|Trio Aftermath: The Wedding
Author: Guede Mazaka
El ducked another knife and shot the last man, then threw a chair past Carolina. //Hey! Hey-stop! What the hell is the matter with you?//
//He called me a whore!// she stormed, kicking at the body in question as she stomped around the room to collect her blades. One was stuck deep into a wooden pillar, and angry as she was, Carolina didn't brace herself properly before yanking it out. The violent movement sent her into a spin that nearly slashed open El's arm. //And you! You didn't do anything!//
//He was already dead!// El protested, wiping at the blood on his face. //And besides, he didn't say you are a whore. He said you were a whore.//
Carolina dropped to the floor in a heap of flouncing skirt and glared up at him. Her knives were fanned out in one hand and twitching as she wanted to fling them at something. But as El was the only other person still standing…//Fine. I was, and I was damn good at it. But I'm not now. And you're a bastard who's sleeping on the goddamn roof tonight.//
His guns were covered with blood, and there was a cut on his shoulder that was going to start hurting as soon as the battle-rush wore off. Which, El knew, was going to be soon. Usually he would ease the crash by slamming whichever of his companions was nearest up against the wall, but Sands was outside, and Carolina's sulk looked harder than granite. //What are you talk--// no, that never worked //--what did I do wrong?//
But she only looked at the shotgun holes in the ceiling and snorted contemptuously, as if he were too stupid to even be believed. El squashed down his flash of exasperation and considered the situation, then put aside his guns and knelt down in front of her. Carolina tucked her face behind an obscuring mass of hair. He pushed it aside, and she tried to bite him. "Idiot."
So El shoved them both into the floor. He sprawled out over her beating hands and sucked the curses out of her mouth, then leaned back to regard his handiwork. Breathless and still angry. "I don't care, all right? They're all stupid in the first place for coming after us, and-and a grain of your shit is worth more than all of them."
"Oh, Mother of God," she laughed, finally relaxing. //You sound very dumb when you try to use Sands' swears.//
"Shut up," El muttered, coming down for a second kiss in which she enthusiastically participated. Then she pushed away, turning an uncertain gaze to his gauntlet. El sighed and let his head rest on her cheek. "Do you want to marry me?"
"You…" Rage swelled in her voice, a fierce crescendo as painful as it was beautiful. //You think that you can just offer me a goddamn ring, and it'll all be good again?//
He put fingers to her lips, stroking out the furious trembling. //No. I love you. That's why I want to marry you. Even though I can't offer you much besides fighting and running. And some books, but you wouldn't marry someone for that.//
Pause. El narrowed his eyes, while Carolina defiantly stared back for a moment before grinning again. Her face glowed, even though her tone remained sarcastic. //No. Okay, I'll marry you, dirt-poor mariachi.//
Damn. He knew this was going to come up eventually, but he'd been hoping it would happen when they weren't near a bank. "Actually…"
Carolina's eyes widened, then danced with amusement as she rolled him over and dotted kisses all over his face. "I knew it! I knew it! You mumble with the wrong accent when you're asleep! Okay-first you show me accountbooks. Then I need to…but where are we going to find a priest that'll do this?"
Lorenzo awoke to the rhythmic bang-and-shake of someone kicking his bed, which made awful time with the drums in his head. He snatched out a gun from under the pillow and blindly pointed it.
//Put that away//, Fideo lazily said as he flopped onto the mattress. //It's your own fault for trying to keep up with me at the bar last night.//
//Can't.// The other mariachi sounded much, much too cheerful for a sloshed semi-wiseman. //We got a telegram from El.//
Well, hell. Lorenzo grudgingly lifted his head to throw up in the bucket by the side of the bed, then took the whisky Fideo handed him and rinsed out his mouth. //What's it say?//
//He's getting married, and you're in charge of getting a priest.// When he checked his friend's expression, Fideo betrayed absolutely no sign of flippancy. Just stared calmly back while the knot in Lorenzo's stomach exploded.
So Lorenzo threw up again.
Half an hour later, he somehow found himself sober, dressed and arguing with an old classmate from the seminary. Gabriel Montero had been slightly more circumspect with his nighttime activities, and so had made it out with his white collar intact, if a bit smudged. Not that Lorenzo held that against him; things were much more fun outside the robe. But his friend was being ridiculously stubborn for someone of his past record.
"No, no, no. You think I'm insane?" Gabriel shook an accusing finger at Lorenzo. "Even if he helped save the President, half the army bigwigs still want his head. And so do the cartels. And many, many other people."
"He's a legend of Mexico. He's a hero to the people-you do this for me and you'll never lack for parishioners." Lorenzo desperately wished for a cigarillo, but Fideo had stolen those while making sure Lorenzo made it to the church. And then the shithead had gone out of town to commune with the desert, or something. It all made Lorenzo wish he hadn't been so drunk the night he'd met El and Fideo, so he could remember exactly how he'd ended up in this mess. "People in the church mean money-"
He and Gabriel both coughed and hastily crossed themselves.
"-saved souls," Lorenzo corrected. "Come on. You owe me."
Gabriel was skeptical. "For what?"
"For-hell, for not telling Juanita about Dolores and Maria, and for not bringing up Carmen in front of-" At the frantically waving hand, Lorenzo stopped and gave his friend a triumphant smirk. "So?"
"All right." The priest glared from him to the nearest crucifix, and back again. "But if I end up dead or maimed because of this, you're all excommunicated."
Risks of the trade. Lorenzo shrugged and clapped Gabriel on the shoulder. "That's fine; I think Sands is Protestant, anyway. Poor bastard. But thanks. I'll get back to you with details after I find a decent suit."
Ramirez cautiously opened the door, gun in hand. The mariachi on his doorstep blinked owlishly, then did a kind of slump into the room. Which momentarily worried him, but then the alcohol fumes hit and he rolled his eyes. He dragged the drunk inside and tucked him into a spare couch, then went back to bed.
The next morning, he woke to marvelous smells of fresh bread and frying sausages, which immediately put him on his guard, as he didn't know anyone that cooked that well.
//Morning//, the mariachi slurred as Ramirez stalked into the kitchen, shotgun under one arm. The other man flipped the meat onto a plate Ramirez didn't remember having, then slid the food over while he drained a bottle of tequila. //Fideo. I'm with El.//
//I figured as much.// Ramirez waited until Fideo started to eat, then took his own small bite, which he promptly followed up with a larger one. He didn't know what sort of bloody tangle was coming his way this time, but at least El had been nice enough to make sure he had a good meal first. //What do you want?//
//El needs an official witness for his wedding, and you're one of the few people he knows that actually has valid identification papers.// Fideo placidly dodged the mouthful Ramirez spit out and forked up some more beans. //You're also the only one he trusts to keep the license afterwards, so no one finds the names and uses them against him. When should we pick you up?//
That didn't quite make sense, so Ramirez ran the information through his head again. Still not clicking into place. //He's what? Are you all insane-don't answer that. But there's no way you could keep something like that quiet. All his enemies will be swarming before they even get to the altar…and what about Sands? I can't believe he's letting this happen.//
He and the mariachi eyed each other over the breakfast. Then Fideo flicked out a knife and began to butter up a slice of bread. //Want to find out who El was christened as?//
And God help him, but Ramirez did.
Carolina thoughtfully regarded the yards and yards of lace and silk and pomp. Every single dress she'd seen looked like its sole purpose was to choke its victim to death before she even got up the aisle. It was going to be an outside wedding so the townspeople who were sheltering them-and who were almost more ecstatic about the upcoming event than she was-could attend, so there wasn't going to be much of an aisle. But still, this was ridiculous. And Carolina hadn't even seen the corsets yet.
And Jesus Christ, the shoes and the food. The ring, the most elegant and sumptuous thing Carolina had ever seen. She didn't even dare wear it on her hand, but kept it on a necklace, tucked safely under her clothes. And who the hell would've guessed that El was that well-off? For that matter, what the hell was she doing? Getting married to a man who knew how to reload in midair, and apparently had connections all over the social ladder, and who made it impossible to do laundry because his clothes were always bloody and shot up. And who came with a built-in American jackass. Did she really think she could keep up with that forever? Was she really cut out for that kind of life? Maybe she was the moron.
She suddenly felt very faint. There was a nice chair in the corner, so she flopped down into it, then remembered she was supposed to be acting ladylike.
Too late. The woman in charge of the shop looked on in astonishment, then wrapped disgusted condescension around her like a mink stole as she came over. "Madame, I believe that you're lost. May I show you to the door?"
Bitch. Some perfume and tighter laces, and she thought she was queen of the hill. As if she would last a day out in the street-
Carolina had been like that, once, and she was a fool to have forgotten. And to have forgotten who had taken her in, and kept her, and yes, loved her.
She lifted her chin and let the old disdain fall into place around her shoulders, all the while laughing inside. Because it didn't matter if sometimes she didn't feel good enough for El, as long as he thought she was worth having around. That was what counted, and everyone else's opinion could just go straight to hell in a shit-filled handbasket. Carolina drew out her copies of El's papers and handed them to the woman, who instantly blanched as she saw the seals. "No, you may not. I do despise having to put up with such second-rate work, but time is dear and I must make do."
"You're a what?" Sands smacked his cane into the wall, inches from El's face. "A goddamned don? And you never thought that was important enough to mention?"
"I'm not a don," El patiently corrected as he cleaned out a rifle and mentally tried to calculate which enemies were most likely to come around first. He grabbed the stick on its next swing and pulled so Sands lost his balance and toppled into El's lap. Which in retrospect wasn't the best idea, as it whacked Sands' rock-hard head into El's shoulder. "I'm not legitimate. But my mother's father didn't like any of his sons, so he tried to transfer the title to her sons. It didn't work, really, because Bucho is dead and I don't have identification papers. So officially, I don't exist, and therefore the title doesn't go to anybody."
"But you still managed to get a hell of a lot of money from them, even without the fifteen million we split after Dias de Los Muertos," Sands muttered into El's neck. The other man jerked himself into a comfortable position, then snuggled in with an almost imperceptible sound of contentment. "Why didn't you tell me?"
"I didn't tell Carolina, either." And frankly, El still felt a little odd about finally sharing that with her. It wasn't that he didn't trust her or Sands at this point, because he did. But he also knew them inside and out, and he had been through too much to ignore the flaws, even if he did love them. "I…don't like talking about my family."
Sands snorted and pointedly wiggled as a soft tongue found its way into the hollows of El's throat. "Yeah, I noticed."
"You never talk about what happened when Barillo blinded you." When the other man stiffened, El laid a hand on Sands' back and traced a lopsided circle across the tensing muscle, making sure to hit all the sensitive spots. Sands went limp and purred, forgiving the verbal trespass with a soft sucking bite to El's collarbone.
Maybe that was it, then. They also knew his worst and his best, and they didn't mind.
"You never asked," Sands murmured in a quiet, slight voice. "If you did, I would. I wouldn't like it, and you'd be sleeping in a cold bed for a few nights, but…I can't help talking to you, in case you haven't noticed. You-see too goddamn much."
Or it might simply be this overwhelming warmth that had soaked his bones till he couldn't go anywhere without feeling it, without living it. Whatever it was, El didn't want anything else.
A long, long way in the distance, bells rang the hour. "Shit," El hissed, hastily putting away his pistols and tools. "We're late."
"Late for what?"
The Best Man
The clerk should've been warned to expect the unexpected, but his eyes still bugged out when El walked into the shop. "Ah…I was told two men?"
"Yes." El put down his wriggling bundle and unwrapped the blanket to reveal one bound, gagged and clearly livid Sands. "He's having a bad day," the mariachi informed the gaping clerk. "I booked a private fitting room?"
"Er…of course, of course. This way, sir-sirs." Nervously flinching the whole time, the clerk ushered El into the room, while Sands dug in his heels and had to be dragged the entire way. When the tailors came in, he snarled and snapped around the gag until saliva seemed to froth at his mouth.
El should have made Carolina tell the other man, but she had been fussing over the bouquet colors-which El still didn't quite understand-and had threatened to shove a broom up his ass if he didn't leave her alone. So he had done so, and as a consequence, he now had to persuade the tailors that one, Sands was not contagious, and two, another large infusion of cash should be more than enough to convince them to measure Sands' neck. And yes, El would hold his companion down, no offense taken, but…and on and on and on. As if they hadn't seen their share of eccentricities, with their reputation.
The tailors retreated in a flock to consult and conspire, leaving El to stare at an eyeless scowl. "Mmmph."
Bastard, El mentally translated. After checking that the door could be locked from the inside, he reluctantly reached over and tugged out the wad of fabric. Did some more planning for dealing with the unavoidable gate-crashers while Sands ran through the curse word dictionaries of several languages, then picked up the other man and pinned him against the wall when it sounded like Sands was repeating himself. "I didn't tell you until today because this was the first time you've been away from your guns."
"Fuckmook." Sands clammed up and merely hung there, emitting wave after wave of palpable wrath.
Hell. El supposed that if there was ever a time to be brutally honest, it was now. "You're still staying with us. I'm not going to stop fucking you senseless-" snaked his arms back to grab onto the leather bindings around the thin wrists, pressed up into a body that was fiercely resisting an urge to melt "-or killing if I have to, or kicking the shit out of you if you're being an idiot."
"Do not tell me nothing's going to change," Sands retorted, wriggling sideways so his hair lashed El's face. "Because that would be lying, and you've already lied to me, and El? I am. Not. Happy. About that."
"I didn't lie. I didn't even say anything." El evaded the kicks and the snapping teeth to shove into Sands' throat. Licked up and down its length, across the front to swirl over the moving vocal cords, then up to nip under the chin. Hardness started to bump into his stomach, encouraging him into nudging aside the shirt collar and sinking in his teeth. Reminding Sands that he wasn't ever leaving without marks on him. "And yes, I would have. Before the day came."
"That's not the point, goddamn it." Sands' breath was catching, skipping beats. His head had gone back to expose a white curve of vulnerability, calling El back to it. His legs spread and his feet pushed up so he could straddle the leg El edged in, so he could whimper and grind into it. "I…I…can't…I'm not a fucking woman, damn you! I can't be!"
And there was not fury in that strained cry, nor loathing. El heard…disappointment and jealousy and longing, an odd mix. Odd enough to make him stop and back off a bit so he could have a clear view of the angular face before him, all flashing glass and frail silk. "I can't propose to you. Not like I did with Carolina," he said at last, precise and quiet.
"I know that." Sands' voice was acidly defensive as he laid his head against El's neck. "I wouldn't marry a crazy fretsucker like you, anyway."
El slid one hand up to cradle Sands' nape, then tipped up the other man's chin with his thumb. "I never said that I can't propose to you at all."
He covered Sands' mouth with his own before the other man could speak, slowly ravaging it as he got rid of the clothes in the way. Skimmed his hand back down so he could cup firm buttocks and lift long legs, so he could squeeze out moan after moan before fumbling for salve. Sands nibbled at El's lips, jaw and nose indiscriminately as he locked his ankles around El's back, then bit through the mariachi's jacket and shirt as El began to twist and tease his fingers in. "What, are you buying another ring?" Sands gasped, faint smile ghosting around the groaning mouth.
"Do you need one? You already have my father's cane," El muttered as he swept his free hand along Sands' side. His fingers snagged a bit at a pebbled nipple, which he pinched and received a small whine for his pains. He flicked his nail against it, then rubbed the rough edge of a calloused fingertip over it as he drank in all the desperate mewls. Sands writhed on his fingers, clenching and trying to draw them back in when he eased them out. Then the other man rapped his head against the wall and snapped forward to muffle a scream in El's chest as the mariachi sank in, hands flying to Sands' hips for support.
That didn't work too well, as Sands was rather wobbly. "You…gave me…" He wrenched at his bound wrists, then slumped as El forced him back into the wall. "Never gave Carolina…something like…"
"No. Not until I gave her the ring." El lifted and dropped one shoulder as he tried to hang onto the twisting, scalding, beautiful angelic demon who was threatening to shatter him. "So…could say…you were first…"
"Fuck, I don't-care. Just so-" Sands flipped rigid, then bent into a ferocious spasm that shook the climax from El. They both collapsed against the wall, searching for breath. "God, you damned kinky shit. I started twitching five minutes after you tied me up, and then you had to let all those prissy little dickless needlemen manhandle me."
"It'll be a nice suit," El panted. "Be worth it. You'll look good; trust me."
"What do you think I'm doing?"
The Dress Rehearsal
So much for the pre-party. Lorenzo pried Fideo away from the liquor for the third time in the hour and sent him to instruct Gabriel while Lorenzo found El.
Which wasn't that hard. Just follow the sounds of highly creative cursing and keening, and ignore the fact that the groom wasn't supposed to see the bride yet, or fuck the best man. In fact, best to simply ignore everything and pretend he was making this stuff up, because acknowledging it as truth might break his brain.
Lorenzo shifted the boxes to one arm, braced himself, and knocked on the door. A moment later, the faint clicks of cocking guns filtered through the wood. "It's me, so put them down," he said in an irritated tone. "El, the suits and the dress came. So you're going to open the door a crack, and I'll hand them over. Because I don't want to see, and more importantly, I don't want to know. If I do find out, I'll let Fideo drink all he wants and make you deal with him."
The door opened, just wide enough for a box, and El's sweaty, tousled head appeared while two voices snickered in the background. "Thanks," he muttered in a slightly embarrassed tone as he took the boxes.
"You're welcome, as long as those village girls live up to their smiles." Without waiting for a reply, Lorenzo spun on his heel and got back to the chapel just in time to overhear the last of Fideo's advice.
"…and if there's a fire, toss alcohol on it and run in the opposite direction. But first make sure that the wind is blowing towards them."
Gabriel was nodding and smiling and looking like he was about to bolt. Like hell-not after the trouble Lorenzo had gone through to get him here. The mariachi stepped up beside his traveling companion and directed Fideo towards the nearest group of vaguely witchy old women so they could trade professional tips, then did his best to fix things. "Fideo…has more than his share of space in the head, if you know what I mean. So don't pay attention to him unless he's got a gun in his hand, because that's about the only time he makes sense. Just keep the ceremony going, all right? Don't stop no matter what happens."
"As you say," Gabriel replied in a dubious voice. "I can see that this one is going to be…historical."
Sands gingerly shifted his weight, then adjusted the angle at which his cane met the ground. That only moved the ache inside a little left, so he rocked back on his heels. Which almost resulted in self-strangulation by collar.
"Stop moving," Carolina hissed over the priest's jittery chanting.
"Go to hell. My ass hurts." He yanked at the collar until it surrendered, then whapped Lorenzo's ankle when the other man elbowed him. On the other side of him, Ramirez sighed and mumbled a sarcastic prayer for patience.
El growled, low and ominous. Even after all this time, the sound of that still shivered Sands' nerves with lust and fear. "Stop. Now."
Reverend Montero faltered, then quickly picked up the pace again. "Do you, Carolina, take this man…"
La la la. More stupid words, and God, Sands could really slaughter whoever invented dress shoes. His felt like they were gnawing off his feet.
"I do," Carolina said, soft and loving and incredibly happy. El coughed, and she muttered some nasty Spanish. A second cough. "And also the other one," she muttered under her breath.
Sands blinked and started to speak, but the priest had rushed on to El's vows, and so he shut up so he could listen. Everything went as it was supposed to, right up until El told Reverend Montero in a decisive but tender voice: "I do. And also the other one."
"I am not "the other one." I have a name," Sands grumbled, though it was more for form than any real annoyance. Holy God. Catholics messing with the most sacred of the sacred, just for him. It would have made Eden's snake go green with envy, if he'd actually been that concerned with strict religion. But he wasn't, and so he could blissfully revel in the fact that they were all going to hell together.
"Ah…" Montero seemed a little staggered.
"Keep. Going," Lorenzo whispered in a sharp tone. "Just ignore it, remember?"
"Do what he says," Ramirez agreed. "That way, it takes less time."
"Right…uh…El and Carolina-"
Sands smirked, suddenly not feeling the twinges inside him. "And the other one," he singsonged.
"-I now pronounce you man and wife. You may now kiss the bride," Montero doggedly continued.
Which El thoroughly did, to judge from the cheering and the hooting. Then two bodies bumped into Sands, and a hand sneaked down his stupid fancy pants to grope him, while a smaller, more delicate one mussed up his hair.
Fideo abruptly piped up, his voice already swaying to the tequila's melody. "They're coming."
"Goddamn it, they couldn't wait-" Carolina sounded truly enraged as she hiked up her skirt into Sands' belt, most likely to get at her garter o' throwing knives. All around him, there were the whumps and metallic clicks of cases being shouldered and guns being cocked.
"And this is where you skedaddle to the sad excuse for a reception party, priest," Sands laughed, getting out his own pistols. "We're going to the real one."
A little mournful, El regarded the three of them. "Too bad the clothes didn't last longer. I liked them."
Carolina pulled at her laces, then slowly, sensuously wriggled out of her dress and underthings while Sands borrowed one of her knives and began to cut the buttons off his clothing. "Did you now. Well, I hated them," he casually remarked.
Snick. Snick. Fling. Blood-spotted and torn fabric dropped to various places on the floor. Sands discarded the knife, then turned to tangle tongues with Carolina when she draped over his back. They lapped at each other, identical conspiratorial smiles on their faces, then turned toward El. "Lorenzo and Fideo and Ramirez promised to keep the interruptions away," she cooed. "And I made sure that the bed is very good."
Raising an eyebrow at her, El went over to the piece of furniture in question and tried it out. Bounced on it a little. "Yes, it is."
"He's being a bastard again, isn't he?" Sands snorted as he and Carolina followed, plastering themselves to either side of El.
Carolina rolled her eyes and pushed El back so she could straddle his waist and rub herself over his hips. //He always is. If he were ever nice, then the world would-oh. Oh…//
El kept massaging her breasts as he leaned up and gently nursed each of her nipples, feeling them harden against his tongue. Behind him, Sands squirmed in to claw at El's shirt. Raised hot lines on his skin, then chased them down with a clever little tongue. He wrestled off the garment, then did the same to his pants and shoes while Carolina played fingers over his cock. El turned his head to kiss Sands, and was still doing so when she dropped herself onto him.
He nearly choked then, causing the other man to vibrate a snicker into his mouth and Carolina to grin slyly as she shifted. Tightened around him, then loosened. El snaked fingers into her hair and ate the smile off her face, then tumbled her gasping body over so he could start to slip in and out. Rasp-snag-rasp of flesh and fire, and he kept kissing the air from her as she arched and sagged beneath him.
Sands lingered about the edges, licking here, biting there, waiting impatiently for Carolina to wrap her legs around El's jerking body and draw herself into a ragged scream. Then he surged in as Carolina heaved herself away, twining about El and sucking at everything he could reach. His hands were everywhere, stroking and caressing and scratching until El finally had to trap the restless fingers against the mattress so he could push in without distraction.
The other man's mouth went circular with a wordless inhale, then leaked out a high, stretched whimper as he strained towards El's thrusts. He hissed out a long helpless cry that found itself muffled in Carolina's lips as El buried his head in Sands' neck. Scored teeth over the thin skin, watched red grow and spread as lightning grew and spread from inside Sands to El.
//Think this still counts as adultery?// Carolina chuckled, nuzzling into El's cheek. He twisted to brush his mouth over the lines of her face, smiling, before rearing up one last time and driving into Sands. Who seemed to gag on his own scream and went rigid, then limp against the bed while El let out a harsh yell.
"It better," Sands panted, a few drained moments later. "Don't want to let marriage make us soft, do we?"
"No." El finally let his own grin appear as he curled into the space between the other two. "Never."