Characters: Edgar Frog, Alan Frog
Spoilers: The Thirst
Synopsis: Directly after the end of The Thirst. Edgar and Alan catch up.
Edgar unlocked the door to his trailer and walked inside with an uncharacteristic spring in his step. He ached from head to foot, his skin was covered with little points of pain that would develop into bruises as the night progressed. He should be exhausted, ready to drop onto the couch and sleep for the next twenty six hours, but the adrenaline rushing through his bloodstream had different ideas, and he knew there would be no sleep for a while.
Behind him, he was acutely aware of his brother's presence. Alan had barely said a word since they had left the abandoned slaughterhouse and sailed back to the mainland. Edgar didn't bother to ask if he needed a ride, he was under no illusions that Alan had gotten out there by boat. He had flown under his own power, and now he was human again that was obviously not an option.
Human. Edgar felt his lips stretch into a smile, and he didn't fight it. The nightmare was finally over, and he had his brother by his side. He had never thought that it would happen. For the longest time, he had assumed Alan was lost forever, when he finally made contact, the relief that he had resisted the urge to make his first kill was outweighed by the fact that he was still a half vampire, one accidental slip away from becoming a full monster.
As he allowed his body to drop onto the cushions of the sagging couch, he noticed that Alan was hesitating by the door, not walking inside. Edgar let him to stand there for a few more seconds marveling at the fact that he was real, then he grinned. “Waiting for an invitation?”
The question seemed to shake Alan out of his trance, and he stepped over the threshold into his brother's home.
“Old habits?” Edgar asked. Alan gave him a look. It was one he remembered from their childhood, one Alan would use on the occasions he was able to correct his brother on vampire lore.
“Half vampires don't need an invite,” he said.
Edgar scowled. “I knew that. It was a joke.”
“It was hilarious.” Alan banged his feet on the plastic doormat on the inside of the trailer, loosening the sand, mud and other things that Edgar didn't want to think about, then he walked through and sat down at the other end of the couch. He drummed his fingers on his knee as he looked around.
It was nothing special, Edgar knew that. From the outside his trailer looked as though it might contain a decent amount of living space, but the inside was surprisingly snug. Probably the clutter didn't help. The shelves, the table, every available surface was covered with something. Garlic bulbs had been strung up and hung around like Christmas garlands. Crosses, stakes, bottles of cheap brand mineral water – made holy by a blessing from the Reverend Edgar Frog, and some very interesting looking guns were stored in the most unexpected of places.
So it wasn't exactly neat and tidy, but then he hadn't been expecting company. Still, what else are you supposed to do with your newly re-humanized brother? Thank him for the help and wave him off back to his own slaughterhouse with the dead animals and the blood and the foul smell that hung in the air around the whole neighborhood? He had to ask him back for the night, or else he would wake up in the morning and not be sure whether it had really happened.
“I always wondered what this place would look like on the inside.” Alan said. He was smirking a little, but wiped the expression from his face as soon as Edgar looked in his direction. Not quickly enough to keep him from noticing.
Edgar stared at him for a moment in irritation. “Hey, if you don't like it, you can go back to the hovel of death. Maybe drain a possum or two for lunch.”
“I like it,” Alan told him. “It's... very you.”
Edgar stretched and got to his feet. He could feel Alan's eyes on him as he moved into the kitchen area, where he kept his refrigerator, microwave, hotplate and a few plates and glasses. Things in the kitchen were stored in two categories, dirty and clean. Dirty lived in the sink, until he got around to washing up, when it would be placed on the draining board until he used it again. He picked up a glass, “So, you've seen the place before?” he asked.
Alan nodded. “Well, yeah. I've been by a few times. Just checking up on you.”
“That's not at all creepy.”
The former half vampire smiled. He had been doing a lot of that tonight. More so than the last time he had been human, he was sure. Definitely more than during the years he had been something else. “Just making sure you were okay,” he said.
“Making sure I was okay?” Edgar shook his head.
“I know why you didn't want to see me,” Alan told him, “but you went years between visits, I wanted to make sure something hadn't gotten to you.”
Edgar shrugged. He had been lax on the visits, but it wasn't without reason. “Yeah, I could have stopped by more. Don't take this the wrong way, but seeing you like that freaked me the hell out.” He cracked an egg on the side of his glass, opened it with one hand in a well practiced motion, making sure that no shell fell into the glass. Then he took down one of the garlic bulbs from the top of the refrigerator. He smacked it with a hammer, sending fragments of garlic flying around the trailer. Alan watched in disbelief.
“Frog juice?” Edgar said.
Edgar scraped the shattered garlic that had remained on the table into his glass and added a little water from one of the many plastic bottles. “Frog juice,” he repeated. He stirred the foul looking concoction with spoon until the egg mixed with the holy water, and downed it in one. “Keeps the monsters away.”
“How? They run a mile from your breath?”
Edgar gave him a sharp look, but found himself glaring into his brother's completely human eyes filled with amusement. He tried to keep a straight face, but it proved impossible, and he laughed. “It's good to have you back, bro,” he muttered.
“Good to be back,” Alan said sincerely.
“Yeah. So, the Frog juice makes you taste bad to the undead. They're not gonna want to bite someone with garlic and holy water in their blood.”
Alan shrugged. “Makes sense,” he said. “But did you have to call it Frog juice? It sounds so...” He eyed the used glass. Egg smeared the sides and pieces of garlic were slowly slipping down toward remainder of the congealed mess in the bottom. “Actually, it does look like you blended a frog, so I guess it's an appropriate name.”
“Hey, don't you even dare make comments on my eating habits after what you've been chugging back the past five years.” Edgar dropped the glass into the gray colored water in the sink and sat down at the table. “You need to be drinking this too, it'll keep you safe.”
Alan looked genuinely ill at the idea of drinking the admittedly revolting concoction. For a moment the idea that perhaps Alan wasn't really cured forced its way into Edgar's head. He reminded himself that he had felt the same way the first time he choked down his signature cocktail, it was nothing to do with residual vampirism.
“Why don't you just eat some Italian food, or something with garlic bread? Alan suggested. “Wash it down with some holy water that you haven't filled with eggs.”
Edgar shook his head. “It's simple to make, it's good for you, and I'm a terrible cook.”
“Still? I can't believe this time you haven't learned.”
“I can boil an egg, I can heat stuff up. What else do you need? It's a pre-packaged world, Alan.”
Alan shook his head slowly. “Not to me. It's been nearly five years since I've eaten food.”
Edgar eyed him sceptically.
“Seriously. I tried a few times, but I was choking it down and it didn't nourish me at all. It wasn't what my body needed.”
“Blood.” Edgar said dramatically.
Alan took a deep breath and relaxed on the couch, leaning his head back so that he was looking upward at the yellow ceiling. “It feels so good to be human again,” he said. “You have no idea what it was like.”
“No, I don't,” Edgar agreed. Being turned. It was the one thing that terrified every hunter the world over. Death was an inevitability, but being changed, becoming one of the monsters... he didn't want to know what that felt like. He didn't want to know what it was like to be forced to drink the terrible, poisonous blood. Feeling it running down your throat, knowing what it would do. He didn't want to understand the feeling of blood lust, battling your own body, battling the urge to kill. He didn't want to know about how it felt to have to hide from the sun's life giving rays, hide in the shadows, kill animals for their blood because the alternative is to kill people.
He had lived it a hundred times in his mind after Alan was turned. Nightmares, each one worse than the last. He didn't want to know about the reality that his brother had lived with, because he feared it might be worse even than anything his imagination could throw at him.
Alan gave him another look he recognized from their childhood. When Edgar would slip off into the horror stories in his head and Alan would take it upon himself to bring him back. “Still here?”
Edgar nodded. “Yeah. Do you want to talk about it? What it was like?”
He was glad when Alan replied with a shake of his head. “Not today. I'd rather not think about it for a while.”
“Yeah.” Edgar reached across the table and pressed the tip of his finger onto one of the pieces of garlic he had sent across the room with his hammer blow. He slid it closer to himself, lined up the shot, and flicked the fragment across the room. His aim was perfect, it hit his unsuspecting brother right in the center of his forehead. He grinned as Alan rubbed at the spot where it made contact. Almost like old times.
He flicked a second piece, this one narrowly missed, the third landed on his brothers head. “Cut it out, Edgar!” Alan snapped. Exactly like old times.
Edgar laughed, but did as he was asked. He watched as Alan got to his feet and batted at his hair and clothes with his hands to remove any pieces still left. As he stood, he glimpsed his reflection in the mirror hanging on the wall. He froze, then approached it slowly. Edgar watched as he examined his own image in amazement.
“Been a while?” Edgar asked.
Alan nodded. “I didn't keep mirrors, I didn't want the reminder. The first time I looked and I saw half a reflection, that was when I knew it had really happened.”
“What, the fangs weren't a giveaway? Or the sudden desire to drink blood?”
“That's not what I meant.” Alan was still staring into the mirror as though captivated by his own reflection.
“Well, don't stand there staring too long, I'll start to think you've turned into Sam...” Edgar stopped. His smile died on his lips and he got to his feet and turned away as the wave of regret rose over him again.
He heard footsteps behind him, crossing the trailer. He felt a familiar hand on his shoulder. This was his private grief, he had never been able to share it, because he had been alone.
“Why didn't you tell me what happened?” Alan asked. “I know you didn't want to be around me, but surely for something that important... He was my friend too, remember?”
Edgar shrugged and nodded at the same time. He had wanted to tell him. He had wanted to talk to someone that would understand. The hate-filled glares of Sam's family – the group of people that for a short while Edgar had begun to think of as a surrogate family for himself – had hurt. He had had no choice, Sam had turned. All the way. The bloodlust had won, he had made his first kill and there was no going back. Michael hadn't seen it that way, of course. To him, Edgar had simply taken his little brother away. Taken Michael's brother, but spared his own. “He turned,” he said. “He couldn't resist the bloodlust. I killed him. I couldn't talk to a half vampire about something like that.”
Alan considered Edgar's faulty logic and shook his head. “You should have told me.”
Edgar sighed heavily and sat back down on the single chair at his small table. “Yeah, I probably should, but I couldn't. I didn't mean to just drop it on you like that the other day.”
Alan shrugged his acceptance of the closest thing to an apology he was going to get. It wasn't enough, Edgar knew that. He had wrestled with himself over the decision, and in the end he had chickened out.
For a moment, Alan's expression looked far away, somewhere in the past. Edgar had spent quite a bit of time there himself, it was comfortable. He let have his brother a few minutes before he spoke again. “Alright, that's enough of the depressing shit for now. Tomorrow we celebrate our victory. What do you want to do?”
Alan thought about it for a while. “I want to eat some real food,” he said eventually. “And then I just want to sit in the sun all day.”
Edgar slumped in his chair. “You're going to make me go the the beach, aren't you?”
Alan smiled in anticipation of the feeling of warm sun on his skin. “I'm going to the beach. Come if you want.”
He almost refused, but then Edgar found himself nodding. Just this one time, for the chance to see his brother in the sunlight. To prove to himself once and for all that, for now at least, the nightmare was over.