Chapter Seventeen: Coming Undone
"This one's pretty bad, doctor," the corpsman reported. "Chest wound."
"Hawk?" BJ looked worriedly at his friend. He didn't know if he was up to this one.
"Beej, finish for me. I'll take him." He tore his gloves off. "Come on, someone give me fresh gloves! Gown!"
Hawkeye froze, swallowing hard. This was going to be a tricky operation at best. He didn't want to make anyone suspicious, but he couldn't do something that difficult if he was working with her.
It was Margaret who saved him. "I think I'd better. This one's going to be tough, and I've done these before." She pulled off her own gloves. "Monroe, come here, assist Dr. Winchester."
Hawkeye shot Margaret a grateful look as she gloved up.
"Scalpel. And thanks," he added so only she could hear him.
He sighed, putting the box in his hands back down. "I told you to stay away from me." He tried to keep his heart rate steady. In the supply tent, alone with her, was the last place he wanted to be.
"Why, Hawkeye. Why the cold welcome?"
"We discussed this yesterday," he growled.
"Hawkeye, Hawkeye." She smiled. He wanted to be sick right there. "Come, now."
Before he could stop her, she'd thrown her arms around his neck and kissed him firmly on the lips. Her tongue forced its way into his mouth. He stood, frozen, paralyzed with fear, unable to disengage from her.
She pulled back slowly, keeping her arms around his neck. "Now wasn't that nice?"
"Monroe!" Hawkeye heard Kellye's voice and nearly crumpled in relief. "Major Houlihan's looking for you. Monroe? Janice, where are you?"
She kissed him again, more briefly though it still felt like forever to him, and then let go. The door to the supply tent slammed shut, and he sagged against the wall, trying to catch his breath.
He waited as long as he could to make sure she was clear, but finally he couldn't fight his stomach anymore and he hurried out of the tent and around to the back of it. Falling to his knees, he brought up what little food he'd managed to get down in the day and a half since she had arrived. He couldn't stop the tears of fear and humiliation that ran silently down his face.
"Not hungry?" Potter asked as Hawkeye pushed the food around on his plate.
"With this food, who would be?" He swallowed hard. Just looking at his dinner was making him nauseous. He'd lost all semblance of an appetite after the kiss Monroe had forced on him.
BJ joined the table, rolling his eyes. "Can't they ever cut it out?"
"Who and what?" Potter asked.
"It's Margaret and Charles again. They're fighting over, get this, the way Margaret handles her nursing staff."
"What?" Hawkeye and Potter asked together.
"Well, Charles is somewhat, ah, taken with that new nurse, Monroe."
So much for a distraction.
"Anyway, I don't know if it's all in his head or what but he's convinced Margaret's being harder on her than on the other nurses. He's getting on her about it, and she's not giving an inch."
The door burst open and Margaret's voice floated through. "...know what I'm doing with my own nursing staff, Doctor! It is none of your business!"
"When you can learn to treat your staff decently, I will stay out of your business! But your treatment of Lieutenant Monroe is unjust. She has told me that you are hypercritical of her every mistake."
"I expect nothing but the best from my nurses!"
"Then why haven't I heard similar complaints from Jennings or Peterson? Or for that matter from the other three?"
"Oh, I don't know, maybe because they can take a little criticism instead of whining constantly!"
"All right, all right!" Potter had apparently decided that letting them settle a personnel problem, loudly, in public, was a bad idea. "Major, and Major!"
They both fell silent.
"First of all, what on Earth is the problem? Major Winchester, you first."
"I've been receiving complaints from Lieutenant Monroe that Major Houlihan is unduly hard on her."
Potter turned to Margaret, who spoke without further prompting. "Colonel, the way I deal with my nurses is my affair. I do not need Major Winchester butting in on it."
"All right, both of you. Charles, the nurses are Major Houlihan's responsibility, so let her do her job. If one of the nurses has a problem, have her talk to Major Houlihan or myself directly. Margaret, you might do well to lighten up a little on these girls. They're only human."
She threw herself down on the bench next to Hawkeye, and only he heard her say, "that's debatable."
He gripped her hand gratefully under the table. He had no doubt that the inequity Monroe had complained of was not all in her head. Margaret might not be able to do anything through official channels, but one thing most of the nurses who had served with her, especially in the more distant past, would agree on was that she could make a person miserable. Only now, she was doing it on purpose.
But Hawkeye didn't think Margaret could possibly make Janice Monroe's life as miserable as she was making his.
"Hawk, what's going on?"
"What are you talking about?"
"For the last couple of days you've been acting strange."
"Strange how?" He tried to keep his face neutral.
"Usually I can't shut you up. Recently it's pulling teeth to get you to talk."
"Just some personal trouble, I told you."
"Can I help?"
He shook his head slowly. Part of him desperately longed to tell him everything, just so BJ would hold him. He wanted that embrace so badly. But the look on BJ's face a few months ago when he'd had to cut a rope and leave someone to die a few short months ago haunted him. Just like when it had first happened, he couldn't do that to his friend. He'd wait until BJ was asleep and then he'd go get that hug from Margaret instead.
"You're out late, Captain."
No, please no. "So are you, Lieutenant."
She smiled, and it turned his stomach. "Well then, we can be out late together."
"I have no interest in doing anything together with you."
Her hands took his shoulders and he pulled away harshly. She put them back against his chest, pushing him into a wall and pinning him with her body.
"Don't touch me." It was a whisper now, pleading. "Please don't touch me."
"Oh," she purred, "but I like to touch you."
"Go away!" Margaret rolled over sleepily. Who was waking her at this hour?
Another knock, more urgent. Her yell hadn't done any good. Maybe if she ignored them, they would leave.
"Margaret, please! Let me in!"
Hawkeye's voice was pained. She jumped to her feet and opened her door.
He was paper-white, shaking, with tears running down his face. She pulled him inside and guided him to her cot so he could sit. He took the seat but didn't stop shaking.
She sat down next to him and gathered him into her arms. "What happened, Hawkeye?" Her hands ran soothingly along his back. "What happened?"
He leaned into her, resting his head on her shoulder. "I was coming to see you, just to talk. She stopped me."
Margaret didn't have to ask who 'she' was. Only one woman could get Hawkeye this upset. "What did she do?"
"She pushed me up against a wall, and she started kissing me. Then she - she put her hand in my pants, started touching me. I begged her to stop, she just laughed." A sob tore loose from his throat. "I really thought she was going to - she didn't take it all the way this time, but-"
"Shh, Hawkeye." She kissed the top of his head and pulled him tight, tears pricking at her own eyes. She couldn't help her own guilt. Hawkeye had been hurt because he was trying to come to her. She kissed the top of his head gently.
"Margaret -" he whispered.
"What? What can I do?"
His eyes met hers. "Kiss me."
"I can feel her on my lips. Please, Margaret."
She cupped his cheek in her hand and tipped his head up. The kiss she pressed to his lips was gentle, lacking any of the fire of the few kisses they had shared before. This wasn't about passion. This was about comforting him and trying to erase the remnant of what she had done to him.
She tasted salt on her lips and knew he was crying. She drew back and pulled him into her shoulder. He buried his face in her hair and sobbed.
Her own tears fell into his shirt. Of all the places for this woman to end up, it had to be the same tiny hospital as a man she'd tormented. A man she was still tormenting, by the looks of things. Margaret of all people knew how horrible it was not to be able to escape the person who had victimized her, and she knew Hawkeye was close to crumbling under the strain.
"Hawkeye, are you sure about keeping this quiet? If you told Colonel Potter, he could have her out of her in two days. You'd never have to see her again. I do what I can but I can't guarantee anything."
"I couldn't," he whispered. "I couldn't."
"Shh, okay, okay." She really didn't want to get him agitated. He'd come to her to be comforted, not upset further. "Do you want to stay here?"
"If I can. I can't face walking out there again. Not tonight. I'll sleep on the floor -"
"You don't have to."
"I don't like constantly putting you out of your bed."
"I don't mind. You've done the same for me. Come on."
She slid off his boots and jacket, but like she had once before she resisted her instinct to help him with his pants, knowing he might not be able to take that even from someone he trusted. He laid down and she joined him, pulling him tight so he'd feel safe. His head dropped to rest on her shoulder and his arm went around her waist to keep her close.
He thought at first he'd never be able to fall asleep. But the safety of Margaret's arms overrode the memory of her touch, and he was so completely exhausted. With her hands running comfortingly through his hair, he dropped off.
Hawkeye looked longingly through the mesh at Margaret's tent, but he knew she was sleeping after a shift which followed several nights of limited sleep thanks to his nightmares. It wasn't fair of him to keep waking her. That was why he'd tried to nap in his own tent.
After more than four days of being kissed and groped every time he was alone, he'd woken from a nap to find himself in what someone who didn't know better might have merely termed a 'compromising position'; naked with her on top of him, already - inside her. He'd tried to fight but she already had had him pinned, and his own terror had worked against him. He could do nothing but close his eyes and turn his head so he didn't have to watch her violate him.
He felt like he would be sick, but he fought to control himself. He didn't want to move. It had taken all his strength just to get his shirt and shorts back on so his roommates wouldn't ask questions. He lay on his side, curled into a ball, shivering as tears he couldn't stop slid down his face.
The door opened and Hawkeye hurriedly closed his eyes, pretending to be asleep. The tiny part of his mind that was rational gave him some small comfort - the footsteps were too heavy to be her. He knew that step anyway. BJ.
It appeared his sleeping trick worked, because the younger doctor didn't say anything. Hawkeye lay still and silent until he heard BJ's snoring, then he opened his eyes and curled in even tighter.
Hawkeye fought a desire to throw up right there. It hadn't been five hours since she'd raped him and now she was inviting him for a dance in the Officers' Club, where, incidentally, he only was in order to get away from his memories.
"Let's not," he ground out.
"Come on, Captain." She slid in close to him. With the bar behind him, he had nowhere to go.
"Don't - touch - me." He punched every word, but it didn't seem to make a difference.
"One little dance?" She reached out one hand and ran it up his thigh.
Something in him snapped then. He just couldn't take it anymore. He grabbed her by the shoulders and shoved her as hard as he could, sending her into a table.
"I said," he hissed as he pushed her, "Don't. Touch. Me."
She and the table went down with a crash, and all conversation ceased, as did Father Mulcahy's piano solo. The people closest to him processed what they had just seen, and then one of them turned a glare on him.
In a few seconds he'd be swarmed, just as soon as people realized what he had done, and then there'd be no getting out. He bolted for the door, vaguely hearing someone calling his name but not registering it. He had to get somewhere, somewhere safe, somewhere she wouldn't find him and hurt him again. He longed for Margaret, but she was still asleep. Dimly, he remembered that the Colonel had been in the O-club with the rest of them. She wouldn't go into the Colonel's office without permission, even on the off chance that it occurred to her she might find him there.
He barely heard Klinger's baffled questions and exclamations as he walked through the outer office. He pushed through the double doors and then slumped to the floor, drawing his knees to his chest and resting his back against the side of the Colonel's desk, and tried to slow his panicked breathing.
"All right, where did he go?"
Potter had cleared out the majority of the party in the club and was now standing with BJ, Charles, and Father Mulcahy, trying to determine where his Chief Surgeon might have gone after so uncharacteristically pushing Lieutenant Monroe into a table.
"More to the point, why did he do it? Could there be something wrong with him?"
"What do you mean?" Mulcahy asked.
"He's been acting strange for a few days now, but he insists it's nothing, just a personal problem. Just sort of quiet, reclusive. And he hasn't been sleeping in the Swamp either."
"I had noticed that," Charles piped in.
"Well, maybe if we found him he'd be able to answer some of our questions!"
"Colonel - Holy Toledo, what happened here?" Klinger had just stepped through the door to see an overturned table and an all-but-empty room.
"Long story. What is it, Klinger?"
"Well, sir, I just thought you'd like to know. Captain Pierce just walked into your office."
The four officers shared a glance. Potter spoke first. "Let's go."
"Pierce, what the hell was that all about?" Potter burst into his office with BJ, Charles, Mulcahy, and Klinger trailing closely behind to find Hawkeye sitting on the floor.
"What?" he asked softly.
"You pushed Lieutenant Monroe into a table! You could have seriously hurt her!"
"I - I didn't - I just wanted her to get away from me!"
"You wanted her to get away badly enough to push her? Does this have anything to do with that personal issue you were telling Hunnicutt about? It isn't necessary for you to take it out on Lieutenant Monroe."
"I'm not 'taking out' anything." He hadn't even looked at Potter. "Lieutenant Monroe is my problem."
"What's that supposed to mean?"
Hawkeye swallowed hard, knowing what he had to do now. He prayed the old man would be as understanding as Margaret had been certain he would be.
"I met Lieutenant Monroe about a year and a half ago, when I was on R&R in Tokyo. She came on hard and I was charmed by her. She - she took me to a 'private place', only it turned out there were men waiting for us there, and she'd been nothing more than bait in a trap. Willing bait." He drew a deep breath, steadying himself for what he knew he had to say next. "They - they -" He swallowed back the bile that rose in his throat. "I was raped. By the men, and by her."
The room was thrown into total silence. No one even breathed.
"I really thought I'd put it all behind me, and then I saw her standing here, in the compound. And she recognized me too. She's been coming up to me every time I'm alone, kissing me and groping at me, and today I woke up to find her in the process of - of doing it again. Then she came up to me in the Officers' Club and started running her hand up my leg - I just can't do this anymore. So I pushed her away from me."
It was BJ who broke the frozen silence to run to his friend's side, nearly knocking Colonel Potter down in the process. "Hawk - Hawkeye." He couldn't get out more than this broken repetition of his friend's name, but it was enough to get the black-haired doctor's attention.
"I didn't mean for you to hear that," he whispered.
BJ shook his head wordlessly as he dropped to his knees and gathered his friend into his arms. He could feel the man tense and shaking against him, scared out of his mind no doubt. Hawkeye leaned into him, wrapping his own arms around BJ's back, soaking in the Californian's love and caring, needing to just be held and feel safe.
Potter crouched down behind him, laying a gentle hand on his back. He could tell the doctor was struggling to hold back his tears. "Easy, son. Just let it out." No trace of the anger that had been in his voice mere moments ago remained. His heart ached for Hawkeye as the young man began to cry as soon as he gave the word, wrenching sobs coming from the deepest part of him. BJ's hand gently guided his friend's head to his shoulder as silent tears streamed down his own face, and Potter felt the dampness of tears on his own cheeks as he rubbed his distraught friend's back.
The other three stood over them, still silent. No one had any clue what to say.
Klinger burned with anger inside. That woman had tricked Hawkeye, tricked all of them, and caused so much pain to a man he called his friend, and she'd been walking around the unit making friends with everyone. He wanted to do a lot more to her than push her into a table.
Mulcahy was filled with both anger and grief. He'd never believed so strongly in a hell for the truly deserving. Like the woman who he had truly believed was his friend. She'd connected with him from her first day there, all while she'd been tormenting his friend behind his back. It was heartbreaking to watch Hawkeye cry like he was, like his world was falling apart. Which from his perspective it probably was.
Charles was furious that she'd deceived him so completely that he'd found her so charming and attractive. But he felt a rush of guilt. How many times had he praised her in front of Hawkeye? What a torment that must have been for him, to hear so much about the supposed virtues of a woman who had violated him. Even though there was no way he could have known, he still felt that he should have done something differently.
Hawkeye's sobs had subsided, though he still wept quietly into BJ's shoulder. Potter straightened up slowly. "Son, I might have to tell a few people in order to get her out of here. Is that all right?"
"Just don't tell anyone you don't have to," he whispered through his tears. After everything that had happened, he'd do anything not to have to see her again. Even let people know.
"I won't. And that goes for everyone!" he added, suddenly firm, and BJ felt Hawkeye tense against him.
The old Colonel sighed when he realized Hawkeye had revealed this horrible secret without being aware of how many people were listening. He supposed he should have seen it when Hawkeye had said he hadn't meant for BJ to hear, but he'd been too worried about Hawkeye's state of mind at the time.
"Don't worry," Father Mulcahy said softly. "I would no sooner betray this confidence than break the seal of the confessional."
"You have my word - Hawkeye." Charles had called his fellow surgeon by his nickname only a few times, but after all he'd just heard, he didn't think it would feel right to be formal.
"Mine too, Captain." Klinger's voice was somber. "I won't tell anyone."
"Klinger, have a sentry put the Lieutenant on house arrest. Use the VIP tent, I don't want the nurses caught up in the middle of this. Then get on the horn to the MPs. And no, Klinger, I can't allow you to interact directly with her. That goes for all of you." He knew they were angry. He was angry. But if he let Monroe be harmed, it could hurt their ability to make a case. He could play the game as well as anyone.
"Pierce, can you walk?"
"I - I think so." He still hadn't stopped crying.
"Go back to the Swamp and get some rest. Hunnicutt, go with him."
BJ pulled a still-shaky Hawkeye to his feet and helped him out of the office and into their tent. He made to guide him to his bunk, but the other man stiffened against him and it was with a stab of pain that he remembered what Hawkeye had said about being raped on that bunk a few short hours ago. He sat his friend on his own bunk instead. Hawkeye continued to shiver and cry, so BJ joined him, still holding him close. He couldn't imagine the pain his friend must be in. He wished he could do something to take it away.
The door opened and then clicked shut, and BJ looked up to see Father Mulcahy and Charles standing just inside. His bunkmate spoke first. "Is there anything we can do?"
"If you could - switch the mattress on Hawkeye's cot for the one on the spare bed."
Mulcahy had clearly caught on, however, and he whispered something to Charles, whose baffled expression changed to one of sympathy. The mattress swap was completed in a matter of minutes, and BJ gently guided Hawkeye back to his own bunk. Hawkeye wasn't crying anymore, but BJ suspected he was just too tired to cry anymore, and he fully expected to see more tears before this ordeal was really over.
"Shh, look, it's a different bed, see? Come on, lie down. Just rest, Hawk."
He couldn't fail to notice that Hawkeye curled into a ball on his cot. A defensive reaction. It almost made him sick that the man had been so badly hurt that he couldn't feel safe in his own bed. He looked so miserable, his eyes red from crying, an almost childlike look of fright on his face.
Father Mulcahy reentered the tent - BJ hadn't even been aware he was gone - and offered him a damp cloth. He took it from him and gently wiped the tear tracks from Hawkeye's face. Hawkeye leaned into his friend's hand.
He drew up the blankets over him. "Sleep, Hawkeye. Sleep. I won't let anything happen to you."
He began to rub his friend's back in soothing circles. Hawkeye's eyelids slipped shut; he was just too tired to stay awake, even with everything that lurked just beyond consciousness, and the gentle motion of BJ's hand lulled him to sleep.
Hawkeye's breathing was slow and even, and BJ gently moved the hand from his back to brush the hair out of his face. "Why didn't he tell me?"
"Don't be angry with him," Mulcahy whispered back. "I hardly think he needs that now."
"I'm not. How could I be?" BJ dropped his face into his free hand. "It's me I'm angry at. He was going through all this just feet from me, and I didn't help him. I didn't even see that he was hurting."
"She fooled us all," Charles said softly.
"I mean the first time. It all makes sense in hindsight. He came back from that R&R acting strange, quiet, closed off, you know? He avoided all questions about his trip. Then about two days in, he had a major panic attack in OR when a patient grabbed him. About that time he just stopped sleeping in the Swamp for a few days, like he just did. God only knows where he was sleeping instead. He stopped flirting so much with the nurses - even if I didn't know what was wrong, I should've known something was, but I let him talk me down and reassure me everything was okay."
"I asked him if something was wrong too," Mulcahy whispered. "He gave me the same reassurances. BJ, for whatever reason he didn't want us to know. You can't be blamed for reacting exactly how he intended."
"I just wish I could have done something before now." He cast another glance on his sleeping friend. "I wish there was more I could do now than let him cry on me."
He sat down in the chair next to Hawkeye's bed, barely hearing the sounds of chaos beginning outside. Charles sat on his bunk, and Mulcahy, at BJ's silent nod of permission, sat on the younger surgeon's bunk to join the vigil.