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When You Need Me Most

By LittleDancerGirl

Other / Romance

Chapter Seven: The End of Donald

"I have never in my entire life," Charles declared, "seen someone return from a vacation acting like they've just been to a funeral."

"Much as I hate to agree with you, I think you're right. No, wait. Once."

Hawkeye ignored BJ's sharp glance, knowing full well that BJ was talking about the trip to Tokyo he'd taken now a full three months earlier. "Maybe she's just tired." He found that possibility as likely as he knew they did, but he knew how uncomfortable it was to have everyone speculating about your behavior.

"Pierce, are we looking at the same woman? Tired or not, I have never seen Margaret Houlihan behave this way."

"Either way, speculation won't answer any questions." Potter sat down across from the doctors. "If you're that concerned, ask her. Otherwise, her mood is her business."

It was only his inspection of what passed for food on this particular day that made him miss the grateful look Hawkeye shot him.

xxxxxxxxx

Margaret jumped a yard when someone knocked on the door. "Whoever it is, go away," she snapped crossly. "I'm busy."

"Margaret?"

She didn't know what she'd been expecting, but that wasn't it. "Except you," she admitted. She couldn't help it, she wanted to see him. "Come on in."

"Margaret, is something bothering you?"

"Why do you ask?"

"Come on, Margaret. Anyone who knows you knows you're not acting like yourself. Is it Donald?"

"Sort of."

"Come on. You can tell me."

"Well, Donald and I went out to a party on the base. A lot of his friends were there. About an hour in, he tells me there's someone he wants me to meet, and he drags me up and introduces me to Major James Bolton."

The way she said the name made Hawkeye sure he'd found the crux of the matter. "And if I may be so bold - who's Major Bolton?"

"Major Bolton used to be Lieutenant Bolton. And Lieutenant Bolton was the leader of the three men who grabbed me off the street at Fort Bliss when I was seventeen."

"Margaret -" he looked completely shocked. "Did he - did he remember you?"

She nodded, and he saw tears welling up in her eyes. "As soon as Donald was out of earshot, he grabbed my arm and called me a slut. Asked if Donald knew what we'd had together. I told him we hadn't had anything and he pinned me to the wall by my shoulders. I was so petrified I couldn't even try to fight him. He told me it was lucky I was 'Penobscott's girl' or he'd teach me a lesson about talking back to him and remind me just how much we'd had together. He spent the rest of the night finding excuses to touch me, brushing against my shoulder, even pinching my bottom. I begged Donald to leave, but he refused."

"Did you tell him?"

"I couldn't, not with Bolton right there. Couldn't get the words out. Then he asked Donald for a dance with me, and Donald accepted for me, if you can believe that." Hawkeye kept his thoughts on this particular matter silent. "He spent the entire dance fondling me and whispering things I can't repeat into my ear. When that was over, I told Donald I was leaving with or without him and went back to the hotel."

"Good for you." He sat down on Margaret's bed and took her into his lap. She was trembling.

"That's what I thought at first. But Donald came storming in once the party was over and yelled at me for embarrassing him. I tried to tell him, I thought his jealousy might actually work in my favor for once."

"What happened?"

"What I should have expected would happen. Instead of getting mad at Bolton, he got mad at me. Picked up the same line as everyone did when I was seventeen, that I asked for it. He told me I needed to make it up to him for being such a whore." Hawkeye could feel her shoulders shaking as she fought not to cry. "The last thing I wanted to do was sleep with him, and I told him so. He got really mad then, said I'd sleep with anyone but him, wouldn't I, and then said a man had a right to expect sex from his wife. I said no, and he said we could talk about it, and offered me a drink. It all gets fuzzy after that, but I woke up the next morning to find that I was sore, and he'd clearly violated me while I was unconscious." As those final words left her, she couldn't hold back her tears anymore and she buried her face in the collar of his blue Hawaiian shirt.

His fingers ran through her blond hair and he began to rock her. "Margaret, did you tell anyone?"

"Why would I?"

"He raped you!"

"I wouldn't call it that exactly."

"What the hell do you mean?" How could she say that everything she'd told him didn't add up to a rape?

"He's my husband, Hawkeye," she sobbed. "And anyway, it wasn't like he really forced me."

"Margaret." He sighed and gently took her chin in his hand, tilting her head up until their eyes met. "Margaret, the only reason he didn't force you was because you were already incapacitated and couldn't fight him. You said no, he drugged you and did it anyway. Husband or no, that's rape, Margaret."

She gave a soft wail and buried her face back in his shirt. "That's what I thought at first, but Donald said -"

"Donald's covering his own ass, he's not going to give you a fair assessment of the situation."

"Maybe he didn't realize - I don't want to get him in trouble over a misunderstanding."

"Margaret, why are you protecting him?"

"I don't know," she admitted. "I just don't want to believe I could've screwed up so badly, that I could've been taken in by a phony for so long. Hawkeye, please, don't make me -"

"Shh, I'm not going to make you do anything. Come here, come here." He pulled her even closer.

"Hold me, Hawkeye. Just keep holding me. Don't let go."

"I won't," he promised. "I've got you, Major baby." He'd called her that once a long time ago, before they were friends, as something barely short of an insult. Now it slipped from his lips as a sort of pet name, a term to show her how much he cared about her.

She apparently noticed too. A tiny smile flickered on her tear-streaked face, but was quickly replaced by pain.

"Shh, let it out." His own eyes were full of straining tears. "I'm here for you. Just let go."

She started to cry in earnest, which broke down his resistance, and he buried his face in her hair and cried for her. Can't she catch a tiny break? Just once?

He noticed that she hung oddly in his arms and looked down at her. She was fast asleep against his chest.

Gently, he slipped off her boots and her jacket, and then hesitated. He knew she hated sleeping in her clothes, but he wasn't sure how she'd react to being undressed while she was asleep, especially under the circumstances. In the end, he turned her onto her stomach to protect her modesty and switched her uniform pants for pajama bottoms, while leaving her shirt on.

His own outer garments came off too, leaving him in his shirt and boxers. Margaret had held him for five nights straight after his ordeal. He could stay with her tonight.

xxxxxxxxx

For the second time in five days, Margaret wasn't sure how she'd ended up in her current situation. The last thing she remembered was crying to Hawkeye about Donald, begging to be held and comforted. Now she was short her jacket and boots, wearing pajama pants she didn't remember putting on, and held against someone's olive-drab clad chest by a firm arm around her waist and back. Worse yet, she appeared to have wrapped herself around him in her sleep.

She pulled back abruptly, and the figure next to her stirred sleepily. "You OK, Margaret?"

She relaxed immediately. Hawkeye. She should have known. "How did I end up here?"

"You cried yourself to sleep. I put you to bed."

"And put yourself to bed with me."

"I thought you'd want me here. If I was wrong -"

"No, it's all right. I like having you here." Why was it she liked having him there more than she ever had her own husband, even before this latest incident? "God, I'm so confused right now."

"Why?"

"If I can't trust the man I married, who can I trust?"

"You want me to name ten people?"

She couldn't resist a small smile. "You're on."

"Okay. If I may be so bold, I'm one."

"You may."

"BJ is two, Potter three, Radar, Klinger, Father Mulcahy, Able, Baker, Kellye, and when he's around Sidney."

"That's ten," she admitted with a shy smile.

"It is indeed."

"I notice you didn't mention Winchester."

"I know. I'm not sure about him yet."

"I don't know what I'm going to do."

"I can't answer that for you."

"Lot of help you are."

"But I can make you a promise. Whatever you do, whatever happens, I'm here for you. If that means anything."

"It means everything. Thank you."

xxxxxxxxx

"Hawkeye, tell me the truth. How do you feel about this?"

"What I feel isn't important right now, Margaret. It's what you feel that counts."

"I've always valued your opinion. I just need to know - am I doing the right thing?"

"You want me to tell you what I really think?"

"Of course."

"Margaret, if you didn't look so sad, I'd be congratulating you on getting the divorce instead of sympathizing. I've spent the past three months watching him break you down bit by bit. He hurts you and you give him one more chance, and one more. He takes your money and probably spends it on other women. He rapes you and then asks for another chance. You don't deserve to be treated this way, you never did. You're too good for him. The only problem with this decision is that you didn't make it earlier."

"I'm scared, Hawkeye. I've put so much of myself into this relationship, and now I'm about to sever it. What am I going to do?"

"You're going to let me help you."

"That I can do."

xxxxxxxxx

"Hunnicutt - BJ. Don't take this the wrong way, but at this moment I'm extremely jealous of your wife."

BJ laughed. "Is that so?"

"I said don't take it the wrong way!"

"Margaret, I'm no saint. Remember Carrie Donovan?"

"For God's sake, Beej, that was once," Hawkeye piped up from his cot, "and you were bogged down with guilt for a week."

"You're here, and she's there, thousands of miles away, and she can be sure you're all hers. Same with Mrs. Potter, even Henry, may he rest in peace, never strayed that far. And even Trapper still cared about his wife."

"Trapper?" BJ repeated in shock. "Forgive me, but the Trapper Hawkeye told me about had a longer list of nurses than a stateside hospital."

"He almost went AWOL trying to get back to her and their kids." She took a long drink.

"Margaret, don't you think you've had enough?"

"Not even close." She took another. "Anyway, I'm sure he always asked first."

"Margaret -" Hawkeye began warningly. He knew the amount of alcohol in her system was loosening her tongue, and he also realized that what she was about to say wasn't necessarily something she might want BJ to hear.

"Before he cheated?" He was now even more baffled. "Margaret, no one asks their wife before they cheat."

"I bet he went home to his wife, and they had a night together, and he asked, she did it willingly, he didn't just offer her a drink and -" Overwrought and with her emotions running high from the alcohol, she burst into tears.

"Margaret?" Confusion and concern flooded him. "Margaret, what is it?"

She shook her head and kept crying, burying her face in her hands. Hawkeye pulled himself to his feet and took her in his arms. "Shh, baby, it's all over now. I've got you, Margaret. I'm right here." He lowered both of them onto his cot, sliding her into his lap.

BJ sat down next to him, one hand reaching out to rub the distressed woman's back. "What's wrong? Tell us."

"Donald," she sobbed.

"He was no good, Margaret. You're lucky to be rid of him."

"I know that!" Anger flared through her pain. "What decent man would slip a drug in his wife's drink so he could have his way with her?" She was overcome by a fresh flood of tears and buried her face in Hawkeye's neck.

BJ's hand on her back stilled, his blue eyes going wide. "Oh, God, Margaret. When?"

"Last month," she choked out. "When we were in Tokyo."

"And you were going to - to go talk to him? Are you -"

"Beej." Hawkeye moved one hand to cover the one BJ still had on Margaret's back. "Don't."

"You're right. I'm sorry, Margaret." He started rubbing her back again. "I just can't believe - I wish we'd done more than put him in a cast when we had the chance," he said fiercely.

"Amen," Hawkeye said softly.

She said nothing, just cried harder. Both doctors watched, trying to comfort her, heartbroken that there was nothing they could do to make it better.

"She's asleep," BJ said softly after a few minutes. His own eyes were suspiciously bright.

"Lucky we left the extra cot in here the last time Sidney visited."

"Wasn't that two months ago?"

"Yeah, so what?" He lifted her into her arms and brought her over to the vacant cot. "She'll kill me for letting her sleep in her clothes." He drew the blanket up over her.

"How would you know?"

Damn. He hadn't meant to give away how well he knew her. "Well, it's just not military."

"Oh, come on. You weren't surprised when she told us - you knew, didn't you?"

"Yeah," he admitted softly.

"And you didn't say anything? To anyone?"

"Beej, keep your voice down. I want to let her sleep."

"You're avoiding the issue." To his credit, BJ's voice was significantly softer now.

"She didn't want it known. She was confused and scared and humiliated, I wasn't going to make an issue out of it. It's a serious problem, Beej, but it's her problem." He cast a gentle look down on her. "Forcing her to answer a bunch of questions isn't going to make this any better or easier for her."

"Ah, I know. It just bothers me is all."

"I'd be worried if it didn't."

"You don't understand." He sighed, sinking onto his cot. "In about fourteen years, my little girl's going to be old enough to start dating. I can't stand the thought that something like that might happen to her. It's a rotten world when a woman can't trust the man she loves."

"Yeah." He ran a soft hand through her hair. "It really sucks."

xxxxxxxxx

"Now what's he done?"

"How - I haven't said anything yet!"

"It's the way you're acting."

"For the last few months, I've been sending him all my paychecks. Now he won't give me any of that money, and we don't get paid for another three weeks! I earned that money - I need that money." Her voice dropped to a dejected whisper. "I don't know what to do."

"Hey, Margaret." He took her shoulder in his hand. "Margaret, it's all right."

"It's not all right! What am I supposed to do?"

He plunged his free hand into his pocket. "Here. Can you get by on two hundred?"

"Hawkeye -" She stared at the bills he'd just shoved into her hand. "I can't accept this."

"So pay me back when you get paid."

"No. I can't." She tried to hand it back to him.

"Margaret, don't be ashamed because you need help. Come on, take it."

"You're not going to take no for an answer, are you?"

"What's it look like?"

"Well then - thank you. And I will pay you back. I promise."

*~*~*~*

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