Title: And Now The Game Is Done
Author: Jedi Buttercup
Disclaimer: The words are mine; the world is not.
Rating: PG-13; slash
Spoilers: Olympus Has Fallen (2013) x In the Line of Fire (1993)
Summary: There were worse epitaphs to be had. 1100 words.
Notes: Part of the Duty 'verse, but stands alone. A short piece unrelated to the slash plot, because everyone's got a backstory, and because Dylan McDermott played a Secret Service agent in both movies.
Dave took a drag on his cigarette, staring down at the headstone that marked all that was left of his favorite cousin, and wondered what advice Al would give if he was still around.
Al D'Andrea: born in 1961, dead at the age of 32, devoted family man and, incidentally, also a Secret Service agent. Dave had looked up to Al as a kid; gone to the older boy with questions most kids would ask their dads, and had been determined to follow his role model into law enforcement as far back as he could remember. He'd been devastated when Al was killed; his cousin hadn't even been on the President's Protective Detail, but he'd given his life in the pursuit of a man who went on to try to assassinate the President, and Dave had made it his goal to fulfill his cousin's legacy and join the PPD himself.
Only- it wasn't quite like he'd thought it would be, when he finally got there. The days were often long and tedious as hell; he didn't particularly like the politics of the man who wore the title; there were few chances for him to shine in the job while that charismatic grunt, Mike Banning, was around to soak up everyone's attention with his smartass remarks and overfamiliar attitude; and the First Lady had been distantly cool to him since she'd caught him flirting with a few of her staff. Talk about your double standards.
He took another drag and shook his head. "What do you think? Stick it out, or try my prospects in private security?" he murmured. He'd heard there was good money in protecting foreign diplomats, particularly those who wanted an inside scoop on the inner workings of DC.
The breeze stirred the grass on the grave, the only answer Al had left to give him. "Yeah, I thought so."
But before he could flick the cigarette down and walk away, a throat cleared behind him.
"You know, he was talking about leaving the Service, too?" a vaguely familiar, gravelly voice spoke.
Dave turned in surprise. He visited Al's grave a few times a year, and had never seen anyone else there, except occasionally Al's widow; but if anyone else had a reason to visit, he supposed it would be Al's ex-partner. The man who'd eventually taken down Al's killer in an act of dramatic heroism on national TV.
Frank Horrigan looked much older now, and he hadn't been young then; he had the lined, leathery look of an aging cowboy from an old Western, a shock of thinning white hair, and age spots on the hand lifting a cigarette of his own to his mouth. But his eyes were as sharp as ever, fixed on Dave's face.
"Leaving...? Not Al," Dave raised his eyebrows. Not as dedicated as he'd been to his job.
"Yeah," Horrigan rasped, nodding to the headstone. "I was never the easiest bastard to work with, and he was still pretty new to the job. Worked a tricky counterfeit case together, and he came fairly close to getting himself killed during the takedown. He was a good agent- had real potential- but it gave him second thoughts about his career. But then Leary turned up... and you know the rest of the story."
Dave swallowed, cigarette dangling from his fingers as he stared at the retired agent, ash drifting down onto Al's grave. "I joined up because of him."
"Yeah. I remember. You kept asking me questions about how to qualify after the funeral, standing there looking like his younger ghost. I think he'd be proud you made it in."
Dave made a face. "Yeah. But he'd probably tell me I was a dumbass, too. I remember you, you know. You scared the shit out of me then; but I remember you telling me to live my dreams, not someone else's, or I'd regret it later. Kind of wish I'd listened, now."
"It's a job that needs doing. But not everyone's cut out for it," Horrigan shrugged. "Better to get out now than drink yourself under a table someday, asking yourself what if."
Dave knew enough about the man's story to know what he meant by that; knew he'd been on the Detail in '63 when Kennedy was killed and had spent the next thirty years bouncing from field office to field office. Sometime after Al's funeral, Dave had read about Horrigan's retirement and second marriage in the papers; so even when he had been given the opportunity to succeed where he'd once failed, he'd had to leave the Secret Service behind to find happiness.
Dave didn't have any failure that big to his credit. He didn't have any glory either, though. And he wasn't sure how much more of his life he wanted to spend trying to recapture his cousin's heroism. Maybe it was time he got out and found his own way.
He took another long drag, then dropped his cigarette and rubbed it out under his heel. "Maybe so," he said. "We'll see, I guess."
"Tell the Director hi from me. My wife used to swear the female agents would be more than window dressing one day, and damn if that looker didn't prove her right."
Dave was surprised into a smirk at that; he could almost hear Jacobs' reaction already. "I think I'll hold off on that until my papers are already in," he said. "I value my hide a little more than that."
Horrigan smiled back, just a slight crinkle in the lines at the corner of his eyes and mouth. "Don't blame you, kid. Good luck."
Dave took the advice. But he wasn't used to trying to find his own dreams after a lifetime of deferral, and found it easier to pursue monetary rewards instead- blaming his old job and Boss for his lingering dissatisfaction.
Years passed, and the grass atop another grave bowed as a striking woman with greying hair and still proud posture brought her husband to visit. Another man met them, the marks of a vicious struggle still visible on his face and a Secret Service badge on his belt.
"You were there," the elderly former agent greeted the current one.
"Yeah," the other man replied, gaze solemn with regret. "He lost his way. But he found it again, before the end."
Three men who'd overcome tragedies to triumph: that description could be used of them all. But only one had sunk so low as to actively betray their duty. Yet what sense speaking ill of the dead?
There were worse epitaphs to be had.