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. That, however, turns out to be the least of their problems as they are forced to reassess preconceptions and see the world from a slightly different perspective.
Sam watched as Edgar and Alan prepared themselves for an encounter with the owner of the magic store. They decided to forgo the war paint and weapons in favor of their street clothes, they had no weapons against magic anyway. As they marched out of the door, Sam hung back. Alan shot a glance over his shoulder, “Coming?”
“I think I'll stay here if you guys don't mind,” he said. “No offense, but if you get arrested for harassment I don't want to be guilty by association. Have you even stopped to consider that he might be an ordinary guy opening a novelty store? He might not even think magic is real.”
Edgar and Alan exchanged one of their looks that Sam had come to understand signified some kind of nonverbal communication.
“You're in charge of the store til we get back,” Edgar told him.
“No giving yourself discounts,” Alan added.
“A third man that he doesn't know about could come in useful in the future if it comes down to a fight, so you're doing us a favor really.”
Sam nodded, “Good luck.”
Edgar walked quickly away, closely followed by Alan. As soon as they were out of earshot, Edgar shook his head angrily, “Coward.”
“He just doesn't understand,” Alan told him. “Anyway, maybe he's right. Partially, at least. We don't know this place is going to cause us any trouble. We don't know it's selling real magic, and even if it is, we don't know anything about magic.”
“You've been spending too much time with Sam,” Edgar said, “It's supernatural. It's evil.”
A short way along the boardwalk, he hesitated at the black painted door. There were no windows in the wood, no way to tell what they were about to walk into. He took a deep breath and turned the handle.
The top of the door knocked against a large brass bell as it swung open, making a pleasant ringing sound that echoed around the store. Newly opened it might have been, but it looked as though it had been there for years. Burning intense sticks and candles made the air thick with their sickly sweet odor. The shelves were piled high with heavy, imposing looking books and interesting pieces of equipment that neither boy recognized. The glass of the windows had been made with a slight tint that bathed the whole room in golden light giving the impression that they had stepped into an old, yellowing photograph from a century ago.
At the back of the store, running along the wall, were a row of glass jars, each one labeled in immaculate handwriting. The labels described the various herbs contained, some Edgar and Alan recognized, most they did not. Other jars, out of reach behind the counter, contained less pleasant items. One seemed to be filled with what appeared to be tiny eyeballs suspended in some kind of fluid, another was unmistakably the back legs of several frogs. Edgar grimaced in disgust.
The place definitely looked authentic, worryingly so. And old, as though the items on the shelves had sat there years, gathering dust, waiting to be sold. Edgar ran a finger across the surface of a bookshelf, it came away clean.
The cash register looked as though it had been plucked out of the last century. A heavy, brass affair with an intricate patterned design and ten stiff looking keys each with a number on them. It sat on a wooden desk directly opposite the door, behind it, next to the jars of unpleasant things, was a thick black curtain. From behind the curtain, an old man emerged and smiled at them. “Well now, my first customers. Welcome, boys. What can I interest you in today?”
His age was impossible to guess, he could have been anywhere between sixty and eighty. He wore an unremarkable casual suit, and a pair of wire frames glasses. It wasn't a look generally associated with the deviant proprietor of an establishment designed to corrupt and twist the minds and souls of unsuspecting kids. But then they had learned recently just how misleading looks could be when the most unlikely of men happened to be a head vampire.
Edgar pushed forward into the store and stopped in front of the man, only the desk separating them, “Are you the guy in charge?” He asked.
He nodded. “Yes, I am. My name's Anthony Price, pleased to meet you.
“Yeah, well it's time to pack up and leave, grandpa. This magic stuff isn't welcome around here, so close up and get out of town before you regret it.”
The man frowned, “Excuse me?”
“You heard me. Get out of Santa Carla and take all this crap with you.”
He shook his head with a vague expression of amusement, “You're the boys from the comic book store down the way, aren't you?”
Edgar shared a glance with his brother before they both nodded.
“Well, if you're the welcome wagon, I'm looking forward to seeing what the troublemakers are like.” He sighed. “Look, I don't know what you think you know about my line of business, but I'm not some evil warlock. I'm just a businessman opening a new store in a new town. I'm not out to hurt anyone or make them do anything they don't want. I'm just trying to make a living and do a little good at the same time.”
“Good?” Edgar scoffed.
“I don't know if you boys have noticed, but your town here has a lot of supernatural energy. Some of it is good, but most it dangerous. It'll attract all kinds of bad influences. Vampires, werewolves maybe, poltergeists. It's in your interests to have someone who knows how to deal with that kind of thing close by.”
Edgar rested his palms on the desk and leaned forward, staring the man in the eye, “We know what we're doing. We've fought them off before and we can do it again.”
“Really?” he appeared surprised by that revelation. “Well then, we are on the same side. Some back up is never a bad thing.”
“We'll take our chances,” Edgar told him.
“Well, that's your choice, but if you need me, you know where I am.” He turned to Alan. “And what about you, son? Do you agree with your brother, or should I be given a chance?”
Alan glanced at Edgar before he replied, “I agree with him.”
The man nodded. “A united front. That's good, you'll be stronger that way. I'm sorry, boys, but I'm not going anywhere.”
“We'll see about that.” Edgar told him before spinning on his heals and marching out of the shop. Alan turned to follow him, but was stopped by a hand on his arm. He turned back quickly, ready to fight, but the old man released his grip immediately.
Alan watched him suspiciously, as he reached under the counter for a small paperback book. He placed it on the wooden surface and slid it towards Alan.
Alan stared at the book and shook his head in refusal.
“No charge,” the man told him. Think of it this way, if we're going to be enemies, shouldn't you know as much about the other side as possible?”
Alan reached for the book, then hesitated with his hand hovering above it. He grabbed it quickly and shoved it into the large back pocket of his pants, then followed his brother outside before his absence became suspicious.
He blinked as he emerged from the gloom of the store into the harsh sunlight of the Santa Carla April. Edgar was already several paces further toward home, he could see the tension in him from the way he held his shoulders as he walked. Alan hurried to catch up with him.
“Stubborn old man,” said Edgar, “He's going to regret this.”
“You can't really blame him,” Alan told him. “His first day in business and two kids come in to tell him to leave town. You didn't really expect him to say 'okay then' and start packing up, did you?”
Edgar turned to face him and Alan could see the frustration written all over his face.
“You did, didn't you? I think we need to face it, Edgar, we might be death incarnate to the local vampire population, but the adults around here just see two weird kids. They won't take us any more seriously than the kids at school.”
“He could at least have gotten angry,” Edgar said. “He didn't have to be so damn calm about it.”
“Maybe he really is on our side.”
Edgar shook his head. “He's magician, or a wizard, or whatever the hell they call themselves. He does magic, magic is evil. That makes him evil.”
The book was pressing uncomfortably against Alan's left buttock, reminding him of it's existence. “We don't know magic is evil.” He pointed out. “We've never even really come up against it before.”
“I know,” Edgar told him.
Alan sighed and pushed open the door to the comic store to find Sam sitting behind the desk, feet up and a comic in his hands. He looked up as he heard them enter, “How'd it go?”
“It's going to take a little more work,” Edgar told him. “We'll keep the place under surveillance, make a note of who goes in, especially people we know.”
A few days later, Anthony looked out of the window through the yellow tint that had seemed like such a good idea when he ordered it but made the store feel so gloomy. Still, he supposed it was atmospheric, which was what he had been going for. The rude, loudmouthed boy that had told him to leave was on watch outside, glaring at his customers as they entered and exited.
“What'cha doing?” asked a voice from behind him.
He jumped in surprise, then turned and smiled, “Sophie, how do you move so quietly? Our friends are still on guard outside.”
“Which one is it today?” His granddaughter joined him at the window and rolled her eyes, “Him again. I hate that guy. Self righteous asshole.”
He shook his head, “He's just misinformed.” He looked out of the window again. “At least no one seems to have realized why they're out there. Being spied on might put customers off.”
“Yeah, well that's why I said you should call the cops. This is harassment or something, it's gotta be.” She blew a pink bubble with her gum and let it burst loudly. “Get rid of them,” she added.
Anthony shook his head, “The other one has potential. I don't want to risk alienating him.”
“Right.” She backed away from the window and sighed loudly. “Damn, that's annoying. Can't get rid of the asshole because of his brother. Can't talk to the brother because of the asshole.”
“I do wish you wouldn't use that kind of language, Sophie. But you're right, though I wouldn't have put it so colorfully.”
“So what are we going to do?”
Anthony placed a hand on his granddaughter's shoulder. “I'm going to drink a cup of coffee and wait. You are going to practice the scrying spells I taught you last night.”