Then I heard your heart beating - you were in the darkness too
So I stayed in the darkness with you
The name sounded unfamiliar to him. He hadn’t heard it in so long.
Walt could hardly believe he was really looking at his former partner.
He looked wretched.
Every inch of him was filthy from spending God knows how long in this underground pit.
They kept him in a pit, like an animal…
Once again, he was sporting a black eye. There was dried blood along his hairline and under his nose, a long C-shaped scar healing on one cheek, and the side of his bottom lip was split and swollen. When he shifted to a sitting position something metallic clinked noisily, and Walt noticed the handcuffs on his wrists, which were connected to a heavy metal chain around his waist. His feet were cuffed together as well.
He’d never expected to find the kid here. Much less alive. Jesse Pinkman was supposed to be long dead. Already he’d begun to fade in Walt’s memory to just one more unhappy ghost from his former life.
Yet here he was.
"Mr. White," Jesse said again, his voice hoarse and uncertain, "what are you doing down here?"
Walt would have expected himself to be angry. To still be holding on to that betrayal. But, seeing Jesse now…Forced to look at the consequences of what he’d condemned him to…This wasn’t what he’d wanted.
Quick and painless…
His own words floated through his mind tauntingly.
No suffering. No fear…
It had all gone wrong.
"Jack and his crew are dead." Walt told him. Jesse’s eyes widened in shock.
"Todd too," Walt affirmed. Jesse’s shoulders slumped and the expression on his face was one of…relief? Something else? Perhaps disappointment, that he hadn’t had the chance to do it himself.
"I’m going to get you out of here, okay?"
Walt knelt down and grasped Jesse’s elbow, trying to help him up from the flimsy mattress.
"Who had the keys to these cuffs? I can find them, and- "
Walt stopped. It was clear that Jesse wasn’t about to move anywhere.
"You told them…about Andrea. And Brock."
Walt noticed for the first time that Jesse was holding something in his left hand. Walt carefully prised it from his fingers and flattened it out against his knee. It was a crumpled photograph. Creased and covered in grime, with several portions obscured by water spots as though he’d been crying over it, but even so, the image was still visible; it was of Brock and Andrea in front of their house. It had obviously been taken without their knowledge.
Of course, they’d been used leverage. This picture had been given to Jesse to threaten him; make sure he wouldn’t step out of line. And he’d clung to it for all these months as the only shred he had left of his old life.
In the past Walt would have feigned ignorance, but he no longer saw any point in denying his role. There was no other way Jack’s gang could have known.
"Yes," he sighed. "I told them."
Jesse’s breath hitched.
"She’s dead,” he sobbed.
"Jesse…" Walt didn’t know what to say. What kind of comfort could he possibly attempt to offer?
"If I hadn’t told them, they would have tortured it out of you anyways."
"No!" Jesse protested. Through all the sadness and despair, a spark of anger ignited in his voice.
”NO! I would have let them KILL ME!”
There was accusation in the words, and bitterness.
How could you tell them? How could you betray me like that?
The one thing I had left…
He clung to Walt’s arm, fingers digging into his jacket, as though he wanted to scratch him, or hit him. But his resolve failed and he broke into fresh tears.
"It’s all my fault…" he shook his head, trying to avoid Walt’s gaze, and Walt had the most uncomfortable feeling of deja vu.
"I tried to escape," Jesse moaned. "It’s my fault. They warned me, and I didn’t listen. I- “
”They made me WATCH!”
His voice was positively burning with agony and rage and despair and horrified self-loathing; yet it still must have been only a fraction of what he felt like on the inside.
Walt felt a tear threatening to spill over onto his cheek.
In that moment, he felt unspeakably weary.
He’d never meant for any of this to happen. But they were all in Hell. Every damned one of them. How had things gotten so far out of hand?
For only the third time in the history of their relationship, he pulled Jesse in close and held him against his chest, rubbing his back gently. Jesse immediately broke down, whimpering incoherently between choked-up sobs; it was probably the first time he’d been touched in an affectionate way since this whole thing had fallen apart almost five months ago. He smelled almost as bad as he looked, but Walt figured that he was no basket of roses either at this point.
For a few minutes they just stayed that way, until Jesse exhausted himself and his wails of anguish dissolved into weak, hiccupy gasps.
"I k-keep…telling them…t-to kill me…" Jesse sniffled miserably. "…But they won’t. They won’t do it."
There’s no need for that, Walt wanted to say. But really, what were the kid’s prospects now? He had no family. No one to protect him, and no one left to protect. He couldn’t disappear, and the police were waiting to arrest him as soon as he resurfaced. Out of one cage and straight into another, probably for life.
He was trying to think of a silver lining to offer when suddenly Jesse went very quiet. He stopped shaking.
"Would you do it?" he whispered.
"What…?" Walt said again. But he knew perfectly well what Jesse was asking.
"Absolutely not. We’re going to get out of here and you’re going to be fine."
"No, no, no…" Jesse moaned. He sank more heavily into Walt’s arms, resisting his attempt to lift him up.
"Jesse, you’re coming with me if I have to carry you," Walt tried to insist. But there’s no way he’d be able to follow through on that and they both knew it.
"I’m not going anywhere," Jesse said. "I’m dying right here, one way or another. You can at least make it quick for me!"
"Jesse, this is not a debate. I’m not going to kill you!"
”Why not?!” Jesse sobbed. “You wanted me dead! So why can’t you just finish the job?!”
Jesse shook his head. Tears were streaming down his face.
"Mr. White," he begged, "if-…if you ever, cared about me…even a bit…please, just do this for me.”
Walt was frozen in a silent panic. He couldn’t do this.
Why not, though?…
What do I have left?…
"My gun’s out of ammo," he said, voice flat.
"So take one of theirs," muttered Jesse. His breathing sped up against Walt’s chest, as he sensed Walt’s change in intention.
"No…" Walt said. He reached a hand slowly into his jacket.
"I have…a better idea…"
The thing was so small, that for a second he was afraid he’d lost it in the firefight. But no- there it still was; tucked away in the corner of his pocket. He pulled out the little vial of white crystals - such an innocent-looking thing - and both he and Jesse stared at it.
"So you kept it," Jesse said. He didn’t even sound angry.
"Here- " he made to grab it, but Walt stopped him.
"Wait," he said. Jesse moaned.
"There’s…" Walt sighed, then continued speaking quietly. "There’s more than enough for us both."
With a shaking hand, (his hands were always shaking these days), he uncapped the tiny capsule and tapped half of the substance into his own cupped palm.
"Cheers," he muttered, and downed the stuff in one go.
Smacking away the pungent taste, he passed the vial to Jesse, who braced himself silently for a moment, then upturned it into his mouth like a shot-glass and swallowed the rest, grimacing slightly at the bitterness.
He dropped the empty capsule onto the filthy mattress and they both stared at it, marveling at what exactly they’d just done. With a heavy sigh, Walt pulled away and moved over to the side of the pit. He sat down against the concrete wall and looked back at Jesse, patting the empty patch of floor next to him.
"Why don’t you…sit over here?"
Jesse looked for a moment as though he would refuse, but then he sat up and shuffled awkwardly to sit next to his old partner. The handcuffs restricted his movements, and with each metallic clink Walt felt a pang of regret that he hadn’t at least taken the shackles off first.
Jesse curled up next to him, leaning on his shoulder. Night was falling above the pit and he was shivering under his threadbare gray shirt, so Walt threw an arm around him and rubbed his back, like before.
"Will it work?" Jesse asked softly. Like a scared child before bedtime asking his parents if they’d checked inside the closet for monsters.
"It’ll work," said Walt. And it would.
"We just have to wait."
"Okay…" Jesse said, with a tiny nod. "I guess I can do that."
Walt looked down at him. His eyes were closed. The crumpled photograph of Brock and Andrea was cradled against his chest, grasped tightly in one hand. He looked exhausted, and yet…almost peaceful.
"That’s good, Jesse…"
Walt was feeling tired, too. So terribly, terribly tired. Without thinking about it too much he rested his cheek on top of Jesse’s head and let his own eyes fall shut.
"Just go to sleep," he said.
Days later, when the police arrived and discovered the shocking scene, that was how they found them.