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, but who are the newcomers to Santa Carla running the place, and what exactly are they hiding?
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10
“I wish those guys had opened their stupid shop someplace else,” muttered Edgar, not for the first time.
They were in Edgar's bedroom. Edgar sat on the floor, staring hard at an almost completely blank piece of lined paper as though willing it to tell him the answers. He tapped his pencil three times on the edge of it leaving three thick lines.
Behind him, Sam was laying on the bed as though he owned the place. His head was supported by the palms of his hands and he stared upwards as though uninterested in what was happening around him. “I think they did,” he said. “The murderer followed them, so they moved on. Knowing this place, they were bound to end up here eventually.”
“Yeah, well I wish they hadn't.” Edgar said. He sighed, massaged his forehead with his fingertips and looked to Alan expectantly. “You're the expert here,” he told him. “You read the books. What works against magic? I need an equivalent to garlic and holy water, 'cause I'm guessing they won't help us much.”
Alan shook his head. “The best weapon against black magic is good magic.”
“Well then we're shit out of luck, aren't we? Because I don't believe in good magic. And anyway, we're trying to think of things we can do ourselves without having to involve your friends. We go to them as a last resort only.”
Sam stretched, swung his legs around the side of the bed and sat up. “Sorry, Edgar, but I think he's right. I mean, we've got no idea how to find the bad guy. There might be a way to do it with magic.”
“If there was a way to do it with magic, wouldn't the warlock... the wiza... wouldn't he have done it already?”
“And even if we could find him on our own, what would we do with him?” Sam continued as though Edgar hadn't said a word. “He'll be vulnerable to the same things as any other human. I don't think they melt if you pour water on them Wizard of Oz style, unfortunately.”
He paused, looking thoughtful. Edgar stared at him impatiently.
“What? You got an idea?”
Sam shook his head. “No, I was just thinking, if there was some kind of Kryptonite for practitioners, you guys'd both have to stay away from it, wouldn't you?” he grinned. “I'd get to save the day.”
Edgar fixed him with a scowl that killed his smile instantly. Sam gulped theatrically and glanced at Alan, he found a similar expression of his face.
“Alright, too soon to make jokes. Got it. My point is, he might be an evil, magical warlock murderer, but he's human too; if you want to kill him you'd probably need to use a gun or something. I don't know about you guys, but there's no way I could do it. Vampires, sure. Humans, even murderers? No way. We should at least see if the magic guy has any suggestions.”
Alan cleared his throat. “Or, if the murderer wants me, I could go outside alone and wait for him to take me,” he suggested. “You could watch and follow...”
“Okay, damn it. You're right, we need the wizard's help.” Edgar said quickly.
Alan shared a triumphant glance with Sam.
Edgar sighed heavily and crumpled up the sheet of paper that was by now supposed to be full of ideas. He tossed it across the room into the waste paper bin and got to his feet. “All right, let's go now. Get it over with,” he said, pretending not to realize that he had been manipulated. “But we're straight in and out again. Alan, don't touch anything. Don't even look at anything if you can help it. In fact, you stay here. Sam and I can handle this.”
“I'm going.” Alan told him determinedly.
Edgar pursed his lips in irritation, but he didn't have the energy for another fight with Alan, not as well as whoever else they might be up against. “Fine. Just be careful,” he warned, nodding his reluctant agreement.
It had been a particularly slow night. It was strange how unpredictable the Santa Carla boardwalk could be. One night Anthony would be rushed off of his feet serving customers, the next would be like this. Outside, he could see and hear the same kinds of crowds as on other days, but tonight they were looking for other forms of entertainment. He checked his watch. It had been half an hour since his last customer, and they hadn't bought anything. He was tired, and very much ready to get into bed.
On the desk in front of him lay his own, private spell book, filled with incantations that he had developed himself over a lifetime of research. His life's work. It was a heavy, hardback leather-bound affair, a gift from his father on his eighteenth birthday, and cherished ever since. One day, if he had the time and the energy, he would publish it. Or perhaps he would just pass it down to Sophie to do whatever she liked with it. Maybe she would add her own creations to the many blank pages still at the back.
He leaned heavily on the desk as he slowly rose to his feet. Sitting still for so long made his muscles protest at his decision to move, and he walked painfully to the door. Just as he started to insert the key in the lock, the door handle turned and someone began to push it open.
Anthony sighed. He should let them in. If someone wanted to buy something, he shouldn't turn them away, it would be bad for business. But he was tired, and he had already made the decision to call it a night; it was probably just another teenager trying to buy a love potion, and if it was a serious customer, they would be willing to return the next day. He held the door closed with his foot and called out to whoever was on the other side. “Sorry, I'm just locking up for the night, can you come back tomorrow?”
The person on the other side of the door gave it a shove. The force behind it was stronger than Anthony and he was forced to move out of the way and allow entry to whoever was out there. The terrifying thought that perhaps the killer had finally grown tired of toying with them and had decided to end it occurred. Frantically, he tried to remember the incantations for some fighting spells and thought about what Sophie would think when she returned home to find him gone. If the killer hadn't taken her already...
When the door opened fully to reveal Edgar Frog, he breathed a sigh of relief. His self-appointed nemesis wore a grim expression. Behind him stood Alan and their friend whose name Anthony couldn't remember. They looked less unfriendly, though Alan appeared decidedly nervous.
“Not really, no,” said Edgar with a shake of his head. “Believe me, if I had a choice this is the last place I'd be, but it looks like we might need your help.”
For a moment, Anthony was too immobilized by surprise to move. He took a few seconds to recover, then took a step back and allowed them to enter. The three of them trooped inside in silence and stood in an uncomfortable looking group just on the inside of the door.
Edgar, clearly the leader, or the one who saw himself as the leader, remained in front of the other two, deliberately keeping himself between Anthony and his brother. He folded his arms across his chest defensively and glared at Anthony with obvious suspicion, as though he expected the old man to attack him.
Anthony ignored the open display of hostility. He stepped around the group to lock the door.
“Leave it.” Edgar told him. He side stepped into his path turning slightly as he did, ensuring that he didn't take his eyes off of the practitioner for a second. He blocked his path to the door.
Alan touched his brother lightly on the arm. Edgar's eyes flicked toward him for a moment, then immediately back to Anthony.
“Relax, Edgar. He's not going to hurt us.”
“Let him lock the door,” Alan said. “Or someone might come in and see you in here. Unless you don't mind people knowing about...”
“Alright!” Edgar snapped before his brother could finish. “Fine, you win.” He stepped out of Anthony's way, still not taking his eyes off of him. “No funny business,” he warned.
Anthony locked the door and left the key in the lock for Edgar to use if he wanted. “You came to me for help,” he said. “If you mistrust me so badly, why would you do something like that?”
The friend grinned, “Ignore Edgar, he's a little paranoid. Not without reason, though.”
“Sam.” Edgar silenced him with a word and a look, and Sam shrugged.
Edgar hated the magic shop. He had hated it since the first time he had set eyes on it, that afternoon when he had noticed it in the middle of his boardwalk. The first time he had been inside, he had hated the way it looked so quaint and harmless, with its old, iron cash register and the price tags handwritten in cursive script. Everything about the place was designed to lull people into a false sense of security. He hated that it represented the normalization of magic; the idea that anyone could go in and learn witchcraft or buy spells. It was evil.
But tonight he hated it even more. The atmosphere inside appeared to be thick with foreboding. Little by little, magic had begun to invade his life, slowly wrapping it's evil tendrils around everything he knew and tainting it with its supernatural stink. And now, despite how hard he had struggled not to allow it in, he found himself visiting this place with the intention of working with the man responsible. He made no attempt to disguise the suspicion in his glare as he looked around. Even as he slouched in his chair feigning nonchalance, his eyes flicked from left to right, taking in everything around him, memorizing the contents of the shelves before settling back on the Practitioner, ensuring that he hadn't made any threatening moves since he last checked.
The old man seemed calm and friendly, but that was what set off the alarm bells in Edgar's head. Edgar had been nothing but hostile to him since the first time they met, he had given the man no reason to to trust him, yet here he was inviting them into his place of business after hours, providing them with drinks and snacks. Either he was the most forgiving man ever to walk the earth, or something else was going on. Edgar eyed the plate of cookies on the table in front of him warily.
Alan had been right about one thing. They had to know as much about their enemy as possible, and no matter what anyone told him about this man, or indeed about his own heritage, they were in enemy territory right now.
It bothered him how calm Alan seemed, almost as though he was comfortable in the shop. Sam, too. He looked around as Edgar did, taking in everything, but he appeared interested rather than apprehensive. Then, with no thought to his own safety, he picket up an oatmeal cookie from the plate, and took a bite.
Edgar gave both of them a frustrated glare and then turned his attention back to the old man who was calmly sipping a cup of black coffee. “Okay, enough with the coffee break. There's a murderer out there, and he might be coming for my brother. We need ideas; we need to know how to protect ourselves, and how to find him before he finds us.”
Anthony took a long sip of steaming hot coffee, then sat back in his chair thoughtfully.
Edgar waited, forcing himself not to tap his foot impatiently as he stared at his enemy, waiting for answers.
“You ask difficult questions,” the old man told him eventually.
“Yeah, well if they were easy questions, we'd know the answers ourselves and we wouldn't need to be here, would we?”
Alan shot Anthony an apologetic glance, and then looked down at the table before Edgar noticed.
“Finding someone is relatively easy,” Anthony explained. “All you need is something that belongs to them, or something that they have a connection to. A piece of jewelery, fabric from their clothes, a drop of blood, even just a single strand of hair. Unfortunately, not knowing who we are looking for, we have no access to these things.”
“So how about avoiding him?” Sam asked
“Difficult again,” Anthony told them. “Sophie and I have been running from him for a long time. But unfortunately we don't have a method of keeping him away. We have wards up against all kinds of unpleasant creatures, but not against him. Again, if I knew who he was and had something of his, I could set up a barrier to keep him out of our home, but I don't.”
Edgar sighed. “So, this is a big waste of time. If you're not doing anything to protect yourselves, how come he hasn't killed you yet, anyway?”
“Edgar!” Sam said, shocked, but the old man just shook his head.
“It's a fair question. I don't know why we have been spared. Sometimes I think he just wants to torture us.”
“So you're not doing anything to keep him out of here,” Sam said, “but is there anything you could do? I mean, if you wanted to? Don't you have any wards that could keep him away?”
Anthony shook his head. “It's theoretically possible, I suppose, but it would be pointless to try. It would have to be designed to keep out any person with the gift, which would include myself, Sophie and a good proportion of my customers.”
Sam nodded, “But what about at Edgar and Alan's place? Could you put one up there?”
Anthony began to answer but was cut off by a frantic hand waving from a horrified Edgar. “No! We're looking for ways to get rid of the warlock, not for experimental spells to use in our home! What's wrong with you, Sam?”
“It wouldn't work anyway,” Anthony told them.
Alan's face set into an unreadable expression. “Because of me,” he said quietly. “It would keep me out too. Maybe even you as well, Edgar.”
Edgar's fist clenched briefly and he glanced at his brother out of the corner of his eye. “Alright, enough about magic. We're looking for real solutions here.”
“Unfortunately,” Anthony told him with a ghost of a smile, “magic is the only solution that we have. I doubt you came to me expecting anything else, so why don't you stop pretending otherwise and listen to what I have to say.”
“Do you have anything to say? Except a list of things that you can't do, that is? Because if you have something that might actually work, I'm all ears.” Edgar regretted the words as soon as they left his mouth. He meant every one of them, but he hadn't come where with the intention of making the guy that could do magic angry. Even if he wasn't the murderer, that still sounded like a very bad idea. He swallowed. “Um, what I mean is...”
“What he means is, 'please help us if you can,' right, Edgar?” Sam interjected.
Edgar chewed on his bottom lip and fixed his gaze firmly on the table in front of him. He had known coming to the magic shop would involve discussing magic, he just wanted to make it as clear as possible how against it he was. He sighed. “Yeah, that.”
Anthony took another sip of his coffee and looked closely at his three visitors over rim of his cup. “We are talking about a very powerful individual,” he said. “You won't find him by conventional methods. In every city, the police search for him, and every time they fail. Even if they did find him, I doubt they would be able to hold on to him for very long. We need a more permanent solution.”
“It sounds like you're saying we need to kill him.” Sam said.
Anthony looked at him sharply, “Not necessary,” he said, “but I'm an old man. I'm tired of running. We need to stop him from killing, any way we can.”
“Well, there's something it'd be tough to argue with,” Edgar said. He took a deep breath, steeling himself. “Okay, magical solutions. Go.”
Anthony thought for a moment. He looked at Alan in a way that Edgar didn't like, peering at him so closely that he could almost believe that he was looking inside him.
“Wh...” Edgar said, cut off before he could form a word.
“I need some time,” Anthony told them.
Alan frowned. “Hasn't the guy been following you around for years?”
“Yeah, you're only now trying to think up a way to stop him?” Edgar added.
“No,” Anthony told them, “I'm trying to think of a way to locate him. We may not have anything belonging to him, but I think our adversary has been kind enough to provide me with a possible clue. I need a little time to figure out how I can use it.”
Edgar resisted the urge to quiz the old man on exactly what he was talking about. If he wanted to be deliberately cryptic, fine; they weren't going to give him the satisfaction of hearing them begging for information. Instead, he got to his feet and leaned forward, deliberately invading the old man's personal space. “Fine. But anyone else dies while you're having a think, it's on you. Got it? Just like everyone else that's died while you and the girl did nothing to stop it. So think fast, because if anything happens to Alan, or to anyone else, I'm holding you personally responsible.”
He turned away and marched to the door. Sam and Alan stood to follow him. As they did, Anthony reached over and touched Alan on the arm. “There's something I need to tell you in private,” he said. “Something important.”
With his hand on the door key, Edgar spun around and glared at the man.
Alan shook his head, “Whatever it is, you can say it in front of Edgar and Sam,” he told him.
“I really think it would be better if I could just speak to you.” Anthony insisted.
Alan hesitated, then turned to his brother for guidance.
Edgar shook his head. Alan repeated the gesture to Anthony, then hesitated. “No, it's fine, Edgar. You guys wait outside.”
Edgar looked from Alan to the old man and back again. It was easy to give orders and decide on the rules when people didn't question his authority, but when one of his soldiers started making decisions for himself, decisions Edgar didn't like, there wasn't actually a lot he could do about it.
He sighed, frustrated, then shrugged. “Fine. We'll be just outside the door. Stay where I can see you through the window. Two minutes. Not a second longer or I'm coming back in.” With a final glare of warning to both of them, he let himself out of the shop. Sam followed and closed the door behind them.
“I can't believe you agreed to that,” Sam told him.
“I trust my brother,” Edgar said, and then peered through the shop window wishing that he felt as certain as he sounded.