Chapter Twenty: Picking Up the Pieces
"ICORPS? What do they want?"
"Wouldn't tell me! Insisted it's for your ears only!"
"All right, all right. Hello? Yes, General, what can I do for you? What? Well, yes we did, you see - Oh, you did. Well, what's the trouble? Okay, then what do you need? I trust Captain Pierce's word, if that's what you mean, and I do have some evidence. Yes. Yes. What? They have? That's terrible. Well, of course, I'll speak to him immediately. I'll call you back as soon as I do." He hung up. "Klinger!"
"You hollered, sir?"
"Get Captain Pierce in here. And whoever's with him can come too." BJ had sat with Hawkeye until his shift, at which point someone else had taken over. They knew they'd have to keep shifts on him for awhile until he was comfortable being alone again.
Hawkeye was trying to read, but the words weren't able to hold his attention. Father Mulcahy had fallen asleep a few minutes earlier in BJ's bunk, which had been returned to its original location. Hawkeye didn't begrudge him that, but he wished the man were awake and talking. It was too hard to keep the flashes of memory at bay when it was quiet.
He gave up on the book and laid down on his side, curling into a ball as he tried to fight his own mind. He didn't need or want to relive the previous day's ordeal for the hundredth time, or the incident in Tokyo for the millionth. But he couldn't stop the flashbacks. Tears ran freely down his face.
He jerked upright to see Klinger standing over him. "Are you all right? Sorry, stupid question."
Hawkeye sat up slowly. "You busy?" Maybe Klinger would sit with him for awhile.
"Actually, I was coming to get you. Colonel Potter wants to see you in his office." He took in Hawkeye's white, tearstained face. "Do you need a minute?"
"Yeah, thanks." He dabbed his eyes on his sleeve.
"I'll wait outside."
Hawkeye caught his arm. "Wait in here."
"Talk to me."
"Anything. It's too quiet in here."
Klinger began a monologue about the antics of one of his many uncles. Hawkeye barely listened to the words as he collected his pants and boots, but the voice was so much nicer than silence. The sound kept him anchored where he wanted to be.
"All right, let's not keep him waiting." Hawkeye braced himself for a walk across the compound. He hadn't left the tent since BJ had brought him in the night before. "Stick with me, all right?"
"You want to bring him?" He indicated Mulcahy.
"No, let him sleep."
He stepped out of the tent, Klinger close behind. "Did the Colonel say what he wanted?"
"No. Just said to bring you."
Hawkeye under normal circumstances might have made a joke, but it was taking enough strength not to hyperventilate. He'd never been so glad to see the Colonel's door.
"Sit down, son."
"What is it, Colonel?"
"Got a call just now. Looks like you stumbled into the middle of a serious operation when you were in Tokyo. From what I'm told, there have been reports more recently of the same thing happening to other men. Same exact scheme you described. Well, as soon as they saw the report I gave them when Monroe was arrested, they called. They'll be sending someone from JAG to ask you some questions. Meanwhile, they're going to show her picture to some of the others, see if they recognize her."
Hawkeye nodded wordlessly. It broke the man's heart. Hawkeye usually had something to say about everything. It was a challenge to shut him up. Now he didn't seem willing to say a word more than was necessary.
"There will probably end up being a trial. And if there is you'll be asked to testify."
Hawkeye nodded again.
"Hawkeye, you're probably sick to death of hearing this, but is there anything I can do?"
"Do you mind if I sit in here for awhile? Father Mulcahy's sleeping, it's too quiet in the Swamp."
"Of course I don't. Here, you want a drink?"
"Yeah, I think I could use one."
Potter poured it for him and pushed it into his hands. "Go on."
Hawkeye couldn't have told anyone what it was he was drinking. He felt the burn in his throat and welcomed it.
"Talk to me," he whispered. "Just - talk. I need to hear a voice from outside my head instead of inside it."
"Memories?" he asked gently.
"Yeah." Hawkeye's own voice was choked. "Please."
"All right. Got a letter in the mail from my son today. You'll never believe what the baby did
Potter chatted on about his youngest grandchild. Like before, Hawkeye wasn't catching all the words, but he was intensely grateful for the sound of his voice. And for the drinks the man poured into him regularly. He felt himself becoming drowsy.
"Mind if I check out for awhile?" he mumbled.
"Why don't you lie down first?" Potter suggested. He took Hawkeye's arm and helped him into the outer office, letting him down on Klinger's cot. The clerk could bunk in the Swamp for a night.
Hawkeye's eyes were closed before his head hit the pillow.
"How is he?"
Potter glanced down at the sleeping man before looking back at Margaret. "At the moment, sleeping. Or maybe more accurately passed out. I poured half a bottle of scotch into him."
"He's only been asleep for forty minutes. I don't doubt they'll come later."
"I'd like to sit with him."
She sat on the edge of the bed, taking his hand in hers and resting her other hand in his hair. "I'm here, Hawkeye," she whispered. "I'm here."
"Where's Hunnicutt?" Potter asked softly.
"Probably looking for Hawkeye. He tore out of Post-op the second his shift was over." She sighed. "You called Sidney?"
"He'll be here tomorrow afternoon."
"I don't think Hawkeye will be the only one who needs his services. BJ's a mess, and I don't think anyone else he told is doing much better. You and I are the only ones who know how to react. I'm worried about the way everyone's treating him."
"So am I. I'll talk to Sidney about it."
"Colonel!" The door burst open and BJ came flying in. "Have you seen -"
Potter signaled to him to be quiet before pointing to the bunk in the office. "Let him sleep, BJ."
BJ dragged Klinger's desk chair to the bedside and took Hawkeye's free hand in both of his. He tried and failed to speak more than once before giving up completely.
Hawkeye jerked awake, sweating from a nightmare. Margaret and BJ were sitting next to him, both asleep. Good. He didn't want to keep waking his friends.
He rolled over to go back to sleep and groaned softly when he realized that wouldn't be possible. The alcohol the Colonel had generously supplied the night before had made its way to his bladder, and he desperately needed to use the latrine.
The longer he lay there, the more he had to go. He sat up slowly and climbed out of bed, but froze when he got to the door of the office. He knew there was nothing to be afraid of, but he couldn't help it. He was afraid to walk out there alone. He chewed his lip hard as he tried to figure out what to do.
His bladder was bursting, but he couldn't make himself cross the threshold. He gritted his teeth, gazing longingly at the place he most wanted to be, trying to find a way around his dilemma. He knew he couldn't wait much longer, but he was petrified at the idea of going out in the dark alone.
He jumped when he felt a hand on his arm. Margaret stood beside him, taking in the look of extreme discomfort in his face and what he was staring at through the door. He hadn't heard her get up, but he was unbelievably glad to see her.
"Come on," she said softly without him having to say a single word.
He clung to her arm as she walked with him, releasing her only when they finally got to the latrine. He'd never been so grateful to see or enter the little shed. He relieved himself and stepped back out to find her waiting patiently for him.
"Thanks," he said softly, taking her arm again as they walked back. "I'm sorry I woke you."
"Don't be. You looked like you really needed that."
"No kidding." He didn't remember ever needing a bathroom that badly. "I just feel bad, you know? I'm so scared I can't even go to the latrine by myself."
"Don't." She stopped and hugged him right there in the middle of the compound. "I couldn't walk on the base alone for a month after it happened to me. I think my father just thought I was taking his lecture seriously, but really I was too afraid. You're just unlucky enough to be in a situation where you have to cross the compound to get to a bathroom."
He nodded slowly. "Can we get back inside?"
"Of course." She gave him her arm again, letting him walk with her.
BJ looked up as they entered. "Let me know before you two go for a midnight stroll next time," he said sleepily.
Hawkeye was too tired and overwrought to give any sort of response. Margaret helped him into bed, but he just lay there, staring at her, so she kicked off her boots and joined him. He relaxed a little once she was wrapped around him, reaching out for BJ's hand. The younger doctor gave it willingly, running the fingers of his free hand through Hawkeye's hair. Blue eyes slipped shut, and his breathing was slow and deep as sleep claimed him again.
"Pierce. Pierce. Hawkeye."
Eyes blinked open again. Potter was standing over him, reaching his hand through the difficult web of BJ and Margaret to shake him awake.
"The people from the JAG office are going to be here in an hour. I thought you'd like a chance to shower and shave. And eat."
"I'm not hungry. But a shower sounds nice." He realized just how nice even as he said it. Like before, he felt covered in dirt, even though he'd taken a twenty minute shower in the hottest water he could get out of the crummy pipes after the assault the day before yesterday.
"You want me to come with you?" BJ asked sitting up slowly. "I think I could use one too."
He stopped and turned.
"When was the last time you ate something?"
"That I didn't throw up later? The day she came, in the morning before I saw her. I tried to eat, but I felt so sick every time she touched me."
"That was six days ago."
Hawkeye raised an eyebrow slightly at the incredibly obvious statement.
"Try to eat something, won't you?"
"I'll try. No promises. I still feel sick."
"That's all I ask."
"Hawk, what are you doing?" BJ asked as he toweled himself off and slipped into his robe.
"I think it's called showering."
BJ didn't laugh. "You scrub any harder and you'll start bleeding."
"Maybe that would get some of this dirt off," he whispered miserably.
"What are you talking about? I'd be surprised if there's a speck of dirt left on you after that scrubbing."
"Then why do I feel like I'm covered in grime?" Haunted, tear-filled eyes met his.
"I don't know. But you're not."
"I wish I could believe that." He barely got the sentence out in a strangled whisper before emotion overwhelmed him.
BJ flipped off the shower and stepped into the stall. Keeping his eyes averted, he tied a towel around Hawkeye's waist before wrapping him in a hug.
They sank to the floor together, Hawkeye still crying, his hands wrapped in BJ's robe. "I'm sorry. I'm sorry."
"Will you stop apologizing already? You're hurt, okay? No one expects you to just bounce back from this. If you need a little comfort, or even a lot, you're entitled. And I'm willing." He tightened his arms around Hawkeye's too-thin body. "I'm here for you, Hawk."
"God, I can't seem to stop crying these days."
"You don't have to." He cradled Hawkeye closer. "Cry all you want. It's okay." He remembered poking fun at Hawkeye for spending so much time in the shower and it burned him. It must have been so hard for him to go on pretending nothing was wrong when he was in so much pain, and they had just kept inadvertently rubbing it in, reminding him constantly of something BJ was sure he'd prefer to forget.
For a long, silent few moments Hawkeye sobbed into the blue robe before pulling himself together. "Come on. Those guys'll be here any minute and I promised the Colonel I'd have a go at breakfast."
"Good idea. You look like you could stand some food."
"When you find some, let me know."
He rubbed Hawkeye's back. "Come on. At least try to eat."
"I said I would."
"I thought you said you'd eat," BJ whispered. Hawkeye was pushing so-called food around on his plate.
"I have enough trouble eating when I don't already feel sick," he whispered back. But he did force down a few bites of potatoes, followed by a sausage.
"Hawkeye?" Kellye sat down across from him.
He looked up from his tray. "Yeah?" Anything had to be better than trying to eat that stuff.
"Well, we wanted to talk to you."
"Wait. Who's we?"
Able and Baker sat down on either side of her. Any other day, it would probably have been fodder for a few well-placed jokes, but flirting was the last thing on Hawkeye's mind.
"What's this about?"
"It's about the night before last," Kellye said bluntly. BJ saw his friend's shoulders stiffen and sighed. He knew that was the last thing Hawkeye wanted to talk about.
"I know you've had some issues with us girls before," Able continued in the same matter-of-fact way, "but you completely crossed the line with that one. I don't know what the hell happened that she got arrested and not you, but you'd better count yourself damned lucky."
"Don't bet on it," he ground out through his teeth.
"Where do you get off pushing a woman?" Baker demanded.
"Look, I don't want to talk about this. There's more going on than you're aware of."
"So tell us," Kellye insisted.
Hawkeye shook his head. "It's personal."
"You can't expect us to buy that dodge." Kellye wasn't giving up easily.
"Look, just leave me alone, all right?" He sounded angry, but BJ easily caught the edge in his voice that suggested he was close to crying.
"Or what?" She didn't back down. "You'll shove me into a table too?"
"No! I - you don't understand."
"What don't we understand?" Able insisted.
"There were - some personal problems between Lieutenant Monroe and myself. They escalated."
"So you decided to make it physical in a different way than usual?" Baker said sharply.
The meaning of her statement took only a second to click in Hawkeye's mind, bringing with it a flood of images. Bodies, naked, pressed against each other - pressed against a cold floor - hands on his shoulders - can't get up, can't fight - pain - terror - no, no, stop, please - cot shaking, weight pressing him down - hands on his bare body - please, no - don't - make it stop -
His stomach twisted. He swung himself over the bench, almost knocking BJ out of the way as he bolted for the door.
The blond doctor glared at the nurses. "Thank you so much." He ran after Hawkeye before they could respond.
He found his friend on his hands and knees behind the mess tent, bringing up the little food he'd managed to get down. He put one hand on Hawkeye's forehead, holding him up, and rubbed his back with the other. Tears were running down the doctor's face as he continued dry heaving long after his stomach was empty.
He sat back on his heels, gasping for breath. "I'm sorry."
"Quit saying that. I seem to remember a certain someone doing the same thing for me the day I got here." The hand on his friend's back continued the rubbing. Hawkeye looked so miserable. He leaned tiredly on BJ's legs, trembling visibly.
"Come on." He offered Hawkeye his hand and helped him up, pulling him into a long hug before walking him back to the Swamp.
"Yeah?" BJ and Hawkeye answered simultaneously.
"Yo?" He replied wearily, still leaning against BJ's shoulder.
"Colonel wants to see you. The people from Judge Advocate General are here."
"You gonna be all right?" BJ asked softly.
"No," he said frankly, "but I'll manage."
"Want me to come with you?"
"I doubt they'd let you in."
BJ hugged his shoulders tightly before reluctantly letting him go. As Hawkeye replaced his sweat-soaked shirt with a fresh one, he waved Klinger over.
"Stick close to him," he whispered. "He's still pretty scared."
"I will," Klinger whispered back.
True to his word, Klinger hung close to Hawkeye's shoulder as they walked across the compound. He noticed Hawkeye looking back at him half a dozen times on the journey. He didn't remember ever seeing anyone so afraid.
"Captain Pierce, sir."
The JAG Captain was standing next to Potter. "You're dismissed, Sergeant."
Klinger nodded. "I'll be in the outer office if you need me."
"Sit down, Pierce," Potter said softly. Hawkeye took a seat in a chair facing the desk.
"Captain, let me make it clear to you first of all that you are accused of nothing. You are a witness in a major case, nothing more."
Hawkeye nodded. "I understand."
"What was the date on which you first met Lieutenant Janice Monroe?"
"May fifteenth, nineteen-fifty-two."
"Can you briefly describe what happened on that date?"
"She approached me in a bar and seduced me into accompanying her to a private place, where several men were waiting."
"How many?" he interrupted.
Potter put his face in his hands. He'd been imagining two, maybe three, which was bad enough, but six? He felt suddenly ill.
"Then what happened?" the Captain pressed.
"I was pinned down, stripped naked, and - assaulted." He still wanted to avoid the word.
"And Lieutenant Monroe was involved?" The man's matter-of-fact tone hadn't changed.
"She assaulted me too." His voice was barely a whisper.
"You're sure it was her?"
"Positive. I recognized everything; her voice, her face, all of it. Except her name, of course, she must have used a fake." He was rambling but he couldn't help it. It was the only recourse he had for coping with his pain in this circumstance.
"A false name?"
The Captain made a note. "Thank you, Captain Pierce. Once we set a trial date, we'll let you know. One more thing. Do you have anyone who can definitely corroborate all or part of your story?"
He nodded slowly. "Mar - Major Houlihan. She saw my injuries after the first assault. She didn't have a way to be sure who did it, but she can confirm the what."
"Thanks again, Captain."
The minute the man was out the door Hawkeye sagged over the desk. "Oh, God."
"What is it, son?"
"How can he act like that?" Hawkeye whispered. "He might as well have been asking the time of day."
Potter only nodded. "Sidney will be here in a few hours to help you talk through this." He reached across his desk to touch Hawkeye's shoulder. "In the meantime, why don't you go back to the Swamp?"
He nodded. Potter circled his desk to hug the younger man. "He may not care about the personal aspect, Hawkeye, but we all do."
"That means a lot," he whispered. "Thank you."