He woke slowly; he was damned uncomfortable. What was he lying on? He shifted and realized he was in a pile of garbage. He opened his eyes the rest of the way and looked around. An alley? He’d been dumped in an alley or passed out in one, what the hell? He sat up, no headache; maybe he wasn’t hung over after all. But that didn’t explain where he was or why . . . or who? He got to his feet noting he was dressed in worn blue jeans and a dirty gray t-shirt, he had on socks and running shoes, but that was it. He had no money, no ID. Okay, he lowered himself back onto the sidewalk - what was going on? He felt of his head, no obvious wounds, he was grungy but not sick. He needed a shave and a cup of very strong coffee; maybe then everything would slip back into place.
He moved to the opening of the alley and looked around. It seemed to be early evening from the light. There was a grocery store just down the street, so he headed that way. The store had complimentary coffee and he helped himself to a cup, then wandered away from the checkout girl’s scrutiny. He didn’t recognize his location yet and the coffee wasn’t helping.
The redhead caught his attention, did he know her? His eyes followed her around the store, she seemed familiar somehow but no name came to him. Including his own damn it!
She was checking out and since she was the only thing that had even a hint of familiarity he followed her, taking his second cup of coffee with him. He ignored the glare of the girl that checked her out and continued after her.
She seemed to sense his presence and hurried her footsteps, finally turning to face him as she got to her car. He stopped well back from her, and held out his hand. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you. It’s just . . . you looked familiar to me and I - “
“Please leave me alone.” She looked prepared to scream or run. He wanted neither.
“I’m sorry.” He took another step back, away from her. “It’s just, do you know me?”
“No. Now please . . . “
He nodded and turned away. She almost called out to him to turn back. That was stupid, he was obviously deranged or . . . or something. But he didn’t look homeless exactly. Of course, what did ‘homeless’ look like for sure? Forget him. She got into her car and locked the doors, then pulled out. She didn’t bother to see which way he headed.
Unfortunately, that didn’t get him off of her mind. She hadn’t realized how such a short encounter could affect her. She thought about him several times as she fixed her dinner and got ready for bed. She kept trying to remember if she did know him - no he wasn’t the type of man she would forget. But she should, she’d never see him again. Once again she shook off the thoughts of him and went to bed.
Something made her look around for him the next morning when she got into her car but she didn’t see him. She chastised herself; there was no way he could know where she lived.
He did know, he’d kept walking in the direction she had driven away, watching for her car. For some reason he knew that people usually shopped near their homes and he had to find her. Nothing else he'd seen had even the slightest familiarity.
He’d found her car again and checked all the names on the mailboxes in the building. Nothing rang a bell, he didn’t even know which name was hers and with the car locked, he couldn’t check her registration. He had nowhere else to go, so he made himself as comfortable as possible in the back of her building and finally slept.
He woke hungry, but with no more resources than he’d had earlier. This wasn’t familiar either; he didn’t seem to be used to being homeless or hungry. Neither was very appealing.
He spotted her leaving for work the next morning. He’d guessed right, this was her place. He didn’t have anywhere else to go and was loath to leave the only place that seemed to mean something.
Finally hunger drove him out and he panhandled a little to get a meal. It went the same way for the next two days. He knew he needed help, but something kept him from seeking aid. For whatever reason it felt safer here, close to this woman.
She was late arriving home. The ER had been a mad house, she hadn’t checked but it must be a full moon. Then traffic had been tied up with even more accidents. She was exhausted and couldn’t wait to soak in a hot tub with a glass of wine.
She wasn’t paying attention, her mind on the day she’d had. She was caught completely off guard when the man grabbed her from behind. She felt the knife at her throat before she even had time to scream.
“Just keep quiet lady. I don’t want to hurt you; I just want your money. Don’t fight me.” She was frozen, she wasn’t about to fight him, she’d seen too many knife wounds in her life and where he had the knife positioned . . . she’d be dead in minutes. No ambulance would be able to save her.
Then suddenly, the knife was no longer at her neck, his arm no longer around her middle. She collapsed to her knees and turned. What the hell? Someone was pounding on her assailant. He was on the ground, unable to defend himself; the knife had landed on the sidewalk away from the two men. She scrambled over to it and grabbed it.
In the distance she could hear a siren heading in their direction. Someone must have seen what was happening and called 911. Her protector had the man subdued now and when the police screeched to a halt and jumped out, guns drawn, she was able to speak again.
When the dust cleared she was finally calm. “We’ll need you to come down in the morning Doctor, but he’s an old friend of ours. We can hold him until then. You sure you’re okay?”
She nodded and turned to see if her protector was still around. He was seated on the front steps, the police already through with him. She watched the police leave with her assailant, then walked over to him.
“I wanted to thank . . .” She paused and looked more closely at him. “You’re the man at the store. The man that asked me . . . “ He nodded, then winced. “Are you okay?”
“Yeah.” He removed his hand from his arm. It was bleeding.
“He cut you! Why didn’t you say something? I’m Dana Scully. Come inside, let me check you out.”
He didn’t wait for a second invitation, rising and following her into her apartment. Once he was inside, she seemed to remember that even though he had saved her life, she had just invited a strange man into her apartment. He immediately saw the change in her posture.
“I’m not going to hurt you.” He stayed at the door, leaving it open and watched her shoulders relax.
“I know. Come on in. Have a seat, let me get my bag.”
He seated himself at the table in the kitchen and waited. She placed the black bag on the table and went to wash her hands. “You’re a doctor?”
“Yes.” She turned to smile at him, “My Dad gave me the bag as a joke, but I’ve ended up using it quite a bit.”
He sat watching her as she returned to him and began carefully disinfecting his wound. “You don’t need stitches, you were very lucky. So was I, that you were there.” She looked up at him. “Why were you here?”
“I, uh, I’ve been staying near here.”
“Near here? Where?” She paused.
“In your backyard.”
“Back . . . in the alley? You’ve . . . have you been stalking me?” She moved away from him.
“No, well, yeah I guess it does look that way.” He sighed, “I . . . I don’t know what’s going on with me right now. That evening, when I first spoke to you . . . maybe I should just get out of here. I’m sorry.”
“Wait. What, what were you going to say?”
“Listen, I don’t know who I am. I don’t know why I’m here. I don’t know who you are, but I’m drawn to you for some reason. That’s crazy, I know but . . . “
She was watching him closely now, “Did you say you don’t know who you are?”
“Yeah. I woke up in an alley near that grocery store. I still haven’t remembered my name. I was sure it would come back to me, but nothing. Nothing has been familiar to me except you and I don’t know why. You said you didn’t know me.”
“I don’t. That day at the store is the first time I saw you.” His shoulders slumped. “But that doesn’t mean I can’t help you. I work at Georgetown Medical; let me take you to see a neurologist. He’s a friend - “
He was already shaking his head. “No. I don’t think that would be a good idea. It might not even be a good idea for me to be around you. Something happened or was done to me, you shouldn’t be involved.”
“I am involved. You saved my life tonight, you don’t know me, you didn’t have to - “
“I did. I had to. Whoever I am, you’re part of it, I know that. I just don’t know if that’s a good thing, for you.”
She took a deep breath and decided to change the subject. “When’s the last time you had a good meal?”
He blinked at that and took a moment to process the switch. “I haven’t had a meal since I woke up.”
Her mouth dropped open; that was at least three days. She finished with his bandage and rose, “I’m going to fix you something to eat. Why don’t you go clean up a little? The bathroom is through there.”
“I should leave.”
“Please don’t. Not yet.”
After a moment he nodded and headed for her bathroom. When he emerged, his face - what she could see of it through the scruff of his beard, was cleaner and his hair was slicked back. His hands, even his nails had been scrubbed. She gave him a smile and turned back to the stove. “I’m fixing you an omelet, okay?”
“That would be great.” He turned as the toast popped up and smiled at the mundane sound. He had a nice smile. Why wasn’t she afraid of him? That surprised her. Here was a man that admitted to being homeless, of practically stalking her, who didn’t have a clue of who he was. Yet she had invited him into her home and was cooking for him. She’d never done anything like this before, but it felt right.
Even though she knew he had to be starving, he ate with perfect manners, cleaning up his plate with the last of the toast. He’d finished a cup of coffee and two glasses of juice before he spoke again.
“Would you like some more?”
“No, thank you. This was perfect. I should be leaving now.”
“Do you have to? I mean, is there some place you need to be?”
He laughed slightly at that. “No.”
“Then why don’t you stay here a little longer? You could probably use a shower.”
That obviously surprised him. “I couldn’t. You don’t know me.”
“Maybe not, but you are the man that saved my life tonight, a meal and a shower isn’t too much to pay for that. I feel like I can trust you. Please, let me do this for you.”
“A shower does sound nice.”
She smiled then and he felt the breath catch in his chest. She was lovely, but that wasn’t the reason he was attracted to her - at least not the only reason.
“Go on, there’re towels in the closet. Enjoy.” He nodded and turned from her. Her smile dimmed and a look of worry took over her face. He needed more than a shower, but she’d have to take it gradually.
For now, did she have any clean clothes that would fit him? Hadn’t Bill left some sweats the last time he was here? She headed into her bedroom to check. Yes, they’d be a little too big for him, Bill was a larger man and this man hadn’t eaten lately but at least the pants would be long enough for him.
She tapped on the bathroom door, but there was no answer. He probably couldn’t hear with the water running. The door wasn’t locked and after a short hesitation she opened the door and substituted the clean clothes for the outfit he had been wearing.
There was blood on the t-shirt from his wound as well as several days of grime. She tossed everything into the washer and then cleaned up the kitchen.
She turned from the sink when she heard him return to the room. She couldn’t stop her smile. The sweats were a little big. He took in her smile and shrugged.
“You could use a few more good meals.” But she was also admiring him. He’d found a razor and was clean-shaven again. Her hand twitched to caress his face; she must be losing her mind.
He nodded. “Is your boyfriend going to come crashing in here and take me apart?"
“Boyfriend? Oh, the clothes. Brother. My brother Bill left those here last time he visited. I’m washing your other clothes.”
“You didn’t have to do that.”
“It wasn’t a problem. Have you thought any more about seeing my friend, the neurologist?”
“I can’t do that Dr. Scully.”
“Dana. I think under the circumstances, it should be Dana. And I need something to call you.”
“Wish I could help you there.”
She motioned for him to sit again at the table. “Why don’t we go over what we do know about you? Maybe that will help.” He remained silent, waiting for whatever she had in mind. “Okay, you’re 6’1” or about, right?” He nodded, “good shape, especially for someone who hasn’t eaten regularly lately.” He shrugged at that.
She smiled and continued, “You’re good at hand to hand combat.”
“Is that a good thing?”
“It was tonight.” He nodded solemnly at that. “What else?”
“I was able to memorize your license tag with one look and I thought you might live around here since you used that store.”
“That doesn’t sound military, more law enforcement if I had to guess.”
“A cop? I don’t know.”
“Well, we are just guessing here.” She had the strongest desire to reach out and take his hand into hers. She fought it by standing up and moving toward the refrigerator. “Some tea?”
“Thanks. Since we’ve pretty much exhausted the information about me, what about you. What kind of doctor are you?”
“Trauma. I see a lot of gunshots, knife wounds.” She grimaced at that. “Oh I delivered a baby in the parking lot of the hospital a couple of days ago.”
“That wasn’t exactly the term she used, but the sentiment was the same.” She grinned at him. “Do you have children?” She asked it quickly, hoping he would respond automatically.
“Not that I know of. You?”
“I’m fairly confident I don’t.” She chuckled.
“How about husbands or exs, you didn’t really answer me about the boyfriend.”
“None of the above.” She responded lightly.
“That has to be your choice. Why?” He looked at her curiously. No boyfriend, no husband?
“Just haven’t found the right guy.” She took another sip of her tea to avoid his eyes.
“Have you been looking?” He was over the line here; he knew it, but look at her.
“Not very hard any more. No chemistry.” She shrugged, “It’s not been a problem.”
He had no comment to that. It was none of his business anyway. He’d known the woman for less than two hours. He’d hoped that she knew him, and that her reaction at the store had been one of fright. With the knowledge that wasn’t the case and still knowing nothing about himself he could feel depression pushing at him hard.
He looked up at her as she lost the battle with herself and took his hand into hers. “I need a name for you. What would you like to be called?”
“Pick one, who do I look like to you?”
She found herself wanting to cry at those words. He was someone, someone important, at least to her. “There was a guy in grade school, I had a tremendous crush on him but we moved before . . . I’m going to call you David. Okay?” He nodded, unable to speak suddenly. “Are you okay?” Her concern was plain in her voice.
“Yeah, yeah. I’m fine. Look, I need to get out of here. I didn’t mean to take up your whole evening.”
“Don’t go. I haven’t had my dinner yet, think you could eat again already?”
“You don’t have to do this Doc. I’ll be fine.”
“You’re condemning me to another solitary meal? I’d like you to stay. I’m enjoying your company.” His eyes widened a little at that, but he stayed in his chair. In fact after that statement he wasn’t sure he could stand.
“Doc, it’s too much. I can’t reciprocate, yet.”
“I don’t know about anyone else, but I value my life higher than an omelet and a shower.”
“So do I.” She blushed at his regard.
“Fine, you can make the salad.”
They were just about to sit down when they heard thunder in the distance. She turned to look toward the window. “I think we’ve got a storm coming.” He nodded and sat down. “You’re not planning to sleep in the alley tonight.” It wasn’t really a question.
“I’ll be okay.”
“No. You are not going to sleep outside in a storm.”
“Doc - “
“Forget it. Eat your dinner, then we can watch the news and see if anyone’s reported you missing.”
He looked at her for a minute, but she was ignoring him and had started eating. They could hash this out later; he was too hungry to wait any longer. She’d cooked more than usual, but knew there would be no leftovers tonight.
He insisted on helping with the clean up, which took very little time, then she turned on the local news to see if there were any reports that drew his attention. While they were watching she heard the rain start.
“That settles it, you’re staying here tonight.”
“I can’t.” He stated it flatly, as though the subject were closed.
“Yes, you can.” She sounded just as certain and he looked at her strangely.
“Doc, you don’t know me. Neither of us do. You might not be safe. We know I’m good at hand to hand. What if I learned it in prison? What if I’m an escapee and was injured; that’s why I don’t remember.”
“No. I don’t believe that. I’m safe with you.”
He looked at her, mouth open; “You’re not serious.”
“I most certainly am. And you are not sleeping outside tonight.”
He actually chuckled at her then, but immediately turned serious again. “Do you promise to lock yourself in your room? And arm yourself.”
“I don’t have a weapon here, and I don’t need one.”
“Why? Why are you doing this?” He was totally bemused by her.
“Just go with it. The decision has been made.”
He nodded slowly. It would be nice to sleep inside for a change. And he wouldn’t hurt her. He’d never hurt her.
When she did retire to her room he stood outside until he heard the lock engage on her door. It wouldn’t keep him out, but it could slow him down. It wouldn’t be necessary, but that was no reason not to take the precaution.
He got comfortable on her couch and was shortly asleep, feeling safer himself than he had since he had woken up in that alley.
The sound woke her. Was someone out there with him? She rose and stood by the door. No, there were no other voices. She opened the door cautiously and spotted him, restless on the couch, dreaming.
It was obviously not a pleasant dream, he was fighting something. She moved closer, “No . . . Samantha . . . no please.”
She didn’t want to startle him, but finally she moved close enough to touch him. “Wake up, it’s just a dream.” Damn, not having a name was hard. Even if she did call him David, he probably wouldn’t respond to it in his sleep.
He jerked awake and realized she was beside him instantly. “What are you doing out here?”
“You were having a bad dream. I came out to check on you.” The look of compassion on her face was almost more than he could take.
“Sorry, I didn’t mean to disturb you.”
“Do you remember the dream?” He shook his head; whatever it was had awakened him every night. “You called out a name - Samantha. Does that mean anything to you?”
He thought for a moment, then shook his head again.
“She could be a girlfriend, or a wife.”
He held up his left hand. “It doesn’t look like I wear a wedding ring.”
“Some men don’t.”
He looked her in the eye then, “I would.” She nodded. But that didn’t mean that Samantha wasn’t a girlfriend or fiancée. She didn’t bother to state that, he knew it.
“Go back to bed Doc. I’m okay. I’m sorry I woke you.”
“Do you need anything?”
“I need you to lock your door again. Go on.” She reluctantly rose and returned to her room. Getting back to sleep was much more difficult for both of them this time, but the sound of the rain eventually lulled them into oblivion.
When she emerged from her room the next morning he was dressed in his own clothes and had coffee made. Obviously his short-term memory was unaffected by whatever this was. He’d fixed her coffee exactly as she liked it.
“Thanks.” She took an appreciative sip, then began fixing breakfast for them. He set the table and poured juice. While they were eating she looked over at him. “I have an idea.” He looked up and smiled.
“I’m not surprised.”
“Really, listen. Since you don’t want to go to the hospital to be examined, what if I took a sample of your blood in and ran a tox screen on it. If you trust me to draw your blood that is.”
“I trust you.”
That took her a moment, then she nodded and finished her breakfast. As he cleaned up she assembled the supplies she needed to draw his blood.
That done, she turned to him. “What are your plans today?”
He chuckled, “They’re kind of up in the air.”
She nodded, “You’re welcome to stay here.”
He shook his head; “I can’t do that. But if you don’t mind, I’ll come back tonight and see what you found out.”
She smiled broadly at that. “Yes, please. Do you need some cas -?“
He stopped her before she could finish. “I’ll stop by tonight.”
“Please be careful today.” He nodded and she packed his blood for transport.
Once at the hospital she labeled the blood as a John Doe and took several vials of blood down to the lab from the ER. She asked the lab tech to run the screenings and moved the John Doe vial to the front of the list. Without drawing special attention to it, that was all she could do. Now she had to wait.