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 | Part 10 | Part 11 | Part 12 | Part 13 | Part 14 | Part 15 | Part 16 | Part 17 | Part 18 | Part 19 | Part 20
Agony like he had never experienced ripped through Edgar's body, a whole new level of pain like he had never even imagined could exist. The world shrunk until it consisted of nothing but him and the pain.
His head felt as though it would literally split in two. Immense pressure seemed to build on the inside of his skill, as though something inside was expanding rapidly.
He had pushed his palms against his temples as though their presence could hold his head intact. His arms had no strength, his muscles quivered as pain sapped all energy from his body. He couldn't even bring himself to scream, his body was no longer his to command, it was operating independently of his mind, struggling to survive. He felt himself slump forward until his forehead rested on his knees.
Vaguely, somewhere on the edge of his awareness, he could feel hands gripping his shoulders tightly, holding him, pulling his shoulder against the flat surface of someone else's chest while words were spoken in his ear. He couldn't make them out, over the roar of blood in his ears, but the tone was comforting. They didn't help a bit.
He forced in and out a breath of air. Every nerve in his body was awake and screaming. It felt as though electric current was running through his veins, but it wasn't electricity, it was magic. And deep inside, in the part of him that he didn't know, and that he didn't want to know, he could feel a response. His own power, tiny in comparison to this onslaught, rising up against his will, to greet its superior.
He imagined he could feel a barrier inside him, his own power could only rise so far, but the force outside called to it so strongly that he thought he could feel the barrier begin to buckle and crack under the pressure.
Then suddenly, with no warning, it stopped. Pain receded quickly, leaving him floating in a void of relief and confusion.
He dragged in another breath, feeling it shaking under the convulsive trembling even in his chest as his body tried to recover from the shock of the agony and the vacuum its sudden absence left behind. Fingers, clumsy with exhaustion and jittery with adrenaline raked through his hair. His hands gripping the sides of his head had displaced the bandanna that had been tied around his head. Feeling its unexpected absence, his fingertips automatically began to search for it.
A hand touched his own lightly, brushing cloth against the back of his knuckles. Slowly and reluctantly, he forced open his eyes. One of Sam's arms had slipped around his back and was holding his shoulder tightly, while the other hand offered the missing strip of red material. Edgar took it. He ran hands over his face, wiping away the sweat that coated his skin, and then attempted to untie the knot.
His fingers refused to respond properly to his commands, and finally he surrendered and shoved the bandana into his jacket pocket angrily, forcing in another breath as he did.
He had found tears on his cheeks when he touched his face. He hadn't been crying, he didn't think he had, if was just a physical reaction, but how embarrassing. Quickly, he swiped at his eyes again with the fingers of both hands before he looked at Sam. Sam's arm was still embracing him tightly, and Edgar didn't push him away quite yet.
“Has it stopped?” Sam asked.
He nodded slowly, careful not to jar his abused head any further, not sure that he trusted himself to speak.
Sam's free hand reached inside Edgar's jacket pocket and retrieved the bandanna. The arm embracing him moved slowly and reluctantly, tracing its way along his back until the contact suddenly disappeared. For a moment, until he remembered himself, he missed it.
Sam's fingernails picked at the tight knot until it was undone, then he handed it back to Edgar. “Are you okay?” he asked.
“I think so.” Edgar said. His voice sounded steady. He cleared his throat and in deft movements, retied the bandanna around his head. He instantly began to feel more like himself. “What the hell?” he muttered.
“You just collapsed,” Sam said. He turned around and peered through the shelves at what was happening on the other side. “From what I could see, it looked like whatever it was hurt Alan too, but he managed to get the spell done, and then you were both suddenly okay, so I guess...”
“It was magic,” Edgar finished for him.
Sam nodded. “I wonder why it didn't affect me?” he wondered aloud. Must be something to do with...”
“So Alan stopped her?” Edgar interrupted, cutting Sam off before he could finish vocalizing the thought.
“Yeah,” Sam said. His reply was hushed slightly, and he gave Edgar a moment to think. As what that actually meant sank in, Edgar felt the strength that had been slowly returning to his muscles begin to ebb away again. Alan had stopped Sophie using magic of his own. He, Edgar, had told him to do it. Whatever happened next, he could no longer pretend to deny that it had happened,
Alan had cast a spell, and Edgar had told him to do it. Alan's magic had saved them.
He honestly didn't know how he was supposed to feel.
Behind him, in the other part of the shop, he slowly became aware of the sounds of a struggle. With arms and legs still shaking from the prolonged tension in every muscle during the magical onslaught that had incapacitated him, he forced himself to move. His body responded slowly. Sam offered him a hand, which he accepted gratefully.
Sam's hand lingered a little too long on his own, holding a little too tightly, protectively. His eyes were full of concern. For a moment, Edgar stared back at him, until Alan's shout finally snapped him back to reality
“Edgar, Sam? Help!”
He snatched his hand back and rushed past Sam, adrenaline bypassing his mental and physical exhaustion and returning him to something like full capacity. He rounded the end of the bookshelves that had been their cover in a few short steps.
On the other side, Alan was struggling to restrain a very angry Sophie.
Technically, his brother should have had no problem overpowering her, he outweighed her, he was stronger, taller and better practiced at hand to hand combat, but somehow, she was managing to wriggle herself free.
Edgar rolled his eyes. Alan was too damn respectful. Because he was fighting a girl, he was holding back. All he needed to do was restrain her properly, but he was too much of a gentleman. God help them if they ever came up against a female vampire.
He ran into the middle of the fight. Sophie struggled with a kind of desperation that worried him. Desperate people do things that they wouldn't normally, things that rational people wouldn't consider. If the power that had assaulted him had been Sophie’s, and he was sure that it was, she was unbelievability strong. To suddenly be cut off from that much power must have been a massive shock to her. He didn't want to know what she would be willing to do to get it back.
As he rushed forward, he raised his fist ready to attack, but as he neared the struggle, he found himself hesitating.
Frogs don't hesitate. He had told Alan that only a few minutes earlier, but how many times had he broken that rule in the last few days? He was about to punch a girl in the face, while Alan held her hands so she couldn't even defend herself. Alan might be too respectful, but maybe this was a step too far in the other direction. Maybe sometimes, hesitation was a chance to reconsider a bad plan.
He squashed the thought down as far as he could. Sophie had to be stopped. If she escaped, she would be back for revenge, and she would be the one with the element of surprise. This was their only chance.
He pulled back his right arm and thrust it forward, throwing as much strength into the punch as he could manage. His fist almost made contact with her chin, but at the last moment, he veered off, avoiding hitting her, and instead grabbed hold of her arms, taking control from his brother and using a better technique.
Alan released his useless grip, and Edgar held her still with her arms pinned securely behind her back. She struggled surprisingly hard, she was stronger than she looked.
At some point during what could hardly be called a fight, Sam had also emerged from behind the bookshelf. Edgar noticed him standing with his arms folded, casually leaning against the shelves, shaking his head disapprovingly from side to side as he watched.
“For a second there, I thought you were going to punch her in the face.”
Edgar nodded. “I was, but it seemed like overkill. She's defenseless at the moment.” He turned to Alan. “How long will that spell work?”
Either at being called defenseless or the mention of the spell that had caused it, Sophie decided to prove otherwise. She raised a leg in the air and brought down her heel onto Edgar's shin with so much force that he almost screamed. Instinctively, he tightened his grip rather than loosened it, and screwed up his face in agony.
Sophie moaned in frustration.
“How long?” Edgar asked again.
Alan shrugged helplessly and looked to Anthony for an answer. The old man appeared to be in some kind of shock. Whether it was caused by the sudden breaking of Sophie's influence over him, or the horror of finally seeing the truth about her, Edgar didn't know.
To his credit, he appeared to shake it off quickly, and his eyes moved from the angry, frightened face of his granddaughter, to Edgar.
“As long as Alan can hold it, but that won't be long without experience. We need to work quickly.”
“Yeah, you'd better,” Edgar said. “I don't know about Alan, but I'm not sure how long I can hold her. I can't believe I brought all those weapons and no rope.”
Sophie ground her heel into Edgar's already battered toes and tried to pull herself free. He held tighter and shook his head.
“Alan, we need to all rope to the emergency hunting kit,” he said. “Or string, it's lighter. Just something for tying things up.”
Alan, his brow crinkled in concentration, nodded his agreement.
Anthony stepped forward until he was looking Sophie directly in the eye. He smiled sadly, and her struggling stopped briefly. Edgar maintained his grip, not daring to get complacent.
“Sophie,” Anthony said, “your influence spell won't work on me any more. I need you to tell me why you used it. If there's another reason, something other than what we're thinking, you have to tell me the truth, okay? Tell me you're not a murderer.”
Edgar stared at the old man in disbelief. After everything that had happened, he still thought that there might be another explanation. Yes, he hadn't gotten the confession or proof of her innocence that would have told them for certain, but her actions had surely been proof enough. “Seriously?” he muttered.
Anthony moved his gaze back to Edgar. Unable to turn away because he was still restraining the girl, he forced himself to maintain eye contact with the old man. He hadn't meant for the word to slip out, he hadn't meant to challenge the practitioner again. He had survived what Sophie had to throw at him, compared to that, Anthony's magic was small fry. Still, he didn't want to experience it again if he could help it.
Thankfully, Anthony didn't see the need to give another demonstration of his power, if that was even what it had been before. “She can't lie to me,” he explained. “She's my family, I can always tell when she isn't being truthful. When there are no spells between us, at least.”
Edgar broke eye contact then. His gaze dropped quickly to the ground.
He had always been able to tell when Alan was lying, Alan always knew the same thing about Edgar. Until recently, he had never even thought about it, it was just normal. Only since he learned about magic had he begun to wonder whether it was something else. If Anthony said the same thing, that made the unthinkable seem more likely.
He could feel Alan's gaze, firmly fixed on the side of his head, and he knew the same question was running through his mind. They could read each others thoughts in the flicker of an eye or a muscle twitch because they knew one another that well. That was the only reason, that was just normal too. He hoped. He made a conscious effort not to make eye contact with his brother. He didn't want to know Alan's opinion.
Apparently oblivious to the thoughts that his words had provoked, Anthony switched his attention back to his granddaughter. “Answer me, Sophie. Tell me there's another reason.”
Edgar felt Sophie testing the strength of his hold on her but without noticeably struggling. He checked his grip and tensed against her, letting her know he was still in charge. She offered no more resistance. Instead she looked up at her grandfather, stared him in the eye defiantly and spoke in a calm voice.
“Everything I did was to protect us. Don't you understand that? Someone wanted to kill us, if he came I had to be ready. I had to know that I could match his power.”
Anthony recoiled as though he had been slapped. Edgar couldn't help but move his gaze up from the ground to watch the old man's reaction. Alan and Sam were also staring at him. Alan's expression had become strained, as though he were struggling to maintain concentration on something difficult. Edgar tightened his grip further. It wouldn't help Alan's hold on her magic, but it made him feel like he was doing something to help.
“You...” Anthony said. He stopped. He looked at her sadly.
Edgar almost felt sorry for him. She was his little girl, he has obviously been a better parent to her than their own had been, even if he had decided to teach her the skills that ultimately turned her into an evil, power sucking warlock. He had raised her, and she had betrayed him. That had to hurt.
He tried not to feel the pleasant rush of schadenfreude that crept up unexpectedly from somewhere inside him.
“How many?” Anthony asked. His voice shook, either under the strain of grief or anger, Edgar couldn't tell.
Alan ran his hands over his face, his jaw was tight and his eyes wide under the strain of maintaining his grip on the spell. Edgar bit back the urge to tell Anthony to hurry it up. He didn't know whether Sophie had noticed he was losing the fight against her, if she did, she might decide to push it and manage to break free. Instead, he stared intently at the old man, as though he could will him to realize what was happening.
Sophie's voice sounded choked as she replied, “It was to protect us,” she repeated. “I didn't want to hurt anyone, but I had to. I didn't have a choice.”
“How many?” Anthony asked again.
“I don't know,” she whispered. “A few in every city. Maybe more than I needed, but the power...”
“Enough.” Anthony didn't move. He spoke quietly, but with a forcefulness that seemed to bring silence and stillness to the room. Then Anthony turned around, paced the floor, spun and walked back toward them.
Edgar tried to shoot an encouraging look at Alan, but his brother was too lost in concentration to notice. His eyes slipped closed as Edgar watched, and his brow crinkled further, as though he was trying to concentrate through a migraine.
“The original murderer,” Anthony said as he walked back toward them. “The one that killed Layla and your father. How many of the deaths in our cities were him?”
Sophie shook her head. Her voice was barely audible now as she replied reluctantly, knowing that it was over. “None of them.”
“Sophie, how could you do this to me?”
Before she could say anything in reply, Anthony reached out with the middle and forefinger of his left hand and touched her gently on the forehead. He closed his eyes and muttered a string of words in a language Edgar didn't recognize. Immediately, Sophie slumped in his arms, unconscious.
Edgar was so surprised he almost dropped her. Suddenly, not that she was no longer supporting her own weight, the girl felt ten times heavier. He looked up at the old man.
To Anthony's left, Alan gasped in pain and gripped his head with both hands. His knees buckled and he just managed to keep himself upright. Edgar froze, torn between rushing to his side and holding the unconscious murderer upright. “You okay?” he asked.
“Yeah. I'm good.” Alan nodded as Sam rushed over to him and forced him to sit down on one of the chairs.
Edgar looked at Anthony. “Now what?”
The old man stared at the unconscious form of his granddaughter for a moment, and Edgar found himself suddenly gripped by a fear that he was going to change his mind about what he had to do. After what felt like an hour, but probably wasn't really, he pulled himself out of his thoughts and pointed to the other chair by the counter.
“Put her down over there. I need to do this quickly.”
Edgar struggled to rearrange his grip on the unconscious girl without touching anything he shouldn't. He felt the blood rush to his face and out of the corner of his eye, he caught Sam smirking. He glared at him, trying to force all of his irritation into the look. Finally, he managed to hook his arms under hers, and dragged her the short distance across the room with her sandals scraping along the floor.
As he deposited her on the chair, he felt someone behind him, and turned as he heard the sound of his backpack being unzipped. Sam reached inside and retrieved a plastic flask with a worn Batman print. He unscrewed the top and went back to Alan.
“Hey, that's holy water.,” Edgar told him.
“So? He's not a vampire, is he? Water's water.” Sam offered the flask to Alan, who took a sip.
Edgar winced in disgust. “No, but people dip their hands in that every time they go in the church. Plus we've been banned from three churches already, we have to cycle miles to get some more. You want water, go find the kitchen.”
He released his grip on Sophie's shoulders and she slipped down the chair, almost falling onto the floor. Edgar grunted in irritation and hoisted her back up. He maintained his hold on her as he watched Anthony begin his spell.
The practitioner struck a match on the side of the table and lit a candle. He extinguished the match and used the flame of the candle to light the others on the desk, then placed them on the ground around the chair where Sophie was sitting.
Edgar shifted nervously and glanced down at the candles surrounding him. “Should I move?” he asked.
Anthony shook his head. “No, stay there. Hold her upright.”
Edgar swallowed and nodded.
Once the circle was complete, Anthony placed the first candle on the desk in front of him.
One by one, the practitioner burned different herbs and added others to a cup of water, all the time muttering under his breath, chanting in a language that sounded ancient.
As he stirred and chanted and added more and more to the cup, the liquid turned from clear to a thick, muddy brown.
As he watched, Edgar began to feel the same pressure inside his head that he had felt before. For the third time today, his head began to ache and his skin crawled. Compared to Sophie's magic, this was nothing, he could handle it, but he didn't want to. His grip on Sophie's shoulders loosened as he considered retreat, and then tightened as he steadied his resolve. At the other side of the desk, Alan's expression changed, but he couldn't tell whether it was a reaction to the magic or that he was still recovering.
When he had finished his mixing, still chanting softly under his breath, Anthony turned to his unconscious granddaughter. Holding the potion that he had made held in one hand, he stopped for a moment and looked at her. Reaching out with his free hand, he touched her cheek affectionately, and then brushed a stray strand of hair from her face. She didn't even stir.
The hand on her face tilted her head back slightly, and he raised the cup to her lips.
Anthony tipped the cup upward toward her lips and poured a little of the liquid into her mouth. Even unconscious, her face contorted in disgust at the taste and she coughed and began to move her hands to knock the cup away. Undeterred, Anthony tipped her head back a little further and Edgar saw her throat move as she swallowed the potion. Even as she swallowed, she was still resisting it. Anthony continued to chant as he poured more of the foul smelling concoction down her throat.
Edgar was reminded of horror stories in the news about strange occult rituals, mind control and other evil things.
When the glass was completely drained, Anthony's chanting increased in volume again. He dropped leaves of several herbs into the flame of his candle holding it in front of Sophie as he did and allowing the smoke to touch her. Concentration was etched into his expression. The ritual went on for almost half an hour.
When he had finally finished, Anthony extinguished the candle on the desk with a pinch of his fingers, and at the same time the other flames instantly died. Edgar looked down at them briefly, and then back up at Anthony.
The old man smiled sadly. “It's done.”
His sombre mood seemed to permeate the air along with the smell of extinguished candle and burning herbs. Still slouching in the chair, Sophie stirred slightly but her eyes remained closed.
Edgar slowly released his grip on her again, and this time allowed her to slip down the chair. She didn't fall to the ground, but instead slouched like an unconscious stoner, but without the peaceful expression. Edgar backed up, out of the candle circle, and walked around the desk to where Alan and Sam were still watching. Sophie's brow furrowed, and a little of the liquid potion dribbled from the corner of her mouth.
“Done?” said Edgar. “That's great. So now what?”
Anthony frowned. He wiped the potion from Sophie's lips with his sleeve, and then leaned forward onto the desk. He pressed the palms of his hands against the tabletop, supporting some of his weight with his arms as though he was too exhausted to stand. “What do you mean?”
Edgar found his eye drawn to the patch of wetness staining the old man's shirt cuff. The way he had wiped her clean, like a parent doting over a baby. It made him worry that Anthony thought this was the end of it. “No offense, but your granddaughter's a psycho,” he said. “Psychos can cause plenty of damage without magic to back them up. What are you going to do with her now?”
“I'm going to look after her,” Anthony replied. “She's my family, I'm all she's got.”
Sam fidgeted at the edge of Edgar's vision and Edgar tried to come up with the words to convince him he was wrong. Words that, hopefully, wouldn't piss him off too much.
“You can't,” Sam said finally. Edgar turned to look at his friend. Sam had folded his arms and stepped in front of Alan, and was staring at the old man with a kind of anger that Edgar hadn't believed him capable of. “She's a murderer. She killed all those people. The guy that washed up on the beach with his chest all carved up, I know his sister. She's lost her big brother. You can't just let her get away with all that.”
The guy on the beach. The corpse laying half in the water, naked in front of a growing crowds of onlookers. One of those horror movie moments so common in Santa Carla. Caught up in the momentum of events and worry for what might happen to Alan and himself, Edgar had almost forgotten about what had already happened to other people.
The dead guy had had magical talent, and once Edgar might have said he deserved what he got, but that was then, before he knew what he did now. He had just been a kid, like any of the other innocents he protected from the evil that had settled in the town, and no one had saved him. Sophie had taken away someones brother, like she had wanted to take away his.
Edgar found himself nodding in agreement.
“She hasn't gotten away with anything,” Anthony said. “The loss of her magic may not be a conventional punishment, but believe me it will be a punishment. To find herself without the ability to...”
“Bullshit!” Edgar interjected. “She's been a naughty little girl and you've responded by taking away her toys. So she can't do magic. Boo hoo. Nor can most people and we don't give a damn. Some of us are actually pretty pleased about it. She's a mass murderer. If I'd know this was all you were going to do, I'd...” he tailed off, realizing that in fact there would have been nothing he could have done. Short of killing her himself, his hands were completely tied. That was the reason he had agreed to this stupid plan in the first place.
That he had no end to that statement was obviously apparent to Anthony. His eyebrow twitched as he waited pointedly to find out what Edgar would have done. When no continuation was forthcoming, he nodded indulgently at him. “I couldn't let the council kill her,” he said. “I couldn't leave her to continue hurting innocents and manipulating me into not realizing. The police couldn't possibly understand. What would you have had me do?”
Edgar shook his head, but the old man was right. They were right back where they started. The police would laugh them out of the station. The council, whoever they were, would have been his choice, but he was never going to convince the old man of that. Especially not now he had broken the rules himself.
“She's my responsibility,” Anthony continued. “I accept that, I've dealt with the problem, and now I need to look after my granddaughter.”
“Look after her?” Edgar sneered at him and then shook his head. “You said your council would execute you if they found out you'd done this spell. What's going to stop her running off to tell them about it the instant she wakes up?”
“That wouldn't be a great idea,” Sam interjected. Edgar spun around to look at him. Sam hadn't moved, but his anger had softened slightly now that Edgar had taken over. Behind him, Alan leaned forward with his elbows on his knees and his eyes half closed. “I mean, they'd probably want to know why he did it, they'd probably find out about what she's been doing. I doubt she wants that,” he continued.
“Fine, whatever.” Edgar said I guess there's nothing you can do now anyway. You can't go to your council either without as good as handing yourself over But you're right about one thing; she is your responsibility. You chose this, and if she hurts anyone else, anyone at all, it's your fault. Understand?”
He looked as Sophie, she stirred in her sleep as consciousness appeared to be returning slowly. Limbs stretched and her face twitched. Edgar backed off a few more steps. He really didn't want to be here when she woke up.
“And get out of town,” he added. “I don't want to know I'm living down the street from her. Get to the other side of the country, or move to Canada, or China. I don't care, just get as far away from us as you can and make sure she stays there, got it?”
For a moment, Anthony looked as though he was going to refuse. Edgar thought back to the first time he had been in the shop, when he had told Anthony to leave. If only he had agreed then, they would have been spared all of this, the two people Sophie had killed would still be alive and Alan would never have done magic. Of course, Sophie would still be on her country-wide killing spree, so it wasn't all good, but every now and then Edgar though he and Alan deserved the right to be selfish. God knows they do enough for the town without anyone ever knowing about it.
This time, there was no refusal. Anthony backed down and nodded in agreement. “You won't hear from us again,” he promised.
“Good.” Edgar turned away from him as though he was no longer important. The key was still in the door, and finally it was over. The magic shop, the warlocks, they were out of his life forever.
Only, they hadn't exactly left it in the same state they had found it.
There were things he needed to know. Things he didn't want to know, but questions needed to be asked before the old man kept his promise to leave town. But not now. Not in front of everybody, and not while Alan looked so frighteningly... fragile. Christ. He had never seen his brother look like that. Slowly, he turned around and looked at the old man.
“Is Alan going to be okay?” he asked.
“I'm fine, Edgar. Lets go,” Alan said.
Edgar ignored him and continued to stare at Anthony until the old man nodded.
“That was a powerful spell for someone so inexperienced. It may take a few days for him to recover. His magic may be weaker for several weeks, but I doubt that will worry either of you.”
Edgar nodded. For a second, he contemplated asking his other question. Behind the counter, the girl slumped in the chair moaned in her sleep and readjusted her position, getting ready to wake up. He couldn't be here when that happened. He turned back to Alan and Sam. “Fall back,” he commanded. “Alan, you need any help?”
Alan shook his head and got to his feet as Sam turned the key.
Edgar overrode Alan's decision and hurried to his brother's side, supporting him as he walked to the door. Alan didn't push him away.
Out on the boardwalk, it was still a warm Friday afternoon. The sun was still high enough in the sky that tourists were laying on the beach baking in the sun, and hordes of kids recently released from school wandered past talking loudly about their plans for the weekend. It was strange to think that it had been such a short time. The afternoon seemed to have stretched on for weeks.
“Edgar?” said the old man just as Edgar stepped over the threshold and out onto the boardwalk.
He turned his head and looked inside at him. He was still standing where they had left him, next to Sophie as she slept off the effects of the spell.
“We'll leave tomorrow,” he said. “If there's anything you need in the meantime, I'll be here.” He smiled.
Edgar scowled in response. It was almost as though the old man had read his thoughts. He turned away without giving any kind of an answer.
It was finally over. Only it wasn't. He couldn't unlearn the things he knew, and Sophie was still out there. Anthony may believe that he had solved the problem, but Edgar had less faith in human nature. He couldn't bring himself to believe that she wouldn't be back.
Things were never that simple.