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Fandom: Once Upon a Time In Mexico
Title: In Old Mexico
Rating: Mature
Notes: I was writing an essay and listening to Tom Lehrer. It took me about an hour to finish the essay, an hour to think this up, another hour to write this down, and a final hour to disinfect the fang holes from the plot bunny which triggered it. Which fandom could I put this in,other than "Mexico"?

It had been a strange telephone call brought the four of them to Guadalajara. The blind gringo had been the one to take the call (Lorenzo still didn't know how the blind man managed to get to the telephone before the rest of them) but he'd handed it on to El. El had gone very quiet and very still, then asked one question.


That was what brought them to the mountains. They knew their target - a gringo who was thinking of trying to carve out territory of his own - but they weren't going to kill him. Not yet, anyway. The blind man had a plan, and El had decided to follow it first. Lorenzo hid his scepticism. Fideo didn't bother to hide his laughter.

"Is that him?"

The grizzled man sitting at the table nearest the young mariachi nodded. Lorenzo looked over at El and indicated their target to him, then moved on to the next table, flirting with girls automatically. El got up from where he was lounging against the wall, and walked in the direction of Fideo, ostensibly to dislodge the other man from the bar, where he was keeping the bartender busy.

The mariachis would serenade
And they would not shut up til they were paid

"Oh, honey, it's such a chahmin' little bar. So quaint!"

The woman's voice was cloying, the words almost drowned in her Southern accent. Sands didn't have to see her to be able to give a very clear description of her. Bleached blonde hair, bright red lipstick, huge earrings dangling halfway down her neck, the inevitable push-up bra, and clothes so tight they looked painted on. White trash.

"Oh look! Lookit, sweetie, they got guitar players!"

She'd spotted the others. Sands twitched in his feigned alcoholic slumber. He could play his part later. Today it was the turn of the other three. With any luck, Lorenzo was remaining true to his instincts and combining his taste for flirting with money-grubbing. While Sands hadn't had much of a chance to look at the youngest of the mariachis while he had his eyes, from what he'd heard and observed in the meantime, it seemed that Lorenzo was a rather flashy prettyboy, and the ideal bait to lie across the trail.

The music of the guitars moved around the room.

"Oh honey, real Mexican guitar players. I gotta have them play foh me."

A grunt from the man.

"Please honey?"

Another grunt. Sands could almost see the pout.

"Honnnneeeeeeey! Pleeease?"

Ah, there it was. The whine. Lorenzo's cue to go over and smile at the woman. Flirting. (Lorenzo had told Sands to go teach his grandmother to suck eggs, or the Mexican equivalent thereof, when told this part of the plan). And there was Lorenzo's guitar moving over to the target table. The bass notes of Fideo's guitar moved around behind the man. With any luck, Fideo had consumed enough tequila... yup, Sands could smell him from here. El's guitar moved in to complete the trio. They completed their song...

"Is there a song you would hear, kind senorita?" Lorenzo's voice. Sands was impressed. The kid could definitely pull off seduction. His voice wasn't quite the same calibre as El's deep-caramel tones, but seductive nonetheless. Certainly the woman was affected.

"Ohhhh... oh, I doan' know." A giggle. She was probably blushing. Sands wished he still had eyes, so he could roll them. "Sweetie, whaddo you think?"

There was a cough from the man. Ah, Fideo was in the right spot. By now, he should be starting to choke on the tequila fumes, the scent of cigarillos, and the very garlicky food the older of the mariachis had been consuming for the last few days. "I don't care."

Rustle of her moving - turning back, probably. A giggle. Probably a simper too. At least Lorenzo had a strong stomach. "Ah really doan' know, sugah. Yew choose."

"Ah, for such a lady, only a song of especial beauty." Lorenzo at his smooth best. The three of them started playing some of the more hackneyed love songs in their repetoire, with Lorenzo singing.

It took only three tunes before the sound of cash being exchanged was heard. Large amounts of notes.

The woman didn't stop whining at her escort for a good twenty or thirty minutes afterwards.

The next part of the plan was easy. After a furious row with his lady friend, the target had stalked out of their shared hotel room. This was the part of one of Carolina's old friends. She was to lure the target over to one of the local brothels. A specially chosen brothel, with a special arrangement made with the madam.

Let's hope their visiting "friend" enjoyed the case of the clap the madam had arranged for him.

We ate, we drank and we were merry
And we got typhoid and dysentery

By day six of their shared holiday, both the target and his lady friend were feeling thoroughly miserable. The "food poisoning" had been hard to arrange, although Ramirez had helped out there. Certainly an extra waiter wasn't noticed, and sneaking the combination of emetic and laxative herbs into each meal was the work of a moment. With any luck, the man would get fed up and shoot the cook.

Sands pulled a face as he toyed with the puerco pilbil. If the target didn't, he might instead.

By now their target was starting to get twitchy. His relaxing holiday wasn't going as planned, his girlfriend was sneaking off to flirt with that pretty boy guitar player, he was starting to get an itch in his pants, and he spent days with either the trots or the shits. He'd started hiring goons to start getting his business underway, and he was now surrounded by a phalanx of bodyguards. But, as Sands had predicted, the notion of doing the Hemmingway "real man" thing and going to the bullfight was irresistable.

He noticed the blind man walk in, escorted by a kid of about ten. The kid led the man down to a seat near the front row, close to the stranger. Something about the blind man caught his attention - this guy didn't look Mexican.

"Hey," he said, turning around in his seat.

There was a moment of hesitation. Blind eyes hidden behind dark glasses turned this way and that, then appeared to locate him. "Yes?" The voice was slightly cultured. Northern.

"You're not local."

A smile cracks across the thin face. Straight black hair, chin length, swung from side to side as the man shook his head. "No. Neither are you, by the sound of things."

"Nah. Tourist."

"Same here. Down to see the sights." The incongruity of the statement was shocking, causing him to laugh.

"Must be difficult," he said, trying to make conversation.

"Phone numbers are a bit hard to make out. So are menus." A quiet smile, almost sweet. Harmless.

"I'm Earl."

"Sheldon." The blind man held out a hand. Earl reached out his and shook it. Further conversation was suspended as the trumpets sounded, and the bullfight began.

Sheldon proved to be knowledgeable about bullfighting, describing the sequence of events, and the significance of each phase of the proceedings.

"The bull doesn't have a chance, you understand. By the time the matador gets in there, the bull has been stabbed, exhausted. But the bull still won't back down. It can't. It's not really a sport. That's what the picadors and banderilleros are for - to wear the bull down, make it an easier kill for the matador."

"What happens if it's too easy?" Earl was intrigued.

"The crowd get disappointed. It's all showbiz, Earl. All showbiz. This is a bit more honest about giving the punters what they want." Sheldon's smile was cynical. "One man facing half a ton of angry pot roast. Blood on the sand. They don't care whose blood, either. I've seen a crowd cheer a bull as it gored a matador."

Earl nodded. It might be all showbiz, as Sheldon suggested, but there was something real about this spectacle. Something realer, more gutsy than most of the stuff he saw on television. He lost himself in it, found himself roaring along with the crowd.

At the end of the afternoon, Sheldon shook his hand again, and waited for his young helper to guide him out of the stands around the bullring.

In that moment of truth, I suddenly knew
That someone had stolen my wallet!

Earl didn't see Sands pay off the youngster who'd escorted him. Earl also didn't see the stranger pay off his bodyguards, taking the money from an old lunchbox. Tch, tch, tch, Earl. Never trust anyone when you can't see their hands. Sands carefully put his false arm back into the bag.

Stalking back to his hotel, alone, unescorted, and furious with whichever Spic pickpocket had cleaned him out (even his rings were gone, and he'd been sure he'd notice something like that), Earl wasn't expecting to run into the tall man. Tall. Dark. Aristocratic face, sharp planes. Guitar case by his side. Something about this man made him stop.

"What do you want?" Earl's demand was nervous.

"Senor. Welcome to Mexico." The voice of the other man was quiet, but powerful. "We have a proposition to make you."

"We?" Earl's nervousness increased. Suddenly he became aware of every shadow. His hand moved toward the gun he had hidden in the small of his back.

"My associates and I." The man stepped forward out of the shadows which seemed to embrace him. Earl noticed he was wearing a pair of those black pants the guitar players wore, with the silver buckles, and a frogged jacket. "We would like for you to go home. Safely."

Earl looked around. He couldn't see anyone. "That sounds like a threat," he said, drawing out the gun. Before he'd got it around his body, his wrist was intercepted by something hard.

"Ah, ah, ah. No shooting." The voice sounded familiar. In his haze of bewilderment, it took Earl a moment to match it to the dark shadow which stood behind him and slightly to one side.

"Sheldon?" His incredulity turned to a gasp of pain as the cane connected with his hip.

"I don't like the name," the shadowy figure hissed. "I certainly didn't give you permission to use it."

"Why you! -" Earl hurled himself toward the blind man, who dodged out of the way with almost preternatural agility. The cane inserted itself between his ankles, tripping him; a boot connected with his knee. Earl found himself sprawled on the ground, looking up at his attacker.

"You ain't blind," he snarled.

The slight, dark figure froze for an instant. Out of the corner of his eye, Earl could see the tall man tense, and almost wondered why. Then the blind man (and oh god, oh god, he was blind) lifted his sunglasses.

"Look me in the eyes and tell me that, fuckmook." That same cultured voice, calm and cold. Earl couldn't say anything. The glasses were lowered again, a barrier between those ruined sockets filled with scarred tissue, and the rest of the world. "Now, my associate El, here, has something to offer you. You might want to consider it."

Earl slowly turned his head. The tall man was standing there. Relaxed. Impassive. From out of nowhere in the alley, another two men appeared. One was the guitar player his girlfriend was so infatuated with. The other was the drunk he kept tripping over in the street; the one who kept showing up with the pretty boy. He didn't look drunk now.

All three of the guitar players were standing slightly differently - a sort of tense wariness. Fight or flight, but from the look of it, the second wasn't a realistic option. The tall man looked down at him.

"We offer you a choice. You can leave, and leave Mexico alone."


"Or you can't." The tall man's voice was calm, but inflexible.

Earl looked into the eyes of the tall man. There was pain there, hurt and sorrow. There was also purpose. The bull faced the matador.

The bull backed down.

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