Title: La Balada Del Hombre Bonito Que No Tiene Ojos
Author: Juliette Torres firstname.lastname@example.org
Rating: R (language)
Date: 6 Oct. 2003
Summary: Sands feels like shit. El sees the lyrical beauty in him anyway.
Notes: Thank you to Charles and Dru.
"What happened to you?"
El's voice--Sands places it almost immediately--sounds more startled than anything else. No apparent shock or disgust, which probably means that the question is honest, that El actually doesn't know what happened to him.
"What didn't fucking happen?" Sands asks. He bends forward slightly, trying to make it look like he doesn't need to be propped against the wall to stay upright, but that hurts more than it's worth, and he leans back.
"I killed Marquez," says El. What is this, Sands thinks, a progress report? "I think the president is still alive, though."
"That's unfortunate," says Sands. There was something curious to El's tone, though, so he asks, "You're not sure?"
"I will have to find my--team," El replies. Sands wonders what word he would have chosen (friends? brothers?) had he not decided on mockery. "I am sure they did everything in their power to protect him."
"Bastard," Sands says tiredly. He's not sure he cares.
"You are pretty like a woman," El says contemplatively, and Sands stiffens. He hears the kid stifle a laugh. He hears El take a step towards him, and another. "Did you know this?"
"Fuck you," says Sands. "I don't bend over for anybody." He leans against the wall hard, pressing the back of his head against it.
"I think you always were," says El, as if Sands has not said anything, "though I did not have the eyes to see it when I met you."
"Fuck you," Sands repeats harshly, because apparently El knows now, the cunt-licking sonofabitch.
"The blood brings it out," says El. He is closer, although Sands did not hear his step. There is a rhythmic quality to El's voice that suggests a song-in-the-making to Sands. If he ever goes into a bar and hears a mariachi singing The Ballad Of The Pretty Man With No Eyes, he will shoot everyone in the damn bar, the way El is famous for having done once or twice. "It makes your skin look fair."
El's thumb brushes Sands's cheek, and Sands flinches. What follows is too much sensory information for Sands to process quickly. There is a slight, sticky pull as Sands jerks his face away from El's hand, which means El now has congealed blood on the pad of his thumb. Sands's motion brings him into contact with something else. There is the feel of fingertips just below his temple, which means that El has his hands on either side of Sands's face, like he's about to kiss him. Sands, panicky, tries to push out, away from the wall, and his knee brushes against El's thigh briefly before the pain in his side makes him remember that he needs the wall's support. He's pinned, and it's not even necessary, because he's too weak to go anywhere.
Shit, thinks Sands.
Instead of kissing him, El slides the shades down his face. Sands can feel them on the tip of his nose, and pressing into his cheeks on either side of his mouth. Sands waits for a reaction. A gasp? A hiss? He doesn't hear the breath, but he feels the movement of the air against his wet face and sliding into his sockets. He hopes El doesn't have the flu. After a moment, he says, "I guess you won't be breaking into 'Brown-Eyed Girl' after all."
"It explains the tears of blood," El says. "I did not think you were holy enough to shed them freely, or that you loved Mexico enough to bother." He replaces the shades gently takes a step back--Sands hears the heel of his boot come down on the cement this time. "Are you done with scheming?" he asks.
Never, thinks Sands, although he doesn't know what's left to scheme for, other than his own survival. The fate of Mexico has been taken out of his hands by Barillo, when he destroyed Sands's eyes, and by this man, El, when he destroyed Sands's plans. Sands is a little bitter about that but he's still trying to decide if he cares.
He answers, finally--not sounding as sharp as he might have if he had answered immediately-- "Are you done being dead?"
"I will always mourn my wife and daughter," El says quietly, "but yes. I think I can live again, now."
"Good for you," says Sands. "Glad to hear the general didn't die for nothing."
"And you?" El repeats, insistently.
"What do you care?" Sands asks, turning his head to the side. He is relieved when he doesn't bump into El's hands again. Maybe the man will keep them to himself now.
"I might ask you to come back with me," El says. "My home--my town is a good place to heal. The people are good people. But the president will probably be there, so if--"
Sands doesn't want to hear the rest of the accusation, so he interrupts, "I'm not going anywhere with you, Romeo. Get the fuck out of here."
There is silence, just like when the boy didn't run, so Sands asks, "What, I've got some kind of charisma that makes you people loyal as limpets? Should've had my eyes out years ago."
"It's not loyalty," says El. "It's respect. I am amazed that you are still standing. I am amazed that you still have the arrogance to refuse help."
"Don't write any songs about me," Sands warns.
"I won't," says El, his voice calm, maybe even pitying.
He leaves, then. He is not-quite-humming something, lyrics mumbled. It's an old stand-by, though, one Sands has heard played in hundreds of bars and restaurants throughout Mexico.
Sands is relieved, and only slightly disappointed.
Author's Note: The song El is humming as he leaves is La Malagueña. If Sands knew, he'd probably be pissed as well.