Characters: Edgar Frog, Alan Frog, Sam Emerson
Warnings: Not really.
Spoilers: For Reign of Frogs, I suppose.
Synopsis: Set after Reign of Frogs. Alan drank vampire blood, and Edgar is going to save him even if he has to to tear down the whole town to do it...
Prologue | Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5
“Are you going to tell me what the hell happened?”
Edgar hung back just outside the door, arms crossed defensively, one hand hovering closely to a wooden stake that was tucked inside his belt. He had also armed himself with a water gun placed in a holster at his hip. Alan watched the hand by the stake. As Edgar noticed where his brother's eyes were fixed he wondered whether he would have the guts to do it, if the time came.
Alan was sitting on the floor, his back pressed against the side of his unmade bed, arms hugging one knee while the other leg lay out in front of him. He was visibly shaken, his hair plastered to his face with sweat, and an empty glass bottle laying next to him. But at least he looked like Alan again.
He shook his head. “I don't know. It happened suddenly, I just lost control.”
“Something must have triggered it,” Edgar insisted. “You were alone, there were no temptations. What happened?”
Alan simply shook his head again. Edgar scowled. His brother was keeping something from him.
“Is it the blood? I knew I shouldn't have let you have it. You've got a taste for it now, you're hooked.”
“No, that's not it.” Alan climbed shakily to his feet, leaving the discarded bottle where it had fallen and sat down on the bed.
“Then what?” Edgar insisted.
Alan closed his eyes for a long moment, Edgar could see an internal struggle going on inside him. When he opened them again, he looked his brother straight in the eye. “I went out.”
“What?” Edgar's voice was low and dangerous. His hands clenched into fists. “Out where?”
“To the boardwalk. I thought I could find a vampire and follow it to the Black Widow. If we can locate where she's sleeping...”
Edgar interrupted by marching into the room and pulling the curtains closed. There was no lock on the window, nothing he could do to stop Alan short of boarding it up, and he suspected that even their parents would notice something like that. This symbolic gesture would have to do. “This stops now,” he said.
“No, Edgar. It doesn't.”
Edgar stared in surprise at his brother, Alan didn't argue. Never. He might disagree, he frequently made suggestions that Edgar had to admit were better than his own, but he didn't just say no. “What do you mean it doesn't?”
Alan still stared his brother defiantly in the eye, “You're not going to find anything marching around town with Sam asking people where to find a bondage club. Jesus, Edgar, who's going to take that seriously? I'm not going to sit here waiting while you fail. I'm not going to turn because you don't trust me to help.” The defiant look morphed into something more like determination, “I'm not going to turn,” he repeated.
“You're damn right, you're not,” Edgar muttered. He turned on his heel, and walked quickly out the door. “Do not do anything until I say so.”
Edgar left the door open as he left. If Alan could come and go as he liked anyway, there was nothing to stop him accessing the house and shop by climbing out the window and walking in the door. He could kick himself for not thinking of that earlier. Leaving the door open at least meant he could keep an eye on him.
Downstairs, Sam was browsing the new comics and keeping an eye on the store. He looked up as Edgar returned, “What's up?”
“My brother the vampire,” Edgar told him. “Up in the air, out the window and flying around looking for bloodsuckers to follow home.”
“Yeah, that's what I said.” Edgar sat down heavily, “He wants to help, he doesn't seem to realize what a liability he is right now. He was right about one thing though. We're not doing shit to help him. Until we find the head vamp, we're stuck.”
Sam placed his comic back on the shelf, “And until someone tells us where she is, we've got no hope of finding her.”
“Yeah.” Edgar rapped his knuckles a few times against the edge of the cash register and looked up, “We need to work harder. Ask more people, check out possible locations. I went to the mansion during the day yesterday, just in case. It was deserted. The old cave the same, but there's got to be dozens of potential hiding places along the beach.”
Sam nodded, “There are, and hundreds more in the town, and then there's the area around town. Maybe even some of the smaller towns nearby. If we had ten years and a license to go wherever we want, we might find her like that.”
“Great,” Edgar scowled, “I thought you were meant to be the team optimist.”
“Well, since you're not letting Alan help, I thought I'd take over as realist for a while. Don't worry, you're still the muscle.”
Edgar walked away silently, and busied himself rearranging a display of comics at the other side of the store. Sam watched, biting back his advice on the Frog's organizational system. When he was done, Edgar turned and marched back, he glared at Sam menacingly. “All right, Sam. You said you were back in. If you're on the team, you do things my way. Unless you've got some brilliant suggestion to find the head vampire, you keep your opinions on my ideas to yourself. Got it?”
“Well actually, I do have an idea.”
Edgar waited, arms crossed.
“It's not really my idea,” Sam added, “but I think Alan's right. We need his help.”
Sam shrugged, “Come on, if he went out tonight, you know he's just going to do it again. Instead of both doing your own things, why not team up?”
Alan crept out of his room and floated slowly down the stairs to avoid the creaking steps. He could hear the conversation perfectly well from his room, but he had no intention of being excluded any longer.
“Because, Sam, he is a half vampire. Now I know in your family that's perfectly fine and normal or whatever, but around here vampires are the enemy.”
Standing in the back room, Alan listened in disbelief.
“Now, I know he's not a vampire yet,” Edgar continued, “but you didn't see him a minute ago. Every night he gets a little bit further from human, and sooner or later if we don't stake this head vamp, I'm going to lose him completely. I won't let that happen.”
Sam tried to think or a response to that, but nothing came to mind. To see such a display of emotion from his usually stoic friend completely disarmed him. “Okay,” he said, “I get it.”
“Well I don't,” Alan stepped out of the door to the living area and folded his arms. “I can help. You're never going to find her without me. That makes me valuable resource, why not use what you have?”
Edgar and Sam looked up in surprise at the voice behind them. Alan still looked shaken by the evening's events, but determined to get his point across.
Edgar shook his head, equally determined, “You know why.”
“I'm doing this with or without your approval, Edgar,” Alan told him. “You're fighting for my life here, I'm not going to just sit back and watch. I don't expect you to agree, after all, I'm the enemy right now, right?”
“I didn't mean it like that,” Edgar protested.
“I'm doing this,” Alan repeated, “And if you won't back me up, I'll do it alone.”
A hundred arguments pressed themselves into Edgar's brain, and he knew how Alan would respond to each one. His brother had the upper hand because he knew Edgar would never abandon him. He slumped on the stool behind the counter, defeated. “Well, if you're going to go out anyway, you might as well have back up,” he said finally.
Sam grinned as Alan nodded his acceptance and Edgar scowled.
After the last customer had left and the shop was locked for the night, two vampire hunters and one half vampire gathered in the back room, away from prying ears, to discuss strategy. Edgar and Sam listened to Alan's description of the night's events. He missed out the part about the almost loss of control. Edgar knew enough about that, Sam didn't need to.
“So this girl, do you think you could find her again?” asked Sam, eager now the investigation was moving on.
“This vampire, Sam. Don't get fooled into thinking of them as people.” Edgar told him.
Alan ran his finger through a drop of water on the table and smeared it across the surface. He wondered whether Edgar was right. He still felt like himself right now. Would that change if he changed?
“Oh. Yeah. I mean, if I see her I'd know her, and that's probably her hunting ground.”
Edgar grimaced, “Right outside our front door. Great.”
“I'm not sure I want to though.” Alan added, “Maybe I should find another one. There was something about her I didn't like.” She had had some kind of power over him. Her words alone had been enough to make the bloodlust rise. The lack of control had been terrifying. He didn't know whether it had been intentional or not, but she had been the cause and he had no desire to repeat the experience.
Sam smirked, “You mean like that she's a vampire? 'Cause you're gonna find that with all of them.”
“No, not that. There's something about her. She's dangerous.”
“Again...” began Sam
Edgar silenced him with a glare, which he then turned on Alan, “Is there something you're not telling us?”
Alan shook his head.
“Then Sam's right, they're all dangerous, and you probably won't like any of them. I'd be worried if you did. You've already made contact with this one. Stick with her. Play the poor confused half vampire, get her to lead us to her friends.”
Alan looked at his brother. He could see from the expression of distaste on his face how much Edgar hated this plan, but he seemed to have accepted that it was the only way. “What then?” he asked.
“We'll try to follow,” Edgar told him, “but if for any reason we can't, you get back to base with the location. Me and Sam'll go back there in the daylight and make sure we finish the job properly this time.”
Alan nodded slowly. Considering how determined he had been to help just a few hours ago, he was finding his enthusiasm fading fast. Out on the boardwalk, he had seen a chance and grabbed onto it. Trying to trick the vampire had just been an opportunistic gamble, hoping to get information. He had failed, and been rewarded instead with the most desperate struggle of his life – just getting home without committing murder.
When he had insisted on being included, he had hoped that between the three of them they could come up with something better than he could manage alone on the spur of the moment. But apparently not. If Edgar was willing to go along with this, a plan that potentially ended in him being trapped alone to a vampire's lair, there really must be no other way.
He felt a hand on his arm and looked up, “You okay with this?” Sam's eyes were full of concern.
He nodded, “Of course. When do we start?”
“Tomorrow night,” Edgar told him. “You go for a walk, see if you can find her. We'll go with you, following at a safe distance. But in the meantime, Sam and I are sticking to the original plan. While you're sleeping in all day, we'll be out scouting for potential locations. With luck we'll find her, stake her before you even wake up and you won't even need to go on this stupid mission.”
Alan tried to smile. That it would all be better when he woke up was a hope that he had already abandoned. If Edgar could still cling to the idea, Alan wasn't going to dissuade him, but Alan suspected the confidence was all a pretense.