Chapter Five

Jesse felt like he was some kind of old-school gentleman, as he pulled up in front of Jane's duplex, even as he felt a pang of regret that it wasn't his home and had, in fact, never been his home in this universe. But then, with that, was the relief that it wasn't the place Jane had died.

He got out of the car and opened the door for Jane, leaned in and pressed a soft kiss to her lips. But it was short – somehow, he didn't want to ruin this, didn't want to press this. He wanted to draw it out, make it last.

"Tonight was fun," she told him. "We have to do it again sometime."

"We should. How about next Tuesday?" Jesse suggested. "We could go to dinner again. And maybe another movie?" His voice was hopeful, and Jane smiled.

"Sure. Sounds good to me. I'll keep my schedule open."

He watched her as she walked into the duplex, his breath settling as he reminded himself that here, now, she was okay, that her beautiful eyes hadn't slipped shut.

He put his hands in his pockets and decided that, happy or not, there was something he had to do, as much as he didn't want to. He had to find out whether Mr. White was okay in this world.

He drove, and when he was stopped, he tapped his fingers against the dashboard nervously. He wished that there was someone who he could talk to about this. But who would believe such a crazy tale as the one that had actually happened to Jesse? Everyone would try and lock him up in the loony bin, and he wasn't entirely sure if he didn't actually belong there. This didn't happen to people. It just didn't.

Mr. White's house was up ahead. The house where he'd lived with his family, that was. Not the condo. If they'd never partnered up, Mr. White would have never needed the condo, right? So he'd walk in on Mr. White's domestic bliss and probably some annoyance at being interrupted, and then he could go back on his way and continue courting Jane.

Courting. It was a novel concept. But it'd be pretty neat. Maybe he could get her a bouquet of roses or something.

Jesse popped open the door and headed up the driveway. Mrs. White's car was in the driveway, at least, he was pretty sure it was her car because he couldn't remember Mr. White ever driving it.

He arrived at the door and knocked. It opened, and Mrs. White was standing there, holding her baby daughter in her arms. Jesse had actually never seen the baby before, and it was weird seeing her now.

Jesse managed a nervous smile. He hadn't really looked forward to seeing Skyler White again, given how uncomfortable their first meeting had been. But none of that had happened, now.

"Can I help you?" she asked.

Jesse shivered, thinking of Gale's words.

"Hi. Hey, sorry to bother you. Uh, I'm Jesse." He awkwardly extended his hand before realizing she didn't really have either one free. "Is your husband home?"

Mrs. White cocked an eyebrow and stepped back.

"Excuse me. Who are you?"

Jesse swallowed. Okay, so maybe not domestic bliss after all. Maybe the Whites had had more problems than he realized.

"Uh. I'm Jesse. I was in his class and … uh, well, I was back in the area and… I kind of wanted to stop by and say 'hi', I know I should have called first but…"

Mrs. White's expression softened.

"So you hadn't heard?"

Jesse's heart dropped.

"Heard?"

"My husband passed away a few months back. He had lung cancer."

Jesse swallowed.

"I… I'd… uh, heard he was sick but I didn't… I… didn't know…" His hands shook. He didn't want this. He didn't believe it. Part of him thought that maybe she was just saying it to fuck with him, because he didn't like him. Because Mr. White, dead, really and truly dead? That was impossible. "I thought… thought he was getting treatment. Chemo."

Mrs. White shook her head.

"He refused it," she mumbled. "Didn't want to put the financial burden on us, he said." She paused. "Do you want to… come in, or something?"

Jesse swallowed again.

"Uh. Sure. Okay."

He stepped inside, so lost in Mr. White's house that wasn't his anymore.

"These friends of ours… they offered to pay for his treatment," Mrs. White told him, "But he refused. Walt wouldn't take a cent from them." She shook her head again. "Stubborn pride." She looked at Jesse again. "Did you two keep in touch? After you graduated, I mean?"

"I…" Jesse paused, wondering what she wanted to hear. What the truth even was in this world, this world that was good for him but nonexistent for Mr. White. He had suspected, dreaded this could be true but how was he supposed to figure it all out without him? "Yeah, we kept in touch. He kinda… he was kinda like…a mentor to me. After school. Taught me a lot but then… we kinda fell out of contact. I'm so sorry to hear what happened." He paused, stared down at the ground, at the carpet. "If there's anything I can do for you or your family… Anything at all. I mean, I don't have much… But… whatever I have." It was such a stilted request. He couldn't help them, not really, not on the pittance he had now. But at least he'd shown her that her husband had touched someone, even in such a roundabout way.

That someone mourned him, too.

He left feeling lost, feeling confused. If only there was someone who would believe him. Someone to help him figure this out.

There was only one possibility. It was a longshot. But maybe it would work.