“There’s no entry wound.”
“Entry. Wound. There’s nowhere that the bullet actually went in,” Jesse said, staring intensely at the cellphone screen.
“Look, this isn’t a photoshoot. All we have to do is flash this in front of his face and he’s gonna start singing like Whitney Houston.”
“Come on, yo! It’ll take like ten seconds to snap it again,” Jesse said, getting on the floor and dipping his fingers in the blood.
“Suit yourself, Pinkman,” Hank said. “Just hurry up.”
Jesse smeared the blood in a concentrated circle on the other side of his head.
“How’s it look?”
“Fine! Can I take the damn picture already?” Hank asked.
There was a click.
“Hmph, what do you know…it does look better.”
“Can I see?” Jesse asked.
“I’m not taking it again,” Hank snapped.
“Just let me see it,” Jesse said, rushing over to see the screen. “Yeah, it looks good.”
“Glad you approve,” Hank said, “Now stay put until we get back.”
“What now?” Steve Gomez asked.
“Give me the phone for a sec,” Jesse said, holding out his hand.
“What for?” Hank asked suspiciously.
“I need you to call my girlfriend.”
“No listen! I think he might try to use her to get to me! I need to tell her to go on vacation or something. She shouldn’t be at that house alone. She has a kid.”
Jesse could see a flash of something in Hank’s narrow eyes. He and Agent Gomez exchanged an equally skeptical look. Come on, yo, you know what he’s capable of. You know what he might do.
“What?” Jesse demanded.
“Put her number in. We’ll call her on our way out,” Hank said, handing over the phone.
Jesse’s fingers worked like lightning. He entered not one number but two. The second typed into the “to” bar for the picture of his brains being blown out. Merry Christmas, motherfucker, Jesse thought, remembering the picture of Mr. White in a Santa Clause suit.
“We don’t have all day!”
“Just let me type her name in, Jeez,” Jesse said, hitting send. “Alright.”
He gave it back to Hank.
“Her name’s Andrea. Warn her okay?”
Jesse watched from the window as Hank and Steve drove off. He’d be long gone before they could get back.
Walter was surprised by his burner phone beeping. He wasn’t supposed to meet Jack for another hour. Maybe one of Saul’s guys had found him. He opened his cellphone and dropped it as if it had burned him. There on the screen was a picture of Jesse lying on the floor with bits of brain and blood oozing from his head. How could this be?! Walter hadn’t even finished ordering the hit. Todd! Walter seethed. He stormed out of the car wash, past his befuddled son and worried wife.
He swerved on the road like a mad man, driving straight to the compound. The men outside of it raised their eyebrows.
“Hey, dude cool it!”
Walter slammed his car door shut and attempted to run past them. They held him back.
“WHERE’S JACK AND TODD?!”
“Little early ain’t it?” Jack asked, striding out coolly. “Something wrong?”
“I hadn’t given you the details yet! This isn’t the way I wanted it to go!”
“Chill out, Sparky. The way you wanted what to go?”
Walter tore his arm free and pulled his cellphone from his jacket.
Jack leaned in and squinted at the picture, whistling.
“I take it that’s Pinkman?”
“YES,” Walter spit. “That’s Pinkman. Care to explain what the Hell is going on? I thought we’d be going over the details today!”
“Wasn’t us,” Jack shrugged, looking around. “Any of you off Pinkman?”
The guys around him shook his head. Todd looked dense and confused.
“Well, if it wasn’t you then who was it?!” Walter hissed.
“Beats the Hell out of me, but from where I’m standing it looks like you got lucky. You got the job done without it costing you a cent.”
“That’s not the point!”
“Well, what is the point? Because like we said, we didn’t have anything to do with this. Maybe I’m missing something but isn’t he the one you wanted dead?”
Walter’s entire body and face contorted in agony. This was most definitely NOT what he had wanted.
“Hey, why don’t you come in and sit down. You don’t look too good. And since you’re hear we might as well talk to you about the favor we’d wanted in exchange for Pinkman.”
Walter barely comprehended what was being said and allowed himself to be half carried into the compound.
Jesse debated whether or not he should go to Andrea’s house. Would she be safer with him or staying where she was? If Mr. White had laid a trap for him there, surely it would have been put off by now. What with him being “dead” and all. He tried to imagine a life of them all being on the run together but he couldn’t. Brock needed to go to school and be safe. He shouldn’t have to live with paranoia and fear. But Jesse couldn’t leave without saying goodbye, without telling them how much he loved them. He crawled over the fence to their backyard and knocked.
Andrea peaked through the window and Jesse could swear he saw the point of a knife. Their eyes met and she dropped it, rushing to the backdoor.
“Jesse?” Andrea asked even as she wrapped her arms around him. “Why are you sneaking around? Why didn’t you come to the front door?”
“I don’t have a lot of time. I just…is Brock home?”
“No, he’s still at school,” Andrea said, leading Jesse into the house and shutting the door behind her.
“Right, good…that’s good.”
“Jesse, talk to me. What’s wrong? You look…”
“Andrea…I have to go away for a while.”
“You’ve been away.”
“I know but I mean…further away…for a longer time and…Listen, people are gonna call. They’ll say that you’re in danger from a guy I used to work with. You should be fine now though, ‘cause he thinks I’m dead.”
“You aren’t making any sense,” Andrea said, her eyes wide, concerned and confused. “Are you high?”
Jesse’s heart stung and he looked her in the eyes and spoke more calmly, firmly. “No. So I need you to listen really carefully. Some DEA agents are going to call. They’ll tell you to look out for strange men because I’m involved in a case. You shouldn’t have to worry, because the guy that’s after me thinks I’m dead. But don’t unlock the door for any strangers, even if they say they know me, especially if they say I’m their friend. You remember Mr. White?”
“The old guy we had dinner with?”
“Yes. You cannot trust him. Don’t let him in the house. If he stops by, call the police.”
“And tell them what? My boyfriend’s friend stopped by? I’m not gonna live like a recluse, Jesse.”
“He’s not my friend, Andrea…He poisoned Brock,” Jesse said, voice and heart breaking.
“What are you talking about? Jesse, the doctors said-“
“The doctors said it was Lily of the Valley. I know. And it was that, but Brock didn’t eat some berries or anything, Mr. White poisoned him. I don’t know how he got it to him, but he did.”
Andrea looked disbelieving for a moment, but Jesse could tell she was really trying to understand.
“Just trust me. Do you trust me?”
“You know I do.”
“He’s dangerous and you can’t let him know that you know. You can’t report it. We have no evidence. Just don’t let him or Saul in the house.”
“Saul Goodman? Your lawyer?”
“He was in on it.”
Andrea covered her mouth with her hands. Jesse had a sudden revelation.
“He still…he still brings you the money, doesn’t he?”
“But you just said-“
“It’s my money, Andrea. They won’t hurt you if they don’t know you know. If you start shutting Saul out, then he could figure it out…”
“Are you leaving town?”
“Then we’ll go with you!”
“That’s no life for Brock.”
“I’m his mother! I get to decide what kind of life Brock has!”
“There isn’t time anyway. This will be the first place those DEA agents look for me. I’ve stayed too long already.”
“Give me a place to meet you.”
“Jesse! I’m not staying in the middle of this with a bunch of people we can’t trust. If it’s too dangerous for you to be here, then it’s too dangerous for me and Brock too!” Andrea said, her body trembling.
Jesse hugged her tight.
“I’ll call you…not too soon. Those agents at least will be watching your house for a while. You’ll be safe. I have to go now…I love you, Baby. And Brock too.”
Jesse could here Andrea crying softly. He hated himself for making her cry.
“We love you too. Don’t forget about us, okay?”
Walter didn’t have the will or the power to resist teaching Todd how to cook. He was so broken over the loss of Jesse that he was hardly thinking at all these days. Some part of him was certain that once Todd had learned the entire process, Jack would have him killed. Yet he was always permitted to return home to his family between cook lessons. Todd was a painfully slow learner, and Walter had to work hard to cover his tracks or Hank might tail him here. Skyler knew what was going on and was assured that it was the only way to keep them safe. She couldn’t leave him if she wanted to now. The line had been drawn in the sand with Hank and Marie and Skyler had found herself on the wrong side of it. She had to stick it through until the end.
Every moment of every day, Walter had Jesse in the back of his mind. Jesse’s name, Jesse’s smile, Jesse’s soft hair beneath his fingers…He would never know what happened to him. No body had ever been found, and aside from himself he supposed no one else was really looking. He did the one thing he could do to honor Jesse’s memory. He gave Saul more money to give Andrea and Brock. He couldn’t bear to look at those two himself, see the last two people that Jesse would ever love, but he knew Jesse would always want them to be taken care of.
Andrea waited for months for that call. She never wavered in hope. As Jesse had warned, she had gotten a call from the DEA agents warning her that she and her son might be in danger. Then they had stopped by, Agent Shraeder and Agent Gomez. She began to notice cars continuously parked down the street with a clear view of her house. No strangers ever showed up at her doorstep though. Walter White never showed his face.
Andrea was reluctant to let Saul into her house, but she had to keep up appearances like Jesse said. She forced a smile and was cordial, but every time the lawyer spoke to Brock Andrea wanted to stab him. How dare he talk to her baby knowing what he did!
One faithful night, she got a call from a blocked number and answered immediately.
“Jesse? Jesse where are you? Can we come see you now?”
“Yeah…I’m living pretty far away and…and if you don’t like it here we can always move somewhere else. We can move anywhere you want.”
“We can live anywhere so long as we’re with you, Baby.”
So it began. Andrea had their clothes and Brock’s toys packed before the Sun rose. A slow move might have been more inconspicuous but the slower they moved, the more questions people would ask. It was better for everyone if she and Brock simply vanished into thin air. She had to inform her grandmother though. As hard as she was on them, Andrea knew her grandmother loved them both and would miss them.
To Walter’s amazement, Jack cut him loose without a hassle. All it took was Todd’s percentage to reach a measly 83% and turn the product blue. It was a cloudy blue, not the striking blue of Jesse’s eyes or Walter’s crystal, but it was good enough. He waited patiently for a move to be made on his house, but none ever was. Skyler was relieved that it was all over again, but the loss of her relationship with Hank and Marie left her cold and detached.
Saul came by to get his car washed one day and naturally Walt pulled him aside and demanded to know what he was thinking.
“I’m getting my car washed! You do understand that famous people need their car washed?”
“There are several other car washes in the area!” Walter coughed, shaking his thin frame.
“Alright you got me, look. I thought you ought to know that the Kid’s family moved.”
“Not really moved so much as went ‘poof’ into thin air. She left a note saying I could sell the house and all its furniture and that she was going to live with a boyfriend and start fresh.”
“A boyfriend?” Walter coughed. “Jesus, Jesse’s grave is still fresh and she’s off with a boyfriend?”
“Well, to be fair, she doesn’t know that he’s dead and they’ve been broken up for almost a year now.”
“But still,” Walt said, wiping his mouth with his sleeve. “Jesse could have done better…”
“Yeah well, that’s debatable.”
Walter glared at him.
“What? Okay! He could have done better…”
“Get your car washed and get the Hell out of here, Saul,” Walter growled, stomping back inside.
Brock came out of the gates of the airport running.
“Brock, slow down!” Andrea called after him, both of their carry-on bags on her shoulders.
“Jesse!” Brock yelled, running into Jesse’s outstretched arms.
“I’ve got him!” Jesse called back, lifting him up but only briefly. “You got so big!”
“You did too!” Brock said with a grin and wide brown eyes.
“Naaah, that’s just the beard,” Jesse said.
“You look like a lumberjack,” Andrea teased, reaching out to touch it.
Jesse met her eyes with nothing but love. She seemed taken aback by it, as if she thought Jesse might have lost interest by now. He wrapped his arms around her, causing the bags to slip to the floor, but Andrea let them.
“I knew you’d call for us,” Andrea whispered in his ear. “I knew you would!”
“Yeah…God, I’m sorry I took so long,” Jesse said, kissing her cheek. “I didn’t know if they’d stopped watching you or if anything had happened and…I didn’t have anywhere for you to stay for a long time either.”
“We would have managed.”
Jesse shook his head. “Even what I’ve got now, isn’t all that impressive.”
“That’s okay, Jesse. All that matters is that we’re together now. And this time it’s gonna stay that way right?”
“Right,” Jesse replied with a grin. “Okay, let’s get your stuff.”
“So, when’s he putting a ring on that finger?” Andrea’s new best friend Gabrielle would ask.
“When we stop paying our bills month to month I guess,” Andrea would jokingly reply.
“Don’t rush them,” Heather, their neighbor to the right, would chide. “You two are happier than most married couples I know.”
A year had passed, and although Andrea and Brock weren’t comfortable with the climate at first they settled in. The house they lived in was smaller than the one Andrea and Brock had left behind, but nobody noticed the difference in size with all the warmth inside it. Brock was making friends at school and in the neighborhood. Jesse had taken up a job as a local carpenter. Andrea became manager at a local restaurant. Despite their new friends and busy lives, they all sat down together for breakfast every morning and for dinner almost every night. There were also more than a few nights of movies and videogames at the Cantillo residence.
It was during one of these videogame nights that there was a knock on the door.
“Must be the pizza,” Andrea said, clicking the “jump button” frantically.
“I’ll get it,” Jesse said, climbing over the wires and heading for the front door. Out of habit, he hadn’t even looked through the peephole. He swung it open with a grin which was frozen on his face as he recognized the thin but extremely hairy man before him.
Jesse stood there frozen. How was this possible? How had he found him? Why?
“Do you want me to go in, or are you stepping out?”
Jesse stepped out, closing the door behind him. If he had to die, then at least it would just be him.
“Don’t hurt them,” Jesse demanded.
“I’m not here to hurt them,” Walter coughed. “I’m here to talk to you.”
“About what?” Jesse asked with a scowl.
“About what?” Walter repeated. “How about the last year that you let me think that you were dead? How about the nights that I stayed awake mourning you!”
“It was what you wanted, wasn’t it? What, you gonna stand there and tell me that you didn’t have a hit on my head!”
“I never put a hit out, Jesse. You sent that picture-“
“Before you could?”
“I wouldn’t have gone through with it!”
“You poisoned Brock. You would have gone through with anything to save your own ass!” Jesse snapped.
“Alright, shh, okay! Calm down!”
“You don’t want me to make a scene before you shoot me?”
“What?! Jesus, Jesse! I’m not here to shoot you!”
“Then what are you here-“
The door creaked open. Walter and Jesse both froze, turning to look at it. Andrea stuck her head out. Her mane of wavy hair flew in the wind.
“Jesse? What’s going on?” she asked, turning on the porch light.
She squinted at Walter, not recognizing him at first. Then her eyes widened.
“I’m calling the police!”
“Andrea, no!” Walter hissed.
“Andrea! It’s okay, Honey. Just lock the door.”
“Just close it and lock it, okay? Have the phone ready.”
Andrea looked around, half expecting some gunman to be in a bush, making Jesse say these things. She then looked from Jesse to Walter.
“Okay…” she murmured. “If you hurt him, I’ll kill you!”
“Duly noted,” Walter said dryly.
Andrea closed the door and Jesse heard the lock latch.
“What the Hell are you here for?”
“I came to see you.”
“I can see that. Why?”
“I’ve got maybe a month left and I wanted…I wanted you to know that I’m sorry.”
“I did an awful thing Jesse. I hurt you, and that little boy, to save my own skin.”
“I did it to save myself, Jesse. Not to save you from Gus. Gus would never have hurt you. You were his chemist.”
Jesse felt an odd feeling. It was some mixture of satisfaction and sadness. He nodded solemnly. This was the most straight-forward Mr. White had ever been with him.
“You’re right. It’s not…” Jesse agreed. “But at least you said so.”
“There’s something else too.”
Jesse felt his muscles tighten nervously. He should have known. There was always some kind of horrible trick whenever Mr. White was involved.
“I killed Mike.”
Jesse blinked. It wasn’t the blow he’d been expecting but it was one all the same. He didn’t have time to brace himself, so he felt his eyes begin to water.
“You knew already. I just…I thought I’d give you the closure.”
Jesse resisted the impulse to punch him in the face. He was right after all. He did need the closure. The inner knowing and never having confirmation had been hard on him, especially when he needed Mike the most. He just nodded.
“Anyway…you seem happy here. Good luck, son,” Walter said, stepping off the porch and trudging through the snow in the front yard.
As he struggled back to his car, Walter felt the pressure of his gun against his side. He had known that he would never be able to do it. He had always loved Jesse too much.