Rating: PG13 (reference to drug use)
Disclaimer: The Tour of Duty characters and situations do not belong to me, I just love to play in their sandbox.
Summary: Danny speaks with Doc after Thanksgiving Dinner. Missing moment from the episode: Thanks for the Memories
Iíd like to dedicate this one to Doc. She said she was waiting for this one so, here you are dear one. Enjoy.
Doc lay wide awake, staring up at the shadowed rafters of the hootch, his mind chasing itself in endless circles as he listened to his buddies sleeping around him.
This was the time he found himself awake most often, in the darkest part of the night. That time between midnight and 2 a.m., when oneís dreams might actually be oneís nightmares. When you woke up and realized where you were, when you realized you were still trapped in the nightmare.
The nightmare of Vietnam.
Doc rolled to his side to reach for his cigarettes and found himself staring at the empty bed next to him. With a glance at the screen door, he sighed and pulled on his pants. Barefoot, he walked over to the door and stood, looking out at the silent, dark camp.
He could see something in the shadows just past the camp lights.
"Howís it goiní, Danny?" Docís voice was soft as he quietly opened the screen door, and then eased it just as quietly shut behind him after slipping out onto the hootch steps.
Percell didnít even look up from the step he was sitting on.
Okay, so he and Goldman didnít hold a monopoly on restless nights and regrets. But stillÖ
Doc lit up, shoving his cigarettes into his pants pocket before sitting down on the next step below Danny. He leaned back on his elbows, watching the smoke rise lazily in the thick air.
The two men let the silence encircle them. Danny was watching the camp, and Doc was watching Danny in his own odd way.
Listening."Heís never gonna trust me again, is he?"
Doc looked at the cigarette in his hand. "Itís not that, Danny. It was never that."
"I sat in front of him! You saw how he looked at me!" Danny climbed to his feet, suddenly all nervous energy. Shoving a hand through his recently shorn hair, he pushed past Doc. His eyes were brilliant in the shadows created by the campís lights.
"Itís not that simple, Danny. You know the L-T..." Doc hesitated, wondering if the truth was a good thing- especially in this case. Danny was barely dried out, and barely on stable ground. More guilt wasnít going to help. But having his friend confused as to his place with Goldman wasnít going to help either.
"Yeah, I do know him. We shipped into Ladybird together, remember, Doc?" Danny was all edges now, hands twisting for something to do as he shifted and paced in front of Doc. "Aní he has little use for screw-ups!"
"Danny- stop this! Thatís not it!" Doc tossed his cigarette aside, climbing to his feet and reaching for Percell. But the other man jerked away from him. "Danny, heís not upset with you- heís upset with himself!"
"Bullshit!" Percell came at Doc, who froze and stood still in the face of Dannyís desperation. "I saw the disappointment in his eyes! He hates me- hates being around me! Hell, like I can blame him." Danny twisted away, rolling his head back on his shoulders, wrapping his arms around himself. "He wouldnít even look at me through most of dinner."
Doc stepped back, taking a deep breath. "He doesnít hate you, Danny." Doc stepped around his friend, who now had his head down and broad shoulders slumped. "Itís not that at all."
"Then what is it, Doc- why donít you tell me since you seem to know all the answers here when it comes to the L-T these days."
Doc tried not to flinch at the sarcasm in the other manís voice. "Danny, itís not you- itís him." Doc chewed his lip for a moment, unsure. "He thinks- he feels he let YOU down. He hates himself for not being able to help you. He doesnít hate you, Danny, he regrets that he almost lost you. Heís afraid he still might have."
Percell looked up with eyes large and bright. "You donít know what youíre talkiní about." Shaking his head, Danny pushed Doc none too gently out of his way before walking the short distance back to the steps. "He stopped cariní about everything when Miss Devlin died."
"You know, for someone who's been with the L-T as long as you have, you sure as hell donít give him much consideration." Doc shoved his hands into his pockets, but made no move to approach Danny.
"Oh, thatís special cominí from you, Hockenbury. Like the two of you have spoken more than four words to each other since you got here." Danny wasnít looking at him. He had one foot on the bottom step, leaning heavily on that knee with his head down. "What do you really know about the L-T anyway?"
Doc glanced across the darkened camp, silent, and thoughtful.
"He has lots of regrets about what happened aní that he let it happen. Heís afraid, Danny."
"Jesus, Doc, just leave it off."
"Heís afraid because he cares, heís afraid that if he cares aní somethiní happens to you or to any of us, that he wonít be able to hold on to whatís left of himself. He cares, Danny. He cares so much itís cuttin' him up inside." Docís voice trailed off, unsure of what he was trying to prove. "Heís so ashamed of what happened to you, that he let you down. He does care about you, Danny, he really does."
"He stopped caring, stopped living months ago, Doc." Danny finally straightened up and looked over his shoulder.
"No he didnít. He tried to- wanted to, but he couldnít."
"He was with you during the worst of the withdrawal."
A long, stunned pause and Doc continued to stand, head down and his too long hair falling into his eyes.
"Ya heard me. You just donít remember."
"He came because he wanted to make sure you were all right. He came because he was ashamed."
Danny just stared at him, so Doc pushed forward. But he felt he was somehow breaking a confidence that he didnít know he even had until this moment.
"He came because he cared about you."
"Heís broken inside, Danny. Heís all shattered pieces aní itís like heís bleedin' out and he donít know how to stop it. How to help himself." Doc lowered his gaze from the stunned eyes that were filling with confusion and disbelief.
"Youíre just sayiní this, Doc." Danny came back off the hootch steps. "I donít rememberÖ"
He trailed off, and the look of disbelief was slowly replaced with surprise, and then horror. The words spoken back then, in a haze of withdrawal and agonizing pain came spilling back. Hurtful, cutting, and bitter words. Words snarled and shouted in fury and with no regard for the wounds they would inflict.
Sad eyes that darkened with the words that were flung at him. A gentle voice that, without saying it, had already forgiven him the indiscretions, and accepted the truth of it all without flinching back from him.
Ashamed at having let him down in the first place.
Dark eyes that were filled with regrets for things he could not change.
Danny sank down to the step, burying his head in his hands. Doc slipped over to his friend and sat beside him, wrapping an arm around Dannyís shoulders. The silence of the dark camp wrapped back in around them and Danny shook with the effort to not break down and cry in the face of yet another truth.
Something, or rather someone, slipped hesitantly across the back of his thoughts, and Doc found himself glancing up. The shadows were always changing with the progression of the night and it took him several long moments before he found what he was looking for. Doc blinked, unsure, until the shifting changed and the person stepped out to the edge of the camp lights.
Doc met with dark eyes. And looked away.
"Why?" Danny finally whispered. "Why tell me this?" His face was still hidden from the medic.
"The L-T, he regrets so much. But more than anything, he wishes he hadnít lived and she died. He regrets that every day of his life. I just donít want you to do thesame thing." Doc hesitated, glancing up, but Goldman was gone, the shadows now silent and empty. Hockenbury shook his head resignedly and squeezed Percellís shoulder in sympathy.
"Just donít regret surviving, Danny."