|Day by Day
Author: WishfulWriting PM
One mistake can lead to another, as usual for Jesse. Features Jesse, Walt, Mike, Gus. Setting sometime around S4.Rated: Fiction T - English - Angst - Chapters: 8 - Words: 23,559 - Reviews: 20 - Favs: 4 - Follows: 7 - Updated: 02-22-13 - Published: 11-04-12 - id: 8672923
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Author's notes: I have not written in quite a long while... However, with a favorite show that currently has no new episodes to keep me happy, I've decided to put together some stories of my own. I've written quite a bit to this one already, so as I edit, I will post additional changes rather quickly. It is mostly Jesse centric. Characters are Jesse, Walt, Mike, Gus so far. Comments, suggestions are welcomed.
Jesse heard the sound of the voice, but the actual connotation, the fact that it was his name, didn't sink in. His eyes were locked on the stainless steel counter in front of him. But he wasn't even registering that.
The simple reflection of overhead lights across the shiny surface had initially caught his eye, reminding him of something, which swiftly provoked a memory of a dozen other things. He couldn't even remember what it had initially reminded him of anymore. Now he felt frozen, drowned by his current thoughts in a way that paused all other senses. For a moment he was somewhere else, a prisoner to his own demons.
"Jesse." Footsteps followed now and he wondered why the noise sounded like he was in a tunnel.
His reverie was quickly interrupted when he felt the sharp slap of Walter White's hand upside the back of his head.
"Hey," Jesse yelped, turning to glare at the man. "Yo, what gives?"
"What gives?" Brow furrowed, Mr. White stood in front of him now, arms crossed against his chest. "Jesse," he repeated. "Are you deaf?"
Jesse rubbed his head irritably, glaring at Walt as he brought himself back to the the present. Back to the lab, back to the fact they wore matching orange jumpsuits, and were there again to repeat the repetitive process of manufacturing meth. Get with it, he told himself. Quit tuning out. He was back. "What do you want?" He frowned. He met Walter's eyes briefly and then looked away at the stainless steel counter again. What did it remind him of?
"Are you done daydreaming?" Walt's voice was stiff, annoyed. "I've been calling you for the last ten minutes."
That was an exaggeration, of course, but rather than argue, Jesse heard the words "Sorry, man" coming out of his own mouth before he could think about it.
"Just wake up, Jesse. Two man process. Two."
"I'm working," Jesse objected. "I was just thinking for a second."
"You're not working," Walter countered. "And a second, by the way, was more like ten minutes. Quit daydreaming on my time."
He wasn't daydreaming. Dreaming? That implied things far more pleasant than the thoughts that had taken control of his mind. He tried to shake off his most recent introspection and a chill went down his spine. There was a thin line between what was real and imagined. Or was it all real? And why wasn't he sure?
"Got it?" Mr. White persisted.
"Whatever." Jesse cleared his throat. "God. I could really go for a cigarette right now." Jesse ran a hand through his hair.
Walt frowned at him. His partner had seemed nothing but distracted recently. He was confusing standard parts of their process that he usually did like clockwork. He was more introverted, zoning out just like this. It was annoying the hell out of him. "What's with you today?"
Jesse looked at him finally, making full eye contact. "What do you mean?"
"You're on a different planet today, Jesse. You've been on a different planet the last few days actually." Walter eyed him suspiciously.
"I'm just, like, tired or something."
Walt watched as Jesse hopped up to sit on the counter. He sat there, legs dangling, palms down flat at his sides. Again his mind seemed elsewhere. He leaned his head back, staring up at the large, industrial lights.
Walt sighed. "We have another two hours. Maybe even a little less. Two hours. Can you snap out of it for that long?" He eyed the bare hands. "Where are your gloves?"
"Three of those bulbs are out." Jesse gestured absently towards the ceiling. He exhaled slowly. "How do you think they even get up there to change them? Like over there?" He pointed at a remote corner of the warehouse ceiling. He wished that his mind could stay on such mundane subjects.
Walt moved forward and took him by the arm, yanking him off the counter roughly. "Can you please snap out of it?" he asked stiffly.
Jesse shook his arm free defensively and moved away, towards the other side of the lab. He did have to snap out of it. He knew that. He didn't like when his mind controlled him like that, when it froze him. He found it harder to control his thoughts recently. But he didn't like being chastised either.
"Answer me." Walt's voice was firm. "I don't want to be here all day."
"Yo, what do you want to hear?" Jesse responded irritably. He hated the tone Walt was using. The tone that made him feel like he was right back in highschool, being chided for being a disobedient student. "I'm here. I'm doing my part. Chill."
Walter eyed him carefully, but moved back to his station as well. He started the next part of the process, occasionally glancing up to ensure Jesse was still engaged. He was noticing more and more these little moments of Jesse's. His mind drifted, his attention was miles away. Originally he tied it to the fact that Jesse had been remaining sober. Perhaps he was waking up to the fact that he could have lucid, meaningful thoughts. That there was a world outside of the perversion of drugs. He shook his head. The kid was frustrating today.
Jesse started whistling as he moved around the lab. Things became more efficient again. But Walt couldn't help but notice Jesse's frequent, and loud, yawns.
Walter waited a moment and then spoke up. "Why are you so tired?"
Jesse wanted to rub his eyes, but couldn't with the gloves back on. Instead he squeezed his eyes closed tightly. "I don't know. Just one of those days, I guess. I need to sleep more."
Walter pulled his safety goggles over his eyes. He adjusted the strap to tighten them. "Is it Mike? I don't even know what little escapades he pulls you into now."
"They're not little," Jesse replied.
"You know what I mean. Working with him in addition to the lab- that's a lot. How often does he call you? That's probably why you're tired."
"No." Jesse enjoyed when Mike included him. He wished it was more often. Those "escapades", as Walt called them, were exciting. Unpredictable. He felt like he was a real part of the team. Trusted. Relied on. He wished he was included in all of what Mike did. He also got some thrill out of the fact that it angered Walt. Walt didn't like the idea of being left out of any part of the process, or being excluded from any information.
"If it's too much," Walt started to say, "you need to say something. Mike doesn't really need you tailing along anyway."
Jesse glared across the room at him. Again, Walt had to go out of his way to phrase things in a way that made Jesse's blood boil. "I don't tail along. I go if he needs me to do something." He knew Walt would love a way to make sure he wasn't part of those runs. It would be another accomplishment in his step to control all of the processes.
"If he needs you to do something like what?" Walt questioned.
There was a skepticism in Walt's voice that made Jesse irritated. "Like extra security. Like keeping an eye out for things. Like that. I help with the pick-ups. The negotiations."
"Negotiations. Really." Walter chuckled to himself. "Okay."
"Yeah, really," Jesse said stiffly. "Yeah, so that's what I do. Yo, why do you care anyway, Mr. White? Huh? It's none of your business... You're being a dick because you're not included."
He realized he had touched on a nerve when he saw Walter hastily pull off his safety goggles.
"It's absolutely my business when it impacts my lab. When it impacts your performance." Walt shook his head. "Don't you understand that? That's because your performance impacts my product. That's when it's my business." His voice was contentious.
Jesse's eyes narrowed. Ignore him, he told himself. Don't get caught up in his words. He's doing it on purpose. He wants you to react so he can try to find more reasons to criticize your involvement with Mike. He's going to get you arguing so he can accuse you of wasting time again. "So what exactly did I do wrong today?" he asked. "What did I do to impact your product?"
Walt looked at him, shaking his head. "Jesse. Don't argue with me."
"I'm not." He kept his voice even. "But you're accusing me-"
"Of nothing. You're getting defensive over nothing."
Jesse remained adamant. "What did I do today to impact to your product?"
"Jesse. How about right now? You're wasting our time. I told you, maybe two more hours. You want to make that three?"
"You're the one that brought it up," Jesse insisted. "Tell me how I'm 'impacting your product'."
"Jesse. You're not, okay? Just forget it. But you said it yourself. Today, you're tired. You're slow. You keep spacing out. It's not the first day you've been like this. And if you want to get really into details, don't forget that an hour ago you dropped and wasted a full bag of-"
"That was an accident!" Jesse exclaimed. Why did Walt have to notice every misstep? In fact, that's all he ever noticed. "And it wasn't a full bag. You've never spilled anything?"
"Go back to work. Conversation's done."
"Jesse, listen to me. Go. Back. To. Work." Walt spoke the words evenly. He met Jesse's eyes. The deep blue of Jesse's gaze looked cold, angry. But behind his gaze he saw disappointment as well. He reminded himself to be careful with his words. Be gentle, he told himself. "Jesse. You're being too defensive."
"I'm not, Mr. White." Jesse turned back to the task in front of him, his actions forceful, irritated. "Because you're acting like I messed up something. I didn't do anything wrong today. And this batch is the same as every other batch."
"It is," Walt agreed.
Despite the agreement, Jesse felt betrayed. Moments like this, he felt tempted to just walk out. That was his usual method to fix the situation: run away. If he was messing up so much, then Walt could cook on his own. But the temptation of walking out scared him. At some point it would undoubtedly lead to an even bigger argument, where he would be blamed for leaving. Then it risked Mike and Gus getting involved. He muttered to himself, and started to walk towards the clothing rack, where his jacket and Mr. White's clothing were hanging.
"What are you doing?" Walt asked.
Jesse reached into the pocket of his jacket and pulled out his Ipod. Headphones were in the other pocket and he reached for them as well. He connected them to the Ipod and pushed the earbuds into his ears. "I don't want to listen to you anymore today," he told Walt pointedly.
Walter rolled his eyes. "Sure." He shook his head as Jesse pressed the play button. He could hear the sound of the music, some kind of metal or rock, from across the room. He wanted to remind Jesse of the fragility of his eardrums, but stopped himself. That would just drive Jesse further over the edge. They could get by in the next two hours without speaking. Of course.
He watched Jesse return to his part of the process with an air of stubbornness.
Walt reminded himself not to get aggravated. He knew whenever he mentioned Jesse's involvement with Mike that the conversation got heated. Jesse felt some kind of pride in the fact he was included in these "missions". To Walt, his best understanding was that Mike included Jesse to check in on him. Ensure he was keeping himself clean so he could report back to Gus. There was no way that a seasoned veteran like Mike would need a scrawny twenty-five year old smart aleck as a partner. Besides, the missions, as far as Walt knew, involved pick-ups and drop-offs. Standard, mundane tasks with more driving than action. Jesse's mention of "negotiations" was just another exaggerated way of trying to make the tasks seem more important.
He shook himself out of his thoughts and turned back to work.
That night, Jesse had just drifted off to sleep in his bed when he was startled awake by the sound of his phone.
Groaning, he opened his eyes and turned to view the phone on the bedside table. It was moving slightly by itself, as it vibrated insistently. The ringtone screamed at him.
Who? he wondered as he rubbed at his eyes before reaching over to grab the phone.
He flipped it open and murmured into the mouthpiece. "Yeah?"
"Kid." It was Mike. "You awake?"
"I am now..." Jesse eyed the digital clock next to his bed. Two-thirty in the morning. He started to whine, "Mike, it's two fucking thirty in the-"
"Get dressed. Come on."
"What?" he repeated.
"Kid, come on. I told you- this is part of the job. You have to be ready twenty-four hours a day."
"But nothing. Get yourself together. I'm leaving in two minutes, and if your ass isn't in this car, then-"
"Okay, okay. I'm coming." Jesse was already standing, looking around his room in confusion. He moved to turn on the light. Two minutes.
Mike had already hung up and he tossed his phone on the bed as he scrambled to find clothes. Jeans. Okay. T-shirt. Looks clean. Okay, one minute left.
By the time he made it outside, he knew more than two minutes had passed and expected an earful from Mike. He hastily smoked a cigarette on his way to the car. The old Lincoln had its windows rolled down, engine idling impatiently.
Mike eyed him as he approached the car with a cocked head and drummed his fingers against the steering wheel. "Jesse. Come on, kid. We don't have all day."
"Day?" Jesse muttered as he tossed the cigarette on the curb and crushed it out with his sneaker. He had been so rushed that he hadn't even tied his laces yet. "This isn't day. This is like, night, or morning, or some kind of ungodly combination." He climbed into the car.
Mike was already pressing the gas before Jesse could fully shut the passenger door.
"What if I didn't pick up?" Jesse asked.
Mike glanced at him, before making a right turn onto the next street. "Then I guess I would have had to go upstairs."
"What if I wasn't home?"
"I knew you were home."
Of course he did. Somehow that didn't surprise him. Jesse was silent for a minute. He eyed the clock. It was now two-forty-five. "Where are we going?"
"About twenty minutes north." Mike cleared his throat. "You'll see."
"Anything I should know?"
"Nope. Nothing in particular. This one is pretty standard."
"But why this time of day?"
Mike eyed him. "Kid, you're asking way too many questions for three o'clock in the morning..."
Jesse yawned and reached for the radio knob.
"Stop, it's too early for noise."
Jesse's hand dropped to his lap. He yawned loudly.
Mike ran a hand over his bald head, keeping one hand on the steering wheel. "And tie your shoes, will you? You're already a liability as it is..."
Jesse was never surprised at the small details that he noticed. Mike, Gus, even Walt - these guys all had this uncanny common sixth sense for attention to detail. It was unreal. Sometimes he tried to make himself think that way; to try to think two steps ahead or to notice the unstated details. Then he found himself focusing so much on the possibilities that he missed what was right in front of him.
He raised his feet up to rest them on the glove compartment door and started to tie them. "You know, I wasn't really expecting to get a call from you tonight. Especially at this hour."
"I wasn't expecting to call you," Mike admitted. "But this is good. You need the experience." He glanced over. "But come on, kid. Get your muddy shoes off my car."
Jesse tied the second knot and dropped his feet to the ground. He rubbed at a smudge of dirt that was left behind. "I need sleep though," he said. "I mean, Mike, yo. I feel like I'm running on empty. It's like, what about tonight? How do I do this, and then show up to the lab?"
"That's between you and Walter."
Jesse let out a deep sigh. Yeah, that would go over well. Sorry, Mr. White, I can't make it to work today because I was out all night doing drops with Mike like you hate. After the conversation earlier that afternoon, he couldn't do that. Walter was looking for any reason to put a stop to Jesse's time with Mike.
"This is the first time I've called you this week," Mike reminded. "You want me to deliver the message back that you can't even handle once a week?"
"No," Jesse said quickly. "No." That was the opposite of what he wanted.
They stopped at a red light. "Look in the glove compartment," Mike instructed.
Jesse shifted forward in his seat and dropped the door of the compartment open. He eyed the gun inside and then looked at Mike. "A gun."
"Take it." Mike smirked as Jesse's face lit up. He eyed the still red light for minute and then looked back at Jesse. "Give it to me for a second."
Jesse handed it over and watched Mike smoothly open up the barrel.
"Like this," Mike said.
"I know how to do it." Jesse reached his hand out and Mike returned it to him. He wondered what this meant. What kind of deal would this be, if they needed guns and it was three in the morning? Mike seemed too calm. He noticed the barrel was empty.
Mike pointed at the open compartment again as the light turned green. "Look- see the small bag there." He pressed the gas pedal. "That's got the bullets. You remember how to load it?"
"Of course," Jesse responded. He held the small bag in his hand and felt the weight of the bullets inside.
"Good. So get that baby loaded. But keep the safety on, and try not to shoot your dick off in the meantime."