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 | Part 11 | Part 12 | Part 13
The hall outside the science labs smelled vaguely of something Sam had never managed to identify. Whatever it was, it was identical to the odor of science at his old school back in Phoenix and probably, he would be willing to bet, to every school in the country. Possibly even the world. It hung constantly in the air; a combination of the results of years of experiments by uninterested teenagers, and the regular release of gas from the Bunsen burners into the atmosphere.
Edgar was visibly agitated as he stood outside the lab with his hands in the pockets of his slightly worn pants. He glanced up and down, occasionally pacing the hall. His hands clenched and unclenched, fingers slipped in and out of his belt buckles and his pockets as he tried to decide what to do with his hands. He constantly kept one eye on Sam with an expression that silently asked why he wasn't behaving in the same way.
Sam leaned against the wall of the puke green painted hall, standing on one leg while the sole of his other foot pressed against the wall. He tapped his fingers against his leg and hummed a tune that had been stuck in his head since the night before.
“What the hell is she playing at?” Edgar asked suddenly. He shot an inquiring look in Sam's direction as though he believed he might have the answer.
Sam shrugged. “Maybe you've been stood up. She might never have intended meeting you. I don't know if you've noticed, but she really doesn't like you. I mean, she acts all nice, but I can tell.”
“Yeah, thanks Captain Observant. I know she hates me. The feeling's mutual.” Edgar shook his head. “No, she definitely wanted to talk to me. Did you hear what she said, that I wouldn't want to discuss it where people could hear? That was a threat. Meet her, or she'll try to ruin our credibility.”
“What credibility?” Sam smirked.
“Shut up. Unless...” Edgar's face took on a thoughtful expression, which quickly shifted into worry, and then panic. “Unless she wanted me to think that. She wanted me here so she knew I wouldn't be someplace else. She saw that we were leaving. What if she told me to meet her so I wouldn't go home? What if she's gone after Alan?”
“Gone after him for what?” Sam shook his head. “Sophie's pretty weird, but I think she kinda likes Alan, if you know what I mean? She's not going to hurt him.”
“Unless she just wants us to think that...” Edgar's chain of worried thought was broken by the sound of someone clearing their throat behind him. He whirled around and found himself staring directly at Sophie. He backed off a step in surprise, then quickly regained his composure. “You're late!” he told her.
She smiled apologetically. “Gym class,” she said, as though that was an explanation.
For a moment, Sam thought that Edgar was going to start a fight in the middle of school, but to his relief, his friend just shrugged. “Okay, whatever. Lets get this out of the way. What do you want?”
“Are you sure you want to discuss this in front of him?” She nodded in Sam's direction.
“Hey,” Sam said, hurt. “I was just standing up for you, you don't need to be so rude.”
Sophie turned to him with a frown. “Oh? I must have misheard when I thought you called me weird.”
Sam smiled nervously. “Well, weird's a complement. I mean, who'd want to be like everyone else? You're unique.”
Her expression softened and Sam relaxed slightly. He wasn't sure she'd bought it, but she at least didn't seem angry. He didn't really understand magic, but he had seen it in action, and if Alan could do what he had done on his first attempt, he didn't want to know what an angry girl with years of experience could do to a person if he made her mad.
“Sorry,” he added.
“I'm sorry,” she told him, “I only meant that we need to talk about magic, and you're not one of us. I didn't think you'd be interested.”
If it was possible, Edgar's body language grew more defensive. He folded his arms and glared at her menacingly. “You'd better not be including me in that 'us'. You and I have nothing in common.”
And just like that, Edgar had ruined her good mood. Sam felt his heart sink as he watched the expression on her face turn to frustration, as though this wasn't how the conversation was supposed to go, and then to anger. Sam took a step forward and jabbed his elbow into Edgar's ribs as hard as he could, trying to make it look like an accident.
Edgar spun around and glared at him, and Sam wished that he knew how Edgar and Alan communicated without speaking. He had seen it in action time and again, but was no closer to cracking the code. He couldn't even see the code.
Sophie watched their less subtle silent conversation, then deliberately arranged her features into a puzzled expression. “Edgar, I thought your brother told you the truth about yourself.”
Edgar bristled like a cat confronted by a challenger to his territory. “What Alan and I talk about is none of your business. And just because you and the old man made him believe something doesn't make it true. Even if it is, I'm nothing like you and I never will be. Sam's on my team, he's my backup, anything you have to say, you can say in front of him.”
Sam watched and frustration flicker again across Sophie's face. Clearly, this wasn't the reaction she has been hoping for, though why she would expect anything else, Sam had no idea.
She shrugged dismissively, turned around and walked away down the corridor. Her body language seemed to say that the conversation was over. They watched her go, and the tension level in the area dropped by several degrees.
“I could wait someplace else,” Sam said. “I don't mind. You know, if you want to...”
Edgar shook his head. “Let's get out of here,” he said.
When Edgar didn't follow her, Sophie slowed and turned around. Irritated, she waved a hand, beckoning them in her direction.
“Or not,” Sam added. Edgar shrugged, and they did as they were asked.
Edgar silently fumed as he followed the witch girl along the hall. He didn't like her. He didn't like her superior attitude, or the way she proudly wore a magical symbol around her neck. He didn't like the way she talked down to Sam. Even the way the heels of her open toed sandals tapped on the tiled floor of the hall irritated him.
Sophie didn't turn around to see whether they were following her, she just assumed that they were dutifully walking behind her along the corridor like two pet dogs. He didn't like that much either. He shoved his hands in his pockets and looked at Sam, noticing the nervous expression on his face.
Sophie stepped out through the open doors of the school, into the sunshine, turned to the left, and strode across the grassy area at the back of the school, still without checking she was being followed. It would serve her right if they just left, Edgar thought. The only downside was that he wouldn't be able to see her face when she got wherever she was going and realized she was alone.
She kept walking, seemingly at random around the school until she selected a grassy area at the side of the football field. Edgar looked around and found that they were almost completely alone here. He approved of her choice; the fewer people that saw him speaking to her, the better.
She sank down onto the ground, holding onto her short skirt as she did to ensure it stayed in place. She looked up at Edgar and Sam. “Sit down,” she told them.
Just like a dog owner training her puppies. Edgar nearly refused, but Sam had already dropped to the ground. He sighed and followed him, treating her to a glare that he hoped said he was sitting because he wanted to.
If Sophie noticed the expression on his face, she gave no sign. She leaned back slightly, resting most of her weight on the palms of her hands, pointed her face up toward the sun, closed her eyes and smiled. “Isn't it a nice day?” she said. “Traveling around so much, we don't often live in places like this. It's so good to be warm.”
“Try it in the middle of August when you can't sleep for the heat,” Edgar told her. “Then tell me how great it is here. Now, what do you want? Because I'm guessing you didn't bring us here to talk about the weather.”
“No,” she told him. She tilted her face back down to earth and opened her eyes. “I wanted to talk to you about magic.”
Edgar looked at her levelly. There was nothing she could say about magic that he had the slightest interest in hearing, but he had agreed to meet her, so he might as well hear her out. “Get on with it then,” he said.
His keenly honed observation skills picked up a flicker in her calm facade. Another one. Something he was doing was seriously irritating her. He fought back the urge to smirk. He didn't know what it was, but it was good.
“Alright then,” she said. Her voice sounded tight, and suddenly something in her eyes looked cruel.
Edgar glanced at Sam, who frowned. He had noticed it too. Edgar quickly looked back to the girl.
“I really wish you'd let me make this easy on you,” she said.
Edgar sat very still, muscles all tensed, ready to run if he needed to, or ready to fight. Sam, he noticed, was still sitting in a relaxed way, watching the drama unfold in front of him with nervous interest.
“Don't know what you're talking about,” he told her.
“No, I know you don't,” she said. She sighed and looked him in the eye. “I want to tell you what happens to people who have talent, but don't use it.”
Sam frowned and looked at Edgar, Edgar deliberately didn't meet his gaze.
“Can you imagine what it's like to know that something is missing from your life, but not to know what it is?”
He kept his expression passive and made no comment. It wasn't like it was the kind of question he could answer. But she continued to look at him expectantly, waiting. In the end, he shrugged.
“That's what it's like,” she told him. “Denying the magic inside you is like denying a piece of yourself, it's dangerous. Even if you don't know it's there, the mind, or the soul does.”
Edgar crossed his arms and said nothing.
“People like that know something important is missing, but they don't know what. Their lives become an endless quest to find the missing piece, but unless someone comes along and tells them what it is, and helps them access it, they will drive themselves mad searching.”
She paused for effect.
“Get to the point,” Edgar told her.
Sophie pursed her lips and continued “It's like having a hole in your soul,” she said. “People often try to fill it with something else, but nothing but magic will do. Their whole personalities change, they become these empty things, wandering through life trying to fill the hole with something else, never managing because it's impossible. It's not a fate I would wish on anyone.
Edgar tightened his arms across his chest and looked at Sophie through narrowed eyes. “If this is about me telling Alan not to do magic, you're not going to convince me to change my mind. My brother is fine.”
She nodded. “I know. I'm not talking about Alan, I'm talking about you.”
“Yeah,” he replied. “I figured.”
“You need to listen to me, you have to...”
“No I don't,” Edgar interrupted. He got to his feet to leave. “We're both fine. Not as much as we were before you guys turned up, but neither of us is going to go crazy any time soon, so if that's all, I've got things to be doing.”
He turned away as Sam stood up to follow him, just catching the apologetic smile his friend shot in her direction. He gritted his teeth, he would have to have words with Sam later about undermining him like that.
“That's not all,” Sophie called after him.
Edgar shook his head. “Yeah, it is.”
He managed to get two steps away before she called out again. “Your parents both have talent.”
“Not interested,” he told her without turning around.
Sophie jumped to her feet and followed him quickly, overtaking and placing herself in front of him.
“Both of your parents could have been great practitioners,” she said.
Edgar turned in another direction, but she sidestepped ahead of him again. He glared at her, but this could go on all day. He stopped trying to escape and looked at her, waiting.
“It's unusual for two people with talent to come together without knowing what they have in common, but I suppose in a place like this, unusual things are more common.”
He could hardly argue with that. Santa Carla, murder capital of the world, a town populated by vampires, werewolves and witches. Town of freaks, some not even knowing what they were. Despite the warmth of the sun, he shivered.
“No one ever told them what they could do. Like so many others like them, they tried to fill the void with drugs. They started to fade away, didn't they? When was it? Five years ago? Ten? Do you even know when it started, or have they been on a gradual descent your whole life? That's your future, Edgar. But my grandfather can help you. If you'd just let him unlock the abilities inside you, you can avoid their fate.”
For a moment, Edgar was too stunned to speak. He looked at Sophie closely. Her apparently genuine concern was fake, he was sure of it, she was trying to get to him. He had no idea why, but she was succeeding. He knew that he should just turn and walk away again, but she had pushed his buttons. Common sense went out the window; she was hurting him, he wanted to hurt her back.
“Edgar...” said Sam. He looked at Sophie nervously, put a hand on Edgar's arm and tried to encourage him to leave.
Edgar shook him off and took a step forward, right into Sophie's personal space. She didn't back off.
“What do you know about my parents?” he asked her.
“More than you'd think. You can speak to them and they sometimes don't respond or even seem to notice you. You and your brother take care of everything around the house because they've stopped caring. You run their business for them. You cook their meals. You hate them, don't you? But you're going to end up just like them.”
Edgar shook his head from side to side. He felt tears prickling at the inside of his eyes, he turned away so that she wouldn't see, and so that Sam wouldn't. He fought them back and blinked angrily. When he had recovered, he turned to Sophie. He wanted to hurt her back, but he didn't know how. “I don't know where you're getting this crap from, but you're dead wrong. My parents are fine.” He heard the volume of his voice raising as he spoke, and did nothing to stop it. “Stay the fuck away from my family.”
Instead of upset or offended, Sophie looked concerned. He saw through it to the malice underneath. “When you see them, you're looking at your future. Unless you stop denying part of yourself. We can help you.”
Edgar spun on his heel and marched away so quickly he was practically running. He didn't look back, he didn't bother to check whether Sam was with him. Sam stood dumbfounded for a second, trying to process what he had just seen, then he backed away from Sophie slowly, before he turned and ran after Edgar.
He caught up to him half way down the street outside the school, heading in the direction of home. “Edgar,” he called, but he continued running. Sam reached out and grabbed his friend on the arm. Edgar stopped dead, and turned toward him.
Sam felt his mouth drop open in shock. Edgar's eyes were red with the angry tears that had slipped from his eyes and were running unchecked down his cheeks. Sam had never seen Edgar like this, he had never even thought that his vampire hunter friend was capable of that kind of emotion. He looked again. Edgar wasn't just sad or hurt, he was angry. Furious, even. Edgar may be the first one to rush into the monsters' lair yelling “Death to all vampires,” but despite that he always seemed so rational. The Edgar he was looking at now appeared anything but.
Edgar pushed Sam away. His hand was shaking.
“You didn't hear that,” Edgar told him. “You weren't there, you didn't hear any of it.”
Sam hesitated, then nodded. “I didn't,” he confirmed.
“Shit!” Edgar's hands clenched into fists and he looked away again. “Yes you did.”
Sam bit his lip thoughtfully. “Well, yeah I did, but Edgar, it wasn't exactly news to me. I've been to your house, I've seen how things are.”
“Things are fine,” Edgar told him. He brushed at his face with the fingers of both hands simultaneously, then looked back at Sam, more like himself again. He wiped wet fingers on his denim jacket and glared at Sam, daring him to say otherwise.
Sam nodded in agreement and looked around. It was still only part way through lunch break. The school grounds themselves were full of kids, the surrounding streets were less busy, but they were still earning strange looks from passers by. Sam looked at Edgar and knew why. He may have recovered slightly, but he was still a mess. He looked defeated in a way that no kid ever should.
“Come on,” Sam said. He put an arm around his shoulder and guided him in the direction of the boardwalk. He managed to maintain contact for a few steps before Edgar shook him off. A new record. The Frogs were a less tactile family than the Emersons. Sam tried to respect that, but sometimes he just needed to touch, it helped. He knew it would help Edgar, if he would let it.
But clearly he wouldn't. Sam accepted that and walked alongside him keeping a respectful distance.
“They... it's not as bad as she said,” Edgar said after a moment.
Sam nodded, “I know.”
“And if she thought she could spook me with that crap, she was dead wrong.” His eyes narrowed as he looked behind him at the school gate, no doubt imagining Sophie still inside there. His hands clenched into fists.
Sam swung a hand around and clasped Edgar on the shoulder. He realized what he was doing and moved it quickly, before Edgar was able to shrug it off again. “I know that too, man. C'mon, lets go warn Alan.”
Edgar frowned. “Warn Alan what? He already knows that girl's crazy, does he really need a detailed description of her most recent craziness?”
“Well,” said Sam, “maybe it was just me, but didn't she know way too much about you guys? She hasn't gotten all that just from talking to the kids at school.”
Edgar stopped dead and turned to look at Sam, confusion mingled with horror on his face. “What do you mean? You don't mean...” his eyes widened as he realized what Sam was implying. “It's her! She's been scrying on us with the spell. It's so obvious. She practically told us herself.” He slapped himself in the center of his forehead and looked at Sam in amazement. “Why would she give herself away like that?”
“Maybe she doesn't realize she did. Does she know we know about the spell?”
Rather than waste time talking, Edgar started to run in the direction of home, he glanced quickly over his shoulder after a second to make sure that Sam was following him. “We need to warn Alan,” he shouted.