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[still standing]

“You´re still standing,’ he said, almost smirking at the skinny man leaning against the wall. Smudges of red stained his cheek caught his eye, but he wasn´t sure what to make of them.

“Ah,’ Sands said, laughing and shifting slightly, looking bone weary and unable to wrestle the energy it would take to treat El with the condescension he had before. “El.’

El stepped forward slightly, peering at the man´s face a bit closer. “Is that blood,’ he asked, stepping closer still and lifting his hand to Sands´ face.

Sands reached up and slapped El´s hand away. “It would seem to be that, yes.’

He looked into the American´s glasses and expected to meet very pissed off brown eyes under the opaque lenses. Instead he saw black. “What happened?’

The boy in the yellow shirt began speaking rapidly in Spanish despite Sands shouts at him to shut up. El learned of the eye gouging, and of sightless fight in the courtyard before Sands grabbed the little boy and hissed in his ears something El couldn´t quite make out.

“You are wounded,’ he said softly, looking Sands over.

“Gosh, El, you´re so perceptive,’ Sands said dryly, letting the boy go and slumping heavily against the wall again. “Remind me to give you a cookie for that.’

El stepped forward and hooked an arm under Sands´ arm, frowning at the man as he tried to pull away. “Let me help you to a doctor,’ he said, his voice an odd mixture of both sympathy and annoyance.

“I´ll manage just fine on my own…’ Sands started.

El abruptly let go of him, a ghost of a smile forming on his face as he watched the agent sprawl unceremoniously onto the floor. “I can see that.’

“Rat bastard,’ Sands hissed, planting his hands on the ground and pushing himself up, jerking his arm away from El as he reached down to help him up. “Fucking asshole.’

“Do you not wish to go to a doctor,’ El asked, finding the younger man´s antics amusing despite himself.

“Yeah, motherfucker,’ Sands spat out, latching onto El´s elbow tightly as he pulled himself up the rest of the way. “A doctor would be peachy.’

El allowed the man to keep the little dignity he seemed to gain from being the one to determine how much support he needed from him and slowly began to walk down the street, his free hand ready to catch him if he fell.

About ten paces down the road Sands stopped abruptly, turning his head slightly. “Little boy,’ he called out. “Chiclet kid?’

//Yes? I am here.//

//Thank you,// Sands said, not seeing the absurd look El gave him at that. //You will be repaid for your help.//

//You will be alright now?//

Sands laughed. //I don´t go down that easily.//

//I shall visit you in hospital…//

//No,// Sands said, shaking his head violently. //I´ll be fine, but you run along home kid. These streets are dangerous. I´ll find you to repay you.//


“Stubborn fucker,’ Sands muttered with a laugh. //Go *home* kid.//

“You speak Spanish,’ El said as he watched the kid reluctantly turn around and walk down the opposite direction of them.

“I do,’ Sands said, pushing El forward into resuming their trek. “Now shut the fuck up and get me to a God damned doctor.’

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