(Written between 2005-2010, completed and revised January 2010)

Fandom/Pairing: Agent Sheldon Jeffrey Sands (Once Upon a Time in Mexico)/Elektra Natchios (Marvel comics)

Rating: R/MA/18+

Timing: Five months after the events in OUuaTiM, after Elektra's Marvel Knights run (#10-22), after Daredevil Vol. 2 #37 and before #76. And before all the Skrull-kidnap stuff.

Disclaimer: Characters are property of Robert Rodriguez and Stan Lee/Marvel; I own nothing.


"LAX, Gate 47." Elektra slid gracefully into the backseat of the cab, and the driver screeched away from the curb before she had closed the door fully. She saw him glance uneasily at her in the rear view mirror, and she couldn't blame him: she looked mildly ominous, dressed all in black in 70-degree California weather, with sunglasses and skintight gloves to match. She had spent the entire morning cleaning every surface of her apartment that she had touched; she wasn't about to slip up now and leave fingerprints all over the cab. She only had one suitcase with her; she never needed much: a few outfits, all equally as black as what she was wearing now (except for one, of course), a couple of wigs and some makeup, some food (to use the term loosely), the cash Hansen had given her the night before, a small bottle of Drano—very handy for pouring down drains after washing blood off oneself—and a small arsenal, mostly blades. She would buy everything else she needed once she got there, as always. She had left her apartment bare, having thrown her toothbrush, towels and sheets in a Dumpster twenty blocks away from her place earlier that morning.

She ran over her list in her mind, the list of points she always reviewed on the way to a new job. There were a handful of questions she normally asked a client upon first meeting; she cursed herself irritably for letting herself be distracted from them the night before because of Hansen's endless chatter. His words came back to her, for the hundredth time that morning—therefore, you will have an escort—and her jaw clenched in anger. She couldn't think about it too much, or else she'd be too mad to go through with the job. She placed a hand on her bag, feeling the stacks of crisp bills under the fabric, and tried to remind herself, yet again, of the very large amount of money she would be receiving. And that was what it was all about, wasn't it?

She continued to stare moodily out the window, not even noticing when the cab slowed to a stop. "Yo, lady," the cabbie said, somewhat annoyed, and she was jerked back to the present. She unzipped her bag, careful not to display the contents, and slid two twenty-dollar bills out from under the paper band wrapped around one of the crisp stacks. Without bothering to look at the meter, she dropped them over the front seat and opened the door. Out of the corner of her eye she saw the driver beam, and hastily scoop up the money, presumably not wanting to give her a chance to realize, and called cheerily, "You have a great day, lady!" at her back. She just shook her head, slamming the door. She entered the airport and headed straight for the service hallway on the far end of the lobby area, skipping bag check, as always. Checking a bag full of disguises and weapons tended to raise a few eyebrows, as did going through security with a six-inch knife in an ankle strap. It was easier to just skip the entire thing, and this time it was even easier to do, as she already had her boarding pass. She had mapped out the best route into the main concourse at this particular airport long ago; its size and bustle always made it easier for her to move around unnoticed. She moved across the room, keeping her head down, and slipped through the door, moving swiftly down the hall, past harassed-looking workers. In her plain clothes, she looked like just another long-suffering airport employee. No one gave her a second look. That was always how it was—she was the invisible woman, until she chose to be otherwise.

Within ten minutes she was pushing open the door to the main terminal, strolling out into the crowd as though she was any other passenger. She thought she probably could have strapped her sai into her shoulder holsters and strolled around without a problem. She walked over to a newsstand and bought the thickest magazine there, the spring Allure. She sat down in one of the hard plastic seats and flipped idly through it until she heard her plane announced.

She walked calmly up to the desk, and slid her boarding pass across to the placidly smiling agent, who glanced at it and said, "Have a great flight, Miss Munroe." She started to hand the pass back, then looked at it again and said "Jill Munroe? Hey, isn't that from a TV show?"

Elektra's mechanical smile didn't falter as she said, "Might be." She waited until she had boarded the plane and found her seat before furiously scanning the boarding pass, which she hadn't thought to check before. "Very clever," she muttered under her breath. Hansen's idea of a witty joke, obviously—if a client provided transportation, it was, of course, their idea to think of an alias. Perhaps from now on she'd do it herself.

She massaged her bruised knuckles absently, smirking as she remembered the way Hansen had stumbled backwards, arms flailing comically, when she'd decked him the night before. He'd recovered himself quickly, though, gave her an approving smile as though she'd just performed some skilled geisha's trick, and murmured, "Feisty. I like that." She supposed it was bad form to punch a client in the face, but that crack about Matt had been too much. First of all, it was disturbing that he even knew about that part of her life—she preferred clients to know absolutely nothing; he would have had to do a fair amount of research to find out about that. The mere thought of Matt, let alone the mention of him, made her want to smash things, anyway, although she'd sooner swallow one of her sai than admit to anyone how often she thought of him these days. She didn't know why, and didn't particularly want to, but she couldn't seem to let go of him.

She had sources in New York; she knew far more about him than she probably should. She knew about all the women that had followed her—Karen, Heather, Natasha, Glorianna, Mary....now this new one, Milla, or whatever her name was. Always need to save someone, don't you. She was still angry with herself about the last time she'd seen him; she'd been on a job, but had dropped everything as soon as she'd gotten the call that Matt wanted to see her. It had been a ridiculous thing to do, trusting a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent like that; it could so easily have been a trap—but she believed he needed her, and off she went. She couldn't help but remember the conversation they'd had, the way he'd opened up to her...and she'd fled, after all that, after all the trouble it took to get there, just because he did need her, and she couldn't face it. And after all this time. She looked down and realized she was gripping the armrests unnecessarily hard, her knuckles white.

The plane taxied and soared into the sky, and a few minutes later the in-flight movie began. As always, it was something stupid, this time something about a mobster and lesbian, and Elektra took out her magazine, glad she had thought of it this time. She'd once been on a nine-hour flight with only Weekend at Bernie's—the first and second ones—to entertain her, and it had been torturous. She flipped through a dozen pages before she remembered something, and her curiosity got the better of her. She closed the magazine and reached back into her bag, pulling out the manila folder she'd taken from Hansen the night before, Sands' file. She opened it and found herself looking down at his photo again. She looked at it for a long moment—he was sort of good-looking, she supposed, in a sarcastic sort of way. His face held an odd combination of intelligence and shadiness that suggested he was good at what he did, but he certainly wasn't to be trusted to do it the way you wanted him to. She half-smiled to herself; that, she understood.

She flipped past the photo and some preliminary information and found what she was looking for – the records regarding Mexico, his last assignment. "Received information of potential code 481-516," (she certainly knew what that meant—assassination of a political official. She'd seen it often enough, having been the executer of said code many times) "agent sent to investigate and apprehend/annihilate AIP." (All Involved Perpetrators.) "Agency requested that agent remain on location for long-term investigation." Elektra chuckled softly—in other words, the bureau didn't want him around, and sent him as far away as they could without arousing suspicion. They wanted to get rid of him—well, if that psych profile she'd glanced at (page one of six) was at all accurate, she couldn't blame them.

She skimmed over the rest of the page. "Agent failed to contact HQ at 0600...0700...0800...Potential involvement from OHF, reinforcements sent." Outside Hostile Forces – as if Barillo needs any help, Elektra thought ruefully, rubbing her shoulder with her free hand. Judging from the rest of the page, it looked as though Hansen had been telling the truth—bodies of known criminals and henchmen of Barillo's had been found near where Sands was, apparently shot with an agency-issue firearm. "Subjects appear to have been eliminated by agent post-procedure," the paper continued blandly, which Elektra translated to mean he really had gone out shooting blind. That was, she admitted to herself, fairly impressive: revenge at all costs. Respectable.

Down at the bottom of the page was something Hansen had neglected to mention in his retelling of the story, though: another agent had been killed. Under "Casualties – Agency-Related" it read, simply, "Agent Eva Ajedrez." Under "COD"—"single GSW to abdomen." She flipped the page over; there should have been a section with notes under it, but there was nothing. In fact, there was no page at all. Elektra frowned. That was definitely odd. Usually when a government agent was killed, there was a great deal more information surrounding it. Something was off there. She supposed it didn't matter, though—just another agent she didn't have to worry about.

She closed the file, not expecting to find anything regarding her job and his assistance; Hansen certainly wasn't stupid enough to write it down. She was always careful about avoiding a paper trail, and most clients were at least smart enough to understand that. She had a bank account in Switzerland where clients were to send the other half of her fee, but that was unavoidable; she refused to allow anything to be traced back to her in any other way. For the most part she dealt in cash, which she carried around with her, taking great care to never touch it with her bare hands. She was meticulous to the last degree, and it had always served her well.

She spent the rest of the flight staring out the window moodily and stewing over the fact that she'd let herself be seduced into the job. An escort. She'd never heard anything more offensive in her life. This was kid's stuff. She was quite sure she could get into any buildings she needed to, retinal scan or no retinal scan. She'd worked three separate jobs at the goddamn Taj Mahal and hadn't even awakened the guards outside the marks' rooms. "We need the best," he'd simpered at her. Then why was she being treated like a reject from the Montessori Pre-school for Contract Killers? It was just so...so...disrespectful. She very seriously considered just taking the half she had, staying at the airport and avoiding Hansen, and catching another plane out of there and forgetting about the job. That would show him. But she had never bailed out of a job after taking it, not once, and she knew she couldn't now. She had a reputation to protect. The thought made her exceeding bad-tempered. She fumed across 3,000 miles of land and was surprised when the "fasten seatbelt" sign dinged back on and the plane slowly descended into Washington, D.C. She adjusted her watch—it was just about eight in the evening. Time had a funny habit of slipping away from her like that. She realized, though, that Hansen must want to get this done pretty damn fast; he would have had to get on a plane directly after their meeting and take a red-eye to get back to D.C., and then turn around and pick her up. That was good—if he wanted to get it over with, he was more likely to not annoy the hell out of her anymore.

The plane landed, and she gathered up her bag and got off. She strolled into the terminal, looking around for Hansen and his buddies. They weren't hard to find – she spotted them twenty yards away; they looked oddly formal in their dark suits, standing out amongst the T-shirt-clad tourists. As she approached, she realized there was a fourth man with them; a few more steps and she realized it was Sands.

She doubted there could have been more than an inch in difference between their heights. He was dressed in a T-shirt and a dress jacket, completing the bizarre juxtaposition between Hansen and the rest of the room. Dark glasses covered his face, and a ski cap was pulled down over his forehead. He held a tattered shopping bag in one hand. Overall, the effect was odd -- it was as if he was doing a very poor job off going incognito.

Elektra came up to the men and stopped. Hansen smirked at her. "Ms. Munroe?" he greeted her, as if he didn't know her. She gave him a dangerously sarcastic smile in response. She was surprised he didn't have one of those signs. "Ms. Natchios, Agent Sands," he continued, by way of introduction. "Agent Sands, Ms. Natchios."

Neither of them extended a hand or said anything. They simply stood there, sizing each other up, more or less. She could faintly smell smoke on him. Great. His hand drifted lazily to his mouth, and she saw skull rings here and there on his fingers. And—was he laughing? She looked sharply at him—yes, he was definitely biting his lip, shaking his head slightly. Elektra narrowed his eyes at him. If she had hoped he'd be any less of an asshole than Hansen, it looked as though she was quite wrong. "Terribly nice to meet you," she said nastily. "Always nice to have a sidekick."

"Likewise."

She smells like roses. Jesus. We've hired her to kill a man in cold blood, and she smells like roses. He couldn't help but laugh. What a woman.