[ . . . Not Everyone Dies ]

"Walter White has more lives than a rabid cat." -Saul Goodman (Cinnabon 9 Assistant Manager)

"Pupil response." Over armored men looked down at the body belonging to the nation's manhunt of the moment, the number one threat to (DEA department, west) homeland security. Sweating, their breaths clouding their face shields, they disregarded drill and crowded in anticipation to get a better look. Disappointed at the ragged, bone-thin, homeless man without a pistol (or even small switchblade, pathetic) on him, a few quickly turned away to do More Important Things. Finally catching such an undangerous looking man really wasn't going to look good on the 10 o'clock news. At least the compound looked more promising. The odor of blood and intestines was in the air, and something was moving and clanking in the dark. A few looked up hopefully, perhaps catching the glint of a bomb or trailing wires of a booby trap, this man could make air blow up, according to the stories. The SWAT agent pulled the high intensity flashlight away, felt at White's neck again. "I still don't get a pulse, Captain."

Walter White's pale hands were well above his prone head, where another dutiful agent had kicked them. He certainly seemed no threat. How much of a monster had they made him over the past several months? Agents still had their guns pointed at the fragile school teacher,

(…some a little shakily, the Captain noted with a frown)

as if he was ready to pounce on them like a zombie jack in the box.

"Stand down," Captain Hollander growled to those still around him. "Look around, look sharp. I don't want another incident like the tortoise bomb happening in here." The grim faces of the other members agreed. There was so much in the lab that could be explosive.

"CPR, Captain?" one young recruit kneeling over White dared to ask.

Adrenaline rush was making his team slow and stupid, which is never impressive. On the other hand, a live Heisenberg would be.

"You'll be squeezing blood through what looks like two big holes in his side if you did. Landis!" A man with an oversized med kit rushed up. "Pressure bandages, front and back." A great gout of blood and fluid gushed when he lifted the body slightly, yet he was able to quickly seal the holes in White. Others around the body were still hesitant to touch it.

Hollander glared at his men. "He's a tired, old man, and a trapped rat. I've seen it before. There's no terrorist bomb sewn in him, no one last stand. Start the CPR." Then under his breath, he sighed, "Let's see if the son of a bitch is as hard to kill as they say."

The men started the ministrations that would hopefully keep their prize alive. Though they were normally an excellent squad, hard trained and eagle eyed in tactics and strategy, somehow no one noticed the little, empty vial that slipped out of White's back pocket as they pumped him back into life.

.~~~~~.

Jesse Pinkman raced down the darkly engulfing highway that was both the road and his mind. He was definitely in a fugue state, besides New Mexico, and it was the land of his most "bad high" nightmare. He knew he was driving, his foot cramping from the pressure on the accelerator, hands white on the steering wheel, eyes too fixed ahead. I'm going to get pulled over if I don't slow down, some small, still rational part of his mind was trying to tell him. His foot hurt so bad, he did not know how long he had been driving or how far he had come. Maybe if he could just sleep somewhere, pull over and sleep, he thought he had driven far enough. He looked at the gas gauge, it said it was still over half full.

Jesse tried hard to pull his foot up, but his knee had locked, in fact, his whole body was rigid. Can rigor mortis set up in a live person? He heard something panting in the car (was someone in here? He hadn't looked into the car well before his crazed drive), and realized it was him.

Slow up, slow up, that smart voice in his head spoke again. It's better now, it's better.

"Is it? No? Yes?" he fumbled the words out loud. Jesse Fragmentedman. Living in the conditions he had been living in for the past few months,

years? lifetimes?

he had gone deep within himself, surfacing only occasionally when a particularly hard blow woke him to some question.

"How much aluminum did you put in? Was it the right amount? It doesn't look right." That awful, familiar, drawl. Oh, each point of meth purity was a hard won agony. The scars on his face when he was knocked into a broken trolley edge, almost costing him an eye. The bigger scars on his body coldly, but still lovingly, put there by the sadistic Todd who seemed to be experimenting with pain. He saw the remnants of a tarantula in a jar Todd had tossed around carelessly in the lab. The pieces were all there, each leg segment that Todd cut off to see how many the tarantula needed to move around. How would the thing react to having just half a leg? Would it still be able to get up on it? Would one side of its body tilt more than another? It looked very methodical, and he imagined Todd examining it very carefully, making mental notes, proudly finding a way to feed it so that it could still eat without its front legs. At some point the spider stopped eating, and he took off its mouth parts. It looked like he got it down to one leg, or at least half a leg, and there would still be some reaction from the poor creature, a little more when Todd then started on its eyes. Did he really imagine himself a perfect, chiseled, unfeeling blond trooper back in the Third Reich, efficiently wringing answers from captives, secrets from enemies, work from the near dead? It certainly made Todd smile, beatifically, when Jesse finally did what he said. And Todd's alternate nursing gentleness only made the beatings worse.

Don't think about it. Don't think. Time to sleep. He was surprised when he found the car coasting to a stop. It was some sort of clearing, off the road, smooth sand beneath. Soft sand. Cool breeze. Sleepy night. New Mexico could be both tender and harsh. Like Todd.

He's dead, gone, never to touch you again. The goal wasn't the pleasurable acts for Todd, it was the thrill of watching something break. And pieced back together to his liking.

Some say the desert can heal, has a mysticism old and creative, can give back rebirth. Jesse hoped these things were true as he slowly collapsed into desert-silent sleep.

.~~~~~.

Walter's throat felt like someone had cut it. Then that someone sawed off his head, unseated his brains, pushed them back in again, and reattached the whole contraption with dirty vacuum cleaner hoses and slimy aquarium tubing. He hoped something like that didn't really happen. He badly wanted to cough, to cough out a lung if he could, but some brick in his throat prevented him. He could feel his heartbeat in his temples, a cackling, dancing throbbing that scolded his audacity, and bad judgment, at being alive. He felt the machines breathing for him, washing his blood as it re-circulated back into his body, heard the various monitors sound, ready to clang should some vital system, man-made or natural, break down with explosive stillness.

Someone mostly in painful white came through the door. He closed his eyes and tried to calm that wayward heartbeat. More time to think before being noticed, that strategy worked for him his entire life - Heisenberg's life, too.

The nurse was not dressed in an old-fashioned uniform, she just liked white. It was such a shiny color, so clean, bright, soothing. She pulled her thin, soft sweater sleeve back, revealing carnations of freckles over a thick wrist. Pale, cloudy blue veins peeped under translucent skin. She always wore 50+ sunscreen against the New Mexico sun, but the field of carnations flowered more each day. What would the cancer feel like? Spreading, always spreading, through layer after layer, deeper, farther, bloodier. What does it feel like?

The tiger was in his cage lying in front of her. The bars were made of tubing and wires, walls of machines and pumps, the raised sides of the hospital bed. She heard there was some debate whether to actually handcuff him in some way, and the doctors loudly saw to that "no." The bed did have some restraint straps on it, but no one pulled them on yet. She smirked. Some of the nurses didn't even want to enter this room and refused the shift. How the news lies and clouds weak minds. People have stopped thinking for themselves. From what she read, and she had to seek out more info. than most and read between the lines, this was a thinking beast. Although she thought beast was much too harsh a word when looking at him. He was so thin. She hoped there would be a day that she could feed him a bowl of broth. Maybe she would even make it herself.