Dulce et Decorum est Bogey
This started out as a CrackFic, and evolved into something else. Please forgive any mistakes I've made in the proper protocol for a military funeral…I did look up how it's done, but I figured a little bear like Bogey would have to have one that was low on frills. As a result, I tried to go high, wide and handsome on the emotions. I hope you like it, Gentle Readers!
Murdock was quiet on the ride back to the VA, and while in one sense this was a blessed relief, Face knew him too well to think it meant everything was okay. The pilot had even left the radio alone, and the smooth jazz Face enjoyed flowed through the car without interruption, but the conman was still starting to get worried. Murdock was gazing out of the window with his hands on his knees. "You okay?" Face asked quietly.
"No. How can I be okay? Bogey's dead. They shot his little head clean off."
"I know. I'm sorry."
"You're not. All you said was 'too bad.' That ain't what you say when your friends die."
"Well..." Face chose his words with care. "Bogey was your friend. I didn't know him all that well."
Murdock was silent. "He liked you", he said after a moment.
"Yeah. He said you were smart. Beautiful too."
"Wow." Face cleared his throat. Ridiculous as it was, he couldn't help feeling a little embarrassed. "That's quite a compliment."
"Yes it was. Especially for a bear that didn't give complements easy."
"Well, if it helps, I remember Bogey as a loyal friend and a brave soldier. He stood by you until the very end, Murdock." Face shook his head, mentally kicking himself for not thinking of it before. "We should have had a funeral for him."
"Yeah..." Murdock suddenly perked up. "Could we do it now? Like a memorial? We could have it at that little cemetery next to the VA-it's for soldiers. You and BA could do the gun salute and I'll do the eulogy and Hannibal can say a few words...we all could! Everyone could stand up and say something nice about Bogey! And we can wear our uniforms and do it up real nice! Can we Faceman? Please?"
Face tried not to think of what B.A. would say. It was hilarious that people thought he was the conman; one look out of Murdock's big brown puppy-dog eyes could turn anyone to mush! "We'll stop for a bite to eat and call Hannibal."
"Aw, Facey! Thanks!" Murdock leaned over and smacked a huge kiss onto his cheek. Face groaned inwardly, thanking God nobody could see them.
And so it came to pass that the members of the A-Team stood in uniform around a very small coffin with a miniature American flag draped over it. Amy was there too, properly dressed in black and carrying her camera and notepad. Murdock had put her in charge of the obituary and the programs and Face had to admit she'd done a nice job; the programs were cardstock, with an engraving of a teddy bear at the top and a neat black border. They listed Bogey's full name (Humphrey Bogeybear III) his familial status (orphan), and his rank and decorations (all awarded posthumously).
"Dearly Beloved" Hannibal began; he was wearing a black suit and priest's collar that he'd stolen from the studio. "We are gathered here to remember a fallen comrade: Humphrey Bogeybear III, Private First Class, who gave his life to save a member of his team."
"How you' talk me into this foolishness, Face?!" B.A. muttered out of the side of his mouth. "Tell me again."
"Car parts" Face whispered back as Murdock gave them the evil eye. "Top of the line. Now shh!"
"Bogey was a bear of extraordinary courage who, when he saw that a member of his team was in trouble, did not hesitate to come to his aid. He was not with us for long; many of us did not have the honor of knowing this brave soul. His best friend and commanding officer, Captain H.M. Murdock, will now say a few words. Murdock?"
Murdock stood up and cleared his throat. "Bogey was a good bear" he said quietly. "A good listener. He was never too busy to cheer up a friend. Many a time I'd be down in the dumps and Bogey would say to me, "Murdock, you gotta pull yourself up! Just grab hold of your bootstraps and pull, because there's people out there who need you, people that you love." Murdock pulled a white handkerchief from the sleeve of his uniform and dabbed at his eyes.
"They knew each other all of eight days" Amy murmured behind him. Face fought the urge to grin.
"Bogey put everything he had into living his life. He didn't mind flying to South Africa on a moment's notice; or getting shot at and nearly blown up! He said sitting on a shelf was no way to spend your time. He came into the team and did everything he could to help us get the job done. He cheered me up, he made Hannibal laugh—"
"What that crazy fool talkin' about?" B.A. mumbled. "Hannibal wanted to throw him in the garbage!"
"He said Amy was one of the coolest, smartest ladies he ever met and any man with sense should respect her."
"Smart bear!" said Amy. She wasn't bothering to hide her smile.
"I even saw ol' B.A. cuddling him once. Naw, you can't lie about it you ol' mudsucker! I saw you an' Bogey all snugged up as sweet as you please, the last night we were in the mine."
Face expected B.A. to explode, or at least tell Murdock to shut up, but the big man was silent. Face glanced over and saw him staring down at his boots like he was hoping the earth would open and swallow him up. Face lost the battle for calm; a laugh squirted out of him even as he clamped his teeth together to keep it in.
"And Faceman, here's what Bogey said about you: he said, 'Murdock, that guy may lie, cheat, and steal, but he's got your back and he always will. Just you make sure you got his, because he's real inside. There's stuff he won't share with nobody unless he feels safe. You can do that for him.' And I will, Faceman. I will."
Murdock choked and covered his eyes with his hankie. "Sorry. I know soldiers aren't supposed to cry, but y'all know I hate to lose a friend. Especially if that friend died so others might live. Goodbye, Bogey! I'm never gonna forget you, and I know nobody else here will, either. Thank you."
"Thank you, Murdock." Hannibal said quietly as Murdock resumed his seat. He nodded to Face and B.A. and they raised their rifles and fired off a three-volley salute. Amy took a portable tape player from her handbag and the sweet, sad sound of Taps filled the air. Face was surprised to feel his eyes sting, just a little. The gun smoke, he told himself. Just the gun smoke. The tiny, empty casket was lowered into the hole they'd dug beneath a eucalyptus tree and Murdock sobbed openly as he shoveled the dirt on top of it. Face knew that he would never have the heart to tell Murdock the casket had come from a party store in Van Nuys; it had been part of their Halloween display. He had argued that a memorial didn't necessarily have to include a casket, but Murdock was determined that Bogey should have full honors.
Once the burial was complete, Hannibal said, "Murdock has asked us all to stand and share some memories of Bogey. I can say personally that although I didn't know him well, Bogey did make me laugh. He was a cheerful, happy bear who loved to sing and dance and had a definite flair for the dramatic. He was wonderful at keeping up team morale when we desperately needed it, and he served bravely. I, for one, will always honor his memory." Hannibal nodded and stepped back.
Amy stood. "I first met Bogey at a carnival in Venice. He was at the shooting gallery, sitting on a shelf with some other prizes. He had bright eyes and a happy smile and I though any kid who won him would be a lucky kid. Little did I know then that we would be the lucky ones."
She's good at this. Face thought. He wondered what on earth B.A. would say when it was his turn.
"Bogey never once hesitated to go into any kind of danger to help us out, and he never lost his sense of optimism or his sense of humor. I'm sorry that his life has been cut short. I hope the next one is better."
Amy sat down. Face composed his features and decided to get it over with. "I also didn't have the pleasure of knowing Bogey all that well" he began. "We really didn't have much of a chance to talk. But one thing I did notice was how good a friend he was to Murdock."
Murdock put his hankie away. His big brown eyes were red, but he gazed intently at Face. "He was always at Murdock's side, keeping him focused, not letting the blue demons get to him too badly. We all know how when Murdock's in his dark places, sometimes he forgets to eat, but as long as Bogey was there, his plate was clean. He slept better at night—I didn't catch him sleepwalking once the whole time we were in South Africa. And I know it was because Bogey was there for him. There's no way I can ever repay that fuzzy little guy for taking care of my best friend."
His eyes were stinging again. Face blinked hard and continued. "I think Bogey knew that being there for your friends and family is the most important thing in the world. As a fellow orphan, I know that too. It may be out of place right now, but I just want to say there is nothing I wouldn't do for you guys. I thank Bogey for reminding me to treasure the people I care about."
Murdock clapped softly. Hannibal followed suit, then Amy. Even B.A. nodded and sniffed a little. Face sat down feeling winded. Where in the hell did all that come from? He had planned to make a nice little speech about esprit de corps and bravery and top it off with a line of poetry or two. Instead he found real words, real thoughts, flowing from his lips like someone turned on a tap.
The Sergeant stood up slowly, his eyes still on his boots. For a minute there was complete silence, and then B.A. kicked the earth and muttered. "Ya crazy fools! Every last one of you a crazy fool! I wasn't gonna do this!"
"B.A." Hannibal prodded, raising an eyebrow. The big man sighed and lifted his head. Face was amazed to see how bright and shiny his eyes were. "It's just that hearin' all a ya made me think…I was gonna ask that fuzzy little sucka if he wanted to live at the Center when we got home. Lotta kids there would love him."
"Aw, B.A.! That's beautiful! Bogey would have loved that! The Center would be just the right place for him." Murdock took out his handkerchief again and blew his nose loudly.
"Yeah, well" B.A. kicked at the ground again. "I used ta have a bear just like him when I was a kid. Got me through some rough times." He sat down and crossed his arms, determined to say no more. And to break the head of the first person dumb enough to tease him about it.
Hannibal stepped forward again. "Will everyone please rise and join hands."
The A-team stood around the tiny grave in a circle, hand in hand, Murdock between Hannibal and Face, Amy on the other side and B.A. next to the colonel. "In a way" Hannibal said in a voice none of them had ever heard him use before "Bogey carries the memory of every fallen soldier we've ever known. Warriors don't cry. We're taught that from the moment we step foot into boot camp. But we're not at war now. And in remembering Bogey, just one little bear, we remember them all."
Pain shot through Face like a knife. Murdock gripped his hand and bowed his head, his face contorting. Amy's eyes were closed and a few tears slipped from beneath her eyelashes. B.A. was as still as a stone. "Let's take a minute of silence, shall we?" Hannibal bowed his head too and the only sound in the little cemetery was that of birds chirping and a soft breeze stirring the leaves overhead. In another time and place, Face might have questioned it, might have asked Hannibal what the hell he was doing-using the funeral of a stuffed toy for Chrissakes!-to dredge up old memories. He didn't question it now. The A-Team had too few opportunities to mourn their dead. Too many real people gone without even a nod to their passing. It felt right to think of them now, to cry if they needed to.
"McCoy" Murdock said. He squeezed Face's hand. Face understood immediately. "Bruckner", he said.
Amy opened her eyes. "Linda", she said. B.A. cleared his throat noisily. "Jackson."
"Wingate" Hannibal said.
On and on they went, around and around, remembering those they had fought beside, loved, and lost. When it finally ended, there was a palpable lightening of the air. The sunshine was soft and peaceful. "Go now" Hannibal said so quietly that they had to lean close to hear him. "Go. It is ended. Go in peace."
A week later, B.A. found face at the copy machine in the Center break room. "Whatcha doin' Face?"
"Borrowing Annie's paperwork for her Cabbage Patch doll. Will you tell her I'll have it back in a minute?"
B.A. went out, shaking his head, rolling his eyes, and grinning all over his face.
A week later, Murdock came back from Occupational Therapy to find that he had a visitor. A small brown bear was leaning against his pillows with a roll of paper between its paws, tied with a blue ribbon. Unrolling the papers, Murdock read:
THIS IS TO CERTIFY THAT _BEAR
WAS BORN ON AUGUST 12TH, 1983 AT HONEYTOWN HOSPITAL
AND ADOPTED BY H.M. MURDOCK ON OCTOBER 25TH, 1983.
The home address was listed as the VA hospital. Beside the word WITNESS were the initials "TAP".
"Face!" Murdock whispered happily. Behind the adoption certificate was a note.
Found this little guy languishing at a flea market and thought he could use a home. Hannibal has something else cooking with a client in Long Beach. I should be seeing you soon. I miss you.
Murdock rolled up the papers and tucked them into the back of his dresser drawers. He plopped down on the bed and put the bear on his lap. "How would you like to be Humphrey Bogeybear IV?"