Walter White rocks back and forth, swaying in time with the lullaby playing softly from the CD player. The only other sounds are kitchen noises; Skyler is preparing dinner for herself and Walter Jr. He does not have time for dinner tonight – he is going out, after Holly is down for the night.
Holly likes a little quicker tempo than Walter Jr. did. If he stops before she is completely asleep, she will wake up and fuss and it will be another twenty minutes before she is settled.
Walter Jr. was an easy baby – just the sound of his mother's or father's steady heartbeat was enough to put him to sleep most nights. He is not sure why Holly is different, other than the fact that no two children are alike. It could be something more disturbing, that she picked up the stress of her household in utero. Walter's pulse beats faster now than when Walter Jr. was a baby, his reflexes are faster, his mind is faster – he must be faster in every way, to survive, to provide for this family he loves more than life. And Holly naturally picks up on it. This is the new normal.
He looks down at her small face, her eyelids fluttering as she fights the sleep she needs. He doesn't want to leave tonight, doesn't want to deal with business. Every moment he can spend with her is precious. Who knows whether he will live long enough to see her take her first steps? To see her get on the bus for kindergarten? He has long since given up the thought of seeing her become a young woman. He dare not wish for more than this night, this moment.
He also knows that the moment he leaves the house his mind will be consumed with nothing but the machinations of meth dealing and manufacture. The mantel of Heisenburg will overtake him completely – as it must if he wants to spend another evening rocking his little baby girl to sleep.
Her eyes flutter for the last time, and he feels a sense of relief mixed with sadness. As gently as he can, he places her in her crib, waiting for a minute to see if she will stir. When she stays silent, except for the light sound of her breathing, he creeps from the room and shuts the door.
Walter stops at the entrance to the kitchen, keeping his distance as he waits to catch Skyler's eye. She only asks, "She's down?"
Walter nods. She goes back to cooking; their uneasy truce holds for another evening.
He squeezes Walter Jr.'s shoulder once at the table where he's doing homework. "See you later, sport."
Walter Jr. nods, distracted. He's stopped asking either his mom or his dad about why Walter keeps such strange hours.
His last fatherly thought, as his car leaves the driveway, is simple: Stay safe. Then he goes to do the work of the wicked, to protect the sleep of the innocent.