Chapter Four: Living Nightmare
BJ was bending over him, face lined with concern. "Hawk, are you okay? You were screaming in your sleep."
"Just a nightmare." Unfortunately, the nightmare happened while I was awake.
"You don't want to know."
"C'mon, Hawk." BJ wrapped an arm around him. "You're shaking."
"It was just a dream. Nothing for you to worry about." He leaned into BJ's arm, relishing the contact even if he wasn't about to tell BJ what had happened to him.
BJ seemed to understand. "Hey, I'm sure that, whatever this dream's about, it's going to be okay. It was just a dream, Hawk." Part of him felt like kicking himself for talking to Hawkeye like he was talking to his daughter, but another, stronger part said that, no matter what Hawkeye's age, he needed the same reassurances little Erin might under similar circumstances.
If only it was just a dream. God, I wish it was just a dream. I wish I could be so sure it was going to be okay. He shivered, trying not to give into his instincts, which were at that moment urging him to burst into tears and cling to his friend, but he knew he wouldn't be able to keep up the facade that nothing was seriously wrong if he did that, so he forced himself to be contented with his friend's gentle embrace. It was a hell of a lot better than nothing.
"Hawkeye, can I have one more talk with you?"
"Of course, Sidney." He wondered what the psychiatrist wanted, but he liked Sidney well enough, and he had just been able to find the cause of his sleepwalking episodes.
"I spoke to BJ earlier. So your sleepwalking, and the nightmares, began about four days ago, right?"
"According to BJ, you woke up screaming from a nightmare about three days before the sleepwalking started. I'm thinking there's probably a connection. Do you happen to remember what that nightmare was about?"
Hawkeye felt his blood turn to ice. He managed to force a nod.
"You want to tell me about it?"
"This one I don't need you to interpret for me, Sidney."
"Tell me anyway."
"I'd really rather not."
"In that case, I definitely want you to tell me. What is it, Hawkeye? What's going on in that mind of yours?"
"You promise this is confidential?" Hawkeye whispered.
"The dream - the dream was just a recreation of something that really happened."
"Oh? What would that be?" He knew one of Hawkeye's friends really had died in combat at the 4077 the previous year, and he suspected a connection.
"Sidney, two weeks ago, I went on R&R in Tokyo. While I was there -" the rest came out in an incomprehensible whisper.
"What?" Sidney pressed. It wasn't what he'd been expecting, but he could tell this was the source of serious distress for Hawkeye.
"I was -" Hawkeye stumbled again. It wasn't just an issue with telling someone. It was the word, the one word he and Margaret had so carefully avoided, even as it was understood clearly between them. "God, I think I'm going to be sick."
"Take a deep breath, and then tell me. Just say it, whatever it is." He tried not to show that he was starting to get scared. What could happen in Tokyo that could do this much emotional damage to a man who treated shot-up kids on a daily basis?
"I was raped," he said finally. There, I said it. Happy now?
Sidney sighed. He'd clearly underestimated Hawkeye's acting skills, to let him pull that kind of a gag. "I don't find that funny. I'm trying to help you, and you once again find the need to make a bad joke, and at the expense of people who've suffered a serious trauma."
"Sidney -" He hadn't even considered this possibly, that if and when he finally did decide to tell people, they wouldn't believe him. "Sidney, please."
It was the crack in his voice that made Sidney look up again. Hawkeye's earnest eyes, brimming with barely-repressed tears, met his, and it was with a twist in his stomach that Sidney realized his dire mistake. "Oh, God. I - I didn't - Hawkeye, I'm so sorry."
The soft apology disintegrated Hawkeye's control completely and he began to cry, dropping his face into his hands as he wept. Sidney watched in concern. The counselor in him told him that he shouldn't touch Hawkeye, that he needed to be handled delicately, and that he should keep a professional distance in any case, but the part of him that was Sidney, not Doctor Freedman, wanted to comfort his sobbing friend.
"Hawkeye." He slowly reached out a hand, trying not to make the surgeon uncomfortable. "Hawkeye, would it be all right if I -?"
He needn't have worried. As soon as he made himself available, Hawkeye fell into his arms, still crying so hard he was shaking, clutching desperately at Sidney's jacket. In that moment, they weren't patient and doctor. They were just friends, and one friend was now comforting the other.
"I really am sorry, Hawkeye," Sidney said once the other man's tears had mostly been spent. "I shouldn't have doubted you or your story."
"You're lucky I need a friend so bad. That really hurt, Sidney."
"I know." He waited for Hawkeye to pull out of the embrace, but when that didn't happen he continued to hold and comfort his friend. "Hawkeye - does anyone else in the camp know about this?"
"Margaret does. She's the only one I felt comfortable telling."
"Major Houlihan? Really?"
"Don't get me wrong, we haven't stopped fighting like cats and dogs. But - we've found in the past that when one of us really needs someone, the other one of us can be counted on to be there."
"You could say that."
"Why haven't you told anyone else?"
"It depends on who else you're referring to. I mean, it's not like I'm going to tell Frank, and I'm not entirely comfortable with Potter yet. Certainly not comfortable enough to tell him something like this."
"What about BJ?"
Hawkeye repeated the reason he'd given Margaret, and Sidney sighed. "So you're protecting him."
"Have you ever noticed that you treat BJ differently than you treated his predecessor?"
"You mean Trapper? Sidney, BJ's not Trapper."
"Obviously not. Still, I fail to see the distinction that would cause you to treat them so differently. You would never have protected Trapper like this."
"Well, if I can use a family analogy here, Trapper was like my twin or that cousin who you see so much you might as well be brothers. You tell them everything, you spend all your time with them, you know? No secrets. BJ's more like a baby brother. You let them do everything with you, you may be closer than any friends in the world, but when it comes down to it, you're also their protector."
"So it's because BJ's younger than you?"
"Well - yes and no. It's not that he's physically younger, even though he is. It's that he's emotionally younger. He showed up here almost as innocent as Radar, and he's managed to hold onto tiny bits of that even through this hellhole. I don't know how he does it, but I can't put one more problem onto him or let him know that his only threat isn't the North Koreans. I want to get him back to his wife and kid in one piece."
Sidney looked suitably impressed. "I'd never quite thought of it that way. But how do you think he'd feel if he found out you'd been keeping something like this from him?"
"It doesn't matter, because he's never going to find out."
"I can't force you to tell him, Hawkeye."
"That's right, you can't."
"You're not going to give an inch on this, are you?"
"Then I think arguing is useless."
"I'd hoped you'd see it my way."
"Listen, Hawkeye, I have to leave soon. You take care of yourself, understand?"
"Yeah. Thanks, Sidney."
"Come in!" Margaret wondered who was knocking this time. It couldn't be Hawkeye, his knock just - sounded different somehow.
"Hello, Major. I wondered if I might have a word."
"Sidney! Please, come in."
"It's about our friend Captain Pierce."
"What about him? He and Hunnicutt didn't pull some sort of prank, did they?" She saw that the front of his coat was wet. "Don't tell me. Water balloons?"
"No," he said, apparently nonplussed. "What makes you say that?"
"The front of your coat is all wet."
"Oh." He glanced down, seeming to notice for the first time. "I'm afraid this is a little more serious. I've just been talking with Hawkeye. He was telling me about his last vacation."
The look in Margaret's eyes told Sidney that she knew exactly what he meant. "How is he?"
"It took him a good couple of minutes before he could tell me what happened, and then he cried for about five minutes after that. Margaret let me be - well, I don't think you'd appreciate it if I used the usual turn of phrase," this got a laugh from her, "so let me just say what I'm thinking. Hawkeye will eventually heal from this. If he's lucky, he may go back to the Hawkeye we all know and love. But he'll never be quite the same person he once was. He'll have scars from this for the rest of his life. No one can prevent that. The only thing we can control is how deep and significant these scars are. Hawkeye came to you, he trusted you in a way he hasn't trusted anyone else in this camp. I can't stay here to help him. I need you to do it for me."
"I will, Sidney."
"Thank you. Margaret - there's one more thing."
"Well, we had a small misunderstanding, and I'm afraid I hurt him badly without meaning to. Just - check on him, will you?"
"Sidney told me there was an incident earlier today." Margaret's voice was low so that only he could hear her over the music and background chatter in the Officers' Club.
"What did he tell you?" Hawkeye mumbled back.
"Nothing specific. Just that he thought he'd hurt you and I ought to check in."
"Can we take this somewhere less public?"
"Of course." She watched in concern as Hawkeye got to his feet and immediately stumbled. "How much have you had?"
"I lost count."
"Of course." She took his arm and led him to her tent, helping him slump onto her bunk. "Come on. What did he do?"
"Well, I told him."
"Yeah, he told me."
"He, uh," Hawkeye took a deep breath, "he thought I was joking."
"Just for a second, he thought it was all some elaborate joke. He figured it out fast enough, but that moment where he wasn't taking me seriously - it hurt more than I can explain."
"Oh, Hawkeye." She let him cuddle up against her. "I can't believe he'd -"
"It's my fault, really," he mumbled miserably.
"What are you talking about?"
"Margaret, say Klinger really did go crazy tomorrow. Would anyone believe him?"
"No, but -"
"I joke about bad things happening to me. I go through routines and then end them with a punchline. Who's going to believe me when I end one of those monologues with something that isn't a joke but sounds as far-fetched as one?"
"I believe you. And so did Sidney, it just took him a second. Hawkeye, everyone in this camp knows you don't joke around when it's really important. And anyway, I didn't think you were planning on telling anyone."
"I wasn't. I just hate the thought that if I ever do, or someone somehow finds out by accident, their first thought could be that I'm joking."
"It won't happen. If it comes down to it, I'll tell them. I saw the bruises, I know what happened."
"Thank you, Margaret."
"A little. I just wish it could all be over, but it can't. It won't ever be, will it?"
"Not entirely," she admitted. "But you'll get to a point where it's not the first thing you think about when you wake up in the morning. It'll be in the back of your mind, always there but not always looming. I wish I could tell you something more encouraging, but I'm not going to lie to you."
"I appreciate that."