Chapter Eight

"I saw a movie one time where someone made this into a weapon. Like, a prison movie."

"Jesse," Walt said, staring at him with a fury that probably could have fueled a small town. "That is a toothbrush. A toothbrush is not going to do a damn thing against the cartel!"

"It's a start," Jesse protested, and Walt wanted to slam his head against something; not to hurt him, of course, but merely to knock some sense into that hard head of his. They needed to come up with an actual plan, and things Jesse had seen in some movie didn't really qualify.

"What if we used something in the lab?" Gale suggested, "We could make all kinds of… diversions."

"Mustard gas!" Jesse exclaimed. "Just like you did in the RV!"

Walt glared at him. Why the hell was Jesse pointing out that Walt had murdered two people by that method, in front of Gale? Admittedly Gale was less than likely to go talking, but still. Jesse should have more sense.

"It would certainly wipe out the cartel," Walt began dryly, "And the three of us with it."

"We'd have masks," Jesse continued.

"Will we, though? I don't know how advanced these… chemists are," Gale pointed out. "We probably won't be equipped with the same protections we had when we were working for Mr. Fring."

"Oh, get off it and just call him Gus, Gale!" Walt hissed. "Unless you trying to suck his dick is going to get us out of here!"

Gale's eyes flashed in surprise and embarrassment. Walt saw Jesse biting down a laugh. Let him laugh now. It wasn't funny.

"Listen, Mr. White," Jesse said a moment later, "Even if our plan doesn't work, we need to have one. I mean, you're the smartest one here. Come up with something! You're the one who got us out of the desert… You're the one who knows what you're doing more than any of us."

Walt crossed his arms and thought. He thought through every possible permutation that crossed his mind, but every plan seemed to fall short of success. But Jesse was right, in a way – most of his great plans hadn't had been foolproof. Blasting out Tuco's windows had worked, at least short term, but the ricin plan hadn't. The ricin… If only they had the material available to make ricin. But would they be able to not get killed while waiting around for it to work? Probably not, and there were multiple cartel associates so even if they poisoned one, that didn't help them very much.

He needed something that could do maximum damage, but only to the people they actually did want to damage. The number of things that could both do this and were readily available would make an exceedingly short list.

He found himself thinking of Skyler again, of Junior and Holly as he wished that he could be back home with them, sitting on the couch, watching Jeopardy and just living his life, even if that was more of a fake life these days, even if Skyler had kicked him out on his ass.

They didn't have much time to debate it any further, however, because their conversation was cut short with the opening of the door.

A tall Hispanic man, one they hadn't seen before, entered the room.

"Welcome to Mexico," he told them in a crisp tone, with impeccable and unaccented English. "I hope you are finding your accommodations to be to your liking."

Walt shot Jesse a look, warning him not to say anything.

"My name is Dr. Richard Vasquez. I hold a Ph.D in Chemistry from Washington State University."

"Impressive," Walt said, and not entirely sarcastically either. "Washington State's program is very well regarded."

Gale made a little noise in his throat.

"I heard that it's been steadily going downhill, actually. The publication record has been…"

Jesse leaned over and proceeded to stop on Gale's foot, causing him to cry out in pain. He gave Jesse an offended look.

Vasquez ignored Gale and looked at Walt again.

"I see you brought two assistants," he commented.

Walt nodded. That was really what they were, both Gale and Jesse. Neither of them would amount to much of anything in the lab without his guidance. He hoped neither would quibble and neither did.

"They're very capable," Walt told Vasquez. "They won't get in anyone's way. As you must know, cooking is definitely a two or three man job if you want to do it most effectively and get the best results… by which I mean the best purity and, then on, the best customers and the most money… which, I know, are the results you are most interested in, Dr. Vasquez."

"And what kind of training do your assistants hold?"

"Mr. Boetticher here has a Masters," Walt explained, "And Mr. Pinkman… well… he was trained personally by myself."

"And yourself?" Vasquez prodded. "What is your own training? I notice you are not… Dr. White…"

"I have a Masters from Caltech," Walt replied dryly, though he told himself inwardly that he was probably brighter than most of the he had met. A lot of them were just straight-up blowhards anyway; the few real geniuses who he had run into at the college level usually got run out of their departments because they made the rest of the lay-abouts and kiss-asses look bad, so what was the point? Plus he couldn't have raised his child on a grad student's salary, not with Skyler not working… But he couldn't say any of that. It would make him sound bitter. "I went into industry." That much was true. He left out the part about teaching pimply-faced high schoolers who didn't want to be there. "But I think 99% purity would at least equal an ABD." He smirked dryly. "Now, did we come to discuss my exciting life story, or are we here to make you more money than you could count?"

"That's right, Señor White," Vasquez replied with a smile, though there was something bitter behind it. "It's time to make a lot of money together."