Pairings/Characters (this chapter): Bruce/Dick, Alfred, Roy, Ollie/Dinah (Dinah does not appear in this chapter)
Fandoms: DC Comics, M*A*S*H* (Chapter 3)
Genres: Angst, AU, Challenge, Historical, Drama
Rating (this chapter): PG-13
Claim: For my 2017 Bruce/Dick Bingo Card.
Prompt: AU Retcon
Pattern: Row A (Straight/Vertical Line Bingo) (3/3)
Prompt Count: (8/9)
Warnings: Author Chooses Not To Warn
General Summary: Dick is drafted into the Army during the Korean War, and he and Bruce must adjust to that hard fact of the Cold War.
Chapter Summary: Dick receives his Greetings from Uncle Sam.
Date Of Completion: June 16, 2017
Date Of Posting: October 6, 2017
Disclaimer: I don’t own ‘em, DC does, more’s the pity.
Word Count (this chapter): 1874
Feedback welcome and appreciated.
Author’s Notes: This AU is set in the pre-Crisis On Infinite Earths Earth-2. The Golden Age heroes lived on that Earth, and that included the Dynamic Duo. Earth-2’s Dick Grayson never split from Bruce, but he gradually made a life for himself away from Gotham. The retcon part comes as he winds up getting his Greetings from Uncle Sam.
Note: The incident in Dick's letter happened to my father. Pretty shocking for a 17-year-old from Massachusetts training for combat in Korea. Also the training camo scene. The Irish-American was my father. Welcome to the South!
All chapters can be found here.
“Growing Up A Man”
Bruce worked steadily in his study, clearing away Wayne Enterprises business and going through the patrol he and Dick would go on tonight when a knock on the door caught his attention. He looked up and smiled as he saw Dick standing in the doorway.
The sunlight illuminated Dick in ways that left other people untouched. He seemed to soak up the sunlight, almost as if he was Clark.
Dick smiled but Bruce immediately knew something was wrong. “What is it?”
Dick’s smile was affectionate. “You always know, don’t you?” He produced a letter and Bruce took it, ice forming in the pit of his stomach.
“So you got your greetings from Uncle Sam.”
Dick nodded, flopping into the chair in front of Bruce’s desk. “Looks like the war isn’t ending any time soon.”
Bruce stared down at the draft notice. “With your flying skills, you could put in to be a pilot.”
“I’m thinking the infantry.”
Bruce snapped his head up. “Infantry?”
“I have excellent combat skills already, and also good leadership abilities. I could keep a lot of kids alive.”
Bruce bit his lip. Dick was right, but he sill wished that Dick wasn’t about this particular thing. He could save lives in the infantry, but Bruce knew that the foot soldiers took the brunt of any war.
He looked at Dick, who was completely relaxed in the chair, one leg cavalierly draped over a chair arm. His calmness helped settle Bruce’s nerves.
The best decision I ever made was bringing you home.
Dick was a grown man now, but still as vivacious and optimistic as ever. Despite the neverending battle against Gotham’s criminals, he still managed to maintain a positive outlook.
He’s going to need it more than ever now.
Bruce gathered himself. Dick needed him to be strong, not fearful and clinging.
“When do you report?”
“In three days.”
That night they went out on patrol as usual. Alfred had said upon hearing the news, “I will iron your gray slacks, sir, so you can look casual but sharp when you report to camp.” Leave it to Alfred. Unflappable as always, though Bruce knew that he was worried, too.
Dick had redesigned his costume a few years ago, keeping some elements of his Robin outfit and putting in more Bat-touches. Despite it looking at first glance like something slapped together, it worked somehow, just like the bright Robin costume had somehow worked.
The patrol was fast and furious. They used their fists in what some shrink might say was cathartic. The criminals ran fast. By the time the Dynamic Duo returned home, showered, and wrote their reports, finally tumbling into bed, their adrenaline was pointed toward need.
Need to hold on to each other now that their future was uncertain.
Need to make love every night until Dick left.
Need to make memories for the long, lonely nights ahead.
“I love you,” Bruce breathed.
“I love you, too,” Dick said and laughed. It was the kind of joyous laugh that the memory of might break Bruce’s heart in the future. He was certain of it.
He poured his heart into the time they had left.
Bruce and Alfred saw Dick off at the bus station. Bruce had never offered to pull strings to keep Dick Stateside. Dick knew that if he wanted it, Bruce would do it, but he never asked.
They returned home to a Manor suddenly quieter and much emptier. Bruce returned to his study and buried himself in his work, refusing lunch but eating a light supper provided by Alfred before going out on patrol alone.
Coming back to the Manor alone.
Going to bed alone.
In the days that followed, Bruce and Alfred received cheerful letters from Dick. Basic training did not bother him at all. “After training with Batman, Basic will be a breeze,” Dick had remarked wryly before leaving for camp.
Bruce and Alfred wrote back. Bruce kept his letters free of romantic overtones, just as Dick did. Censors could read them, or nosy barracks buddies. Therefore his letters were full of sports scores, Gotham news, national politics. He wrote between the lines of romance and crimefighting, a combination that was not unusual for Batman and Robin.
Somehow Bruce got through the days, dreading the end of training, but Basic took six weeks and advanced training took months after that. Dick might be shipped out in early ’53, depending on manpower needs. Maybe the war would be over by then.
Dick stood in the doorway to Bruce’s study, shining and pressed in his dress uniform. Bruce dropped his pen and they met in the middle of the room, kissing hungrily. The uniform made it up the stairs but not to the bed. They did not leave the bed until the next day, and during Dick’s week-long furlough, visited it often.
All too soon Dick had to return for advanced training. He was being assigned to Fort Steadman in North Carolina.
“It couldn’t be Fort Dix?” Bruce lamented. .
“Nope, that would make too much sense to assign me to a fort in New Jersey.”
So Dick was gone below the Mason-Dixon Line and Bruce was back to solitary patrolling. Dick joining him while home had been like Old Home Week: it had felt so natural, so normal, as Robin slid into his seat beside Batman in the shiny Batmobile.
The ol’ Pow! Biff! Zap! worked just fine, and Bruce had felt relaxed for the first time in weeks. Now he was alone again, refusing to think that it might be a permanent condition. Dick was still in the States, not overseas. Alfred had always counseled him not to borrow trouble, which was good advice, if he could only follow it.
May 16, 1952
It’s very different here in North Carolina. Roy and I were walking through a small town and saw the body of a black man swaying from a lamppost. We stopped and stared because we couldn’t believe our eyes. Some redneck came up to us and said they were leaving his body up awhile ‘to teach the niggers a lesson’. I feel dirty even writing that.
Roy and I wanted to cut the man down, but it was obvious we would’ve ended up in jail or worse. The poor soul was beyond human concern, but we still felt angry.
Remember how I wrote to you that the only music down here is country? That’s not quite true. Rhythm-and-blues, called ‘race music’, is on the dial, but Roy and I have to listen in secret (he hates country and I’m no big fan). White guys aren’t supposed to listen to ‘race music’.
Everything is race down here. Roy and I talked about it even before we saw the lynching victim. He and I have known each other since we were kids, and I know him well. He was really shook up.
During a bivouac last week, a white guy from Massachusetts was paired with a black guy as a tentmate. Some of the good ol’ boys in camp came up to him and told him to request a new tentmate but he refused, and this was after they told him they’d cut his throat if he didn’t make the request. Roy and I kept a close eye on him but he and his tentmate handled things real well. He said he was a ‘Yankee from up North and no rednecks were going to tell me what to do’. He’s actually Irish-American, but Yankee still fits. He’s got a lifelong friend in his tentmate, that’s for sure.
So integration of the Army is not a sure thing, and it could get shaky over in Korea, but Roy and I are hoping for the best.
By the way, Roy and I went out the night we saw the body and cut him down.
Bruce stared at the letter for a long time as he sat behind his desk in the study. When Alfred came in later with tea and crumpets, he saw the letter and said, “It’s good that Master Roy is with Master Dick.”
Alfred set the tray down. “He had a fine upbringing by his parents, and you added to it.”
“As did you.”
Alfred acknowledged the compliment with an incline of his head. “He will make us proud.”
“He always has.”
Bruce and Ollie talked on the phone more than usual, pleased at their boys being together.
“Roy is real happy that Dick’s with him. If our boys have to face this, at least it’s together.”
“I agree.” Bruce looked out his study window at the formal gardens. It was peaceful out there. No doubt very different from where Dick was right now.
“Roy says Dick is a natural leader. He’s the squad leader, and Roy’s his second-in-command.”
“I know. I’m pretty proud of our boys.”
“Damn right.” Ollie sighed. “I support the U.N., Bruce, but this war…”
“I know.” Bruce’s fingers gripped the handset tightly. “It’ll be three years this June that the war started.”
“Let’s hope those talks at Panmunjon finally accomplish something.”
“We can only hope.”
During the remainder of 1952, Dick was able to come home every summer weekend he snagged a three-day pass, and for Thanksgiving and Christmas. During the summer he and Roy would drive up from Fort Steadman and Roy would be dropped off in Star City while Dick went on to Gotham. It was hours of driving both ways, but the weekends home were worth it to both young men.
Bruce worried about the long drives, suspecting that Dick and Roy had probably fallen asleep behind the wheel more than once, but they refused private jets and were appalled at the idea of a limousine picking them up outside the fort’s gates.
“We might as well sign up for permanent latrine duty if Sarge sees that,” Roy had cracked.
Bruce put everything he had into the moments he shared with Dick. Summer turned to fall, and Dick was sent to Alaska for further training. Roy went with him, and Bruce hoped that if Dick was sent overseas, that Roy would be with him. The two had worked together as Robin and Speedy many times, and it was vital to have someone watching your back on the battlefield who was trustworthy.
When Dick came home for Thanksgiving, he raved about the beauty of Alaska. “I’m going back on vacation someday.”
Later in the year, Christmas was packed with traditions. Dick soaked up every minute as if it would be his last.
As he and Bruce sipped champagne in bed on Christmas Night, Dick looked like elegance itself as he bent one leg and smiled at Bruce. Bruce’s heart ached but returned the smile. No talk about the future. All that existed was the here and now.
He set aside his champagne flute and kissed Dick, who put his glass on the nightstand and pulled Bruce on top of him.
“Love me,” Dick said.
“Always,” Bruce said.
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