SPOILERS: set sometime after 'All in the family' but before the season finale situation was revealed.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: I hope you like it, I was inspired to write it after I read 'Homeless once more' by Cathy (who I've timidly thanked for that!). I wanted to explore people's (especially Benton's) way of handling things when Carter gets sexually harrassed at work.
SUMMARY: Carter receives sexual harasment at work and needs the
support of his colleagues.
Dr Weaver looked up from her charts.
'Mark! You're in early I wasn't expecting you till 7'
Weaver looked at her watch, it was 6:30am.
'I know' Mark sighed 'but I wanted to get here early before our delightful new chief of staff shows up and tells us how inefficiently run we are down here'
Kerry grunted and looked back at her work. Dr Dale Travis had applied for and somehow obtained Romano's position of chief of staff after Romano had requested a transfer at the beginning of the month. Kerry had not especially liked Romano and they had come to blows more times than she cared to remember, however she liked Travis even less. She
had heard he had an excellent technique as a surgeon and his manner with his patients although not wonderful was satisfactory. However there was something in his manner that was unnerving, he was rarely sincere amongst his colleagues and had a reputation as a real crawler around authority, they were the reasons everyone else disliked him at
least. However there was something more to that she mused for the sense of discomfort she felt around the man, there was no doubt in her mind that Travis had more than a few skeletons hiding in his closet and they were ones she felt sure she didn't want to know about.
A familiar voice penetrated her thoughts.
'John!' she looked up startled.
Carter looked down at her and smiled.
'You ok? You looked lost in thought'
Kerry shook her head.
'No I was just...er yeah lost in thought' she smiled.
She watched as Carter searched for something behind the desk noticing the ease with which he seemed to be moving lately. His back had shown great signs of improvement over the last few weeks as had his appearance and general manner. There were times when they had all been worried about him, he had had a hard time returning to work
after his attack. Physically he had been in a lot of pain, mentally he still carried with him a lot of guilt about Lucy's death and his lack of sleep had been apparent to everyone who worked with him. Things that had reminded him of the incident had brought him almost
to breaking point on several occasions. Finally things in the last few weeks had looked like they were turning around.
'You want to catch a bit of sleep while we're quiet?' she asked remembering Carter was on all night.
He straightened up and smiled.
'No I'm fine actually, I've been sleeping really well lately and I'm feeling quite refreshed'
She smiled back.
'Good, I'm glad'
There was a crash behind them and Carter turned to see Mark with a mass of files at his feet.
'Evening Dr Greene' he said with a laugh bending down to help him pick them up.
Mark sighed, this was going to be a long night, he could feel it.
* * * * * * * * * * *
Kerry turned from watching Carter and Mark scrabble about on the floor to face Benton.
'Hey Peter, uh I'm not quite sure on a break I think'
Benton sighed heavily.
'I don't suppose you know if Carla's phoned?'
Kerry shook her head.
'Sorry, something wrong'
Benton leant on the desk wearily.
'No, no just want to know if I'm having Reese this weekend before I make plans. Carla always leaves things till the last minute'
He rubbed his eyes and then widened them deliberately. Kerry thought he looked like he could drop at any moment.
'You look like hell' she said grinning.
Benton shot her a disapproving glance.
'Yeah cheers' he sighed and looked down the corridor noticing the figure walking towards them 'Oh shit, knowing this guy's going to be hanging around us more for the foreseeable future isn't likely to help that either'
Kerry looked past him to see Travis heading towards them. She inwardly groaned as he sidled up to the desk oozing a deliberate charm.
'Dr Weaver, Dr Benton good evening'
Kerry forced herself to smile back as Benton remained stony faced.
'Evening Dr Travis, welcome to the ER'
Carter and Mark stood up folders in hand and Kerry watched Travis turn his attention to the two men.
'Dr Greene, things are getting on top of us already I see' Travis said smiling.
Mark grunted a response 'Nope everything's under control thank you' he moved deliberately to the other end of the desk and pretended to work on something there.
Travis turned his attention to Carter.
'Ah Dr Carter, well how could I forget that face' Travis gave him a warm smile.
Carter's eyebrows twitched slightly.
'Uh, hey Dr ...er....' why had he forgotten his name suddenly, this was the new chief of staff for god's sake! And what was wrong with his face?
'Travis' Travis continued smoothly 'but my first name is Dale...John'
'Ah right sorry Dr Travis' Carter said quickly ignoring the first name reference 'your first time in the ER as chief of staff?' he offered not sure what to say and not liking the way Travis was looking at him.
Travis held his gaze.
'My first time here with you John, yes'
Carter shifted uncomfortably, was Travis making a pass at him? No that was ridiculous, nobody liked this guy they thought he was, what had Kerry said? 'Creepy'. Well he could see why they thought that, it was just his way obviously.
Kerry glanced at Benton wondering if how she was reading this conversation was just her imagination. No, she couldn't miss the look of thunder on Benton's face so she chose to intervene swiftly.
'Ah Dr Travis if you'd like to come with me while we're quiet I though we could go to the lounge, we have a few things to discuss'
She hoped she sounded as authoritative and convincing as possible, she didn't want to make Carter feel more uncomfortable. Travis obliged and followed her to the lounge.
Carter looked up at Benton and smiled.
'Hey Dr Benton you on all night?' he decided to ignore any discomfort he had felt with Travis. He thought Benton looked out of sorts so presumed he had been on for a while.
Benton looked at Carter concerned, that had been a definite come on on Travis' part, he hadn't imagined it Kerry seemed to have noticed too. He hoped Travis kept his hands to himself, he didn't want Carter to have to deal with anything more than what he had already been through.
'Uh, Dr Benton?'
Benton shook his head and smiled
'Sorry Carter, yeah I'm on all night, you too?'
Carter nodded grinning.
'Yeah I'm headed over to Doc Magoos to grab a decent cup of coffee, you want anything?'
Benton shook his head 'No thanks I'm good'
Mark looked up wearily.
'I've been here five minutes and I already need a strong cup of coffee, black no sugar' he shook his head sadly 'that can't be good'
'Black, no sugar, got it' he headed out of the door.
Benton walked over to where Mark was sitting.
'You just get on?' he asked gruffly.
Mark sighed again 'Yeah'.
'Who's on?' Benton asked, he decided not to mention anything about Travis to Mark, he didn't seem to have noticed, maybe he would talk to Kerry about it.
Mark didn't look up from his files.
'Uh, Carter, Kerry, Abby, Malucci, Elizabeth... I think that's it'
'Kerry's on all night too?' Benton asked trying not to sound relieved.
Benton thanked Mark and headed in the direction of the lounge.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
Carter left his patient in the exam room and headed out into the corridor finding Travis hovering outside.
'Ah Dr Carter'
Carter smiled uncomfortably.
'Oh Hey Dr Travis'
Travis placed his hand on Carter's shoulder.
'How are you getting back into work John, are you still in any pain?'
Carter was startled at the sudden physical contact but didn't say anything, he wished Travis wouldn't insist on calling him John, he hadn't heard him call any of the other staff by their first names. Also something about Travis concern didn't feel right. He didn't respond.
Travis continued to smile at him.
'How would you feel about coming out for a drink with me after your shift ends? I'm trying to get acquainted with the staff down here I don't feel I know any of you very well'
As he spoke he slid his hand down Carter's arm and took hold of his hand. Carter shifted uneasily.
'Uh I can't I'm sorry' he moved away and tried to release his hand but Travis only tightened his grip.
'Why ever not John?' he asked sounding hurt
'Uh...' Carter stammered increasingly nervous 'I'm working a double shift, I'm usually very tired' he rambled 'perhaps you could ask one of the others this evening?'
Travis smiled then pulled Carter in towards him and whispered in his ear.
'I don't want any of the others, I just want you John'
Carter pulled away stunned and pulled his hand out of Travis' grip.
'Uh I can't I'm sorry' he mumbled and walked quickly away.
* * * * * * * * * * *
Randy had watched with interest as Travis hovered outside the exam room and gone over to talk to Carter. The guy was definately making a pass at him. Her eyes widened as she saw Travis slide his hand down Carter's arm and take hold of his hand.
'Well well' she said slowly.
Mark and Benton both looked up.
'What?' Benton snapped impatiently as Randy stared past them.
'I think someone's expressing a sexual interest in Dr Carter'
Benton turned around praying Randy wasn't talking about who he thought she was. He was instantly disappointed.He watched with anger as Carter tried to release his hand from Travis' grip unsuccessfully.
Mark watched quietly as the scene unfolded before him. 'Wow, I think she's right don't you Peter?'
Benton didn't answer him, he gritted his teeth as Travis pulled Carter in towards him and Carter pulled away again stunned. His expression which had tried to give away nothing suddenly baring shock. He watched as Carter walked quickly away his face turning red
and Travis stared after him a haunting smile on his lips. Benton felt anger boil inside of him as he realised Travis was staring at Carter's ass.
'Jesus' he muttered 'We're going to have to say something to him'
Mark glanced at Peter concerned.
'Hang on Peter, I know we don't like Travis but we can't come down on him just for making a pass at Carter, it's harmless unless it continues or Carter comes to us and says he feels uncomfortable with him'
Mark played Devil's advocate. This was the first time he'd got any inkling that Travis was sexually attracted to Carter, he thought the incident in the hall just now was perhaps bordering on harassment but he hadn't expected Peter to get so het up about it.
Benton stared after Travis as he walked away, he wished Kerry had just seen what had happened but she was off with a patient. His pager started to beep.
'Shit' he muttered 'I'm needed in surgery... Mark, just keep an eye out would you...please'
Mark looked at Benton taken aback by his plea, however he noted the genuine concern in Benton's eyes and nodded.
'Sure, but don't worry I'm sure Carter can handle a couple of advances' he smiled.
Benton didn't look reassured, he merely nodded and headed towards the elevator.
* * * * * * * * * * *
Carter left his patient in OB and headed for the elevator back down to the ER. The incident before with Travis had shaken him up a little but he told himself he was over reacting. He had handled plenty of unwanted advances from women before, patients he had treated usually trying to get a little too familiar. It shouldn't be any different
just because it was a man he scolded himself. It wasn't any more threatening, just a person expressing a sexual interest that he didn't return. Carter started to feel a little guilty, perhaps he should have handled it better, made it clear, apologised and moved
on. Maybe that's why Travis had kept persisting, he hadn't been direct enough, let him know what he felt.
'Hold the elevator'
Carter was lost in thought and so did not recognise the voice that called out to him. Absentmindedly he reached out and obliged. Travis turned the corner and smiled at him stepping inside.
'Why thank you Dr Carter'
Carter felt himself tense instantly. The door closed leaving the two of them alone. Carter gulped feeling extremely nervous, this is ridiculous, he told himself, handle it for Christ's sake! Carter knew he wasn't homophobic so he couldn't make out where this fear was
coming from. He never thought he'd handle a sexual advance from a man so badly. His anger with himself overtook his fear. He composed himself and turned to Travis and smiled.
'Going down to the ER?' he asked pleasantly.
Travis eyed him curiously,
'Yes thank you John...' he said.
Carter forced himself to smile back, he still did not like Travis calling him John but then hardly anyone called him John, so no wonder it sounded odd. He reached out and pushed the button for the ground floor. The elevator started to move downwards slowly, Carter leant back against the back wall resting his head. Travis was standing at the
other side of the elevator, not even close. Maybe he had got the picture, Carter thought to himself. Carter was aware that Travis moved from his position from the corner of the elevator and over towards the buttons. Carter eyed him curiously, Travis' hand reached
out for... oh god, Carter felt himself go cold as Travis pushed a button that caused the elevator to jerk to a halt.
Travis turned towards him and smiled,
'I hope you have some time for me now John' he said inching forward.
Carter opened his mouth to speak but his breath caught in his throat.
'I....' he gasped, he gulped and tried again 'Dr Travis, I really have to get back to the ER' he stammered.
Travis wasn't listening to him, he continued to approach Carter and he took a firm hold of his wrist.
'You're a very attractive man John' he said smoothly.
Carter stared at him feeling his heart pounding against his chest.
'I... I'm sorry I'm not... I mean I don't...'
Without warning Travis twisted Carter's arm behind his back and pushed him roughly forward. Carter winced as his face slammed against the back of the elevator and Travis leant all of his weight against his body.
'Not what?' Travis hissed into his ear.
As he spoke Travis pushed his body into Carter's and Carter gasped feeling Travis's erection pressing against the upper part of his leg.
'Oh god' Carter breathed quietly 'please let me go'
Travis responded by turning Carter round to face him again then slamming him against the back of the elevator once more. Carter cried out in pain as his back felt the sudden pressure and his shoulders were forced back holding him in place. He realised with horror he could barely move. Travis took hold of his jaw roughly, Carter opened his mouth to protest but Travis responded by pushing his tongue past his lips. Carter struggled violently but Travis held him tightly and refused to relent. The kiss hurt as Travis' mouth pushed against his own and as Carter struggled trying to get his mouth away his own tongue was forced to meet Travis' as it invaded his mouth. When
Travis finally pulled away Carter gasped for air struggling violently, 'Stop, please stop!' he gasped.
It would have been impossible for him to struggle at the best of times, Travis was much stronger and heavier than he was. However Carter knew his back wasn't fully healed and twisting and struggling like this hurt him too much and Travis knew it. Carter collapsed back against the wall exhausted. Closing his eyes his started to shake feeling himself going into a cold sweat. He was vaguely aware of Travis' hands on his chest feeling his body through and then under his shirt, one hand sliding down inside his pants squeezing him, groping him. He felt Travis' breath on his face as he slowly slid his tongue up the side of his cheek. Carter shuddered and opened his eyes.
'Please' he gasped 'I won't tell anyone about this if you stop now... please...' Carter's voice caught with his last word.
Travis' face was inches away from Carter's, he shook his head his eyes threatening.
'You are not going to tell anyone about this... I get what I want John'
'No..' Carter gritted his teeth '...not from me'.
There was a loud beep and the elevator sprung into life, the display showed it was going down to the ER. Someone had pressed for it, Carter closed his eyes gasping with relief. Travis didn't move away from him, Carter could still feel his breath on his face, he opened his eyes his body trembling.
Travis smiled then kissed him swiftly on the side of his cheek and pulled away from him. Carter struggled to regain his composure quickly. As the elevator came to a halt Travis reached out and squeezed Carter's backside, he spoke low and cool,
'Till next time Dr Carter'
As the doors opened Carter pushed blindly past the member of staff waiting patiently. The nurse gave him an odd look but said nothing. Travis smiled at the nurse and walked out innocently.
* * * * * * * * * * *
Randy was filing her nails at the desk when she saw Carter stumble out of the elevator practically knocking over the waiting nurse. Jesus the guy looked like he was about to pass out what the hell was wrong with him? She was just about to call out to him when she saw Dale Travis leave the elevator after him. He sauntered out, shot a glance in the direction of Carter, smiled and turned and walked the other way. Randy felt very uneasy, she watched as Carter shakily made his way to the men's room and disappeared through the door.
Mark Greene came over to the desk,
'Randy' he said impatiently 'I asked you to call radiology' he tapped his foot.
'I did Dr Greene they're dealing with it...' she said quietly not really looking at him. Mark eyed her curiously, he had wrongly scolded her and she wasn't giving him any backchat? something was wrong here.
'You ok?' he asked gently.
Randy turned to look at him, Mark was startled as he saw the look of concern on her face.
'No. Dr Greene I think you should go into the men's room, Carter just stumbled in there, he looked like hell....' she paused not knowing how to continue.
Mark stared at her
'What? I can't follow every member of staff into the bathroom just because they look a little 'off' Randy!' he said his impatience returning. What was it with everyone worrying about Carter today!
'I just saw him come out of an elevator looking pretty shaken up and Dr Travis came out after him. Dr Greene the look on his face as he watched Carter practically run off...'
Mark paused not knowing what to say but he remembered the concerned look on Peter's face pleading him to keep an eye on Travis' behaviour towards Carter.
Randy glared at Mark,
'Dr Greene if you don't go and check on Carter then I will' she said firmly.
Mark nodded his head,
'That's not necessary, thanks Randy' he said and headed quickly towards the bathroom.
* * * * * * * * * * *
Carter hurtled into the bathroom and headed straight for a stall where he lurched forward at the toilet bowl and threw up violently. He rested his head on the rim of the bowl, it felt cold against his hot skin and he shivered. How could he have let this happen? If he
hadn't made it clear in the hall before it should certainly be clear to Travis now that he did not want his advances. Carter hoped desperately that Travis had got any attraction towards him out of his system. He shuddered as he remembered his words, 'I get what I want John'
Carter heard the door of the men's room open slowly, the person who entered seemed to pause as if not knowing what to do. Carter listened carefully, was the person standing still? Was it Travis? Carter felt himself go numb, the mere thought of being alone in the bathroom with Travis was enough to make him grip the bowl and start throwing up once again.
Mark heard the sound of someone throwing up, he waited patiently till they stopped.
'Carter?' he asked softly.
Carter sighed with relief as he recognised Mark's voice.
'Yeah?' he managed to say shakily.
'Are you all right? look take your time but, I need to talk to you about something...' Mark paused trying to find the words.
He heard Carter flush the toilet, as he exited the stall Mark was a little taken aback, he did look very pale and, well, scared. Carter managed a wan smile at Mark.
'Sorry must be something I ate' he said feebly.
Mark watched him walk unsteadily towards the bowl, run some cold water and wipe down his face and rinse his mouth. As Carter leant on the bowl steadying himself Mark noticed a bruise on his wrist, it resembled a painful, forceful grip from another hand. Carter turned to face Mark leaning back against the bowl. He seemed in a lot of pain with his back suddenly, Mark looked at him concerned.
'Your back playing up again?' he asked deciding that was a good way to start.
Carter nodded miserably,
'Yeah, a little'
'What brought that on?' Mark asked.
Carter looked up at him a little startled.
'Nothing, just, taking it's time to heal I guess...' he said looking at he floor. 'What did you want to talk to me about?'
Mark decided that subtle was not the way to go here. He knew Carter well enough to know he never spoke voluntarily of what was troubling him.
'Carter' he sighed 'Randy saw you come out of the elevator looking pretty shaken up... she also saw Dale Travis come out of it after you... did something happen with him?' Mark paused again watching Carter's response.
Carter didn't look up,
'No' he lied 'No I just...' Carter shook his head staring at the floor.
'Carter' Mark said gently touching his arm 'Look at me'
Carter raised his head not meeting Mark's eyes.
'You have a bruise on your lip' Mark said knowing immediately from Carter's reaction that it hadn't been from a punch.
Carter shuddered and felt his lip, the bruise was from where Travis' mouth had pushed forcefully against his own hurting him considerably.
'I...' he began 'I'm handling it Mark... it's nothing I can't handle'
Mark looked at him carefully,
'Did he attack you Carter?'
Carter swallowed awkwardly
'H... he was forceful in his advances but, I made it clear that I didn't want them and he seemed to get the message, I don't think it will happen again' Carter lied.
Mark was quiet, he knew Carter was playing this down considerably but he didn't want to pressure him.
'Ok,' he said 'but Carter...if you ever want to report Travis you can come to me or Kerry and we'll handle it, I don't want you feeling uncomfortable you can talk to us...'
Carter nodded and smiled 'I know' he said honestly.
'...and Carter' Mark added 'Peter's there for you too, he and Kerry had already expressed their concern to me about Travis' intentions towards you...'
Carter looked up stunned. 'They had?'
Mark smiled 'Yes, Peter was ready to punch him after he made a pass at you in this morning, I told him you could handle it but, he's looking out for you, he does care about you... little as he likes to admit it...'
Carter smiled to himself
'I know' he said 'I know'.
Mark rubbed him gently on the shoulder,
'Take a few minutes if you want, grab a coffee and let me know if you need anything ok?'
Carter nodded and smiled 'I will'
Mark started to leave the room
Mark paused in the doorway
'Thanks' Carter smiled.
Mark returned the smile 'No problem Carter'.