Warnings: Not that I can think of yet
Characters: Sam Emerson, Edgar Frog, Alan Frog
Spoilers: Reign of Frogs, The Tribe
Synopsis: Sequel to Aftertaste. Four years after Alan turned, Edgar returns to Santa Carla to enlist Sam's help in killing the one vampire that he can't.
Disclaimer: I don't own the Lost Boys
Edgar Frog made Lucy nervous.
He and his brother always had, right from the beginning. The first time she had seen them, the night of her disastrous date with Max, she had felt a chill of premonition run up her spine. Something about them was wrong.
She had brushed the feeling aside in the wake of the nightmare that followed, realizing that there were far more things to be worried about in Santa Carla than a pair of adolescent boys with shifty eyes that would never quite meet hers. And after all, they had helped. She owed them her life, and her sons' lives. They had been good friends to Sam.
It wasn't until she had realized a year or so later, that rather than being good friends they were his only friends, that the unease had returned.
Then, in the summer of 1990, something had changed. She didn't know what it was, she had never been able to coax an explanation out of her son, but something terrible had happened, and suddenly, the Frog brothers were gone from his life.
She had been relieved, for a time. But relief had quickly turned to concern as she had watched her previously outgoing son retreat further and further into himself. And then, one day, he had simply left. Packed a bag and disappeared without even leaving a note. She had assumed he had gone to find Edgar. It had been two days before he had finally called to let her know where he was.
He had never given an explanation, but she had know deep down in her gut, in the mother's instinct that was never wrong, that the Frog brothers were involved. And now here was Edgar, sitting on her front porch, basking in the sunlight alongside Sam as though nothing had ever happened.
She was grateful to Edgar for bringing Sam home, but she knew that he had also been instrumental in him checking into the hospital in the first place.
So yes, Edgar Frog made Lucy extremely nervous.
She pottered around the kitchen, making herself busy. She flitted from side to side, cloth in hand, swabbing down worktops, wiping over the oven, checking the egg-shaped timer keeping track of her baking. Sam had bought her that. Mother's day 1985. The last one before they had moved to Santa Carla. It was old now, and stained with years of cooking splatters and sticky fingers, but it still took pride of place on the window ledge next to a bunch of her favorite flowers picked from the garden the day before
As she worked, she kept half an ear trained on the open window, trying to hear snippets of the conversation taking place outside. The two boys – men now – spoke in the same hushed tones that they had as teenagers, glancing around them as though they had some secret that the rest of the world wasn't allowed to know.
She sighed in frustration and listened harder.
Edgar just about managed to stop himself from moaning in pleasure as he took a bite of the oatmeal and raisin cookie that Sam had liberated from the kitchen. It was sweet and flavored with cinnamon and vanilla, soft and chewy in the center, hard and crispy around the edge. It was the most wonderful thing he had tasted in years.
Treats like that were rare for him. Vampire hunting didn't even come close to paying the bills, and although he managed to scrape by on the money he earned making surf boards, necessity dictated that when he bought food, it was of the cheap and long-lasting variety. The cupboards of his small kitchen were sparsely populated with generic cereal, rice, canned goods and salt. Lots of salt, but of course that was good for more things than cooking. He did treat himself sometimes, of course, but nothing he could buy from Luna Bay's supermarkets or bakeries could even come close to the taste of Lucy Emerson's oatmeal cookies.
It wasn't that she was an exceptional cook – she may well be, he had very little to compare her to – it was the memories the flavor evoked. Edgar's childhood had been far from enjoyable, and when he looked back on it, it was usually with resentment or melancholy. But there was a short period of time, after Sam had come into his life, while Alan was still alive, when the memories were bathed in sunlight, filled with the optimism and confidence of youth. Just one bite had taken him back to that time. He was fifteen again, sitting on the floor of Sam's bedroom, Alan next to him, human and alive, Sam chattering excitedly about something or another, and the smell of baking drifting upstairs from the kitchen.
“...with it?” said Sam's voice.
Edgar blinked at him, dragged back suddenly and without warning to the present. Sam was stuffing the last chunk of his own cookie into his mouth, looking at Edgar oddly.
“What?” Edgar asked.
“The cookie,” Sam said. “Is there something wrong with it? It's just you've been staring at it for the last two minutes.”
Edgar shook his head, feeling reality settle around him once again. He shrugged. “It's okay,” he said, and took another bite.
Sam nodded. Out of the corner of his eye, Edgar couldn't help but notice Mrs. Emerson watching them, clearly only pretending to be busy at the kitchen sink, one ear turned slightly toward the open window. Edgar shifted uncomfortably. The feeling of being observed was never fun, and her suspicions were, in part at least, justified.
He finished the last bite of the cookie and sucked the crumbs from the tips of his fingers and thumb, before drying them on his jeans. “I should go,” he said.
“What?” Sam suddenly looked very worried. “Why?”
“Things to do,” Edgar shrugged, “stakes to sharpen, surfboards to shape. Got bills to pay.”
Sam looked unconvinced.
“Besides,” he added, “I think I might be outstaying my welcome.” He glanced at the kitchen window. Lucy quickly stepped away, out of sight.
Sam followed his gaze, a fraction of a second to late to see their observer. He shook his head. “Mom loves you,” he said. “You're always welcome here. She told you herself.”
Edgar remembered. He and Alan had been sixteen, and an offhand comment by Sam had made Lucy realize what things were like in the Frog household. The offer had been sincere, and there were times when he and Alan had been glad of it. But he also remembered the steel in her voice the day before, when she warned him off pulling Sam back into the life of a hunter. It was inevitable, there was nothing he could do to prevent it, but a feeling of nervous guilt still gnawed at his stomach.
“It's your first full day home,” he said. “I'm guessing your mom wants to spend some time with you. Your brother too, maybe. Where's he now, anyway?”
“He left,” Sam said. “Him and Star, they went to see the world. But I don't think they got much further than LA yet.”
“A lot of vampires in LA,” Edgar told him. “Tell him to watch out, if he gets in the same mess he did here, I won't be there to help him out.” He got to his feet, fingers reaching into the pocket of his light jacket for his keys. “And you be careful too, Sam. When... when he comes back tonight. Don't tip him off that anything is wrong, but proceed with extreme caution, okay?”
Sam frowned, looking downward and suddenly very far away.
“Okay?” Edgar repeated. He leaned forward subconsciously toward his friend, waiting for an answer that would allow him to leave,
Sam allowed himself another moment of worry before looking up and forming his features into something resembling a smile. “Okay,” he said. “Ish.”
Edgar nodded. Under the circumstances, it was probably the best he could hope for, and frankly better than he thought he would be able to achieve if their positions were reversed.
Sam lay fully clothed on top of the covers of his still made bed. As he stared up at the ceiling, his fingers explored his newly cut hair. The style was shorter than he was used to, and fashionable, suggested by the stylist as Sam had had no idea of what to ask for. He had been shocked at first, when he saw his finished reflection. Months of watching himself deteriorate through the bathroom mirror of his hospital room bathroom had made him forget what it was like to feel good about himself. It had been surprisingly easy to undo the damage.
He had lost a little weight in the hospital too. It looked good on him, he decided, now that he had clothes that actually fit, rather than hanging off him the way Micheal's hand-me-downs had done when they were kids, growing too fast for their parents' wages to keep up. For the first time in a long time, he felt like Sam Emerson. Not Sam Emerson, vampire hunter, nor Sam Emerson, mental patient. He was himself again, and it felt wonderful.
Although, at this particular moment in time, he thought, it might feel better to be somebody else. Preferably someone who wasn't waiting for a visit from a former friend who had become something terrible.
The sun had set several hours earlier. His mom had gone to bed early, ready for the early shift at work the following morning, and rather than sit downstairs alone, Sam had retreated to the familiar comfort of his room.
Unlike the previous night, sleep was an unachievable goal. Then, he had been exhausted; physically and emotionally drained to the point where not even the terror of a potential visit from Alan had been able to keep him awake. Now he was wide awake, and completely unable to do anything other than lay, staring at the patterns of light and shadow on the ceiling, thinking.
As he lay there, minutes and hours blended until he wasn't sure whether the night had only just begun, or whether it was almost over. He dare not look at the clock, terrified that he would learn that there were hours still to go. A few stray pieces of cut hair that had dropped down the back of his t-shirt itched his skin, but moving may somehow draw Alan to him. Instead, Sam lay very still, breathing shallowly, wondering when the first rays of sunlight would penetrate his thin curtains.
The tap on the window, when it came, made him jump violently. The shock began in his chest and traveled down the length of his body like a wave, contracting muscles and preparing him to flee. His hands, which had moved from his newly cut hair to rest at his sides, gripped the cover of the bed hard, twisting it through his fingers. He inhaled sharply, willing his heartbeat to slow from its sudden tachycardia that he knew would increase the scent of his blood to the predator outside his window.
Tap, tap tap.
Sam fought the pointless urge to run. “Talk to him,” Edgar had said. “Win his trust.” But when it came down to it, could he do it? Not even thinking about the ultimate goal of their scheme, could he bring himself to get off his bed, walk across the room and pull open the curtains?
Tap, tap tap.
Sam thought of those long, vampiric fingernails – as much weapons designed to rip into human flesh as the sharp, terrifying teeth. They were tapping on his window, requesting entry.
Slowly, not quite able to believe what he was doing, Sam rolled onto his side and sat up. The man-shaped shadow beyond the curtain had returned.
“Sam?” Alan's voice called. “You awake in there?” He spoke in a whisper, yet somehow the sound carried easily through the glass and to the his ears. He sounded like Alan. Like the friend that Sam remembered from all those years ago. But he wasn't, and Sam needed to remember that.
From the place deep inside of him where his better judgment resided, came panic-screamed commands, telling him to run, to hide, but his more rational self knew that these things would be ultimately futile. The only possible result would be an angry vampire, as opposed to the quite reasonable one that Alan currently appeared to be.
Tap, tap tap.
The balls of his sock-clad feet made contact with the thin carpet of his bedroom floor. His heart rate increased further as he padded slowly across the room to the window. When he reached out to touch the curtains, it was with fingers trembling from excess adrenaline.
He opened the curtains just a crack, still standing an arm's length away, and peered outside. On the other side of the glass, partially illuminated by the light inside the room, Alan stood suspended in the air. He hovered at more or less eye level with Sam, moving up and down slightly in the air. He locked eyes with Sam, and smiled. Sam froze, breath catching in his throat.
“Are you going to open the window?” Alan asked.
He had come this far, and as Edgar had pointed out the day before, if Alan wanted to get inside, he could do it, invitation or no. He might as well do ask he was asked. On the other hand, for some absurd reason, he felt safer with the pane of glass between them. Sam would be able to break it himself if he wanted, and he didn't have a fraction of a vampire's strength, but it made him feel more secure. He was inside, the monster was not.
Alan watched him, waiting for an answer. “Win his trust,” Edgar's voice whispered again in his memory. Sam reached out again and lifted the catch that held the window closed. It swung open a fraction, and cold, nighttime air drifted into the room. Sam folded his arms against the chill and backed off several steps, not taking his eyes off the vampire.
Alan waited until Sam had stopped backing away before he pulled the window open fully, and drifted inside. Sam watched in fascination, noticing how he barely touched the wooden window frame as he manipulated his body in the air, maneuvering himself through the gap and coming to land gently on the carpet.
Sam tightened his folded arms as though they could form a barrier between himself and Alan.
“I won't ask for an invite,” Alan said. “I know you wouldn't want to give it.”
Sam couldn't bring himself to speak. His mouth opened wordlessly, and he settled instead for a quick, silent nod.
He looked at Alan carefully. He looked younger than Sam remembered. Of course, that was impossible. Time didn't touch the undead, they didn't age, but neither did they grow younger. The effect was in his mind. While Sam and everyone around him had aged, Alan had remained the boy he had been when he died. Sam perceived him as younger because he was getting older, something that Alan would never do. He would always be seventeen years old.
His skin appeared paler now than it had been in life. The effect was more striking in comparison to the dark hair that he had allowed to grow a little longer than when he was a child. Must be difficult getting a decent haircut when you're a vampire. Sam had yet to encounter a salon that wasn't filled with mirrors, any stylist with half a braincell would take one look at the lack of a reflection, scream, and run away. Sam felt one corner of his mouth twitch into the beginnings of a smile. He suppressed it quickly.
The only noticeable difference in Alan was his clothes. Gone was the olive green military gear, the faded t-shirts he and Edgar had shared, and even the ever-present beret. Instead, he was clad entirely in black; boots, jeans and shirt, all as dark as the night sky. A new kind of camouflage, to match his hunting ground.
Alan took a step forward. Sam took one back. He felt Alan's eyes on him, evaluating him in the same way.
“You look good,” Alan told him.
Again, Sam struggled to say anything. He edged toward the bed, where the wooden stake was still concealed just under the covers.
“Where have you been, Sam?” Alan asked.
Sam shook his head wordlessly, still keeping his gaze fixed on the vampire as he sat down on the bed. He kept his hands visible, trying not to reach for the concealed weapon. But simply being near it made him feel safer.
Alan shrugged, “It doesn't matter, you're back now. I've missed you.”
“Sure you have,” Sam blurted. His voice sounded strangled and weak, but definitely audible. He immediately gripped his bottom lit with his teeth, horrified at himself.
“First Edgar leaves town, then you just disappear?” Alan appeared not to be angry at Sam's words, only hurt. “Of course I did. I've been totally alone all this time.”
Sam looked carefully at the vampire. He did look genuinely regretful. Sam knew what being alone was like. His Grandpa had been killed, Edgar left town, Michael took Star and fled from the bad memories Santa Carla was filled with. Then there was just him and his mother, and he couldn't burden her with the terrible things he had experienced. Things like Alan, at his window every night, offering him immortality, trying to make him a monster.
Being the monster at the window, though, that was something Sam didn't understand, but being abandoned by your family and friends he did.
“I'm sorry,” he said, and meant it. However afraid he might be of Alan, he couldn't help but believe that he was in part still the kid from the comic store, who dressed like GI Joe, followed his brother's orders unquestioningly and had risked his life to save Sam and his family.
Alan took a step forward, “Is it okay if I sit down?”
Sam nodded, his hand edged imperceptibly closer to the stake.
“It's okay if you don't want to tell me where you were,” Alan told him. He sat down on the chair next to Sam's desk, a respectful distance away. “But if you're going to leave again, will you let me know first? I didn't know whether to wait for you, I couldn't ask your mom because I didn't know what she knew. Edgar told people I was dead, didn't he?”
Alan looked down, “I suppose that's easier for him. That's why I didn't try to contact him. I watched him a few times though. Until he disappeared.”
They sat in silence for a few moments, Sam still wary.
“Why did you leave?” Alan asked.
“How did you know I was back?” Sam countered. Again, he instantly regretted his words, and again, Alan seemed unconcerned.
The vampire smiled, and it was a human smile, full of amusement. “If you didn't want me to know,” he said, “you probably shouldn't have left your bedroom light on all night.”
Sam looked away for a fraction of a second before remembering and returning his gaze to the vampire. Alan was waiting now for a reply to his question, but Sam was afraid to give the true answer, and all possible lies eluded him.
“Was it because I offered to turn you?” Alan tried.
That made Sam angry. He tried to suppress the emotion, but he heard it in his own words. “You didn't offer. You told me you were going to. Then when I refused, you tried to convince me.”
Alan nodded, “And you got scared because you wanted to say yes.”
“No!” Sam got to his feet, the stake temporarily forgotten in the bed covers as he lost himself in unpleasant memories. “I didn't want to say yes. Think back to when you were human, Alan, would you ever have said yes? Would you ever have willingly drank that blood?”
Alan's expression darkened, he shook his head, “No. But that was before I knew what it was like. If you could experience it, Sam, you'd wonder why you ever refused. It's wonderful.”
Sam crossed the room to the window. It had swung back to closed, he pushed it open again. “Maybe Edgar was right,” he said. “Maybe you're not Alan any more. Alan had this forced on him, and he hated it. He'd never do the same thing to someone else. Never.”
Alan watched him, a sad expression on his face. He heard the unspoken request for him to leave, and to Sam's relief, heeded it with no attempt to argue. As he got to his feet and walked towards the window, Sam backed away again, back to the bed, and the stake.
“I won't force you into anything, Sam, I promise,” Alan said. “I just want my friend back.”
With that, he climbed outside and flew away into the night sky. Sam stood completely still, trembling as he watched his dark shape blend into the black of the night sky. After several minutes, the cold air from the open window made him shiver back into action. He closed the window, fastened it, and pulled the curtains closed, blocking out the night. Finally, he climbed beneath the covers of his bed, gripped the stake tightly in his right hand, and once again lay there until the sun began to rise.