Dreaming While You Sleep
It started on a Tuesday. Walt woke up, opened his eyes and rolled to his side before realizing that somebody was standing by his bed.
It took him an extra few moments to realize that that person could not possibly be standing by his bed, because she was dead.
"I know what you're thinking," Jane's silky-sweet voice near-purred. "Why is she here? Why now? Well, Walter, why not now?"
Walt rolled his eyes and stood up. He didn't have time for this. He hadn't had time for Jane's infantile antics while she was alive, let alone now that she was floating around his head. Maybe he just hadn't slept quite well enough.
"You think you aren't going to listen to me?"
"No," Walt retorted, "I know that I'm not." And perhaps that had been a small loss on his part, for even talking to a hallucination in the first place.
But no matter. He would tune her out.
There had to be some reason his mind had decided he needed a visit from Jane of all people. There had to be some message in it.
Maybe it was a message to not trust Jesse. After all, he told her about us. He could have gotten us both exposed just for his little junkie girlfriend's sake.
"But that wasn't the whole reason why," Jane whispered. He could almost feel her black hair brushing against the back of his neck. "You were jealous. You like the idea of having Jesse to yourself."
Even if Jane was some form of his subconscious, his subconscious was wrong.
He walked into the bathroom and opened the medicine cabinet, taking out a razor.
"Do you feel bad about what you did?"
He let the question linger a few moments.
Walt couldn't come to an answer, and that concerned him more than either answer would have. He had done what he had needed to do, but still – but still. He couldn't justify it nearly so cleanly as killing Gus, or even poisoning Brock.
"Oh, is that right?" Jane inquired. She leaned an elbow against his sink, and he wanted to push her away. "You don't have much of a problem with poisoning a six-year-old little boy?"
"He was fine," Walt muttered, and he turned on the faucet and ran the razor under it.
"You didn't know that," Jane retorted, and she moved her hands to her hips before jumping up on the sink, long legs hanging off of it. "He could have died. Do you know what Jesse would have done then, Walter?" She had a devious smile, a cruel smile, as she mimed a gun and placed it in her mouth. "Boom. Bye-bye Jesse. All because of you and what you did."
"I don't have to listen to this."
He began shaving, decisively tuning her out. She didn't know shit. He didn't have to pay attention to any more accusations, any more judgments. What was the point of being awake if he did?
"Yes, you do." Jane's voice was next to his ear again, like the persistent buzz of a fly. "I'm in your head, Walter. Don't forget that." She chuckled darkly. "By which I also mean… don't forget me."
How could he forget? How her eyes had opened at the moment he'd made his decision, the moment he had let the life pass from her. Worst of all, the moment he had allowed Jesse to find her like that.
"Oh, yes," Jane agreed, kicking a foot out. "Can't you picture it? He must have woke up, and rolled over, and then realized. Don't you want to picture it? How long do you think it took it to hit him? Can't you imagine those innocent blue eyes opening and then…" She nearly gasped, "Realizing?"
Walt bit his tongue. Hard. Figured that would shut her up. All it did, however, was make his tongue hurt.
"But you see, Walt… The secret is, you'd have loved to be a fly on the wall when he realized. Because you felt it served him right."
"You felt it served him right for leaving you."
His cell phone rang, and Walt jolted towards it, mid-shave, nicking his neck but not really caring. It was a welcome distraction.
He picked it up, hit the answer button.
"Hey, Mr. White."
"Jesse." Walt swallowed hard.
"Is this, like, a bad time? I was just wondering if we could talk about… like, where we're going from here?" Jesse's voice inquired, rapid-fire.
"Sure. Sure, Jesse," Walt managed in reply. "Come over any time. I'm alone. Come to the condo. Just make sure no one's spying on you."
"Aye-aye, Mr. White." The dial tone sounded, and Walt swallowed again.
"Well, isn't that nice of you?" Jane crooned. "Letting him come over this time instead of treating him like he's some kind of cockroach infestation. You deserve a medal."
Maybe once Jesse showed up, she would finally shut up.
Walt went back into the bathroom and finished shaving without incident; he could see, or maybe sense, Jane watching him from the corner of the room, but she stayed silent, as if simply standing by what she had said before.
Walt wanted to thrash her.
He brushed his teeth, and after he spit he made his way back into the living room to wait for Jesse. Jane had glided into a spot next to him.
It's like having an imaginary friend, he thought sarcastically.
He tried to consider what it must mean.
Walt thought of what Jesse had tried to imply that one day in the lab: They found out that the cancer had spread to her brain… and in Jesse's aunt it had led to that obsession with some possum. Considering Jesse's aunt had probably never allowed anyone to die right in front of her, it would.
But Walt was in remission. Not that he'd even had a chance to go to his oncologist recently. And things could change, quickly. But no.
He was just stressed. As simple as that.
Or maybe he was just letting the guilt from this whole experience, everything he'd seen and done involved with cooking and becoming Heisenberg, get to him and make him doubt himself. But had he really gone so wrong? He was providing for his family. He'd saved Jesse's life.
By letting Jane die, he'd saved Jesse's life. Not that he could ever tell Jesse that. There was no way that he'd ever understand; Jesse could never separate out emotion from business. That was what made him different than Walt, than Gus.
The doorbell rang. It sounded shriller than Walt had ever remembered it. He walked over, in a sort of daze, and opened it, almost a little surprised to see Jesse actually standing there. For a moment, he seemed like a hallucination, too, or maybe a mirage, a river in the desert.
"Jesse," Walt said, ushering him inside. As he stepped into the living room, Jesse's eyebrows creased with concern.
"You look awful, Mr. White. Have you been sleeping? Like… at all?"
Walt ignored him. He didn't need Jesse's concern, now, especially considering that there was no way he could tell him what was really going on.
"Uh, Mr. White?"
Jesse just would not quit. Walt figured he would find his concern touching, if it weren't so frustrating. What the hell did Jesse Pinkman, of all people, think he could tell Walt about, well, anything at all? Jesse was still the same kid who'd fallen asleep in the back of his class…
"The same kid who killed for you," Jane whispered. Oh great, she was back. And now she was standing next to Jesse, averting Walt's gaze either in her direction or over to the wall.
"Mr. White?" Jesse asked again. He moved to put his hand on Walt's shoulder. "Why don't you sit down? You look… dizzy."
He felt dizzy. Jesse's assessment was accurate.
Walt slowly moved to sit down on the couch, but as he did he saw Jane sit next to him, perched on the arm, leaning over him like a devil or an angel in one of those old movies.
"Mr. White," Jesse continued, his voice quiet, "Talk to me? What's going on?"
Walt opened his mouth, tried to get something to come out.
"I'm just stressed, Jesse," he managed, at last. "Don't worry about it."
Jesse didn't seem satisfied with that answer. Walt felt a pang of some regret, mixed with annoyance. Oh, Jesse. Always trying to put everything right.
"Ask him how things are going with Andrea," Jane suggested. She was poking at her lips with a pen, now, and Walt wasn't entirely sure how a hallucination found a pen. "And that little boy. You know, the one who you poisoned."
Walt would have responded to her, told her that he wasn't dumb enough to put the kid in any real danger, but he had to focus on Jesse and alleviating his fears.
He was annoyed again. Jesse was always afraid. There was no inner Heisenberg in him, just a scared kid, as much of a child as the little boy he was trying to take care of. It was pathetic.
"Come here, Jesse," Walt instructed. He patted the spot next to him, and when Jesse sat as instructed – good boy – Walt actually smiled. "I don't want you to worry about me, okay? What's going on in your life? How are things with that… girlfriend of yours?"
Jesse lit up, seemingly surprised and delighted at Walt taking an interest.
"They're great. I mean, really. It's all going great."
"That's good, Jesse." Walt's voice sounded as if it were miles away from his ears. He didn't really care about Jesse's new relationship; why would he? If Jane were any indication, Jesse's general "type" seemed to be relatively attractive junkie losers who only saw green when it came to him. Walt, on the other hand, well, he actually cared for Jesse. He looked out for him. Hell, his parents didn't (from what Walt had gleaned), so somebody had to keep him from tripping over his own two feet and landing on his head. How had he even survived without him?
"He seemed to do all right when he was working with Gus and Mike," Jane chimed in. "Or maybe you're trying to forget about that."
Walt bit back a laugh. Jesse had just been a pawn to those two! As a part of his subconscious, or whatever the hell this apparition of Jane was, this all fell flat. It had all just been an attempt to get Jesse to turn against Walt – and one that had nearly worked, given how foolish Jesse was, so innocently trusting.
"He definitely trusts you," Jane pointed out. "Even though he knows some of what you've done. What if he knew everything?"
"You sure you're okay, Mr. White?" Jesse asked. "You're kind of… distracted."
"I'm just thinking, Jesse," Walt responded, before glaring at him and adding, "You ought to try it sometime."
Jane smiled widely.
"That's it! Another nasty Walter White comment. That's how you show Jesse how much you care for him, isn't it? Try and whittle down his self-esteem until it's small enough to put in a toothpick jar? Until he has nothing left to hang on to except for you?'
"He doesn't," Walt snapped out loud, before he could stop himself.
"I think you might have a fever or something? Don't freak out, but I think you're kind of talking to yourself. Maybe you have, like, the flu or something. Lay back. I'll get you… I don't know. Something. Just relax."
Walt watched as Jesse got off the couch and made his way into the other room, before returning with a thermometer and a blanket.
"Here. Uh… can I, well, check you?"
Walt stopped himself from laughing or rolling his eyes and obediently opened his mouth. It was almost cute, in a way – Jesse playing at taking care of him, like a little kid playing doctor.
Jesse fumbled with the thermometer, gently slipping it under Walt's tongue.
"Keep it there for a little while. That's what they always said," he told Walt with a wannabe-firm voice. He decided to humor Jesse. Why not? After all, wasn't that what this was all about? The thing he had done… the thing he had let happen, it had been for Jesse, to save Jesse when Jesse was past saving himself.
"Or maybe you did it for you," Jane chimed in. She laid back, against the couch, before running a hand over her collar and then down to her chest, directing Walt's attention to her assets.
What the hell was he thinking? The girl was dead. She didn't have assets more than she had anything else these days.
But still. He hadn't really ever considered her like this, and he wasn't very happy to be considering it now. The girl was basically a child to him – an annoying, petulant child – and he had no interest like that, certainly not. But if his subconscious was thrusting Jane's breasts in his face, then what the hell did that mean about his subconscious in the first place?
"Mr. White?" Jesse's voice prodded in again, and he reached up to remove the thermometer. "No, it says you're fine. Your temperature isn't high at all. I don't know. I guess you just ought to take it easy for a while." He cocked his head to the side and looked at Walt. "You don't seem like yourself."
Jane laughed, and strode back over to put her hand on Walt's knee.
"If he only knew what you were really like! What do you think he would say? If he knew the truth, would he still want to take care of you so bad?"
Walt nearly replied with an angry, "Yes, he would," but he considered it. Was Jesse really so much of a doormat that he'd accept Walt, even if he knew the truth? He'd be angry at first, at least; Walt knew that much. He might even punch him, kick him – and objectively, Walt would deserve it. But then Jesse would come around; there'd be another unspoken apology in his eyes, even though Jesse hadn't been the one in the wrong.
Why, then, didn't Walt just tell him the truth and ease his conscience?
Because of course, of course there was that chance that Jesse wouldn't get over it. Wouldn't move past it. Would shut the door on Walt and never, ever open it again.
Walt was surprised to realize just how much he couldn't handle that thought. How much he needed Jesse around.
"You love him, don't you?" Jane mocked. "As much as you can love anybody, I suppose. Is there actually something hidden in that dark, cold heart of yours?" She reached over and tapped on his chest. "I can't hear it beating, but I suppose it must be somewhere. Maybe we could open you up and check on it? Another surgery! It'll be fun!"
Walt restrained the urge to reel back and punch her in the face because, well, normal, sane people didn't punch the air, not for real.
"Mr. White?" Jesse's voice cut in again, and he looked at the younger man.
"Hey. Yeah," Walt began, stumbling over the words, "I'm fine. It's just… I haven't gotten enough sleep." The cover was so clumsy that it could have been one of Jesse's own. What was he playing at? Then again, he didn't really have any other options. He couldn't exactly go to a shrink about this.
"Of course you couldn't. I mean, doctor-patient confidentiality and all, but I think they waive it in cases of, I don't know… child abuse?" Jane mocked. "Like, you know, poisoning a little kid?"
Walt shook his head to try and shake her out.
"Sorry, Jesse. My head's a little…"
"Yeah, I'll say. You're not even looking at me, Mr. White," Jesse replied, putting a hand on Walt's shoulder. "I think you need to get some sleep. I know where you're coming from, though, I mean, I've been really stressed, too. This whole thing… and now with Brock… He's okay, though." It seemed like Jesse was assuring himself instead of Walt. "He's okay."
"Yeah," Walt echoed, "He's okay." He felt as if he was trying to shout at Jesse down a tunnel, maybe into a manhole that went down into a sewer. Jesse seemed hopelessly far away.
"No thanks to you," Jane cut in, with a grin. She leaned on him now, put her thin leg up on to his knee and leant in, inches away from his crotch. It was as if she wasn't sure whether to knee it or stroke it.
"Mr. White," Jesse cautioned, "I think you need to lie down. Come with me." He offered his arm.
"Isn't that cute?" Jane purred. "He's taking such good care of you. Why don't you tell him? Tell me, Walt… Tell him!"
He wanted to put his hands over his ears, shut her out. What had made her appear? Why now?
"Jesse," he mumbled, "I… You should leave. I'm…"
"Not leaving you here like this, Mr. White. Oh, hell no," Jesse argued. "Come on."
"He loves you," Jane sang like a windchime. "He loves you more than anything."
No, Walt hissed in his head, He loved you more than anything.
"And see how far that got him."
"Mr. White, you're scaring me. You're staring in front of you like there's someone there. Are you…. Are you seeing something? Someone? Do you think you need to… I mean, my aunt, this is like… when she did this. Mr. White, are you listening? Mr. White?" Jesse waved his hand in front of Walt's face, and Walt rose, like one of Jesse's robots, following mechanical, programmed commands.
He looked at Jesse and he shook his head.
"No, Jesse. I don't see anyone there."
He would never tell him. He would never breathe a word. As bad as he had gotten, as horrible as the things he had done… He deserved this.
But Jesse didn't. And Jesse would never know.