Title: "Emerald City"
Author: monimala
Fandom: OUaTiM
Rating/Classification: R for language, slash, Sands/Mariachi
Disclaimer: You mean they're still not mine? Damn!
Summary: How long has he been here? Fifth in the unnamed Mariachi/Sands series after "Border Crossings", "Ultraviolet", "Repertorio," and "The Miracle Worker."

"How long have I been here?" Weeks. Months. Years?

"How long do you think?" The way the Mariachi's tongue trips on the "th" makes it sound like "sink", which is appropriate, because he's most definitely sinking. Oh, yes.

He closes his fist around the fretboard. The strings cut into his palm and they make a discordant twanging sound in protest. El says nothing when he smashes the guitar against the wall, listening to the crash, the satisfying chorus of groans and shrieks, as it splinters. Of course, when it comes down to it, El never says anything. It doesn't even matter that he spent weeks ...months...years...making this stupid guitar for him...probably smoothing it over with sandpaper and kissing each inch of woodgrain....he's not going to say anything now either.

He makes an inarticulate sound...something profane...chasing it with "motherfucker!" and "fuck!" and "shit!" and a few choice morsels of the Spanish he still claims ignorance of. He hits the bricks and his knuckles make the same twanging noises as the skin splits. He shrugs off the hands trying to hold him still, scooting across the curb and kicking up clouds of dirt and earth. "Do you know who I used to be? Do you? Do you know I held the fate of this country in my hot little hands? And look at me! Look at me now!" The blood leaking from the backs of his hands is sharp and salty and he remembers how it felt running down his face...drying in clumps, clotting where he should have had eyelids...

"I have no EYES." He hasn't said that in a while. Not since the day--night--twilight--when he arrived, when it was like a chant he kept up, over and over, like "There's no place like home" only he had no fucking ruby slippers to get him the Hell away from Oz. He needs to remind himself. He'd forgotten ...maybe not completely...but close enough. Ajedrez. That bitch. Barillo wrapped up like a mummy. The forceps. The..."I have no eyes, Pepe..." he repeats, quietly.

"Do you feel better now?" Mouth on his hair...a firm chest beneath his fists and he wants to push...wants to...does...but the Mariachi doesn't budge.

"The fuck kind of question is that? No, I do *not* feel better, Asshole. I'm living in some shitty little Mexican pueblo and I don't know how long I've been here and I'll never see Niagara Falls or a cherry red classic Corvette or a woman's tits again because I'm...oh yeah...permanently BLIND."

And there's that laugh. The quiet one that always skates up his spine like a warm breeze and makes him want to curl up into a ball and whimper until the pain goes away. "Mi hija...my little one...she used to throw fits just like you..." El says, and it might be the longest sentence that has ever come out of his pretty lips. Or at least the most revealing. "So angry. So passionate. Siempre. Because she did not get her way."

"Well, she's dead now, isn't she?" It's a low blow. Even for him. But he's feeling low... he's entitled. He has no eyes. They got him. And his little dog, too. "Dead and buried."

"Si." He feels the nod against his forehead. "She is with God now. But you...? You, Mister Sheldon Jeffrey Sands, you are not."

"Thanks for the update, El." He breathes, he eats, he fucks, he shits ...even if he can just barely get to and from the roach-infested bathroom on his own...he's pretty sure he's aware of his non-death. "Gee, I hadn't noticed."

"No...I do not think you have. I think..." Once again ...'sink'...maybe he's not the only one...maybe they're both sinking. Maybe..."You have been walking like dead for weeks, si?"

"Ah-ha! Weeks!" It's the only word he wants to hold onto. "I've only been here for a few weeks." The only word he'll *let* himself hold onto.

A sigh. "Una eternidad. It feels like an eternity to me."

An eternity of fingers winding in hair and hips rising up to meet hips in the dark. Lips on the back of his neck, soothing him when he wakes up in a sweaty panic, clawing at his empty sockets. He can't see anything at all, but he knows exactly where the Mariachi is at all times...triangulates everything else around him by that one fucking marker. His north star. His dropped anchor. His Emerald fucking City.

Whenever the Mariachi goes off to do his thing--helping widows and orphans and puppies and drunken idiot mariachis--he doesn't move. He can't. He doesn't take more than two necessary steps until he hears that stupid guitar or that laugh or just the door clicking, softly, shut and signaling his return.

An eternity.

He's been here just that long.

Just long enough.

"Say, are you in love with me or something, Pepito?"

"What do you think?" Sink. Sink. Sink.

What does he think?

He thinks they're doomed.


September 23, 2003.

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