"Here, take a seat, both of you," Dr. Anderson ushered Rose and Mal into his office.
As soon as they were seated, Dr. Anderson addressed Mal: "Your son Jake regained consciousness earlier this morning."
"That's great news," Rose said excitedly, looking over at her husband. Mal didn't really look like he shared her sense of relief at the good news. When he spoke a moment later, she realized why: "What is it you need to tell us? I assume you haven't asked us here just for that."
"While it is a very good sign that Jake has regained consciousness, he does show signs of significant memory loss."
"How significant?" Mal asked, his voice tense.
"It appears that most if not all his personal memories are affected. That means while he can recall general information, such as say, the days of the week, his memory of information related to his personal history and life is impaired. When I spoke to him earlier, he was unable to give his name or birth date, nor was he able to recall what happened before he woke up in hospital.
There was a tense silence in the small room.
"Is he going to get his memory back eventually?" Rose asked finally.
"It's too soon to tell. We have scheduled some tests to find out more about what caused the memory loss in the first place. We should know more then. Until we do, I suggest you give him space to recall as much as possible on his own."
"But we can see him?" Rose asked, frowning.
"Sure. I recommend it, in fact. Interacting with people he knows could well be beneficial in triggering some memories. Just try not to overwhelm him."
Rose had insisted that Mal visit Jake alone, in view of Dr. Anderson's warning not to overwhelm the younger man.
When Mal entered his son's hospital room, he was taken aback by what he saw. He had seen Jake since his transfer to St. John's, but now the then fresh bruises had changed colour, giving an impressive display in all shades of the rainbow. If anything, Jake looked even worse than he had three days ago. However, the amount of monitoring devices and other hospital equipment Mal couldn't identify had decreased since his last visit, giving him some additional reassurance that Jake was indeed on the mend. Physically, at least, that was, Mal reminded himself as he looked down at where Jake was lying in bed, seemingly asleep. Mal remained standing at Jake's beside for what seemed like ages, lost in thought until suddenly, he was startled by his son's voice.
"Either the nurses have suddenly gotten a lot older or you need to take a seat," Jake said. The voice, the tone, everything about that sentence was spoken in such a familiar manner that for a moment, Mal almost forgot about the amnesia.
"Jake?" he asked, somewhat stunned and suddenly uncertain how to react.
"Yes, apparently that's me," Jake quipped, fatigue shining through his voice. There was a tense pause, before Jake continued. "You with the police?"
"What makes you think that?" Mal blurted out.
"Well, from what that doc said, I got the impression that I have been both beaten up and shot recently. I figured that someone would be by to ask questions pretty soon. I just hope the other guy looks worse than I do." Jake smothered a yawn, wincing as he did so.
"Jake, I'm Mal, Malachy Doyle...I'm your father."
"Okay," Jake drew out the word. "No offense, but I really hope there isn't a lot of family resemblance between us."
"Trust me, there isn't," Mal replied with forced levity and took a seat.
"So, if you are here and you're my father, I take it I'm not married?" Jake questioned, but Mal could tell that he was tiring quickly. He thought about what the doctor had said, but decided to answer anyway.
"No, you're not married," Mal said. He decided not to mention Jake's ex-wife for the moment.
"Somehow, I didn't think I was the marrying type," Jake replied. He was visibly starting to have trouble keeping his eyes open.
"Look, you should get some rest," Mal suggested. "There will be plenty of time to talk later."
Jake nodded. "Sounds like a good idea," he mumbled, already half-way to sleep. Mal remained seated for a few moments longer, but it appeared that Jake was sound asleep. Mal got up and quietly walked to the door, turning to look back for an instant before slipping out the door. The whole encounter had felt more than a little surreal and if he was honest, part of him was glad that Jake had gone back to sleep. That however, left him free to navigate another potential minefield of a conversation and he doubted that it would go over as well as the one with Jake had. Rose wouldn't let him off the hook this easy.
Rose hadn't said a word to him ever since he had emerged from Jake's room at the hospital. She didn't need to, Mal could read the displeasure at his recent actions on her face from a mile away. He found he couldn't really blame her, not if he was completely honest with himself. He had kept her in the dark initially to protect her, but then things had spun out of control. His youngest son had been kidnapped, quite possibly tortured and beaten, then left for dead. Tinny and Des had been kidnapped by a man stalking his granddaughter. Whatever his intentions had been, he had done a spectacularly bad job of protecting his family. No wonder Rose was pissed at him. Then to add insult to injury, he had kept working the case brought to him by alleged psychic Emily Hirsh. Yes, he could tell himself that he owed it to her for saving Jake's life and that the life of a girl might be in jeopardy if her visions proved to be true but the truth was that he had needed an escape from what was going on around him.
"Penny for your thoughts?" Rose's voice intruded on his thoughts.
"Rose, I'm sorry, I shouldn't have kept you in the dark about all this."
Rose seemed to consider his words for a moment. "Okay, but you better start at the beginning." She crossed her arms in front of her chest, looking at him in expectation.
Mal recounted the whole story to his wife, starting with the first threatening letter he'd received and finishing with his meeting with Louisa Hayden at the café that morning. When he had concluded his lengthy narrative, he looked at his wife expectantly, privately wondering if he was really ready to face her wrath. However, the tirade he was bracing himself for never came.
After what seemed like an eternity to Mal, Rose unfolded her arms, blew out breath and confessed: "I really don't know what where to even start."
"How about by saying that you forgive me?" Mal tried.
"Don't push your luck, pal" Rose replied sharply but her expression softened almost immediately. "You're an idiot, but I do forgive you. If you promise to let me help from now on."
"Help with what?" Mal asked, feeling rather thick for once.
"The case!" Rose said as if that should have been obvious.
"There's no need, I'm going to call Mrs Steel and tell her that I'm dropping the case."
"That's not the case I'm talking about," Rose said with a frustrated sigh. "I'm talking about Jake! Did you ever follow up on that woman...what's her name? Corinne something or other?"
"Corinne Dawson," Mal said. "And no, I didn't follow up on her yet."
"I don't get it, I really don't. She might have tried to kill your son and you haven't followed up it yet?"
The exasperation in Rose's voice was impossible to miss, but as much as Mal knew that she was right, he couldn't find the words to express it.
When he said nothing, Rose went on. "Look, Jake needs you He might not remember you or any of us right now, but it doesn't matter. We are his family. And you owe it to him and you to get to the bottom of this."
"What if he never remembers?" Mal asked, his voice barely louder than a whisper.
"Let's just take this one step at a time. We'll get through this, together." Rose pulled Mal into a hug.
Both Mal and Rose were far too caught up in the moment to notice the young man following them out of the building and into the car park.
Sydney watched the truck pull out of the parking lot and rejoin the street traffic. Once it was gone from sight, he pulled out a cell phone dialed a familiar number. A man answered the call after five rings:
"I told you not to call me at work!" the man on the other end hissed in lieu of a greeting.
"We need to meet. Noon, the usual spot. Be there," Sydney said, then hung up without waiting for an answer.
It was a pleasant day, causing many of the workers from the adjacent office buildings to seek out the public park during their lunch break to catch a few rays of sun. Neither of the two men meeting in an out of the way corner of the park had eyes for the weather however.
"What kept you?" Sydney snapped as soon as the other man took a seat on the bench.
"Some of us have jobs," his contact replied. "Now what's so important that it couldn't wait until tonight."
"The private detective, he's alive," Sydney fairly spat.
"But that's...," the other man protested, but Sydney cut him off.
"We can't risk him talking to the cops."
"What's got that to do with me?"
"I need you to find out where exactly they are keeping him and what kind of protection he's been assigned. I'll take care of the rest."
"You can't!" the man cried.
"You picked a fine time to have moral objections!" Sydney mocked. "You know what happens if he talks."
"I know the risk, but you can't just get rid of him. He's got friends in the department."
"You know that for sure?"
"Well, I've seen him around the station, he's always there. Plus, there are all those rumors flying around about him and that sergeant, Bennett. I think they are seeing each other."
"So, what?" Sydney asked, but the brash confidence in his voice was gone.
"You don't know her, she's seriously bad news," the other man pleaded. "You do not want to piss her off."
"I'm not scared of some lousy copper! You worry too much. Get me the info and I'll take care of the rest. Now, scram!"