Chapter Four

Gale was impressed. He hadn't wanted to be impressed, of course, because being impressed with one's captors' lab seemed to be on the general spectrum of Stockholm Syndrome, like complimenting the ropes someone has tied one up in, but it was at least a pretty large facility, from what he could see.

The men led he, Walt, and Jesse inside, and as soon as they did, Gale's awe decreased significantly. They had a nice set-up and all, and relatively advanced equipment, but the place was filthy. He could almost feel himself developing an intense case of OCD.

"This is your lab," the man who was "guiding" (more accurately, yanking along) Gale hissed. "And these are your chemists."

From the darkness, a number of men in lab coats emerged. All were bronze-skinned, broad-shouldered, and carried serious, almost bitter expressions.

Gale was really beginning to wish he had just stayed at home on this day. They – the ragtag team of the three of them, Gale, one genius, and whatever the hell Jesse was – were going to do what exactly?

"Teach them." He saw a man nudge Walt with the butt of his gun. "Go on."

"Uh," Walt began. "Teach them what?"

Gale's gaze went over to Jesse, who was looking around as if he was trying to figure out an escape. Like he could run out of there and catch a bus or something.

It was obvious who was the brains of the operation, Gale thought, a little bit snarkily. Then again, those brains had just given a smart-ass response to a bunch of large men with guns, so maybe they were just all screwed.

Gale decided to speak up.

"You see," he began in Spanish. "We aren't quite used to working under these sort of – conditions. Please forgive my colleagues. They are tired due to the long trip. I am sure your boss will want them to relay back to Gustavo Fring that they have been well treated."

He flashed what he, for lack of a better term, pretty much considered "puppy dog eyes".

"After then," he continued quickly, "We would be glad – in fact, honored, to teach your men everything we know. However, we must coordinate. Each of us brings our own special skills to the table and we must," Gale paused, blanked, but only for a moment, "decide how we will proceed. We are used to only working with one another, you see."

Gale curled his hands together behind his back, considering this could go one of two ways – either they would accept his suggestion and they would all be able to buy themselves time, or the cartel would shoot them all dead.

He was really hoping it wasn't going to be the latter.

"Forgive us," the one man said in Spanish. Despite the snarl of his voice, he actually did sound vaguely sincere. "I will take your group to your quarters, and in a few hours. We will begin. As you will now be property of the cartel, we must be sure to keep you in good working order."

Gale turned to the others and translated the message.

Jesse's eyes went wide.

"Property? As in, like, slavery?"

"Sounds like it," Gale murmured. "Let's just all keep our heads down until we can figure out what to do."

Walt glared at him, like everyone should be taking direction from him as opposed to the other way around, though all he had done up to this point was scowl.

They got back in the car, and Gale was thankful just to not be pressed up against Jesse again. This time they were again able to actually sit on the seats; maybe somehow Gale's speech had led to them being treated more like guests than prisoners, in theory at least. Gale realized his backside was killing him, another reminder of the trunk.

But they would figure out a plan. He'd bought them time at least.

Good thinking, Gale, he told himself, given that neither of the others were likely to say it.

Once they got back to an apartment, albeit with only one cramped room with a single bed for the three of them and with guards noticeably stationed outside the doors, Gale breathed a sigh of relief and lay down on the bed, which actually looked vaguely habitable considering the circumstances. But maybe that was Stockholm Syndrome again, so he checked that thought at the door.

"So." Jesse was the first to speak, and Gale's head jerked up at the sound of his voice. He had almost managed to forget that he was even in the room. "What's our plan?"

"Well," Gale replied, "If we're going to come up with one, now's the time."