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A Moment's Lull

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The Pinkman kid's house looks different than Skyler remembers.

Some people buy car washes. Some people remodel their homes. It's what you do with drug money.

She exhales smoke against the windshield. It clouds her view and dissipates.

His car is out front. She thinks it's the same car that was outside her home that night, so it must be his car.

There's been no sign of life for forty-five minutes, though.

Forty-five minutes she's been parked across the street, waiting. Waiting for what, she doesn't know.

Yesterday she was there for thirty-eight minutes before she drove home.

Twice last week, almost a half hour each time.

No sign of life.

It doesn't seem right or fair or... something, that this kid who has inserted himself so firmly into her family, knocking everything out of place in his wake, sending the pieces scattering, falling, shattering, it doesn't seem fair that he's here, in this remodelled house on this quiet street, without consequence.

Skyler knows. She knows there's so much she doesn't know.

She doesn't want to know.

Nothing is fair.

She has to know.

She stabs the butt out in the ashtray and wrenches the door open before she can change her mind again.

*

She knocks, and waits, and still there's nothing.

She knocks again.

She knows this is it, that she's never coming back if that door doesn't open.

She slams on the wood with the flat of her hand.

From the corner of her eye, behind the bushes, she thinks the curtains move, part, settle again.

The locks unlatch and his blue eyes emerge from the darkness.

"Mrs. White?"

"Yes," she says, because she doesn't know what else to say.

He opens the door a little wider, looking behind her, up and down the street. He licks his lips. "Is – are you – did... did something happen?" His voice breaks. "To Mr. White?"

He think's Walt's dead. Walt's dead, and that's the only reason I'd be here.

"No," she says. "No, I – not that I know of, at least."

"Oh."

Skyler can't tell whether that's disappointment or relief.

"So, I – uh... can I – can I help you?" Jesse asks, finding his manners.

"May I come in?"

He hesitates, and checks behind her again.

She stares him down.

"Uh, yeah. Sure."

He barely steps aside and she slips in to the house. It's surprisingly dark, and her eyes don't immediately adjust to the change in light. For an instant she regrets leaving her car, regrets even driving here in the first place. She doesn't know what this kid has done to help Walt, but she doesn't doubt that he's in some way a criminal. He might be violent. He might be on drugs. He might be armed, and right now she has her back to him, he could be pulling a gun on her and aiming it right at the back of her head –

Skyler turns, quickly, and she can see a little better now, can see him leaning up against the closed door, watching her warily.

"So what are you doing here, exactly? If this is nothing to do with Mr. White, what are you even doing here? Did he send you?"

"No," Skyler says. "He doesn't know I'm here."

Jesse curses under his breath and rubs his eyes. "Okay. Okay. Do you want, like, a drink or something? Some water?"

"No. Thank you."

"Look, if you're here because you're pissed I was in your house that night – I'm sorry, okay? It was kind of an emergency and I had no idea you'd be coming home. And you don't have to worry about that ever happening again, 'cause your husband and me, we're not – we're not in business anymore, alright?"

Skyler sets her purse on the floor and sits on his futon, smoothing her skirt over her knees.

He keeps talking, halting but with no end in sight. "Yeah, have a – have a seat. And, you know, he never – he never told me anything about you. Not really. Nothing like – like what you said. No affair or nothing. I mean, that shit's all your own business, you know? Got nothing to do with me. Like, especially now. 'Cause with... you know, Mr. White and me not... not having our own business... anymore..."

He finally trails off as Skyler stares at him in silence.

"What did he do to you?" she asks.

"What?" Jesse chokes.

"You've changed. You seem afraid now, and you didn't before."

"It's not – I'm not –"

"I thought about it a lot, after that first time I came here, whether I'd seen you before. I tried to think if maybe I'd come to the school once to pick up Walt, or to bring him something that he forgot at home, something like that. I wondered if maybe I'd seen you in his class, or in the halls. And then, if I had seen you, if maybe there was some sign that you would be the thing that everything else in our lives would... that everything would suddenly be built from." Skyler pauses, and laughs at herself. "Stupid, huh? How could I possibly have seen any of this coming from years back?"

"I don't... I don't think we ever saw each other before. I'd – I mean, I'd probably remember that. You know, 'cause, like, seeing a teacher's wife is just – it's unusual, is all. Memorable," Jesse says. He digs around in his pocket and pulls out a pack of cigarettes.

"Could I have one of those? If you don't mind."

"Uh – yeah. Yeah." Jesse moves closer to offer her the pack, and she takes one and places it between her lips. He takes his own, and then sparks his lighter and holds it out.

She grabs his wrist to steady his hand, and draws in the flame.

He swallows heavily, and turns away once she releases him, lighting his own smoke, escaping back to the safety of the door.

"Thank you," Skyler says, exhaling a cloud.

"Yeah. No problem."

"Anyway," she continues. "Eventually I realized that it wasn't really you. That whatever your role was in this thing, it wasn't the biggest part. I couldn't just do the easy thing and blame you. It's just that... sometimes people make choices. And everyone around them has to suffer the consequences."

Jesse nods, silently dragging on his cigarette.

"I know exactly how I've suffered," she says. "Now tell me what he's done to you."

"No, yo, Mrs. White, I don't – "

She cuts off his sudden panic. "You can call me Skyler," she says calmly.

"Okay, Skyler, then. Whatever. It's like what I said before about how your business with Mr. White is your own business? It's kinda like a two way street on that thing with our business – me and him. You don't – you don't need to know. You don't need to be involved."

"I'm already involved. I probably know more than you think I do."

He rubs his forehead, and flicks ash onto the floor. "Yeah. Well. I'd bet everything I have that there's a shitton of stuff you don't know and you're better off not knowing."

"You're probably right," she says quietly, and looks around for an ashtray. There isn't one immediately visible, but she catches sight of the pile of butts in the fireplace. She stands, tosses her half-smoked cigarette onto the hearth.

It feels like it falls very slowly, that small tube of fire and smoke. It bounces, scattering ash, and she grinds the fire out with the toe of her shoe.

She still isn't sure why she came here. But she made a choice. And there would be consequences.

"He has hurt you, though, hasn't he?" she asks.

Jesse is quiet until she turns to look at him.

"You could say that," he answers tersely.

"Don't you want to do something to hurt him back?"

"Hey, I'm not gonna kill him if that's what you're asking me."

"That's not what I'm asking."

Jesse attempts to back further into the door as she approaches him. "Then why are you here?"

They lock eyes and don't break apart until Skyler leans in to kiss him.

He responds for a millisecond, his lips seeking out hers for the barest touch, then darts away just as fast, pushing off the wall and into the open space of the room. "What the fuck, yo? You trying to get me killed?"

Skyler touches her fingertips to her bottom lip. The room spins, and rights itself. She takes a deep breath, and says in a rush, "I wasn't sure of it before, but now I am. You're the only one. The only person who could possibly know what he's really like. The only one who has any reason to want to inflict one... one tenth of the damage he's done back on him." Her fingers curl into a fist, her nails biting into the palm. "The only person other than me."

"Mrs. White – "

"Stop calling me that!" she snaps.

Jesse holds his hands out, trying to calm her. "Okay, okay. Skyler. I'm sorry. Look, this... this sounds – it's great, and all, but if he finds out anything happened between us – if he finds out you were even here – he's going to kill me. Like, literally. Actually murder me. And then throw me in a barr—" he cuts himself off. "It'd be bad, is what I'm saying. If he found out."

"He won't find out."

"He found out about it before, right? Your affair?"

"That was my choice. He found out because I told him."

"Why the fuck would you do that?" Jesse is looking at her like she's insane.

She hates it.

"It was my choice," she says slowly. "And it's not one I would make this time. He'd never know."

"So what's the point? Like, what's the point of doing something to get back at him if he's never gonna find out it even happened?"

Skyler approaches him again. This time, he stays still.

"Because we would know," she says. "And we would feel better because of it."

"Jesus Christ," Jesse sighs, covering his face with his hands. "This is fucking batshit."

Although suddenly desperately in need of this thing she didn't know she wanted, she admits to herself that she has to agree. She thinks quickly for a possible out that would allow her to escape with a shred of dignity. "Do you have a girlfriend, Jesse?"

His shoulders tense at that.

"No," he says, dropping his hands by his sides. His jaw clenches, and he looks away. "I don't. We just... we broke up, a couple months ago."

He collapses on the futon with a pained look.

"I'm sorry," Skyler says, and she genuinely is. "Did I – I didn't mean to hit a sore spot."

He shakes his head and snaps, "Did you come here just to do this? To, what – to seduce me or something?"

She sits down on the futon, close, but not touching. "No. Not at first."

Jesse nods. He's silent for a long moment. Skyler is close to completely losing her nerve, to getting up and leaving, humiliated, when he says, "I'm sorry, you know, for – for everything that's happened. If I could go back and stop it, I'd do it in a second."

"Yeah," she says quietly.

"But, I guess, if, you know, so much shit has gone wrong, then... what's one more thing gonna matter?"

His hand rests on her knee, just below the hem of her skirt.

"I mean," he continues. "We deserve... something. Right?"

Skyler covers his hand with hers and turns to kiss him, the taste of cigarettes in his mouth matching her own.

He kisses like she remembers being kissed in high school, a little too much tongue and his hand sliding a little too clumsily up her skirt. It makes her feel equal parts young and old.

She wonders if this is the way he always is, or if she just brings that out in him, the fumbling, the need to fill every silence. She can't imagine Walt tolerating that for long.

"What did he do to you?" she asks again.

"If I told you, you'd be out the door in a second," he says.

She takes his hand from where it's come to tentatively rest on her thigh and moves it higher, Jesse's hand tensing when he makes contact with the cotton of her underwear. She encourages him with her eyes, and his fingers slip inside.

Skyler realizes it's the first time in months she's been touched like this with her permission, and that alone is exhilarating.

"Do you – my – my bedroom is upstairs, so – "

She pulls his hand away as quickly as she had guided it there and kicks off her shoes as she straddles him.

"Lie down," she tells him.

"Uh, yeah. Okay. Here's good too."

He slides down awkwardly, hitting the back of his head on the arm of the futon on the way. He winces and she tries not to smile as she settles back over him. It's cramped, and uncomfortable, but it feels right. Skyler thinks that something like this shouldn't come without its little inconveniences, small reminders that not all is right in the world.

Jesse tries to sit up, kissing her, clinging to her, his hands running up her legs to her hips, where her skirt has ridden up, clumsily tugging at the buttons on her blouse, giving up and just putting his hands under there, up her back as far as he can reach.

She pulls at his t-shirt, the ridiculous, oversize folds of cloth hanging from his thin frame. He breaks away from her long enough to pull it over his head and discard it on the floor. She clutches his shoulders and pushes him back down onto the futon, pausing to trace the edges of the tattoo on his chest with her nails.

He hisses as she digs in a little too eagerly.

"Sorry," she says.

"I'm starting to think your whole family has some kinda thing for kicking the shit out of me," he says, and almost laughs.

Skyler sits up, biting her lip. "I'm sorry," she says again.

"It's okay. I mean, you know. Kidding."

She nods, and unbuttons her blouse.

"So, I guess – I guess I should use a condom, right? You want me to go get one?"

"Nope," she says, dropping her blouse to the floor and reaching after it for her purse. "I have one here."

She's surprised that he offered, and for a brief moment she considers going without. Potentially giving birth to Jesse Pinkman's bastard love child and using her husband's drug money to raise it is too perverse to not entertain the possibility. But the possibility of getting the clap (or God knows what) from Walt's druggie business partner seems more likely. But that, though, catching something and passing it on to Walt: the deep, dark "fuck you" in that is also intriguing.

Despite everything, sensibility reigns. She does have a condom, a leftover from Ted, and she does try to dig it out of her purse. Jesse is putting his hands inside her bra, though, either too polite or tentative to remove it without checking with her first. It's all making him seem downright gentlemanly, and incredibly distracting as she fumbles with pockets and zippers and perfectly sized compartments.

His hands drift lower, back inside her underwear and she inhales sharply as her fingers close around the foil packet. She stops, stops moving, stops thinking, and just grinds her hips against him. From the feel of it, he's hard already, and she supposes that's the miracle of fucking a twentysomething. Somewhere in the back of her mind she laughs, wonders if she should've done this sooner. From far away, she thinks she hears herself laugh out loud as well.

His body stills for a moment. "You okay?"

"Yeah. Just keep doing that."

"Can I – "

"Yes. Just don't stop."

He clumsily unhooks her bra with one hand and takes hold of her breast.

It's too much. She sits back up, the condom clutched in her fist, and looks down at him, staring back up at her with unfocused curiosity.

"Are you ready?" Skyler asks.

"God, yeah," Jesse groans.

She stands and pulls her underwear down and off, her bra off, and leaves her skirt hiked up around her waist. He quickly unbuckles his belt, shoves his jeans and boxers down around his ankles.

As she takes his cock in her hand, there's a sudden resolved steeliness to the way he's looking at her. She strokes him a few times, and his eyes slam shut, his jaw clenches.

Rolling the condom on him reminds her of Ted, and all the things she's guilty of: the money laundering, the extortion, the obstruction of justice, the act of being an accessory to the very existence and subsequent illegal deeds of Walter H. White. And there is this, too, a pettier crime in every sense of the word, yet another minor sin to be overlooked in the grand scheme of things.

Overlooked by a court of law, at least. A judge, a jury. Less so an executioner.

What if he does find out? What if she's leading Jesse into a trap, aware of it this time, that he could end up like Ted—or worse, because there are certainly fates worse than Ted's.

Maybe Walt's right. Maybe it does just get easier.

She hates that. The thought that he could be right about anything now.

Jesse's eyes are still tightly closed, his breathing heavy. Skyler surprises him when she suddenly straddles him again, guiding him inside her. His breath stutters, she moans.

"Fuck," he gasps. His hands clutch her hips.

Skyler leans down and kisses him, and he's more sure of himself now. She rides him as hard as she can, bordering on desperation, seeking something she's still not quite sure of. He thrusts up to meet her, and she moans again, resting her head on his shoulder to catch her breath.

"You know," he says quietly, "If he did kill me for this, maybe it wouldn't be the worst way to die." He laughs, breathless. "Totally worth it."

"Mmm," she murmurs, and pulls away, arching her back, running her nails over his chest again. "You said before that you wouldn't kill him. But maybe we should."

"I had a chance."

"Tell me."

"Pulled a gun on him. His own gun. Right at his fucking head."

Skyler whimpers, closing her eyes tightly. She tries to keep breathing. "Walt has a gun," she says, a statement, not a question.

"Yeah," he says, like it's obvious.

"Why didn't you do it?"

Jesse cups her breasts with his hands and exhales heavily. "Just couldn't. Don't know. He talked me out of it. I apologized to the prick later... fuck."

She pulls one of his hands off her, and down, down to where he enters her. He takes the hint, rubbing her clit. She sighs and grinds against him again.

"Tell me about it."

"I had him on the ground. He was – he dared me to do it. He dared me to kill him. Had the barrel right between his eyes – "

Skyler moans each time she lowers herself on to him. She can feel the tension building in her, she's so close, almost there, it's almost over.

"Where," she gasps, wanting to picture it more completely. "Where where you?"

His fingers press against her harder, faster. He stares up at her, and they lock eyes. She holds her breath.

"Your living room," he says.

She cries out, almost in pain, and there, there it is. That's it.

He thrusts up into her harder as she contracts around him, and it seems to go on forever. She feels shaken, drained, and his hands go back to her hips, gripping her hard, but carefully not hard enough to leave evidence.

Leaning down over him again, Skyler kisses him, then whispers in his ear. "Tell me where the gun is. Give me one. I'll shoot him in his sleep when he doesn't have a fucking chance. This will all be over."

Jesse wordlessly cries out, thrusting again, again, then he groans, a choked, "Mrs. White," escaping on a shaky exhale.

He puts his arms around Skyler and they stay like that a moment. She feels that rush of instant post-orgasm regret and takes it for what it is.

This was her choice, and that is good enough.

She gets up, and moves off him, reaching for her clothes. He pulls his pants up, leaves the room to get rid of the condom.

When he returns she's buttoning her blouse and looking for her shoes. She combs her hair with her fingers as he pulls his t-shirt back on.

"So, I – uh, I guess I should say that I... if you actually meant any of that shit – I still can't kill him for you. Or help you kill him. I just – I can't do that."

"No," she says. "No, of course not. That was just a heat of the moment, letting off steam thing. It's okay."

"Okay."

Skyler collects her purse from the floor and smooths her skirt down. She's suddenly lost for words. "I, um... thank you. I didn't know it, but I needed this. Something like this. Catharsis."

"Yeah," Jesse nods. "Catharsis. Totally."

"I'll just... I'll see myself out, then."

He stops her just as she reaches for the door. "Mrs. White," he says. She doesn't bother to correct him, and he doesn't correct himself.

She looks to him and waits.

He stares down at the floor. "This can't happen again. At all. I can't even talk to you again. Just for, like... safety's sake."

"He won't find out, Jesse. I promise."

"Okay."

"And, hey," she says with false brightness. "He's going to die eventually, right? Maybe we can catch up at his funeral."

Jesse smirks. "Take care of yourself, alright?"

Skyler smiles. "Yeah," she says quietly. "You too."

*

The heavy wood door closes behind her, and she squints against the brightness outside. The light looks the same as when she went in, as if no time has passed.

She looks around for any passersby or suspiciously lingering cars, and then hurries across the street to where she parked.

Safely locked in her car again, she checks herself in the rear view mirror, fixing her hair again. She smiles to herself.

A deep breath and then she starts the car and carefully pulls out into the street.

All the way back to the car wash, she absently smooths the wrinkles in her skirt with one hand.

Over, and over, and over again.