Wilson clapped his hands together to warm them, "Damn, it is cold! My fingers hurt it's so cold." Wilson pulled out his gloves from his pocket.
House grimaced, "Stop you're whining."
House and Wilson were crossing the road to House's apartment. Wilson nodded towards a large bundle next to House's stoop. It looked like Army green wool blankets heaped in a pile. House went over and kicked the bundle. When it moved, House and Wilson looked each other, realizing it was a homeless person.
House nudged the bundle again with his foot, "Hey buddy, move it..." He looked over at Wilson when the pile didn't move. "Move it!"
The pile simply scooted over six to eight feet. Shaking his head, House continued into the entryway of the apartment building.
Wilson shook his head, "I hope that guys gets to a shelter, we're suppose to get hit with a blizzard tonight, a bad one."
House opened up the door to his apartment, "If he's not smart enough to get out of the cold then it's better if he's flushed out of the gene pool." House grabbed the medical journal that they had stopped at the apartment to get. He handed it to Wilson, "The article is on page 34. Let me know what you think. Ok, the movie starts at 7:35 p.m., we better get going." House locked the door behind them.
As they left, Wilson went over to the homeless guy and put 10 dollars in the crevice of the blanket. "Hey buddy, here's a ten, use it to get to a shelter, there's suppose to be a blizzard later tonight, you need to get inside."
House shook his head in dismay, "You just don't learn...that guy's going to take your ten and buy him some Thunderbird."
Wilson shrugged his shoulders as he crossed to the driver's side, "Well, at least I know I tried."
When the movie was out they were both surprised to find at least six inches of snow on the ground already. Wilson drove House up to his apartment and noticed that the huge heap of blankets was back up against House's stoop.
House gave Wilson a look of frustration and said, "Best laid plans, my man, best laid plans. See ya."
"House, if he doesn't move, call the police they can arrest him and get him inside."
"And I'm suppose to care because...?"
Wilson barked, "House!"
House turned around. Looking guilty, he acknowledged Wilson with a shake of his head. When Wilson drove out of sight House walked across the street to his apartment. He looked down at the blankets and poked them with his cane. "Look, I don't care if you become a human fudgecicle, but my friend will never let me hear the end of it. So get your sorry ass into a shelter."
House opened the door to his apartment and turned on the television. He started watching the Godfather trilogy being shown on Fox. During the Godfather II House got up to grab a beer. He could hear the wind whipping around outside and could see swirling snow at the top of the window. He sat back down and finished out the movie. He got up, went to pee and came back for Godfather III. The television newscaster came on with a weather bulletin.
"Authorities are urging everyone to stay inside. Only emergency responders should be out on the roads tonight. So folks, stay in and bundle up, We expect temperatures down to -14 F with the windchill factor. That's cold enough to give you frostbite in five minutes, so stay inside. We'll have all the school and road closures for you in the morning."
House thought about the Army blanket guy. He hated Wilson for making him feel guilty about some stupid idiot who decided peeing on the street was par for the course. Getting up, House put on his sneakers, grabbed a jacket and gloves. He opened the door to the entryway, it was probably 30 degrees F just in the enclosed entryway. The door to the outside refused to budge at first, the wind was like a 300 lb wrestler pushing from the other side. House was just about to give up, but gave it one more push. The door opened and he stepped outside while holding it open with this foot.
"This is stupid, no one is going to be out here in this." He said to himself. Looking around, he saw a large lump next to the stoop covered in snow. It could only be the homeleass guy. "Damn it." He wanted to run inside, it was too cold to be alturistic. Instead he reached down and grabbed the bundle. It moved easier than he thought, being lighter than expected. He pulled the bundle into the entryway. Afraid that the person under all of the layers was dead from hypothermia, he knew he had to unwrap him. The clothing stank...but whoever it was had to get in out of the cold or House would be calling the coroner. House slid the light bundle across the floor and into his apartment then pulled it into the bathroom, unwrapping the blankets on the tile floor. The smell was horrible. He kept unwrapping and unwrapping without finding a body. Unwrapping the final layer, he was shocked to find on the floor of his bathroom an emaciated woman, no more than 5'4" and nonresponsive.
He felt for a pulse and finally found one. He quickly checked the extremities, they were red, but not black. Running a tepid bath, he pulled the blankets out from under her and threw them out the front door into the entryway. He grabbed some flannel pajama bottoms, several thermal tops and a robe from his bedroom before going back into the bathroom to turn off the water. House removed the rest of her clothes and picked her up, putting her in the tub. She startled, her eyes flying open in shock. He looked into her blue eyes and she looked into his.
Shivering and whimpering a little she mumbled, "My fingers, they're pins and needles."
He was supporting her behind her back to keep her from going under the water. "It will be that way for awhile until you unthaw. Can you sit up by yourself in the tub?"
"I think so."
He let her down gently and, when she didn't slip under, House grabbed her a bar of soap. Her hair was almost as short as a boys and he wasn't sure of the color yet, but he thought from her pubic hair that it was probably blonde. Her ribs, collar bones, and hip bones were prominent, with no fat whatsoever. The breasts were round and pert, but he tried to avoid looking at them. Grabbing some shampoo, he asked, "Can you wash yourself? "
She nodded yes and he backed away, grabbed the dirty clothes on the floor and put them out in the hall before pulling out his cell phone to phone the police. "I just pulled a homeleass woman off the sidewalk in front of my house. She almost had frostbite. I need you to come down and pick her up."
"We'll send a car over, but I doubt there's much they can do."
House hung up the phone and went back into the bathroom. The stranger had slipped down, but not under the water. Her eyes were closed and he wasn't sure if she was conscious or not. He reached down and shook her shoulder, "Hey, wake up."
She looked up at him and covered herself. She must be starting to unthaw if she's getting modest.
"I put some warm clothes over on the counter there. You need to bring your temperature up so put them all on. I'm making you some coffee. When you're done, come out to the living room."
There was a knock on the door. House opened it to see two very cold cops.
"Mr. Gregory House?"
"Yes. I called. There was a homeleass woman outside on the sidewalk for most of the night. I brought her in and she's taking a warm bath now."
The cops looked at each other as if to say, "Right, you got her naked, you're done with her and you want us to take her." The one cop looked down at the stinky pile of army blankets, shirt and pants.
"Sorry buddy, but we don't pick up vagrants, especially in the middle of the blizzards."
"Hey, she can't stay here...she needs to go to some shelter so she can get out of the cold."
"Buddy, there isn't a single shelter that's taking anyone in right now. Most of them are so full that the fire marshals are turning a blind eye. There are fewer shelters for women. Unless she committed a crime, we can't do anything. Did she commit a crime?"
"Isn't vagrancy or loitering a crime?"
"Only if we catch them in the act and even then it's a free country. Anyone can sit on a public sidewalk. I tell you what buddy, let her sleep out in the entryway. She'll be out of the blizzard and out of your hair. She can put these blankets back on and she'll be ok if she can stay in here out of the wind."
House pulled his head back, face pinched, "You morons, it's below freezing in here!"
"Well, it's better than putting her back on the sidewalk. At least she has a chance to survive in this entryway. But if you want, we'll escort her out to the street if she's bothering you. But it sure would be nice if you'd let her stay in this entryway."
"I'm so glad I'm paying taxes, we're really getting our money's worth when two donut sucking assholes are willing to take a 98 lb woman physically out of an apartment and throw her butt on the street in the middle of a blizzard. Get the fuck out of here."
"Hey buddy, it's not our fault."
House slammed the door, hating Wilson for getting him into this. He should call him and make him come over and pick her up. Turning around, she was dressed in his pajamas and thermal tops, looking like a small child standing in the hallway. She walked towards him.
He felt awkward, what was he going to do with a homeleass person? He went into the kitchen and she followed. "Do you want coffee? How do you take it?"
"I don't know. How do you like it?"
He looked at her with a knitted brow, "You don't remember how you take your coffee?"
"I don't remember if I like coffee."
He pulled his head back in surprise. He poured the coffee, put some milk and sugar in it and handed it to her. She drank some and then made a face.
"What, premium blend not good enough? What are they serving in homeleass shelters these days, Starbucks?"
"I don't know if it is good coffee or not, but it is very bitter. It's warm but it's bitter. I'll drink it."
He took the coffee from her and sat it down. "Do you like hot chocolate?"
She looked exasperated, "I don't know."
"What's your name?" House asked as he heated some water in the kettle for hot chocolate.
He poured the hot chocolate mix in the mug and waited for the water to boil. "Jane? What's the last name?"
"Doe. They told me yesterday that my name was Jane Doe."
House threw his hands up in frustration. "Who told you your name was Jane Doe?"
"The woman who had me sign a paper allowing them to search for Thetans in my body. She gave me a cup of soup."
"That was yesterday?" She nodded yes, "Have you had any food since yesterday?"
She shook her head no.
"Crap." He looked around the kitchen. He had just been to the grocery store, but she needed food that didn't have too many complex carbohydrates or she was would probably get sick. He found a can of chicken noodle soup and opened it up, poured it into a bowl and stuck it in the microwave. He then poured the hot water into the mug of hot chocolate and handed it to her.
She sipped it and smiled. Then she started to drink it in earnest.
"Houston, we have lift off." House said.
"Nothing." he said. "Do you remember where you're from?"
"No, but this area looks familiar; I felt comfortable in this area."
He pulled the bowl out, grabbed some crackers and handed it and a spoon to her. She began to eat it, but it was too hot, putting the spoon down until it cooled a little. House watched her. Her hair was a honey blonde and she was pretty in an anorexic way.
"Why didn't you go to the shelter earlier tonight?"
"I don't know, I was so tired, I could hardly move. I felt safe here. I've been in some shelters lately and things happened." She looked down.
He looked at her to see if he could catch any facial or body movements that would indicate she was lying, but there were none. Something bad had happened, because as soon as she said it she bit her lower lip.
Now what? What do you do with a homeleass woman who can't remember anything.
"Can I use your toothpaste?" she asked timidly.
He almost laughed, but she was so serious. A homeless person who wanted to brush their teeth. "Sure, I think I have an extra toothbrush that the dentist gave me." He got up, went into the bathroom, rummaged through a drawer and pulled out the plastic wrapped toothbrush, handing it to her. She took the toothbrush and began brushing, smiling at him while she brushed and brushed and brushed...she must have brushed her teeth for a full three minutes.
"Thank you for the food, drink, bath and toothbrush. If you'll give me my clothes, I'll get dressed and leave."
He started laughing, "Where are you going to go? There's a blizzard out there. It's too cold out there. You can stay on the couch tonight."
"No, I should go."
"Christ, don't be a martyr...there's no place for you to go tonight." He went back to the linen closet and took out a blanket. He went in and got a pillow off of his bed and took it out to her.
She was looking at the piano as if she remembered something. "Do you play?"she asked.
"No I just have one around to impress the chicks."
She chuckled and put her hand up to her mouth to cover her laugh. "Would you?"
"Play the piano?"
She nodded yes. He went over,sat down and started to play some jazz. She kept staring at his hands. "Classical?" She asked.
He switched to Rachmananoff. She smiled and then closed her eyes. House watched her as she listened. It was as if she listened with her entire body. She tapped into the music as if it owned her. Now House was hooked. He had to solve the puzzle. Who was she and what had happened to her?
"Do you play?" He asked her.
"I don't know." she said.
He pulled out some sheet music and got up. He motioned for her to sit down at the piano. She did. He noticed her little hands and thin pencil arms, he doubted she played. And if she did, she'd have a hard time reaching all the octaves in some pieces.
She looked up at him as if to say, "What now?"
"Does anything seem familiar?"
"I can read the music." She started to sing the piece in front of her with perfect pitch and rhythm.
"Can you play it?"
"I think I could, but not well, not like you." She began to play, although not great or concert material, she would easily be able to work a piano lounge. He smiled at her when she finished.
"That was pretty bad." she said.
"Not for playing by sight, you do fine. Do you play other instruments?"
She smiled and looked at the floor as if she was embarrassed by the answer.
"I know...you don't know." House was frustrated.
He grabbed an acoustic guitar off the wall holder and tuned it for her. He handed it to her and said, "Anything?"
"I think I play a little." She began playing Fennario, an old English folk song. House recognized it from a Joan Baez album he used to have.
"Do you know the lyrics?"
"I'm not sure..."
He started to sing the song, she played along with him. It was House who sang the song for her. When it was done he turned and looked into her sad eyes. "You play the guitar beautifully."
"Thanks." She handed the guitar back to him. "Thank you. Well at least now I know I can play some instruments."
He put the guitar up on the stand. She looked very tired. He realized that it was 2:00 a.m. "I'll let you get some sleep. Goodnight Jane."
"Greg, just call me Greg."
She was grateful for the couch, it was the softest thing she had slept on in weeks. The room was warm and the blanket felt great on top of her. She was asleep within minutes.
When he woke up, he took a leak and then went out to the living room. She was sitting on the sofa, blanket folded, pillow neatly on top of the blanket,reading a book.
"What book are you reading?" He asked.
"Interpretation of Diagnostic Tests. 8th edition."
He chuckled, "Oh, a little light reading I see."
"It's incredibly interesting. I waited for you to get up so I could thank you before I left. I'll get my clothes out of the hall and leave these in your bathroom if that's ok with you?"
House walked over to the window and pulled the curtain back. "There's four feet of snow out there and no one has plowed the street yet. You'll have to stay here until they plow the roads and the shops open up. In the meantime, we can take your clothes and blankets downstairs to wash."
"I shouldn't overstay my welcome."
"Don't worry, I won't let you. I'm not known for my charm , kindness or hospitality." He walked into the kitchen and started the coffee. "You want some cereal?"
He handed her a bowl, the cereal and a spoon. She poured the cereal and milk in and started to eat. She was chowing down and went through the bowl of cereal very quickly. "You can have another bowl if you like." She had a second bowl, smiling sweetly at him.
House grabbed the detergent and dryer sheets along with a little bag of coins. He motioned for her to follow him. He had her pick up her clothes and blankets and drag them downstairs. They started the washer and then went back upstairs.
An hour later the phone rang and House answered. "Hello?"
"House, did that guy ever go to the shelter?" Wilson asked.
"Christ, don't you ever give up being a saint? No, the guy didn't go."
He heard Wilson gasp.
"I brought the guy in here thanks to you...and the guy turned out to be a woman, Jane Doe."
"She has a memory problem. I'm going to take her in and run an MRI."
"You won't get in today, the city is closed."
"I know, I'll take her in tomorrow. Is that all you wanted?"
"I was just worried. I didn't expect you to take in a homeless person. I'm proud of you."
'Yeah, well get over it."
He went back into the kitchen, but she wasn't there. "Jane?" He looked around; she wasn't in the apartment. He was worried that she had left, but within a few minutes she came back and said she had put the clothes in the dryer.
"I used fifty cents. So that means I owe you 1.25 for the laundry. Are you friends with the guy who gave me the ten dollar bill?"
"Yes, his name is James Wilson. Why?"
"Could you please return this to him?" She gave him the money. "I wasn't begging, I didn't ask for money. I appreciate the gesture, but I'm not a beggar."
"He didn't say you were. He just wanted you to use it to get to a shelter. I know him; he won't take it back. Wilson makes lots of money, he won't miss this, believe me."
"Still, I don't feel comfortable taking his money...or yours. I promise that I will pay you back somehow."
"You want to pay me back 1.25?"
"That and for the food, the shower, the bath, the toothbrush...everything you've done for me."
"Please don't insult me. I don't buy that innocent I'll pay you back shtick. We both know you can't pay anything back and frankly, it was no sweat off my back...I'm not exactly poor and the inconvenience was nothing. Don't play games with me."
She looked at him like he had hurt her feelings, but said nothing. Sitting on the sofa, they watched television coverage of the blizzard. The entire city was at a standstill. Emergency snow crews were working nonstop to get the roads plowed and salted. They showed the shelters full and overflowing with the homeless. The reporter stated that the shelters couldn't handle any more. They also reported that a homeless man who had been turned away died in the storm.
An hour later she went downstairs to get the clothes out of the dryer and had a strange feeling of deja vu. Bringing the clothes up, she went into the bathroom to put them on. She put on her panties and the beige top which was permanently stained with some kind of grease. The pants were so loose they kept falling down. She put on her socks and walked out to the living room holding her pants up. He looked at her and saw that her top and pants were three sizes too big. There was something else he noticed, the clothes were expensive - beat up- but well made.
"Where did you get your clothes?" He asked.
"I don't know, I've had them awhile. Do you have a safety pin or rope that I can use to hold my pants up?"
He brought her a piece of rope. As he did he had her turn around and he looked at the label. It was Ralph Lauren, and not just any Ralph Lauren, it was Ralph Lauren- Black Label. He doubted that they would be giving away Ralph Lauren Black Label at a shelter. The top alone was probably three hundred dollarsand the trousers, five hundred. She put the rope through the pant loops and tied the pants around her waist.
House asked her what she would like for lunch? As usual, she didn't know. House gave her a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and she ate it like a trooper. He had made two for himself, but when she finished hers in seconds, he cut the second one in half and gave half to her. She ate it quickly too.
'You'll have to stay here tonight. I need to take you into the hospital and get you checked. Your memory problems could mean something serious."
"I don't have money for the hospital."
"Let me worry about that."
"I take it from all your medical books that you're a doctor then?"
"Yep. Do you know if you ever had a job?"
"I honestly don't remember, but I feel like I did."
"You said this area was familiar. Do you remember if you worked in this neighborhood?"
"I don't know."
"I don't know, I don't know, I don't know. You could get a job as a Myna Bird."
When they got up the next day, another foot of snow had fallen, but according to the internet, the road in front of the apartment was scheduled to be plowed that afternoon. Most of the day they either played music or watched television. At one point House started playing his electric guitar over his amp. After he was done she asked if she could play it. He handed it to her. Within minutes he heard the most incredible sound coming out of the guitar. It was Jimi Hendrix, "House Burning Down." It was loud and it was perfect;she didn't miss a note, a beat or a slide. House was humbled, this was a true guitar virtuoso. He started laughing, it was so perfect and so strange to hear acid rock coming from this frail woman. During a lull he finally heard the banging on the door. Opening it, Wilson walked in and looked at him with a quizzical look. Wilson thought it must be House playing, but when he looked over, there was a tiny woman with a guitar bigger than her, rocking the house with Jimi Hendrix. Wilson mouthed, "WOW" to House and House nodded his head violently in a big 'yes."When the song was over, House and Wilson just stood there looking at her.
"Did I do something wrong?" she asked.
They both laughed and said, "No."
Wilson looked at House and said, "It's a good thing your upstairs neighbor is never around. By the way, what goes on with that guy?"
"The building is owned by a corporation and the upstairs is kept available for the president of the corporation whenever he is in town. But I've never seen him. He apparently spends most of his time in Europe."
"Well considering the music and the odd things you do, it's a good thing he's not around."
"How did you get here?" House asked.
"They just plowed your road...or hadn't you noticed?" Wilson walked over to the guitarist, "Hi, my name is James Wilson, you can call me Jim." He looked at her clothes. They were pretty beat up and way too big.
She reached into her pocket. "Jane Doe. And here's your ten back. I appreciate your thoughtfulness but I can't take it."
Wilson put his hands up in protest and refused to take it back. "No, you keep it...you may need it more than me."
"Jim, I would feel very funny taking money from you, a stranger." She held it up as Wilson continued to shake his head no.
House walked over plucked it out of her hand and pocketed it. "Fine, I'll take it." Wilson's mouth dropped but he said nothing.
"Great, we can take you in tomorrow and get you checked out." House told Jane.
Wilson piped up. "I brought back the journal and I see what you mean, there is a flaw in the protocol. Are you going to report it?"
"You're so lazy. Okay, I'll do it." Wilson was perturbed; House had suckered him into doing the reporting.
Wilson left and House asked her if she knew anything else on guitar. For the next two hours they jammed on Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix and The Who. House was barely keeping up with her fast fingers and expert rifts. If nothing else, she could be a rock star, she had talent.
The next day House took Jane into the hospital and arranged for an x-ray to be taken of her head. He also had Cameron check for Korsakoff's Syndrome, loss of memory due to a vitamin B1 deficiency. As he waited for the x-rays to be brought up to him by Foreman, Cuddy marched into his office.
"You can't bring in homeless people and start giving them expensive tests and treatments. I heard you've already taken x-rays and now want an MRI done of a homeless woman? I won't allow it."
"Come on. This isn't an ordinary woman. She's homeless with no memory and she's wearing Ralph Lauren, Black Label. Her teeth are perfect and have even been whitened. And she plays guitar like Jimi Hendrix."
Lisa looked at him like he was nuts. "So, because of all this you think she deserves free tests?"
"No. Because of all this, if we figure out what's causing the memory loss then we can figure out who she is and then she can pay."
"Right. We'll find out she's a Carnegie and the hospital will receive huge amounts of money. Stop the tests now." Lisa walked out.
When the Team got the x-rays Foreman was surprised to find a massive skull fracture on the left side. "I'm surprised that she survived it. She's had major trauma to the brain, we need a CT scan. House, she may never get her memory back."
Chase chimed in "...well to top it off she does have Korsakoff's Syndrome. She's so low in Vitamin B1 it's scary."
"Ok, give her the CT scan and get x-rays of the left side of her body too. If this was caused by an attack, then she might have more injuries on that side." House said.
"But Cuddy said no." Foreman piped up.
"And how do you know what Cuddy said no unless it was you who told her about our tests?"
"Well, I didn't understand why you wanted to conduct tests on a homeless person, that's what Princeton General does."
"Last time I looked this was a hospital...don't they treat sick and injured people in hospitals? You are such a snob. Give her the MRI! And if she's had a trauma to the head, let's check her entire body."
Within minutes Cuddy was in his office. "I told you no!"
"I'll pay for it. Or I can let it leak to the press that you refused to give an obviously injured woman the proper tests and care."
He smiled at her.
"You're paying for it."
Foreman came into House's office, "The MRI showed fractures to two of her left ribs and then of course the fractured skull. The skull is prone to fracture at certain anatomic sites that include the thin squamous temporal and parietal bones over the temples and that's where her fracture is. It's a depressed skull fracture. Depressed skull fractures result from a high-energy direct blow to a small surface area of the skull with a blunt object such as a baseball bat. Comminution of fragments starts from the point of maximum impact and spreads centrifugally. Most of the depressed fractures are over the frontoparietal region because the bone is thin and the specific location is prone to an assailant's attack. She was either in an accident or someone beat the crap out of her or tried to kill her. They almost succeeded."
"How fresh are the breaks?" House asked.
"It's almost completely healed so I'd say at least two months old."
"What about her memory?"
"Usually memory comes back after trauma except in cases of extreme blunt force, which, we might have here. I don't know for sure but I think she's got a 70-80 chance of getting it back, but we better deal with the B1 deficiency or she won't."
"Give her a Vitamin B shot."
"Shouldn't we notify the police?" Chase asked.
"And tell them what? She might have been in an accident or the victim of an attack?"
'Well, they could at least try and find out who she is." Chase said.
"Good point, I'll talk to her, she should make that decision." House said.
At the end of the day, House walked into the waiting room and motioned for Jane to come over. "I'm done for the day, let me buy you something to eat."
"No, I found an overflow shelter that I can go to for tonight through the social worker. Dr. Cuddy helped me find it. She also gave me her old coat. The social worker is giving me a ride in a few minutes." she said calmly.
He was a little irritated at Cuddy for sticking her nose into this. He wanted her to stay at his place so he could try and figure out who she was and what had happened to her, "I thought you didn't like shelters?"
"Like you pointed out, I can't stay outside and I can't stay with you, so this will have to do for now. But thanks for everything you did. Hopefully that shot will help."
"I want you to come back in a couple of days and get another one. Do you understand?"
"I understand." She understood but she had no intention of taking any more charity. It was hard enough accepting the coat from Dr. Cuddy. If she hadn't pulled it out of the bottom of her closet and said she was giving it to the Salvation Army, she wouldn't have taken it.
The hospital social worker came over to get her. Jane picked up her blankets, looked into House's azure blue eyes and stuck out her hand to shake his. He eventually stuck his hand out although he was angry that she was going to leave.
"Thank you Dr. House. You've been incredibly kind to me and I won't forget it."
"House?" The social worker couldn't believe that House was being thanked for his kindness.
"Don't get your panties in a bind, I won't be nice again any time soon." And then he walked away.
On the way over the social worker cautioned her to be careful in the shelter. "These overflow shelters usually get filled up by the really crazy ones who didn't know to get in out of the cold the night before or the criminals who were just let out of jail and had nowhere to go. So be careful."
She was dropped off at a church hall where fifty cots were set up for both men and women. It wasn't great, but it meant that she'd be off the streets. They were about to feed them a decent meal. Before she got in line for the food she went to the pastor.
"Excuse me pastor, but I want to know what I can do to earn my food tonight?"
"Sister, you let us take the burden off of you tonight. You just enjoy the meal and the warm place to sleep."
"Don't ask me why, but I just can't stay if I can't do something to pay for this. Please give me something to do."
He looked at her like she was crazy. "I'll think of something, you just get in line and get your meal while it is hot." He was then grabbed by one of the parishioners and went with them to put out some crisis.
She went over to a chair and waited for him to come back and tell her what she could do to earn her keep. She waited and waited. The food was almost all gone. One of the serving ladies had been keeping an eye on her and came over to her.
"Honey, aren't you going to eat? You look like you really need a good meal."
"I'm just waiting for the pastor to tell me what I can do to earn my keep. I don't feel right taking the food for free."
"Well, it's almost gone and we're about ready to clean up. I tell you what, you have something to eat and then you help me do the dishes and clean up the kitchen, ok?"
That seemed like a good way to earn the meal so she nodded yes. After she ate her dinner she went in the back kitchen and helped scrub pots and pans. The serving ladies were laughing and making fun of each other. Even Jane had to laugh at some of their teasing. Jane cleaned the counters and scrubbed the floors and looked at the lady who had offered her the meal.
"I feel better now, I can rest knowing I earned it. Does that sound cheesy?"
"Not really , it's a shame there aren't more like you out there."
During the night Jane slept in her coat and with her blankets. Sometime around 4:00 a.m. she felt a hand go over her mouth and two guys pull her out of her cot and into the kitchen. They had a knife and told her to give them the coat. She didn't want to give them the coat and so she started to squirm and tried to break away.
"No please, please no." She whispered. But the guy just held the knife closer to her throat, cutting it slightly. They finally wrestled the coat from her. The shorter of the two men was undoing his pants. She kept squirming and wrestling so the short guy punched her in the face and ribs half a dozen times. She had blood coming from her nose and cuts on her face and a superficial cut on the throat. She could taste the blood in her mouth.
The taller guy was serious, "If you try to move one more time, I will slice you up good. Do you understand?" She nodded her head yes. He grabbed her pants, undid the rope and yanked the pants and panties down.
The shorter guy had just dropped his drawers and dirty underwear when a light came on and a man yelled, "Hey, what's going on?" The two men grabbed Jane's warm wool coat and ran out the back door. She pulled up her trousers and tied the string around her waist to keep the pants up. Sitting down with her back to the sink cupboard, she began crying. She wanted a shower, she wanted to be clean. She went back into the cot area and grabbed her Army blankets and left. It was cold but she wasn't thinking about the cold.
She kept walking and walking. When she reached the building, she went around to the alley in the back, kicked out the basement window and climbed in. Hunched over, she staggered to the back and sat in the corner where it was the darkest. A rat made a squeaky noise as it ran across in front of her, but she didn't care.
House had put off doing laundry for a week, but figured he needed clean underwear for the fund raiser that night. He put the clothes in the washer and three quarters in the money slots. Since he was the only one who ever used the washer, he wondered how much the washer made the owner? House turned around to go back up to his apartment and saw the broken window.
He looked around the basement and said, "Is someone there?" He looked behind him and saw nothing. He turned around to go back up and there she was, staring at him.
"Ahhh." He yelled, he had been surprised. "Christ Jane, what are you doing here? He could barely see her in the basement light but something wasn't right. "Did you sleep down here?"
Her voice was soft and sad, "Yes. I'm sorry for breaking in, but I was afraid."
"Afraid of what?"
She wouldn't answer, she just started to cry softly.
"Oh, for God's sake, stop your crying. Come on, let's go upstairs." He took his cane and made his way up the stairs. When he got inside the apartment he turned around to look at her, "Jesus H. Christ. What happened to you?" He reached out and touched the purple and black bruises up and down her face and jaw. He saw the cut on her neck and the blood caked around her nose and mouth where she had a split lip. She pulled back in pain.
"We've got to get you into the hospital as soon as possible. I'll get my keys and jacket, where's your coat?"
"They took it."
"Who took it?"
She wouldn't answer.
"I don't want to go to the hospital."
"You need attention, now get into the car."
She reluctantly got into his car and they drove to the hospital.
Foreman wanted to admit her. "With that skull fracture and previous damage I think she needs to be monitored at least for 48 hours."
"She's your patient now." House said.
Foreman agreed and then turned to House, "Why is she now my patient?"
"She can't go back to the shelter so she'll have to stay with me for a few days until we can figure something out. Not a good idea if she's my patient and she sleeps on my couch. It's too close for comfort."
Foreman nodded. Before he left to go home, House stopped in to see Jane. "How are you doing?"
"Okay, I think."
"I have to go home and get ready to come back here. They're having a fund raiser in the clinic and I have to wear a suit and tie. I'll see you in the morning."
House came back to the hospital in a dark grey Hugo Boss tailored suit and dove grey shirt with a pink and grey tie. His beard was trimmed back, all the stray hairs were cut and gone. He looked handsome. Seeing Wilson, House went over to him. "Where's the bar?"
Wilson pointed in the direction of one of the waiting areas and said, "You clean up well. Is that Gucci?"
"Boss. Do you need a drink?"
"Yeah, gin and tonic." Wilson returned to his conversation with another doctor. House brought Wilson a drink, balancing the two drinks in his left hand. He had gotten pretty deft at the balancing act. House stood around and watched the crowd mingle. Judging from the dress code and designer fashion, this was a well-heeled crowd. He saw Cuddy who motioned for him to come over.
House had been summoned. He saddled up next to her and said in a funny voice, "Yes master?"
She gave him a dirty look and said, "This is Mr. Rivers Huntington, he asked to meet you. You treated his long time friend, Robert Green."
Huntington stuck out his hand, "He said a lot of things about you. Most of them weren't favorable except he said that if he was sick or dying, you'd be the doctor he would go to. I found that an interesting statement."
"Charm school didn't stick. I never did my homework." House said as he shook Huntington's hand. "I don't remember your friend, but then once they start to get better I delete them from my hard drive."
Huntington wasn't put off by his banter. After what Bob Green had told him he would have been disappointed if House had been nice. But House and Huntington did have an interesting discussion about motorcycles and jazz.
About a half hour into the party the string quartet started playing. House and most of the crowd ignored the quartet. They were neither horrible nor inspiring, they were just white noise. Chase was discussing the latest movie with a doctor from podiatry and the other two thirds of the team were flirting with the wealthy daughters of the donors.
Jane was bored watching television and her butt and legs hurt from laying in bed all day. When the nurse came in she asked, "May I walk around a little?"
"As long as you're back in here in an hour for your vitals. We have to monitor you on the hour because of your concussion and other injuries."
Jane got up and put on a robe over the hospital gown and hospital slippers. Walking around, she took the elevator down to the second floor and strolled out to a balcony overlooking the clinic. She watched as people milled around in evening clothes. The music played causing something to click inside of her. The music, the playing, it seemed familiar to her. She watched the quartet play and realized that they were playing Schubert's String Quartet No.13 in A minor, 'Rosamunde'. She wondered how she knew that. She watched the violinist play, feeling a pull towards him.
Jane walked down the stairs and started through the crowd towards the quartet. People were starting to stare at her. She was bruised and beaten and dressed in a hospital gown and robe. The crowd parted to let her through, not quite sure what to make of her. Some of them thought she looked familiar.
Cuddy ran to House and Wilson. "House, your pet project is causing a stir, get her out of here."
"What do you mean?" House asked.
"Look!" Cuddy pointed in Jane's direction.
He looked at the quartet and standing in front of it was Jane just staring and listening as if she were in a trance. Her body moved just slightly with the music. The quartet stopped playing and the violinist began talking to Jane. Within a minute he handed her the violin.
"House!" Cuddy said under her breath, "Get her out of here!"
House watched as Jane picked up the violin, placed it under her chin and started to play Beethoven's Violin Concerto in D major. It started out lively, sweet, melodic and then powerful. Her fingers flew through the bridges and the notes like a speed typist on crack. The music was pure and rich. No note was out of tune or missed. The quartet stood and watched, mouths gaping. The crowd started to gather around the skinny woman in the hospital gown playing the violin. House was amazed as Jane's whole body swayed with the violin as if she were dancing to her own music, her eyes closed.
When the section of the Concerto came to the molto dolce, the romantic part, she opened her eyes for the first time and played it while looking directly into House's eyes. Neither of them broke their stare as the molto dolce reverberated passionately through the clinic. As the piece progressed into the vivace refrains she closed her eyes again. House didn't know what to do. The look she gave him and the sounds she produced were so soulful and beautiful it made him uneasy.
She played the pizzicato with jubilation and then swung into the rest of the piece physically with her body. The concerto lasted nine minutes but it seemed to have been much shorter. It was played so well the crowd wanted it to go on forever. As she handed the violin back to the violinist the crowd broke out to thunderous applause. The quartet was screaming, "BRAVO, BRAVO." They knew what they had just seen, a piece played by a virtuoso who only comes along once in a generation.
Rivers Huntington saddled up to Cuddy and yelled over the cheering at Cuddy and House, "How in the world did you get Fiona Dacey to play this event? I didn't even know she had been found. Last time I saw her was at La Scala in Milan. Lisa, I didn't know you had this kind of pull. If you can get her to play a concert here in Princeton, I'm in for the five million you asked for."
House and Lisa looked at each other. Lisa said, "Thank you." And then grabbed House by the cuff and dragged him to the side. "Who is Fiona Dacey?"
"I guess we're looking at her." House said as several people went up to the front to meet the violinist.
An older couple came up to Cuddy and House. Lisa quickly introduced them, "Mr. & Mrs. Johnson, Dr. House."
They smiled at House and then turned to Cuddy, "Oh, glad to meet you. Lisa, I didn't know Fiona was going to play tonight...how moving and touching. We've never heard her sound better. But she looks horrible, so thin and the bruises. What's going on with her?"
"She's getting very good treatment here at the hospital so don't worry. I'm glad you enjoyed her performance."
The Johnson's smiled. Mr. Johson leaned in, "Call us on Tuesday and we can talk about that new MRI you want."
"Yes, thank you." Cuddy looked at House. "Find out who she is."
Wilson walked over to House with a tall, white-haired gentleman, "House, Lisa, you better hear this."
The gentleman nodded to them, "Dr. Wilson told me that Fiona is being treated here for amnesia and you don't know much about her. Fiona Dacey went missing in Philadelphia about three months ago. You may not remember her, but you may remember that she was carrying a 3.5 million dollar Stradivarius that also went missing. It was on the news. In Europe they focused more on the fact that Fiona Dacey was missing. In the rest of the world she's the pinup poster of the classical world, adored by thousands. Here the media focused on the missing violin. They found her blood outside the theater, but no body and no Stradivarius. The driver of her limousine was missing as well. They discovered that the driver had a record for robbery, grand theft and larceny. They didn't know where Fiona or the Violin went, until now. Fiona Dacey is one of the greatest violinist alive right now. She was a child protégée and was admitted to Julliard at the age of seven. She was invited to the White House by Jimmy Carter when she was eight to play. Name an important violin competition and she's won it, including the Henryk Wienawski Violin Competition and the Benjamin Britten International Violin Competition."
Cuddy and House looked in amazement at each other. Cuddy said to House, "You better go round her up and take her back to her room. I'll call the police."
House went to the front of the crowd that was swarming around Fiona. He called out, "Fiona, Fiona!" But she didn't turn around. Exasperated, he tried again, "Jane!"
She immediately turned around and looked at him, smiling a warm, happy smile. He couldn't help but return it, it was so open and inviting. She pushed through to him and he put his arm around her. "We need to get you back to your room and talk."
House being House, wasn't very polite to the masses as he pushed his way through. "Get out of the way. Hey, move it."
Wilson followed House. Since she was Foreman's patient, House waved for him to come with them. The whole team followed. When he got her into the elevator he turned and looked down at her. She looked up and asked, "Did I do something wrong?"
Wilson, Foreman, Chase, Cameron and House all laughed. "No, you did nothing wrong." House told her.
"You were marvelous, sensational." Wilson said.
"I've never heard anyone play like that. You owned that violin." Chase said.
"No, it belonged to the first chair violinist." she said innocently.
They laughed again. They finally got her back to her bed. House sat down on her bed to talk to her. "We believe that you are Fiona Dacey and you are a concert violinist. You were the victim of a plot to steal a Stradivarius that you were carrying. Cuddy is calling the police, they should be on their way."
Cuddy stepped in with a piece of paper. "I printed this off the internet." It was a picture of a gorgeous woman in a dramatic white shoulderless satin evening dress. She had long blond hair that was pinned up but with long tendrils of curls that fell down the back of her. Her makeup was dramatic, including deep red lipstick. She was striking and mesmerizing. Her hand cradled a violin and bow. She was looking directly into the camera with passion.
Cuddy held it up so that the entire room could see it. Everyone drew in a deep breath when they saw the photo of a very healthy and overwhelmingly beautiful, Fiona. They all then looked back at Fiona in the bed and could see the hell she had been through during the last three months.
"House and Foreman, can I see you outside." They followed Cuddy outside. "Obviously, you can run whatever tests you want. That woman just made this hospital more money in fifteen minutes than I was able to pull in all last year. Give her whatever she needs. When she gets out where is she staying?"
"Nowhere. She was staying in a homeless shelter last night but she was beat up and almost raped." House sneered.
"Oh my God, not the shelter that our social worker got her into?" Cuddy said.
"That would be the one. Good job. If you hadn't recommended it, I would have let her stay another night on my couch. But then, she wouldn't have had so much fun at the shelter last night." House smiled.
"I better go call our lawyers and see what they have to say."
The police arrived from Philadelphia and so did the FBI because the crime had occurred in Pennsylvania but she had been found in New Jersey. It was not known if she had been kidnaped. The team was taken to the side and interviewed. The New Jersey police also came to investigate the beating she took in the shelter, having decided that they better investigate it now that they discovered it was Fiona Dacey that had been the victim and not "just" some homeless woman.
At ten o'clock two men and a woman showed up and waited outside Fiona's room with everyone else while the FBI interviewed Fiona Dacey.
"Good evening, my name is Stephen Pugh, I am Fiona Dacey's lawyer, this is Jon Madison, Fiona's manager and Sherry Perrigrine, her assistant. Can we ask, who found Ms. Dacey?" he was speaking to the entire group.
"Dr. Wilson and I." House looked suspiciously at them.
"And you are?"
"Dr. Gregory House."
"Well then the two of you will split the reward." he said. "I will need your full names, addresses and social security numbers."
"What reward?" House asked.
"The insurance company was offering a 100,000 reward for any information that led to the whereabouts of Fiona Dacey. If you had also found the Stradivarius the reward would have been 250,000. Do you have any idea where it is?"
"No, I haven't a clue where the violin is. But I do have a question, why would Fiona come to Princeton? She kept telling me my neighborhood was familiar to her." House asked the attorney.
"Where do you live?"
"221 B Coleridge."
The lawyer smiled, "Fiona's company owns that building. Her grandparents bought it back in the 40's. They were from this area. We keep a furnished apartment in the building so that she has somewhere to stay when she's here in Princeton. The problem is that she hasn't been here for four years. She's been touring Europe, Asia and the USA for the last four years. When she has time off she usually spends it in Antigua. It seems that Fiona is your landlady."
House and Wilson looked at each other and Wilson had a huge smile on his face.
"After she gets out of the hospital she and Sherry will be leaving for Antigua."
"Why?" House said.
The three of them were allowed to enter Fiona's room and there was obvious emotional relief on the part of everyone, but Fiona who was trying hard to be gracious to the three people she couldn't remember yet. House, seeing that Fiona was busy, decided it was time to go home and get some sleep.
The next day Fiona was to be discharged. Before her entourage arrived, House went in and saw her while she was eating breakfast.
"Dr. House, it's so good to see you. I was wondering where you were last night."
"It was hard to get to see you once the Feds and your posse showed up."
"I remember the "posse" but I don't "remember" them...does that make sense? They seem familiar but still unfamiliar."
"You need to take some time off and not rush it. Your brain needs time to heal. I also have your next B1 shot here. Bend over."
She groaned and pulled up her gown revealing her right cheek. He injected her in the butt. "Ow."
"Nice butt. Smooth..needs a little meat, but very sweet."
"Gee, that's the nicest thing anyone has said to me today. Dr. House, can I..."
He interrupted her, "I think... yes, I know, I told you that you could call me Greg."
"Ok, Greg, am I alright?"
"You've got some facial bruising and your jaw was cracked but not broken, so it needs time to heal. Right now we have to give all of your injuries time to see how well you're going to heal and how much of your memory you get back, if any."
"I hope my memory starts to get better. I get so confused. At times I understand what is being said and other times I have no reference."
"If the vitamin B works, you should start noticing a difference in the next week. The loss of memory from the brain trauma may take longer."
"I need to ask you something. I keep hearing from all the nurses and orderlies that you are a real..." she paused as if she wanted to say something painful.
She laughed, "Yeah, a real nice guy. I'm sure it's not a surprise but you're not well liked around here."
"Yeah, well, I forgot to pay them their blood money this month."
"How does a guy who dragged me out of a blizzard get a rep as a jerk?"
"Well...maybe I should come clean. Saving you was Wilson's idea. I would have probably let you..."
"Become a human fudgecicle?" she reminded him of what he had said to her that night on the stoop.
"Oh...you remember that?"
"But you didn't let me become a human fudgecicle. Why?"
"Wilson would have hounded me until I died an unnatural death."
"I'd rather believe you did it because you aren't quite the rat bastard they say you are."
"That would be a mistake. You don't want to make me out to be something I'm not. And I'm not warm and fuzzy."
"You are incredibly uneasy with anyone thinking that you have a heart. Why?"
"Because I don't, the doctors looked but couldn't find it."
"Greg, no one plays music like you and not have a heart."
"That's pretty sappy. I'm afraid you'll have to save that for your Harlequin novel. I play well because I practice."
"Ok." Things went quiet, "They, the posse that is, want me to go to Crossroads in Antigua to recuperate. But I don't feel like I know them and I don't trust them yet. I don't know what to do."
"You're free, white and ..." He looked at her chart, "36. You can do whatever you want to do. You can tell them no."
"Where would I stay?"
"The reason you were on my stoop is because you own my apartment building. Apparently the apartment upstairs is yours. You are my landlord and my long lost neighbor."
"Really?" she looked surprised and amused.
"That's why everything seemed familiar and safe to you."
She looked at him, "Greg, am I ever going to be better?"
"I don't know."
"Now doctor, in my Harlequin novel you are supposed to reach across, pat my hand and say, 'yes, it's all going to be ok.'" she grinned at him.
"The dog ate my script."
She reached across, patted his hand and said, "It will be ok, we'll get you a new script."
The entourage came through the slider. "Dr. House, do you mind if we have a private word with Fiona?" Sherry asked.
House started to get up but Fiona grabbed his hand. "Dr. House has been a friend to me and he doesn't have to leave unless he wants to leave."
House shrugged and stayed.
Sherry, Stephen and Jon were obviously unhappy. But Stephen gave Sherry the ok.
"Eric has offered you the use of his house for as long as you need to recuperate. But we only have four months until your next rehearsals for your next tour. "
"That means nothing to me...I don't know who Eric is." Fiona said.
"Of course you do, it's Eric Clapton. He taught you how to play guitar." Sherry said with great gusto.
"Eric Clapton taught her to play guitar?" House sounded as excited as a schoolboy.
"Yes, Dr. House, you may not know this, but Fiona plays the guitar almost as well as she plays violin. She was taught by Eric when she went through rehab in Antigua."
"Rehab? You never said anything about an addiction when we asked for her history last night."
"We didn't feel it was necessary." Sherry said.
"Oh, and you're medical degree came from?" He was incredibly sarcastic. "What was she addicted to?"
"I was?" She was surprised.
"Yes, we have your jet ready and we have air clearance for noon tomorrow."
"I see. So we go to Antigua tomorrow? Isn't that too soon? Dr. House has been giving me Vitamin B shots."
"Dr. Mallory can give them to you in Antigua."
"I see. Well then, I guess I should go." she was unsure.
House was listening to this, "So you decide that she goes to Antigua. Has she ever been allowed to decide where she wants to go?"
"She hasn't had to, when she's done with a tour we make arrangements for her to rest, usually in Antigua because she can get away from all the paparazzi down there."
"Paparazzi for a violinist?" House asked like they were blowing smoke up his butt.
"It may not make sense to you here in the USA, but in the rest of the world, Fiona is hounded by her fans and the press. She has web sites devoted to her, calendars and t-shirts are sold with her likeness and people name their babies after her. She's very celebrated and it makes it difficult for her to go somewhere to relax. Eric always loans her his place at Crossroads when she's burned out."
House couldn't really argue with resting in Antigua at Eric Clapton's home, so he became quiet. A few minutes later Lisa Cuddy came in and asked to speak to Fiona.
"Fiona, I feel strange asking this of you, but Rivers Huntingdon, the inventor and manufacturer of Supply Chain Management software solutions has pledged five million dollars to our hospital if you will do a benefit concert in Princeton. I know you probably get numerous requests..."
Her manager, Jon and Sherry both chimed in, "No, the answer is no." Jon continued, "Ms. Dacey doesn't do charity benefits without it first going through us and then they have to be planned years in advance to fit in with her schedule."
Now Fiona was getting agitated. "I don't understand, do I have a tour planned right now?"
"No, we're currently putting it together. You only have two concerts planned right now four months from now. One is in San Francisco and the other one is in Los Angeles."
"Is there anything legally that prevents me from performing a charity concert?" She turned and looked at her attorney.
Stephen was truthful even though he knew it would anger Jon and Sherry. "You have nothing in your contract that prevents you from doing charity events. Quite the contrary, you have a clause that allows you to perform up to three charity events a year without paying a percentage to your manager."
"Lisa, I'll do the concert in three months. You pick the Saturday, you pick the place, you let us know and I'll figure out how to promote it. But you better do this quickly because I suspect three months is going to go rapidly."
"I promise to do everything possible, everything necessary to get this going."
"Ok, Sherry will help." Fiona looked at Sherry with a look of determination.
Lisa could tell that Jon and Sherry were not happy with this decision, but they said nothing. "Great, if I can get your phone numbers and email addresses, we can make this happen."
"I have one condition." Fiona said. Cuddy was concerned. "I want the proceeds of the concert to go to the Diagnostics and Oncology Departments, equally. The donations, like Mr. Huntingdon's can be put to use in whatever manner you want, but the actual money we make off the tickets will be split...ok?
"I can live with that." Lisa could breath again. Lisa realized that she had to find a venue for April. She had some friends who could help but she wanted to run out of the room and start right away. "Thank you." She was genuinely happy and went over and gave Fiona a hug. "What do you want to play?"
Fiona looked at Sherry, "What was the last program that I played?"
Sherry reluctantly said,"I'll send it to you tomorrow. Oh, but you'll need to find an orchestra to back her up."
Cuddy was shocked...how was she going to find an orchestra? It hit her, she was in over her head. Well, it hadn't been the first time.
House smiled knowingly at Cuddy, realizing that right about now she was in a panic. He took great joy in knowing this and knowing that she knew he knew! Cuddy gave House a smirk and then left the room. House looked at Fiona who looked tiny, tired and banged up.
"I guess we'll see you soon." He looked around and looked at her, "Adios." He began to walk out.
"Greg." she called out. He turned around, "Thank you."
He said nothing, turned around and kept walking.
Two weeks later, Cuddy, although still excited, dropped all pretenses and went to Rivers Huntington, explaining her dilemma.
"I'm impressed that you didn't pretend to know what you were doing. I like the fact that you made a decision to stick your neck out and ask me. I tell you what. I am the one of the largest supporters of Greater Trenton Symphony Orchestra and I think we can get the event held at Patriots Theater. Here's the name and phone number of the person to contact. If you need anything else, let me know. In the meantime, how would you like to have dinner with me?"
Cuddy was on a high. Not only did she have a leg up on this event, but she was being asked to dinner by the most eligible bachelor in New Jersey. It was too cool.