The traffic raced by passively on the darkened LA street. Jane's shadow crept up behind her crestfallen figure, merged with her, then elongated to jeer her from the front with each streetlight she trudged past on the sidewalk. A deep sigh escaped her lips as she stopped in front of a familiar door, marked only with a tarnished brass 4.
When did we…? There's just no way… She opened the door and proceeded into the modest apartment she shared with her boyfriend. A pungent scent filled the air. A vaporous smoke wafted around a chair in the living room, occupied by Jesse.
Her life had been a whirlwind since their first meeting on the day he'd rented the duplex she'd managed. She'd known from the get-go he was holding, though he'd seemed to think he was doing a stellar job of hiding it. She'd also known letting him sign that lease, let alone getting involved with him, were the last things she should have done. Her past had already been a web of entanglements with dealers and men who used. In her year and a half of sobriety, she'd made sure going down that road again had remained the furthest thing from her mind.
She'd surprised even herself, then, to end up in his bed (well, first on his floor, then on his still-shrinkwrapped new mattress, then in his bed) not a week later. She'd told herself at first it was just a walk back on the wild side—a little harmless playing with fire they'd both eventually tire of.
But Jesse had proven to be more than just a walk back on the wild side. Despite his illicit profession he was a kid at heart, a chivalrous gentleman even, and barely the street-savvy bad boy she'd expected. And instead of tiring of her, he had this annoyingly endearing habit of growing fonder every day. So, at some ambiguous point when she wasn't looking, it had stopped being a fling and started being a relationship.
From then on, everything had happened in drug-addled flashes. The relapse into heroin. Getting caught by her father. Blackmailing Jesse's old partner for his share of the profits from a drug deal. Driving off the morning after, saying they were bound for New Zealand, but somehow eventually ending up in LA, instead.
And now this.
She brooded on her current situation…a situation she had discovered only half an hour ago in the nearest gas station bathroom. A situation for which she could think of at least a dozen people who would be better equipped than her.
"Yo…" Jesse drawled. "You have got to try this shit." His hand waved towards the source of the smoke, smoldering in an ashtray beside him.
"Not now." She sat across from him with a grave expression. "We have to talk."
"What's the matter?" Jesse grinned, his eyes dilated.
In his fanciful mind, before him sat a luminous angel from beyond this world…all the stars of the sky in her midnight black hair. Each of her long fingernails was painted with an entire galaxy. Her flowing robe was composed of the silvery stardust of a speeding comet.
Instead of "I'm pregnant," he heard her say, "I've come to take you home to the planet Pluto."
And he laughed. As the angel drifted away before him, he continued laughing.
A few hours later, the room became less celestial, the surroundings more mundane. Jesse was coming down from one of the most intense trips in his hallucinogenic history. He thought he'd built up an immunity to weed long ago…but that was the great thing about Cali; so many new things to try, and so few people to judge you for it. It had been Jane's idea to come here after the whole New Zealand thing fell through. He was almost glad it did.
He vaguely remembered Jane coming home while he was high. She had said something, hadn't she? He struggled to remember. Something that sounded like…
"Jane!" He catapulted out of the chair. "Jane?!" he called again into the silent apartment.
The bathroom light was on. He drew towards it and found her inside. She was sitting on the lid of the toilet, her head hung so that her hair trailed to her knees. A needle lay waiting by the bathroom sink, still unused.
"Yo, Jane," he began. "Did you…did you just tell me you were…?"
She nodded without looking up. "Not so funny now, is it?"
He swore. "Baby, I'm so sorry." He rubbed her shoulder, taking a seat on the edge of the tub across from her. "I didn't mean to…that stuff I was burning, I didn't think it'd be like that." He fumbled for the right words. "If I knew what you were about to say, I wouldn't have…"
She straightened up, adopting an apathetic disposition. "I wasn't really mad about that." A side glance at the needle. "It's just, I know we were gonna get clean anyway, at some point. But we were supposed to do it on our terms. This is only going to make everything harder."
"You think that? But Jane, we've been talking about sobering up ever since we left Albuquerque," Jesse retorted. "Now we got a real reason to!"
Jane returned her gaze to him, clearly not sharing his enthusiasm. "So…what, Jesse? Now that we're having a baby, we should just flush everything, check into rehab tomorrow, and become Mom and Dad of the year?"
There was that childlike lopsided smile and those glistening blue eyes as he nodded. "Something like that, yeah."
Jane scoffed, and Jesse took both her hands in his.
"I mean, think about it," he continued. "Remember why we bailed outta ABQ in the first place?"
"To get a fresh start, out from under Dad's prying eyes and that Walter White guy's iron fist," she recalled.
"Your dad just didn't get you," he remarked. "And for me, it was everybody. Mr. White, my parents…nothing I ever did was good enough for any of them."
"Yeah, but me squeezing out this kid wouldn't change all that," she protested.
"Probably not. But you and me, we'll raise our kid right. We'll give him all the support and, like, the appreciation we never had, ya feel me?"
She still looked unconvinced. "How do you know? What makes you so sure we'd be any good at this?"
"Money's no problem; we still got plenty left from the deal," he reasoned. "And, I just feel like as long as we got each other, we can do anything, you know?"
A deep sigh served as her concession. "Godammit…alright. Tomorrow morning, we'll look in the yellow pages for a rehab facility to check into."
Jesse reached over and opened the top drawer of the bathroom vanity, slid the forgotten needle inside and shut it. With it safely out of sight and out of mind, he pulled Jane up into a hug. "We're gonna get through this, alright?"
"Remind me of that when I have morning sickness and ankles the size of an elephant's."