A/N: Written for a prompt from a friend :D
How Do You Do It?
"To W.W." Gale put little curly cues in the W's this time, even though they didn't really belong there. He wondered if it'd be too much to mix up his pen colors, maybe make it a little more artistic. He'd already doodled the initials in the lab notes, but he was currently making similar notations in the front of an old Organic Chem book that UNM hadn't allowed him to sell back. He figured he might as well; it wasn't like anyone else was going to be looking at it.
He had somehow known that he was going to be dazzled by Walter White before he even met him. The man's product was near pure, and the ability behind it had to be superior. Gale had never envisioned that he would be so close to learning from the best, had assumed that leaving behind academia and venturing into the underworld (but what a clean and polished underworld it seemed to be!), he had committed himself to accepting substandard achievements… but Walter White had changed all that.
Then he had met the man, and whatever feelings he'd thought he would have had been increased tenfold. Walt was a legend in the flesh and he didn't even seem to realize it.
He looked at the clock. Crap! He had better quit daydreaming and get ready, or else he was going to be late to the lab, and he'd make a bad impression. He could think of few things worse than that.
He had to show Walt that he was dedicated, prompt, exactly the right man for the job. He shivered a little as he thought of it.
He hopped into the shower. It made him feel a little odd, a little inappropriate, to let his thoughts drift to Walt as he cleaned, but after all, no one was in here but him. It had been years since he'd had someone to think about it there, some face to visualize as he ran his fingers up his thigh, feeling kind of illicit in the scheme of things. He couldn't remember the last time a thrill like this had run up his spine. And he was going to see him again.
When he stepped out, he set to work dressing, before spritzing some cologne on – was that too much? If they were going to be working in such close quarters, he'd better make sure that he smelled nice. Maybe he'd awaken something in Walt…
But that seemed like wanting too much. What would he want with a guy like Gale? He wasn't exactly a hot commodity.
He had to think positively though. Gale wasn't a total bore, after all. He'd traveled to Thailand. He'd gone mountain climbing. He could discuss crystallography until he was blue in the face, or until the other person wished he was, which wasn't a bad thing with Walt because he liked that kind of thing.
That was it. He just had to walk in and dazzle Walt with his chemistry, which would then in turn lead to their chemistry.
He took a deep breath.
Easier said than done.
"Gale." Walt's voice cut into his thoughts. In fact, he couldn't even recall exactly what he was thinking about, whether he was daydreaming about being back in some exotic country or thinking about what he'd have liked to do with Walt. Either way, it was embarrassing. He was a professional, after all. He needed to keep it together. "I thought I told you to start putting in the aluminum."
"Yes!" Gale exclaimed. "Well, I was… just about to. Sorry." He cursed himself; how clueless! He needed to screw his head on straight. Not get frazzled or nervous. He could do this. It was easy.
Walt walked by and visibly sniffed the air.
"You smell like peppermint," he observed.
"Thank you," Gale said, perhaps a little too quickly. "Do you like it?"
"It's all right. I guess. Why?"
"Oh, nothing," Gale stammered, moving to put in the aluminum. During the next break in the cooking process, he tried to garner Walt's reactions again. He could be a hard man to read. Did he like Gale at all, or was he not up to his standards? They'd seemed to click, be so in sync that first day, so maybe Gale was just overthinking it. It could just be that. He was psyching himself out. And Walt had noticed that he smelled like peppermint. That had to be a good sign. Pheromones, right?
"You seem distracted," Walt mused.
"I'm not," Gale responded quickly. "Just… getting my feet wet, still. I'll do better." Walt sighed.
"It's fine, Gale. Don't overwork yourself. Just make sure you do it right."
Gale swallowed hard. Do it right; of course he would. He was good at this! He was trying to make a good impression, had to make a good impression.
He clasped his hands together, took a deep breath, and went to work on the next step. He'd make it so that Walt could depend on him thoroughly, completely. A trusty Girl Friday, except not a girl – would that be a Guy Friday? Gale didn't know, but he knew he wanted to be it.
In silence, they worked towards the point at which all that was left to do was wait for the product to set. If he was going to make a move – oh God, make an actual move! – he'd have to do it now.
"We need to get this down pat, Gale," Walt said, snapping his fingers. "My former partner and I, we had a shorthand, a process. You need to be up to that standard."
"Your former…" Gale began, and he swallowed hard. "I can… I'm good. Anything you need. Any way you want." He was two-steps away from saluting and going "aye-aye Captain". Why was it so intimidating now? And "former partner"? What great lord of chemistry could have preceded him? What impossible standards could he be being held to? "It's an honor to be your assistant," Gale flushed. "I will do my best."
"Just do better, Gale."
"I promise with all my heart."
He wanted nothing more. And maybe the next day he'd wear that peppermint cologne again.