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Title: Scald

Title: Scald
Rating: G
Author's notes: First outing in this fandom, and it's a painful little bit set at the end of Season Four's Box-cutter.


Walt drives them back to town from the laundry.

He goes slow, struggling with Jesse's ancient stick-shift. It's making him nervous—the jump between gears feels shocky, like the engine'll cut out if he makes one wrong movement, if he pushes one inch too far to the left or right. It's eleven a.m. in the desert, the sky already pale with heat, and Jesse is splayed out in the passenger seat, one knee knocking a rhythm softly against the door‑three-two-one, three-two-one, three-two-one.

Walt is thinking that there's probably no cause for concern. They're both breathing, both still alive, despite everything. There is more than likely no immediate cause for concern.

Walt's mind is turning an image over and over. Jesse fumbling his keys. Dropping them in the dust, crouching to pick them up, dropping them again, and then hanging his head down to laugh. Laughing, and dropping down onto his knees, his hands spread out to brace himself. Spitting as if he was about to vomit.

"Give them to me."
"What?"
"Give me your keys."
They land in his hand. "She, uh, she cuts out if you gun her too hard on the dirt track."
He nods. "Get up."

Walt turns the indicator on early—better to be safe than sorry—and tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock goes the indicator for nearly half a mile before he turns off into Alberquerque. Caution is key. They don't need any undue attention.

His clothes stink of sweat and chemicals; the smell is making him nauseous, so he pulls into a chain-store parking lot. He kills the engine, and beside them a woman with yellow hair pulls a child from a car-seat. The child is screaming and screaming and the woman starts to shout, and Walt turns to Jesse and says "I need a change of clothes. Do you want anything?"

Jesse just closes his eyes. His adam's apple bobs, and in the shadow cast by his t-shirt, in the hollow of his throat, Walt sees a faint, rust-colored spatter. He gets out of the car and slams the door behind him.

----

He's found a pair of white pants and is rummaging through the rack of t-shirts next to the cashier desk when Jesse appears, out of breath like he's been running. He grabs the shirt and pants out of Walt's hands and shouts "Yo, ring these up," at the cashier, and before Walt can stop him he's ripping off his t-shirt and tossing it, trying to shove his head into the arm-hole of the new shirt.

"What the hell do you think you're staring at?" Glaring at the cashier, Walt turns his back on Jesse's naked, raked-pink chest and snatches another shirt and pants. He thrusts a fistful of bills at her as Jesse's unlacing his sneakers, and as Jesse starts undoing his flies Walt grabs his shoulder and drags him bodily from the store.

----

Walt stands with his back to the car door, leaning against the hot metal with his arms crossed while Jesse shucks out of his pants. Then he makes him get out and stand guard while he gets into the stifling, weed-stinking interior and does the same.

When they're both back in the car Walter closes his eyes for just one second. His head is pounding.

He hears Jesse start to fidget.

"Mr. White, I uh. I think I left my shirt in the store."

Walt opens his eyes. The woman with the squalling baby is back; she pushes a cart full of bags up alongside them.

"Mr. White." Jesse picks nervously at his collar. "I should go get it, right?" The sun glints off metal when she opens the trunk. The sound of metal on metal when her cart smashes into a vacant brother. The baby wails.

"I tossed it in the back," Walt says, and cracks his neck. His eyes feel like sandpaper; everything aches.

"Oh. Thanks."

The wailing goes on and on, rising on the hot air, a sound like a scald.

Jesse sits quietly, and Walt takes him to Denny's.

Comments

( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
hanfastolfe
Jan. 29th, 2013 05:36 pm (UTC)
Nice! I like the use of present tense (which I got to like after reading the Hunger Games) and this look into Walt's head. :)
cuttlefish1
Jan. 29th, 2013 09:32 pm (UTC)
Thanks! I love how twisted this fandom is - it's a lot of fun to write for.
hybrid_cookie
Jan. 30th, 2013 03:57 pm (UTC)
Wow, this is amazing. I love it. It's so simple (in a good way) and I like the use of present tense, and I think you nailed the characters
cuttlefish1
Jan. 30th, 2013 09:42 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much! God damn it I love this fandom. :D
sydpenguinbunny
Jan. 31st, 2013 10:56 am (UTC)
Ahhh :D Love it! You captured Walt's mental voice and state of mind perfectly. :D
cuttlefish1
Jan. 31st, 2013 09:14 pm (UTC)
Thanks very much!
squonkfan
Feb. 2nd, 2013 07:07 am (UTC)
Terrific--evocative, well-chosen bits of imagery for Walt's edgy brand of guilt. Nicely done!
cuttlefish1
Feb. 2nd, 2013 11:54 am (UTC)
Thank you! I'm so in love with the characters.

(Also, I have to say, I'm a bad fan and never commented, but I absolutely adore Weights and Measures. I read it just after I'd finished mainlining the whole series and read it with my head on fire. It's amazing and hot and twisted and yeah. <3)
squonkfan
Feb. 4th, 2013 05:33 am (UTC)
You're welcome!

And thank you! ;) I'm so glad that "Weights and Measures" worked for you.
bb8675309
Feb. 9th, 2013 08:37 am (UTC)
Really loved this one. I rarely comment and need to do so more often, but I have to say that I wish it was longer or was the start of a longer fic! But you've captured both Walt and Jesse magically. The present tense definitely keeps you more on the edge of your seat. You've captured both the sporadic nature of Jesse as well as his submission in a way to Walt. Can't wait to see more from you! Great introspection to Walt.
cuttlefish1
Feb. 12th, 2013 11:03 pm (UTC)
Thanks very much for the nice comment! Yeah, I hope very much to write some more for this fandom - just need to find the time, really! Thanks so much. :)
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )