Tangible Schizophrenia


Part III: Reading the Bones

Author: Guede Mazaka
Rating: NC-17. As par for this series, a ridiculous amount of kink.
Pairing: Sands/El
Feedback: Grammar problems, fave lines, anything you'd like to mention.
Disclaimer: Creator is R. Rodriguez, not my pathetic self.
Notes: Part 3 in the 'FDTD'-verse. //words// in Spanish. About five seconds of nonromantic OFC, and then she's off-screen forever. Pretty Blind Gringo-Kitty!Sands and Psychic!Fideo.
Summary: El and Sands work on personal interactions and develop a roadmap for the future. Explanation of the 'phone cord' reference from Final Word. About as fluffy as this twisted fandom gets.


"This is so incredibly, ridiculously cliché that frankly, El, I can't even work up the effort to make fun of it," Sands said sarcastically, leaning back against the mariachi. "We're standing in a graveyard at night. To see a fortuneteller. All we need to run into a bunch of vamps-and why the hell are we meeting so many of them just now?"

"They're weak," El replied calmly, adjusting his cuffs so the guns were hidden. "And too scattered to do much. Most of the time, I think they stay away from anyone that can fight, so they won't be noticed. Except we already do feel them, so they have no choice but to come after us."

"No shit," Sands retorted, shivering in the cold wind. "Fuckers are like a splinter under the hangnail that's my mind."

No matter how much he tried, El still couldn't make sense of that simile. Jerking his attention back to Sands, he gave up with a sigh and wrapped his trenchcoat more tightly around the two of them. Something that might have been a muffled 'Thanks' drifted up to him as Sands took the opportunity to flatten himself to El's chest and side. "You're welcome."

An icy nose poked at El's neck. "I said," Sands repeated carefully, "This is taking too long. Where are they?"

//Here//, called Fideo's voice. Some moments later, the figure of El's friend emerged from the blanketing dark, accompanied by what appeared to be a young woman. Face sharp-featured as a needle and almost-starved, she walked with an odd limp, her stride sometimes nearly straight and sometimes tilted as a drunk's. //This is the reader//, Fideo announced, his words smearing across the shadows as he drifted to El's side.

//Don't talk yet//, she snapped immediately, coming to a halt about five feet from El and Sands. Dropping her head into her hands, she shuddered briefly. When her head lifted again, it was with an odd trace of tiredness. For a second as El looked at her, wrinkles and age-spots ruined her young skin, and centuries stared back at him. Then he blinked, and the ancient crone was gone, leaving only the girl. //All right//, she grated, voice suddenly as deep as a man's, cracking with the weight of years. //I know your question.//

With startling alacrity, she fell to her knees by the stone slab that divided her from the men. Fingers twisted, and a small drawstring pouch clattered its contents out onto the grave marker. Sands flinched at the sounds, while iron-spined, El had to force his fingers away from his pistols. "What's she doing?" the American whispered.

"Seeing," the woman answered sharply, hunching over the knucklebones. She peered closely at each one, nose nearly brushing their-El narrowed his eyes. Yes, they were carved, though from this distance, he couldn't make out any details.

"Ah…" she sighed, plucking one glistening knobble of white from the slab. "They know you're there. You know they're there."

"Neither of us signed up for bloodsucker extermination," Sands sniffed, momentarily peering out over the flaps of the trenchcoat. "And anyway, we've bigger fish to fillet than some two-bit supernatural creeps with dental issues."

"So stop being such cowards," the reader countered, voice growing harsher and louder, like a north wind uprooting a tree. "You've gone halfway, so go the rest and be something that terrifies them. Or they'll keep on being confused, seeing the oddness in the lamb's gait, and missing the wolf lurking beneath."

"Hey-" Sands started, but El clapped a hand over the other man's mouth.

Of course, the bony fucker bit him. Suppressing a growl, El twisted his wrist so his pistol slid out and between Sands' teeth. Trapping it there, he shot a glower towards the kneeling woman and demanded, //Who are we talking to?//

//Who do you think?// she rejoined. //You bastard. You--//

//I don't know what I did//, El muttered touchily, jaw muscle twitching. Clever warm wetness was stroking all over his hand and gun, leaving thick trails of saliva behind to chill in the freezing air, and beneath the coat, Sands' fingers were creeping steadily down El's front. Removing the gun from the other man's mouth, El squished the wandering hand against his stomach, provoking a muted squeak from his companion. //So don't blame me.//

Rocking back on her heels, the woman studied him with burning dark eyes that certainly hadn't been that color before. Then her lips curved up, smile wide and toothy, one moment chipped sepia-stained, and one moment pearly white. //I don't. You did what you had to do, and that's all I ask of anyone. Listen to me, musician: you walked into the west, gold coins slipped between your strings, and you threw your toll at Death's feet. You learned the melody of that place, and you found the passage out. And you took something--// she tipped her head in Sands' direction //--with you, to give you company and aid. You played very well, mariachi, but you still haven't learnt the song of this land.//

Like steam hissing up from the sun-baked ground, the space around them spread in growing ripples, changing and snapping back. The tombstones, carved crosses and angels, wood with paint still brilliant in the dark, erased themselves, came back as wavering shadows jutting through the shades of a market. One high mausoleum reared up beside the outlines of a man and child, bargaining over corpses. A plain square headstone marked the feet of more men, dicing on a street corner for a pile of human hearts, stacked neatly beside them. As El watched, a ghostly parade of skeletons came down the main street, rifles and pistols held high, and the people threw white powder like confetti and flowers over their heads.

//How far does your anger stretch?// came the reader's voice, crooning a cracked tune. //Who is your enemy, and what is your reason for fighting? The vampires-they strike at uncertainty. They take the unsure and the coasting from my flocks, they keep only the strong on the gameboard. Only my favorites.//

"I think you'll be saying goodbye to a lot of those soon," Sands interjected, lifting his chin so it almost seemed as if he was glaring at the woman. "I'm not and have never been yours. And El spat back in your face, so you can stay the fuck away from him, too."

//As it goes, it goes//, she shrugged. One hand swept out, gathering all the bones back into the bag. //What you say is true. But you've taken from me, even if I don't take from you. This is still your land, and you remain part of the game.//

She favored El with one last severe glance as she stood, absently brushing at the air. And then she shimmered, writhed as a thin wisp of…something…ripped free of her. Quietly stepping forward, Fideo caught her, now nothing more than a girl disfigured by malnutrition and hardship, and cradled her unconscious body to his chest. //I'll take her home//, he said, striding off. //It's over now. You can go.//

"Hotel," Sands hissed, teeth beginning to chatter. Nodding, El pulled the trenchcoat more tightly around them, directing the pair in the opposite direction.


Lorenzo walked in, blinked, and then walked back out. On the verge of putting bullet-hole graffiti all over the walls, El instead sucked in a deep breath, holding himself motionless.

As he'd expected, his friend returned a moment later. Tiptoeing as best he could in boots, Lorenzo carefully circumnavigated the mess of blankets, wet towels and complimentary soap bars flung about the floor. "So…" the younger man began sardonically, eying the two men on the floor, "This happen every time you…you try to…"

"Shave him," El completed, fiddling with a cross-handled dagger. Across from him, with legs splayed out and hands apparently bound behind him to a bed leg, Sands snapped something around his gag.

"Shouldn't you do that in the bathroom?" Lorenzo asked, eyes flicking between the two men.

"I started there," the other mariachi muttered darkly. "Then I had to come out here. More space."

"Er…" Lorenzo spotted Carolina's blade, still bearing streaks of foam, flipping between El's fingers. He looked at Sands' face again, but remarkably, no cuts marred the man's damp skin. "What happened to your razor?"

"He broke it." Watching Sands from the corner of his eye, El leaned forward and slipped the dagger between the gag and Sands' cheek, then sliced. Coughing rather unconvincingly, the other man immediately spat the cloth at El, who batted it away as he tidied up the mess on the carpet.

"We were having a discussion," Sands declared loftily, turning his head toward Lorenzo. "About what Fideo's freakass girlfriend showed Mr. Ultimate Mexican here-" jerked his chin at El "-and he got all 'I'm going to be stoic so you don't notice I was too idiotic to understand any of it'."

Making a rude noise, Lorenzo grumbled something impolite about Sands' heritage, and then said, a little clearer and louder, "She's not his girlfriend. She's just someone he looked at on the street, and who looked back at him, and bang! Deal's done."

"You've done it before?" El queried sharply, twisting to examine his friend's uneasy face.

"Yeah," the younger mariachi laughed sourly, glancing away. "When we dreamed your death…I really didn't want to think it was true. Just a nightmare, right? Well, fucking Fideo got on my back about it, rode me till I said 'okay, show me,' and then went out to get someone to prove it to me. I…didn't understand a single fucking thing I saw, all right? But I believed it. Listen, El, was just gonna ask if you needed anything for the night-"

"I don't," El replied quietly, "But thanks." Lifting a few fingers, he returned Lorenzo's curt salute as his friend sauntered out of the room. There was a click as the lock tumblers slipped into security, and then silence held sway over the room. Surprisingly, Sands had not spoken, or moved, since his first words upon having the gag removed. El shuffled to kneel between the other man's legs, then raised his hands and cupped Sands' uncharacteristically sober face. "What?"

"Vampires are parasites, I guess," Sands mused, bringing his knees up. "Undead fleas on the human herd." He tipped his head back, letting it loll in El's light grip. "Except we're undead, technically speaking. So what does that make us?"

Exhale heavy with thoughts, El skated fingers down the sides of Sands' cheeks, down the length of those lean arms, and fumbled loose the knots binding them to the bed. "Different."

Snorting jeeringly, Sands crawled forward, reaching till he found El's thighs. He curled fingers around them, stroking up and down as he tucked into the other man's shoulder. "Very short and simple as always, jangling pretty, but I think that these circumstances call for a little more elaboration," he muttered, nuzzling at the collar of El's shirt.

"You said you understood her," El stated pensively, slowly running a knuckle down either side of Sands' backbone. "I don't think she meant you to-"

"She didn't, that confidently stupid cow-whore," Sands retorted, tone struggling to be fierce and vitriolic, but melting at the edges. He arched into El's touch, encouraging further explorations; in response, El scratched out the outline of one bare shoulderblade. "Those who the gods would destroy, they first make mad," the American mumbled contentedly. "Well, I'm still standing, and now that I'm on the other side of the mirror, some things just happen to be a hell of a lot clearer. You should know that."

"I do," El answered, dark and unexpectedly harsh. Heaving them up onto the bed, he rolled onto his back to watch the blankness of the ceiling. "But I don't like it."

"Well, you can't ignore even the ravings of crackwhores. At least, not when they're Me-" Making a peeved face at El, Sands nevertheless fell silent. But, amazingly, he didn't snap at the hand that had covered his mouth. El started to flop back, but Sands darted up and sucked in a thumb, holding the other man in place. The American grazed teeth across the toughened pad, once gently and once hard enough to leave marks, then let the thumb slip from his mouth. Wriggling over so he could press up to El's chest, he tilted an expressively inquisitive, demanding face up at his companion.

"It wouldn't be a good idea to say who she is," El finally explained. "She didn't want to tell us the truth, and now wouldn't be a good time to anger her."

Sands dropped his head with a frustrated sigh. "Come on. She's a-she's really fucking powerful, and she's got way more people to watch besides us. Why in God's balls would she even be interested?"

"Because we beat her," El replied tightly, pulling Sands to him. Bending down, he scented the nicotine and cordite in the other man's hair, only half-masked by the hotel's lemony shampoo. "We could be rivals. So why would she want to help us?"

"We could be rivals," Sands repeated, testing each word. "But do we want to be? I know I don't. I just want to do what I want." He closed in upon himself, fists clenched up by El's breastbone. Redness began to leak out from between the curled fingers. "Fuck national interest. That's what I used to look for, in between play dates. Called it keeping the balance, and look--" he sent that word out thoroughly chewed by the jaws of memory, mortally wounded "-where it got me."

"Next to me," El offered, a little stunned by the rawness in Sands' voice.

A brief smile, smug and ironic, quirked the other man's mouth. "Okay, yeah. But I can't read, can't write, can't-I'm never really going to know what you look like. What color's your hair, your eyes, your cock, your tongue…"

El smelled blood. Glancing down, he caught sight of Sands' hands, and closed his own around them, tugging them up. He patiently coaxed the left to relax out of its fist, then softly licked up the crimson trickles from the skin. Probed into the slits cut by ragged nails, cleaning them. When he raised his head, Sands was already holding out the right hand. "I'm never going to know what you were like whole," El murmured, applying the same treatment to the second palm.

"You wouldn't have liked me very much," Sands grinned, apparently restored to his normal lethally manic frailty. "I was a real shit, and proud of it. Still am, for the most part, with the exception of my obvious lack of gutter wisdom back then."

Finishing up the right hand, El pressed a bloody kiss to Sands' pale forehead, then licked its imprint away. "What happened in the cellar?" he asked abruptly, wrapping Sands more closely to him when the other man flinched and tried to jerk away. "What did they do?"

"What happened to you?" Sands countered defensively. "I can tell you weren't always like this-" at El's own twitch, he frowned "-now what?"

"I said something like that to Carolina." Eyes blurring to distant, El considered things as they stood, and as they might stand. He finally added, "I'd been trying to kill this man, Bucho, who was Moco's boss, and then I found out he was my older brother. She didn't know yet, and she kept asking me to kill him for her sake."

Stiffening further, Sands flattened his palms against El's front, holding them apart. "Really. Well, guess fucked-up just runs in the family, then."

El nearly bit the other man's head off, but was momentarily perplexed by an odd undertone that rippled through Sands' words. And then he placed it. "You're jealous of my wife," El said, amused and incredulous.


Which definitely had been the wrong tone to take. Sands tried his damnedest to punch El, but they were too closely intertwined for that to have much effect. Settling for savaging El's collarbone, he slumped backwards as far he could. But the mariachi refused to take the hint. Instead of snarling and twisting away, El just chuckled and rubbed spread-fingered caresses down Sands' back, loosening taut muscles and warming up the skin. Gritting his teeth, Sands suppressed it as long as he could, but in the end, the goddamned purr seeped out.

"She's dead," El commented. "Dead and in heaven, where she belongs."

"And you miss her, don't you?" Sands snapped, still fighting against the tempting lassitude produced by El's stroking.

"The piece of me that missed her is also dead," El replied calmly. "I used to think about her all the time, and then less and less. I also used to feel guilty about that, and furious because I couldn't die and join her, but that part of me burned itself out as well. So I cut them out, and taught myself to walk without them. I won't forget her, but I stay with you."

"Oh," Sands said, unwinding himself. More relieved than he cared to admit, he nuzzled the gnawed stretch of El's clavicle, flicking tiny licks all over it. Because he liked the taste of liquid copper, and-fine, because he sort of felt apologetic, Sands growled to himself. Which should tell El better than any words what Barillo and Ajedrez had done in the dripping dark of that basement. "So what were you like?"

"Innocent," El told him, twisting the word into a gallows joke. Swirling fingertips and nails over the expanse of Sands' back, the mariachi drew out long rumbling sighs from the American. El's hand dipped lower beneath Sands' jeans, just slipping between buttocks to graze against the puckered folds of the hole, gathering warmth. Mewing, Sands took in a mouthful of El's throat, just sucking. "My father, and all the fathers before him had been mariachis. I thought I could do the same. Worked hard on my guitar, and I was just starting to get good. But I'm better with a gun. Maybe I always was."

"If you're going to guilt-trip yourself," Sands managed to grumble, breath shortening with whimpers, "Do it after I'm asleep."

Smiling against Sands' forehead, El shook his head. "No. I used to do that, too, but you make it impossible. Too annoying."

"Good," Sands breathed, stretching back his neck and bowing his back, as if trying to make head and spine meet. He slipped fingers beneath El's shirt, then gritted his teeth and pulled it off. Winced as El's hands temporarily went away, then murmured blissfully as soon as they came back. Tossing the clothing somewhere, he melted up against El, wordlessly offering the line of his neck. Teeth closed on its sides, scored bruises in the hollows. "Too goddamn warm to wear turtlenecks around here, and if I'm going to walk around looking like your little puta, you'd better appreciate it."

"You leave plenty of marks on me," El reminded him. "Lorenzo is constantly staring. I think I'd embarrass him, if I still wasn't a better shot than him."

Like Sands really cared what anyone thought, these days. Life was too weird, and anyway, nearly all of those gossiping shits ended up under six feet of dirt. "You still haven't said what happened," he remarked offhandedly, mind drifting southward.

El's shrug created just a little bit of nice friction, encouraging Sands to snuggle closer. Which of course he promptly did. "My life was ruined," the mariachi replied, serious and a little distant, like warning breezes rattling the windows before a storm. "I was angry about that, and I wanted revenge. And then it turned into a habit, and then another life."

"Pistolero with a guitar, instead of a guitarist with some nice guns," Sands grunted, clasping legs around one of El's, which put his cock right where it should be: grinding itself to full erection on El's lovely hard thigh muscles. "Let me guess: you're not going to fuck me through Sunday till I give you an answer."

In response, El wrapped fingers around Sands' arms, thumbs brushing along the outside as he pulled his fists down to encircle Sands' wrists. "That's a good guess." He hesitated, then added, "You have nightmares."

"No shit," the American muttered. Unbidden and unwanted, muck-slimed memories crept up on him, and shuddering, he ducked his head into the crook of El's neck and shoulder. He spoke very fast, attempting to keep ahead of the shades nipping at his ankles. "They fucking blinded me, with some scalpel-thing that probably predated the goddamn Spanish Inquisition. The historical one, not the funny one. And then they shoved me in one drippy freezing shithouse of a morgue, waiting till Dias de Los Muertos was over so they dump me in a hole. Whether I'd died of thirst by then or not, the skullfuckers. Is that what you want to hear? Is it? Because I could tell you more. I could talk till your stomach flopped wrongways up and you spewed dinner all over me. I could mangle you for the rest of your endless immortal life."

"You already have. I'm nothing like what I was," El observed, low but not regretful, licking a curving trail around Sands' hairline. Almost like a dog washing a puppy. Irrationally, it helped push back the shadows-fucking hilarious that black blindness could still have gradations-and in response, Sands pressed soft kisses, with just a little teeth, over the shallow concavities at the base of El's throat. "You cracked something while you were in there."

Letting the mariachi's tongue tilt his head however it wanted, Sands grinned unpleasantly. "Completely fractured and fallen to bits, my Mariachi-Me-Resurrect squeeze-toy. I went in thinking the world could be won with the right application of words and vague threats, and I came out a firm convert to the side of the fastest, fucking luckiest depressed kink-bastard on earth. Brains irreversibly scrambled, with green onions and cheese and a sprig of parsley on the side. How d'you like them eggs, El?"

"You're right," the other man snorted, nibbling at Sands' lips. "I probably like you better this way. More honest, even though you're crazy."

"Twisted fuck," Sands snickered, poking his tongue at El's mouth. "What, you don't appreciate my poetry? S'okay, I can sell them to Hallmark's Hell division, or something. Gloriously damned commercial sell-out, hmmm?"

Chuffing a laugh, El gathered Sands' wrists up in one hand, then heaved both men towards the bedside-table corner of the bed. As much as they'd already done, Sands was still startled by the feel of coiling plastic tying his hands together. "Okay…I know we're not out of leather, and I'm pretty sure you still have that pair of handcuffs," he commented curiously.

"I don't know where you threw them," El called back, rummaging for something on the floor by the bed. Soft muted clinking signaled the mariachi's pants being discarded. "The phone was the nearest thing, unless you want me to look…"

"Ah, no, that's fine," Sands interrupted hastily, squirming a little. At the moment, his pants were slightly more than uncomfortable, and whenever El got off the bed, he had this nasty tendency to stay off for a good long time so he could just stare and laugh silently at Sands' wriggling. "Just get back here and-holy fucking-if you even nick me-"

"Don't move and I won't," El rejoined placidly, continuing to slowly slice up the outer seam of Sands' jeans with the dagger. Less than a greenback's thickness from his skin, the point chilled Sands' skin, raising goosebumps and stiffening his cock even more. "All your clothes have bloodstains. We need to get new ones."

"Cocksucking Madonna," Sands hissed back, keeping himself very, very still. Just behind the blade, El was smoothing a hot hand up the length of Sands' leg. The American badly wanted to press into those fingers, let himself quiver and writhe, but the dagger was still there, crawling over the side of his knee now. He wound fingers in the phone cord, yanking it tighter around his wrists till they hurt. Humming some bouncy tune, El finished up that pant seam with a quick swipe that sent slivers of fire staking through Sands' nerves, then nudged the American over to start on the other seam. "Judas on his knees, you've gotten much more creative."

"Well, you keep complaining I'm predictable," El remarked dryly. "It gets you to shut up." He zipped through the last of the denim, pulling off the wrecked jeans and putting them aside. Creaking came as the other man replaced the dagger in the guitar case, then tinkling as he pulled out what Sands hoped to God was the salve. "It's odd…you said you'd let me burn you."

"That's different," Sands gasped, plumping up his ass now that the blade was gone. "Fire's…I don't know, closer to you. Not so…cold and delibera-ooh…"

That first finger pushed in all the way to the hilt, bending slightly and stroking all around. Moved in and out, almost tickling except for the flaring white heat it scratched out of Sands, who moaned and shoved himself back. A mouth attached itself to the base of his neck, and El folded his other arm about Sands' waist, keeping him still as the mariachi crooked and pressed with that lone finger. "I don't like knives, anyway," El murmured into Sands' skin, too-slowly slipping in a second finger. "Though you do taste good."

"Vampiric leanings?" Sands chortled through his groaning. "Damn it, would you just shove in already?"

"In a minute," El promised, spreading his two fingers and pulling them almost out, so his nails scraped the insides of Sands. Whining, the American convulsed. Three fingers went back in, and Sands' limbs gave out. He would've slumped forward if El hadn't been holding him up. "I'm trying to think about something."

"During sex?" Sands whimpered, incredulous and trembling too much to be nasty. "Fucking teasing basta…bastahhhgod…okay, okay, finger-fucks are good, too."

Unexpectedly spilling himself out over the blankets, he collapsed in the mariachi's grip, body draping like wet laundry on the clothesline. El waited expectantly for a few minutes, but Sands was quite happy playing dead. The sigh should've warned the American, but his mind hadn't quite resurrected itself yet, so when El turned him around and manhandled him up to drop his ass onto a hard cock, the shock alone blew Sands back into vivid reality. And the sensations nearly imploded whatever was left of his reason. "Shit! Holy cocksucking son of God-hey," Sands gasped, feeling his tether abruptly slacken, "You yanked out the phone jack."

"You already broke the sink," El reminded him, fingers plucking at Sands' nipples while mouth and tongue worked over Sands' neck, pressing at the assorted bruises on that patch of skin. "What she said about not changing enough…"

"What about it?" Sands moaned, slinging his bound hands over El's head to settle on the other man's back. Somewhere in the background, plastic and wires crashed to the floor.

"I went after Marquez as soon as I could walk again," the mariachi said softly, lipping the tender spot behind Sands' ear. "If I'd been 'smart', I would have waited till I was completely healed, and then I wouldn't have died in the cellar. But I was afraid that if I didn't start right away, my anger wouldn't last. It hadn't, the time before. I would've let my brother live if he had left Carolina alone."

Reluctantly tearing his attention away from his already-rising erection, Sands snarled, "What's your point?"

"I don't think I even need to be mad anymore," El whispered, voice black as hate and sweet as love. "I want to hunt them, the cartels. Because that's what I am now. Their wolf."

Tipping them both over, El was suddenly pounding into Sands, ferocious and punishing and so goddamn good the world started to spin. Laughing wildly, the American clamped legs around El to urge him on, screaming as a hand came down to stroke Sands' cock to full stiffness. "And the wolf," Sands panted, slashing nails down El's back, "Shall lie down with-fucking screw the lynx-and they shall-they shall rule this fucking shitpile!"

"Insane," El replied with rough affection, bucking impossibly faster and harder. He lunged down, seized Sands' flung-back throat and shook the other man like a rag-doll with his final brutal thrust. Reality whirled free of its axis rod, gyrated to pieces as Sands yowled. Shivered to sand with El's roaring, with their writhing frenzied climax.


Things flowed, shifted and reversed. Merged and melted till everything had found a place, whether or no that was the same as at the starting point. Vision smudged back into clarity for El, showing him that it had all altered around him, in that brief moment that he'd dissolved into the blazing inferno.

No. That they had worked the transformation, finishing for themselves what others had started. "Mother of God," he muttered raggedly into Sands' flesh, drinking up the sweat and blood.

"We're gonna kick your kid's ass," the other man snickered gleefully, breath no less torn up.

The two men simply lay there, tangled around and in each other, mingling their breaths. Eventually, El pulled out and untangled the spiral cord from Sands' wrists, but they remained clumped together, drifting off into sleep.


Some hours later, Sands' head shot up, then buried itself into El's shoulder. "Tell me that's not a flamethrower," he growled.

But El was already tumbling away, tossing some of his spare clothing at Sands. Yanking on his own clothes, the mariachi swiftly packed away what few items of theirs were still out, then began dividing up the guns. Someone beat on the door, and then Lorenzo's voice shouted, //They're coming up all over! I think the hotel manager called them!//

//Get up to the roof and jump over!// El yelled back. //We'll take care of them.//

"Yeah?" Sands said as he finished dressing and started stowing away weapons on himself, tone making it obvious he already knew the answer.

"Yeah," El replied anyway. "They can't kill us."

"And you've finally admitted that you fucking dig this shit," Sands grinned, clicking his pistol barrels together. "Hey, after this we really need to get me a cane. And pants, and shirts-"

Smashed forward by a kick, the door ricocheted off the wall with a thundering bang and men came flooding into the room. Identical expressions of disdain on their faces, El and Sands simultaneously opened fire.


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