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The Smell of Chlorine

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They had just crossed into Texas; there hadn’t been any real suspicion at the border and Gustavo Fring was more than satisfied that this plan – his greatest plan, one twenty years in the making – was going off without a hitch.

The young man beside him hadn’t spoken a word since they had left, since he had insisted that Gus not act against his soon-to-be former partner. He was patient about the loyalty; after all, it was a positive quality in Jesse, even if it had been curved to means that stood in the way of grooming the boy. If he’d been groomed too quickly, after all, that would be a problem as well.

Now, however, Jesse spoke up. His voice was quiet, and tired, as if he had been chewing on sand the entire walk and now no longer had any fluid to cycle through his vocal cords.

“Can we stop somewhere?”

Gus turned and looked at him, considering the request. On one hand, Gus did need to get back to his operation – and more importantly, back to how to handle the growing problem that was Walter White.

On the other hand, Pinkman seemed about ready to drop if he walked another foot.

“A motel?” Gus replied, and Jesse nodded.

“Sorry, I just…”

It was intriguing to watch Pinkman flounder, watch him try to hold himself upright and be acceptable in Gus’ eyes, when not so long ago he had had the nerve to shout in his face and demand answers.

However, it was rather unlikely that he could be molded, entirely – he simply had the practical sense to realize that now, he was out of Walter’s protection and under Gus’, and that the threat that “you have only one friend in this room – this man” now pertained to Gus himself.

“A motel. No problem. I’ll let you know the next one we see that seems… acceptable.” By which Gus meant one that wasn’t projecting filth, fleas and bed-bugs from the walls and around the entire aura, none of which he could abide. He had always been a neat man, a bit obsessive-compulsive some would say, and he could not tolerate mess.

Jesse, on the other hand, probably had no such qualms. But Gus was in charge here, and he was going to give Jesse a few lessons in class, whether the boy liked it or not.

They walked for some time before Gus found what he was looking for – this place was a two-star at best, but it would have to do, unless he wanted to be carrying Pinkman until they got to their contact.

The front of the motel was white, and there was a little ledge, a low balcony, protruding from the second floor.

“Lake View Inn,” the sign proclaimed, though the “V” was on its way to having completely chipped off. Underneath, in lettering that resembled a church sign board, were the words “In-Room Movies, Pool”.

Gus reflexively brushed a little more lint off of his suit, took a deep breath, and approached it, as Jesse followed, looking as if Gus were leading him along by a string. It was an interesting thought – Jesse had made so many claims to his own independence since the two had been in this business relationship, but he seemed to no longer have the energy to keep them up.

They only had to wait in line behind a vacationing couple, complete with Hawaiian shirts, before checking in. Gus rattled off a pair of fake names, before signing an agreement to pay and leading Jesse over to the elevator.

Jesse’s head swiveled, and Gus noticed that he was gazing at a placard sign, announcing the way to the swimming pool.

He was like a child, Gus thought. He was surprised Jesse wasn’t standing on the balls of his feet and asking “are we there yet?”

But he didn’t say anything, actually – he just stared that moment and then turned back to Gus, meeting him at the elevator door. There was another moment of hesitation, as if Jesse wasn’t entirely sure he wanted to be in an enclosed space with the older man, but he appeared to shrug it off and, when the doors opened, silently piled in.

Gus felt strangely captivated by watching Jesse, in a way he didn’t entirely feel comfortable with. It was too reminiscent of those times with Max, those carefree – by Gus’ standards at least – times when it seemed as if he was on top of the world and nothing was ever going to pull the rug out from under him.

At least he could sleep easier now, knowing that he had put Don Eladio in the ground and that Hector Salamanca wasn’t far behind. Juan Balsa, too, every last one of those wastes of flesh. Even thinking the names boiled something in Gus.

And why was he connecting Max with Jesse, of all people, anyway? The two had little alike, other than attractive and youthful features. Max had been quiet, bordering on subservient. He’d looked up to Gus as if he could do no wrong, like he owed his entire existence to him, and maybe that was why it had instilled that shard of glass within Gus, the one that poked at him constantly until he made it right.

Jesse, on the other hand, was a rebellious child. So American; not a touch of the Chilean finesse that Max had always had about him. Jesse was rough around the edges, like a tree that had been shoddily cut down, with pieces of bark sticking out in odd places and nothing really where it should be.

But yet, there were so many things Jesse could be. Gus saw the potential, even would be quick to admit that he’d missed it at first. While Walter was extremely intelligent but allowed his pride to lead him blundering into mineshafts, Jesse was another animal entirely. An animal Gus was convinced was easier to handle in this business.

The elevator opened, leading out on to a dark-blue carpet which had certain seen better days. Gus curled up his nose; amateurs. If only Pinkman had the good sense…
But that wasn’t entirely fair, considering it was only natural to grow tired. No reason to fault the boy for falling victim to his own biology. No reason to be unduly hard on him.

Gus would show his infinite patience. It would serve them all well in the end.

“What room are we in?” Jesse asked, sleepily rocking his head to the side.

“264,” Gus relayed. “And you’d do well to not fall asleep before we actually get to the room.” Jesse let out a low chuckle.

“Easy for you to say. Nothing fazes you.”

Gus smiled. It was easy to see why Jesse thought that was true. He didn’t know about the sole thing that had fazed Gus, tortured Gus, and he never would.

They found the room and entered it in silence; Gus curled his nose up in distaste at the fact that their room heralded a single bed. In the corner was a television that Gus was quite sure didn’t work – not that it mattered as he had never been one for TV.

“Wow,” Jesse exclaimed. “This place is kinda tacky.”

“It appears so,” Gus responded, but he slowly shrugged it off. “Feel free to get some rest. I’m going to chart the rest of our course.”
Jesse walked over to the bed and flopped gracelessly down on it. He didn’t even bother to get under the covers, just stretched out on his back and yawned.

“Don’t you ever get tired?” he asked Gus, staring up at the ceiling. “How do you manage?”

“I am often tired, Jesse.”

“Then why don’t you get some rest? I mean, I’m not gonna grope you in your sleep or anything.”

“I will rest when I am ready, Jesse. I appreciate your concern.” Gus curled his lip. The child was a bit irritating. Thankfully, he soon shut his eyes and appeared to drift off to sleep and, to Gus’ relief, did not snore.

Meanwhile, Gus watched him, while figuring out how exactly he was going to get back to Albuquerque (though he had had the broad strokes decided upon for quite some time), and, once he got there, how exactly he was going to deal with the ever-growing problem of Pinkman’s ex-partner. Not to mention that brother-in-law of Walter’s.
By the time Jesse stirred, Gus had a plan worked out. Perhaps not a final plan – one had to always be open to the necessity of improvisation – but a plan nonetheless.

Whether Jesse would be particularly helpful in this plan, however, quickly came into doubt, as the first thing he said as he awoke was, “Can we go for a swim in that pool?”

That silly young man.

Gus wasn’t entirely sure why, after a moment of contemplation, he actually agreed.

They found themselves back in the elevator, watching the light for “P”, the pool floor, lit up in an obscene yellow.

The doors opened again. Gus didn’t know how Jesse expected him to go out like this. Tank top and shorts from the hotel shop? This was all frankly ridiculous. But it may have been exactly what he needed to gain Jesse’s trust, get him to give the okay, so he was willing to take a shot.

Just not too often. If it became too often it might be worthwhile to just go find another chemist. If only the Gale’s were a dime a dozen. He’d spent so much time on Boetticher, only to have it blow up into another little disaster. It would be infuriating, if Gus were not so very patient.

No one was in the pool when they arrived. Just as well. A lucky break, at least. No one to identify them, and best of all, no one to gawk at either of them.
Jesse’s own makeshift outfit, a blue tank and spongy blue shorts, hung awkwardly on him. He was too skinny to really fill it out. Gus took a moment to wonder if Walter bothered to let the kid eat.

And then he wondered something else. A thought he didn’t quite allow his mind to complete.

Jesse’s lips turned into a childish grin.

“I haven’t been in a pool in forever,” he enthused, and Gus noticed the faintest trace of a blush on his cheek. “Relaxing! Seriously! It doesn’t even seem like… real, anymore. So long.” He ran, (Gus winced, stupid boy, reckless boy) and jumped into the six-foot section. Gus hoped that this kid could swim, because there was no way in hell he was diving in to save him. He had to maintain a certain level of dignity, and it had been driven low enough by the fact that he was wearing these shorts. But he would have sweltered and sweat in his normal outfit, not to mention been terribly recognizable, so it was a necessary evil.

The smell of chlorine floated to his nostrils.

Chlorine had always made Gus feel nauseous, agitated. Ever since Max. Ever since the only person who had ever really touched his heart had been snuffed out before his eyes, in a split second. Just a whiff would bring all of it back, that switch, the way the light had been in Max’s eyes one second and had been gone the next.

The realization that he never got to say any of the things he had wanted to say.

Gus watched as Jesse swam a clumsy backstroke across the pool.

“You coming in?” he inquired. There was an almost playful nature to his words, one that would have been unthinkable a few weeks ago. Risk death with a man, Gus figured, and camaraderie doesn’t seem such an effort anymore.

“No,” Gus replied. “I’ll watch.”

“The water’s nice and warm,” Jesse bribed. He flipped over on his stomach and swam a few strokes over to where Gus was standing.

“I do not enjoy swimming.”

He had enjoyed swimming, once. Back in Chile, as a child, running and jumping with friends into a little stream and dunking one another, having little playfights under the water that he would usually win. Fishing each other out long enough to dry off and run home for dinner.

Long days ago with little semblance to the days he lived in now. Being a kingpin, a tycoon, and an unstoppable one at that. Unstoppable for now, at least, with the cartel in disarray, scattered at his feet.

It was a nice feeling.

“You sure?” Jesse inquired. He looked up, beseechingly, and Gus sighed. If it would shut the boy up…

He jumped into the pool with a grace befitting him, a swannish glide with a practiced ease to the whole motion.

Jesse smiled at him, and he found himself utterly shocked to be smiling back. He had chalked Pinkman up as a useless junkie that first time he had seen him, but it seemed that much of it was an attempt to hide innocence with idiocy.

He’d ask “why bother?” but he knew why. When you were laid bare, you ended up like Max.

“Never thought I would see the day,” Jesse teased, looking at him for confirmation that it was okay to do so.

Gus answered by reaching out and gripping the younger man’s shoulders, pushing their lips together.

He felt Jesse relax, sink against him, and put his own hands around Gus’ waist, adapting to the motion far more naturally than he would have suspected. Maybe Pinkman had done this before – maybe there’d been some drunken experimenting or some close friend with whom things had gotten a little too complicated. At any rate, the younger man excelled at returning the kiss, letting his tongue slide out up against Gus’.

When the kiss broke, Jesse gasped.

“Gus, I…” But he didn’t finish whatever the thought was; he kept looking at the older man and simply nodded, as if maybe, now that he considered it, it was some kind of foregone conclusion. “You… you want?” he asked, instead. Gus thought about it. Did he want? Did he want Pinkman that way? It was business between them, should be purely business, and digging up Max in his head and heart was just going to make it more complicated, especially if Walter White forced his hand and he needed to take out both White and Pinkman in a fell swoop.

But yet he wanted Pinkman, and desire was pressing upon some crucial part of Gus in a way that he couldn’t deny. It was the damned smell of chlorine and thoughts of Max that were doing it. Not Pinkman; Max. Irreplaceable, perfect Max.

Gus coughed. Looked around, checked that the coast would continue to be clear for the foreseeable future (and indeed, it would be – he could almost envision a tumbleweed going by) and moved his hand to Jesse’s chest. The younger man was so very skinny. Slim and smooth. Rather desirable.

Very not Max. But who could ever be?

Gus swam over to the ladder and climbed out, not turning around but knowing that Jesse would be following behind him. They walked that way until they arrived back at the hotel room, both still sopping wet and reeking of chlorine.

That smell…

Gus brushed off that thought and set to work pulling off Jesse’s shorts and then his own, before pressing the younger man against the bed. There was no time for discussion, only time for action.

He had talked with Max. Or rather, he would talk and Max would listen, nod, agree. Anything Gus said he would treat as some spectacular revelation, some deep-seated truth.
The younger man had almost worshipped him. So grateful to be given a chance, but it wasn’t just gratitude. He had loved Gus… and Gus had loved him. Adored him. Loved the way he’d look at him shyly and bat his eyelashes and put his hand on his cheek, promising to be in Gus’ corner whenever he needed it. And he’d promise to always protect Max.

He’d failed.

Until now. He hadn’t protected, perhaps, but he had sure avenged. Avenged seven times, like some Biblical plague upon the cartel.

The memory of Don Eladio’s death was what sent Gus into severe arousal-mode. He leaned in, nipped at Jesse’s ears, his neck and lips, before he let him up long enough to raid the bathroom for some lotion that didn’t look like it would burn.

Jesse hadn’t moved from his spot, hadn’t spoken either. He simply lay on his back, looking over at Gus with a curiosity that looked as if it was mixed with some trepidation.
Gus reminded himself that it wasn’t his job to worry himself about the latter. He was back on Jesse in a few seconds, hands on his shoulders and braced up almost like a lion who had pounced on his prey.

Jesse’s eyes were wide, and a little frightened. They seemed to calm, however, when Gus wrapped his hands around Jesse’s cock and began to stroke, three times in succession, calm and slow. Then the blue eyes slipped shut, and Gus began to slather his fingers with lotion. The energy had to go somewhere, the rush. A rush twenty years in the making.
He slid the first finger inside, and Jesse moaned out, squirmed, keeping his eyes firmly shut.

“Have you done this before?” Gus inquired, though he considered that a better time to ask may have been before he had his fingers inside him. Then again, Gus had no real intentions of stopping at this point – though he supposed he would if he had to. The fragile level of trust that they had between them needed to stay intact.
Jesse shook his head.

“It’s not bad, though,” he added quickly, “Just kinda…unexpected.” He swallowed, and opened his eyes to look at Gus beseechingly. “Keep going.” Gus did not need to be told twice. He worked the finger deeper, pausing until each level of resistance lowered.

“Very good, Jesse,” he told him. “You’re doing well.”

Gus wasn’t surprised when Jesse leaned forward, into the encouragement. He’d seen it in his eyes when he had declared that he’d seen something in this young man – and indeed he had. He’d seen what he could become, of course, but also what he needed, what he was so desperately wanting, what he could never get on a regular basis from Walter White.

He needed to be told he was good at something, even something so small as this. He needed to believe that he mattered, even in such a small way as this.
Gus was perfectly willing to oblige.

He slicked up the second finger and soon, Pinkman was opening to him – or was he “Jesse” to him now? It was ill-advised to get close like this, so extremely ill-advised, but Gus figured that after his escape from the cartel he very much deserved a victory lap.

It had been so long, after all – the cartel had seen to that.

Gus spread his fingers. This might be his favorite part, actually, the feeling of manipulating him, being able to make him cum right then and there if he hit the right spot.
He drove the fingers deeper, purposely brushed them against something spongy, and barely concealed a smile as Jesse jerked and cried out.

“Gus!” he yelled, and he shuddered.

Jesse looked incredibly enticing like that. But it was time to give him more. He’d been good, after all, done so well with the cartel chemists, asserting his authority at the right time but keeping silent at the right times, too.

He deserved a reward.

But so did Gus.

Clothes were stripped off, but with purpose, piled neatly on the edge of the bed. The smell of chlorine lingered in Gus’ nostrils, and he tried to ward it off with the light scent of the lotion as he moved it from his hands to his cock, stroking deliberately as he felt his arousal agree with this plan, even as his more rational head warned against it.

He could still conjure up Max’s scent, his sweet scent, the smell of his neck. Taste of his skin when Gus would lean in and nip at his neck, make him squirm.

He positioned himself and started to push in. He gave low murmurs of comfort, or at least attempts at it, when Jesse clenched and whimpered. He didn’t want to hurt him, but didn’t necessarily care if he did.

Gus couldn’t afford to care. And so he simply pressed in each few inches whenever Jesse eased open that little bit more, until he was all the way in.

It was bliss. Suffocating bliss.

He pulled back and thrust, closed his eyes and drunk in the little yelps that Pinkman let out, grunts and cries of Gus’ name. He opened his eyes again to watch as his hands stood out, dark brown against creamy beige, when he reached forward to take Jesse in hand and stroke him; it almost felt unfair, as if Gus was ganging up on him. As if there was no way he could withstand this for long.

But Gus didn’t quite want it to be over yet, either.

Not until his mind was clear of the chlorine smell, that toxic, sickening smell.

“Jesse.” Gus’ voice was low. Barely above a whisper.

Pinkman closed his own eyes this time. Called out Gus’ name. Writhed under him.

He gave Jesse another stroke. He kept his hand steady as he pulled back and must have hit Jesse’s spot again, because the younger man let out a hell of a cry.

Gus was quickly learning that the sounds Jesse made out of pleasure weren’t all that different than the ones he made in pain; maybe they’d become one and the same for him.

He had no time to dwell on such a thought.

With one final thrust, he emptied it all – all of that past regret, the rush of his final revenge – into Jesse Pinkman before pulling out. Jesse gave an impatient whine and in that moment Gus remembered why he’d hated him at first.

But he took pity and reeled off a few more strokes, let Jesse twitch a few seconds more before he came. Left him there exhausted and lying on his back, gasping as Gus climbed off and cleaned off, got dressed in clothes that would be suitable to sleep in.

Because tonight he’d sleep just fine. Tonight the smell of chlorine, with the metallic scent of blood rising off of it, wouldn’t bother him at all.

He had won.