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Blue Skies & Apple Pies

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The world breaks everyone, and afterward, many are stronger at the broken places.

~ Ernest Hemingway

Jesse's never fared well under stress, and right now his brain feels like it's bathing in a pressure cooker.

Walter White is dead.

The psycho bastards who kept Jesse locked away in chains are lying in bloody ribbons on the ground.

Sirens and flashing lights are closing in.

And Jesse knows absolutely nothing about where he is right now.

But he has a car, which is a serious improvement over his situation the last—Christ, how long has he been here?

What Jesse does know without a doubt is that he needs to flee the scene before the cops show up. This is not a good location to lay low until he comes up with a plan. A Neo-Nazi drug den hosting a shootout and the body of drug lord Heisenberg? This place will be crawling with cops in seconds. And there's no way Jesse's going to waste time explaining he was sold into meth-slavery by Mr. White. Not without a lawyer present, that's for damn sure.

Better call Saul.

Jesse wonders if Saul's even alive at this point. Or is he holed up in some shithole prison after the investigation—because there had to be an investigation, right? Two DEA agents don't just vanish without some sort of follow-up.

It doesn't matter now. He needs to leave, pronto.

Jesse's had considerable success evading the police when he has to, so he races down the dark, dirt road and gets the hell out of dodge.

Jesse knows he's going to need a new identity until the Heisenberg case blows over. Since Mr. White's gone—Jesse's chest ripples involuntarily—the police will hunger to slap cuffs on a live suspect. They'll dig and dig into every crevice of Mr. White's life and unearth his secrets.

He still has the number Saul gave him for the extractor, someone to erase him off the grid and give him a fresh start. But that number is locked away safe and sound in his house, which, if the cops start digging, will also be crawling with police. Time is of the essence here.

He follows the signs back to civilization, careful not to drive too fast or too slow, keeping off the main roads. Mr. Inconspicuous. He's thankful for the cloak of darkness, though, which makes his journey easier.

Jesse's been on the run before, but this is the first time he's been completely isolated from everyone else. At least before he'd had Mr. White or Saul to contact if things went south. Now, he's truly on his own.

All throughout the drive back to Albuquerque, Jesse's eyes keep darting back and forth.

Yeah, he's a little paranoid.

Jesse does, however, casually drive by the familiar strip mall that once housed Saul Goodman's office. Gone is the kitschy Lady Liberty balloon and the loud, extravagant sign. The office is vacated—as if he never existed.

Jesse grips the steering wheel tighter as agony rips through him.

He's not sure what he was expecting when he pulls up to his old home at 9809 Margo Street. Maybe police presence or graffiti scrawled on the exterior. Some sign of defacement or vandalism, at least. But, no, Jesse's house is as pristine as it was the day he left it.

He gets out of the car and heads for the door. Upon patting his pockets, he realizes, oh yeah, he doesn't have a key. He's going to have to break in to his own house.

The hits just keep coming.

He keeps to the shadows, sneaking around the back of the building. He finds a loose window he can wiggle open and climb through. Jesse drops feet-first into the kitchen, his aching bones protesting. It takes him a moment to gather his bearings, head swirling with disorientation. He feels unusually weak, his energy drained like an abcess.

He should probably eat something.

The food in the fridge has long since expired. Jesse rummages through the cabinets in search of something loaded with enough preservatives to last through the nuclear apocalypse. He finds a can of Chef Boyardee. After living on scraps, it fills him up pretty quickly. That doesn't stop him from heating up another can though.

He doesn't have a clue what he looks like, but the foul stench he's smelling probably isn't the house. Ugh. Jesse tosses his old clothes—no, Todd's clothes—into the garbage before crawling into the shower.

He always liked relaxing under the hot spray and getting his thoughts in order, but he doesn't have time to relax. He showers on auto-pilot, his mind blissfully blank. Grief paralyzes, and he knows it. There will be time to break down later when he's safe from the epicenter of this clusterfuck.

Jesse doesn't look at himself in the mirror when he's finished and doesn't bother shaving. If the cops have his picture, they're definitely not looking for a guy with this much facial hair. He finds clean clothes in the closets and drawers. He's in the middle of pulling on a pair of jeans when he hears a clatter downstairs.

His heart pounds in his chest. He flattens himself against the wall by the door. Jesse's mind races with panic. Could the cops have found him already? No, impossible. They couldn't have traced him back to Mr. White that quickly. Cops are good—they're not instantaneous.

Unless... unless Mr. White didn't die right away. What if he gave up Jesse's name to the police or paramedics or whoever got to him first?

But cops can't just sneak into your place and wreck your shit. They have to announce themselves, and Jesse sure as shit didn't hear, "Police!" or any sort of warning. So it's probably just an intruder downstairs. No big deal.

Jesse scans the room for a formidable weapon and comes up hilariously short. All he's got is a plastic Rock Band guitar. That's gonna have to do for now.

He cracks the door open and peers out. Jesse never turned the lights on when he came inside—best not to draw attention if someone's watching the house—so it's ridiculously dark. Even with minimal light, he can make out a vague, shadowy shape moving around in the foyer. He can't see the glint of a knife or a gun on the intruder, but that doesn't mean they're not armed.

The intruder doesn't seem to be ransacking the place or stealing anything though. Actually, they seem scared. Do neighborhood kids dare each other to spend a night here with the ghosts that haunt its walls?

Jesse keeps watching, his heart thrumming in his ears. The stranger stumbles over something and hisses, "Shit!" Jesse feels the hair on the back of his neck stand up, because he knows that voice.

It's Badger.

What the hell is Badger doing here?

Jesse sets his weapon down and nudges the door open, just enough to crawl through. "Badger?" he whispers through his teeth.

The intruder startles, and his head whirls to the source of the sound. His voice is shaky with disbelief, and, yep, that's Badger. "Jesse? Is that you?"

Jesse rises up and peers over the balcony railing.

That's when Badger starts rushing up the stairs.

Oh God. Jesse backs away, bracing himself for something awful. But Badger just throws his arms around Jesse and hugs him for all he's worth. It's a little awkward, but it's the most meaningful interaction he's had in a long time, and damn if it doesn't make him tear up a bit.

"Dude! Where have you been? I thought you were a goner, bro!"

"Yeah, me too." Jesse's voice crackles in his throat like old paper.

Badger finally releases Jesse from the embrace. "Almost didn't recognize you. What's with the beard?"

Jesse shrugs, avoids that subject entirely. "What're you doing here?"

"I saw a car outside, thought somebody was tryin' to rob the place."

"You watch my house?"

"I drive by every night," Badger says, like that's not crazy at all.

Jesse's brow creases in confusion, and it hurts his face. He winces at the pain. He turns away and heads back into his room. Regardless of Badger's reappearance in Jesse's life, he still needs a new identity. He's officially on the run.

Badger follows him like a loyal puppy. "So where've you been, man? You been hidin' out from the law?"

Jesse pulls open the bureau drawers and starts tossing clothes into a duffel bag. "It's—whatever. It doesn't matter."

"Seriously? I haven't heard from you in, like, six months. What've you been up to?"

"Six months?" Jesse turns to look at him. "That's how long I've been gone?"

Badger's eyes widen. "Yeah, you don't—you don't know?"

Jesse shakes his head, lets it all sink in. He'd been in that torture pit for half a year. Christ, no wonder Badger looked like he'd seen a ghost. Jesse feels dead on his feet himself.

He digs through the drawers and finds the number where he thought it would be—on the back of Saul Goodman's business card.

"What happened to you?" Badger asks, like he knows something dark and awful sank its claws into Jesse's world.

A flicker of macabre memories echoes in his head. Jesse bites his lips together, shakes his head again as if that will dispel the gory slideshow. He stuffs the card into his jeans' pocket and continues packing. "I need a favor."

Badger straightens up. "You name it."

Jesse won't be able to drive that car for long. Too risky. Odds are it belonged to one of the psychos at the compound, so there'll be an APB on that thing quicker than Jesse can blink. And Jesse's not swapping license plates and adding yet another crime to his mile-long rap sheet.

"I'm gonna call this number"—Jesse pats the card through his pocket—"and you're gonna take me to the address the guy gives me. Then you're gonna forget you saw me if the cops ask you anything."

"You're leaving again?" Badger whines. "But you just got here!"

Jesse whirls around to face him. "Do you have any idea how much shit I'm in right now? Mr. White's asshole brother-in-law is dead in a ditch somewhere out in the desert! If the cops know I was there when it happened, they're gonna come lookin' for me! I got my prints and DNA all over the compound I was at, with a meth lab that's been sendin' Blue Sky all over!"

Badger's mouth twists in contemplation. "What about Saul? He got me out of a pretty tight jam. Maybe he could do some good for you."

Jesse shuts his eyes as if in pain. "I drove by his place. It's gone. He's gone. Talkin' to the cops is not an option anymore. I just gotta go off the grid."

Badger opens his mouth like he's going to argue the point, but closes it. Wise. "I guess that's good. I mean, after what happened to Andrea..."

The hole in his chest aches and screams at the excruciating memory.

"They might come after you or the kid, y'know?"

They won't, but the cops might. And he'll only wish he was dead.

But Brock... God, Brock had been the only thing keeping Jesse alive down there. What if he could do something for the kid? What if Jesse could find him and make the best of their lives? To be alone with his thoughts would be a slow death sentence. But Brock would force him to stay alive and well for the kid's sake. Something to wake up for...

Jesse pauses, his hands freezing in his sock drawer. If Saul disappeared, he probably went through the same guy Jesse's about to call. If Jesse can track Saul down, maybe he can get Saul to work his magic and find Brock.

It's a hell of a long shot, but it's the only motivation Jesse's got now. Might as well make the best of it.

He looks at Badger. "So, slight change of plans..."

Ed, the extractor, shows up in a red van at the pick-up site and whisks Jesse away to his vacuum repair shop. It looks about as inviting on the outside as it is on the inside. It's dark and drab and filled with vacuums, and Jesse doesn't want to stay any longer than he has to.

"You're a little hot right now," Ed's explaining after snapping Jesse's photo, "so it might take a day or two to get you situated." He pulls up a driver's license with Jesse's newly-taken photograph on the screen. Jesse moves closer to read the print, to see what state he'll be shipped off to. Alaska.

Loneliness blows over Jesse's heart like a cold gust. He remembers reading something about how seasonal depression is more common the further you get from the equator. As if he's not already at risk for depression, sending him into arctic isolation is like the icing on top of the tragedy cake.

Jesse studies the screen, watches Ed type some commands on the keyboard. "I've got a place downstairs you can stay 'til you're ready to go," Ed says. Jesse's barely listening, his mind spiralling off into infinite directions. His pulse jumps, anxiety ratcheting up his heart rate. How the fuck is he going to pull this off? He's never been smooth or casual when the pressure's on. Except that one time he traded meth for gasoline, but only because he dazzled the poor girl into the deal.

Ed shows him the stairway to the downstairs "living quarters," which fulfills neither of those descriptions. But the place looks like a Hyatt compared to the dank underground pit Jesse called home for six months. At least there's a working toilet.

"You just make yourself comfortable, and I'll call you if I need you," Ed says. "I gotta take a leak."

Jesse watches him cross the floor and disappear out of sight. He hears the distant sound of a door closing.

Time for action.

Jesse leaves his bag by the stairs and makes a mad dash for the computer. He keeps his steps light in case Ed can hear the transfer of motion. He thinks this would be a good time for the Mission: Impossible theme music to start playing. Yeah, Jesse's kind of a nerd.

He's pleased to find that Ed hasn't shut the computer down, nor has it gone to screensaver. That means Jesse probably won't need to type in a password to access anything. He takes his chances anyway, because no one keeps secrets in their drawers anymore; they're all on the computer.

Jesse clicks through the menu bar at the top of the screen, looking for some sort of clue. He clicks "Open" and opens the file browser, which doesn't help when he doesn't know where to look. He clicks on the Windows logo at the left-hand corner of the screen. There's a search box at the bottom, but Jesse knows anything you type in there gets logged. So the next time Ed goes to search for something in Windows, he'll see whatever Jesse searches for too.

But Jesse ought to be out of here by then. It's a calculated risk, and Jesse's been taking plenty of them today.

So he types in "Saul Goodman."

For a few brief moments, nothing comes up, and Jesse's heart drops like a stone. But then the computer spits out a handful of results. He doesn't know where to start, so he just clicks on the first one.

Pay dirt.

It's a .jpg image of Saul's new license, complete with new, falsified information just like Jesse's own. He recognizes the picture immediately. Jesse's hands reach out over the desk, scrambling for a pen and paper. He finds a sticky note and a blunt-edged pencil. That'll work.

Saul's new moniker is Saul McGill—creative, huh?—and he's currently living in the scenic, bustling metropolis of Omaha, Nebraska. Jesse's hand shakes as he copies the address down. He thinks about typing in Mr. White's name, just to get a glimpse of the life Walt lived while Jesse felt like dying, but there's no time.

He hears a toilet flush. Jesse shoves the sticky note in his pocket and closes off the search windows. He doesn't have enough time to clear all the evidence of his query, but that's okay, because he's picking up his bag and descending down the stairs by the time Ed opens the door.

Jesse can't sleep that night, though his body and mind crave rest. The solitude and silence in the room reminds him too much of the compound. So Jesse just lies awake on the bed, seeking shapes in the swirls and ridges on the ceiling. The jittery panic of epinephrine won't let him relax enough to sleep. He once watched a program on the Discovery Channel about how the brain responds under stress, how the fight-or-flight response makes your body its bitch. Jesse's not a scientist, so he doesn't understand how adrenaline works, just that it does. And he's been working off a seemingly-limitless supply of it for the past few hours now, and probably will be until he feels safe enough to bring it all crashing down.

So, sleep? Not happening tonight.

Jesse surmises the adrenaline is what's keeping the agony at bay. There's going to be hell to pay when the stress-induced fog finally fades from his head, but for now he's grateful his brain can detach from trauma long enough to power him through the storm.

With bleary eyes, he watches the sun rise through the tiny window. At some point during the day—the absence of clocks has Jesse in constant disorientation—Ed grants him reprieve.

"Good news, you're not as hot as I thought," he says, coming down the staircase. "Looks like I'm gonna be gettin' you outta here by noon, if you're ready."

Jesse feels his heart leap in something resembling joy. "Yeah, but, uh, I already got a ride. So don't worry about it."

Ed lifts an eyebrow. "You sure? Just 'cause you're not on a Most Wanted list doesn't mean you still can't get pinched."

"I'm good," Jesse says, shaking his head. "Thanks, though."

Ed gives him a meaningful look before heading upstairs.

They go their separate ways a little after noon, just as Ed had predicted. Jesse slings his bag over his shoulder and sets out on the dirt road. Before placing the call to Ed, Jesse had picked up a cheap burner phone with which to call Badger and set up a meeting. He digs the phone out of his pocket and punches in Badger's number. "Yo."

"Who is this?"

"It's me, you idiot. I'm ready. You remember the rendezvous point?"


"Meet me there in, like, five minutes. But fuel up first. We got a long drive ahead of us."

"Alright, road trip!"

They cross the state line into Colorado before Badger complains that he's tired. So Jesse pulls over at the first sleazy, no-tell motel they find. Standard fare for truckers, adulterers, and fugitives. Jesse's glad the place takes cash and doesn't ask questions. Shit, he probably wouldn't even need a pulse to check in here.

Badger marvels at the flickering neon sign above the awning. "They got color TV, man!"

The lap of luxury.

The woman behind the desk gives them a room in the back, and Jesse collapses onto the bed when they make it inside. Badger switches on the TV—which boasts an impressive ten channels—to some lame game show. It's not even midnight yet, but it feels like that cusp of late night/early morning where obstacles seem insurmountable, the world too cruel and vicious to endure. Jesse lets a couple of tears escape, too broken to cry properly.

He doesn't remember falling asleep, but when he opens his eyes again it's light out. Badger's digging through a grease-stained McDonald's bag. Jesse yawns, groans, rolls over onto his back. His muscles ache as if waking from a deep sleep. "What time is it?" he mumbles.

"Like, a little after five."

"In the morning?"

Badger shakes his head. "You were sacked out, bro," he says around a mouthful of fries. He fishes into the bag for the burger and tosses it at Jesse. It lands on the mattress and bounces once before settling near Jesse's hand. The wrapper's still warm. "No tomatoes, extra cheese. Just how you like it."

Jesse can't remember the last time he ate a hamburger. He tears into it. Each bite is like a burst of flavor to taste buds long dulled by bland, lackluster rations. He demolishes the burger in about thirty seconds. He's licking ketchup off of his fingers when Badger says, "You want your fries?"

Badger doesn't have to ask twice.

Jesse has no regrets about his moment of gluttony, even when his stomach feels stretched past the point of comfortable, because he hasn't had a decent meal in six months, god damn it.

"Where'd you get all this money?" he asks, because Badger was the one to pony up the cash to pay for the trip to Ed's.

Badger rummages through the bag for the last few straggler fries. "Heisenberg."

Something in Jesse's chest tears open at the name. "He just gave you money?"

"In exchange for a favor, yeah."

"What kind of favor?" He shouldn't want to know, but morbid curiousity compels him to ask anyway. Maybe he's a masochist.

Badger shrugs. "He paid me and Pete some fat stacks to pretend to be assassins." He grins. "It was awesome."

Jesse wonders about that, then shuts off that avenue entirely. No good will come from dwelling on thoughts of Mr. White.

They get back on the road and drive until about midnight when they finally roll into Omaha. The city lights are bright and energetic, a stark contrast to the black hole Jesse feels inside. Vibrant blues and reds gleam from neon signs inside and atop buildings. Jesse finds himself gawking, gazing up at the majestic structures as they pass by.

Saul's place isn't too hard to find; Jesse doesn't know how to feel about that, but he figures it means nothing since Badger's using a GPS to navigate. Saul lives in a modest little home in a quaint neighborhood outside of downtown. Lush trees spring from the ground like armed guards, their foilage various shades of red and orange and yellow. The front lawn is meticulously kept and trimmed, and Jesse's not sure why that surprises him. There's a sleek silver Pontiac G6 parked in the driveway—no tongue-in-cheek license plates this time—so Jesse figures Saul's home.

Badger rolls to a stop alongside the curb, staring at the house. "It's pretty late, dude. You wanna find a place to crash and just come back later?"

Jesse prefers not to be a colossal dick by banging on the door before the sun's even up, but he's running out of fucks to give. And Saul might not be there when they come back. He's waited long enough. "He'll talk to me."

"You don't think the neighbors'll freak and call the cops?"

"If he tells me to fuck off, I'll leave," Jesse says, "but he won't. He'll remember me."

Badger shrugs. "Hey, it's up to you. But if someone calls the cops, you're on your own."

Jesse nods and opens the passenger door. He walks up the cobblestone walkway and rings the doorbell.

Saul opens his eyes around 12:17 in the morning. Something woke him up, but he doesn't know what. He sticks a hand underneath his pillow and feels for his cell phone. The phone stays silent, even after he manages to turn the screen on. He squints, the light nearly blinding him in the dark, but he's able to make out vague shapes on the screen. None of them indicate any text messages, emails, or phone calls.

His brain kicks on, and he thinks the dog might be a bit smarter than him at this hour. Bark Lee has already hopped off of the bed, barking down the hallway with his snout stuck through the gap in the bedroom door. So maybe the dog isn't smarter than Saul. Whatever, two heads are better than one.

He hears a distant ringing sound, and Bark Lee yaps again. Saul says, "Oh my God," out loud, because, seriously, is that the goddamn doorbell? He's murdering whoever woke him up and burying them in his yard. There is no excuse for this. Something better be on fire.

He staggers his way down the stairs to the front door. Bark Lee trots behind him, his dog tags jingling. Saul throws the door open. His heart crawls into his throat when he sees Jesse Pinkman standing there.

The kid's got a lot more hair on him, but that's definitely Jesse. There's no mistaking those wide blue eyes and the way they seem to beg for help. Then Saul gets a good look at him, and, oh Jesus. Jesse's entire frame is fragile and underfed, as if a slight breeze might carry him away. His eyes, once so full of life and emotion, look vacant and empty, like a dead battery. Two long white scars cut through the right side of his face; one starting at his eyebrow and ending at the middle of his cheekbone, the other slashed across his cheek. Another scar cuts across the bridge of his nose. The left side bears two smaller crescents on his brow and beneath his eye.

Hard to believe he had once been pretty, handsome in a boy-ish way. Maybe he still is, underneath all the decay.

"Jesse?" Saul croaks, his voice rough with sleep.

Jesse half-smiles. "Yo."

"'Yo'? Is that all you—How the hell did you get here? How did you know where to find me?" Saul has a thousand more questions running through his mind, but those seem pretty important right now.

Jesse rubs the back of his neck, and the familiar gesture tugs at Saul's heart. "It's a long story."

Saul sticks his head out the door and sees an unfamiliar car idling by the curb. "Who is that? Is that—"

"It's Badger," Jesse cuts in, as if Saul might have said another name. "Can you let me in so we can talk?"

Saul would rather shut the door in Jesse's face so he can sleep, but, honestly, he kinda missed the kid. So he sighs loudly—because Jesse needs to know Saul's put out about the inconvenience—and lets Jesse step inside.

Saul shuts the door and watches Jesse look around in awe. "Nice place." His gaze settles on Bark Lee, who's sitting on his haunches and watching Jesse with a curious head tilt. "You got a dog?"

"Nah, he's the neighbors'. I'm just dogsitting for a couple days." Enough with the pleasantries. Saul steps in front of Jesse and says, "But let's cut to the chase here: how'd you find me?"

"Your, uh, your quick vanish guy. Ed."

Saul blinks. "He just told you?" Confidentiality is a dying art, it seems.

Jesse huffs a harsh-sounding laugh. "Hell no. I did some, uh, sleuthing."

Saul opens his mouth before he realizes he doesn't want to know. "Okay, fine, Nancy Drew. What's so damn important you have to show up here past midnight? I need my beauty sleep, y'know."

Jesse takes a couple tentative steps over to the couch, like he's waiting for permission. Or maybe he's afraid of dogs. But Jesse sits down and says, "I need your help."

"Those days are long gone, kid. I'm just a lowly paralegal now. I can't pull your ass outta whatever fire you got goin' on."

Jesse shakes his head. "I don't need you to save me. I need you to find somebody."

"Who, your ex-boyfriend slash meth chef Walter White? Because if you didn't already know, he's dead."

Jesse flinches almost imperceptibly. "No, it's not—it's not him. I want you to find Brock Cantillo."

Saul's not forgetting that name anytime soon. "The kid?"

Jesse nods, a faraway look in his eyes.

"Is he in danger?"

"I don't—I don't think so. But I wanna find him so I can adopt him."

Saul chokes on a laugh he tries to swallow back, because, really? "You're joking, right?" The pained crease of Jesse's brow says he's absolutely not joking. "No, of course not, you're totally serious." The way the moonlight hits Jesse's face makes his scars seem to come alive, squirming across his face like worms. Almost daring Saul to deny him anything, to break the kid's spirits after his body's been battered and broken.

Saul breathes out a long, deep sigh. "So what happened? Did she move away and take the kid with her?"

Jesse closes his eyes but moves nothing else. Eerie. Saul feels a chill crawl up his spine. "Brock's the only one left," Jesse says, and, wow, that sentence is a loaded gun.

Saul rubs a hand over his mouth. "Okay, so what's the next logical step here? I mean, have you given this any thought at all past this point? Where do you think the kid would be?"

Jesse shrugs lamely. "Foster care?"

"Pardon the insensitivity here, but Mexican families tend to be pretty large. I guarantee he's got a relative willing and able to take him in. Now, how are you—Andrea's addict ex-boyfriend—going to explain why you're a better candidate for raising this kid than his grandmother or aunt or uncle or whatever? I mean, c'mon, kid. You met her in an NA meeting. Somethin' tells me you won't win over an adoption lawyer with that little detail."

Jesse doesn't answer, just exhales and slowly turns his head away. Saul's a fan of the tough love method, but here it just seems like cruelty. That doesn't stop him from continuing. "Also, since the shit hit the fan with the Heisenberg case, you, young master Pinkman, are going to be, shall we say, a person of interest. You give anybody your real name, and it's bye-bye magical land of parenthood: hello prison."

"What if I had a new identity?" Jesse argues.

"Then your only leverage is gone, and you've got just as much a chance of adopting that kid as I do: none."

Jesse breathes out a sigh, staring at nothing in particular. Bark Lee yawns like he's bored and settles down on all fours.

Saul looks back to Jesse. "Even if I was still in the game, I'm not a miracle worker. Face it, kid. This one's just a pipe dream."

The hurt in Jesse's eyes is palpable, as if Saul had reached out and slapped him. His face quivers with emotion, brows drawn tight. Saul wants to comfort him somehow, offer him some sort of lifeline after everything's been ripped away. Because Saul can't be the one to break him.

Saul sits on the edge of the coffee table and gazes at Jesse. "Do you have a place to stay?"

Jesse shakes his head. "There's nothing. No one," he says, almost robotic.

Saul wants to mention that Jesse's still got Badger, but it's a moot point. He wrings his hands. Jesse did drive all the way out here; it would be kind of a dick move to send the kid home at this point. "Alright, maybe—maybe we could work something out. Would you like to stay here and lay low until you get your shit together?"

Jesse locks eyes with him, his eyebrows knitting in disbelief. "For real?"

"Yeah, c'mon, look at this place." Saul throws a hand out to gesture at the expanse of his home. "Way too much room for one person. I could use a little company, and I'm sure you could too."

Jesse looks like he's thinking, which is a step up from the unplugged, dead-eyed expression he had earlier. He nods slowly. "If—if you want me to."

"I want you to stay, Jesse. Just for a little while."

Jesse fetches his bag from the trunk of Badger's car and bids him farewell. Saul shows Jesse to the guest room upstairs. "Lucky you. You get your own bathroom."

Jesse drops his bag on the floor and sits on the bed. "Don't tell me I'm lucky, Saul." The numbness is slipping away, and the pain feels like it's swallowing him whole. Saul cannot be here for this. No one should see this.

Saul seems to take the hint—thank God he doesn't hover—and moves for the doorway. "You know where to find me if you need anything." Jesse watches him disappear from view, then hears the distant sound of bed springs.

Agony hits Jesse like the crack of a whip. He shuts the bedroom door to ensure his grief is private. His eyes brim with tears, and he staggers, collapses onto the bed as his legs give way beneath him. Jesse tries to keep his breathing steady, but the pain is suffocating, bewildering. He shoves his face into the pillow to quiet the sounds of the sobs wracking his frame. He scrambles for the haze, but the fog is lifting, and Jesse's gaining a startling, awful clarity.

All the strings tethering him to the world have severed. Mr. White is gone. His parents don't care if he lives or dies. Mike is dead. Jane is dead. Andrea is dead. Brock is out of his reach. Jesse has nothing left. No reason to wake up in the morning.

In the end, it seems Jesse will die young and alone and in pain. Poetic justice, he supposes, for all the pain and death he caused in his wretched life. He deserves whatever happens, right?

Jesse curls into a ball and lets the misery have its way with him.