Especially in recent months, Walt never slept well. His mind was constantly filled with the 'what-if's' of his occupation among thoughts of his own mortality. The thoughts seemed to be particularly prevalent while he lay in bed alone.
While he hadn't been sleeping well, the sudden noise, a crash, that night probably would have woken him regardless of the sleep stage he was in.
The earlier part of the evening had been uneventful as television and pizza delivery provided a needed distraction. Despite mostly silence between them while they ate, Walt started to almost appreciate the presence of Jesse. Whether it was the food or just fatigue, Jesse had become increasingly complacent as the night went on, sitting quietly on the couch beside him as mutual company. Walt figured he was simply too tired to be an annoyance but either way felt relieved.
Walt already knew that when Jesse wasn't complaining or fighting with him about inane issues, or wasting their time, he could actually be pleasant. At the condo, he was typically alone with his thoughts. Despite the circumstances, this was at least a change of pace. Normally Jesse would fill their time together with random thoughts or questions, like he couldn't be left with silence. Small Jesse didn't say much after eating, and Walt didn't mind.
As the night grew later, Walt found himself yawning. He glanced over at Jesse a few times to find the kid's eyes starting to periodically close. A quick look at his watch reminded him that he was already up later than typical. He didn't know what time Jesse normally went to bed, but it was pretty obvious he was tired too. He left Jesse on the couch to find some extra blankets.
He returned and dropped a folded comforter and a pillow on the couch, listening deafly to an objection from a suddenly wide-awake Jesse that it was still 'early' and he 'wasn't tired'.
"Fine," Walt responded tiredly with a slight roll of his eyes. "Then stay up."
Walt left Jesse while he insisted on setting up the Playstation with the promise of keeping the volume muted, and turned himself in for bed, shutting his bedroom door behind him. For all he cared, the kid could play video games all night so long as it kept him quiet.
His first thoughts in bed were of the following day, and what they were supposed to do. He hoped that they would wake up to find Jesse back to normal, but he acknowledged there was just as much of a chance that there would be no change.
He was supposed to go to the carwash tomorrow as well... He now worried about the logistics. Leaving Jesse alone at the condo didn't seem like the greatest idea; however, bringing him to the carwash and having to fabricate some kind of background story to Skyler about why he suddenly had a six-year old child in tow was equally unappealing. Leaving him with Mike implied needing help from Mike, which was also something he wanted to avoid.
Maybe he wouldn't have to worry about it. Maybe Jesse would reverse…
Before he could ponder his options too much longer, he fell asleep.
Soon after what sleep masked as moments but very well could have been hours, he sat up in bed, startled at the abrupt sound from the other room. He blinked into the blank darkness, now hearing nothing, though the clamor of a moment ago still resounding in his ears.
Was it a dream? No, it was too real. His dreams weren't like this.
"What the hell…" he muttered, pushing back the heavy blankets on top of him. He fumbled awkwardly for his glasses on the nightstand next to the bed, finding them with a brush of his hand across the surface of the table. He put them on hastily and turned on the light beside him.
A quick glance at the digital alarm clock informed him that it was three-fifteen in the morning and he inwardly groaned, wishing he could simply go back to sleep. He considered it for a brief moment, and then instead pushed himself up out of bed to step into a pair of slippers.
He wished to find the lights off and Jesse peacefully sleeping on the couch, with the noise a figment of his imagination or from maybe even outside.
He left the bedroom to find that the lights were still on in the other room.
Jesse, what are you up to… he thought apprehensively.
From the doorway of his bedroom, his eyes first went to the couch and found it empty. The comforter he placed there earlier remained folded and untouched. He glanced at the TV and found it still on.
Dammit, Jesse, he thought. It's three-fifteen and you haven't even tried to go to sleep?
That was when he heard a small groan coming from the kitchen. He looked past the TV and headed into the kitchen almost reluctantly, his exhaustion fading, replaced by trepidation and unease.
He was stunned at first glance into the kitchen.
Jesse was on the floor, like he'd fallen – but from where? – and around him was a mess of broken bottles and fragments of glass. It must have just happened, as he was just moving, slowly sitting up.
"What the hell?" Walt began, suddenly fully awake. He observed Jesse was still dressed as he had been earlier.
Jesse sat up now, hunched over, and groaned again.
Walt was confused at first how this mess was even possible. He looked around the kitchen, trying to understand, and then saw the counter where earlier today sat empty bottles and glass for recycling. It was now empty aside from a few turned over remaining bottles. Why would Jesse be near that?
Suddenly Walt was irritated. His eyes took in the mess again. Three in the morning when the whole world was sleeping, and now he had to deal with this? Walt was already exhausted from the events of the day. How hard was it for Jesse to stay out of trouble for one night? How was this even possible?
"Jesse," he said, voice stiff. Did the kid not even notice he was standing there?
Jesse let out another small grunt as he moved a little and held his hands up in front of him. Walt now noticed blood. Jesse's face was scrunched up as though in pain. He didn't seem to notice he was bleeding, in fact he still barely seemed to notice Walt, as he slowly tried to get up.
"Jesse. What the hell did you do?" Walt persisted, tone annoyed, leaving the doorway of the kitchen to walk towards him. Glass crunched under his feet and he was thankful for the slippers he'd tiredly put on. How the hell was there so much glass?
Jesse looked up and noticed Walt now, seemingly for the first time, and then appeared to panic. "Hey, Mr. White. I…. uh... ," he began with a stutter. "Sorry." He crawled to his feet and then tried to move backwards. "Look, I…"
Walt took another step and reached for him while Jesse tried unsuccessfully and clumsily to step away.
Walt's hand clamped down on his shoulder, holding him still, and he didn't miss the way Jesse flinched at the touch, as though expecting to be hit. "Stop it," he said, voice low. He took a deep breath. "Do you have any idea what time it is?"
"No," Jesse admitted. "I… I'm s-sorry," Jesse repeated, face contorting into a pained frown again.
Walt looked down around them again in disbelief at the mess. Then he focused back on Jesse. "What the hell is wrong with you?"
"It was an accident," Jesse objected.
Walt's patience thinned. "What kind of accident? Why the hell aren't you sleeping?" He took in a smear of blood on Jesse's shirt. "And do you even realize you're bleeding?"
Jesse looked down at his hands again, now seeing the blood. He looked down at the clutter around him. There were a couple handprints of blood on the floor as well. His brain seemed to process the situation and his expression changed, became more vulnerable. He let out a small whimper, and then suddenly seemed to crumple into a true six-year old.
"Hey. Calm down," Walt ordered as the tears began. He let out a frustrated sigh. Despite his anger, his heart suddenly sank. He hated crying, especially when Jesse cried in this pathetic, sorry, wounded animal kind of way. His impatience was twisted now with empathy as Jesse's shoulders shook, his head bowed down with his chin tucked tightly down against his chest.
"Stop," Walt insisted, hand still firmly on his shoulder. He shook him slightly.
He wonder whether Jesse knew that crying got him out of things; Walt felt annoyed with himself for feeling sympathetic as well as with Jesse for crying in the first place. The tears seemed genuine. He was hurt, or at least a little cut up, but he couldn't tell how much of the tears were for that versus Jesse being typically overly emotional.
Walt briefly wondered how Mike dealt with Jesse's emotions. Whether Jesse would dare cry in front of him. He realized the man would probably simply tell him to snap out of it or threaten to give him a real reason to cry. And it would probably work.
"Stop crying," Walt spoke evenly. Despite the aggravation he felt, he tried to keep his tone calm to pacify him. Jesse's face was now streaked with wet tears that continued to fall. As Jesse reached to rub his face, Walt caught his wrist. "Stop."
Jesse's tear-filled eyes glanced at him briefly in question as a few more large tears slid down his cheeks.
"Your hands," Walter explained. "I think there's glass." He shook his head. "Will you explain to me what the hell happened in here, Jesse?"
Jesse glanced at him again, a nervous, fleeting glance.
"What were you doing?" Walt continued. "How the hell did you make such a mess?"
Jesse shrugged, keeping his eyes low.
"Jesse." Walt said his name warningly. His hand tightened on his shoulder. "Tell me what the hell you were doing."
Jesse stayed still for a moment and then looked up at the ceiling briefly. Walt followed his line of sight and settled his gaze on the smoke detector.
He looked at Jesse pointedly and then gestured up at the small device. "That? That's what you were trying to get to?"
Jesse stared at the floor now. A few more tears slipped down his face and he sniffled, shrugging again.
"You're an idiot," Walt muttered abrasively. "Pathetic idiot." He noticed Jesse's nose was starting to run and sighed. He reached out and took him under his arms, picking him up forcibly. He expected Jesse to object or push against him, but beyond a slightly surprised sounding whimper, Jesse remained still.
With a clenched jaw, Walt carried him to the bathroom as Jesse continued sniffling. "You were going to smoke?"
"No," Jesse managed as they entered the bathroom, voice wavering.
"Don't lie to me," Walt snapped. He set Jesse down on the bathroom counter forcefully and Jesse flinched.
"But I wasn't," came the choked response.
Walt narrowed his eyes and reached for a facecloth. Turning on the faucet next to Jesse, he wet the small towel briefly before using it to wipe Jesse's face. He didn't care that Jesse winced as he swiped the wet fabric gruffly over his cheeks.
"Stop crying," he instructed again stiffly. "Enough is enough." He wiped the stray tears that continued to roll down his face in exasperation. "Are you crying because I'm angry or because you're hurt?"
Jesse lowered his chin to his chest and nodded.
"Which one is it?" Walt persisted. He paused. "Both?" As Jesse nodded again, he let out a deep breath. "Well, you're right about one thing. I am angry. Show me your hands."
Jesse obeyed, holding his hands out in front of him. "I said I'm sorry," he said again softly.
"You'll be sorry," Walt muttered under his breath. He took Jesse's right wrist and turned his hand over to reveal the bleeding palm. He still saw a few thin shards of glass embedded in the skin as he suspected and muttered a curse.
Jesse pulled his hand away defensively. "I can do it."
Walt took his wrist again, giving him a warning look, and looked again at his hand. "Can you?" he challenged bitterly. "Just stay still." With his free hand he reached towards the drawer under the counter. He pulled it open and glanced inside for what he needed. Tweezers.
Jesse tried to pull his hand away again, but Walt's grip remained tight on his wrist.
"Stop," Walt commanded.
Jesse started to squirm, face scrunching up again. "But you're gonna make it hurt on purpose," he objected shakily.
Walt met his eye and paused for a minute. "Jesse." He shook his head and softened his tone gently. "I'm not."
Jesse's expression clearly showed he didn't believe him. For a moment, Walt thought good, let this be part of the punishment. But at the same time, he knew he wouldn't hurt him on purpose. It would probably hurt, that probably couldn't be avoided, but he wasn't going to make it any more painful than it had to be.
Jesse looked like he might start to cry again, and Walt decided to be a little gentler for the moment, at least until he could get him cleaned up. "I admit that Skyler was always a little more skilled with the skinned knees and cuts and bruises," he began. "But I'm not going to make it hurt more than it has to." He studied Jesse's face. "But if you keep moving, then it's going to hurt. You have to stay still."
Jesse nodded, consenting, and despite pre-emptively grimacing, he let Walt pull his hand closer to him.
His palm was a mess of small, nearly invisible pieces of glass, and blood, and dirt. It wasn't that much glass, thankfully, and with tweezers Walt began to slowly try to clean him up. With each sliver he carefully extracts, Walt realizes there is another hand in the same condition.
"Three-thirty in the fucking morning," he muttered as he closed in on being nearly done with the first hand. Jesse remained quiet and relatively still, trembling occasionally but with an obvious attempt to dutifully keep still.
"Maybe you should stay with Mike," Walt continued, glancing at Jesse for reaction. Jesse eyes him suspiciously, as though trying to figure out whether he was being serious. "Would you do this in his house?"
Jesse stared back at him blankly and didn't answer.
"What were you going to smoke?" Walt continued, now focused on Jesse's other hand. There was much less glass in this one, but a couple shards look painfully deep.
Jesse hissed as Walt extracted one of those pieces.
"Hurts, doesn't it?" Walt raised his eyes to look at him again. "Now answer me. What were you going to smoke?"
"Then why were you trying to disable the smoke detector?"
Jesse paused. "I wasn't."
"You looked directly at it when I asked what you were doing," Walt reminded. "You're a terrible liar, Jesse." Walt moved Jesse's hand slightly, narrowing in what seemed to be the last piece of glass. "I might be exhausted, but I'm not stupid."
Jesse winced as Walt pulled out the last splinter of glass. "Are you done?"
"Almost." Walt turned to the cabinet on the wall and opened the door. He reached in for the bottle of hydrogen peroxide sitting on the first shelf. "Put your hands over the sink."
Jesse eyed the bottle warily. He opened his mouth briefly as though to object, but then shut his mouth and unquestioningly placed his hands next to him, over the sink. His face, still blotchy with tears, had a look of apprehension. He shrank back a little bit as Walt took the cap off the top of the bottle and held it over his hands.
"Ready?" Walt asked.
Jesse nodded, closing his eyes tightly.
Walt poured slowly and watched the liquid bubble up over Jesse's palms, turning white. Jesse started to fidget as it became uncomfortable and quickly let out a deep breath it seemed he'd been holding.
Walt found a small roll of gauze and after drying Jesse's hands, wrapped the gauze a couple times around each of his hands.
A minute later they were done.
"Cigarettes or weed, Jesse?" Walt asked.
Jesse didn't look at him, not responding for a moment. He studied his wrapped hands and slowly said, "I don't know what you're talking about."
Walt took him by the chin, forcing his head up. "Look at me." He waited, silent until Jesse's red-rimmed blue eyes finally met his with unease. "It's nearly four in the morning." Walt's voice was low. "And I'm being as patient as possible, Jesse, but I'm really not in a good mood right now. Tell me what the hell you were going to smoke, or—"
"Nothing," Jesse lied, not breaking eye contact.
"Nothing?" Walt echoed. "That's bullshit and we both know it. I will strip search you if I have to, Jesse."
Jesse eyed him silently, as though challenging him.
Walt's hands went towards Jesse's waist, towards his pockets.
"Hey," Jesse objected, batting his hands away. His voice was high. "Fuck off, pervert. I told you! I don't have anything."
Walt grabbed both Jesse's wrists, and held him still for a minute. "Are we going through this song and dance again? You want to make this easy or difficult on yourself?"
Jesse's eyes narrowed. "Mr. White. Stop treating me like I'm a child."
"You're acting like a child," Walt shot back. "Stop wasting our time." He paused. "Think hard, Jesse. Am I going to find something in your pockets?"
Jesse swallowed. He fidgeted a little and then simply said, "Yes."
"What do you want me to say?" Jesse rolled his eyes and looked away, past Walt at the wall. "You're gonna find it anyway."
"No smoking. How difficult is that rule?"
"Obviously it's pretty fucking difficult," Jesse answered irritably.
"Unbelievable…" Walt let go of his wrists and reached again for his pockets. This time Jesse didn't stop him.
In the right pocket he found a small plastic bag with three joints inside. In the right pocket he found simply a single cigarette.
He looked at Jesse pointedly, waiting for a reaction.
Jesse scowled. "What?" he began. He shrugged his shoulders wearily. "Go ahead, Mr. White. Yell at me. Hit me. I don't care. But I'm not apologizing."
Walt silently removed the joints from the plastic bag and took a step away, towards the toilet. Glancing at Jesse briefly, he dropped the weed and the lone cigarette in the toilet before flushing it.
Jesse's sullen expression simply looked angry now, though silent.
Walter gave him a long look. He studied his young face and contentious frown, traces of tears still visible on his cheeks. After thinking about how to handle him, and thinking about the time of day it was, Walt walked over to take him under his arms and pulled him off the counter, putting him on the floor. "I don't need to tell you that you're on thin ice, Jesse. My advice is not to say a single word to me. Go to bed," he said stiffly. "Tomorrow's a long day."