Tangible Schizophrenia



Author: Guede Mazaka
Rating: R
Pairing: Sands/El
Feedback: Good lines, bad ones, etc.
Disclaimer: Originates not with me.
Notes: For juniper200.
Summary: Metamorphosis.


Theoretically speaking, words are only arbitrary meanings to begin with. There are rules and codes of grammar, but fuck if the best and the worst are both characterized by how those rules are shattered and those codes bent—

right over the bar my god so fucking hard and jesus christ on high coming down

--but this place does something else to them. ‘Melt’ might be a good descriptor, if Sands accepted its designated meaning. California might be a state of mind, popcorn crack and high-speed chases, but here’s a state of wash.

The river he dumped Belini in peters out about three miles past that nonmemorable point into gravel and dust and dry bones. As cliché as it is, the next time he got out there, he did trip over something smooth and hard and rattling that turned out to be a cattle skull. For a moment, he’d considered putting the thing on like a helmet, like a mask, like an invocation, but then, he’s the product of generations of Northern European civilization, who are really just Christianized Romans, who are really just non-faggot Greeks. So his point of reference is the Minotaur and how pathetic that man-beast must have been dead and bloody in the ring, with only the horror of his genetic fuck-up self and none of the power of it left in him. Crete’s best guard, spawn of a bull and a bitch, taken down by a cocksure god-touched bastard.

bull in the ring. bull is stabbed, prodded, beaten

On days like this, when the sun is high (scorches the top of Sands’ head instead of his cheek) and the air is sucking (all the moisture out, Incan mummies we all), El’s face feels like a skull. The planes are hard, the edges nearly ready to cut Sands to the bone, and the teeth are just quiet little rectangular irregularities that nestle within a loose jaw that will go down when Sands presses on it. If he pressed hard enough, it might break off, the way the lower mandible of the cattle skull had. Archaeologists are always bitching about how they can never find the all-important bottom half, which apparently says more about the specimen than the size of the brain cavity does.

If Sands wants to, he can span half the circumference of El’s head with a hand and two-thirds. He makes nasty cracks about that, but El merely draws him down, mud-dredge from the very bottom, and silently folds palm over eyes nose mouth cheeks and palm over frontal to occipital.

are you trying to suffocate me?

The bones come back. Goddamn cheerful sons of bitches dance in the street, loiter in the neural switches of Sands’ mind. See, he only ever looked at how the bull was killed, the fight was won. He sort of forgot about the why.

Because the bull comes back, too. It’s not the glory-filled story of classical mythology, but the sly sideways grin of sunbaked folklore, where the fight must be re-enacted over and over because if not, then the desert rolls back in and quietly engulfs all the defiant, arrogant, frail signposts of civilization. And everyone’s back to being animals. Dreamtime, shaman-land, laughing killer.

El has a thing for Sands’ neck. Nape. Whatever. Across a bar, up against a wall, on the floor—hell, even in a bed sometimes—he’ll run ravage fuck Sands into a screaming mess and he’ll…bite. Growling, snarling, grunting. Sounds as uncomplimentary as fuck, and Sands certainly isn’t going to start praising the shitass, but one long low rasping will drop Sands’ knees out from under him and hike them wide apart. And later, when he runs his fingers over his skin, he can feel the burn jump into his fingertips.

Words aren’t something El even really uses. Yeah, he makes use of them, but it’s a far cry between that and the verbal-shuffle-dice-fuckover Sands formerly specialized in. Now it’s mostly a mutter here and there for food, and no words at all to go with a brand of music that’s getting successively more like the nighttime howls in the distance. Sometimes Sands suspects El just speaks in order to humor the cranky American into not stealing the guns.

Not that that ever makes a difference, anyway. Blindness is something that hampers Sands much less than anyone except El thinks now, but blind and sight doesn’t enter into the El-lexicon at all. Sands only ever could get the jangle-fuck with overwhelming borrowed force, which he doesn’t have anymore, and so there’s always that grating little pause of amusement before El effortlessly smacks the gun/knife/belt out of Sands’ hands. Once, Sands thinks El did all that without even waking up; he doesn’t know for sure because El awake and El asleep generally sound exactly the same, unless the man’s actually shooting at people. It’s just…the man’s fucking instinct.

When Sands wakes from a nightmare, cursing and coughing through a dying scream, El will roll over him and pin him down. Then he flays Sands with gravel palms and riverstone nails, ripping all that clinging clutching shit from Sands, and somehow, Sands ends up curled into the man. One knee shoved under El’s waist, the other banging a hip, his elbows gouging El’s breastbone and his face directly in the path of silent steaming whuffs that smell like leather, gunsmoke, day-old blood. It’s as if El’s been fighting so long he’s begun to transmute into some unholy combination of human and gun, man and beast, life and death.





South of the border—real south, real dust and tatters, and not the tourist-trap refuges—makes Sands’ tongue slow. Thick. Makes him think he doesn’t need that now, not when he can push against the underside of El’s chin and get a slow soft lick down the side of his face, not when he can hear that infinitesimal shift in wordless seethe and know what fraction of an inch left he should move his gun. He wakes open-mouthed yawning these days, tangled into a sweating, sticky twine and he arches, pulling back his lips so he wolf-grins at where the sunlight’s coming from.

The skulls are his markers. And he sits among them, lazy and attentive and hungry, and he waits for them to rise.