Bad Habits Die Hard

Part 1

It wasn’t the first time, and probably not the last, but Matt had to consider that John McClane might be a seriously bad influence on him.


Not that he had much of a choice, really. It was hard enough finding a livable apartment in Jersey before the firesale, but now people had a few more trust issues and it wasn’t like Matt would be getting a reference from his last landlord any time soon.


Not to mention the limping around the house, and the always needing a ride to the hospital for rehab, and hey, McClane was driving there all the time anyway, for his shoulder. Matt was even learning how to cook without a microwave, so that was good.


And McClane had started back at the cop shop a couple hours a day. Nothing big like saving the world yet, just something they called ‘modified duties’ – which Matt figured was probably mostly paper work and might even require McClane to use a computer. It usually put him in a pretty bad mood, but with Matt here he could eat something when he got home that wasn’t frozen pizza. Which, by the way, the PT said would be good for their recovery.


So. Okay. Staying with McClane wasn’t a bad option. It was his only option if he was being realistic. But the thing was…Matt was developing bad habits.


See, McClane had this thing, where he went around talking to himself when he was agitated. And it wasn’t like quiet detached muttering either. It was more like full-on ranting.


What’s this John? It’s a toaster. I know you’re not big with the technology, but dafter 54 years you’d think you could make a piece of toast. Right!? Maybe without burning your – goddamn MOTHER F…


And the ranting almost always ended in a string of curses that suggested McClane was actually kind of creative. Maybe he missed his calling. Should’ve been on the stage or something. Something other than that guy. That badass, larger than life, somewhat frightening but still undeniably heroic guy, without whom Matt would not be standing here right now. In John’s kitchen. Trying to learn how to cook a lamb chop.


Except for how he wasn’t trying so hard, right this minute. This minute he had his back pressed to the wall near the entrance to McClane’s kitchen, struggling not to even breathe too loud because of the bad, bad habit he was starting to develop.


The habit of listening at doors. Eavesdropping on McClane’s bizarre self-aimed rants.


And if Matt could be deluded and defensive, for just one second, then maybe, maybe he wasn’t totally to blame. Seriously, McClane could always stop thinking out loud if he didn’t want to be heard – Matt thought so at least. And sure, John had taken to closing himself behind doors lately when he really got going but…maybe Matt wouldn’t be so interested in it if he wasn’t slowly becoming convinced that, more and more often, the topic of McClane’s rants was…


Maybe it is complicated, yeah, like you’d know. But it’s a piece of meat, John. Not a marriage proposal. This has gotta stop. You gotta calm down, control yourself, and let the kid cook you dinner if that’s what he wants to be doing and forget about it, dammit, or this is just isn’t gonna work.


…it was Matt.


Shit. Shit. Shit.




The weirdness had all started a week or so ago.


And okay, so this new spying thing wasn’t Matt’s only bad habit, he knew it. Matt had a tendency to ramble. A little. Sometimes. Especially if he was tired, or just had a Red Bull, or if McClane insisted on religiously watching the news every night before bed like a big, bald lemming, no matter how many times Matt told him it was orchestrated, or… if, like, people were shooting at him.


But really, there had been no need for John to grab Matt’s head and shove his big, rough hand over his mouth. And it was pretty unnecessary for McClane to lean in way close and grit out “Kid. Do you ever. Shut. Up?” And John’s hand was really big, and too warm, and Matt’s asthma was kicking in or something, because suddenly he felt like he couldn’t breathe. 


So Matt did what anyone would do. He narrowed his eyes and bit down. Pretty hard.


John had whipped his hands away, cursing as expected.


“Dammit, Farrell!”


He brought the injured flesh up to his mouth – the middle finger and some of his palm it looked like – and sucked angrily.


Matt couldn’t help it. Come on, it was funny. He felt his lips twitch.


“Oh shit. Sorry. I’m sorry, McClane. Are you…did I actually…you’re bleeding a little bit, huh?”


McClane just gave him a look that Matt was pretty sure could make bigger men than him piss their pants. But this was Matt, and they were sitting together on the couch like they did every night, and when John moved his hand away, his lips were already starting to curl in a wry sort of disbelieving smile.


Matt was all-the-way grinning now, and he got a bit cocky maybe. He grabbed at John’s wrist and pulled it back toward him so he could see the damage.


He’d definitely broken the skin. The palm was swollen, and Matt could see where his pointy canine had sunk right through the callused ridge of flesh. Where he’d caught the thinner skin of John’s finger, it was bleeding all right, seeping out into the crease of the knuckle.


“I really got you.” Matt murmured, guiltily.


“S’alright.” McClane’s voice was predictably gruff and dismissive.


Matt ran his tongue over his teeth. Yeah, okay, sharp. Oops. For an idiotic second he actually thought he could taste John’s blood, but it was probably just salt from, you know, having another person’s skin in his mouth. Fuck.


He brushed his fingers over the wound lightly, and McClane flinched.


“Sorry, man. Hey.” Matt smoothed his thumb over John’s palm again, this time avoiding the sore spot. “Here,” he said, and leaned down to place soft a kiss over the hot swelling.


All Matt could think later, was that had it seemed perfectly logical at the moment. But the second right after, it was obviously stupid and insane. McClane was staring at him like he’d spontaneously sprouted a second head, like Bruce Campbell in Army of Darkness.


Matt’s mouth hung open, ready to make some lame joke, but nothing came. They just kept staring at each other. Matt thought maybe he really was having an asthma attack, but then John kind of looked like his breathing was a bit uneven, too.


He was still holding McClane’s hand.


McClane made a little sound like clearing his throat and pulled away. He turned back to the 11 o’clock news but after a couple of seconds he got up, muttered something unintelligible about first aid kits, and left Matt to sit there and try to not die of sheer panic right there on the couch.




That was the first time John had chosen to close the door before he started ranting. It wasn’t soon after that Matt had started to develop his little espionage habit.


Until now, his efforts had mostly turned up babble that could be about anything at all. The problem was, whatever Matt’s gifts might be, they came with an agile imagination, and it could also, no matter how unlikely, be about him.


Get a grip on yourself, John. It was a compliment. You remember compliments? People sort of appreciate a guy who saves their life. Shit just kinda works that way…


Could’ve been anyone. McClane saved a lot of people. Nevermind that Matt had mentioned earlier that morning how he owed him his life and everything in it.


Come on, it’s not like it’s hard. It’s the 21st century. It’s the same as anything else right? Tab A goes into Slot B. Except there is no Slot B. Nooo! Just more tabs. Goddamn Tab A,  everywhere! No B. They say there’s always option C, but C’s not an option, really. Not in this house. Better not be. Jesus H. Fu…


That didn’t even sound like a person, more like John was trying to do origami. John could’ve been trying to do anything, one-handed like he kept trying to, no matter how hard Matt tried to get him to just ask for help. But if it was about a person, then.... Matt took a cold shower and repeated the origami theory to himself the rest of the night.


You gotta get over this, old man. Just get over it, make it through. This is temporary, right? Matter of time. Whole thing’ll be over soon and life’ll be back to normal.


This one sounded like it was just about the rehab on John’s arm. He really, really hoped it was about his arm.


Yep, sketchy evidence at best. But now, a week later, backed against the wall in McClane’s kitchen, and distinctly hearing the words “meat” and “proposal” and “kid”, there was little doubt left in Matt’s mind as to the topic of John’s secretive diatribes.


And it was bad, because it sounded like either John wanted Matt out of his house or…


But no. Seriously. There was no way it could mean…what it sounded like it meant. There was only one way to know for sure. Research.


          ~~~~~~~~ Back to Live Free or Die Hard ~~~~~~~~ Part 1



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