Title: Never Let It Be Forgot (4/4)
Pairings/Characters (this chapter): Ollie/Dinah, Steve/Diana, Clark
Fandoms: DC Comics, MASH (Chapter 3)
Genres: Angst, AU, Challenge, Historical, Drama
Rating (this chapter): G
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: Homecoming.
Date Of Completion: July 5, 2017
Date Of Posting: November 11, 2017
Disclaimer: I don’t own ‘em, DC does, more’s the pity.
Word Count (this chapter): 1534
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 camp scene. The Irish-American was my father. Welcome to the South!
All chapters can be found here.
February 6, 1998
Ollie adjusted his weight as he leaned on his cane. He could smell Dinah’s lilies-of-the-valley perfume as she stood close to him. The coffin was carried by soldiers from Fort Dix, all young men scrubbed clean and looking sharp in their dress uniforms. Their solemn faces reflected the seriousness of the occasion.
The clergyman spoke his piece, then Ollie stepped up. He took a deep breath, aware of the irony of this speech being difficult for him. Usually he could talk a blue streak, but this hurt.
“We’re here to finally lay Dick Grayson to rest.” He looked out at the gathering of friends and family. “Six months ago North Korea delivered the remains of several American soldiers. DNA testing proved that Roy Harper was among them.” Dinah gently touched his arm. “Six months later, more remains were released, and now we gather to pay our respects to Dick.”
Ollie remembered the funeral they had held for Roy, burying him in the Queen family plot. He and Dinah had achieved some level of peace with that burial, but he still wasn’t sure about his feelings. Anger, regret, sorrow…so much mixed up in a jumbled heap, but maybe he was finally getting past all that.
“Sadly, Dick’s mentor Bruce didn’t live to see this day, passing away in ’93, and Alfred three years after that, but now they are all together in this quiet plot overlooking the sea.”
There was the somber lowering of heads and some tears shed. Ollie was uncertain about an afterlife, but if there was one, he was sure Dick, Alfred and Bruce were all together now. Maybe Roy was waiting for him and Dinah. He’d like to think so.
“The work continues. The Grayson-Harper Foundation For Korean War Veterans will help to ensure that the loved ones of this war will never be forgotten.”
The minister took over once again and said the closing prayer. Ollie listened while also listening to the sounds of the nearby ocean. The eternal rhythm soothed him, and he slid his hand over Dinah’s and held on tight.
It was a beautiful day of sunshine, somehow fitting for Dick Grayson’s funeral. Roy had said once that he’d never known anyone so genuinely cheerful. Dick could be serious and even grim if the situation called for it, but bright and optimistic was his default.
The minister finished his prayer and the honor guard fired off several volleys, the shots echoing in the clear winter air. Yellow roses were thrown onto the casket as the mourners drifted away from the cemetery. Ollie and Dinah were the last ones left standing by the grave.
“Rest easy, Dick,” Dinah said softly.
Ollie drank the coffee in his mug, gazing at the statue in the center of the Manor gardens. The weary pair of soldiers epitomized the draining pull of war. The sculptor had truly captured the spirit of infantry veterans.
“Really fine artist,” Steve said as he approached, sipping a cup of punch.
“Bruce always hired the best.”
Steve looked around the gardens. “How many visitors come here?”
“I’d have to consult the figures, but Shayera says it’s a good number.”
“Handy to know museum curators like her and Carter.”
“They run both branches. We’ve got the same set-up at Queens’ Castle.”
“This is a wonderful foundation, providing help to Korean War veterans.”
“If they insist on forgetting the veterans of this war, we’ll be there to make sure they remember.”
Diana appeared, wearing her Prince glasses and a modest blue dress with a smart hat to match. No longer immortal since leaving Paradise Island, she was aging slower than Steve but had a streak of gray in her hair. She still looked stunning.
“Well, how are you, Mrs. Trevor?” Ollie asked with a smile.
“Splendid, Mr. Queen.” Her smile faded. “Though it is a solemn occasion.”
Ollie nodded, suddenly feeling the weight of his years. “I guess we’ll never find out what really happened to our boys’ squad.” Haunted by not knowing, Bruce’s new Mission had driven him to his grave.
“Perhaps not.” Diana sipped her punch. “Some things are simply never learned, or meant to be known.”
Ollie’s instinct was to fight against acceptance, but what did it matter now? Roy and Dick had been gone for 45 years. If there was an afterlife, they were both happy together now.
“You and Bruce and Dinah have left a legacy that help people, Ollie,” said Steve. “You support orphanages in South Korea, helped rebuild after the war, keep the focus on our veterans…you have a lot to be proud of.”
“The veterans deserve it. The orphans, too.”
“My Ollie, all flustered covering up a marshmallow,” said Dinah as she walked up to the group.
Diana and Steve smiled as Dinah patted her husband’s shoulder.
“It’s a good thing I love you, Pretty Bird.”
“Never doubted it, Emerald Archer.”
Ollie felt a warmth spread through him and he kissed Dinah’s hand.
Gradually Ollie drifted away, Clark joining the group. There was a sadness in his unearthly blue eyes that touched Ollie. Like Ollie and Dinah, Clark had worked closely with the Dynamic Duo. He told funny stories about the early days, Dick always a bright presence to keep his mentors upbeat. Laughter at the reception for Dick Grayson’s funeral seemed appropriate.
He walked through the exhibit hall, converted from the ballroom. Carter and Shayera had set things up beautifully, allowing the exhibits to be informative as well as compelling.
He paused before a photograph taken by Marguerite Higgins. She was a pioneering female war correspondent, snapping fantastic pictures and writing copy right on the front lines. The Foundation had some of her best, stark photographs that showed the face of this particularly brutish war. He was always struck by the photograph that showed a weary soldier cradling a wounded buddy and hoped that Dick and Roy had been able to be there for each other at the end.
He passed the photographs and glass cases containing donated objects from the war and homefront. There were gleaming knives, guns, and helmets, and photographs of factory workers making planes and tanks for the war, just a fraction of the items displayed. His steps echoed in the vast ballroom. The floor-length mirrors at the west end had once reflected Dick going through ballet exercises, one of the ways he kept limber.
Did Bruce and Dick dance with each other here?
Ollie passed the dining room, which held the buffet, several people chatting while they ate. The next room was the living room, still preserved as if Alfred was still presiding over the Manor. There was a coffee mug on the table next to Bruce’s favorite chair and a book set aside as if the reader had just left for a moment. A vintage Coke bottle was set on a coaster on the coffee table, and a Batman & Robin comic book was open to a page filled with quips, puns, and flashing fists.
He went through the front door, craving a cigarette. He’d quit years ago but the urge could still catch him unawares.
Not many people knew about the true nature of the Dynamic Duo’s relationship. It was a small group of heroes: Dinah, Diana, Steve, and Clark. If anybody else knew, they were keeping it to themselves.
As Ollie walked slowly, he remembered his surprise (shock) when he had learned the truth. It had made him uncomfortable until Dinah had pointed out that he and Bruce were so similar that maybe Ollie had something to tell her?
He chuckled as he walked with his cane. No, nothing of that sort to tell her, but he did recognize his ties with Bruce. He and Bruce shared wealthy backgrounds with lost parents at young ages, and dedication to a dangerous profession without superpowers. The Arrows and the Bats lived by their wits.
He found himself at the entrance to the cemetery. He walked through the open front gates.
The coffin had been lowered into the ground and the earth tamped over it. Fortunately, the ground had not been frozen as a thaw had sprung up, so interment took place right away. He stood before the headstone that reflected the carved names of the Waynes: Martha, Thomas, Bruce, Alfred, and now Dick. The shiny obsidian marble showed scudding clouds behind Ollie’s reflection.
I’m sorry he never came home to you, Bruce, but he’s home now.
After a few minutes of silence, broken only by the call of birds, Ollie turned and went back to the Manor.
In a time
A war was fought,
In a country obscure
To Western eyes,
Families torn apart,
Shiny U.N. troops
Against vast numbers.
And they came,
And still they came,
On frozen ground,
Led by bugles clear,
And still they came,
In stifling heat,
On nameless hills,
On bitter ground,
Souls are lost
And never found.
Never let it be forgot.
Robert G. O’Reilly
Korean War Veteran
“Never Let It Be Forgot
& Other Poems Of Korea”
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