Title: "The Miracle Worker"
Author: Mala
E-mail: malisita@yahoo.com
Fandom: OUaTiM
Rating/Classification: R for language, slash, Sands/Mariachi, ficlet.
Disclaimer: Nope. Still not mine, despite all attempts to chain El to my bedpost.
Summary: Follows "Border Crossings", "Ultraviolet", and "Repertorio."
Notes: For Circe and The Spike, of course. :-), to whom I can't even possibly compare.

"Follow the music," he says. "Follow the music and you'll reach me."

"Do I look like Helen fucking Keller to you, Pepe?" He's taken to calling the Mariachi "Pepe" whenever the mood strikes him. Sometimes, fondly, "Pepito", but the hulking motherfuck doesn't rise to the bait. His real name is still a locked-up-tight mystery. The boys at Area 51 would be jealous of this one man's internal security system.

Hell, *he's* jealous.

He's jealous of how he rolls over in the morning and reaches out...grasps air... because he's been woken up by the sound of an ammo clip being locked into the base of a 9 mm Beretta. He can tell that just from the click. He's that good. Or that fucked up. Loading a gun, to him, is like whale songs or soothing ocean waves or rainforest sounds. He thinks maybe the Agency used to pipe that into their guest rooms at Langley. Gunplay and tree frogs chirping "The Star-Spangled Banner".

El still goes out and plays hero.

Three in the morning and he's loading his guns and setting them all in a line across his guitar case and then saying, "Follow the music."

"Fuck the music. I'm staying right here," Sands whispers, and if he had eyeballs, he'd be staring at the ceiling and counting the spiders that are clinging to it. "The hell're you going?"

"Lori called." There's a smile in the man's voice. Lately, there's always a goddamned smile in his voice. "It seems...it seems nuestro Fideo is in some...trouble."

"Passed out with his dick in another man's wife, did he? I did that once back in Reno. I gotta tell you, Pepe, it's not fun. You wake up with dried, stale Cuervo on your tongue and a gun in your face. Of course, it's not like getting your *eyes* gouged out. I mean, that's an all-time career high. Gouging! Who *does* that?"

A hand strokes his hair back from his face and he swears, "Fuck!" because he didn't hear the sneaky asshole coming. Usually, he can tell. The whisper of that coat and the billowy white shirts, the squeak of the boots. He remembers what an imposing figure the Mariachi made... knows it even better now that he's felt it with his hands. Helen fucking Keller. He's learned Braille on Pepito's multitude of scars.

He's still a lousy guitar player, though.

He's scared to think about what would happen if he was any good...but he only admits that to himself. And, even then, just on alternate Tuesdays. Maybe he'd wind up dropped on a street corner in Cancun, playing for loud tourists who'd throw nickels at him and laugh when they landed in a socket. Two points! Maybe he'd turn into the next Stevie Wonder and drop a dime from the Big Apple to the village's only phone, telling El, "I just called to say I love you."

Not that he does. Love him. That's a fucking stupid thought. But that's what people with no eyes, no prospects, no past, and no future do...think. Lie awake and stare at permanent midnight and listen to the man they're getting regular pity fucks from go out and shoot at things.

"I will return soon."

"That's..." Mama Sands' baby boy laughs like a lunatic as he finds El's mouth with his fingers and traces it. "That's exactly what I'm afraid of, Fucker."

Teeth nip at his knuckles. "That's...that's not my name either, amigo."

The Mariachi gently puts the guitar in his hands before he leaves.

It's a poor substitute. He clings to it anyway.

But he won't follow the music.

He won't.

He has no idea where it'll lead.

It can't be Hell.

He's all ready been there.


September 23, 2003.

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