“Make sure you're armed at all times,” Edgar tells him.
Sam nods studiously and tries to concentrate on the words coming out of his friend's mouth, rather that the curve of his lips and the way the red of his headband somehow emphasizes the brown of his eyes. This is serious business to Edgar, if he thinks Sam isn't giving it the proper level of respect, he might leave.
“Even in the daytime,” Edgar continues. He draws the wooden stake from the holster strapped to his back, and shows it to Sam. “You never know when you're going to get stuck somewhere til after dark. As a bare minimum, have a stake and some holy water somewhere within grabbing distance.”
Sam nods again. It may sound a little paranoid, but it does make sense in a town like Santa Carla. He already sleeps with a stake under his pillow, also a tactic suggested by Edgar. They haven't seen any more vampires since the incident that summer, but they are out there, they know that much.
Edgar begins to advance toward him with a wooden stake in one hand and a holy water gun in the other, filled with regular tap water for the purposes of training. No point wasting their precious supply of the real thing.
“Okay, so you're the vampire, come at me like you want to bite me.”
Sam complies. It's not much of a chore, trying to nibble on Edgar's neck. It's just a shame that that hunter keeps winning the fight and squirting him in the face, or touching him with the stake before he gets close enough. Edgar opts for the water gun this time, squirting two rounds straight in his eyes. That would stop a vampire, for sure.
“You know,” Sam says as he uses the bottom of his t-shirt to wipe the water from his face, “You act like I don't know about this stuff. I did manage to kill a vampire too you know.”
“We've killed two,” Edgar reminds him.
“Between the two of you,” Sam counters. “And one was asleep. The other, I kind of get the feeling Nanook did more than either of you guys.”
Edgar visibly blushes. “Fine, so we all need to train, now shut up and be a vampire.”
Sam does as he is asked again. This time Alan squirts him in the face.
They are outside his grandfather's house, round back where there is little chance of being seen by his mom. She is happy to have the Frog brothers round as often as they like, but doesn't want them dragging her son too far into their lifestyle. Not that she has ever said in so many words, but whenever she sees training, it is usually interrupted by the offer of ice cream or cookies.
“But how am I ever going to learn anything if I'm always the vampire?” Sam asks.
He watches Edgar consider this thought. He pauses in his advance and glances at his brother. “Yeah, you've got a point. Okay, Alan, you're the vampire. See if you can bite Sam,” he says.
Alan relinquishes his weapons to Sam and grins widely, showing off his teeth as he advances toward him.
“You know,” Sam ducks to the ground to avoid the attack, and then touches the end of the stake to Alan's chest. “I probably don't really need to know this, anyway,”
“Why's that?” Edgar asks him. He folds his arms and glares.
“Well,” Sam gets up and brushes the dried grass from his clothes. “I know you'll always be there to protect me.”
Sam hesitates at the door to the comic shop. This was a bad idea. He had known it was a bad idea when he had set out, and he had still come. He feels his cheeks burn red with shame under the dark glasses and the baseball cap that almost disguise his identity. Hopefully Edgar won't notice. Well, of course Edgar will notice, but hopefully he won't mention it. Hopefully he will exercise tact and realize that Sam doesn't want to talk about it. He shouldn't have come. Sam knows that, but Edgar called him, and he didn't want to say no. But hopefully...
All hopes of silence on the subject of his appearance are abruptly dashed when he pushes open the door to the comic shop. Edgar is standing not far away with a clipboard in one hand and a pen in the other. Stock taking, probably, or something like that. As soon as he enters, Edgar freezes completely still and stares at him with his mouth open and eyes narrowed. Sam inwardly cringes.
“What,” Edgar says slowly, “the fuck?”
“Um,” Sam responds. He notices now that there is more than confusion in Edgar's expression. There is... apprehension? Fear, even? Edgar is staring at his sunglasses. Suddenly, Sam can see his train of thought. Outside, the sun is hovering on the horizon, minutes away from setting, it isn't bright enough out there to need sunglasses, not for a human.
Edgar's hand, the one holding the pen, reaches slowly for his pocket where Sam knows he keeps a small bottle of holy water for emergencies. “No!” Sam cries out before he gets a soaking. “No, it's not that, it's...”
Edgar's expression is hard, untrusting.
Hesitantly, Sam raises a hand to his face and removes the glasses. Edgar stares.
It is quite a sight, Sam knows that. He has spent the better part of an hour trying to fix it with his mom's make up, all to no avail. And this isn't even the worst of it. When he gets up tomorrow, he is sure he's going to be finding bruises all over.
Edgar's shock quickly turns to fury.
“Who did this?”
Sam shakes his head and replaces the sunglasses. “It doesn't matter. What did you want to see me for?”
“Training,” Edgar tells him. He looks Sam up and down appraisingly, looking for more damage. “Didn't you fight back?”
Sam shakes his head again, glancing around the shop to make sure that no one else is watching them. Alan is busy behind the cash register, taking payment from two young boys for a bag of comic books. There are several other customers scattered around the shop, some of them watching Sam and Edgar with ill-disguised interest. Edgar observes his furtive glance through still narrowed eyes.
“Just forget it, okay?” Sam pleads.
“Come here.” Edgar grabs him by the front of his shirt, creasing the material as he drags him through the shop and into the back room where the Frog family keep their kitchen.
Alan watches this over the shoulders of his customers. As they pass, Edgar shoots a glance at his brother. Sam senses a burst of communication in the glance, something he can't read, but that Alan somehow understands immediately. The other Frog nods once, then turns back to the kids and hands them their change. Sam often wonders whether his friends have some kind of telepathic powers. Today though, he is too concerned with other things to worry about that.
In the relative silence and calm of the family area of the property, Sam finds himself relaxing, just slightly.
“Okay,” Edgar says. “Spill.”
Sam begins to chew his bottom lip nervously, but that too is beginning to swell slightly. It hurts, and he stops. “I didn't fight back because I couldn't,” he explains. “There were four of them. They'd have killed me.”
Edgar leans back heavily against the door of the refrigerator, causing the whole thing to tilt backwards slightly. “Shit,” he mutters. “What did you do to piss off four guys?”
“Nothing!” Sam insists. “It's just...” he hesitates, not sure whether he should show Edgar. His friend is staring at him expectantly.
Sam raises a hand to his head and slowly removes the baseball cap.
The word has faded under the force of his relentless scrubbing with the nail brush, but when he had begun to break the skin, he had stopped. After that, he had tried the stuff his mom uses to remove her nail polish, it stung the self inflicted grazing and had no effect on the ink; it was designed to stay. So now his forehead is an angry red from his attempts to remove it, while the offensive word is still very visible in the indelible ink, in large, capital letters.
Edgar's rage only seems to grow. His hands clench into fists. “Who?” he asks. Fury colors his voice.
Sam shrugs. He is still half holding on to the hope that Edgar is going to let it go, but he knows that he won't. Not now he has seen this. Edgar continues to stare at him levelly, waiting.
“Billy DeLonge.” Those two words immediately tell Edgar the identities of the other three guys, all muscle bound meatheads in the year above them, with barely two braincells to rub together between the lot of them.
Edgar closes his eyes. Every one of his muscles seem to quiver with the fury that he is struggling to bring under control.
“Is it true?” he asks finally, then his eyes pop open and he looks at Sam. He backtracks quickly, shaking his head. “No, don't answer that, it doesn't make any difference.”
Sam takes a breath, and silence fills the room. He knows what Edgar is asking, not whether it was really the school moron that beat him up, but whether his reason for doing it, the reason that was currently scrawled on Sam's head, was true. He has never said it out loud before. His mom knows, he thinks, not that she has ever come out and asked him, but he's sure she does. Michael too, maybe. He takes another breath and looks away. “Yeah,” he says quietly, “I think I am.”
He looks back to Edgar slowly, not sure what his reaction is going to be. Nothing has changed. Edgar still looks like he's going to kill someone.
“Come on,” he says, and without another word, he opens the back door and stalks outside.
Sam doesn't follow immediately, but when Edgar doesn't re-appear through the door to allow Sam to talk him out of whatever he is planning, he chases after him. He pulls the back door closed behind him and runs out into the street. His head pounds in protest against the jarring movement. Edgar has already disappeared. Sam picks the most likely direction and hurries after him.
He catches up to Edgar on the next street, marching military style in a straight line, feet pounding the asphalt, gaze directed firmly ahead.
“Edgar, wait,” Sam tries. Even Edgar can't beat up four huge guys on his own. Or maybe he can, Sam doesn't know. But even if he could do it, there was no way they were going to just leave it at that. They would come back for revenge, and it would be Sam that they would beat it out of.
Edgar ignores him and continues marching. Sam reaches out and grabs hold of his arm. Edgar turns to look at him, and Sam realizes to his horror that he has left the baseball cap and glasses on the table in Edgar's kitchen. Seeing the damage again seems to enrage Edgar further. Sam's hands rush to his face, covering it up.
Wordlessly, Edgar reaches up and removes the bandana tied around his head. He hands it to Sam. Normally, Sam would have refused, but he takes it gratefully and ties it around his own head. Immediately, he feels like a kid playing dress up, but it is better than nothing, and probably better than the cap too.
Edgar's mouth twitches in amusement. He tugs on one side, straightening the material, and then re-arranges Sam's hair around it. “Definitely an improvement, on your usual style,” he says.
Sam ignores the dig. “What are you going to do?” he asks.
Edgar stares him calmly in the eye. “I'm going to kill them,” he says. His hands are still fists, clenched and ready for battle, and for a moment, Sam thinks he might actually be serious.
“You can't,” he says. “If you hurt them, they'll only come after me again.”
Edgar hesitates, thinking about this, then he shakes his head. “Not if I hurt them so badly they can't walk. They won't be coming after anybody after that.”
“Until they recover. Seriously, Edgar, just leave it. It'll only make things worse.”
“But...” Edgar frowns, his gaze focused completely on Sam. “But they...”
Sam stares back at him, without his sunglasses he knows he looks terrible, the bruising is going to look a lot worse before it gets better, but right now he is swollen and in pain, his eyes are bloodshot and every part of his body is throbbing painfully in time with the beating of his heart. He is just glad that they didn't break his nose.
“I can't just let them get away with it,” Edgar declares, but his voice has lost some of its confidence as he begins to consider the possible repercussions.
“If you don't, it'll be worse next time.” And they would probably come after Edgar too; he would be making himself into another target. Sam doesn't mention that, he doesn't think that Edgar would care.
Edgar thinks it through, and a look of helplessness comes over him. “So what am I supposed to do?” he asks.
Sam shrugs, “How about that training you called me for. Maybe if it happens again, I'll be able to put up more of a fight.”
Edgar doesn't look happy. He glances around the rapidly darkening street as though he thinks his intended victims are going to leap out from behind a tree or a mail box. “If it happens again, I will kill them,” he says.
“That's why you're my hero,” Sam tells him. “Come on, lets get out of here,” he links his arm into Edgar's and is surprised when, for once, his friend doesn't immediately push him away. For a guy who has just been beaten up by four morons, Sam actually feels pretty good.
April 1988, three days later
In the brief gap between lessons, Sam is swapping books in his locker for books in his bag. Behind him, he senses something happening. It isn't a sound, it is more of a general change in the mood of the corridor. A disturbance in the force. He turns around to see his tormentor walking toward him. Sam instinctively slams closed his locker and glances around for an escape route. There is none, Billy is almost on top of him.
Surely he wouldn't beat him up in the middle of school where the teachers could see.
Sam cringes slightly, pressing his back against the locker and forming his hands into fists ready to fight back if he has to. Against four guys, he had no chance, but as his combat teacher, Edgar would never let him hear the end of it if he doesn't at least get in a few punches against one lone bully.
The crowd parts to let the bully through, they always do that, he has status in the school, even if it is a status gained through intimidation. He towers a full foot above Sam, and Sam wonders whether he could duck, and run through the gap in the crowd left in his wake. Instead, he swallows and tries to smile.
“Hey, Billy, what can I do for you?” Sam has faced vampires, he won't show fear now.
The bully reaches out a hand. Sam winces and tries to duck before he realizes he is offering a handshake, not a punch.
“About the other day,” Billy says, “I'm sorry, it won't happen again. No hard feelings?”
“Um...” Sam frowns in confusion and scans the crowd, looking for some sign that this is a practical joke that he is missing out on somehow, but everyone looks as surprised as he feels. “Sure.” He takes the offered hand, and they shake.
The bully turns around and glares at the crowd, they part again to let him through, and Sam realizes that he is shaking. He draws a hand across his thankfully now no longer graffiti'ed brow, and looks around him. Toward the edge of the bemused crowd, he spots a red bandana. Edgar is leaning against the lockers at the other side of the hall, arms folded, and watching with a satisfied expression on his face.
Sam tries to catch his eye, but he deliberately avoids it and walks away, and Sam knows that he is never going to find out what Edgar did. But whatever it was, it seems to have worked.
He opens his locker again and stuffs his head inside, pretending to look for something. He doesn't need anything else, he just wants to avoid the curious gazes. A wide grin spreads slowly across his face.
“Do you ever feel like you want to get out of this place?” Sam asks.
He is stretched out on his bed, flicking through a comic book that he has read so many times he knows each panel like the back of his hand. Which is a stupid phrase, Sam thinks, because he doesn't know how well he would recognize the back of his hand if he saw it anywhere else. The idea of his hand being anywhere other than at the end of his wrist makes him shudder in disgust.
Edgar is sitting at the end of the bed, his hand absently strokes Nanook's thick fur, he turns around to look at Sam. “I am going to get out of here,” he says. “As soon as possible. Alan and I, we've been saving up since we were kids. Just bits here and there, whatever we didn't need to pay the bills, but it'll add up, eventually.”
Sam nods and turns a page of his comic. Planning ahead, that was just like Edgar. Sam, he never planned on living in Santa Carla in the first place, so he didn't know he needed a way out. But if Edgar left, there would be nothing there for him at all.
“Where will you go?” he asks
Edgar shrugs. “I haven't decided yet. Someplace safe.”
“With no vampires?”
“First thing I'll check before I start looking for a place to live.”
Sam stretches on the bed, his bare foot brushes against Nanook's fur, and his sits up. That Edgar wants to leave comes as a surprise, actually. He had always figured that the Frog brothers would stay in Santa Carla forever, hunting vampires, running the store. If had never really occurred to him that Edgar might want something more. He wonders how long it will be before they leave, and he begins to feel the loss already.
“I hope you'll come back and visit sometimes,” he says.
Edgar frowns and stares at Sam, puzzled. “It'd be difficult to visit you,” he tells him, “considering you're coming with us.”
“How could he?” Edgar thumps his right hand down hard into the flesh of his thigh. He winces and begins rubbing the spot as though he could rub out the pain.
“I don't know, man.” Sam says quietly. Carefully, he reaches out a hand and brings it to rest on Edgar's shoulder. Edgar doesn't react, as though he hasn’t even noticed. Almost as though he isn't even aware of Sam's presence. Around them, Santa Carla continues as normal, the majority of its citizens unaware of the tragedy that has unfolded in the Frog household. A little later, some people may be puzzled to find the comic shop locked and dark, but most will never know that anything happened.
That doesn't seem fair. Something of this magnitude should be felt by everyone.
Edgar is standing just outside the shop, leaning back on the glass window. He folds his arms, then quickly unfolds them, and then glares around angrily, like he is accusing the whole town of being responsible for the loss of Alan. In a way, Sam supposes, it is.
“I guess...” Sam says, just to fill the silence with words. “We don't know what it's like. Michael said...” he stops. He had often wondered about bloodlust, how it really felt to face that terrible need to kill, and how long he would last if it happened to him. He wonders, briefly, whether Alan had ever thought about the same thing.
Edgar's lips twist into a horrible parody of a smile. They twitch as though he is trying to answer but can't, and he shakes his head mutely.
“He fought it,” Sam adds, “but it must be really hard.”
“Shit,” Edgar says. Never the most eloquent of people, the Frogs, but on this occasion Sam can forgive him. “Fuck him. If he wants to join the other team, fine.” His fingers brush angrily at his eyes, and he stands up straight, away from the window. He treats Santa Carla's boardwalk to one more look of derision, and then pushes open the door and goes inside.
Sam hesitates, not sure what Edgar needs. If their positions were reversed, Sam would crave company and friendship to help him through, but Edgar is different. Not as different as he would like the world to think, but different enough that he might want to be alone. Sam draws in a deep breath, and takes a chance. He opens the door quietly, and follows him inside.
The lights are out in the shop. Mr and Mrs Frog obviously too out of it to open up on their own. Sam wonders whether they even realize what has happened, that one of their sons is gone.
In the dark with no customers, no TV in the corner playing videos of old horror movies and no hippies sleeping by the cash register, there is something almost creepy about the shop. Sam has been here before after hours, many times, but never before has there been the potential threat of the vampire that used to be his friend.
Alan, like Edgar, had always clung hard to the idea that once a person turned that was it. They were no longer that person any more. Sam doesn't know whether that is true. It is hard, somehow, to imagine that Alan is really gone. Not when there is no body to bury, no funeral, no casket. Not when he is out there somewhere, walking, talking. Feeding.
What does a vampire think about? Whether they are still their former selves or not, surely they still have their memories. They still know who they were, and where they used to live. Do they still crave the company of their friends? Their family?
The niggling feeling of unease in the darkened shop grows rapidly into a terror that prickles his skin and churns his stomach. He glances at Edgar, not sure whether he should vocalize the thought. Through the darkness, his friend's eyes shimmer. The lights from the boardwalk reflect from the moisture that has gathered there. Sam has never seen Edgar cry before.
Until this moment, Sam hadn't been sure that his friend was even capable of it. Edgar responds to things differently to Sam, like something is wired differently in his brain. He doesn't get sad, he gets angry.
Right now, it is obvious that he is desperately searching for that usual response as he sits behind the cash register where Sam has seen him so many times before. His head, resting in his hands, shakes from side to side in denial. “Fuck him,” he says again, but his voice cracks. The gathering moisture in his eyes builds to the point where he can no longer hold it in place and a single fat tear escapes and runs down his left cheek. It lands on the counter in front of him.
Sam moves forward. In the silence of the empty store, his sneakers squeak on the linoleum floor. “Edgar?” he ventures.
Edgar looks up in surprise, as though he has only now noticed that he is not alone. The tear track on his face reflects blue and then green from the flashing lights outside, and Sam realizes that he doesn't know what to say.
“What the hell am I supposed to do now?” Edgar asks him.
Rather than give an answer that he knows won't help, Sam sits down on a spare chair at the other side of the desk, and joins him in his silence.
It is a patch of land. A patch of dry, dead looking land out in the middle of nowhere, a few miles south of a town Sam has never heard of that looks a little like Santa Carla might if half the population decided to leave and the rest allowed the place to go to seed. Edgar seems happy with it though.
Sam frowns, but tries to look interested. When no explanation is forthcoming, he has to ask. “I don't get it. What are we doing here?”
“Moving in,” Edgar tells him.
The sun is very warm today, it beats down on Sam's head from above, and he is sure he can feel it beginning to fry his braincells. If Edgar has been out here before, he wonders if the process is more advanced in him.
“So, what are you going to do, pitch a tent?”
Edgar shakes his head. “I've bought a trailer. It's not big, but it's enough for now.”
Sam looks around. There is literally nothing here. Nothing for miles around except a few trees and the burnt out car they passed on the way. “When you said you wanted to move somewhere safe, I thought probably not a city, but a town at least. Why here?” He swings his arms expansively on the last word, denoting the location's isolation.
“It's quiet, I won't get too many visitors, but it's close enough to town I'll be able to do some business. I need to be safe, out here it won't raise too many eyebrows when I draw a big circle on the ground in salt and start hanging garlic and crosses everywhere.”
Sam raises an eyebrow. He doesn't know whether Edgar is serious, but he has never known his friend make a joke about vampires. Talking of, “You said you wanted to get out of hunting,” Sam reminds him.
Edgar leans back on the door of his truck and shakes his head. “That's never going to happen any more. He decided that for me.”
Sam doesn't bother to ask who he means. Edgar rarely says his brother's name, but he is constantly on his mind.
“And there's another reason,” Edgar adds. “It's not that far out of Santa Carla. Far enough that he won't be able to find me easily, but close enough I can get back there if you need me, because the offer's still open, but you're not going to come with me, are you?”
Sam chews thoughtfully on his lip. Him and Edgar, alone in the middle of nowhere. The idea isn't without it's appeal, but he couldn't survive out here. Not full time. He shakes his head. “I'll visit all the time,” he promises.
Edgar nods, clearly that was the response he had been expecting. Sam still feels a little guilty. “I won't be able to protect you if you stay there,” Edgar tells him.
“I know. But I need to be with my family, there's things I need to do. And it's been five years, I don't think he's coming back.”
Edgar's expression darkens. “He's coming,” he says. “One day. I know it.”
Sam inhales a breath of warm, arid air and sighs. Edgar is probably right, he is usually right about everything. He wonders what it will be like without his protector. He isn't sure exactly when he started thinking of Edgar in that way. It had been a gradual thing, the result of a continual series of events, but Edgar has been protecting him since the moment they met.
He has also been training him. Sam knows his way around a stake now, much better than Edgar had when they were kids. He regularly goes hunting with him. He can hold his own in a fight.
“Yeah, he probably is,” Sam admits, “But I mean it when I say I'll visit. I'll be here so often you'll probably think I do live here.”
Edgar grunts in response and looks around the site of his future home.
“So,” Sam says. He grins enthusiastically, knowing the suggestion is going to be shot down the instant it leaves his mouth, but he has to say it anyway, just to see Edgar's reaction. “When's the housewarming party?”
Nothing has changed at Edgar's trailer. His friend – or rather his ex-friend, because he doubts that Edgar will be too happy to see him in his current state – is nothing if not reliable. The salt ring surrounding the trailer had used to provide him with a sense of security when he had come here, no vampire could cross it uninvited, and as long as Edgar made sure that there were no breaks in the perimeter, anyone inside was completely safe. Now, it provides him less with a sense of security, and more with one of foreboding.
He can cross it, of course. This is something he tested before he came here, just to be sure. But it isn't easy, the ring is designed to keep out the undead, and since he is half way to being one of them, the ring tries to repel half of his being.
His human side carries him through, but it hurts. If feels like the monster in him is being pushed back, almost as though it could be denied entry, leaving only the human on the other side. He wishes it was that easy; no hunting down master vampires, no constant fighting of the bloodlust raging inside him, just draw a circle on the ground and step inside, leave the monster bleeding on the ground.
He had been right when he told Edgar it must be hard to resist. He had had no idea how hard.
He takes a deep breath and strides slowly over the ring. The thing inside him screams.
Edgar's door is closed, but he can hear a television inside, indicating that he is home. That is good, it would have been a shame to come all the way here for nothing, especially with Alan possibly hot on his heels.
He trembles with the exertion of crossing the ring, and the monster demands blood all the more. If Edgar can't help him, he doesn't know how long he will be able to hold out. He checks his hair, he doesn't know why; old habits, he supposes. Finally, he raises a hand and bangs on the door. Three times, pause, three times. The vampire hunter's knock. Not that he really has a right to be using it any more.
Edgar opens the door almost immediately. He stands, blocking the entrance, staring at him suspiciously. It is as though he can somehow sense the vampire infection in him. Or maybe it's the sunglasses, Edgar just doesn't trust them. Sam takes them off and winces in the bright light. Not surprisingly, Edgar's suspicion doesn't seem to be satisfied.
“Hey,” Sam offers. He glances around the trailer behind Edgar. It is filled, literally filled, with things designed to kill creatures like himself. “Look, Edgar,” he squirms under the intensity of his friend's gaze. “I really need your help, man.”
Sam is surprised when Edgar steps aside to allow him entry. He knows, he has to know because it is so obvious, and Sam hasn't denied it yet. He stumbles inside gratefully, out of the unforgiving glare of the sun, and onto Edgar's couch.
“You're a half vampire,” Edgar states.
It wasn't a question. Edgar is sure of his facts, but Sam still feels like he needs to respond. He should say something serious, he thinks, something admitting that Edgar had been right. Alan had come back, and when he found Edgar gone, he had taken Sam instead. And now Sam had led him here, to his brother.
But Sam has never been good with serious. Heavy moods are there to be lightened, so matter how frightened he is, and he is absolutely terrified, he can't help making a joke. He rolls his eyes dramatically. “Really?” he asks. “Thanks for the information, bud. I've been thinking I had the flu.”
Edgar watches him warily.
“Relax,” Sam tells him, laying off the sarcasm. It had felt forced even to himself. “You're in no danger, I can control myself. I've been doing this a while.” Not to mention that in the daylight he was barely strong enough to stagger inside the trailer, attacking a trained vampire hunter and winning was pretty much out of the question.
Edgar continues to stare at him. “How long?”
“A month,” Sam supplies.
And at that, Edgar's eyes leave him for a moment. They close briefly, as though that revelation is a step too far, and Sam wonders what he is thinking. When they open again, he seems to have shaken it off, whatever it was. He folds his arms and looks at his half vampire visitor reclining on his couch, wearing that look of mild exasperation that Sam likes to think is for him alone. “Make yourself at home,” Edgar tells him.
Sam half smiles, and forces himself to sit up and keep his eyes open. Even inside, the room is lit by sunlight, and the relief of being out of the glare isn't as strong as he had hoped. But even in a room completely shut off from the light, he had felt weakened by the daytime.
“So,” Edgar says. He is keeping his distance despite Sam's assurances. “Who did it? Anyone we know?”
Sam allows his gaze to drop to his knees. He doesn't reply, because Edgar already knows. “Can you help me?” he asks. Edgar had been his protector before. He only hoped he could do it again. But then, he had never had to protect him against Alan before.
Edgar is looking at him with a mixture of horror and resignation, mixed in with a weariness that hadn't been there when Sam had seen him last.
“Or, if you can't help me, like that,” he adds, “can you...” he stops, not quite able to believe he's really going to say it, and takes a deep breath. “Can you stake me? I don't want to end up like him.”
Edgar leans back against the door, and Sam sees a hint of fear in his expression. It makes his heart sink.
“Yeah, Sam,” Edgar tells him, after a long pause. “One way or another, I can help.”