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
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4
The following day dawned cloudy and gray with the promise of rain on the horizon. Sam had slept once his room lightened, tossing and turning his way through a morning filled with nightmares, waking often, and panicking for a moment that the terrible dreams had been true, before he remembered that the sun had risen, and that he was safe for a while.
When he finally woke, the sun was high in the sky and burning through the layers of cloud to reveal patches of blue beyond. Sleep tried to pull him back down, but Sam resisted enough to climb out of bed. He was still fully clothed in his jeans and t-shirt from the previous night. He stood for a moment by his door, listening for his mother moving around the house, but he could hear nothing. She must have gone to work already.
Rubbing tired eyes, he walked wearily to the bathroom, switched on the shower, stripped, leaving his clothes on the floor, and stepped under the running water. Warm water pounded onto his head and shoulders, running down his back relaxing each and every one of the muscles that had tensed the night before and remained that way throughout the daylight hours when he had slept. The headache that he had woken to faded a little under the assault of water and steam.
He reached for the shampoo and massaged it through his new, short style, enjoying the feeling of his own fingertips massaging his aching head. He would have stayed under the water all day if he could. Unfortunately, he had things to do, people – or person – to see. He quickly washed himself, rinsed off the soap, and glanced wistfully at his mother's facial products stored at the side of the sink. He hadn't exfoliated in months.
A mental shrug, and he reached for one of the tubes, squeezed a little of the contents onto his fingertips, and got to work. It wouldn't be too long a job, and he probably had time.
Sam emerged from the bathroom half an hour later, wrapped in a large towel and followed by a cloud of fragrant steam. His quickly rubbed hair stuck out in all directions, and his newly scrubbed face practically glowed. He dressed quickly in some of his new clothes, blow-dried his hair and carefully gelled and waxed it into position as per the stylist's careful instructions. Finally, he took a step backward to look into his mirror at the finished product.
He looked okay. Good, even. The dark circles under his eyes were the result of a bad night's sleep and save for raiding his mother's make-up bag, there wasn't a lot he could do about that. He briefly considered it, and decided against the idea. The one time he had tried it before, after an outbreak of adolescent acne, had earned him so many nicknames around his school in Phoenix that he had almost been glad when his mother announced that they leaving his father and moving to Santa Carla. The rest of his face looked less exhausted though, thanks to the citrus boost face pack.
Downstairs in the kitchen, his mother had left him a note advising of bacon and eggs in the fridge. He reached for the door, then reconsidered, thinking about his new, trimmer figure, and instead grabbed an apple and a banana from the fruit bowl, and poured a glass of orange juice.
When he had eaten, brushed his teeth and checked himself in the mirror one more time, Sam grabbed a jacket and left the house, locking the front door behind him. He walked to the garage, where his bike was still stored, and wheeled it outside. Several years of disuse had left it looking a little old, but it seemed to still be in working order. It was a little small for him now, but it would do until he got himself a more respectable mode of transportation.
He set off, peddling down the drive. The chain creaked and he wondered whether he should have oiled it, but once he was underway it seemed okay as he cycled the familiar road into town.
Edgar parked his truck in a side street two blocks from the boardwalk. It was deserted there, despite being so close to the main hub of the town's activity. Just a residential street that he had walked or cycled down more times than he could remember, with Alan and sometimes Sam at his side, on their way to or from school.
He exited the truck, locked the door and pocketed his keys. It was strange to be back. When he had left Santa Carla, he had assumed that it would be for good. There was nothing left for him there anymore, and he had moved on, placing the town firmly into his past. Being back felt like traveling through time.
The house on the corner still had the same overgrown garden with the million bird feeders hanging from every bush. On the other side of the street, another one displayed a For Sale sign that had been there for as long as Edgar could remember. It was frightening how much it felt like he had gone back. If he closed his eyes, he could almost imagine Alan standing next to him wearing his ever-present beret, staring around them through hooded eyes as he assessed the street for signs of vampire activity.
Edgar took a deep breath, trying to clear the thought, but even the taste of the air was familiar. He checked his watch, found he still had plenty of time, and set off on foot toward the boardwalk. As he went, he couldn't help but look around fascinated by both the things that were the same, and the things that were different.
He rounded a final corner and found himself on the Santa Carla boardwalk, looking out into the endless blue of the Pacific Ocean. There were people around, but it wasn't busy. Mornings never were, especially early in the season as this was. More people would arrive on the beach if and when the day heated up. Cafes would start to fill up with holidaymakers looking for drinks and ice creams, people would start to browse the shops, spending their money on junky souvenirs for friends and family. As the day wore on, the action would move to the bars, and from there it would spread outward during the night as people stupid on booze and drugs would begin to take stupid risks. Finally, slowly, the place would clear, until the sun rose and the process started over.
This had been his town once, and he still knew it well.
At the low wall that separated the boardwalk from the beach, he stopped, and watched the world around him. Down on the sand, a couple of teens were optimistically rubbing their skin with sunscreen and spreading towels to lay on. Above them, the shape of the sun was just about visible through the layer of cloud, and although Edgar could just about feel its warmth, it would be some time before it made any kind of real appearance.
He turned to look at the boardwalk. The shops and cafes and bars were all familiar, even the people inside were the same, a little older, perhaps, but other than that nothing had changed. It felt incredibly surreal to be there again. Everywhere he looked held a memory. Here, he had stood with Sam as he embellished a hunting tale in a ridiculous attempt to impress his friend. There, the three of them had sat eating ice cream and making plans for the future; a future that had gone terribly wrong not long after.
As he walked, keeping parallel to the beach and splitting his gaze between the beach and the buildings, heading in the direction of what had been his home, the familiarities became more intense. This was where he had lived and worked for most of his life. He had grown up right there.
He passed the carrousel, currently still and lifeless, and the old man selling cotton candy from a mobile stall. As he passed, the man caught his eye and smiled. Edgar looked quickly away, unable to tell if it had been a friendly hello or a recognition. As he turned, he froze.
The building looked exactly the same. The shutters were open, and he could see the shop inside. He knew every brick on the inside, every crack in the plaster within. Inside those walls, he had lived his entire life; grown from an infant to a man, watched his parents slowly descend into a drug-induced fog, learned how to run a business, take care of himself and his brother and fight the monsters and all the while attending school on time and not looking to exhausted, careful not to come to the attention of any well meaning teachers who might try to involve Child Protective Services in their lives.
It was ironic that so far this was the only thing that was different. He had known it would be. Alan was gone, he had left, and his parents had sold up and moved away. He had known the store was gone, but seeing it for himself still came as a shock.
He walked up to the window and peered inside. Sam had told him it was empty, but it had become a souvenir shop of the kind you found all over every resort town. The shelves were stocked with postcards, ornaments made from seashells never seen on the Santa Carla beach, and cheap jewelry. Hanging from a rail outside, were beach towels with colorful and sometimes rude images dyed onto them. A few inflatable air mattresses stood leaning against the wall.
Edgar hesitated by the door, considering going inside for a final look around. He decided against it. As people apparently said, you can never go home again. In this case, it was quite literally true. Standing outside the building where he had spent his entire life, Edgar Frog felt an intense pang of homesickness. He turned away, and walked to the nearest cafe out of sight of the shop. He ordered a coffee. For good measure, he faced in the opposite direction, looking out to sea, and he waited for Sam.
Sam dismounted the bike as he turned onto the boardwalk with its faded and usually ignored No Cycling signs at every entrance. He pushed it for a few steps, before placing one foot on a pedal and using the bike as a scooter.
They had arranged to meet outside the site of the comic shop, however when Sam arrived he found, to his surprise, that the building that had been boarded up and covered with sad, wilting posters when he had seen it last, had come back to life as a giftshop. Edgar was nowhere to be seen. He surveyed the people around him. There were relatively few so far and quickly located the back of the hunter's head, staring out to sea.
Sam smiled, ran a hand through his hair to reposition any strands that cycling may have displaced, and sauntered over.
“Boo.” Sam stepped around Edgar from behind, turning as he did, placing himself right in his friends line of sight. Edgar, so his credit, didn't even flinch. Sam knew from the slight expression of irritation on his face that he had surprised him, but years of hunting had taught him to suppress his instinctive reactions.
He propped the bike up against the side of the table and sat down in the opposite chair.
Edgar looked him up and down, taking in the new look, but made no comment. Instead he took a swig from his coffee mug, placed it back on the table in front of him. “You're late,” he said.
“I am?” Sam frowned. He brushed up the sleeve of his jacket to display his bare wrist. “No watch,” he explained, “Sorry, bud.” An explanation of how he had needed to restart his facial routine was unlikely to go down well.
Edgar waved away the problem and leaned forward, placing his elbows on the table. “What happened last night? Did he come back?”
Sam sat back slightly, away from the eager stare. “Well,” he said, hesitating as he thought back to the previous night.
Edgar continued to stare, waiting.
“The thing is,” Sam said, “Yeah, he did. And I'm a bit worried I might have pissed him off.”
Edgar's eyes narrowed, and Sam launched into an explanation of the events of the night before, of making the stupid, dangerous mistake of losing his temper. They were interrupted twice by a waitress who first took Sam's order, and then brought him his drink, forcing them into silence for fear of being overheard.
When he was done, Edgar sat back, away from the table. Sam chewed on a nail, waiting for a response. “I don't think,” Edgar said, “that this is a bad thing. I mean, he didn't attack you, so you've tested your limits and know you can get away with that. He might even be pleased, you're arguing with him like a friend, makes you look like you're not afraid.”
“Well, I am,” Sam told him.
“Yeah, and he'll know it. But if you can talk to a vampire like that, Sam, maybe you're not as afraid as you think.” He paused considering. “Or, you're more stupid,” he added.
Sam grinned. Unlike his mother, Edgar wasn't walking on eggshells around him, afraid that he would shatter and run away again. It felt oddly good to get back some sense of normality. Hanging out on the Santa Carla boardwalk exchanging insults with Edgar was about as normal as it could get. It was how he had spent the better part of three years of his life.
“How did he seem?” Edgar asked suddenly. “Did he act like Alan? Did he still look like him?”
Sam thought about it while he sipped his Diet Coke, enjoying the sound of the ice cubes knocking against the side of the glass, “I don't know, Edgar, he seemed fine, he looked the same.” He looked at Edgar, leaning forward again, eager for answers to his questions. “You know,” he added, “for someone who wants him dead, you sure seem interested in his well being.”
“Hey!” In an instant, in a clatter of metal chair legs on concrete, Edgar was on his feet and glaring down at Sam, “I don't want him dead. The fact is, he is dead. I wish he wasn't, if there was anything I could do to bring him back, I would.”
“Um...” Sam glanced nervously in the direction of the one other occupied table. A middle aged couple dressed in walking clothes had paused mid sip of coffee and were staring at Sam and Edgar in undisguised, horrified fascination.
Edgar stopped speaking immediately and sank back into his chair. He sat completely still and stared back at the other table until they suddenly found their own conversation absolutely fascinating. Once their attention moved back to their own, much safer lives, Edgar continued, keeping his voice low this time.
“Whatever that thing is, it's not Alan. I'm interested in how good an impression of him it can do. That's all.”
Sam tapped his fingernails on the edge of the table and sneaked a glance at the couple. They were getting to their feet ready to leave. The woman had opened her purse and was counting out money to pay. “You need to make your mind up, Edgar,” he said. “You say he is still Alan, that's why you can't kill him, now you say he isn't. It seems like you don't know what you think. And if he's not Alan, why do I have to do your dirty work for you?”
Edgar shook his head, as though doing so would erase the question. “Just stick to the plan. He's not trying to crawl through my window at night. Now, how did he seem?”
“That's what I was afraid of.”
Edgar sighed, and for a moment he looked lost. He recovered quickly, straightened his bandanna and looked Sam in the eye. “Stay on the lookout for an opportunity to stake him, but be careful; if you try it and fail, you won't get another chance. Remember, he's stronger and faster than you. If you attack him and he sees it coming, he will stop you.”
Sam nodded, feeling the nightly fear return several hours too early. He began mentally working out the number of hours until sunset.
“Our best choice,” Edgar continued, “is to find out where he sleeps so you can get to him in the daytime.”
“He'd have to trust me completely to let me know where he sleeps,” Sam pointed out. That kind of trust was not easily earned.
“I know. It's going to take a while, but it's going to be worth it.”
Sam ran a hand through his hair, still marveling at the feel of his newly cut style. It was amazing how easy it had been to make him feel human again., but if Alan got his way, humanity would become nothing but a memory. He would never feel – or be – human again. Ever. “He still wants to turn me,” he said quietly.
Edgar said nothing for a long moment. He rolled the base of his empty coffee mug on the polished aluminum table top, and stared out over the boardwalk into the great, blue-gray expanse of the Pacific.
Finally, just as Sam was beginning to think he had no response to give, Edgar turned back to him. He took a deep breath. “Would that make him trust you?” he asked.