A/N: Over-stylized garbage that I loved writing. First fic in a couple years, just happy to stretch my fingers. Total homage to a long-lost slasher that I loved. Enjoy.

Saul doesn't know when it started. He doesn't blame himself for missing it, there were plenty more important things to worry about. It all came together at once, like the final pieces snapping into a puzzle.

A late-night visit to check up on Jesse, and Walt answers the door.


Jesse's litany of bruises is joined by those familiar to teenage girls.


For a moment he forgets to play it smooth and wordlessly gapes at them both, wondering why it had taken him until now - the other pieces had been in place for so long.

Mike knew before Saul, of course. He can see it in everything they do. Mundane things, like when they bicker over the music in the car and somewhere in the anger an upturned lip gives iit away. When Walt lecturs Jesse on cracking his back in disgust, but never looks away as he stretches around to do it. When they let fights get personal, when they apologize so quickly, when they can't think of anything to say, even the way Walt shifts when Jesse walks into a room.

It's more obvious when they're doing less mundane things. It's hard to hide your feelings when you have to beg for someone's life.

Walt can't be sure why Jesse lets it happen. Or why he lets it happen himself. He sees it that way - as though they are passively accepting something that naturally occurs, like getting wet in the rain or cold in the snow when you can't find it in yourself to grab an umbrella or a sweater.

It's never been like this before with sex. His whole life, sex has been a chase or a game. When he was young - and he can still remember being young, though it is getting fuzzy at the edges - there were tactics and plans, nights out with purpose, lines given from memory. But all of that took effort, strength, resolve. With Jesse he would need those things just to turn away.

He'd tried for a long time to imagine an exit strategy. Sometimes he brought Jesse with him on these escapes, sometimes he left him behind. He didn't know where their connection fit in a normal timeline. He put them back there, in his youth, when things were still carefree and normal, albeit a little boring. Would Jesse have fit there? Could they have met at a bar, a party, a football game? It's exhausting to imagine all of the ways things could have gone, and then he remembers that Jesse wasn't even alive. Those are the thoughts that terrify Walt the most - when he remembers that this is Jesse's youth. That he never even had a chance.

Jesse hates himself. Not some of the time, not most of the time, but all of the time. The revulsion he feels seeps into every sense - it is blinding, deafening, numbing. He hardly has thoughts these days - he just sits and waits for nothing. Sometimes from the nothingness Mr. White appears and then he feels something, though he doesn't have a name for whatever it is. However briefly, he can remember what it's like to be alive.

Mr. White taught him all of the lessons he wished he'd never learned, the kind no one wants to learn. The monsters that hid under your bed when you were a kid didn't disappear. They started hiding in your thoughts. They started hiding in the people you love.

He knows when it's over he'll never reclaim what was his before this all happened, so he tries to enjoy what he can. Sometimes it feels real, and there are moments of clarity, and he can recognize some kind of life after it's all over. With his hands pressed against Mr. White's skin, he can forget how covered in blood they really are. It never lasts for long.

Skyler knows. She didn't always, but she does now. She can't even bring herself to feel disgust or anger. When she has to see Jesse, when there's no escaping it, she surprises herself with what she feels. Pity. And not the pity born of spite or hatred - true pity, for a person with nothing and no one.

The stupid kid didn't have much of a chance on his own, but with Walter, he's become a husk. She wonders if without Jesse she would have become the same. When he speaks to her now, says hello, asks her how she is doing, she just barely keeps from breaking down. Everything she'd hated about him Walt had exploited, used, drained. There was just nothing else to hate. She once blamed Jesse for everything that had happened but now chastises herself for having been so blind.

Mike knows they think it's a secret. Maybe if they knew he'd been in on it, protecting something that wasn't his to protect, things would've ended differently. But probably not. This is how the game is played.

The sun is setting, and it's quiet now. Walt is rustling in the weeds. When this is over, when Jesse finds out, there will be words that lend to a sense of finality. Mike pictures it; remembers the hopelessness on Jesse's face when he said he was getting out for good. But lots more people need to die now, and eventually it will be back to business as usual, as it goes with these situations. He remembers, at first, wondering why they kept going back. Now he knows that they could barely bring themselves to part.

He turns his thoughts away from it, thinks instead of his own story before he'd become just another character in theirs. When he was still the protagonist, or at least something along those lines. Somewhere, there, amidst all of the people he'd never wronged, who he'd had the sense to keep separate from the whole ugly thing, he finds his bit of peace. He holds onto it as everything else starts to fade; from what he's seen, it may be the last of its kind.