Characters: Edgar Frog, Alan Frog
Spoilers: The Thirst, not really though
Synopsis: Alan comes back. Pre-Thirst
Disclaimer: I don't own the Lost Boys
Alan Frog is dead.
Certain memories stay with you, indelible, permanently imprinted on the mind. One such memory is of the day that Edgar finally realized that fact. It had been a Tuesday morning in mid April.
Five weeks had passed since Edgar had last seen his brother. Five weeks of expecting him to come home, of glancing up at every sound, thinking he heard the familiar pattern of his footsteps or breathing. Five weeks of glimpsing him on the street, only to look again and see that it was someone else entirely.
On that Tuesday morning, just like every other day, Edgar had opened his door and stepped outside. Unlike every other day, as he did, a thought struck him so hard that he almost fell backwards.
Even now, two years later, he doesn't know what it was about that particular day that had been different, that had made him realize the truth. Or if there had been anything different at all. More likely the realization came to him at the moment that his brain finally caught up with reality, and with the fact that it had been too damn long.
Five weeks, and not a word.
That last glimpse of him is another indelible memory, seared into his mind with the burning heat of terror. Alan, his lips stained with blood, eyes already glowing in vampire bloodlust, but still human underneath, and still terrified. Alan turning and running away, alone into the night.
He couldn't resist for that long. No one could. If his brother hadn't had the courage to end it – and Edgar prayed that he had – he would have succumbed to the bloodlust by then. On that Tuesday morning, Edgar had realized the truth. Whichever path he had chosen, Alan Frog was dead.
He had probably been dead for a long time.
If he had ever taken the time to try to imagine the kind of place that Edgar would end up living, this would be it. Almost. The isolated location, the garlic and the easily accessible wooden stakes. Even the ring of salt, despite its roots in magic and the hated supernatural, makes sense. The only thing that seems out of place are the keep out signs. They are not designed for the vampires who would obviously pay them no attention, but for human visitors. They give the trailer less of an air of eccentric loner and more of paranoid, antisocial recluse. Which is Edgar all over, actually. But he never used to be so obvious about it.
His brother had been surprisingly easy to find. Even after so long, after he had moved away. Alan has connections now, the kind he had never expected to develop. Freaks talk. They tell one another where is safe, where to avoid, who to avoid. Finding Edgar had been a simple case of following rumor and legend. If had led him here. To a patch of scrub land just outside of the beach resort town of San Cazador, where a trailer stands alone on dusty, rocky ground, surrounded by a ring of salt.
It doesn't look like a bad place to call home, all things considered. Edgar had never been happy in the town, neither of them had, but it was Edgar with the plans to leave; to pack his bags one day, take Alan and Sam with him and make a new life in the daylight. Obviously, it hadn't happened. The hanging garlic, the wooden stake outside by the door, everything about this place, screams loudly that Edgar is still hunting. Alan feels a jolt of pride at that. His brother doesn't give up, not for anything.
It is in part that quality that has kept Alan away for so long.
He touches his feet to the ground by the first warning sign, on what looks like the very edge of Edgar's property, and approaches on foot.
There is a truck parked just outside the ring of salt, painted black and red. It looks old and beaten up, but on second glance it is relatively new. The wheels have kicked up the stones that litter the ground, and covered the paint in tiny scratches combined with the layer of dusty grime that covers the sides, it gives the impression that the dirt has begun eating into the paint.
On the door is a stenciled motif that reads 'Frog Brothers'. The same thing is written again on the door to the trailer itself. The words take Alan by surprise, and he finds himself staring at them. They stare back at him defiantly, and a ghost of a smile crosses his face.
The Frog brothers had ceased to exist on the night that a vampire had bit into its own wrist and pressed the wound to his lips, forcing him to choke down the poison that ran through its veins. But there it is. In Edgar's mind they are still a team. That truck is either a testament to his brother's obstinate determination to not allow things to change, or a tribute to a brother he believes long dead. Alan wonders which.
He also wonders whether he is doing the right thing by coming back. He has survived alone, fighting his nature for two years. He has finally come to accept the truth of his reality. He misses Edgar, he wants to see him again, but he doesn't know whether he has the right to drag his brother down into the darkness with him. Because once he knows he is back, Edgar will never let go. Alan knows that.
He even wants that, in a way.
There are two hours until dawn, but already Alan can sense its gradual approach and the danger it poses to the evil inside him. A half vampire can withstand daylight, but it hurts, and each day it hurts a little more. Some nights, he wonders whether a kill really is necessary in order to turn fully, or whether it will keep getting worse and worse until one night he will wake up to find that the gradual progression of symptoms have finally stopped, and there is no longer any going back.
Inside the trailer, electric lights are burning brightly. The thin blinds in the windows defuse the light slightly, making them glow softly. It gives the trailer a homely look, as though his brother has left the light on for him. Edgar had always slept with the lights on. He isn't afraid of the dark; he would rush into a monster's lair armed with nothing but a flashlight a wooden stake if he needed to, but he never turned out the light. He never had done, ever since they learned to truth.
The night is unnaturally quiet, even to his enhanced, predator's hearing. A slight breeze lightly rustles the leaves of the trees growing not too far away, and in the distance he can make out the faraway sound of wings beating in the night air – another predator, this one hunting – but apart from that, nothing. Nothing except the sound of his brother's heartbeat within the thin metal walls of his home.
Alan stands just on the outside of the salt ring, listening carefully, taking in every nuance of sound from within. He can hear the slow, steady rhythm of Edgar's heart, accompanied by the sound of relaxed breathing that tells him his brother is sleeping. A true, human sleep, one that heals and nourishes. Something that Alan has not experienced in a long time.
He moves forward until the tips of his toes touch the edge of the salt ring. He can feel the power, the magical force in the ancient folklore method of keeping away the evil spirits. It rises up from the ground, pushing outwards, creating a bubble of protection that a vampire cannot cross. Alan could step through if he chose to do so, but it would take effort, and it would weaken him. The ring acted as a deterrent to creatures like himself, and he respected his brother's boundaries. After a fashion.
As much as the ring surrounding his brother's home is a boundary, Alan's condition itself is another. It separates him from Edgar as it separates him from all of humanity. He takes a step back, and the magical pressure vanishes. Moonlight stains the landscape silver. He wonders what this place would look like in the daylight. It has been so long, he can barely remember what anything looks like drenched in the light of the sun.
Inside the trailer, something changes. He senses Edgar beginning to stir, his heart rate and breathing grow faster as consciousness creeps up on him quickly, as though something has disturbed him.
Alan freezes, waiting, caught between the desire to see his brother again, and the need not to be seen. Sounds from inside indicate that Edgar is awake, and nervous, as though he somehow knows.
Not yet. Not like this. Alan turns around and takes to the sky. Within minutes, he is a mile away. As though he had never been there in the first place.
Edgar's workshop is a gloomy place, but it is cool. In the summer, when the sun beats down mercilessly onto his arid patch of land, reflecting back up from the ground, burning his skin and hurting his eyes, he is glad that he has this place where he can seek shelter. California's summer sun makes him act like a vampire. He resents that, a little.
He sits on a three legged stool in the middle of the workshop, his face is obscured by a mask that shields his lungs from the flying dust as skilled hands shave wood, fingers tracing the surface, feeling for irregularities. It is like sculpture, every piece is unique, hand crafted. The skill has become almost second nature to him now, as much a part of who he is as the hunting, and as the empty hole in his chest that aches when his thoughts turn in a certain direction.
The door is partially open, allowing sunlight to spill in through the gap.
It has been almost two years since that April morning when he had realized the truth, and Edgar has almost come to terms with his brother's death. Almost. As near as he ever will be to acceptance.
Loneliness gnaws at his insides. He had always considered himself a loner. He and Alan used to take pride in their isolation from the rest of humanity, only permitting a select, privileged few into their world. But the thing was, it turned out Edgar wasn't that much of a loner after all. And the trouble with reducing your entire world down to one or two people is that when those people are gone, so is the world.
But, he has this, and he has hunting. Every time he kills a vampire, he makes the world that little bit safer.
Every time he kills a vampire, he wonders whether the next one will wear a face he recognizes.
That night, Edgar patrols. It is an activity he doesn't do very often any more. He relies more on information gleaned from his sources, newspaper stories about wild animal attacks that sound suspicious, and the occasional request for help from the more savvy potential victim, who can find him themselves. But tonight, he wants a fight, and as the usual sources are failing to provide one, he hunts.
As he opens the truck door, the Frog brothers logo on the side catches his eye. He shivers, as though there were a chill in the warm night air. Then, thinking no more of it, he slings his tools in the back, climbs inside, and drives into town.
Unseen, dressed all in black for camouflage in the night, Alan keeps to the shadows, watching. As Edgar drives away, he slips silently into the sky, blending in with the night, and follows.
The vampire is relatively new. Edgar isn't sure how he can tell this, but it is a skill he has picked up over the years. The old ones carry themselves with a different kind of bearing, with a confidence and self assurance that comes from having lived for so long, outsmarted so many hunters and gained so much power. The newer ones are just overwhelmed by the reality of their new lives. They act differently. Old vampires, the really old ones, they always seem out of place in the new century.
Sometimes, Edgar thinks he knows how they feel.
But this one is fairly new. New enough that he still fooled into believing that he truly is immortal. No vampire is. A good sharp stake to the heart will kill the oldest master vampire just as surely as a brand new fledgeling, it is simply a case of aim, skills and a decent dose of luck.
On this particular night, luck fails him.
He finds the vampire by the beach, just about to sink his fangs into some kid barely old enough to be out alone after dark. Edgar pulls the stake from the holster strapped to his back. He feels the sharpened wood, shaped with as much care and attention as his surf boards, carefully weighted for battle. A wooden stake. He's doing it old school tonight.
He steps forward, footsteps sluggish on the dry sand. “Sorry to interrupt your lunch,” he says.
The vampire's face has already changed, fangs are bared, ready to sink into the throat of his victim. It turns, glowing eyes focus on the sharpened wood in Edgar's hand, and Edgar grins. He puts himself into a fighting stance as the vampire pushes his victim away. She stumbles, knocked off balance, and lands on the ground with a short grunt as the wind is knocked out of her by the fall.
As she begins to pick herself up, the girl gets a look at the monster's true face, and screams. Paralyzed by fear, she drops back down to the sand, staring at the horror movie scene unfolding in front of her.
The vampire appears to have lost interest in its old victim. Turning away, it begins to advance on Edgar, fangs still bared. Edgar stands his ground, waiting for his moment. When the vampire is close enough, he strikes. It dodges, hitting out with one supernaturally powerful hand at the same time. As Edgar tries to duck, but the sand shifts under his feet in an unexpected direction. He manages not to fall, but the half second loss of balance is all the vampire needs. It strikes out again, catching Edgar by surprise. Sharp talon-like nails break his skin. He falls backwards onto the soft ground.
He feels moisture at the side of his lip, and reaches up to touch it. Blood. He is bleeding. He is bleeding in front of a vampire.
Hurriedly, he wipes the blood from his face and rubs his hand on his clothes. It won't make any difference, the vampire still be able to smell it. His hand touches his mouth again, and once again comes away wet.
The vampire leers down at him, grinning with a mouth full of sharp, pointed teeth. It's eyes glow red in its hideous face, distorted by vampirism. It comes so close that Edgar can smell the putrid stench of stale blood on its breath. It laughs, gloating its victory as Edgar's eyes narrow in determination.
He raises the stake, and forces it forward. The vampire moves too quickly for him, and Edgar wonders whether he underestimated its age; it's power. He had been looking for a fight, something to make the adrenaline flow and allow him to forget everything for a while. Something hard, but something he could win with a stake and a bit of holy water. He hadn't banked on the vampire getting lucky.
He kicks out with both legs, the heels of his feet crack into the vampire's knees. It snarls in pain, but moves closer, showing its fangs as it moves in to bite.
Suddenly, he feels wind on his face, and the monster is gone.
Edgar blinks in confusion. His head spins from side to side, scouring the deserted beach. His stake is gone from his hand. The night is cloudy, the light of the moon partially obscured, leaving the beach almost completely black. It had been stupid coming here. With a vampire's enhanced night vision and his own human eyes, he was practically fighting blind.
But the girl. He saved the girl, at least.
To his left, he senses movement as she finally gets to her feet and runs away into the night, sobbing in terror. Edgar considers following her lead, minus the tears, of course. He climbs to his feet and brushes the sand from his clothes.
Out of the darkness, someone approaches. Edgar tenses, reaching for his second stake, and then freezes in shock.
The man is dressed entirely in a black so deep that he almost blends into the night. In his hand, he carries a wooden stake, Edgar's stake. Wind blows away the cloud covering the moon and its light hits the blood staining the wood. The man holding the stake nods in greeting, and Edgar, trapped between the ideas of attack and retreat, stands immobilized.
The world seems to tilt sharply, and Edgar almost falls again.
Alan hadn't meant for it to happen like this. He hadn't even decided for certain that it was going to happen at all. He had just wanted to see his brother, make sure that he was okay. But he hadn't been okay. He had nearly died. Nearly killed by some cocky new vampire that barely knew how to use his own fangs. Alan had had no choice.
He looks at Edgar, looks at him properly, for the first time in two years. A half vampire can see well in the dark, his eyes are designed for it, to allow him to hunt through the night. It allows Alan to see all the little details that he wouldn't have done before. His brother looks a little older, more mature. He still dresses exactly the same, he still ties that strip of fabric around his head, Rambo style, when he hunts.
He looks terrified.
His head is shaking from side to side, as though trying to convince himself that he isn't really seeing what he is seeing. His eyes are wide, they shine as they reflect the light of the crescent moon. In his right hand, he grips his second stake tightly, brandishing it in front of him. He positions himself in a fighting stance, with his lips set in a grim line. He stares at Alan, but without looking him directly in the eye.
Alan offers back the stake that he took from Edgar's hand. It is wet with vampire blood, a little drips onto the sand by his feet. He checks his teeth with his tongue before he smiles, making sure his fangs are away. “Hello, Edgar,” he says.
The words seem to pull Edgar out of some kind of a mild trance. He shakes his head harder, stepping backwards.
“It's okay, it's m...”
“Alan is dead!” Edgar cries loudly. The sound hits the nearby cliff face and the final word echoes back, detected by Alan's sensitive hearing, but probably not by Edgar's. “Whoever – whatever you are, you're not my brother.”
Edgar waves his stake threateningly. Alan doesn't move.
Alan has seen Edgar afraid before. Sometimes it seemed like they lived their lives in a state of perpetual terror, always certain that their next breath would be their last, but this is different. He has never seen Edgar afraid of him. Even the last time he had seen him, just seconds after a vampire had infected him with its filth, Edgar had looked terrified, but not of Alan. For him, but not of him.
But Edgar knew at that point what his brother was. He had seen him forced to drink, he knew he was a half vampire. Two years later, he probably believes he has turned. He probably thinks that Alan is here to kill him, or worse, to turn him too.
“Edgar,” he says again. He had missed saying his brother's name more than he realized. He wants to tell him everything; the struggle to resist, the realization that animal blood will sustain him without actually turning him, the slow process of accepting that he would never find the head vampire and adapting to life in the shadows. But he can't. He doesn't have time, and Edgar doesn't look like he's interested in catching up.
Edgar appears frozen, statue-like. His muscles are held so tense and rigid that Alan knows if he needs to move quickly, he won't be able too. Around his brother's neck, there hangs a cross on a silver chain, another weapon in his no doubt extensive arsenal. Alan is fast now. Much faster than he could have imagined possible when he was human. He steps forward, wraps a hand around the chain and tugs hard. It snaps easily. He steps back to his original position before Edgar has the time to react.
Slowing now, wanting Edgar to see, he places the cross into his right hand, and closes the fingers around it. If he can't explain; if he can't put the missing years into words, at least he can demonstrate.
Edgar watches, muscles quiver in tension, but he makes no move to attack, or to run. Even his breathing halts, while Alan can hear the speed of his heart, pumping adrenaline fueled blood around his body.
Alan remains perfectly still. He holds his fist out ahead of him, directly in front of his brother. The metal heats as it comes into contact with his skin. The temperature raises quickly, until it is almost unbearable, but it doesn't burn. The flesh remains unseared, and when he finally opens his fist, the slight reddening of his palm is invisible to his brother's human eyes. He offers the cross back to Edgar.
As Edgar stares at him mutely, Alan tries to imagine the thoughts in his head, hoping that he has successfully communicated his point. Finally, his brother reaches out with his free hand, the other one still gripping the wooden stake. His fingers move stiffly with tension and shock, and as he takes back the cross, careful not to touch Alan's skin, he thinks he detects a trembling communicated through the metal.
Edgar's eyes gaze shifts subtly, his eyes lock onto Alan's and stares intently into him, asking questions he is suddenly unable to vocalize.
Alan provides no answers. Instead, he turns around and allows his body to lift into the air, wrapping the night time around him until he is completely invisible, he disappears.
Alan feels something in his hand, and looks to see the still bloody stake clutched there tightly. He considers dropping it and letting it fall to the ground, but he holds onto it. That way, it can be returned to its owner.
Since Alan has been gone, the world has been a lonely place. Edgar sleeps, works, hunts. He goes weeks without seeing another living person, weeks without saying a word. There is no one to talk to any more. Nothing to talk about.
Now, everything is different.
Alan Frog is not dead.
Or, maybe he is.
Edgar doesn't know what to think any more. It has been two years since Alan was forced to drink. No one can last that long, it is impossible.
But then, Alan always was stubborn. If anyone could find a way to resist, it would be him.
Vampires are masters of deception. Alan may have turned long ago, but found a way to trick him into believing otherwise. To what end, Edgar doesn't know, but he is not willing to believe even his own eyes when they tell him something impossible.
The sun is beginning to set, it hangs low and pink in a deep blue sky. The world looks like an illustration from a child's picture book. Edgar reinforces the ring of salt that surrounds his home, walking around slowly, checking the perimeter for weak points and paying extra attention to them as he makes the line that little bit thicker.
If Alan is out there, out there is where he will remain.
Edgar wakes in the middle of the night. The air inside the trailer is warm and stuffy, his skin is coated with a thin layer of sweat that makes the sheet covering him stick uncomfortably to his body. Despite the heat, he finds himself shivering, as though the chill comes from somewhere inside him. As he slept, the thin cotton sheet had wrapped itself around him, creasing and twisting into uncomfortable creases and knots. The sign of a restless sleep. He kicks the sheet down to the bottom of the bed and lies in the artificial light, staring at the ceiling and wondering what had woken him.
Outside, he he hears a sound, footsteps on the rocky ground. His heart feels like it stops beating for a moment.
He throws on last night's clothes and opens the door. Just outside the circle, Alan is waiting for him. The stake he had taken with him lays on the ground just within the boundary, as though he has tossed it inside. The wood has been cleaned of the poisonous blood that had contaminated it. Alan makes no move to greet him, just stands there, waiting.
Edgar walks outside, but remains inside the circle. He bends down to pick up the stake, feeling its familiar weight and shape in his hand. Alan stands motionless, watching him like he is an exhibit in a zoo, separated from the outside world by his protective circle. Edgar stares back at him.
“You ran away,” he says. He isn't sure whether he is talking about last night, or two years ago.
Alan nods. “I had no choice.”
Edgar reaches into his pocket until his fingers touch the cross. He pulls it out and tosses it across the line. “Show me again,” he demands.
Alan bends down slowly, picks the cross up from the floor. Edgar watches, fascinated, as once again his fingers close around it. He holds the symbol in his hand for a full minute, more than enough time to have burned right through a vampire's skin. Them he opens his hand, tosses the cross back within the confines of the circle, and holds his palm up for inspection.
The light from the windows of the trailer illuminate the night, and Edgar can just about make out a redness on his brother's skin, where it has come into contact with the religious symbol. “It's not possible,” he whispers.
“It's a constant battle.” Alan tells him. “I can't win it, but I can make sure the vampire doesn't either.”
“For two years?” Two years of bloodlust, and of fighting against his own nature. He can't even imagine, he doesn't want to. He almost doesn't want it to be true. “It's not...”
“It is possible,” Alan interrupts. “It...” he pauses and looks away briefly. “It means making a few... compromises.”
Edgar's eyes narrow in suspicion. “Like?”
Blood. Before he realized what he is doing, Edgar takes a step backwards, deeper into the protective circle. Alan has looked away again. He turns back slowly, watching Edgar as though he is afraid to see his reaction.
“I haven't killed,” Alan adds. “But I need blood. I'm a half vampire, and the vampire part of me demands it. If I refuse, it will just take it, and then I would turn. So...” he allows his explanation to tail off into nothing.
“So, what?” Edgar prompts when he doesn't continue. “So you've been biting people, stopping before they die? Raiding hospital blood banks? What?” Edgar feels sick. His last meal was hours ago, but his stomach churns queasily at the thought. His mind flashes back to that night two years ago. Alan's lips smeared with blood, eyes glowing.
Alan shakes his head. “The blood... It doesn't have to be human.”
“Oh.” Edgar's grip on the stake Alan returned to him loosens slightly. “Well, that's... better. I suppose. Not really, but... Jesus. Alan. Two years. I thought you were dead. I thought you'd staked yourself. I...” he glances at the wooden stake in his hands. “I almost hoped you had. Why come back now?”
Alan takes a step forward, stopping just outside of the salt circle. His boots almost touch the perimeter. They are the same ones he had been wearing on the night he disappeared. “I searched for the head vampire,” he says. “I tried. I didn't want to come back like this. I thought I'd found him so many times before I realized I wasn't going to. It's impossible.”
Edgar shakes his head. “It's not impossible. We've done it before, we can do it again.” Two years. Alan doesn't get to come back from the dead and then give up. It doesn't work like that. “I'm not going to leave you like this,” he adds.
Alan smiles ruefully. “You don't have a choice.”
“Like hell I don't. This doesn't get to happen.”
His brother's smile deliberately widens, revealing sharp, monster's teeth designed for tearing into human flesh. Edgar suppresses the urge to shiver. His point made, Alan's smile shrinks into non-existence and his expression grows serious. “It already happened, Edgar. It's too late.”
He glances at the sky. It is beginning to lighten at the horizon, the black gradually lightening to a deep shade of blue.
“It's never too late.” Edgar tells him.
Alan shrugs. “I have to go,” he says.
Edgar follows his gaze and nods. Alan turns around wordlessly and begins to walk away. His feet crunch on the stony ground.
“Hey, Alan,” Edgar calls after him.
He stops and turns briefly back.
“I'm going to fix this,” Edgar promises him. It isn't an empty promise. He has never been more sure of anything than is is at this moment.
Alan's expression becomes strange, twisted into something not quite a smile. “I'll see you, Edgar,” he says. He walks several more steps, and then takes to the air again.
The hint of daylight, allows Edgar to watch him go this time, flying at incredible speed in the direction of the town. He wonders where he will spend the day, and whether he will be back the following night.
Edgar allows the wooden stake to drop from his hand and land on the ground next to the discarded cross.
Alan Frog is alive.
This is the stuff of dreams, and of nightmares, and Edgar knows for certain that there will be no sleep for him tonight. He walks back inside, shutting the door on the outside world.
He has plans to make, and a master vampire to kill.