When You Need Me Most

By LittleDancerGirl

Other / Romance

Chapter TwentyOne: Facing What Happened

"Sherman."

"Sidney. It's right good to see you now."

"What's the situation you didn't want to discuss over the phone?"

"Sit down."

Sidney took the seat. "Serious?"

"Very."

"You're not my mystery patient again, are you?"

"No - though to be fair, I think I may need an ear for awhile. So will quite a few people in this camp. However, your primary patient is Captain Pierce."

"Hawkeye? You said it was a person handling a serious trauma."

"It is. And unfortunately, it happened right here."

"What happened?"

"Well, it starts with something Hawkeye told me you already know about. The attack in Tokyo."

"He told you?" Sidney was genuinely surprised for a change. "The last time I spoke to him about it, he was adamant about not telling anyone."

"Well, that's where current circumstances come in. I don't know if Hawkeye told you, but he never reported the assault."

"He didn't explicitly say one way or the other, but I figured."

"Well, of all the awful coincidences, that woman ended up being assigned to this unit."

"What woman?"

"Oh, when Hawkeye said he hadn't given you any of the details, he really meant any."

"He only told me he was raped in Tokyo."

"He was lured into an abandoned room by a woman, supposedly as a place for a private rendezvous, only to be set on by a half-dozen men. She was fully in on it."

"And she ended up here?" Sidney repeated. "No wonder Hawkeye decided to tell."

"It's worse, Sidney. He didn't tell anyone except Margaret. She kept harassing him, physically, and he kept his mouth shut because he was so humiliated. The day before yesterday, she raped him again by setting on him while he was asleep." Potter's eyes were full of tears. "Then she tried to come onto him in the Officers' Club, after everything she'd done that same afternoon, and he pushed her, and everyone noticed. I demanded an explanation -" he swallowed hard, against tears or nausea or both. "He gave me one."

Sidney just nodded. "Who else knows?" He knew that was what the comment about multiple people had meant.

"Well, Margaret's known from the start. BJ, the Father, Winchester, and Klinger were in the office when he finally spilled. I'm especially worried about Hunnicutt - besides Pierce himself, of course. He's been nearly going crazy."

"What about Hawkeye? What can you tell me about the way he's reacting?"

"It's not good. I told him I was thinking about calling you, and he all but begged me to. He's hurting so much, Sidney. He's terrified too, won't be left alone. I know he has nightmares and flashbacks, and he's constantly haunted by memories of what happened. He told me he hears their voices in his mind - they taunted him, as if the physical actions weren't bad enough."

"Literally adding insult to injury."

Potter nodded, pulling out a handkerchief and wiping his eyes. "Please help him, Sidney. I'm worried out of my skull right now. I've never seen him like this."

"That's what I'm here for. Where is he?"

"Try the Swamp. If he's not there, he'll be in Margaret's tent."

xxxxxxxxx

A tap on the door startled both Margaret and Hawkeye, sitting in her tent, side-by-side on her cot, having one of their frequent conversations about nothing, just so Hawkeye could speak and hear another voice.

"Who's there?" Margaret hoped it wasn't her nurses. After the morning's incident that BJ had told her about, she'd be hard-pressed to explain why he was in her tent, and she didn't want him to have to face them.

"It's Sidney. Is Hawkeye in there with you?"

"Hawkeye's in here," the doctor replied softly.

Sidney opened the door and stepped in. "Major, do you mind if we borrow your tent?"

"Not at all." She hugged Hawkeye and pressed a gentle kiss to his forehead. "If you need me, just have someone come find me."

"She's certainly being protective," Sidney observed, sitting in Margaret's chair.

"Everyone is," Hawkeye said softly. "I don't mind."

"Hawkeye, talk to me. At the risk of being cliched, how do you feel?"

"How do you think I feel?" he said bitterly.

"I don't know. I can take a pretty good guess at some of what you don't feel, but people have very different reactions to trauma, even the exact same trauma."

"I'm sorry, Sidney. I'm just tired of the question. Most of the people asking aren't as interested in an in-depth answer."

"Well, I am. Why don't you give me one?"

"I feel - I feel so many things. Hurt. Scared. Angry." He sighed. "Ashamed."

"Why?" If self-blaming was at the root of Hawkeye's distress, he wanted to get to the bottom of it as quickly as possible. "Why are you ashamed?"

Hawkeye put his face in his hands for a long moment before looking up at Sidney with haunted eyes. "There's so much to be ashamed of. So much that I did."

"What, Hawkeye?"

"You sure you want to hear this?"

"That's what I'm here for."

Hawkeye drew a long breath. "Where do I start?"

"Just tell me what happened that night."

"Is this it?" Hawkeye stared eagerly at the woman before him. He couldn't wait to be alone with her.

"This is it." She slid open the door. "Are you coming?"

"Of course." He took the hand she extended and let her pull him inside.

He noticed strange shadows and turned to see a man standing behind him. Looking around a little, he realized there were six of them.

"Marissa, I think someone stole our private room." He took her shoulders gently and kissed her, nuzzling the side of her face. "What do you say we go somewhere else, huh?"

She laughed, and he noticed it - it was a different laugh from the one he'd heard from her before. "Oh, we're in exactly the right place."

He frowned, trying to puzzle out the meaning of her statement. Before he had time to do so, two of the men had grabbed his arms. A third stepped up to him and pulled his shirt off.

Hawkeye sighed, biting his lip. So they were going to beat him? They probably expected him to fight back for their own amusement. He wouldn't do it. He wouldn't give them the satisfaction of fighting a battle he had no chance of winning. Making his choice, difficult though it was, he went limp in the hands of the men who held him, dropping to his knees.

The third man knelt down with him. He didn't look disappointed at all. In fact, he looked - pleased? Huh?

The man's hands went to Hawkeye's belt, unbuckling it, unbuttoning his pants, and bringing the fly down. His eyes roamed Hawkeye's body, from his chest down to his now-exposed boxers and the shape of what lay beneath, before looking up again. The doctor caught his first good look at the man's face. It was twisted in a leer, and he looked extremely pleased as he began to pull off Hawkeye's pants.

It hit him suddenly, with the force of a speeding train, almost literally taking the breath out of his lungs, what the man intended to do to him. "No," he whispered. "God, please, no."

He tried to fight his way loose, but even without being so severely outmatched he was at a disadvantage by being on his knees. The two men bore down on him with their weight, and he knew he had no chance of even getting to his feet, let alone pulling free and running.

His attacker pulled off his shoes and then finished taking off his pants. He twisted hard when the man began to lower his shorts, but the two men grabbed him by the shoulders and forced him to stay still.

"No," he said again, more forcefully. "No, no. Please don't. Please."

The man in front of him started laughing. That set off the others, all in hysterics. Tears of frustration and fear formed in Hawkeye's eyes, but he forced them back.

He was completely naked now, helpless to do anything but endure their stares and whistles. The man had backed away from him, and - oh, God, he was undressing himself now.

He shut his eyes, trying to pretend he was somewhere else, anywhere else. The mess tent. He was walking through the mess tent naked on a bet. If only it hadn't been for that Casey. He wasn't even supposed to be there, although he wouldn't know that until tomorrow, but what difference did that make? The phony doctor had ruined his bet and cost him fifty dollars. Trapper was busily gloating. There were whistles and laughter all around him. That's all it was. Whistling because he'd dared to do such a thing. Well, at least something had finally gotten their attention.

Hands touched his chest, jarring him painfully out of the memory. The other man was now also fully naked in front of him. Hawkeye could do nothing to fight off the unwanted, terrifying touch.

Seeing that he was being observed, the man reached over to the pile of his clothing and removed something. A gun, Hawkeye realized, that he was handing to one of the men holding him.

"You fight," he hissed, "you die. Understand?"

Hawkeye didn't react. The man grabbed him by the hair.

"I said," he thundered, "Do. You. Understand?"

He nodded, still trying to force back his tears. He didn't want to let them see how frightened he was.

"Good."

The men holding Hawkeye pulled him roughly to the ground and forced him to lie there. The third man, the naked one, knelt on his legs, immobilizing them.

Hawkeye pressed his face to the concrete floor, trying again, desperately, to pretend he was anywhere else. But he couldn't. Everything happening around him was far, far too real.

He cried out in pain at the first violation. Apparently, they found this funny, because Marissa, the three men watching, and the two holding his arms all began to laugh again.

"Come on," the man on top of him whispered. "Can you tell me you don't find this exciting? Just a little? It's a new experience for you, isn't it?"

No no no. He squeezed his eyes shut tightly, trying to just breathe and not scream again. How long could this last?

Somehow, the worst of the horror hadn't even occured to him. The man finished and began to dress himself, but the two men holding Hawkeye's arms didn't release him.

"Turn him over," said another male voice. "I wanna see his face."

He was roughly flipped onto his back to see another of the men undressing. "God, no," he whispered before he could stop himself. It had hurt so much the first time, he didn't know how he could do it again. "Please, no more."

"Oh, come on. Deep inside, you know you want it."

"No!" he defiantly tried to shout, but it only came out as a whisper.

"Oh, yes."

Hawkeye's eyes were shut tight before the man started, but it accomplished very little. He could still hear everything. Could still feel everything that was done to him. This man was rough, deliberately slamming him into the floor over and over again. The men holding him contributed, lifting his shoulders a few inches so he could be thrown back down. The laughter and the voices filled his ears and couldn't be blocked out, the taunts about his body, the insistences that somewhere deep down he wanted what they were doing to him. That man finished, and he was forced into a new position so someone else could have a turn. He didn't even look at this man, didn't want to know which one of them it was. Then he felt the hands on his arm change, and realized that one of the men who'd been holding him would be next. He wished he hadn't. If he had to go through this, he wanted the men to be faceless.

"Wait!" Her voice cut through the laughter. "I brought him in, I want a turn, I earned it."

They all laughed and there was a chorus of agreement. He heard clothes coming off, probably hers, and was forced onto his back again. He felt her small, smooth hands on him.

He tried, desperately, to fight his physiological reaction, but despite the pain and terror in his mind, his body, abused though it was, couldn't help but respond to her touch. He shuddered when she started with him. This was almost worse, because it was an act he'd done many times before, willingly, for his own pleasure, so horribly twisted and perverted.

She finished and the men started again. They were rough to varying degrees. He hurt everywhere from being turned and thrown and hit and slammed into the floor and the walls, as they used his body in every way they could. It was taking everything in him not to scream, to cry, to show them how much they were hurting him.

He lost track of who and how many and that was fine by him, he didn't want to know. He didn't know how long it had been going on, either. It felt like forever. Let it be over, please just let it be over. Let it end. Please, God, make it stop. He didn't remember ever praying before, but then he didn't remember ever wanting anything as badly as he wanted this to end. But it didn't. It just kept going on and on.

You fight, you die, the man had said. For a long moment, he considered it. He could fight, maybe hurt one of them. He'd never get out, but they would probably kill him if he provoked them enough. Dying would be better than having to endure this any longer. He wouldn't be able to feel pain or anguish if he was dead.

No. He couldn't do it. There were too many people counting on him. Despite what he'd told BJ once, he knew how many lives he'd saved at the 4077, how many he saved every time they got wounded, how important he was to the work the unit did. Besides, a letter from a neighbor had told him his father had been a complete mess when he'd been mistakenly pronounced dead. He loved his father more than anyone in the world and couldn't do that to him, no matter what it meant he had to live through.

Finally, finally, the hands on his shoulders let up and new ones didn't come to take their place. He heard a rustling of clothes and then the door swung open and their laughter faded, muffled when it shut again.

Hawkeye just lay there where they'd left him. His body ached, he was hurting inside, and he was so afraid. Slowly he rolled onto his side and pulled his knees to his chest, and there, alone, he let the tears fall. Oblivious to the pain it caused his sides, which the doctor in him told him was a signal that the men had cracked some of his ribs, he sobbed.

Hawkeye was crying by the time he finished telling his story in detail for the first time, and he wasn't the only one. No amount of professional anything could prevent the tears that ran down Sidney's face. It would have been hard hearing this story from anyone, but it was agonizing hearing it from a man he considered one of his closest friends.

He moved from the chair to sit on Margaret's bunk next to Hawkeye and took the surgeon into an embrace, holding him like a child while he wept brokenheartedly, clinging to Sidney for dear life, not even noticing the tears dampening his own hair.

"I still don't see what you have to be ashamed of," Sidney said when Hawkeye's crying had eased enough that he should be able to talk. He wasn't just saying it either. Hawkeye's story had shocked and horrified him, but he couldn't see how, even for a second, Hawkeye had been anything but a victim.

"To start with, I blew my own chance to escape when I went down to my knees," he whispered. "If I'd been standing, maybe I could have twisted free and run."

"A slim chance at best."

"Yes, but a chance! Once I went down to my knees, I lost that chance. There was no way then to stop them from - from -"

"You were responding to the information you had at the time. You had no way of knowing what they would do."

"I shouldn't have been there in the first place! I let myself be deceived so easily."

"Hawkeye, she manipulated you. She made you think she was something she wasn't. Haven't you done the same thing before and ended up with nothing but a night to remember?"

"Yes," he admitted.

"How could you have known this one would be different?"

"I don't know. I should have."

"How?" Sidney repeated. He needed Hawkeye to put the pieces together for himself. "Knowing only what you did at the time, without the benefit of hindsight you have now, what could you have done to prevent it?"

"Nothing," he said, his voice soft with realization. "That's it, isn't it? Without knowing what was going to happen, there was no way for me to have prevented it."

Sidney nodded encouragingly. "Exactly. Which means what?"

"It wasn't my fault." Margaret and Potter had said those words to him more than once, but he'd never really believed them, let alone said them himself. Even as he said them, he began to sob again from all the emotions welling up in him. "It wasn't my fault."

"It won't take away the pain, I know," Sidney said softly, "but now you can start to shed the guilt you never should have had to begin with. It wasn't your fault, Hawkeye, and you have no reason to be ashamed."

"I do," he whispered through tears. "What about wanting to die, Sidney? I can't blame that on circumstances."

"No? You weren't exactly in normal circumstances at the time. Think about it, Hawkeye. Did you really want to die?"

"In that moment."

"I don't think so, Hawkeye. Think about how you were actually feeling. Was death ultimately what you wanted?"

"Not exactly, I suppose. I just didn't want to have to go through that anymore."

"So you didn't really want to die. You just wanted an alternative to the situation you were in. Have you had any suicidal thoughts since the rape?"

Hawkeye flinched a little at Sidney's candid use of the word he always so carefully avoided. "No."

"In that case, I think it was nothing more than a reaction to a drastic situation, an attempt to find a means of escape. Which, I might add, you saw the better of going through with, an unusually logical response for that level of stress. You don't strike me as suicidal, Hawkeye."

"Sidney, why does it hurt so much?" he asked brokenly.

"I don't have all the answers, Hawkeye." He knew that no matter how he tried to explain it, there would be holes, pieces that didn't fit together, and Hawkeye didn't really want an answer anyway. He just wanted to stop hurting. Sidney wished it were that easy. He wished that, like the man in his arms would for one of his own patients, he could just give him a shot of something that would numb the pain until he was healed. But no, Hawkeye had to feel it in order to get better, and that was the cruelest irony Sidney could imagine. "But I can tell you I'm here to help you through this. It's my job. Now, why don't you tell me what else you're feeling?"

"I'm scared, Sidney. I'm more scared than I was the first time."

"Really?"

"The first time, I was scared of stuff I shouldn't have been. People, mostly, even if they weren't doing anything. I was afraid of Frank when he started screaming. But now - it doesn't even take anything to make me afraid. I can't walk outside without my heart rate going sky-high. I can't do it at all unless someone else is there, especially at night. I almost wet my pants last night because I was too scared to go to the latrine by myself."

"Well, according to Colonel Potter, she was here in this camp. Tell me a little bit about what she did to you." He didn't like forcing Hawkeye to relive it any more than Hawkeye liked telling, but he knew it was necessary.

"The first time, she just talked to me, but it was like we'd been involved, not - you know. Then she surprised me in the Supply Tent. She kissed me like a lover, forced her tongue into my mouth. I don't know what she would have done if Kellye hadn't happened to be looking for her. The same night - I guess I was being stupid, but I'd had such an awful day, I had to see Margaret. She stopped me. She kissed me again, but then she put her hands in my shorts." He swallowed hard, feeling like he might be sick. "I tried to stick by other people as much as I could, but since no one knew I could only take it so far. She was - she was stalking me or something, because she was there every time I was alone. I put up with that for almost five days. And then -"

He was exhausted. Five straight days of nightmares hadn't let him get much restful sleep. He just wanted to lie down for awhile.

"Hey, Hawk."

Hawkeye only nodded to his bunkmate. BJ frowned. "Hey. Are you okay?"

"Yeah, I told you. Just a personal issue."

"If you say so." He didn't look entirely convinced. Hawkeye knew he had to come up with a better excuse soon.

"Well, that and I'm tired." He pulled off his boots. He thought he could probably fall asleep in the Swamp as long as BJ was there. Margaret had looked tired at the end of her shift, and he wanted to let her sleep in peace even if he couldn't.

"All right. Goodnight, Hawk."

He tumbled into an uneasy sleep, riddled with nightmares. One was particularly vivid. It was about her, like most of them were, doing what she had done. But it was different. He could feel her hands on him.

Hawkeye started awake, trying to figure out what was going on. He'd thought he was having another nightmare, but that nightmare wasn't fading away as he woke.

He opened his eyes and it all came crashing down on him what was happening. Despite having fallen asleep fully clothed, he was now naked. She was lying on top of him, also naked, straddling him and pressing his legs down with hers. He had already penetrated her.

He tried to fight her off, but her weight was pressing down on him and he couldn't get the leverage he needed. As she continued to caress him, his fear took over, paralyzing him, and his struggles became weaker and even less effective than they had been.

She finished and climbed off him, kneeling down at his side and pressing her lips into his shoulder. "Wish I could stay longer, but your friend will be back soon."

BJ. God, yes. He wanted to be close to BJ, even if he couldn't tell him. Just having his friend there would help him.

She dressed and then leaned over him, kissing him one final time on the mouth, and then left. Hawkeye lay immobile on his bunk.

Someone will see - they'll know. This alone forced him to get up and pull on his shirt and shorts before he collapsed back on his bunk. He lay on his side, knees to his chest, shivering. His own bed didn't feel safe anymore.

"So everything that happened the second time happened in the camp." Sidney drew Hawkeye, who was sobbing again, into his shoulder.

Hawkeye nodded.

"Then is it any wonder you're more afraid? Last time it was a foreign country, somewhere you almost never go. This time she invaded your safe zone, the closest thing you have to a home between here and Maine. Of course it's terrifying."

"So what do I do?"

"Take it slow. You're going to have to start doing the things that frighten you, so do them a little at a time. Try a short walk alone during the light of day first, then once you're comfortable with that, increase the stakes a little."

"Sidney, how long are you staying?" The unspoken words were clear: I can't do this alone.

"As long as you need me, Hawkeye."

*~*~*~*

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