The Whites' living room is meant to be comfortable, inviting. The furniture is cushioned and well-loved, warmed by colored throw pillows and patterned quilts. Painted in earthy tones of green and brown and beige, it is an oasis in the New Mexican desert.
Jesse Pinkman bursts in like a wild-fire.
Sobbing breaths rasp through gritted teeth, burn on their way to Jesse's lungs. His eyes burn too, (with tears of rage-hate-grief), and his head is hot and pounding. Everything is too hot, too close, the world tinged red as he clutches the (red) gasoline can in a white-knuckled grip.
His anger reaches fever-pitch, and he wants the world to burn.
The sharp, dizzying stank of gas fills the room, and Jesse pictures it as a living thing, crawling and digging claws into the rug and the upholstery. He snarls through snot and tears (and thoughts of Brock and Gale and everyone everyone) and wills his shaking hand to strike the match.
"Wh...What are you... doing?"
Jesse jerks, and the room sharpens back into focus. A dark-haired teenager stands in the doorway, leaning heavily on crutches (crutches fuck fuck), body half hidden behind the corner of the wall. He looks like Skyler, Jesse thinks, with strong cheekbones and round, doe-eyes.
Jesse hadn't thought about who might be home, hadn't cared (and oh God there might be a baby here what is he thinking), but now he's staring his prospective victim in the eye and seeing confusion and dawning fear widen his eyes. The look reminds him of Gale and the smell of gunpowder, and Jesse's hands shake harder.
The flame starts to lick at his fingers, and Jesse curses and shakes out the match. The gas smell makes his nose itch.
"Wh-Who are you? What are... y-you doing here?"
"Fuck, kid, just – just get out of here, all right?" Jesse's voice comes out gravelly. He's not sure if he's trying to sound reassuring or menacing.
And really, he's not old enough to be calling him (Walter Junior?) 'kid', but what-the-fuck-ever.
The kid doesn't budge, only stares in confusion, and Jesse wonders then if 'Junior' can even understand him. Crutches, stilted speech: had to be some sort of mental disability, right?
"You," he says, speaking painfully slowly. He points at Junior. "Go." He points at the door.
Junior's lip curls. "I'm not... not fucking... r-retarded, asshole."
"Oh." Jesse feels his cheeks burn, but he blusters through it. "Just, just whatever, okay? Guess that means you can understand the phrase 'get the fuck out'." He gestures towards the door again, more curtly this time.
Something in the boy's offended glare echoes of Mr. White. "Y-You're... in my house. How... how about you 'g-get the fuck out'!"
Jesse bristles. He straightens and takes a threatening step forward. "Or what?" he sneers. "You play cripple pinata?" He waggles his fingers at the crutches.
Junior meets his glare and fumbles out a cellphone, starts to dial.
"Fuck." Jesse jolts forward and tries to wrench the phone out of his hand.
"Get off me!"
Metal clangs against the side of Jesse's head and leaves behind a line of pain along his temple. He swats aside the crutch with one hand and wrestles free the phone with the other, pushing the teenager away with a shove. Junior staggers back and loses his footing, crumpling awkwardly to the floor. His crutches flail in front of him like the legs of a giant insect.
There's terror in the kid's eyes now, and Jesse looks down at his splayed limbs and knows how easy it would be to snap his neck or crush in his skull.
Jesse knows there was a point in his life where he didn't think about the different ways to kill somebody, hadn't needed to. He imagines the blood, imagines a cold corpse and the sweet, sweet look of despair in Mr. White's eyes.
The phone slides to the floor, and Jesse follows, curling in on himself and pulling at his hair. The sour, painful knot in his throat is still there from sobbing, as are the drying tear-tracks down his face. He feels his pulse jumping in his temples, and he half-expects his brain to explode from the building pressure.
"I can't, I can't do it," he sobs, repeats. A mantra. The smell of gunpowder and the metallic tang of blood is still fresh in his memory. "Not again. I can't do it. I can't, can't fucking..."
Walter White is a monster, but Jesse hates him (and himself) most for turning him into a monster too.
"Hey." The kid's voice is softer, unsure. "Are... are you okay?"
Jesse lets out a broken, sobbing laugh, and wipes his eyes with the heel of his hand. He tries to pull himself together, to reassemble the pieces of his psyche in a shape that resembles sanity. He fails, and the silence around him is thick and heavy. "Not sure I know what it's like to be 'okay'."
Jesse's hands are shaking, and all he can think about is how badly he wants another hit.
"Guess you, uh... must be Walter Junior, huh?" Jesse glances up but doesn't meet the kid's eyes.
Junior is all tension and stiff lines. His crutches click against each other as he pulls them to him. "Y...yeah," he answers. "Everyone... c-calls me Flynn, though."
"Cool," Jesse mutters. "S'cool name." At least he doesn't have to think of him as Walt 2.0 then. "I'm, uh... I'm Jesse. I know your dad."
He tries not to think of the absurdity of the situation, making introductions after trying to burn Walter – Flynn's – house to the ground, the two of them on the floor, sneakered feet inches apart and backs to the wall.
Jesse feels like he's spent his whole life with his back to the wall.
"S...so you're... Jesse."
Jesse stiffens, feels his pulse quicken in fear (hope, longing, did he really talk about me oh fuck what did he say).
"You know who I am?" he asks tightly. The rug is bristly and rough under his digging fingers.
Flynn shrugs, eyes him warily. "N-no, not... not really," he says, and there's something bitter in the words. "He just... Dad just called me Jesse... once. Maybe... maybe twice. When he was... half-asleep or... or out of it."
There's the burning in Jesse's eyes again, and for a moment, he forgets how to breathe past the painful lump in his throat. He can feel Mr. White's hands on his shoulders, can hear the gruff way he calls Jesse 'son', and he feels himself start to shake apart. He bites his knuckles until he tastes blood on his trembling lips.
Flynn stares at him, face contorting in confusion. "Why... why were you... why were you gonna burn our... our house down?"
Jesse lets out a shaky breath, runs his now-bleeding hand through his hair.
He pokes at the discarded phone with his toe. It sits innocuously between them, but Flynn isn't reaching for it this time.
"Like I said," Jesse answers with a grimacing smile. "I know your dad."
Flynn's brows furrow even more.
"In case you, uh, haven't noticed," Jesse continues in a shaky voice, "he's kind of a dick."
Jesse tastes the salt of tears in his crooked smile.
Flynn makes a face. "S-So's my gym teach... teacher, but you don't... don't see me burning his house d... down."
Jesse scoffs, bites down on the inside of his cheek to keep from screaming. "Trust me, Flynn," he all but sneers the name, "your dad's a much bigger dick. He's like, the king of dicks. Satan with a crown made of dicks."
Shit, Jesse could really go for a smoke right now.
"He's... he's not that bad."
He looks up at Flynn, really looks at him. He doesn't know, he realizes. And, fuck, but Jesse wishes he could remember what it was like to be (loved like a son) that innocent. He imagines the hope and trust in those wide eyes as something tangible that he can crush with his bare hands.
And that, he thinks, might be a better way to burn Walter White.
Jesse smiles tightly and pulls out a cigarette. He offers one to the kid who just stares at him dumbly.
"You know what," he says as he strikes a match. Flynn's eyes dart nervously to the gasoline-drenched rug, and Jesse waits until the last possible second to shake out the flame, holds the business end of the cigarette dangerously (purposely, challengingly, nihilistically) close to the gas. He watches Flynn shift uncomfortably, his adam's apple bobbing in a visible gulp.
"I'm gonna tell you a story about Walter White, the King of Dicks." Jesse takes a drag, lets the smoke fill his lungs and smooth out the ragged edges of his temper. "When I'm done, we'll compare notes, and you can tell me just how 'not bad' he is."
Flynn sits tensely still, pinned like a bug to the wall, and Jesse smiles.