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Title: Between the motion and the act
Rating: PG
Summary: Vincent D'Agosta knows that Agent Pendergast can no longer separate his own fate from his brother's.

Vincent D'Agosta had no doubt that Pendergast had saved him, the way he'd said he--or, rather, the case of Jeremy Groves' murder--would. Although Pendergast would have stressed that he'd merely been in the right place at the right time with the right mystery to coax D'Agosta out of his funk, D'Agosta held that it was mostly Pendergast's doing.

Because Pendergast was good at saving people, and not just because it was part of his job. D'Agosta knew that Pendergast didn't save people because he was inherently moral or kind-hearted or predisposed to being the hero. He'd seen enough to know that Pendergast's morals were as sticky as anyone else’s, maybe more. He'd seen Pendergast be mean--but never cruel, and that was an important distinction to make while the specter of Diogenes hung over their heads. And if Pendergast were any kind of hero, then he was a hero of the Munchausen-by-proxy school, shoving people into life-threatening situations only to pull them out again at the last minute. But D’Agosta went along willingly, trusting that Pendergast would save them both. Or, when no hope remained, that Pendergast would sacrifice himself, as he had in Florence outside Castel Fosco.

D’Agosta had never been able to find the right words to describe how he’d felt, running away from the barking of the dogs, letting Pendergast save him yet again while he didn’t even dare to hope that Pendergast would survive. Once he’d found out, weeks later, that Pendergast had lived through the ordeal, he was still convinced that he should have stayed, that he shouldn’t have allowed Pendergast to save him that time. It made him angry that Pendergast had considered D’Agosta’s welfare over his own, and that he hadn’t been able to repay the favor when he’d returned with the carabinieri, thanks to Count Fosco's sick sense of humor.

He was sure that, when Pendergast died, it was going to be because he had tried to save someone who shouldn’t have been saved. D’Agosta saw the way Pendergast looked when he spoke to Diogenes over the phone, how his lips had tightened and how his eyes had opened wide, all silvery-blue iris with the pinprick of pupil in the center. He’d watched as Pendergast sacrificed himself into police custody in place of Diogenes, saving Viola and Kaplan and Lucifer’s Heart. And he had seen Pendergast immediately after he had confronted his memories of his brother and what had made Diogenes what he was. Pendergast had looked hollow, like a ghost, like something had been taken from him. It was as if every life he had saved over the years had meant nothing, as if every person he’d helped, every murderer he’d ever tracked down, every accomplishment, every deed he’d used to try to tip the scales had been knocked out of his hands, and he was just trying to hold on to the husk of himself that was left. That was when D’Agosta knew for certain that Pendergast would never be able to do what he had to do.

D’Agosta was grateful to Pendergast for pulling him out of himself, for saving his life time and time again. At the same time, he was angry that Pendergast kept himself distant and sad that Pendergast didn’t trust him as much as he would have liked. But mostly D’Agosta was afraid, of Diogenes and of the future, and it was that fear that fed his growing suspicion that, someday soon, he would have to be the one to save Pendergast from himself.

[First posted in 2008 as a Yuletide treat for GrayCardamon.]
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