Chapter 3: NYPD
After Saturday, my conversations shrunk back to the beloved topic of weather and the amount of pain I happened to be in. I studiously avoided the subject of my discharge, and not because I couldn't face my future, but because I didn't feel ready, not yet. But would I ever be ready? I'd gone over the way I was found endless times. I attempted to catch a glimpse or a picture of my past, a random memory, a recollection of anything; emotion, smell, taste — anything at all — but all in vain. Or, more precisely, all in the name of a headache that had yet to show it was capable of leaving. Sharp or dull, nagging or dizzying or nauseating, it was ever-present. Sometimes less intense, yes, but still there.
By the next Thursday, the twenty sixth of February, I could tell my careful avoidance of the subject of my future had started to make Carlisle nervous. He'd managed to come and see me almost every day, a kind gesture I immensely appreciated and looked forward to, but as my health improved (and as I was given more than a bowlful of white goo), I knew from the way he acted that he wanted to approach the subject of my future. And today, I was determined to face it head on and not parry the conversation. He was too kind a person to force me into it, and I understood I'd been postponing the inevitable. I had to go; whether it was today, tomorrow or two weeks from now made no difference. Eventually, I had to go.
But where? I had no idea.
I'd gotten to know him a little, too, because (probably) in an attempt to get my mind off things, he spoke to me about his family. He was fifty three years old, had a younger wife called Esme whom he spoke highly about, two sons and a daughter, all around my age (not a day over ninety). I listened. Carlisle seemed like good man, and I felt as if he treated me like one of his own kids. If he didn't mind, I hoped I could keep in contact with him after I left and went... wherever I had to go.
Emmett also stopped by every once in a while and made sure I kept up my spirits. He teased me and, every time he visited, made sure to ask if I already remembered my super-spy past. I, of course, did not. Sadly. But joking around took the edge off my headaches, and I was grateful for that.
"Do you think you're ready?"
I offered Carlisle a faint smile.
"A little visit to the NYPD," he said, searching my face. "Do you think you might be ready? I've told them you still can't remember anything, but your health has improved and I believe you're ready to see if anyone recognizes you."
I slid my fingers through the end of my braid. "I think I am. As ready as I'll ever be."
"That's wonderful to hear." He smiled. "You're in no condition to wander alone, so I've made arrangements to be able to come with you. I'll give Officer Harper a call and set up an appointment for tomorrow afternoon."
"They've wanted to arrange a meeting since the day before yesterday."
"Oh. Um, Carlisle, I'm sorry I haven't been too willing to discuss my future. I know that, eventually, I have to. I'm just—it's just so unsure. I can't even…"
Carlisle slid his chair closer, placed a firm hand on my right shoulder and locked eyes with me. "We'll figure it out."
"But what if—what if someone does claim to know me? How do I know if the person really knew me, or if it's one of the people who wanted to hurt me, or if—I just can't be sure, can I?"
"Don't worry, no-one will force you to do anything against your will. If anyone does recognize you, but you don't feel comfortable going with them, you don't have to. But for your own sake, we hope someone does know who you are."
"I do, too. It's just—"
"Difficult," he finished, getting up. He offered me a gentle smile. "I understand."
The barely-noticeable layer of snow squished and melted under our footsteps. It was raining. I slid my hands into the pockets of a large jacket Carlisle had brought from his home. Apparently, it belonged to his younger son. As I hid my nose into the collar away from the cold, I smelled soap. I smiled into it and looked down at my jean-clad legs. The jeans, apparently, belonged to the girl they'd taken in. Alice, I believe. The hospital wasn't obliged to clothe me (my clothes were ruined beyond repair), so Carlisle borrowed clothes from his children and kindly offered them for me to wear. The thought of his kindness lifted my mood, and in a burst of spontaneity, I leaped over a mud puddle.
The effort knocked the wind out of me, and I took a moment to catch my breath. I rubbed my face and took a deep breath.
"Are you okay?" asked Carlisle as he stopped in front of me. "Take it easy, will you? You've only just managed to get out of the hospital. You're still weak."
I nodded. "Sorry. It's just… I've been stuck inside for so long it feels good to be—out. I guess I'm just happy."
"I'm glad." He smiled, and I noticed a glint of amusement in his eyes. "Just try not to kill yourself in the attempt to express your happiness, will you?"
I mirrored his smile. "I'll do my best."
As we drove off, I leaned my forehead against the cold glass of Carlisle's obscure-colored BMW. It felt odd to be out here, seven floors down from my hospital room in the middle of mid-day traffic, observing the pedestrians, the swarm of taxis and the seemingly incessant fall of rain that poured down on us. The windshield wipers worked rapidly. I rubbed my cast with my left hand. It was hard to tell whether I was elated to be out, nervous at the thought of possibly discovering my identity, or simply wanted to vomit my guts out. I felt air-headed and attempted to soothe the pressure of my headache by taking deep, deliberate breaths. I couldn't even remember the last time my brains were not in danger of being pounded out of my scalp. It ached constantly.
I lowered my eyes and absent-mindedly observed the dark blue carpet with a squared pattern.
"Nervous?" Carlisle glanced at me as we stopped in front of the red light.
"I can't decide whether I want to giggle or vomit."
"Try not to do the latter, it'll ruin the carpet."
It felt like such an un-Carlisle thing to say that I stopped my fidgeting to eye him, and noticed that he had a smile on his face.
"Older people are known to do that sometimes, too. It's not copyright to the youngsters."
"I see Emmett hasn't popped out from under the cabbage leaves."
Carlisle let out a laugh, and the simple action made me feel immensely more at ease. Perhaps my parents turned out to be as cool as Carlisle? Maybe I had a few siblings and friends out there waiting for me to prove they needed more than a potential murder attempt to kill my spirits?
"I think this is the place where you tell me that this is all a joke, you're my real father and Emmett is my long-lost brother."
Instead of laughing with me, he pressed his lips together. "It wouldn't be the truth."
"Too bad. I've already made arrangements to adopt Emmett as my brother."
I got a smile out of him.
"Whoever you turn out to be, never lose that sense of humor."
Fifteen minutes later, we pulled up in front of a dirt-colored building that reminded me of a giant box with dark angular dots on it. After Carlisle locked the car, we made our way to the building. I took a breath.
"Uh, yeah. I think so."
He stopped right in front of the stairs, and put a hand on my shoulder. "Just take it easy. Remember, it doesn't matter if nobody recognizes you. And don't beat yourself up for not recognizing anyone. Just be open-minded and follow the officers' instructions."
I nodded, pursing my lips in a smile; he had a knack for knowing what to say and when to say it.
"Thanks. I needed that."
It was surprisingly quiet inside, with the occasional clanking of heels and animated talking. We walked through a metal detector and got signs with the word 'visitor' on them before a curt lady instructed us to go to the fifth floor.
Officer Raymond Harper shook our hands before leading us to an office where an incredibly tall, bald man sat behind a table. His lips were pursed in a line, and he didn't look up until Officer Harper cleared his throat.
"Mr. Cullen and Miss Doe, this is Detective Eric Yorkie. He'll be working on your case." The Detective nodded at the Officer who left the room. Carlisle and I shook hands with the man before sitting in front of him. The walls were partly made of glass, so we could see the policemen taking calls and interacting. Occasionally, a few eyes would land on us, and I got the faint suspicion I was an object of discussion, but I don't think it really surprised me. They averted their eyes as soon as I'd made contact with them.
"That's quite an extraordinary situation you're in, Miss. Cannot say I've ever dealt with a case like yours."
I wasn't sure if I was supposed to comment, so I stayed silent.
"I know you already spoke to Officer Harper, and I got all the information you gave to him, but I still have a couple of questions. Is that okay?"
"First, since last Wednesday, have you had any progress in trying to remember anything?"
"Absolutely nothing? Not even your name?"
"That is correct."
"Alright. Since waking up from coma a couple of weeks ago, have you had any strange reactions to anything in your environment? Like unsubstantiated fear? Anger? In reaction to a person or a situation, anything. Any strange emotions."
"I think you should be promoted, sir," I replied. "Your questions are very apt."
He huffed a short, surprised chuckle. "I'll let my boss know. Now, do you recall any strange reactions that have taken you by surprise?"
He might've seemed young, maybe in his early thirties, but he seemed to know what he's doing. To top that, he didn't seem to think I was creating a hoax. It was encouraging.
"Not that I recall," I replied. "But I have a constant headache that intensifies when I do try to recall anything."
The entire time, he kept writing something down, and briefly looked up at us. "Thank you, Miss."
I offered him a nod.
"Now, Dr. Cullen, can you describe how you and your son came to find this young lady?"
He did, and it sounded quite different from how I remembered it. He's detailed, and I found out I was found from Massachusetts not New York—sort of logical when to think of it, but I hadn't thought of it—and I'd spent a week at Addison Gilbert Hospital.
"We've contacted the CPD as well as Gloucester Police Department, and received missing person reports from them. Why did you take her from Addison Gilbert Hospital to Bellevue? It's about a five hour drive, if I remember correctly."
"I'm paying for her health insurance. Since I am a doctor living in NYC and not Massachusetts, it seemed reasonable. She'd been in a stable coma for a week before I decided to move her."
"Do either of you have any speculations about how you came to receive your wounds? Would you mind if a few fellow investigators took a look at them?"
I nodded, and we talked about our own guesses as to how I could've been abused in such a way as two other detectives stayed in the room with us. The amount of people involved with my case took me by surprise, but really, what was I expecting?
"For your own safety, we strongly discourage you from involving the media. If our speculations are correct and you were harmed intentionally, then with current information, it is impossible to ensure that they wouldn't come after you if you revealed your whereabouts."
"We'll also need a sample of your blood for DNA matches. We'll compare it with every available sample in Massachusetts as well as NYC to increase the likelihood that we find your family. Do you agree to that?"
"Of course, sir."
"Thank you for being so consenting, Miss," he says, taking out a business card. "Please notify us immediately if you remember anything at all. Even if you think you remember the color of your mom's hair."
"Thank you, sir. I will."
"Could you keep us updated as well, Detective?" Carlisle asked.
"That goes without saying," he replies, standing. So did we. I was surprised I wasn't going to meet any people who thought I could be their lost family member.
"I have one more question," Carlisle said. "Hypothetically, if I were to invite her to live with my family until we find hers, would I have the legal right to do so?"
Detective Yorkie hesitated.
"I'm unsure as to how the legal procedure works in this case. I would assume she's currently owned by the government, so to speak, so someone in charge of the jurisdictional part might be able to provide a better answer." He locks eyes with me and smiles, if slightly. "Personally, I don't see a problem with providing her with a family, even a temporary one. You might have to bite through some red tape, but I'm sure it's possible."
"So after bribing a social worker I should be okay?"
The Detective chuckled.
"Sir?" I asked, a little more timidly than I meant to.
"I just wanted to ask—I thought I had to see multiple people who thought I could be their long lost loved one. Did I misunderstand or did you change your plans?"
"Most of them were from Massachusetts. It would've been too difficult to arrange a meeting for you all at such short notice. We might arrange something in the future, but your safety is currently our top priority."
"Thank you, Sir."
We took the elevator back downstairs. My headache intensified, and when I saw the beige and glossy marble floor blur, I stopped. I got dizzy. Voices faded in the background, and I felt more than heard my heartbeat in my ears. I felt eerie. Was anyone watching me, right at this moment? I felt like it.
A man's voice, quite scratchy, echoed in my ears. It came from inside the foyer and so I twirled, desperate to find anyone's eyes on me, but nobody seemed suspicious.
"Go with the doctor."
I tried to stop hyperventilating, but I couldn't.
"Are you alright?" Carlisle stopped walking. "What's wrong? What're you looking for?"
The echo in my ears continued, but I could no longer decipher the words. "Did you—can you hear that?"
"There's like a man…" I trailed off, suddenly embarrassed. Someone, a man, had clearly just told me to trust Carlisle. How? Was it from my past? If yes, how could two random sentences from the past fit so well into this situation? If not, how come anyone else couldn't hear him?
"You're burning up," Carlisle said after touching my forehead. "Let's get you back to the hospital."
I took my coat, still searching through the crowd. Who wanted me to trust Carlisle and why?
"I think I may—I might have some psychological issues," I said quietly as we drove back to the hospital. It kept raining. My headache showed no signs of weakening, but the dizziness from earlier had ceased.
"Given the extent of your injuries, I wouldn't be surprised," he said. "What did you hear earlier?"
"I heard—a man. Like a man's voice. Telling me to trust you."
"What exactly did he say?"
"'Trust him,' and then, 'go with the doctor.' I swear, it didn't come from inside my head. It didn't. It came from inside the foyer."
We stopped in front of a red light, and for a moment, Carlisle just observed me as I stared at him, drowning in his son's jacket.
"You don't believe me."
But I couldn't blame him. I had no evidence to the contrary.
"I haven't made up my mind," he replied, and we both knew he might've as well agreed with my statement. "Perhaps we should let you talk to a psychologist."
"Yeah, that will work out perfectly. 'Miss Jane Doe, tell me about your life, what concerns and scares and traumatizes you? Just lay it all out there, everything about your life, just pour your heart out.'"
He chuckled. "I see your point."
"Voices no-one else can hear is never a good sign, is it?"
"Normally, yes. In your case, who knows? It might be progress."
A week later, I was dismissed from the hospital. Not once after the incident in NYPD Headquarters had I heard any unexplained voices inside or outside of my head, which relieved me in a way. But as I recalled the sound of the man over and over again, the scratchy, somewhat husky voice, it became clearer that the voice amplified my headache. And thus, most probably, it was a voice of a person once close to me. Perhaps a family member. Carlisle and I both agreed that maybe my subconscious transferred the voice from my "previous life" to this situation, where I felt I needed an assurance that I was doing the right thing by trusting him and his family.
It was so incredibly kind of him to offer me a home to stay in, and I did not know how, but he pulled it off, too. He spoke to social workers and detectives and officers. He made them see how doing this would benefit my situation more than landing in a homeless shelter, and so, on the 6th of March, I was rolled to the foyer of the hospital—even though I was perfectly capable of walking.
Emmett huffed at the sight of me.
"I bet Jason Bourne was never rolled out of the hospital in a wheelchair."