“Detective Malloy?” Ashley quickly walked from behind the desk towards him as he approached the bay of hospital rooms. “We’ve been expecting you.”
“Ronan…you can call me Ronan.” He nodded pleasantly at the young woman. It was unnerving how much guilt he already felt and he hadn’t even begun. “I guess Officer Brickman called you. Did he give you any details?”
“No..nothing really…just that you were coming down to speak to us and that there was a possible match.” Her eyes lit up with excitement. “Is there a match? Were you able to find out anything?” She glanced over towards the still closed door.
“Is that his room?” he asked, following her gaze.
She nodded. “It is. I haven’t told him anything yet—didn’t want to get his hopes up.”
“Let’s step inside,” he said quietly.
He glanced up for the thick paperback book he’d been reading for nearly an hour. He found himself reading and rereading the same pages over and over and still he had no idea what he’d read. His head wasn’t in it today. Ever since Ashley had mentioned a detective was coming to speak to him, all he’d been able to think about was the possibility of finally having some answers. Today might be the day he would find out who he was, where he came from, if he had anyone to go home to…
“This is Detective Malloy,” Ashley said, gesturing towards him. She grimaced, remembering his request. “Ronan,” she sighed before flashing him a quick smile. “He’s here to speak with you about a few things. I’ll just leave the two of you to it.”
Ronan nodded. “Thank you.” He waited for the door to close before turning back and looking at him. There was nothing in his face to indicate his name meant anything to him. He clearly had no memory of his life…no memory of Genoa City..nothing. He reached out to pull the small chair closer to the bed before he began to speak. “I wanted to come to meet with you myself,” he said quietly. “I got a call from an officer—there was a match in our system and they thought it might turn out to be an identity match for you.”
“Was there?” Billy sat up, his eyes brightening. “Did you find something…anything? Something that might tell you who I was?”
Ronan felt the familiar pang in his chest. “I’m afraid not.” He watched as his face fell, the clear disappointment seemed to reverberate through his entire body. “I’m sorry,” he whispered, that statement actually being honest. He didn’t relish causing him pain. There was no reason for him to intentionally bring Billy pain, but there was a reason he needed to stay here. There was a reason he couldn’t come back to Genoa City.
“I didn’t want to just call you on the phone and tell you,” Ronan continued. “I wanted to tell you in person. I wish I had better news. I really do, but I did want to say something to you—something that I hope might help in some way.”
Billy took a breath. He’d had a string of well wishers come through during his stay here. Everyone had their version of the “feel better” speech. Some told stories of those that had it much worse, some handed you the Bible and told you to pray, still others took the tough love approach. The one thing they all had in common was that none of them seemed to do a damn thing to help him feel a bit better. Still, he never turned them away, somehow hoping that one day there would be the one person that had the silver bullet—the one that said just the right thing to turn his life around. “Shoot,” he said quietly.
“I’ve been around a lot of people in my line of work…lots of people who have done bad things, who have made lots of mistakes and I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve heard someone say how much they wish they could start over…how much they wished they had the chance to do everything all over again. I know this probably isn’t what you would have chosen, or the way you would have wanted it, but in a way, you have the chance to build a whole new life. You have what a lot of people dream of..a second chance to go anywhere, do anything, be anyone. “
Billy nodded slowly. “Yeah—I guess.”
“Anyway,” Ronan stood, pushing the chair back against the wall. “I just wanted to come by and tell you that and I wanted to give you my personal number…just in case you need anything. When you get out of here if you have any trouble with anything…you know getting id or anything like that, you just give me a call. I can set you up with some people that help us out with the witness protection stuff we do. They can cut through all the red tape and everything..make things a lot easier for you.”
He reached out, taking the small piece of paper and eyeing the handwritten name and number. “Thanks,” he said solemnly. “I appreciate it.”
Ronan slowly backed towards his car. He grabbed his phone, slowly punching in the numbers. His eyes closed as he heard her voice.
“Hi.” Phyllis glanced down at Grace, her eyes fluttering closed for a brief second before flying back open. She fought sleep with everything in her as if she was afraid she might miss a moment of life. Phyllis marveled at how aware she was of everything around her at such a young age. “Sorry,” she whispered, “I’m trying to get Grace down for the night.”
“Oh,” Ronan said quickly. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to interrupt.”
“No!” Grace’s eyes flew open again in reaction to her mother’s voice. Phyllis sighed as she ran her fingers down her cheek, smiling as her eyes grew heavy once more. “It’s fine. I’m glad you called. I was going to call you a little later to see how your first day went and to see if you were still coming over tonight like we planned.”
“The day was fine.” He drew in a breath, his eyes closing tight. He didn’t want to lie to her, but he certainly couldn’t tell her the truth. Did she deserve to know that Billy was alive? Logically? Of course she did, but what would the truth bring her at this point? Nothing but pain. Billy didn’t know her. He didn’t remember her. He wouldn’t remember their life, their love. He wouldn’t remember any of the memories they shared.
Ronan remembered everything. He remembered the way it felt to hold her. He remembered the way it felt to touch her soft skin. He remembered the way it felt to kiss her. Perhaps more vividly than anything though, he remembered how it felt to be without her. That, he vowed silently to himself, was something he never planned to feel again.