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Un Poco de Coco

Chapter Text

Coco turned on the television at the lowest volume possible, careful to not wake her sleeping mother.

Sure, mama had said that she wasn’t allowed to be near musicians, but she never said she couldn’t watch them. Besides, “El Vaquero Valiente” was on, her favorite show that stared the famous Ernesto de la Cruz.

Coco remembered how, in the last episode, he bravely faced a horde of bandits with only his bare fists. In the end he had been captured, but the great Ernesto de la Cruz always put up a good fight.

“Oh Ernesto!” Maria-the main actress of the show, beautifully dressed in every episode- sobbed dramatically and clutched onto Ernesto broad chest. “What are we going to do? How are we ever going to escape from the evil bandits? We are doomed!”

Ernesto, the brave and handsome hero, lovingly comforted her. “There there mi alma, don’t cry.”

The two of them stood tied up together, in the dark and empty hide out of the evil bandits.

Coco wonder briefly, if she would ever stumble upon a secret bandit hide out, considering the hide out was nothing more than an old cave, and it only took the actors a few minutes to walk there in the last scene.

“Do not worry mi amor!” Ernesto bravely declared. “I will save us.”

“Oh but mi amor! How? How will you do it? How can you save us?”

“Just watch!”

Coco watched with interest as Ernesto puffed out his chest and raised his strong arms, grunting and stretching the ropes until they finally snapped from the pressure.

And, for some odd reason, his shirt ripped off with it, and Coco found herself embarrassingly mortified at the sight of a man’s bare chest.

“Ah-ha!” Ernesto declared proudly, hands on his hips and chest bare.
“I have freed us my love!”

Oh Santa Maria. What a poorly made shirt. Sure, Ernesto was handsome but...if mama were to catch her looking! Mama would march down to the station and beat Ernesto herself.

“Oh Ernesto!” Maria sighed dreamily. “You are my hero!”

Ernesto grinned broadly, and in one swift motion grabbed Maria by the hips and pulled her close to him, wrapping his strong arms around her tiny waist. “What can I say? I have a thing for dramatics.”

“Oh.” Maria smiled and sighed. “You handsome thing you.”

The two of them romantically gazed into each other eyes, and Coco couldn’t help but wonder how anyone would have time for that in a hostage situation.

Ernesto smiled. “Anything for you mi amour, I would move heaven and earth for you my darling.”

Well that did it. Coco frowned as her heart started to ache, clutching her stuffed conejo close to her chest. The one Papa had given her.

“You mean everything to me.” He spoke softly, gently moving a strand of hair out of her face. “And with my very last breath, I promise to always be there for you-“

A boy had only held her like that once in her life. His name was Carlos, and in a sudden act of bravery at the plaza one day, he had grabbed her by the hand, spun her around and kissed her.

“-I promise my love-to never break your heart, to never leave you alone, to never hurt you-“

Mama had been so angry, she screamed and beat him over the head with a shoe. No one was brave enough to approach her after that, not after poor Carlos went home with Mama’s boot print on his forehead.

“Oh Ernesto. How I love you too.”

She wondered, if Papa was still around, what he would have done.

“I will love you always mi amor.”

Held her at the very least. She knows Papa would have held her. And kissed her. And hugged her. And would tell her sweet things like, “I love you mi angel.” And “I would move the moon for you mi hija.” And “I love you more than all the stars in the sky.” Delivering the words with more meaning and love than any boy ever could.

Ernesto was not Papa. But Coco found herself moved by his poetry.

The words felt so eerily similar to her Papa’s, it was as though they were stolen right out of Papas songbook. She remembers the the days when she used to flip through the pages, when Ernesto and Papa were friends, when Papa was still home...

“Oh Maria-“

Ernesto was not Papa.

“I love you more than all the stars in the sky.”

But he was the closed thing she had.

Chapter Text

Hector was 100% sure that this time his plan would definitely work.

He had engineered, in a moment of pure brilliance, two large prosthetic wings that would carry him up and over the Marigold bridge. After all, he couldn’t sink in the bridge if he didn’t step in it, and there was no way the guards could catch him that high.

He takes a look at the station from his spot at the rooftop. It’s not that far, he could probably make it with a running start.

“Chicharrón!” He calls to his old friend, who’s lounging in an old chair, surrounded by empty bottles of tequila. “What do you think?”

“I think you’re crazy.” Chicharrón says in a scratchy voice. He huffs and gestures toward his large wings. “You look like a chicken.”

“Perfecto!” He laughs and backs up, ignoring all of Chicharrón’s grumblings. He shouts, “I’m coming Coco!”, and runs forward towards the edge of the rooftop.

Letting out a mariachi screech, he hurls himself off the building- and he guesses somewhere his calculations must have been wrong- because he only makes it a few feet before slamming into the pavement.

Chicharrón howls with laughter as his bones bounce and fly out in various directions. He yells, “It’s a good thing you’re already dead amigo!”, and Hector’s too broken and tired to even respond.

Not that he could respond anyway, for his jaw has once again been disconnected from his skull, and it lays a few feet infront of him in a crack in the pavement.

Once again, his plan has failed.

He sighs, and mentally imagines his body being put back together. He imagines his arms, his legs, his feet, his jaw- and soon, his limbs reattach to his skeleton body.

He stands up, brushing the dirt off his decaying bones. The night is still young, he tells himself, he’ll find way to cross the bridge. He’ll find a way to see his daughter grow up, even if it kills him.

(It already has)

Chapter Text

To anyone else, a boot was just another shoe. But in the the hands of Imelda? That shoe was a weapon.

“How dare you!”

Imelda angrily slapped the perpetrator with what Hector liked to call: El Zapato de Muerto, a shoe known to cause a good amount of damage to any unprotected cabeza. Boot hit bone so hard, Hector was sure the man’s skull was about to crack.

The man, or skeleton, whom Hector was not acquainted with, frantically tried to escape her hold, but alas, Hector knew from experience that no matter how hard you tried, there was no escape from Imelda’s iron grip.

“Picking on a poor, innocent, little gatita! How dare you!”

Pepita, whom Hector guessed was the subject of the argument, growled threateningly from behind her owner, and the man quaked in his boots.

A poor innocent little gatita Pepita was not.

Well, not anymore at least. Not since...whatever it was that happened to her in the land of the dead.

“I’m warning you-“ Imelda growled threateningly, voice low and weapon raised. “If you come near mi gatita one more time, I will make sure you never see the light of day!”

It was a harsh threat, Héctor knew, but hardly an empty one. Imelda adored that cat in death as much as she did in life, and was known to cause a good amount of pain to whoever dare hurt her precious gatita.

He had accidentally kicked the gatita once, and Imelda was so upset, she kicked him out of their bed and slept with that stupid cat for a week.

“Do you understand carbón?”

“Por favor señor-“

“Señorita!”

“Señorita!” The man chucked nervously and corrected himself. “I promise I will never come near your, eh, gatita again.”

From his spot behind the window, (he liked to stay outside the line of fire) Hector could see Imelda scowl and study the man carefully.

El carbón held his breath.

Finally Imelda made the face-the “I’m unimpressed and you’re not worth-my-time” face-and dropped him carelessly. Waving her hand and telling him to get out.

By the time she turned around the man was already sprinting away like his life depended on it. Ha! Hector grinned at his wife’s triumph. Good riddance.

Pepita, on the other hand, practically made the Earth shake as she bounded towards Imelda. She stopped just before the older woman, sticking out her huge tongue and giving his wife a big lick on her cheek. Imelda laughed and backed away from the cat’s slobbery kisses.

“Oh Pepita! You silly gatita you will mess up my hair-“

Pepita just purred, nuzzling her huge head as close to Imelda’s chest she could. Imelda laughed again, placing a gentle hand on the top of Pepita’s head.

His wife could be gentle when she she wanted to be. He knew that.

He remembers-years ago-when Imelda was sad, she would hold Pepita and brush her fur in the garden. Pepita liked to be brushed, and would purr and stretch out in Imelda’s lap like a lazy princess.

And still, years later, that lazy cat sat her rear-end on the floor (making the earth shake once again) and laid her head in Imelda’s lap, purring in content.

Oh sure, when Imelda did it, Pepita was fine, but when he tried it that stupid cat would claw his eyes out.

And as if she heard his thoughts, (could alebrejes do that?) Pepita opened one eye, staring at him through the window. She gave him a smug smile, and kept eye contact with him as she snuggled her head further into his wife’s lap, as if to say “Imelda loves me more than you and you know it.”

The spoiled little thing.

“Oh you just wait.” Hector hissed, his eyes narrowing at the jaguar. “I’m buying a dog! And then you’ll be sorry!”

Dante barked happily, running around in circles excitedly before tripping over his own tongue. At this, Hector huffed.

“I’ll get a bigger dog!”

Chapter Text

It’s nights like these that make Imelda realize just how much Miguel was like her husband. From his love of music right down to his chatter box.

“Mama Imelda?” Miguel calls to her, making sure for the one hundred and tenth time that she was paying attention “Are you listening? Because I used to run like this but then-Mama! Mama! Are you looking? See, I used to run like this, but now-but now I run like this, and this is way faster cause of like wind speed and-“

Imelda sits in her old rocking chair, the very one she had died in, and quietly sips her tea. Miguel continued to talk to her for hours until exactly 9:00 pm when his favorite show with the luchadores came on.

He grows quiet when the match is on, save for a few chants and cheers when his favorite luchador, “El Macho” wins the match, and, for once in her life, Imelda thanks goodness for television.

Though Miguel assures her he'll resume his stories during the commercials.

“And then, and then-“

Michel continues his chatter at breakfast the next day, filling her in with all his school drama

“Julio said Maria was just making it up, but then-then Angelica said she was just pretending to lie so that Julio would tell Rosa who would tell Rafael that Juan said-“

Dios míos it was like watching another Telenovela.

“-that Mateo said that Antonino liked Andrea! I mean, he says he doesn’t but I don’t know because he sits with her at lunch and-“

Miguel pauses, and picks up a fork full of huevos. He swallows.

“-because he sits with her at lunch and she’s always laughing with him and-“

Miguel pauses again and chugs a cup of leche.

“-and he’s always with her after school and one time when I was at Felipe’s house Felipe said-“

He pauses. He burps. Baby Coco claps and laughs. Hector snorts and Imelda wants to smack all them with a rolling pin but Miguel continues before she can.

“-that Antonio said that Andrea was pretty so I think he likes her but I don’t know if he likes her Mama Imelda what do you think?”

Imelda sighs and sips her coffee.

The single drink that allowed her to keep her sanity.

“I think,” she answers. “You’re going to be late for school.”

 

Chapter Text

Ernesto didn’t particularly hate Imelda. In fact, she had been one of the closest friends he had. But, Hector...Hector loved her, and that is when all his problems started.

Ernesto watches as Hector sits by Imelda’s bedside, worriedly clutching at her hand. He’s crying, more or less, with streaks of tears running down his face.

“Ernesto.” He whispers. “I don’t know what’s wrong with her.”

Ernesto shrugs, “A stomach ache?”

“No.” Hector shakes his head. “This is much worse.”

“Oh.”

Would this be a bad time to ask about the songbook?

Really, his best hope at this point would be to kill Hector and Imelda, take the songbook and run, but that would be far to suspicious. After all, it would be easy to play of Hector’s disappearance but Imelda? People would question her's.

“Amigo.” Ernesto patted Hector. “Don’t worry, I’m sure Imelda could just be sick! Or...or pregnant!”

Hector paused. “...pregnant?”

“Si! The stomach aches, the moodiness, all signs of being pregnant no?”

Hector contemplated on the idea, but finally shook his head. “No, she was not like this last time.”

“Well, I heard it’s different each time you know?”

“No amigo. Not like this.”

“Well...”

Ernesto nervously looked over Imelda, who was sick and pale and clearly a few minutes from dying.

Really, he never meant to kill his best friend’s wife, he only meant to kill Hector. But now Imelda was about to die, and he still didn’t have that stupid songbook.

“Well...it could have been...”

He paused, thinking of a good excuse.

“..it must have been that chorizo she ate.”

it was actually poison from drinking the wrong shot glass but Hector didn't need to know that. 

Imelda suddenly lunged of the bed, grabbing for her bucket and emptying the contents of her stomach. Hector cringed, holding back his wife’s hair and patting her back soothingly. “It’s alright Imelda, it’s alright, you're alright.”

Imelda groaned loudly, clutching at her stomach in pain.

“It’s okay, Imelda love-“

It's strange seeing Imedla like this, but luckily, it’s only a few more minutes before Imelda goes silent.

“‘Melda?”

No answer.

“Imelda?”

Hector’s voice suddenly grew panicked. “Ernesto I don’t think she’s breathing!”

Imelda laid still, and Ernesto watched silently had Hector shook his wife in a panic. After a few minutes of shaking he turns back to his friend.

“Ernesto! Ayúdame! Por favor!”

Erenesto simply shakes his head. “Oh Hector.” 

“Help me!”

He sighs, and places a gentle hand on his friend’s shoulder. “I’m so sorry-“

“No!” Hector cried and threw his hand off. “No, no she must be alright! Ernesto, go-go get a medic!”

Ernesto shakes his head again. “It’s too late Hector, she’s dead."

For a few minutes, Hector says nothing, mulling over Ernesto's words, until finally his face crumples and he lets out a mournful sob, burrying his face in his hands.

“I am sorry mi amigo”, Ernesto says, rubbing comforting circles on his friend’s back. “I am really so very sorry.”

(He's not)

Chapter Text

Hector wasn't sure what the point of using handcuffs was considering just about everyone in the land of the dead could pop their arms off. The cuffs were nothing more than a useless formality, and it baffled him why he was repeatedly subjected to them each time he was arrested.

Though, in all fairness, he did manage to get arrested for at least eighty years in a row. Officers Jorge and Mateo, who currently dragged him inside the station, could agree with that.

Hecto leans in, and whispers to Jorge who was on his left. "You know I could just pop my arms off any time I wanted to right?"

Jorge's eyes widened, and in a sudden panic turned to his partner Mateo.

"Could he do that?"

Mateo just rolls his eyes. "It's protocol Hector."

"Si!" Jorge nodds. "It's protocol!"

"Ah, but-" Hector smiles and points out. "It is protocol for the living, and see me?” He gestures towards his skeleton body. “I am dead."

Jorge stops in his tracks. 

Really Jorge and Mateo were never the brightest bulbs in the box, and how Hector was repeatedly restrained by these two he’ll never know.

Jordge leans into Mateo. "Amigo he's got a point-"

Mateo huffs and cuts him off. "He's got nothing. And don't call me amigo."

"But he is dead-"

"We're all dead you big idiot."

"Oh." Jorge leans back, a bit offended. "Well...you don't gotta be rude about it."

“I wasn’t.” Mateo scoffs.

“Yes you were.”

”Wha-No I wasn’t.”

”Yes, yes you were.”

”No I wasn’t.”

”Yes you were.”

”No I was-“

“Aye amigos.” Hector groans. "Can't we all get along?"

"Ey!" Mateo shakes him. "I'm not your amigo!"

Jorge whines. "But I am your friend!"

"No, not you!"

"Why not me?"

"I-...just shut up."

-

Hector drags his feet as they continue to walk him to the station, and pass a few police officers along the way. The officers lift their hats in a friendly way, and tell him "hello Hector!", and "hola Hector!", and "Aw better luck next time Hector."

Chief Rodriguez spots him and walks over.

"Hector!” He laughs and gestures towards this year’s ridiculous costume. "You didn't need to get all dressed up just for us."

"Oh no, " Hector grins cheekily, and winks. "It's no trouble for you jefe."

“Who caught you this year eh?"

“Lola.” Hector spoke casually. “She’s good you know, you should give that woman a raise."

It was true, Lola was Hector's favorite officer.

The chief hums. "She's a good one."

"She can use a vacation."

Jorge suggests. "I could use a vacation!", and Mateo elbows him.

Ignoring Jorge and Mateo the chief takes his arms and leads him into his office. Only Jorge doesn't let go, and the next thing he knows his arm pops clean of his body, making Jorge fly into a panic.

"Mateo! Mateo!"

"Aye!" Mateo groans and pushes Jorge off. "Calmate estupido!"

"But-but-"

"But nothing!"

"They came off just like he said!"

"All our arms do that!"

"But he is a criminal!"

Hector gave the Chief a look, whispering. "You pay these guys?" and Chief Rodriguez ignores him, snatching Hector's arms back from a panicking Jorge.

"You two!" Rodriguez points Hector's arm at Jorge and Mateo, who instantly stop their squabble and salute the Chief.

"Si Jefe!"

"Go watch the bridge! And don't get distracted this time!"

"Si Jefe!"

The two give Rodriguez another salute and march of towards the bridge, arguing between themselves along the way.

"Seriously." Hector raises an eyebrow. "You pay those bozos?"

The Chrif grumbles. "Shut up Hector.", and takes the lanky skeleton to his office.

-

On his Nighty-Seventh year crossing the bridge, his wife and daughter cross with him, and the whole police station cheers for him when he walks back. They say "Good Job Hector!" and "Felicidaces Hector!" and "We are very happy for your Hector!"

Jorge openly sobs when he sees Coco, and shouts. "Hector you found your mama!" and Mateo rolled his eyes. "She's his daughter you idiota."

Jorge pouts and is about to respond, until he glances to Hector and see's his hand intertwined with another woman skeleton. His eyes widen and dart between the two. "Hector es... tu esposa?"

Hector opens his mouth to respond, but Mateo cuts him off.

"Of coarse that's his wife genius, don't you read the paper?"

"Well..." Jordge fidgets. "I haven't lately."

"Oh of course not. I bet you didn't even read your own obituary-"

"Perdon señores." Coco interrupts. "Papa was...in the papers?"

Julio pats her hand. "Si dear. You were too."

Coco stares. "I was?"

"Si." Julio nods. "People were happy for Hector."

Amidst Coco's confusion, Jorge shifts his confused gaze from Imelda to Julio, and points at the old skeleton. "Who's he?"

Coco smiles warmly at Jorge, and squeezes Julio's hand. "He is my husband."

"Oh!" Jorge laughs, and then excitedly turns to Hector. "Hector! Hector!"

"Si-"

He points at Julio excitedly. "You have a son-in-Law!"

"You know I have grandchildren right?"

"Oh!" Jorge claps. "Good for you amigo! Muy bien! Muy-"

"Oookay amigo, I think we've bothered them enough."

Mateo grabs Jorge by the collar, and begins to drag him off, but not before Jorge shouts: "Mateo! You called me your amigo!"

"Wha?" Mateo stops. "No I didn't."

"Si yes you did."

"No, no I didn't."

"Yes you did!"

"No I didn't!"

"Yes you did!"

"No you didn't!"

Hector laughes and shakes his head as they walk off, while Imelda gives him a funny look.

"What was that all about?"

"Oh mi amor." Hector chuckles. "Don't ask."