ran his hand under the water as it gradually cooled. The water that ran off down the drain was filthy with the byproducts of battle. He grabbed a glass from the rack, held it under the cold water and filled it to overflowing. He glanced briefly at the garlic and the eggs, but decided he wasn't in the mood for Frog juice at the moment. He needed something that wouldn't make him want to retch. He took a long, refreshing swig, and collapsed onto the couch.
Before his hand had the chance to dry, he rubbed his palms quickly together to spread the water, and then scrubbed them on the rough surface of his pants legs. “You'd think taking out the head vampire would mean there were less bloodsuckers, not more,” he muttered. Under the light of the fluorescent bulb above, he examined his hands. They were still filthy, literally encrusted with dirt and grime. The rest of him probably didn't look much better. “It seems we've been working flat out all night every night and we're not making a dent in the population.”
Alan reclined at the other side of the sofa. His head rested back on the top of the cushion, and and his eyes were half closed. He looked like Edgar felt. “Probably removing the master for this area means the others are going after the top spot,” he suggested. “Sooner or later, someone'll win and it'll settle down.”
Edgar put his drink down on the table and stared at his brother. “Wait. Are you telling me you think killing the head vampire has made things worse?”
Alan got wearily to his feet and opened the blinds of Edgar's trailer. In the distance, the sun was beginning to rise, and the sky on the horizon was painted red and yellow. He stood and looked outside, watching as the light grew brighter. “Not for all the people at the rave that we freed,” he said.
“Well, okay, yeah. But are you saying you knew this would happen?” Edgar demanded.
Alan shook his head slowly from side to side, thoughtfully. He turned around to look at Edgar before he replied. “Not exactly,” he said eventually, “but now that it has, it makes perfect sense.”
“Well thanks for the heads up.” Edgar put his elbows on the table and rested his chin in his hands, giving him a nice, steady glare, which he fixed on his brother.
“It only occurred to me now,” Alan insisted. “I had other things on my mind. I've recently become human again, in case you'd forgotten.”
Edgar's eyebrow twitched upwards.
“I was readjusting.”
“That's just great.”
Alan took a deep breath and exhaled slowly through pursed lips. “Edgar, I've been hiding away from the world for five years, drinking animal blood to survive, avoiding people because the temptation to bite was almost too much to handle. I've been sleeping in the day, spending the nights hating myself. I barely saw the sun the whole time because it made me so weak. Suddenly, I'm free. So yeah, I had other things on my mind.” He paused and shrugged, “You didn't think of it either.”
Edgar stared. This was the first time Alan had spoken openly about his experiences as a half vampire. In the months since he had been back, he had remained mercifully close-lipped on the subject. He didn't want to talk about it, and Edgar didn't want to know. He already had enough nightmares to last him a lifetime. His brother had been through five years of hell, Edgar knew that, and that was enough for both of them. It was an unspoken agreement that had worked very well for them so far. Now Alan had just broken it, opening the floor to all kinds of questions Edgar didn't want to know the answer to.
“Fine,” Edgar got to his feet and paced the small area of floor space, keeping his eyes on Alan as he did. “So the vampires are at war, and it doesn't look like they're just taking it out on one another, so the question is, what are we going to do about it?”
He eyed Alan expectantly, hoping for an exited declaration of death to all vampires, half expecting him to refuse to have anything to do with it, thinking the risk of reinfection too great. What he got was a reluctant nod and a sigh.
“I suppose we'll have to take care of it.”
Alan turned back to the window. The sun was just making its first appearance.
The vampires would already be hidden away for the day They had around thirteen hours of daylight at this time of year. After that, they would rise and continue to feed and to spread their evil to new victims. A war needed soldiers, and judging by the numbers of new vampires they had been seeing recently, innocent people were being taken for that purpose. New half vampires, most of them not as... lucky... as Alan had been, not understanding what had happened to them and how to resist the bloodlust, would feel the almost irresistible urge to kill, and they would quickly act on it.
“We need to find out who the new potential masters are, and destroy them. We've got no choice,” Alan said resignedly. “In a way, we did this. We have to fix it.”
Edgar shook his head. “We didn't do this. The vampires did it all themselves, we cleaned up one mess, now we have to clean up another. And fast, before things really start to turn to shit.”
Alan gave him one of his half smiles and shook his head. “I think they probably already have,” he said. He opened the door and stepped outside. “I'll be back before dark,” he promised. “The sooner we take care of this, the fewer people get turned, and the easier it'll be.”
Edgar watched him go, then drained the last of his water, walked into his tiny bathroom and switched on the shower. The water that swirled around his feet before it ran away down the drain was red.
Both the vampires were fairly new. Alan could tell by the still human color in their faces. It was subtly different from that of a vampire that had recently fed, though these two had definitely fed recently as well. The evidence of their most recent kill was literally all over their faces, smeared red around their lips, and on their clothes and hands.
That was another way that he knew they were new. Experienced vampires weren't such messy eaters. They had probably left the bodies discarded where they fed too. He wondered whether the blood that covered them was from their first kill, whether just a few short hours ago they had been half vampires as he had been, with human minds not understanding the horrible thing that had happened to them.
He felt a surge of pity for the creatures. He squashed it down with practiced speed. Whatever and whoever they had been before tonight, now they were monsters, concerned with nothing but the pursuit of more blood in an endless quest to quench their insatiable thirst.
They were strong. All vampires were. His time as a half vampire had allowed him to forget just how fragile the human body was in comparison to the things that hunted it. He was still re-learning his own limitations. The first vampire, one that had been a young man in his twenties before he had been changed, still wearing the vacation casual clothes he had been wearing when he was changed, came at him with a growl, teeth bared, ready to bite.
Alan ducked, and the vampire flew over his head, landing a few feet behind him before he ran at him again. He was an inexperienced fighter, not understanding what he could do with his new strength or the ability to fly. Alan himself could have done better if their positions were reversed.
He pulled the stake from the holster at his belt and turned just in time to for the vampire to run straight into it. The metal spike easily pierced his chest and he fell to the ground as he crumbled into fine gray dust.
“Shit,” he muttered. No chance to ask him who his master was, if he even knew. Maybe Edgar would have more luck with the other one. Alan retrieved the stake from the gray smear on the ground as the light breeze caught it and began to carry it away. The weapon was completely clean. He turned to Edgar to see whether he was finished.
The vampire his brother was fighting paused in horror as she watched her partner disintegrate. Her face contorted into anger. Her long, dark hair was matted with blood, and with her sharp teeth on display she looked every bit the monster from the horror movies they had grown up watching. Edgar pulled out his stake and charged her. A horrible scream was ripped from her throat. Alan turned briefly away, surveying the area. The screams could have attracted more vampires, or even humans, though they would be more likely to run in the other direction. Finding the location clear, he turned back to Edgar just in time to see everything go wrong.
The scream had not been pain as the vampire died, but rage at the death of the other vampire. She had taken to the air, and Alan turned as she swooped down to Edgar and lifted him from the ground. He watched in horror as his brother struggled helplessly in the air. His stake was still held firmly in his right hand, and he swung it toward her.
“No!” Alan screamed. If Edgar killed the vampire at that height, he would fall to the ground. There was a chance he would survive the impact, but not without terrible injury. Edgar ignored or didn't hear his cry. He stabbed randomly at the vampire. The stake pierced her wrist, and then her shoulder, and Alan watched in horror as she squeezed his hand until he released the weapon, and then brought her wounded arm to his mouth.
Edgar struggled harder still, punching and kicking and trying to escape, paying no attention to the height from which he would drop. With his uninjured left hand, he pulled a second stake from his holster and thrust it forwards. This time he hit his target.
As Alan watched, spreading outward from the wound, the vampire's skin turned to gray. She screamed in agony and fell from the sky, bringing Edgar down with her. They landed several yards from Alan with a loud cracking sound as the granite statue that had once been a vampire broke into thousands of pieces.
He rushed to his brother. Edgar was laying on the ground among the gray and the black dust. He was still breathing, just beginning to move. He managed, slowly and painfully to turn himself around and push himself into an almost sitting position. His skin was covered with deep cuts from the landing. His right hand was crushed and swollen, clearly broken.
Edgar saw Alan's approach and rolled away, attempting to get to his feet, but instead landed in a trembling heap on the ground. His lips and the skin around them were coated with the blood that had been forced onto him. Alan prayed that by some miracle, Edgar hadn't allowed the poison to enter his mouth, but he already knew from the terror in his brother's eyes that it had.
He remembered that feeling of utter helplessness. The knowledge that what was done was done; that there was nothing that could undo it short of the death of the head vampire. Faced with the knowledge of what he was becoming, Alan had chosen to flee rather than stay and face his brother as something other than human. Some irrational part of his mind had even feared what Edgar might do to him. Edgar, who had always preached 'death to all vampires'.
Edgar, who was even now beginning to feel the change.
He reached out to touch him, tentatively. His fingertips brushed his brother's arm, and Edgar flinched further back.
His teeth were stained with blood. Vampire blood.
“Don't...” Edgar whispered.
It didn't sound like his brother. It was his voice, but it trembled in fear. Edgar was afraid of nothing except... except for the thing that had just happened.
“Edgar, it's okay. We'll kill the head vampire. You'll be fine. You'll see.”
His reassuring words did nothing to appease the terror, he knew from experience that nothing could do that, but they seemed to have some affect, because his brother began to move. Slowly, he pushed himself up from the ground, climbing to his feet as though every small movement was a struggle.
The blood around his mouth was still wet, it seemed to shine, reflecting the light of the half moon. Edgar wiped it away with the bottom of his t-shirt and looked up, meeting Alan's concerned gaze with his own terrified one.
“I feel strange,” he said.
He spat the remnants of the blood in his mouth onto the ground where it mingled with the remains of its previous owner.
“I know. It'll be okay.”
Edgar shook his head. “How can it possibly be okay?”
“We'll kill the head vampire. We'll...” he stopped, Edgar was still shaking his head.
“We don't even know who the head vampire is. That's what this whole power struggle is about.”
“Then we'll kill them all. Death to all vampires, remember?”
A kind of calm seemed to come over his brother and he nodded. “Maximum body count.”
Alan turned away for a second to check the area again, when he turned back, Edgar had picked up a stake from the ground and was holding it to his own chest with his uninjured hand, the tip lined up perfectly to his heart.
Alan sprung forward to where his brother was kneeling and knocked the stake to the ground before Edgar was able to strike. Edgar moaned in frustration and reached for it again.
“No,” Alan stood down hard on the metal spike, the weight of his body holding it firmly in place on the ground as Edgar's fingers grasped uselessly at it.
Edgar made one final attempt to pick up the stake before he surrendered and rolled away, defeated. Alan picked up the weapon and tucked it in his belt, safe. He picked up the other one from the ground too, then he bent down and wrapped an arm around his brother, helping him to his feet. A functional embrace. That he could stand at all was proof that he had been changed, and of the regenerative abilities of the half vampire body.
Edgar simply allowed himself to be led to the truck for a few steps, before without warning, he pushed himself away, stumbling and almost falling backwards from the force of his own escape. He righted himself quickly, and stood alone. “Keep back,” he said, his voice reduced to a hoarse whisper. “Are you insane? You don't get so close to a vampire!”
That was good advice, but not yet. Edgar would begin to feel the bloodlust soon, and there was nothing that Alan would be able to do to protect him from that. Soon Edgar would know all the horror that Alan had wanted to keep from him.
“Just get in the truck,” he ordered.
Edgar hesitated for a moment, and then complied. He limped to the passenger side door, and opened it with his left hand. His broken right hung uselessly by his side. Once inside, he fished in his pocket and handed the keys to Alan. “If I attack you, you know what to do,” he said.
Alan nodded. Edgar wouldn't attack. Not yet. But there was no point having a discussion about that right now.
He started up the engine, and Edgar turned away from him, rested his head against the window and closed his eyes tightly. He didn't open them until the truck pulled up outside his home.
Edgar woke slowly. His body responded sluggishly and the morning light hurt his eyes. After considerable effort, he managed to throw an arm over his face, shielding his eyes from the sun. He groaned. His head hurt. In fact, his whole body hurt.
“How're you doing over there?”
“Ugh?” Edgar moved the arm covering his face for long enough to squint across his trailer to where Alan was sitting at the table, looking at him with concern.
“What the hell were we drinking last night?” Edgar forced himself to push back the covers and sit on the side of the bed. His right hand ached a little and felt stiff. He flexed the fingers experimentally. There didn't appear to be any major damage. In his mind, he attempted to retrace his steps the previous night in his mind, trying to remember which barkeeper had taken all his money. He drew a blank. He had been hunting last night, not drin... “Oh shit.”
He heard his voice crack as panic descended and he again squinted across the room.
Alan remained where he was, watching him closely. “You'll feel like crap while the sun's up,” he said quietly. “When it sets, you'll feel hungry.”
Edgar shook his head, trying to deny the memories of the previous night even as they flooded back to him.
“It's okay,” Alan assured him. He frowned, “Well, not okay, but... manageable. Believe me, I'm an expert. We have two potential head vampires, we need to kill them, maybe just one of them if we pick right first time, and you'll be human again.”
“I always said I'd kill myself if this ever happened.”
Alan shrugged. “We both said that. We're both liars. You're going to have to live with that, because I won't let you die.”
Edgar took a deep, shaking breath and dragged an arm across his damp brow. “We just need to kill the head vampire,” he said. “No big deal, we've done it before, right?”
“Right,” Alan agreed. “Now go back to sleep. You'll be no good for anything until the sun sets.”
Edgar wanted to argue, but even through the closed blinds, the light hurt his eyes. They begged him to close them, while his muscles refused to respond in the way that he wanted them too. He allowed his body to sink back into his battered old mattress, which felt at this moment like the finest, softest bed he had ever lain on, and fell immediately into blissful unconsciousness.