A/N: I watched the Army-Navy game this afternoon, and decided that it should be a little bit different in the future. I'm borrowing some of my favorite characters to make that happen.
December 8, 2034
Midshipman First Class Sydney Cunningham rolled her eyes, even though she knew the person on the other end of the conversation shouldn't see it. "I can't believe you're coming up to Philly tomorrow," she said. "It's been ten years since Navy won. It's just going to be a cold and miserable day of standing around, watching the slaughter."
"These things come in cycles, Squid," Captain Jeff Cunningham's voice came from the speakers. "You were born into an era of a fourteen-year win streak for Navy."
"Which ended when I was four," she reminded him. "And then there were the years where we'd win one or two, they'd win one or two… And then Army started dominating as if they had invited us to land war."
"Don't let your mother hear you say that," her father cautioned. "You'd get a lecture about the Corps."
"Do I look stupid?" Sydney asked dryly. She sighed and pushed a loose lock of hair behind her ear. "This is seriously the worst possible time for this game to happen. Sam and I have our Yale interviews on Monday—"
"You didn't tell me you got an interview at Yale," Jeff interrupted. "In fact, you didn't even tell me you applied to Yale."
"Hey, everyone needs a safety school," she replied, which was really the only right answer when talking to her Harvard-educated father. She didn't want to go to Yale for medical school, but so far, it was one of three schools where both she and Sam had both been invited for interviews. "Sorry to cut this short, Dad, but I have to finish this history paper. I'll see you tomorrow?"
"Well, your mother and I will be in a suite."
"Of course you will," Sydney said with a sigh.
"Hey, I spent four years standing around being cold. I've paid my dues. Now I'm married to someone important."
Sydney smiled slightly. "At least you don't think you're the reason you warrant a suite," she teased. "Sam and I are going to stay in Philly and head up to Connecticut Sunday morning, so if Mom isn't too busy being important tomorrow night after the game and you want to meet up for drinks, I'm sure I can talk the boy into it. Jack has to go back with his company, of course, but I hope Sam and I are still worth a detour back home."
"We'll coordinate something tomorrow," Jeff promised. "After all, I've never that boy turn down drinks."
"That's because it's never happened," Sydney replied. "Love you, Dad."
"Love you, too, Squid. See you tomorrow."
She ended the call and returned her attention to her screen, where her still unfinished paper was staring back at her. "Your parents are going to the game?" Kyla Dombroski, her roommate for over three years and best friend since they were five, asked.
"Guess so," Sydney replied, turning slightly in her chair. "You?"
"No," Kyla replied. Even though both of her parents retired from the Army as colonels, her mother was actually an alum of the Naval Academy. "Mom says she's still too traumatized from four years of having to stand and watch games to ever do that again. She doesn't even like football. I think she's even taking call for the weekend so she doesn't have to deal with it. She says it's too painful to watch Navy continuously lose after having so many years of good teams when she went through and in the decade following."
"I can't even imagine living in a time when Navy knows how to play football," Sydney replied. Kyla laughed.
"I know, right?" she said. "It's going to be cold tomorrow. And I don't just mean the fact that the forecasted high is 32."
Saturday brought the biggest tailgate of the year, and while his oldest daughter and only son were standing somewhere freezing in their dress blues, Jeff Cunningham made his way through the crowds toward the suite where he'd been meeting up with his vice president of a wife and their youngest daughter, 16 and still doing a fairly good job avoiding the press.
He was about halfway toward the stadium and beginning to pat himself on the back for successfully walking from his class tailgate to the box without being seen, when he was seen. "Captain Cunningham!" a reporter called out, rushing over toward him with her cameraman in tow. "Any thoughts on today's game?"
He prided himself on thinking quickly on his feet—something that has been serving him well in his decades as a doctor—but it had been a year since Kim had been sworn in as the Vice President of the United States and he still hadn't gotten used to the press. "We have three games a year in which everyone on the field would sacrifice his life for everyone watching," he said. "This one's my favorite. It has the most history. And in the end, no matter who wins, it will always be One Team, One Fight." He smiled. "And for the sake of my four years at the Naval Academy and the two kids I currently have studying here, Go Navy, Beat Army!"
He was still smiling as he made the way to the suite, where one of Kim's Secret Service agents opened the door to allow him entry. "You survived the gauntlet," Kim said with a smile. "Regret tailgating with your equally middle-aged buddies, reliving your glory years?"
"Never," he replied, also smiling. They both said their words lightly, but they both knew he wasn't joking. There was something about that school that did that to people.
"Even though your team isn't going to win?"
"Ouch, Tomblin," he said with an exaggerated wince. "That hurts. Should I tell your oldest two children that you have no faith in their football team?"
She shrugged. "I have every bit of faith in their futball teams, if that makes a difference."
"Fine print isn't going to get you out of this one," he warned her. "Want a beer?"
"You have to ask?"
"Can I have one?" Pup asked from where she was watching the teams warm up by the glass.
"No," both parents replied. She shrugged and turned back to the glass.
The game was, not unexpectedly, a blood-bath, with the Heisman-nominated Army quarterback making every run, connecting every pass, and making the Navy team look like the second-string recruits that they were. "Well, that was fun," Kim said as the Army band began playing The Army Goes Rolling Along. "Give them about half an hour and then head out to meet with Squid and Sam?"
"Sounds like a plan," Jeff replied.
"Maybe I'll go to West Point," Pup mused. "Then I can cheer for a winning football team."
"Bite your tongue," Jeff admonished.
"Empty threat," Kim said, waving dismissively. "I might be more inclined to believe it if she hadn't been so open about wanting to be a Marine since she was five."
"Like mother, like daughter," Jeff sighed.
"Oorah," Pup said. "I'm hungry. Is there going to be food where you guys are getting liquored up?"
"There's food here!" Jeff exclaimed, waving over at the appetizers that had been coming and going for the last four hours. Pup just shrugged a shoulder and didn't say anything, making Jeff sigh and begin calculating how long it would be before the last teenager was out of the house.
Once the crowds outside the box began dying down, they made their way down to the armored car the Secret Service had hidden in the garage. As they walked, Jeff put his arm around Kim's shoulders and pulled her in to kiss the top of her head.
His team may have lost their biggest game of the year—again—but he had a pretty awesome wife and some awesome kids, even if the last one was a bit of a brat sometimes, the first one was about to interview at his med school's biggest rival, and the middle one was in the time of his schooling when he was legitimately too busy to see his family.
And that was good enough for him.