Chapter Nine

"Why are you helping me?" Jesse asked as Jane drove down the road, in the direction of the car wash and about twenty miles over the speed limit.

"Haven't we been over this?" Jane replied, fishing out a cigarette and putting it to her lips. "I lead a very boring life. Give me a light?" Jesse looked in the glove compartment and took out the lighter, flicking it and lighting Jane's cigarette, thinking of that other one, the one that was in his ashtray in that other world, that other life.

"Is it really a good idea to drive this fast and smoke?"

"Hey, listen, Jesse. I've already got one dad." Jane took her hands off the steering wheel entirely as it rolled down the road. "Not in the market for a second. I'm just fine. I know you're worried about me 'cause you've got some… whatever this is, but if this works, you'll be back where you came from and I go back to my boring life."

"A boring life is better than not having one," Jesse whispered, and Jane gave him an exasperated glance as she puffed on her cigarette. Within ten minutes, she had arrived at the car wash.

"We might have a small issue," she commented as she pulled into a parking space, opened the window, and craned her head out. "This is, well, a car wash. In your version, it was an abandoned car wash, yeah, but right here… Have a gander. It's… just a car wash."

Jesse stared at it and of course, she was right. A car wash under the same ownership that it had been when Mr. White had worked there.

"What do we do?"

Jesse was shaking now. Maybe this was all for the best, maybe this meant that she was supposed to be with Jane, that he was just supposed to be a normal guy, a good guy…

But Andrea and Brock. That couldn't be. That wasn't allowed to happen. Not in this world or any. He had to get back and protect them. He had to go back and make it right. He'd somehow wished them dead, somehow made this whole thing turn out horribly without ever meaning to.

His life, his real life… it sucked. But somehow it seemed like, somewhere in all the horror, this life of his meant something.

Even if it was just in being Mr. White's whipping boy.

Or in being Andrea's on-again, off-again boyfriend.

Or in being his parents' failure of a son.

"Well, if you're really intent on getting in… We find a way." Jane popped open the driver's side door and hopped out. "I've broken into places before, after all. Have you?"

"No, actually," Jesse admitted, "My friend Badger has. Well, he says he knows how to. Some kid in a diversion program taught him."

"Well, this time it's going to be made both easier and harder due to the fact that we're breaking into a place that already has people in it," Jane told him matter-of-factly. She reached into her purse to pull out a pair of sunglasses, then a couple of hairpins.

"Jane, you sound like you have a plan."

"I do," she replied cheerily. "There's one thing that you're going to need to learn about me, Jesse Pinkman. I have always got a plan."

"Oh, I hope you've got one hell of a plan."

Jesse and Jane both turned to look at the direction where the voice, cutting in, had come from.

A chill ran up Jesse's spine as he found himself looking at another person he knew, another dead person. Someone he had known very well, indeed, someone who had been a victim of his partnership with Mr. White.

But also not someone he wanted to see right now; someone he never wanted to see again.

"Nice girlfriend, Jesse," cut in another voice.

Jesse's eyes went back and forth like a scared animal as he took in the faces of Emilio and Krazy-8.

"What are you guys doing here?" he managed to choke out.

"Well, it's funny, Jesse," Emilio replied. "See, when I got arrested, you were next door getting some. Pretty convenient, huh?"

Jesse put up his hands.

"Listen man… I didn't rat on you. I swear."

"Sounds like a pretty specific denial to me, Emilio," Krazy-8 chimed. "And now we've been watching you all around town, ever since Emilio got paroled. And we've decided we need to talk to you…"

"Yeah, well," Jesse hissed. "Now isn't the time." He reached out for Jane's hand. She hadn't said anything yet, but she had to know this wasn't good. This was very not good; this was the last thing they needed, in fact. And they were so close to the car wash. He could see it right behind Emilio's head, like a beacon.

A gun appeared next to Jane's head, almost as if Krazy-8 wasn't holding it but instead it had simply appeared out of nowhere, drawn in like an Etch-A-Sketch.

"It is the time, rat," Krazy-8 snarled in return, "We're going to find out a lot of things from you and your little girlfriend, and you're going to come right this way."

Jesse kept staring at the car wash as they forced him away from it, into a waiting car, in the back seat (at least it wasn't the trunk, he thought lamely). It kept getting smaller and smaller in the distance, and with it, his hopes of a return or even a world in this alternate universe where the people he loved weren't always in danger due to him.

"We'll get out of here," Jane whispered to him.

Jesse had never been less sure of anything in his life.