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  How am I supposed to run?
Now, am I supposed to run?

- Son Lux, Dangerous

 

***

 

Nacho is driving like a mad man on the road. He’s in the middle of nowhere, Mexico.   

The hacienda’s silhouette is slowly fading away behind him, as well as the sound of gunshots. He let Fring's guys in, jumped into the first car he saw parked around to the house, one of theirs, and with a silent prayer on the lips, left the house without looking back. Even now, hands gripped tight around the wheel, Nacho can’t let himself relax or take a breath. His cellphone sits on the dashboard, desperately silent. The wait is unnerving. He needs a confirmation soon, someone to tell him the job is done, that he no longer has to worry or else he’s going to burst.

But as the minutes pass by and the landscape shoots past through the window, Nacho begins to feel less and less confident he’s ever going to get an answer. Something on the back of his mind keeps telling him this is too easy, his freedom still a far-fetched concept.

He thinks about turning on the radio in order to distract himself from those terrifying thoughts, but he’s not certain he's ready to hear anyone singing in Spanish right now, so he quickly brushes the idea away and instead, opens the window to let the cool breeze in.

That’s when he hears it. The growling sound of an engine, slightly smothered by the wind in the distance. Bracing himself for the worst, Nacho risks a careful glance in the rearview mirror. His stomach sinks low when he sees the angry headlights staring right back at him like the eyes of some monster. Shit. He’s being followed.

The car is way too familiar, with its shiny black paint and fancy design. Impossibly fast and coming closer and closer by the minutes. Nacho feels his skin prickle with fear and anger. No, no fucking way… How could that son of a bitch survive the attack? He grits his teeth. Pushes harder on the accelerator.

“You fucking beast,” Nacho breathes out, his eyes jumping back and forth from the mirror to the road in front of him. "Why can’t you just fucking die?”

They’re alone, two cars speeding beyond limits like some stuntmen in an action movie. Around them, the desert is dark and cold and empty. Nacho is praying to some God he barely believes in for a turn point to magically appear in front of him when he's suddenly startled by the loud bang of his windshield exploding in a thousand pieces behind his back.

Instinctively, Nacho bends over in order to hide himself from view, but his hands doesn’t leave the stirring wheel and he keeps on driving blindly, heart pounding against his chest.

There’s a quick succession of gunshots. Another bullet hits his car.

This time, Nacho feels the machine sag a bit and with horror, he realizes one of his tires has been punctured. His cellphone drops on the floor. The interior of the car vibrates, the engine sputters and growls, and Nacho is forced to lift his head to see what’s going on. Through the window, the ditch is dangerously close. Too close. Without thinking, Nacho abruptly redirects the car on the road before it dives right in and ends all his chances of getting out of this mess alive, but right as he’s about to lean down again, relieved, a third bullet collides with another tire, bursting it flat.

The trunk violently sags down, hits the road with a loud rattle, and Nacho slams on the brakes, frustrated.

Both of their cars stop at the same time, at a short distance from each other.

The road falls silent and with the heavy silence comes the fear again, creeping inside Nacho’s veins like a poisonous snake. He's breathing fast, eyes glued to the rearview mirror. His sweaty clothes stick to his skin. He stays still as he watches the black car’s door open and close, and then a tall and familiar figure slowly approaching.

In the dark of the night, Lalo Salamanca’s gun shines like a promise.

             

***

 

Fring had said to him; “Find a way to gain his confidence. Make him rely on you.” 

Nacho only realized how far he was willing to go to protect his father when he found himself jumping from rooftops to rooftops in order to retrieve some drugs before the police. The job was extremely risky and the chances of failing high, but he handled it pretty well, all things considered. When Nacho got back to the car and met Lalo’s appreciative gaze, he knew he had gained some very valuable points that night. Nacho’s heart had even fluttered with pride hearing the words : Ignacio Varga, you are a badass!

Unfortunately for him, the praising didn’t last long. Lalo wasn’t one to be fooled by just a little stunt and as the days went by, with some profound analysis, Nacho finally came to the conclusion that what his new boss needed wasn’t a quick show of muscles but something else, something Nacho couldn’t quite entirely make sense of yet.

But with Fring on his back and a threat so severe, there wasn’t much time to dwell into his own doubts. Glancing at Lalo during one of their innumerable lunch-dates, Nacho decided that it was time to pull off his last card on the table, self-respect be damned.

He had begun to form a plan inside his head a few days after their meeting with that sleazy lawyer, as he watched Lalo talk to some scrawny-looking dealer back at the restaurant, his hand resting on the guy’s shoulder like he was some long lost friend and smiling from ear to ear, this special smile that suited him so well. It wasn’t an unusual sight. Lalo used his charms with absolutely everyone they met, making jokes, touching arms and touching legs, and his presence was so inevitable it was always hard for people to resist. How was he able to do that, Nacho had no clue.  

It was different with him, he noticed after a while. When they were out in public, Lalo teased him like he did with the others, openly and obnoxiously, but once the both of them were alone, his seductive attitude seemed to increase and even take a more sincere turn.

Or so Nacho thought. Maybe he was fantasizing, or taking the wrong hints. Maybe Lalo was only thinking about the best way to kill him. It was a bit hard for Nacho to believe that another man – a fucking Salamanca nonetheless – could be attracted to him in that specific way. But damn it, how many times had he caught Lalo checking him out from the corner of his eyes or felt his hand linger a bit too long on his knee or the small of his back? All those perfectly cooked meals, all those little nicknames (in any other circumstances, Nacho would have threatened with a violent death anyone who would even think of calling him Nachito), all those late-night visits at his own place with business as a pretext, only to later on find themselves slumped on the couch to watch TV with cheap beer in hands like two normal buddies having an absolutely normal meet-up. It was during evenings like those that Nacho believed Lalo could have become a friend in another life. In this world though, “friend” and “Salamanca” were still strict antonyms.

Now, getting his boss to trust him was just a matter of responding to his subtle advances with as much smiles, fluttering eyelashes and lingering stares, or complimenting his Cologne or his looks while trying very hard to ignore the fire inside his guts that told Nacho maybe he was enjoying this new act a bit more than planned.

After a while, even Lalo began to notice a change in his behavior.

“What happened to you, Ignacio, eh?” he had laughed one day, pinching Nacho’s cheek. “You used to be so gloomy all the time! If I didn’t know any better I’d think you were in love.”

Lalo hadn’t expected him to answer to his quip, but Nacho had seized this beautiful opportunity with an enigmatic smile on his face. “Maybe I am.”

He didn’t miss the way Lalo’s eyes widened with glee nor the way his laughter seemed to falter.  

“Well whoever she is, Nachito, that chica is very lucky. Look at you!” Lalo had shaken his head and murmured some words in Spanish under his breath, unable to tear off the grin of his face as he walked away toward the kitchens.

Nacho couldn’t believe his plan was working so well.

Sadly, a few days after, it was abruptly cut short when Lalo got himself arrested for killing some Travel Wire employee and thrown into jail for a while. From his prison cell, Lalo had called him, asking him to burn down a Los Pollos Hermanos and Nacho obliged, gritting his teeth at the prospect. Fring was made aware of the situation and accepted to play along. However once the job was done, there was no more calls from Lalo, and Nacho couldn’t help but feel hurt when he learned later that his boss had assigned Goodman as his bagman rather than himself. Swallowed by sudden doubts, Nacho reconsidered his plan ; if Lalo didn’t trust him enough to ask him to retrieve seven millions dollars in the desert then all the lovestruck schoolboy act had been in vain.

Nacho needed to move up a gear, the sooner the best.

He picked Lalo up at the MDC after his release and waited for him to be seated in the car before gathering all the courage he could muster to ask in a casual tone ; “So, you wanna come home with me?” The words came out a bit shaky and Nacho silently cursed his lack of self-control when he felt a childish blush spread to his cheeks. Lalo stared at him like he’d suddenly grown a second head, but the smile on his face told Nacho everything he needed to hear. “Your novias will be okay with that?” Lalo asked for some reason. Usually, he didn't care about their opinion at all. Nacho cringed inwardly.

Of course Lalo knew about his “girlfriends”, he’d seen them before, wandering inside the house like two ghosts. They avoided him like the plague though. One time, Amber had said to Nacho “Baby, your friend he’s… he’s a bit scary don’t you think?” and Nacho had waved her concerns away and wondered why the girls seemed immune to Lalo’s charms, why they seemed to perfectly understand what his endearing façade was really hiding. He had had this bizarre image of two cats hissing at a friendly stranger, their sixth-sense warning them about imminent danger.

“They won’t mind,” Nacho said, looking away.

Lalo clasped his hands together.

“Good!” He sunk down into his seat and grimaced. “I need a shower anyway.”

 

As soon as they entered the house, Nacho noticed the faint terror in Jo and Amber’s eyes and nicely asked them to go busy themselves in the kitchen if they wanted while him and Lalo discussed business. Looking relieved, the girls disappeared behind the door in a flash.  

Lalo didn’t take offence and went to take a shower, and Nacho offered himself a well-deserved break on his front porch, letting the cool breeze of the night refresh his burning skin. The calm didn’t last long however. Soon enough, his phone buzzed in his pocket and he opened it with an annoyed sigh. Reading the name on the screen, Nacho’s stomach tightened. It was Tyrus.

Fring’s right-hand man didn’t waste any time ; he wanted to learn about Lalo’s where abouts. Nacho told him he was supposed to drive him south tomorrow. By the tone of Tyrus’s voice, he had the firm suspicion that once Lalo set a foot over the border, he would be rapidly dealt with. How and when exactly, Nacho wasn’t sure. But until then, his only job was to keep Lalo under his radar, to distract him, and report to Fring’s men in case of any change of plans. The thought of Lalo walking straight into a deathtrap made his throat close up and his heartbeat accelerate. The prospect of freedom had never tasted so sweet on his tongue. He thought about the passports hidden in his closet, thought about a life far away from the clutches of the cartel and Fring, with just his father by his side. He thought about new beginnings and his heart fluttered with excitement.

Nacho shot a quick glance toward the house, to make sure he was still alone. The man in his shower had no idea what was coming for him.

He asked Tyrus, “Once he’s down, that’s it right? He’s done?” and Tyrus answered “Just do what you’re told and don’t worry about it.”.

The call ended. Nacho pocketed his phone and dragged a hand across his face. He couldn’t wait for all of this to be over.

In the kitchen, Amber and Jo were cooking, or rather pretending to. The smell of spices and tomatoes was heavy in the air and Nacho rolled his eyes when he saw the mess they had made on the counter.

“Baby, how does he like it?” Amber asked as she chopped off some jalapenos. “Spicy? Extra spicy?” Eyeing the knife carefully, Nacho walked past them without stopping, going straight to the bathroom. “Just make it however”, he replied. “He’ll add whatever he wants.”

Nacho found Lalo drying himself with a towel and checking out his mustache in the steamed mirror upon the sink. He leaned against the open door and crossed his arms on his chest. The room smelled nice, a mix of cedar and wild flowers, and he tried to look anywhere but at Lalo, who was now staring at his own reflection with a satisfied grin on his face, freshened up and half-naked. “Ignacio,” Lalo greeted, noticing him from the corner of his eye. “What’s the deal?”

Nacho cleared his throat. “The crew’s headed to El Mich. Everyone should be there in about forty minutes or so.” He focused hard on the tip of his own shoes. Lalo nodded.

 “Excelente!” He turned around and Nacho forced himself to lift his head. The skin of Lalo’s torso was shining under the dim light of the bathroom. Nacho ignored the shiver that ran down his spine.

“What clothes you got?” Lalo asked, oblivious. “My shirt stinks from that shithole.”

Glad for the distraction, Nacho left the bathroom and walked to his bedroom. He opened his closet in order to fetch a random shirt and his heart missed a beat. The door inside his closet, the one that was hiding his safe, wasn’t shut all the way. In a flash, Nacho crouched down to check if everything was normal but something caught his eye ; scratches on the surface, as if someone had tried to break in. Swearing under his breath, feeling the panic rise up, Nacho quickly spined the combination then opened the safe’s door. Thank God, his money and his identity cards were still here, unscathed. He breathed out in relief. After locking the safe and closing the door, Nacho stepped away from his closet. He felt a wave of rage hit him like a truck. Those sneaky little bitches. He ran to the kitchen, fists tight against his thighs.

“You trying to steal from me?” Nacho snapped, barging into the room.

Jo and Amber stopped what they were doing to exchange a look. He saw it, caught it on their faces then. The truth. His breathing fastened.

“What baby?” Amber said, trying to act casual. Her tone pissed Nacho even more.

“You tried to break into my safe.”

Jo shook her head. “What? No. We wouldn’t do that—”

“Bullshit!” He glared at them. “You think you can lie to me?”

The girls argued again and when he ordered them the truth, they exchanged another frightened look.

Then Jo stepped in. “You were gone baby! We were just looking for stuff.”

“It’s true,” Amber cried. “You always say treat this like your own home. We just went looking around, that’s all.”

Nacho couldn’t stand it anymore. Their presence. Their lies. Everything. It was too much.

“Get out of here.” He walked toward them and pointed to the front door. “Get out!”

The girls pleaded, tears running down their faces, but his choice was already made. “Go, now!” he told them. “And don’t come back.” He tried to take Jo by the arm but they both backed out suddenly, eyes wide, gaping at something over his shoulder.

Nacho turned around and froze.

Lalo was standing here, a gun at his side. Wearing only pants and a towel over his shoulders. His eyes shifted to Nacho and he smiled.

“Hey, sure you wanna toss these two out?” Nacho looked at the girls, both pale like death, and his heart clenched inside his chest.

He was furious, but some part of him still cared about them and the thought of Lalo doing something bad to them gave him nausea. Gently but firmly, he grabbed Jo and Amber by the arms.

“Come on, get out.” All anger had disappeared from his voice, but he didn’t want Lalo to hear how much he was scared as he dragged them away from him, so he kept on playing the tough guy. Once again, Jo burst into apologies. Nacho shook his head. “Shut your mouth. Get off my sight” He picked their handbags on the chair and guided them out to the door.

Jo and Amber stumbled outside and he flung their stuff into the street.

“You come back and you’re done, understood?” he didn’t wait for an answer before snapping the door shut.

Eyes closed, Nacho leaned against the wood during a few seconds to regain his breath. A pang of guilt seized his heart but he brushed it off. I’ll find a way to call them back eventually, he thought as he returned to the kitchen. At least if they don’t overdose in some crack house until then.

Bent over the stove, Lalo was tasting something straight out from the pan, completely unbothered. “That’s the way it is,” he said, hearing Nacho approaching. “Only so many people in the world you can trust.” He gave him a strange look.

Nacho swallowed around the lump in his throat. Was he toast? Had Lalo finally realized that something was off about him? He tried to think of a good comeback but came up short. Lalo huffed and turned back to the stove. “Their food suck anyway. No spices”

He dropped the whole pan into the sink then strolled away toward the living-room, talking about cooking something himself once they were back at the restaurant. Nacho followed him, arms crossed on his chest. Lalo sat down on the couch and picked the TV remote up. His other hand was still holding the gun and Nacho had the horrible feeling that their little philosophical talk wasn’t quite over yet. He stayed close to the door, not daring to take his eyes off the gun.

“You know what we do to thieves in the family?” Lalo asked casually, zapping through the different channels. Nacho shrugged. Lalo chuckled, threw his towel on the side then spread one arm over the backrest. “We cut their hands and feet so they can never steal or run away again. Your novias are lucky, aren’t they?”

He glanced back at Nacho. Nacho nodded. “Yeah. Yeah, they are”.

“What was in that safe, anyway? Drugs?”

Nacho felt his face turn pale. “Money,” he answered and Lalo’s eyes narrowed a bit. He looked disappointed. 

“Money? That’s it?”

“That’s it.”

All of the sudden, the room’s temperature seemed to drop to a few degrees. Lalo laid his hand on the armrest so that his gun was now pointed straight toward Nacho. Nacho didn’t move. His blood was thumping against his temples.  

“You hiding something from me, Nachito?” Lalo tilted his head on the side.

Heart hammering, Nacho tried to feign offense. “Why would I?” he replied, frowning. He thought about the ID cards inside his safe, and how easy it would be for Lalo to go check for himself if he wanted. Lalo was still staring at him with such intensity that it made his skin crawl, but Nacho held his gaze without blinking.

After what seemed like an eternity, Lalo huffed. “Good,” He sunk down in his seat, grinning. “Just making sure.” And then he shifted his attention back to the screen as if nothing happened.

Except something felt off now, and Nacho was convinced the whole thing with Jo and Amber had managed to plant some doubts inside his boss’s head. It wouldn’t be much long before Lalo tormented him with his questions again. Nacho let out a quiet, quivering breath and went to sit beside him on the couch. They still had some time left before heading back to El Mich. Lalo didn’t look very eager to leave. Or to get rid of his gun.

Suddenly bored by the TV, he straightened on his seat and started rolling his left shoulder as if to try and regain some sort of feeling inside the limb. His smile turned into a wince. “Ugh, I forgot how much these goddamn prison bunk beds were bad for your back” he groaned, massaging his neck.

An idea formed at the back of Nacho’s head.

Tonight was probably his last chance to make things right between them. He looked at Lalo. There was always something inherently erotic about him, in the way he talked, walked, dressed, joked and even threatened. His aura was as fascinating as a thunderstorm and Nacho wondered if he, too, someday, could learn how to charm people in order to get what he wanted.

But then a cynical realization hit his mind ; he had been, in a way, for the biggest part of his life. Back then, when he was still an inexperienced kid, he’d charmed Tuco with his smarts and loyalty. Later, he’d charmed Hector with his skills and discretion, even gathering enough confidence to try and kill him. Hell, he’d even charmed two meth heads into living with him, and depending on him.

Why would things be harder with the man sitting here? The man who had made clear that what he wanted from Nacho wasn’t only a partner or friend, but something more. Something Nacho could definitely give, if only he finally allowed his guard to drop a bit.

So, with that thought in mind, Nacho took a deep breath, raised a shaky hand, then laid it down on Lalo’s shoulder. Lalo immediately stopped what he was doing, but before he could protest, Nacho purred ; “Relax. I got you.”

His own tone made his cheeks heat up. He felt a bit clumsy and ridiculous acting like some horny teenager, but Lalo turned his head toward him and his lips pursed into a smile the size of a continent. “Well, look at that,” He was beaming. “Who are you? What have you done to my Nachito?” His voice sounded lower than usual, almost like a growl. So his little trick was working, at least.

Nacho shushed him. “You don’t have to do anything. Just let me—”

He didn’t finish his sentence and instead, ran his hand along Lalo’s bicep, stopping on the way to tenderly feel it, before he returned it to his shoulder. Lalo chuckled, but remained silent.

Nacho pressed his thumb into the sore muscle and heard Lalo inhale sharply. The sound made his insides tighten. Lalo’s skin was soft and burning hot against his fingers. He continued his massage, along his spine, down to his lower back, until he could feel the dimples here. No matter how hard he tried, and Nacho knew that, Lalo couldn’t stay silent for too long. He started to speak under his breath, in Spanish, but Nacho was too focused on his task to pay attention to what he was saying.

Though he noticed Lalo was still all crisped up, like he was bracing himself for something, ready to fight back if Nacho decided to change his mind and start strangling him from the back. Slightly irritated, Nacho murmured into his ear, in a firm voice. “I said relax. Put the gun on the table. You don’t need it.” Lalo stopped his mumbling. 

“So bossy, this guy,” he teased with a roll of his eyes. Nonetheless, he obeyed. Nacho felt a victorious thrill travel his body when Lalo finally relaxed his shoulders. After a while, Nacho decided it was time to change tactic. He placed his palm on Lalo’s sternum and slowly pushed him toward the backrest. “Lean back. Like that.”

Lalo arched a confused eyebrow but said nothing. He dropped his head onto the pillow behind his neck, legs spread open, then closed his eyes with a sigh of content. Like a curious explorer, Nacho dragged his hand across Lalo’s chest, relishing into the sensation of the muscles contracting under his fingers. He could feel Lalo’s heartbeat, steady but strong. Lips pressed together into a thin line, Nacho's hand climbed up, and up, until he found the pulsating point of his carotid.

After a brief hesitation, he wrapped his hand around Lalo’s throat, allowed some seconds to pass, then gave a tentative squeeze.

Lalo opened his eyes. They stared at each other.

For the first time since they met, Nacho couldn’t decipher the other man’s expression. Maybe there was an ounce of fear inside those dark irises. Maybe a bit of excitement and confusion, too. Some defiance. Nacho waited for something to happen. For Lalo to become angry and shove him off. For Lalo to grab his wrist and twist it until he was forced to give up. For Lalo to say something. Anything.

But after a long minute of silence, Nacho lost patience. He squeezed again. Harder.

Lalo’s lips parted open. A smile tugged at the corner of his mouth. Against his will, Nacho felt himself smile back. A rush of adrenaline coursed through his veins. He had underestimated the amount of sadistic pleasure choking a Salamanca could give. The feeling was too much. Indescribable. It would be so easy to keep going. Add another hand. Apply some more pressure on his trachea. Wait for Lalo to start struggling. Nacho imagined ending him right here, right now, on his own couch. All of this would be over in a heartbeat. No more of this cartel shit. He would be free, he would be—

Nacho released him. Lalo gasped, then laughed. His eyes were glistening, his pupils large and so dark. He started saying in Spanish, “Ignacio Varga, you really are something--” , but before he could add anything else, Nacho grabbed his face and leaned forward to kiss him.

The kiss was messy and bruising, their teeth clashed together, but Lalo immediately responded back, seizing the collar of his shirt and pulling him closer to himself. His tongue, wet and warm, found a way inside Nacho’s mouth. Nacho’s whole body tingled as he breathed in the musky fragrance of his own bodywash on Lalo’s skin. He groaned softly and his hand traveled down Lalo’s torso until it reached his belt buckle. He started fumbling with it, unsure of what he had in mind, but suddenly, Lalo captured Nacho’s lower lip between his teeth and bit down, hard enough to draw blood. Nacho felt a sharp and vivid pain, the taste of iron on his tongue. He yelped and pulled back, only to find Lalo smirking as if proud of himself. Son of a bitch.

Shaking with a mix of anger and arousal, Nacho abandoned the belt to palm him directly through the fabric of his jeans. Lalo’s breath hitched a bit, and he gasped something that sounded like a praise. He didn’t stop smiling as he placed a hand on Nacho’s face and used his thumb to smear the blood of his lip all over his cheek and his chin. Satisfied with his work, Lalo retrieved his finger and licked it clean. Tasting him. Then his smile vanished. He gripped Nacho by the neck.

Nacho froze, heart fluttering with sudden dread.

“Don’t ever lie to me again, Ignacio.” Lalo said to him in a low and menacing tone. “I hate liars more than anything.”

Fear wrapped its clutches around Nacho’s stomach, but it was almost instantly muffled under the wave of heat that enveloped him whole when he heard the words. Lalo kissed him again. Nacho answered to the kiss with the same eagerness, high with desire.

For a second, he considered telling Lalo about the planned assassination, warning him of the impeding threat on his person, proving him once and for all that he wasn’t a traitor and that Lalo could trust him entirely.

But then Lalo’s teeth pinched the skin of his throat, teasing him with another bite, and Nacho's mind drifted off. His lip was throbbing with pain. Blood was still pooling out from the cut, and that image seemed to turn Lalo on even more than everything else.

The truth was, no matter how good all of that felt, Nacho couldn’t wait to get rid of this bastard forever. Couldn’t wait to drive him off right into a deathtrap on the other side of the border tomorrow. Couldn’t wait to learn about the news on the next day and finally get the fuck out of dodge.

Yet, that didn’t mean he couldn’t also enjoy this one last moment in Lalo’s company, his warm lips bruising his skin and his experienced hands exploring his body.

For once in his god awful life, Nacho decided to be selfish.  

 

***

 

“Ignacio!” Lalo is limping toward his car, gun in hand. There’s an edge to his voice that Nacho has never heard before. He sounds truly enraged, his usual jaunty attitude gone. It's disturbing.

Nacho reaches over the gear stick to open the glove compartment, looking for something to defend himself. A gun, a knife. Anything. But the box is empty, desperately empty and Nacho’s blood runs cold.

Things weren’t supposed to end this way. How could they fail to kill that son of a bitch?  He was so close. So fucking close. 

“Get out of the car, come on. I just wanna talk.”

Nacho grits his teeth. He has no choice. It’s either obey and confront him like a man, or hide like a coward in the car until Lalo is forced to drag him out of it himself.  

Breath shuddering, Nacho opens the door. He slides out of his seat and is immediately welcomed by the cold bite of the wind on his sweaty skin. Once back on his feet he turns around, slowly, with his hands raised in the air.

Lalo stops in his tracks. Under the pale moonlight, his eyes look darker than ever.

Nacho notices the bloody patch growing on his thigh, his dusty hair and clothes. He’s panting, and his expression seems devoid of any emotions except a deep seated anger. The gun in his hand trembles a bit.

They watch each other, Lalo, wounded and furious, and Nacho, afraid and unscathed.

“Since when?” Lalo asks. Nacho knows exactly what he means by that. Since when did you know? A bit shameful, he hangs his head, closes his eyes with apprehension, and answers, “Since that night. At my house.”

Silence again. Then he hears Lalo’s footsteps approaching.  

Mírame, Ignacio.” Nacho opens his eyes and exhales heavily.

When he talks, Lalo’s voice is steady. “It was you, then. You told them where I lived?”

Nacho keeps his hands raised at his sides. “I had no choice.”

Lalo laughs. It sounds bitter, more like a bark.

You had no choice?” he huffs and shakes his head, clearly not believing him.  

“They’re blackmailing me.” Nacho’s heartbeat rises up at the thought of Fring holding a gun to his father’s head. “I-I swear to God, man. It wasn’t up to me.”

“So let me get this straight,” Lalo starts pacing, fingers around his chin. “You come with me to Chihua and meet my people. I welcome you into my house. I even welcome you into my bed. I tell Eladio about you and you, you screw me over like that?” He runs a hand across his hair and laughs again, bewildered. Nacho doesn’t move when Lalo glares at him. “Oh, Ignacio, mi corazòn. I see you better now. I see through all your little lies. You wanted me gone too, eh?”

“No, I didn’t—” Nacho begins to say, but the words die in his throat when Lalo points the gun at him.

Nacho takes a step back. Cold shivers run down his spine.

“You're gonna keep bullshitting me?” The lines on Lalo’s face harden.

He’s right. There’s no point in lying anymore. Nacho is toast and even if Lalo doesn’t kill him tonight, there’s no way he’s letting him go so easily after that. His dreams of fleeing. Gone forever.

With that shattering thought in mind, Nacho looks away and says : “After your death, I was planning on leaving the city. Start a new life, away from all of this.” His throat closes up painfully, but he clenches his jaw hard to keep the tears at bay.

Lalo doesn’t seem affected by this little display of emotion, but Nacho notices the way his arm lower a bit. “Who was it?” Lalo asks him. “Who ordered the assault?”

And fuck, if Nacho still had the tiniest of hope of surviving tonight, it’s absolutely vanished by now. Once he tells him the truth, there’s no coming back. He inhales sharply.

“Gustavo Fring.”

Lalo’s eyes widen dramatically. It would be almost comical, in any other circumstances. “The Chilean? You’re working for the Chilean? 

Nacho nods.

Everything happens so fast.

The sound of the gunshot striking the air like thunder. The intense pain exploding in his right leg, just below the knee.

His breath knocked right off out of him, Nacho collapses on the ground with a strangled cry. His eyes water. He wraps a shaky hand around his torn shin, and feels hot blood pour between his fingers.

It’s the third time he’s been shot in less than a few months, but somehow it feels even worse than before.

He can’t breathe, can’t even scream. The pain is too much.

He thinks he hears Lalo speak, but can’t make out the words under the loud buzzing inside his ears. Through his cloudy vision, Nacho sees his silhouette squat down next to him.

Hijo de la chingada,” Lalo spits. "They’re all dead because of you." His hand hovers over Nacho’s leg. “Does it hurt? I hope it hurts.” He digs his fingers inside the open wound. Nacho grunts in agony and tries to smack his hand away, but his movements are too weak and too slow.

Lalo just laughs and applies even more pressure.

“F-fuck you,” Nacho sputters angrily, his face burning against the cold asphalt.

He tells himself he’s never hated another human being as much before, not even Hector, not even Fring. And yet, as he lies here, broken and hurting, a part of him can’t help but be swallowed by intense guilt and remorse. They’re all dead because of you

What would have happened if he had made another choice, that night?

What would have happened, if he had just told Lalo the truth?

After an eternity, Lalo releases him to stand again.

“Get up,” he tells Nacho. “Come on, be a man and get up.”

Nacho grits his teeth, plants his hands on the ground. Slowly, he begins to lift himself up. His arms tremble under his weight, but he doesn’t give up until he’s on his knees. He reaches out and uses the car as support, trying to put all his body weight on his left side. Once he’s halfway crouched into an awkward position, Nacho looks up.

Something about seeing Lalo standing in front him with a smug smile on his face makes rage bubble up inside his guts.

That piece of shit. Always so cheery. Always so fucking proud of himself. Nacho can’t stand it anymore. And if he has to die tonight, if he has to lose everything for the sake of that bastard, Nacho is certainly not going out without a fight. He doesn’t wait any longer.

With a growl, he throws himself on Lalo’s and with all the strength he can muster given his state, punches him square in the face. Lalo yelps and reels backwards. His back hits Nacho’s car and he passes a hand on his bleeding nose then stares at his palm with his eyebrows furrowed.

Feeling victorious, Nacho uses this as an opportunity to try and take another swing at him, but this time Lalo anticipates the strike and grabs Nacho by the wrist before his fist can reach his face. He shoves him away with a swift kick into the stomach.

Swallowing back a cry, Nacho stumbles and bends over and the movement makes his leg explode with pain again. Lalo is quick to catch him before he can fall on the ground again though.

With his hands clasped around the collar of Nacho’s shirt, he forces Nacho back on his feet then violently slams him against the car door.  

Nacho gasps. His eyes meets Lalo’s. They’re so close, breathing each other in. He can feel the heat radiating from Lalo’s body, his rapid heartbeat thumping against his chest. The air is heavy with the scent of blood, and dust, and sweat.   

“Do it.” Nacho says. He’s not sure what he’s even asking for. “Please.”

Lalo smiles. He cups Nacho’s face with one hand and caresses his cheekbone with a tenderness that’s uncharacteristic and perturbing.

“Tell me everything,“ Lalo says in a voice that sound almost sounds like a purr.  

Nacho blinks. It’s a strange request, but he doesn’t have very much to lose anymore tonight.

“A-all the stuff I did with you. It was only to gain your trust.”

Wrong answer. Lalo shakes his head and knocks Nacho against the door again, making him hiss with pain. “Not the shit I already know, Ignacio. Nah, tell me something else. Be honest with me, for once.” He leans closer and adds “What else are you hiding from me?”

Nacho swallows some saliva. He stares at Lalo. His pulse accelerates. Fuck it.

“Your uncle," He's shaking like a leaf. "I-I switched up his pills with some Advil. That’s why he got his stroke.”

Admitting it out loud is surprisingly freeing now that Nacho knows he’s done for no matter what.

Lalo scowls at him and all the color drains from his face.

And despite everything, Nacho can’t help but feel a vicious smile tug at his lips. He is sure going to die now, murdered and buried in the cold desert, but at least not without ever witnessing a distraught, lost for words Salamanca before him.

“Yeah, that’s right,” Nacho continues, in a haze of pain and adrenaline. The blood loss is starting to make him feel dizzy. “And since you’re asking, I also managed to send your cousin off to jail. It was me, Lalo. I’ve been screwing your family over since the begin—”

Lalo kisses him. Hard. On the lips. It’s feverish and angry and bizarre given the context, but despite his deep confusion, Nacho kisses back, burying his hand inside Lalo’s hair to draw him closer. He feels high, delirious, and not entirely certain he’s not imagining the moment. 

Maybe the gunshot was his downfall and Nacho is already long dead. Maybe this is his own personal hell.

Decades seem to fly by and Lalo finally pulls back, his hungry eyes fixed and filled with what Nacho believes is some kind of warm admiration.  

Lalo tells him “From now on, we work together. Only you and I. No more of this double agent shit. You don’t talk to Fring behind my back. You tell me everything, or else I drag you back here in the desert and put a bullet in your skull. ¿Entendido?”

Nacho doesn't quite understand how the night could take such a weird turn of events.

Still, he answers with a nod.