Tangible Schizophrenia


Part Ib: Dawn

Author: Guede Mazaka
Rating: NC-17. Major (temporary) character deaths. Multiple kinks.
Pairing: Sands/El
Feedback: A short comment saying yea or nay's fine, though fave lines and longer comments are even more loved.
Disclaimer: Belongs to Robert Rodriguez, among others.
Summary: Vampires, cartels, each other. Guess which produces the most headaches. Second section of 'From Dusk Till Dawn.'
Notes: //words// in Spanish, and Sands has eyelids and scar tissue filling in his eye sockets. Supernatural influences, and reappearance of 'Gringo-Kitty!Sands'. Fusion between a 'Mexico/Desperado' AU, and 'From Dusk Till Dawn.'


Leveling his guns at the vampire, El radiated an air of expressionless threat, like the first stirrings of a sandstorm. "I wouldn't," he warned, soft and malevolent as a sidewinder slithering over the dunes.

"You're right," admitted the other…other man. Enough remnants of humanity remained in that distorted visage, with its maliciously intelligent eyes, to warrant the term. He skittered the long sharp nails of one hand down Sands' throat, and El had to swiftly choke down the surge of possessiveness in his gut, keeping his emotions locked up. "Neither of you are quite right…you…smell different-" whiffing at Sands' hair "-probably taste different."

Jacking his pistols up an inch, so they pointed at the vampire's eyes, El tsked. "No no no. You don't bite him, and I don't tear apart your brains."

"I'd heal."

"Not fast enough," El promised, taking a step forward.

"Listen to the guy," Sands gasped, straining away from the nails' broken-glass edges. "You really should; he's way beyond pissed off right now, and believe me, he can wreck cities when he's in the mood."

"Blood gives life, but it also brings other gifts," the vampire murmured, staring up at El. The voice shivered in the mariachi's ear, weaving and brushing cobwebs of sharp wire through him. "Knowledge, power. That's what I smell in him. In you. If I drink, then maybe I would be better off. Maybe I'd have what you have."

"And maybe you'd just turn into a dust bunny," rasped Sands, jerking. In response, the vampire slid one knotty hand up to the American's shoulder and yanked him back. But Sands threw his weight into the pull, sending them both off-balance. Ripping out of the wrinkled grasping arms, he kicked himself away.

Too late to dodge, the hand swung out, slicing its nails through soft flesh. Blood spurted, arcing in gleaming jet streams through the shadows.

"You-" came the high scream, but El was already on the vampire, hands like a vise on the other man's neck as the mariachi wrenched the monster away and flung him into a fracture-ended shelf. Falling to his knees below the sudden rain of powder, El swiftly scanned the small space for any other hidden attackers or entrances, and only when he found none did he put his guns away. And then, hands lead-heavy and shaking, mouth gulping for air, he crawled over to Sands' fallen form. Placed a hand on one shoulder, faltered. Forcing a breath, El crunched down on his lower lip as he turned the American over.

Huge gashes laying the throat open, letting red bubbles escape from the grayish windpipe. "Oh, Christ," El hissed, suddenly choking and raging and miserable. As if moving on its own, his scarred hand reached out-

--then flinched back. Eyes big as eggs, the mariachi stared as the flesh knit over, blanketed itself with unmarked skin. Gasping, Sands tore a first breath from the air. "Shit," he whispered thickly. "I think I hate that."

"You…" Lacking the words, El hunched over the other man, rocking slightly from side to side as he kept watching.

Fingers brushed one of El's sleeves, and then pinched the fabric. Groaning, Sands hauled himself up and collapsed tiredly in the mariachi's arms. "Goddamn it, what the hell's wrong with your country? Druglords with dungeons, trailer-trash vampires…idiot Mexicans can't get anything right-"

"Just fucking shut up," El interrupted, slipping hands beneath Sands' arms and lifting the other man up into a ferocious liplock. When they parted, both men had bloody lips and fraying breath. Licking up the red streaks from Sands' mouth, El followed one down to the underside of Sands' jaw, where he bit, just hard enough to bruise. He moved along to the join of the head and neck, swirling another purplish spot into existence, and then raked teeth down the chords of the American's throat.

"Marking the claim, are we?" Sands snickered, nails scoring arabesques on El's back. "Finally." He shoved himself into the rough caresses, hands drifting down to rhythmically squeeze El's ass. Grunting, the other man shuffled his knees apart so he could cradle Sands more closely, stroking knowing fingers along the curves of trembling thighs. Mother of God, but this was not comfort, or joy, or contentment. This was lightning and wildfire, this was the crunch of bone beneath feet dancing on the cliff's edge. This El felt, and would keep feeling until his mouth was filled with dirt and his eyes were pecked out by crows.

On the other side of the door, a vampire smashed into the wood. Forebodingly, the hinges keened, starting to pry away from the wall. The two men jolted apart, and for a long minute just listened, hoping.

Wham. Another screw popped out.

Dropping his head to Sands' shoulder, El sighed. "Fuck. Staking them isn't going to be fast enough."


"And I guess dawn's too far away," Sands muttered, racking his memory. Vampires, vampires, what the hell else killed them? Crosses-no, that just held them off. Garlic-no. "Is there any water around?"


"Haven't you seen any horror movies?" Sands snapped impatiently. "Holy water!"

"I know that," El retorted, dragging something over. The guitar case. "But we don't have a priest."

"Oh, for-" Disbelieving, Sands made some frustrated noises. The man would have to be so goddamn unimaginative. "It's not who says the words, or what the words are. It's the faith behind them. You're Catholic, right?"

Against him, El stiffened. Then, while handing Sands fresh clips, the mariachi replied harshly, "I was. I don't know if I am now."

"God…" About an inch away from ripping his hair out in aggravation, Sands angrily reloaded his guns, clicking and snapping the metal together so it rang out over the sounds of breaking wood and slavering vampires. From the other side of the door, someone yelled for 'Sex Machine', and the clanking of huge guns reverberated through the building. "El. We're in the nudie bar from the ninth circle. This is not a good time for you to be having a religious crisis."

"If I were to die," El asked unexpectedly, fiddling with his pistols, "What would you do?"

"Isn't it obvious that we're, I don't know, immortal?" Sands countered irritably. But the mariachi just wouldn't let go of the matter.

"Maybe. Maybe you weren't all the way dead yet, and it was the faster healing. Maybe it's like the vampires," El mused. "They only die by certain ways. So? What would you do?"

Pausing, Sands frowned at the darkness around him. The question was completely irrelevant to the situation, but nevertheless, he had the feeling that the answer to it was extremely important. Maybe even capable of altering fate, and at the moment, they definitely could use that. Vampires, hell-the two of them had already survived dying, and Sands didn't need another addiction besides El, whom Sands wasn't giving up at any cost. Especially now that the mariachi was actually responding. "I would take out every single person I could reach, including myself," he finally replied, tone more pensive than he'd intended.

"Not just my killers?" The sound of cracking wood were now so loud they had to yell to be heard over it. In the room beyond, metal began to screech and whine.

"El, everyone in Mexico could be classified as your killer," Sands muttered, checking the action on his pistols. "They think you're a folk hero, so you have to do that carry-the-weight-of-the-nation thing. And if you fall, then it's the country that's crushing you, even if it's really some scumfuck cartel twit that actually puts the bullet through your head. Which is a fucking crock of shit, by the way. From what I can tell, all you ever did was kill for yourself, which is a hell of a lot more honest."

For a moment, the other man didn't move or speak. And the moment after that, El was all motion: pushing Sands off, standing up and rattling things around, splashing…splashing? But before the American could ask what was going on, El had come back and was running fingers all over Sands' guns, murmuring something in Spanish. Cool wet fingertips touched Sands' forehead, then his breastbone and both shoulders, the water soaking through his thin clothing. El moved away, and then whispered the same words, most likely while crossing himself and baptizing his own guns.

Screech. Sands didn't need eyes to know a hinge had just ripped loose. Cocking back the safety on both guns, he got to his feet and faced the door. Rising next to him, El mumbled one last phrase. "Hey, that didn't sound like something from the litany," Sands commented.

"Bless me, Father, for I am about to kill quite a few men," the mariachi obligingly repeated.

Grinning till his cheek muscles hurt, Sands nuzzled one last time at El's shoulder. "You know, priests are just legends that are too chickenshit to pick up a gun."

And then the door gave way, drowning out whatever the other man said in reply.


Resigned to the familiarity of it all, El opened fire as soon as the first vampire wedged itself through the shattered planking. Recoiling with the bullets, it nevertheless held together, still clawing. Despair pooled at the base of El's tongue, spreading sourness-

--and suddenly, the vampire exploded.

"It works!" Sands chortled gleefully, blowing the next two vampires back out into the bar. Sighing in relief, El started firing again, then whipped himself and Sands sideways as one determined brute came hurtling through the door. The mariachi put three bullets in the vampire, then turned only to find that Sands had bounded past the attackers crowded around the doorway, tumbling into the main room of the bar so as to take the vampires from behind. And, incidentally, peppering the air around El with bullets that had ripped completely through the vampires' bodies, and were still going.

"Shit!" Scrambling for his case, El shot when he could, dodged stray bullets, and during the next lull in the fighting, jumped up onto the barrels that had held the door shut. Swearing all the way, he leaped out of the storeroom.

The second he hit the ground, a huge roaring vampire with equally gigantic guns attempted to cut El in half with bullets, while a smaller bloodsucker latched onto his leg. Using his case like a club, El pulped its head, then put a bullet through his heart. Flinging himself sideways, just ahead of the machine-gun fire tearing up the flooring, he took a flying leap onto the nearest table and skidded behind the yelling hulk-'Sex Machine,' to judge from the shouted epithets. Quickly dipping into his case, El smacked up his biggest hand-cannon, then slapped the case shut and kicked it into the face of an oncoming vampire. Taking aim as he dodged gunfire, he blew five holes in Sex Machine before the monstrosity finally deigned to collapse and fall to powder.

As El tried to catch his breath, a snarl cut behind him, and he reflexively ducked, letting the windmill punch pass above him. Diving for his guitar case, El switched to smaller guns and snapped off bullets to clear the space around him. One stripper got in too close for a shot, and growling, El charged forward. Grabbing his assailant around the waist, he slung her through the air. One of Sands' shots took her in mid-arc, and another smacked into the floor three inches from El's foot. "Don't shoot me, damn it!" the mariachi yelled, firing.

"I'm trying not to!" Sands called back, side-stepping towards El. "I won't! You jingle too much!"

"Fucker," El snorted, smashing two vampires' noses in with pistol butts, then flicking the guns forward to take down another line of transformed strippers. Now that he and Sands were back to bullets, the number of vampires was swiftly decreasing. And no, El was not going to think about why and how his blessing would work; for all he knew, analyzing it might make it stop. The baptized guns were killing, and they were going to keep killing till every single one of these shitheads was a fucking little heap of dust.

All right, El confessed silently to himself, maybe he was a little annoyed about being interrupted. Never mind that. He had other matters to address at the moment.


"Okay," Sands panted, falling into a cross-legged sit by the wrecked bar. He ran idle fingers through the gritty layer of powder on the floor, then wiped them off on his pants. "Wow. That was a lot easier than I thought."

"They were just vampires," El shrugged, flopping down next to the American. "Even the one with the machine guns wasn't very good."

"True." Taking out all his pistols, Sands made a little stack of them on the floor. Considered it, and then reformed it into a rough pyramid. "I get the feeling this place was more for your average beer belly than for people like us. Culling the flock, if you want to get technical."

"People like us?" El repeated inquiringly, glancing over at Sands. Loose tangles hung around the other man's face, curtaining it from view. Frowning, El lifted a hand and swept the hair back behind one bleached shell of an ear. Humming tunelessly, Sands shifted into the touch, turning so El's fingers cupped the side of his face.

"Yeah." Nibbling on El's thumb, the American looked very pleased with himself. "People who know how to shoot, and how to walk away from the bodies."

"You make us sound like we're insane," El growled, twisting away. And the sting on that little statement just served as a reminder that no matter the begging and the surrenders, Sands was still a menace. A half-tame wildcat with a scorpion's tail. "Some of those bodies were my friends. My family. My wife and daughter."

"Don't even fucking think about saying you're not a ruthless gunslinger," Sands retorted acidly, turning to seize El's forearm. Leaning in till his breath tickled El's ear, the other man went on, "Because you are. You carry two guitar cases because you want to, and not just because you have to. You choose to fight, and no one that's known you for very long can say differently. No one that knows you can live very long without choosing, too."

"That's not all that I am," El snapped, trying to jerk away. But Sands held firm, his crooning voice like a fierce reverse-lullaby, singing the mariachi out of his grave bed.

"Of course not. You think I'm just a psychotic sex fiend?"


God damn him to the ninth hell, but El hadn't answered yet. Slumping back, Sands flicked the finger at the mariachi. "Well, go fuck yourself. At least I don't delude myself."

"I'd rather fuck you," came a low rumble. Before Sands even had the chance to be delighted, he was being grabbed and swung up onto the only remaining stretch of bar counter, stomach down. Hands ripped the shirt off of him, and then El was fastening teeth into Sands' nape, holding him still while the mariachi groped among the bottles, making them clink crazily.

"Takes you so fucking long to catch on. And you…shit, a little left…keep insulting me," Sands grumbled, rubbing eagerly back against El. Feeling the cock swelling behind him, he scooted down and wriggled around till that lovely hardening bulge was fitted nicely into the curve of his buttocks. "Come o-ooooh, shit, that's…that's…"

"No, you're not just that," said El, half-mocking and almost unintelligible, due to him busily slurping up the tequila he'd just poured all over Sands' back. Cloth swished as the mariachi shoved both sets of pants down to the knees, and then El sloshed some more alcohol out, trickling it along the spine. Every drop burned white ice, and Sands would have sworn that the stuff didn't evaporate but instead absorbed into him, seeping down to hit his bloodstream in a flood of languor-inducing heat. Lips followed the liquid, swirling it off every bump in his backbone, scraping it off his shoulderblades. Groaning, back fixed in an upward arc, Sands urged the mouth lower, and it obeyed. With each descending inch, El's kisses stole a little more air from the American's lungs, so when the other man finally slid his tongue down between the cheeks of Sands' ass, and then in, Sands found that he had no breath with which he could gasp. Could only work his throat and mouth voicelessly, shaping soundless appeals in the black surrounding space.

El grazed teeth over the delicate skin, wringing out a whimper, then swirled his tongue around, mapping out every little crevice he could reach. Bones completely useless, tendons tuned too tight to move, Sands somehow forced words. "Please…El, please…"

The tongue left, and suddenly thereafter, all the air came roaring back into the American, making him jolt with heaving breaths. Sands whined piteously when El slid away, then gasped when the mariachi started to shove fingers into Sands' ass. Squirming, he lifted up so cock could be traded for fingers, crying out at the first thrust. In retaliation, he clenched, and then clenched again, making El force himself through the tight rippling. //Motherfucking God//, the other man hissed, gnawing on the point of Sands' shoulder.

"Fatherfucking too," Sands breathed unsteadily, shoving back. Snarling, El slapped palms on each of Sands' hips, dug nails in, and then drove in, whacking their knees against the wood. One hand carved a trail around the side of the American's leg to encircle his straining cock, working it in time to the furious rocking.

It was impossible to tell which man screamed-howled, more like-first. Going first rigid, then limp, El dragged Sands back to the floor, where they both crumpled. Still twined around each other, sweaty limbs slowly getting coated in coarse grey dust.


Just after they had finished dressing, when the rising of the sun was like a distant itch in the back of El's mind, cars roared up to the Tittie Twister. Swiping the black locks out of his face, Sands sighed. "Damn. Should've saved a few vampires for them."

"Sheldon," shouted a female voice. Ajedrez. "I brought something for you. Thought you'd want it back before we bury you."

Machine-gun fire took out the boards covering one window, causing El and Sands to instantly duck, and then something long and thin flew through to clatter on the floor. At first, El kept his distance, but when it didn't explode after a few minutes, he deemed it safe enough to pick up. Snuggling up from behind, Sands rested his chin on El's shoulder. "What is it?"

"A…fake arm," El replied, bemused and fascinated. It seemed vaguely familiar… something about the way the gloved hand was half-curled. Cheap cloth sleeve, but still bizarrely realistic. Like all he had to do was stroke two fingers down its length to see the fingers twitch.

"That'd be, um, mine," Sands mumbled into El's neck. He paused, then queried suspiciously, "El? What are you doing?"

"Keeping it," the mariachi answered offhandedly, tossing the limb into his open case.

"El? Sands?" called a male voice. Barillo. "I'm here to discuss terms."

"You picked a really shitty meeting-place," Sands yelled back. "Or were you counting on the strippers' killing us?"

"What?" Ajedrez asked, confused and very definitely mocking.

"Any bodies that may be in there are not part of this discussion," Barillo cut in smoothly. "Listen, El. Marquez murdered your family, so your revenge on him is understandable. Reasonable, even. What is not reasonable, however, is attacking my men. Destroying my house, and thwarting my own vengeance. Now, I can forgive you for the first two, but I will not give up on the third."

"In other words," Sands muttered, pressing closer to El, "Send me out and you get to go free."

Slinging an arm around the other man's waist, El tucked Sands under his chin as he loaded his pistols. Barely enough for two clips, and outside, they probably had an entire warehouse of ammunition in their car trunks. After the shambles El had made of Barillo's organization, and moreover, his reputation, the crimelord wasn't going to let the mariachi walk away. Whatever El did, he was dead.

"I'll give you ten minutes to decide, and then I'm sending my men in," Barillo added. "Don't bother running, El. Even if we didn't have the entire place surrounded, it's nothing but flatlands for miles around. Without a car-" an earth-shaking blast suddenly deafened the two men "-you'll never make it past my pistoleros."

Outside, everything fell silent. Inside, El quietly gazed at the man in his arms, eyes flickering over the fine white skin, the eggshell-fragile features and the determined set of the jaw.

"So what are we doing?" Sands finally asked, fidgeting.

Crushing the American to him, El took a deep breath. "We don't have enough bullets. He's right-the only way anyone's making it out of here is if he lets them."

"Wait…" Sands began slowly, uncertain fear coloring his words. "El…goddamn it, I-I trust you! I'm willing to stay with you! Doesn't that count for anything?"

"Yes," the mariachi muttered darkly, tone warped with irony and regret.

Stiffening, Sands had just enough time to flash El a betrayed expression before the gun whacked into the American's head, knocking him unconscious.


"We're here," someone said blurrily.

Carefully lifting his aching head, Sands sniffed the air, then slumped back onto his hands, which were handcuffed behind his back. "Ajedrez," he sighed, tone bitter and hollow and barely managing sarcastic. "Have I mentioned that you even smell like a skank?"

"It's Chanel, you disgusting sack of shit," she retorted. The car door creaked as it swung open, and then hands were yanking Sands across the seat. Ajedrez's pool boys tossed him onto the ground, then stepped back, chatting and laughing. Familiar hands rolled him over, and a tight-cheeked ass with which Sands was very well acquainted plopped down on his belly. "See anything you like?"

"Ajedrez," came Barillo's voice. "You've had your fun. Hurry up and get the mariachi's body out."

Body? Oh, God-no. No. Mind falling and falling, Sands couldn't think, couldn't breathe, couldn't fucking live.

//We're trying, sir//, he heard distantly, as if the words were being spoken through six feet of dirt. //It's jammed, tho-ahhh!//


Ajedrez's weight suddenly vanished as she leapt up, cursing, and then more gunfire smashed the yells and curses into silence. Steel groaned, as if someone was getting out of the car, and muffled footsteps made their way over to stand by Sands' head. "You fuck," he whispered to the unseen shoes, shaking uncontrollably. His mouth tasted like stale bile, and his head was still spinning from being ripped back out of the abyss. "You absolute fuck."

"I didn't have enough bullets to do it there, and we needed a car," El apologized, squatting down and lifting Sands up. Fingers fumbled around the cuffs, unlocking them.

As soon as Sands was free, he punched El, putting every single drop of his anger and hurt behind it. "Bastard! If you ever, ever do that again without telling me-"

Nearly falling backward, the mariachi hissed in pain, but didn't retaliate. And then El toppled over completely, sent that way by Sands' furious embrace. Clutching at the other man, Sands took deep whiffs, trying to rememorize the scent of death and music. Sucked at the jutting collarbone, imprinting the taste of blood and smoked leather and sawdust on his tongue. A calming hand slid down his back, drawing out all the fear and grief, and slowly, Sands relaxed. "So what happened?" he murmured, skimming fingers over El's ribs.

"I watched till they put you in one of the cars, and then I let Barillo shoot me in the head," the other man answered, continuing to run his fingers along Sands' spine. "That hurt."

"Fuckwit," Sands commented affectionately, voice drooping and lazy with pleasure. "So we really can't die."

"Not by guns or knives," El replied. "And not by much else, I think."

"If you even fucking think about experimenting-" Sands hissed, but El twined fingers in his hair and tugged him up to a warm, wet mouth that sucked out the rest of his sentence.

Nearby, a woman groaned. Hand darting into El's sleeve, Sands had the gun out and fired before Ajedrez had even finished lifting hers. "No, I don't see anything I like," he told her corpse, tone razoring and vicious. Returning the pistol to El, he nipped contentedly at the mariachi's fingers. "Taste and touch and hear and smell, on the other hand…"

"Jesus Christ," El laughed, getting up and hauling them into a car. Cold metal clicked around one of Sands' wrists, and he automatically held out the other, which quickly received its own steel bracelet. Settling down on El's lap, Sands purred deep in his throat as the other man nuzzled behind one ear, licking down to leave another bite on Sands' neck. "I give up," the mariachi murmured. "I just give up."

Putting the car into gear, El pulled into the road and drove off into the horizon, sun hanging like a shimmering pearl above them.


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