Once Upon A Time In Mexico Fan Fiction
By Scarlett Burns
Rated T (some adult language)

Summary: Post-movie. Sands attempts to rid himself of his ghost, but will he be successful or just succeed in digging up more? One-Shot vignette.

Author's Note: This short vignette is a companion to my other OUATIM fic, Sands Through The Hourglass. However, this works as a stand-alone as well.

Hand clutching the handle, he hesitated. It was ridiculous, to hesitate now that he was here - yet he paused despite himself. An uneasy knot had formed in the pit of his stomach on the ride over. He chose to blame it on the taxi driver's jolting stops and sudden turns, made worse by the fact that he couldn't anticipate them.

"Wait for me," he said to the driver, before popping the handle and swinging the door open. Stepping out of the taxi, he coughed lightly as the chilly November air filled his lungs. He stood there for a long moment; the sounds of the big city momentarily overwhelming.

He hadn't been to New York in a very long time. Too long… and yet, oddly, it hadn't been long enough. The city reminded him of when things had been good, and as much as he tried to forget it, he couldn't deny that, for a short time, he'd been happy here.

Slamming the door shut, Sands listened to the bustle around him to get his bearings. He buttoned his coat, extended his cane with a snap, and made his way towards the sound of the theatre doors opening and closing.

He hadn't been completely prepared for the din of the city; car honks, the hustle and bustle of footsteps going in every direction, driver's shouting, people chattering…

But none of the sounds were loud enough, because it didn't quite drown out the tap, tap, tap of the cane in front of him. He didn't think he'd ever be completely used to it.

'I must be out of my mind,' Sands thought. This was the last place on earth he should be.

Entering the theatre, a shiver ran down his spine, and he told himself that it was a chill from the cold wind outside.

Unfortunately, he knew better than to believe his own bullshit, even if everyone else did.

Once inside the lobby, he stepped aside, away from the flow of people entering through the long line of doors that made up the entrance of the Majestic.

'I shouldn't be here,' he thought, reaching into his coat pocket. He pulled out a thick manila envelope, turning it over in his hands as he tried to recall exactly where the ticket counter was.

He'd been standing there for about a minute when he heard someone approach.

"Hello, Sir. May I be of assistance?" an elderly man asked, and Sands assumed that it was one of the theatre attendants, noticing his hesitance.

If there was anything to be said for being blind, it was that you got much better service; he just hated the reason behind it.

Sands face was hard as he turned towards the man, and hardly welcoming. He was feeling more anxious with each passing minute, and wanted nothing more than to get the hell out of this place. There were too many memories here; recollections of a time long gone. Some good, some bad, but they all included a woman that he was trying so hard to forget.

Fuck. Why was he here? He didn't care about people; he simply wasn't capable of it. This wasn't like him at all.

"Would you like to buy a ticket?" the attendant asked in the face of Sands' silence.

Sands shook his head, showing the man the envelope in his hand. "I was hoping to get this to a woman who works here."

The man said nothing at first, clearly wary of a strange blind man delivering a thick envelope to a worker.

Sands sighed, unbuttoning his coat and grabbing his CIA identification from the inside pocket. He flipped it open, showing it to the man. "Are we groovy?" he asked in a bored tone, before tucking it back into his coat. "I just want to drop this off. That is, if she still works here."

"Her name, Officer?"

"Linda Garrett. She worked in the costume department," Sands said, stepping back as a man walked between them muttering a hurried "pardon me."

"I'll check for you."

Sands nodded, holding out the envelope.

"I'll be back in a minute," the attendant said, taking it.

Sands smirked. "I'll be sure to time you," he called after him.

He moved to his right, stopping when his cane touched the wall. He leaned against it as the sound of a couple's laughter reached his ears, reminding him of a cold winter day not unlike this one.

His tongue ran slowly up her neck, finding its way to her earlobe. He sucked at it gently, letting his warm breath tickle her ear.

She shuddered involuntarily. "Sheldon, you have no shame," she said breathlessly, gently pulling herself away. "You're not getting out of this that easily," she chuckled, a knowing twinkle in her blue eyes.

"Hmmm…" Shifting his gaze, he took a deep breath, eyeing the long line ahead of him in annoyance.

She bumped him lightly with her elbow. "Now, don't start your griping. You'll like this, I promise."

He slipped an arm around her waist. "If you as much as whisper that Sheldon Sands went to see the Phantom of the Opera, I'll have to kill you."

She laughed, kissing him lightly on the cheek. "I've got to go. Can I trust that you won't skip out on me?"

Sands adopted a pained look, waving her away. "Fine, fine… hit the road. I don't know what those actors will do if you're not there to cover all their blemishes and wrinkles for them."

"Oh, I can do more than that."

Sands clutched his cane tighter, trying to will away the ghosts. That's all Cecelia was to him now; nothing but another ghost from his past. He was beginning to accumulate a lot of those.

He'd like to say he was here for Cecelia… but it wasn't true. He was here for himself. He simply wanted her to go away and let him be. He wanted to forget.

Wasn't his life fucked up enough as it was? Did he really need to hear her phantom voice whisper teasingly in his ear when he was lying in bed at night? Or see her eyes stare accusingly at him in his dreams?

He had to put an end to it, because it was starting to feel an awful lot like guilt.

Sands tapped his cane impatiently, itching for a smoke. He wondered what was playing here now, and hoped to God it wasn't the Phantom of the Opera.

He caught the tail end of some asshole telling a blind joke; something about having to be an idiot to come and see a play when you couldn't see it. Sands kept his face neutral, pretending that he hadn't heard the remark.

As the man walked past him, Sands stuck out his cane. Not expecting the retaliation, the guy tripped over it and fell, cursing as he hit the ground.

Sands cocked his head, a twisted smirk playing across his lips. "What kind of idiot trips over something in plain sight?"

Like most bullies, the guy didn't put up a fight, spitting out another curse as he walked away. Sands found that he was actually disappointed. He would have loved to teach the guy a lesson he'd never forget.

"All right…"

Hearing the attendant's voice, Sands turned around and tilted his head in a silent question.

"She still works here. I gave her the envelope, but she's busy getting the actors dressed for the next performance…"

"That's fine," Sands cut in. He'd been counting on that, having timed his arrival so that it would be a couple hours before the matinee show.

"The matinee isn't sold out. Would you like to buy a ticket?" the attendant asked, and Sands shook his head.

"No, no," Sands said with a dismissive wave of his hand, stepping past the man.

"Phantom of the Opera is worth experiencing at least once,' the attendant called after him.

Sands stopped dead in his tracks, his breath caught in his chest. 'Goddamn it. Out of all the plays, why did it have to be that one?'

Turning back around to face the man, Sands smiled tightly. "I saw it here twelve years ago." He let the unspoken question hang in the air for a moment before turning and walking out the door.

Why experience only half the production, when you've already experienced the whole thing?

Stepping back into the cold, he picked his way through the crowd, finding an isolated spot unpopulated by the gathering of excited theatre goers. Sighing, he grabbed his pack of cigarettes, pulling one out as a frosty wind blew strands of hair across his face.

His taxi was still waiting, and he knew he was making the driver a very happy man, running up the meter to some ungodly amount. He didn't give a shit. He pushed the stray strands of hair away from his face, and then lit up, taking a deep drag.

This was the last place on earth he should be.

When the memories had begun again, forcing their way back into his present thoughts, it had been unexpected. He supposed it was the result of hearing Cecelia's voice after such a long time, and he ached to rid himself of the cloud that had seemed to be hovering over his every move since.

If he hadn't already been in New York, he wouldn't be here now. He wondered how big a mistake this was. Would this help rid him of her ghost? Would this appease the last vestiges of his conscience?

He doubted it.

After all, he was taking the easy way out, wasn't he?

He still hadn't gone to visit Cecelia, and he was beginning to wonder if it was because he didn't care, or if it was because he did.

He held the smoke in his lungs, before slowly exhaling it skyward. He wondered if Linda blamed him for what happened to Cecelia. Linda had been one of the only in-laws he'd actually gotten along with – well, as well as he could get along with anyone, at any rate. But had her opinion of him turned too? Would she be happy to hear from him, or did she – like all the others – see him as the sole reason for Cecelia's mental collapse?

Lord knew that if she blamed him, she wouldn't be entirely wrong.

But she wouldn't be entirely right, either.

Tossing the dead cigarette to the ground, he began to make his way back to the taxi, stepping into the throng. There were so many people here; it was hard to believe that the matinee wasn't sold out. He was about halfway to the taxi when he heard Linda's voice, shouting his name over the hubbub of the crowd.

'Shit.' Could nothing go his way? Didn't she have to work? He hurried his pace, hoping she'd be caught in the crowd.

It might have worked, had he not run into someone in his haste, causing him to drop his cane.

"Hey, watch it!" a woman yelped, stumbling to catch herself. He listened to his cane roll out of his reach, realizing in hindsight that the wrist strap was there for a reason.

"Fuck it," Sands muttered, hearing Linda's voice closing in on him as she called to him to wait. He straightened up, fixing his sunglasses, before turning towards her voice.

"Sands! Don't you dare leave without an explanation," she half-shouted, about ten feet away. He waited for her, his face betraying nothing, as she came to stand in front of him.

She exhaled heavily, out of breath from her mad dash to catch up with him. "What is this?" she demanded, and Sands heard the flutter of paper in front of his face. His hand caught her wrist, and he smirked as he tsk-tsked at her. "Is that any way for you to say hello to the brother-in-law you haven't seen in five years?"

She yanked her hand from his grasp. "This from the man who was going to throw away every reminder of my sister that he had left with no more than a sentence scrawled on a piece of paper? How dare you!"

Sands frowned slightly, but said nothing in his defense. He'd had no intention of running into her, and no intention of baring his soul now. None of this mattered. It was all in the past, and the past was dead and buried. At least, that's where he wanted it to be.

When he said nothing, she took a step back. "I gave you the benefit of the doubt. I was the only one who did. But I guess I made a mistake after all."

His eyebrows crept up in mild surprise; so she hadn't immediately blamed him.

Linda shoved what he assumed was his envelope against his chest, and he grabbed it out of reflex.

"You want to get rid of these photos so bad, Officer?" she spat. "Then throw them in the garbage. At least then, I'll see what a bastard you are with my own two eyes."

Sands held the envelope in his hand for a moment, and then pocketed the photos of himself and his wife with a bitter laugh. "And here I was, thinking you were logical, Lin.Me ineptum. I guess I made a mistake, too."

He could feel someone hovering behind him, and had the feeling they were waiting to give him back his cane. He turned away from Linda, and faced whoever it was.

"Oh… sorry, but I think you dropped this," a woman said, and he recognized her voice as the same one he'd run into.

Sands heaved a tired sigh, quickly snatching the cane from her hand. He mouthed a snide 'thank you' as he returned his attention to Linda. He didn't attempt to hide the cane; seeing no point in it. "You have your mind made up… and you're right. Don't ever forget that."

She didn't reply, and he suspected that she was standing there with her mouth open, staring at him in surprise. Without another word, he started back to his waiting taxi, cane guiding the way. He'd made it to the door when Linda caught his arm, squeezing tightly.

Opening the taxi door, he didn't pull away from her… but he didn't turn to face her, either.

She took a deep breath, squeezing his arm again. "I'm… I'm sorry."

Sands turned, handing her back the envelope before sitting down in the cab. "Take them. They might as well be seen by someone." He allowed himself a small smile. "At least one other person will know that it wasn't all bad. Remind her of that, sometime." Shutting the door without another word, he told the man to drive.

"Where to?" the driver had asked.

At the moment, all he could manage to say was, "Away from here." He turned toward the window as the car rolled forward and whispered, "Broadway's dark, today."

Latin Translations

Me ineptum. – Silly Me.

Author's Notes

Special thanks to Stella-Maria and Shell for the helpful con-crit!