Author: Guede Mazaka
In retrospect, Sands should've paid more attention to the calendar. On the other hand, it wasn't as if he really had the means or the incentive to do so, given that one, he had no eyes, and two, El didn't seem to give a shit about days of the week other than Sunday. Holy day was marked by even more bells ringing god-fucking hallelujah than usual, and usually a few moments of rustling from El's corner. Sands assumed the man was crossing himself. If not…well, it wasn't his sacrilege. That one, he had nothing to do with.
For that matter, he didn't have much to do with El at all, other than an ongoing sexual comedy, which included the occasional C-4 spat and barfly slaughter, that seemed to amuse the other man enough that he kept Sands around. When they weren't fucking or snarking at each other, El usually was up on the roof, or out on the town doing whatever it was a mariachi with a price on his head and the best-stocked armory in Mexico in his guitar case did. Sands, meanwhile, sat around and twiddled his thumbs.
Okay, his thumbs generally were either tucked into triggers or around a cane that was busy whacking some mild entertainment around whoever was around, but the basic premise of what he did was wait for El to come back. It made sense survival-wise, as with El came groceries and medicine and sundry other things. Also an impressive acrobatic ability in-and no, getting thoroughly reamed out by jangle-ass's cock wasn't a basic necessity, but it definitely was a major factor in why Sands put up with the musical fiddling and the bouts of brooding.
"But I am not addicted to his cock," he muttered.
"Liar." And some woman slapped the hell out of his face.
It took two rounds in the far wall for Sands to remember that he wasn't supposed to be able to see. He slowly scanned the room with the pistol, listening for any telltale signs, and subsequently was shocked yet again when the devil in a peach dress loomed up right in front of him, her substantial breasts waving about two inches from his nose.
Then it came to his attention that his arms were sticking right through her. In fact, he could see all the way through her to a little girl with neat pigtail braids, who was curiously poking at a part of the blackness that Sands' spatial sense just managed to correlate with the far wall. And the bulletholes. "Cute kid."
The woman beamed. "Thank you." Then she turned around, hands on hips, and in true Latina fashion, snapped at the pigtails to stop digging at the wall and to put those bullet casings down.
Sands' mind finally jolted to a conclusion. "Carolina. Hi. And I take it that the mini-skirt over there's you and El's bundle of joy."
//Momma? That's not Daddy.// One chubby little finger jabbed confusedly at Sands. //He's too short and thin. And what happened to his eyes?//
Resisting the urge to put on his shades was easy. Resisting the urge to bounce the sunflower out on her adorable dumpling ass was a little harder, but in the end, Sands' annoyance ran smack up against his hardwired inability to treat kids like the embryo bastards and bitches that he objectively knew they were. "They got scooped out, precious. And just because your daddy's an oversized piece of Mexicano-ow!"
Carolina wiped her hand off on her skirt, flashing some very familiar throwing knives, and sniffed. "Speak nicely around my daughter, or I'll keep slapping you."
"I thought ghosts were supposed to feel slimy, or something. And I'm pretty sure that they can't really touch people. That was the entire point of that whole crappy Patrick Swayze-Demi Moore flick, wasn't it?" By now, it was obvious that the gun wasn't going to do any good, so Sands put that away and worked on edging as far from Carolina's range of motion as he could. Figured that El would not only pick a woman with a serious right-hand punch, but also one that didn't pay attention to the laws of theatrical metaphysics.
A moment later, Sands concluded that this wasn't covered in the standard Catholic doctrine, either. Granted, in Mexico Catholicism took on all kinds of weird pagan undertones, but this wasn't even voodoo or brujah. This was just…"And I thought El only distorted reality on this side of death."
//Angelita, go upstairs and see if your Daddy's got any other mariachis staying with him//, Carolina cooed. She waited till the girl had skipped up the stairs before rolling her eyes and sitting down beside Sands. Her eyes flicked up, down, side-to-side, and then down again. "Well, better you than one of his friends."
"So you're not surprised that El swings both ways?" Sands suppressed the sudden compulsion he had to comb through his hair and straighten his clothes. It wasn't as if he needed to interview for anything, and anyway, he'd never taken those any more seriously than he'd had to.
Carolina rolled her eyes and folded her hands in her lap. "You've met Lorenzo, right?"
"I take it that you wouldn't be offended if he were to one day meet with a disastrous accident involving those stupid pants and a spare guitar string." Now that the initial shock was wearing off, Sands was busily adjusting to the new reality. It was a habit that came in handy with blindness, since lack of sight pretty much meant he was stepping into a blank slate every time he went into a new room. Sometimes just when he walked back into one he'd already visited, given the tendency for the landscape to drastically rearrange itself when El was going through it. Annoying bastard. "Where the hell does El find those people?"
She shrugged and started delicately fixing her hair, though what she was using for a mirror, Sands had no idea. Her mouth twisted around a choice bit of irony, which she selfishly didn't share with Sands. "I gave up on trying to figure that out when he picked up you."
"From all accounts, you weren't all that great for his career," Sands snapped. Then he threw himself to the floor and dove behind the coffee table. Snapped his knee into a corner and cursed through half the languages he knew.
A second later, he cautiously felt for the edge of the table and pulled himself up to see a smiling Carolina playing with her remaining knives. "That wasn't nice."
"Neither were you." Still looking more serene than a kitchen Buddha, she got up and sashayed across the room to retrieve her daggers.
Sands warily shifted to the other side of the coffee table and mentally calculated the distances to the door and window, which shouldn't have shifted. El had gone out early in the morning, and some racket in the streets had been going on ever since, so Sands had remained inside with fully loaded guns. Mexico could be cheerful as fuck in the midst of her squalor, but that didn't mean he had to-
--oh. That was why. Two further mental checks confirmed that it was, indeed, Dias de Los Muertos. No wonder he'd woken up in a shitty mood with the craving for some nastiness, and no wonder El had been an inconsiderate son-of-a-bitch in not giving it to him. "He always like this about anniversaries?"
"Well, he doesn't have very many nice ones." Carolina dropped to her knees on the other side of the table and folded her arms across its top, watching him as if he were a particularly funny trained rat. "Calm down. If I wanted to kill you, I would have."
"Very reassuring." Nevertheless, Sands remained where he was and braced his hands under the table so he could flip it up as a block if necessary. "Wait. If you wanted to?"
She made a face of resigned exasperation that didn't do anything to detract from her looks. If nothing else, it was good to know that El had good visual taste. "My husband likes you too much. And I want him to be happy. Since it's hard to find things that'll make him that way, I'm stuck with you. So you get to live."
Maybe nicotine would help with the surrealism. Some rummaging found Sands El's cigarillos, but no match. Some days, he should really just curl back around the shotgun and not get out of bed. "I'm flattered, really."
"You should be." Carolina started to raise a hand, but stopped when Sands ducked down. "Stop that! I told you-"
"And I don't take pity gifts that well, peaches. So shove it." When she hissed in a breath, Sands took the opportunity to scramble for the door.
As was typical of the whole situation, he went for the wrong one and ended up barricaded behind the stairway railings while Carolina, thoroughly irked, stalked after him. And then dainty little feet tripped up behind him. Too bad it wasn't a bridge and there weren't goats involved; he'd always liked that fairytale, if only because it showed how the world really worked.
So Sands didn't feel bad at all when he ducked behind Angelita. "Hey, doll. Find anything?"
//No. But why is there puerco pibil all over?//
"Because I like it, and because your daddy thinks he can bribe me with food to be nice. You'd think he would've learned by now." He prayed that she wouldn't move, and that Carolina would go for the stock-still routine instead of the blind-rage mother-bear one. Calculated risks were-had been-Sands' specialty, and he didn't think he'd forgotten too much. "Angelita, honey, did daddy ever not wear those fu-those annoying jingle-pants?"
Tiny fingers probing at Sands' face, and big dark eyes staring at his eyeholes. Nice to know that the doe-eyes were genetic. El must've had some really fucking mutant parents to come up with his whole package. //No. But it was fun, because then there was music all the time. Why are you all curled up like that? Are you hurting?//
//Just in his pride//, muttered Carolina. //C'mere, baby. It's not nice to poke other people.//
"Especially there. Christ. Of course your kid wouldn't get freaked out by empty sockets." Sands started crawling backwards up the stairs as he tried to remember whether the place had come with a Bible. Exorcism was more about faith than procedure, and faith was all about the willpower. So if he wanted them to leave badly enough, then…
Carolina swung her girl up into her arms, but stayed at the bottom of the staircase, watching Sands with a peculiar expression on her face. If he were to break it down, he might guess that it was one part jealousy to two parts sheer disbelief, with a good dash of…recognition.
What he was currently feeling was entirely too similar to be truthful. He regularly assumed that his subconscious wanted to fuck him over, but this whole scenario was a bit more than that. This was serious mind-jiggering.
This was somewhat better than sulking around and thinking about the day he lost his eyes. He wasn't even going to bother mentioning Ajedrez.
"You ever figure out how to get him off the roof?" Sands asked.
Long-suffering tolerance shaded Carolina's eyes as she settled her now-napping girl against her shoulder. "Either get used to the midnight strumming, or get used to sleeping up there. When he gets started, there's only two things that can distract him, and killing people means you've got to spend the night moving."
They stared at each other some more while the rational part of Sands' mind vaguely tried to address how he could be staring without eyeballs. He pointed out that the English language fucking sucked when it came describing weirdness like this, and that if he wanted to say he was staring, then he was going to.
His logic shut up. Carolina tilted her head and looked at his arms. "You really are thin."
"I have a fast metabolism. And it takes a lot of energy to keep fret-head from getting himself killed off." Sands slouched on his stair-step and muttered into the carpet. "Takes five seconds to hotwire a car, but no, he wants to walk. Well, I fixed that."
"So you want to keep him alive?"
For a moment, Sands was actually speechless. Then he was more pissed off than was strictly necessary, or non-humiliating for him. "Look, princess. You were his wife and the mother of his child and all. Well, you're dead. Gone. Finito. No longer playing back-up to the lead. So what gives you the fucking right to question motives here, huh? It's not like I held a gun to his head and made him fuck me till I couldn't stand."
She grinned in triumph. "Yes, you do."
"He grew on me, okay? He's a goddamned guitar-slinging pistolero virus! He infects every fucking thing he comes across with bullets and chaos and whining mariachi musical shit!" Before Sands was halfway through embarrassing himself, he'd already grabbed for his mouth, but the words still kept coming out. He rolled over and shoved his head into the corner of the step, trying to shut himself up, but that didn't work. "And I like that, god-fucking damn it," Sands muttered.
"Like what?" said a male voice.
Sands very, very slowly rolled back over and looked at the complete blackness that surrounded him. Then he methodically strung together all the swears he knew as El walked up to stand over him.
"Why are you lying on the staircase?"
"Do I need a reason? Maybe I just like it here." Mexican holidays were such a bitch. If the street celebrations didn't come with a bunch of free food and easy targets all mobbed together in the same space, Sands would want to move back over the border.
Right. He was lying. In two different meanings. He flopped out his arm, felt for El's leg, then chopped the man's knee out from under him.
About two seconds later, Sands was being pounded into the steps, their sharp edges of bruising his forearms and legs while El's hands took care of tenderizing the rest of him. He grinned till his lips hurt from being drawn back so far and twisted himself around the pure raw force of it. Just chaos at its best, whipping him to pieces while he felt it come apart around and inside him. In a world where order was the most transient illusion of them all, it was far better to dig hooks into anarchy and gleefully ride it to flight or crash. Either way, he'd be without regrets.
Afterward, El pried Sands off of him and dragged him along as the other man headed for downstairs. "What?"
Sands shrugged and plastered himself to El's side, squishing as many chains as he could reach so they couldn't sound. "Just reminding you that you can't ignore me."
"I never do. Though it would be more peaceful sometimes." El's step hesitated for a millisecond. "How is your head?"
For such an effective purveyor of mass-scale violence, jangle-butt could be pretty squeamish about certain things. "My eyeholes are fine, thank you. Why wouldn't they be?"
"Today's Dias de Los Muertos." And in one laconic sentence, El managed to do annoying flip-floppy things to Sands' stomach. Fucking bastard.
Just for that, Sands shoved his hand down El's pants and kept it there till El slammed him back against the wall, teeth firmly fixed in Sands' neck. Laughing like a loon and not giving a shit, Sands bit back. "C'mon. Feed me."