Fandom: Once Upon A Time In Mexico
Title: Sands Through The Hourglass
Rating: R for language and violence
Disclaimer: I don't own it. Never will own it. Just playing.
Feedback: Always appreciated.
Summary: Sands is back in CIA hands and his future is uncertain. A setup within the CIA puts Sands to the test, and he's forced to lay it all out on the line to gain proof about the betrayal.
Chapter 37 – Revelations
Sands stepped into his room, forcing himself to appear more confident about the current situation than he actually felt. Closing the door behind him, he removed his jacket and tossed it to his left, not caring if it landed in a crumpled heap on the floor.
No matter how many times he told himself that he could best Martin any day of the week, that he could win, the doubt in the back of his brain always presented itself, rattling his already shaky state of mind.
Maybe that was why, at this very moment, he was standing in the middle of his hotel room as if he couldn’t decide which way to go.
Sighing, Sands took his cell phone out of his pocket, intending to call Tom. With the number already set in his speed dial, he hit the call button and waited. Pacing the room as it rang, he breathed a sigh of relief when it was finally picked up.
"Tom, clear your dance card," Sands stated. He hadn’t even given Tom a chance to say hello.
"What odd requests can I fulfill for you this time?" Tom asked wryly. "What do you need? A butler? A Pontiac Firebird? Or do you need a weapon? Perhaps a sniper rifle? Ion Cannon? Hornet Missile Launcher?"
Sands smirked. "As tempting as the missile launcher sounds, it’s not what I had in mind. Maybe later."
"So what can I do you for?"
There was a long pause. Sands could only hear the crackle of the line and Tom’s breathing on the other end.
"That’s the oddest request you’ve made yet," Tom said at last. "You know my time is money, a lot of money, so you’re aware it’ll cost you? I’ll have to clear a couple other projects."
"So bill me," Sands replied dryly. "Sit tight and see if you can hear this."
Sands pressed a button on the side of his cell, turned up the volume on his end, and set the cell down on the bed. Walking to the center of the room, he spoke in his typical drawl.
"I do not like green eggs and ham. I do not like them, Sam, I am." He took another step back. "I do not like them on a boat. I would not, could not, with a goat." He took two more steps back. "I do not like green eggs and ham."
When Sands picked the cell back up, he was greeted by the sound of Tom laughing like a hyena at Sands’ rendition.
"I take it you could hear that?" Sands asked, slightly amused despite his situation.
"You are one weird asshole," Tom said, still chuckling. "Could hear you fine. It got a bit faint when you recited the last line, but I could still make it out."
"Groovy. I need you to set yourself up so that you can record this line, and I need you to do it in a hurry."
"I suppose that’s possible if you give me, say, twenty minutes."
"Done. I’m going to call you when a certain slime-ball arrives. I want you to record the conversation. Once it’s all over I want you to make four duplicates. Send the first copy to the Company’s Director of Operations. Send the second copy to the FBI’s CODIS unit, care of Sheldon Sands, Sr. The third copy I want you to send to my P.O. box in Florida. You know the address. The last copy I want you to hold on to."
"You’re sending a copy to your father? The guy you never speak to? What’s going on?"
"You’ll find out soon enough. Any questions?"
"Yeah. What is going on?" Tom repeated himself, never one to be easily fobbed off. "You know, I recently heard a rumor about you."
Sands tipped his head back and rubbed the bridge of his nose. "Is this important? Because I’m a little short on free time and the grapevine is the least of my worries today."
"It’s goddamn important if it’s true. You’re sucking me into this without telling me a goddamn thing. So, I’ll ask two questions... since you’re in such a hurry. You don’t answer them; I don’t do this next job for you. First question: Have you gone rogue? Second question: Why did you need me to send a driver?"
‘Shit. Shit. Shit.’ Sands sat down heavily, the bed creaking under his weight. The last thing he wanted to do right now was get into all this with Tom. "Why does it matter?"
"Because it does," Tom stated. "I’ve worked with you for six years, and I want to know if what I heard is true."
"Fine. The answers are yes, and because I can’t drive," Sands said flatly.
"Why can’t you drive?" Tom pressed.
"Fuck you. You already know why. I’m not going to say it."
"What happened? Your flamboyance finally catch the wrong person’s attention?"
"Are you going to do it or not?" Sands asked, not having the time or energy to talk about the subject further.
The lack of immediate response from the other end was not a good sign, so he was surprised when, after twenty seconds of stony silence, Tom answered. "Yeah. I’ll do it."
Sands fell back against the bed, rubbing one of his pounding temples with his free hand. "Good to know that you still have a spine," he drawled.
"That has nothing to do with it and you know it. But I’m not sticking my neck out for your cocky ass, you understand? You get caught and I’ve never heard of you or this ‘operation’ of yours."
"How touching. I wouldn’t expect anything else from you. I have to jet. Get ready." Sands hung up and stuck the cell back in his pocket.
Getting off the bed, he pulled the sheets back. Having temporarily stashed Jackson’s body in the bathroom, Sands went to retrieve it. Walking into the bathroom, he grabbed Jackson by the ankles and dragged him to the bed.
"You’ve never been anything but dead weight," Sands grumbled, as he lifted Jackson onto the bed and turned him so that he was facing away from the door.
Sands wiped the sweat off his brow with his sleeve. All the stress, both mental and physical, was taking its toll on his strength, and the new wound did nothing to help the situation, even if it was mostly superficial.
He picked up the bloody pillow from the floor and shoved it under the bed, hoping it was out of sight. After pulling the sheets over Jackson, he took a step back. He figured that in the dark, Jackson’s body might fool Martin from the entryway, at least long enough to give him an edge.
Lighting a cigarette, Sands took a long draw before grabbing a gun and a clip out of his bag. Loading the clip into the gun, he tucked the weapon into his pants. Searching the floor for a minute, he found the jacket he’d tossed and slipped it back on, hiding the gun from view.
After making sure all the light switches were switched off, he dug around in his suitcase. Finding his small travel-size cologne, he went over to the foot of the bed. Spraying a large dose of the cologne, he tucked the bottle in the front pocket of his jacket and made his way over to the nightstand.
Locating the bedside lamp, he ran his hand along the bottom of it until he found the power cord. He followed the power cord down to the wall and, not finding a plug and outlet, but a cord that went straight into the wall, he took out his pocketknife, made a kink in the cord and cut it quickly.
After doing the same with the lamp on the opposite side of the bed, he moved on to the light switch by the door.
Taking out his wallet, he sifted through his spare change until he found a dime. Sticking the edge of the dime into the flat screw head, he proceeded to unscrew the cover from the wall. The dime’s edge was hardly ideal, and made the task a bit slower than normal, but he got the job done nonetheless.
Carefully feeling around for a moment, he found the power wires and yanked them out from the switch. Wary of being shocked, he bent the hot wires up so that the ends weren’t touching anything.
He planned on making Martin talk, getting Martin to brag about how clever he was, and how involved he was in the whole unraveling of his operation. Sands didn’t think that this part of his plan would prove to be a problem.
However, his whole scheme would go to hell in a hand-basket if Martin himself didn’t come. Unfortunately, all he could do was hope that just this once things would go his way.
He had several weak points in his plan that he had to compensate for. Because the things he’d ordered had been intercepted by one of Martin’s men, he only had one crude method of getting Martin’s confession recorded. His cell phone, and Tom.
Not only was using his cell to transmit unreliable, it relied on Tom actually doing what he asked, and the recording actually being understandable. He hated having to rely on anyone else to do something so important.
As if that wasn’t enough, he’d given his only extra cell to El, so if Martin discovered the one he was using before or during the recording process, he’d be shit out of luck.
El and Ava would help him provide documented proof against Martin to the Company. However, documents could be forged. A taped recording of Martin confessing his dirty deeds would be hard to ignore. All the evidence together would seal Martin’s fate.
He needed this extra proof, because even if he managed to prove his case to the Company on paper, there was always the possibility of Martin pinning the whole thing on someone else.
Then he had to make sure that Martin didn’t see him dial out, or spot the cell lying open. Since he had to place it in a spot close to where they talked, he figured killing the lights would be the best course of action. Plus, the darkness would give him an added edge, since he was more used to it than Martin.
Making sure the deadbolt on the door was not in place, Sands took the tracker he’d taken off Jackson’s car, reinserted the battery and flipped it on. Not hearing the telltale beep, he took out the battery and put it in the other way round. Hearing the beep, he placed it by Jackson, under the sheets.
‘Can’t make it any easier for you, Martin, so come and get me,’ he thought to himself as he walked into the bathroom and sat behind the partially closed door. The only thing left to do now was the one part of being a spy that he’d always hated: he had to sit there and wait.
About an hour and a half later, Sands heard the sound of his door opening quietly. Since Cam had broken the lock when he forced his way in earlier, the door didn’t even have to be jimmied.
He flipped open the phone and hit speed dial as he heard the intruder enter his room. Putting the phone to his ear, he made sure that it had dialed out and was picked up before he got up from his seated position. Still hidden by the door, he held his breath as the man took a step into the bathroom. He heard the flick of a light switch as the man turned on the only light he hadn’t disabled.
The person he assumed was Martin didn’t check thoroughly. He just peeked in before flipping the light back off and moving further into the room.
Sands skirted around the door and followed silently as the person approached the bed. Gently setting the open cell down on the desk as he passed it, he quickly crept up on the man, taking out his gun as he heard the rustle of sheets being pulled back. By the time the man knew that he’d been duped, Sands had the barrel of his gun pressed into the small of the intruder’s back.
"I’m afraid that’s overkill. Not that overkill is a bad thing, mind you. I’m a firm believer in it," Sands said, cocking the gun. "You may not be the sharpest tool in the shed, but even you wouldn’t come in here unarmed. Drop it." He heard the sound of something hitting the carpet.
"You won’t pull that trigger if you care at all for your standing in the Company."
"Ah, Martin… if you really believe that, then why did you drop your gun?" Sands asked, hearing Martin turn around to face him.
"Because you’re crazy," Martin stated as if it were fact.
"Well it’s a crazy world we live in, and I’ve always prided myself on my ability to adapt to any situation."
"Even the one you’re in now?" Martin asked. "I think even your adaptability has its limits. But I’m betting you won’t pull that trigger because doing so won’t help you. You’ll only dig yourself in deeper."
Sands smirked bitterly. "I can’t dig any deeper. I’ve already hit the earth’s core."
"Why are you here in Mexico? Killing me won’t help you…"
"That’s true, but it would make me feel so much better." Sands tapped the barrel of his gun against his chin thoughtfully. "However, if you must know, I’m here because I want to know one thing. Why?"
"Why?" Martin laughed.
Sands bent down and picked up the gun Martin had dropped.
"You don’t know why?" Martin asked again. "It seems you’re blind in more ways than one."
Sands bit his tongue painfully to keep himself in check. It was obvious that Martin was trying to rile him. He turned and took a couple steps closer to the open cell phone. No, Martin wasn’t going to get under his skin. Not now. He smiled to himself when he heard Martin take a couple steps with him. "I overestimated you. I really did," Sands said, as if to himself. ‘Come on, asshole. Time to spill the beans.’
"Overestimated me?" Martin asked.
"I thought you knew where your loyalties lay." Sands spun on his heel, facing Martin again. "Why?" he demanded, nudging Martin with the barrel of the gun.
"Money, of course," Martin answered, as if it was the most obvious thing in the world.
"Ah, the root of all evil," Sands drawled.
"What else would it be? As much as you grate on my nerves, I hold no secret grudge against you. I had nothing to gain as far as the Company was concerned by burning you. It was business. Cold hard cash. Plain and simple. You just happened to be in my way."
"How disappointing. I had credited you with more imagination."
He couldn’t put his finger on it, but something about the way Martin said that caused it all to click. "You unbelievable bastard." So his suspicion had been right after all. The subtle admission settled in his stomach like a brick.
Sands took a step back, shaking his head. It was almost unbelievable… almost. "Was it your idea?" Sands asked, his voice practically oozing venom.
"Your eyes? Oh yes. A nice touch, wouldn’t you agree?"
Of course now it made sense. After all, why would Barillo bother to go to the trouble of removing his eyes, and then set him free? He’d always wondered about that. Barillo was cruel, yes, but he’d had more important problems to deal with at the time. He’d always wondered why an officer from the Company who hadn’t seen anything worth dying over would be worthy of such time. He’d been given time on a day when Barillo had been fresh out of it.
‘All for fucking money. Shit in a barrel.’ Martin had destroyed his entire way of life… for money. Oh, but it was only business. He couldn’t claim that he didn’t relate.
Hell, he’d ended many lives. Being an assassin for the Company made sure of that. But asking for another Company officer to be tortured to make extra money? He did have his limits, as far-fetched as it sounded, even to his own mind.
Still, he wasn’t going to let Martin shake him. "There are other ways to make some fast cash. Have you ever tried betting on bullfights? I’ve found it very profitable, if you know how to work it right."
"You’re thinking too small."
"Why not just kill me?" Sands asked, his grip tightening on the gun until his knuckles turned white.
"You’ve always confused your life with your career, Sands. Your mistake," Martin said, taking a step closer.
"You are a traitor," Sands stated, pointing the gun in his direction. "You’re really not in your right mind if you think you can mess with me, a PsyOps assassin, and get away with it."
"Ah, but you and the PsyOps unit had a bit of a falling out, didn’t you? That’s why you’re here in Mexico, isn’t it? What I’ve done is nothing – nothing – compared to what you’ve done in your life. Or have you forgotten about what you did to your wife?"
Sands’ body went rigid. He hadn’t expected Martin to bring her into this. "That was never supposed to happen."
Martin laughed. "What did you think was going to happen?"
"It wasn’t my fault. I had nothing to do with it."
"You’re the only one who believes that, and I don’t even think you truly believe it, but you tell yourself what you have to. Can’t have yourself another breakdown, after all."
"What the hell are you doing here?" Sands asked, narrowing his calculating eyes at the woman sitting in the far corner of his bedroom. Spread around her, she had a handful of his wigs and disguises, and a pair of scissors.
She paid no attention to him as she continued with what she’d been doing before he’d entered. She took a chunk of hair from the blonde wig she was holding, pulled it taut, then snipped it with the scissors. "Cheap disguises. Deceiver," she mumbled to herself. She pulled another strand taut. "He holds a smoking gun." Snip.
He stood there and watched as, over and over again, she pulled a strand taut, then cut it, mumbling to herself while she performed the repetitive act. From what remained of his wig, and the amount of hair on the floor around her, she’d been at this for some time.
He furrowed his brow, and took a step closer. "Cecelia?" he asked in the most nonchalant tone he could muster.
"A charming murderer," she whispered to herself as she sped up her destruction of the wig.
"I told you not to come here," Sands said, sincerely hoping that what he was seeing wasn’t as serious as it appeared to be. When she finally looked at him, he froze on the spot.
It wasn’t her eyes looking at him, but Martin’s. "She loved you, but all you did was manipulate her," she said through smirking lips.
Jolted back to reality, Sands leveled his gun at Martin. "You know nothing about it."
They couldn’t go down this road. He couldn’t go down this road.
"Was she good practice?" he asked, and Sands struck out quickly, ramming the gun into Martin’s face.
Hearing Martin yelp, Sands was about to pull the trigger, but was stopped by a sharp pain tearing into his already wounded torso. Sands dropped to his knees. Hissing in pain, Sands’ left hand went to his side, grasping the handle of the knife Martin had stabbed him with. As the pain tore through him, he was unable to stop Martin from wrenching the gun from his grip.
Gritting his teeth and doubling over, he took a deep breath to steady himself. In his head he counted to three, then jerked the blade out quickly, biting down on his lip to keep from crying out in pain.
Weak, Sands remained on his knees, listening for Martin, but Martin wasn’t making any noise. Realizing what Martin was doing, he remained stock still, listening for any movement. He wasn’t going to lose it like he did with El. Not this time.
Beginning to feel dizzy, he was forced to steady himself with his right arm in order to stay upright. It was then that he heard a rustle of clothing, ever so soft.
The knife clutched in his hand, he swung towards the faint sound, but nausea was slowing down his reflexes and disorienting him and he hit nothing but air. Freezing in place, he waited for Martin to make a move. "Ah, we got ourselves a game of cat and mouse, but which one of us is the mouse?" Sands drawled, keeping his voice miraculously steady for someone in so much pain. He was thankful that the room was dark. Martin wouldn’t get a good look at what bad shape he was in.
It seemed that Martin was thinking along the same lines, because he moved away from Sands. He was moving towards the light switch as a matter of fact.
Sands gritted his teeth as he pushed himself up, doing his best to ignore his body’s protest.
"What’s the matter? Afraid of the dark?" Sands taunted as he stood, unable to keep the pain from lacing his voice this time.
He stumbled towards Martin as Martin reached out to the light switch, intending to gain the advantage of light. His hand didn’t hit the switch though, but went straight into the metal panel, contacting the hot wires Sands had exposed earlier.
Martin let out a startled gasp when the wires shocked him, and Sands took advantage of the small distraction to make his move. The electricity in the wires was not powerful by any means, but it sent a heavy tingle down Martin’s spine nonetheless.
Sands swung with the knife again, and this time made contact with flesh. What part of Martin’s body he’d pierced, he couldn’t say, but he found that he no longer cared. Martin cried out in pain, and Sands grinned maliciously, turning the blade before yanking it out.
Sands grasped the front of Martin’s shirt and pushed him down to the ground. Leaning close, he searched Martin for any other weapons. Recovering from the fall, Martin began to struggle, but Sands pressed the sharp blade against his throat and he instantly stilled.
"Your life is in the hands of this psychotic asshole, so I wouldn’t move again if I were you," Sands said, his voice dangerously low. "Even after everything you’ve done to swing things in your favor, you’re still no match for me."
Hearing Martin’s pain laced breaths beneath him, Sands smiled. "You know, Barillo’s doctor of horrors didn’t completely take my sight," Sands said, almost offhandedly. He leaned down and whispered into Martin’s ear, "I can still see red."
Martin shivered involuntarily as Sands’ breath passed over his ear. Feeling the knife begin to cut into his throat, he made a last ditch effort to free himself. He reached up and snatched Sands’ sunglasses.
Feeling the sunglasses pulled off, Sands leaned back in surprise, and on reflex his free hand tried to cover his face. Wasting no time, Martin kicked Sands where he’d stabbed him earlier. Pain erupted through Sands’ entire body. It was so intense that he was incapable of containing the gasp that escaped his lips as he dropped to the floor.
Martin stood over him. "I have news for you. The man who ripped your eyes out wasn’t working for Barillo. Officially, he works for a company that I believe you’re familiar with."
Sands whole body froze, the news striking him like a punch in the face. For once, he found himself speechless.
"Get in here!" Martin yelled out, and Sands could hear the sound of his room door opening.
‘Oh shit,’ Sands thought, trying to get up and failing miserably. The pain was no longer sharp, but dulling quickly, and he knew that was a bad sign. Two hands grabbed him and roughly pushed him into a seated position. "I knew you were too much of a coward to come alone," Sands said, his voice rough. "Kill me, and you ruin yourself."
A hand grabbed him by the hair and snapped his head back violently. Sands held back a cry, not willing to give them the satisfaction.
"So I finally get to see the results of my plan," Martin said, standing in front of him. "I wanted to see for myself on the day it happened, but those damn white coats wouldn’t let me."
Sands shivered suddenly, feeling cold all over. He knew he’d lost a lot of blood. He was going into shock. "Resurgam," Sands smiled weakly.
"Not this time," Martin said. His Latin was rusty, but he understood the simple word.
Sands felt the overly familiar prick of a needle as it entered his neck. Had he had the energy, he would have panicked. Instead, he smiled and spoke with a hoarse voice. "In a tunnel of darkness lies a beast. Sharp and made of iron, it leaps for the kill and attacks when pulled back."
Martin chuckled. Sands felt Martin’s hand under his chin, tilting his head up. "Is that a riddle, Officer?"
"Kill me and your life is over," Sands said thickly, the drug quickly affecting him in his weakened state. "Likewise, if you don’t kill me… you’re life is still over." Sands fought to stay awake. He knew it was a futile effort, but instinct always overrode thought in situations like this. It struck him then, what his error had been ever since the Day of the Dead. His lips quirked at the irony of realizing it now. He’d been running on nothing but instinct and that was a dangerous thing. "You’re fucked if you do, fucked if you don’t."
Right before his slipping hold on reality gave way, he heard Martin say, "Who said anything about killing you?"
Resurgam - I will rise again.
Thank you for reading, and extra special thanks to dejectedmadness for reviewing!