by Mari

El Mariachi is not a cruel man. Sometimes it would be better if he were.

Sands dips his head and his hair cascades forward, whispering across his cheeks and the dark sunglasses that he refuses to take off, even in bed. El's skin is warm beneath his fingers, rising with each breath. Sleeping the sleep of the dead, and the corner of Sands' mouth quirks up.

"Bang, bang," Sands whispers, cocking his fingers to resemble the gun hidden in one of El's dresser drawers (along with what feels like a picture, smooth and slick beneath Sands' ever-curious fingers, and he would bet everything he had left that it was a picture of El's dearly departed), the one that El thinks he doesn't know about. He tilts his head, listening to the pattern of breathing. No change. El continues to sleep, sated. Some would even say trusting.

Yeah, Sands isn't too sure on that count, either.

No change, and if this tedium persists for too much longer then Sands thinks he will have to kill something. Not a thought that sparks any grand bouts of melodramatic breast-beating in him even now, after as many changes in mind, body, and soul as a man could go through and hope to remain sane. A reasonable facsimile thereof. Whatever. It would seem that the universe is not done having its fun with him just yet, though, because the only other person here is El. He needs El; he thinks El needs him. To chase away the ghosts and the boredom if nothing else.

"Son of a bitch," Sands breathes, his voice scarcely more than air, quivering with venom all the same. Well, hello there. It's always nice to know he still has some. The malice hangs in the air for just a second, disappearing like snow, and El stirs. Sands holds his breath, but the other man does not wake. Mores the pity.

Sands' fingers trail slowly down El's chest, across skin that he knows from memory old is the color of lightly burnt honey and from memory new tastes of gunpowder. It was as if the man had imbibed so much death that he couldn't help leaving traces of it everywhere he went, even during sex.

Especially during sex.

Bump, bump, bump, across the series of circular scars that Sands was not permitted to touch for nearly three months after he began sleeping in this bed. El does shift now, an unpleasant flinching motion overtaking his flesh and what just might be a moan rising from the back of his throat. Sands draws his hand back, an uneasy emotion rising in his chest (if you don't acknowledge it, then it's not there), waiting a beat before he resumes. Over the scars marring a broad, nearly hairless chest that he has only experienced with fingers and tongue and skin, down a stomach roped with muscle and the remnants of old battles.

El, ever virtuous in his own mind, stirs and catches Sands' wrist before those roaming fingers can descend any further south of the border. Light, easy grip; a lie unspoken in its gentleness. "What are you doing?" There's a smirk in El's voice that Sands would give his soul and beyond to see rather than hear, and his own smile feels shaky in response as he settles back on his haunches. Always cool, always in control, that's our boy Sands.

He wonders if there's anyone in the world who still believes that glorious lie, up to and including himself. If so, may they live forever.

"Making my own fun," Sands replies, his voice throaty and amused in the way that equal parts annoys El and turns him on. The hand around his wrist tightens just so, and Sands sighs. If El notices he doesn't comment. Good on him.

Now is the time for El to either come back with a sarcastic remark of his own-and the day that old El-baby becomes skilled in the art of wit is the day that Sands drops to his knees and begs forgiveness for his sins-or, more likely, shut Sands up. Which he does, hard and crushingly, fingers tangling through unkempt black hair, pulling Sands closer, deeper, and then proceeding to suck every ounce of oxygen out of his mouth with a skill of arrogance that makes Sands want to rear back and strike, just to prove he still can. All in all, there are far worse ways to pass the time.

El doesn't move his hand and the kiss lingers onward, hard to the point of punishing. It lingers until phantom sparks dance in front of where Sands' eyes should be, and his throat closes briefly. Determined not to be the first to give in and break the electricity, Sands seeks the inside of El's mouth, sweeping, tasting tequila and the tiniest hint of lime. They're rubbing off on each other.

El's fingers loosen and he pulls back just when Sands thinks he will have to break contact or pass out. El is laughing silently, his breath a warm, moist tickle against the side of Sands' face. To El, the bedroom is a battleground, one of the few where no one dies, and he can claim defeat as easily as victory.

"I win," Sands says, purely to be annoying. His lips are swollen and his heart has taken up an interesting cha-cha-cha against his ribcage. His cock is awakening from slumber, reacting to the smelltastetouch of the man beside him. If the growing sensation against his hip is any indicator, ol' El is getting quite the wakeup call himself.

"You win," El agrees, a note of teasing tolerance mellowing out his voice. Sands' best friend below the waist tightens further. El should bottle that velvet and steel purr and sell it as an aphrodisiac. The proceeds would keep them in tequila for the rest of their natural lives.

The second kiss is slower, deeper, and comprised of a gentle sorrow that makes him feel as if he could go insane. Sands pulls away before the kiss is done, dipping his head to nip at El's throat, then his collarbone, hard enough to make bruises blossom. Reminder that feral creatures are only tame on the surface. El's fingers thread through Sands' hair but he says nothing, not even when Sands' tongue begins to trace a curious, flicking trail over the scars that brought them both to this place. The fingers begin to massage his scalp in slow circles, but no a word slides past his lips. Apparently the time for talking is done, and Sands can't say that he minds that much. Words have become violent since he lost his eyes, weapons that have found a way to turn on their master. He can see why El has chosen to avoid them altogether.

Down, over the hard, muscled expanse of abdomen, marred with scar tissue like a classical statue batted by the ravages of time-still beautiful in spite of itself. Down, across the coarse trail of hair leading to El's cock, and hello, ladies and gentlemen, it would appear that El Mariachi has gotten over his bout of early morning confusion quite nicely.

El's fingers curled against Sands' scalp remain neutral until Sands' mouth descends over his cock, when they tighten hard enough to make Sands wince and his own dick to jump. Who says that El doesn't know how to push his buttons. Sands' mouth begins to move in a slow, teasing rhythm as he revels in the control, and El makes a growled sound from the back of his throat that is quite possibly the sexiest thing that Sands has ever heard. He laves the sensitive underside of El's cock with his tongue and the sound is made again. Scratch that; it is the sexiest thing that Sands has ever heard. An insistent tightness is growing in Sands' ball-oh, yeah, baby, just like that-and he utters his first sound, a low moan that, if the muted gasp that El gives is any indication, feels pretty damned good.

The fingers tighten again, guiding Sands back upwards and, more importantly, off some previously unfinished business. His is really going to have to speak to El about this guiding him around like a horse thing. Some time when his cock hasn't hardened to the point of explosion without ever being touched and, Christ, why hasn't El touched him yet. There's something to be said about reciprocation here.

The sheets rustle for just a moment, the only warning that Sands gets before El's hand, large and warm and Christ in a fucking sidecar callused in all the right places, encloses him about his base. Sweet pressure stroking him from base to tip, and what do you know, the blind can see. Sands gasps and swears, El chuckles, and Sands is more aware than he would like to be that a certain shift in power has taken place here. Then he feels the dip in the mattress as El leans over him to open the bedside table's single drawer, and his dick goes Pavlov's dog on him so hard that it hurts. El's up and down doesn't break stride. Man should be a fucking acrobat.

Coherency of thought is just one of many luxuries that Sands loses as El's fingers nudge against his anus, stroking inward slowly, delicately, with an ease of control that Sands can't help hating him for, a little. Or a lot, because with two fingers alone El is succeeding in stripping a lifetime of carefully accumulated and preciously hoarded control away from him, an act equivalent to death.

Right there, as El's fingers touch against that place deep within and a spasm of heat surges through Sands' body, sending him thrusting back onto El. Well. To the rest of the world, outside of this bedroom and this apartment and this strange unspoken pact of ėHere' and ėLike that' and ėGod, now, he's dead anyway. What's one more piece of himself to add to the fire.

He should never allow himself to become introspective. No good comes of it.

El's fingers remove themselves too soon, and even though Sands knows that they were nothing more than preliminary and prep for the big show, a disappointed noise escapes him. The kiss that El places on the back of his neck is soft as silk, gentle in ways that Sands refuses to fathom.

They will not go to this place. Sands will not allow it.

El's cock enters him with a familiarity of many months. Every thrust touches that place within and Sands gasps, arches, flails his hand backwards for something to hold onto, some tactile sense to reconnect him to the world that he can no longer see. Questing fingers encounter sweaty-slick skin and hair like roughened silk, and El's breathing is harsh in his ear.

The mariachi is moving slowly, gently, his hand coming around to work at Sands' cock, long firm strokes that are about to drive him out of his mind and he doesn't care at all. It's good and easy and, goddamnit, the closest thing to pure that he's ever going to get.

Maybe that's why Sands knows he must destroy it.

Passive fingers turn cruel, digging into El's scalp with a force that he knows from years of experience (high school, CIA-it all boils down power and the will to use it) will leave bruises the size of quarters and the color of plums, dragging El's head down towards his. The angle is awkward but Sands makes it work anyway, kissing El with a rage designed to drive the specter of anything gentle or kind right out of the room, biting at those oh-so-lovely lips until the blood rises to the surface and he can taste it on his tongue. There and there and there, and El can take that as payment for his fucking pity, because Sands doesn't need it and never did.

El draws back for a moment, shocked by the sudden shift in mood, and sex draws to an abrupt halt. The only sound in the room is that of two men panting harshly. Sands expects El to protest, demand an explanation, some other empty gesture to fill the silence that is rapidly bleeding the life from the room.

He really should know better by now. El is never a man of words when action will suffice. The hand about his cock turns hard and efficient, El's thrusts demanding and stripped of all pretense at kindness. Sands arches his back into it and groans, long and low and animal. Yes, yes, like that, and none of this playing at compassion. They're both long past such illusions, anyway.

El's hand tightens with a force that borders on painful, milking him, and the groan in Sands' throat metamorphoses into a keening shout. He spills himself across El's nimble fingers, hears and feels the mariachi return the favor less than a minute later. They tumble across the bed, sweaty, exhausted.

Later: "Why do you do that?" El's fingers are tracing patterns of birds and trees and gods across the skin of Sands' back. The patterns have lulled him half asleep and it is with reluctance that he stirs to the sound of the mariachi's words.

"Do what?"

"Fight." A rumble of confusion and frustration colors El's words, and his fingernail digs in a hair too deep.

Fully awake now, Sands controls his flinch. He rolls onto his side, breaking contact with El's dangerous/hypnotic hands, and offers the Cheshire cat smirk that he knows El hates. "Why, El," he drawls, "what else is there?"

El snorts, but does not reply. Later, though, he remains gentle, in spite of all Sands' efforts to provoke him. Afterwards Sands lies awake, pulling off his sunglasses and playing idly with the plastic when he is sure that El has fallen asleep. The bruises that mark his body are fresh, tattoos of a world of fightfuckkill that he understands more intimately than he understands even himself. The world that El would draw him into (that, if El plans on being honest with himself, is barely more than a memory to him as well) is calmer, steadier. Sands refuses to enter.

El Mariachi does not understand how to be cruel in order to be kind.


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