He flopped down on the mattress and winced. There wasn’t much give in the damn thing, though there was definitely a sag toward the middle. He gave a few seconds thought to turning the thin thing for them, but the thought of what he might find between the mattress and the springs quashed that idea. It just wasn’t something he could face right now. The pillows were hard and flat, and the whole thing was covered with an orange spread made of some unknown synthetic material.
He sighed; this place hadn’t been redecorated since before he joined the Bureau. The carpet had been green at one time, he thought, but between the stains and the bleached out spots, he wasn’t completely sure. The artwork above the bed was a seascape, with tall weeds blowing in the wind. Not his idea of beauty but he was slightly amused at the fact that it was bolted to the wall. Even as an expert profiler he couldn’t imagine the mind of someone who would want to steal that.
For a wonder the TV worked, there was even basic cable showing the four networks - not that there was anything on that caught his attention.
The sight of the coin operated massager on the bed had brought a flood of memories. It didn’t work, he’d tried. He wasn’t sure if he was more disappointed or relieved about that.
How many nights had he spent in dives like this? He hadn’t noticed for years, then it had gotten better, knowing that she was on the other side of the paper-thin walls. Then there were those few nights when she’d been on this side of that wall. He shook his head. Those thoughts didn’t help.
God, he missed her, missed them. It had been the right thing to leave. They were safer without him, weren’t they? And how many times could he ask that fucking question? It was for the best, but it didn’t keep him from missing them.
He had no pictures; he carried nothing that could link him back to her. He didn’t need them. He could close his eyes and see her, see her holding William in her arms as he left. Her eyes had been sparkling with tears, but none had fallen. William had been sleeping, safe against her breast. God, William’s age could still be counted in hours then and he’d had to leave them.
Would he even be able to recognize his son now? He wasn’t that familiar with infants; surely he was able to roll over by himself. Could he sit up? Was Scully still nursing him? Oh god, the sight of their son suckling at her breast was one he never tired of. So many times he’d gotten to sleep with that image in his mind.
William was a normal, healthy baby. Obviously not what they had expected - otherwise why would they have left him with her when he’d been born? It would have been so easy to . . . A shudder ran though him at that memory. She’d been so vulnerable, helpless, and he hadn’t been there for her. Like he wasn’t now.
He let his eyes close as he allowed himself to wallow in guilt for a few minutes. Was he even doing any good out here? They had always been the most effective together, in more ways than one. He had learned some things, but not nearly what he needed to make any difference. Could he ever make a difference?
He needed her beside him. She kept him honest. What was it he had said to her; she made him a whole person. That was probably the truest thing he’d ever said. If she were out here with him . . .
He sighed again. That wasn’t going to happen. He couldn’t allow her to live like this, not with their son. Places like this weren’t good enough for his family. She deserved five diamond locations, pampering, and that was what she would get someday, someday soon. He had to make that happen. He wanted to be with her, with his son. They would be a family; they would be together. With those images in his mind, the lines around his eyes eased a little. Maybe now he could sleep for a little while.