You're a Good Man, John McClane

Part 1

John McClane had a problem.


It wasn’t the hole in his shoulder, or the unending mountain of paperwork on his new desk. And after the terrorists, hijackers, terrorists, murderers, thieves, and terrorists, you’d think John could deal with this. But there was 125 lbs of hacker sitting on his couch at home, possibly secretly taking over the world, very likely clogging his drains and leaving sticky rings on his coffee table, and definitely driving him out of his goddamn mind.


It started out with stupid, small-potatoes shit.


The first thing was probably the toaster. John had some crappy no-name thing that came with the place, and he never tended to use it that much. Partly because it was a crappy no-name thing, and the toast got stuck instead of popping up, and then it burned, and it set off the damn smoke detector. But mostly just because John didn’t eat at home very often.


Well, he didn’t before. But now he had Farrell. Which meant he had food everywhere.




He’d been staring at the walls in the hospital for two days when the nurse brought Matt’s release paperwork in along with his.


“You’re next of kin for Mr. Farrell, down the hall?”


“What? No, Lucy’s my daughter. Lucy M – Gennaro. She was only in for observation, went home yesterday.”


“Oh. Dear.” He’d seen this nurse before. She had a sweet-looking round face, and her chestnut hair was shot through with grey. And right now she looked flustered, for some reason. “The EMTs that brought him in said he was in your custody.”


“He was. He’s been cleared.” John said. He had a feeling he was missing something, the morphine drip could do that.  “Released from custody. I’m a cop.” Jesus. These people. They make you fill out everything three times, but do they read it? Nooo.


“Oh, I see. Sorry for the mix-up.” She reached out and took the sheets for Matt back, cradling them against her chest protectively. “You and your daughter were his only visitors, so I thought...”


John might be higher than a kite on these meds, but something was wrong here.


“Wait,” John awkwardly pushed himself into a sitting position, ignoring the hot pain that flowed down his arm when he did. “The ki– Farrell, he doesn’t have a next of kin?”


“There’s nobody listed on his insurance.” She shook her head sadly. “All we have is that he was a ward of state, in Connecticut. The information’s pretty badly out of date, but we’ll just get him to fill it in a little later when he’s awake.” She stepped away from the bed. “I’ll come back for yours, too. Thank you, Officer McClane.”


Detective. Not that she cared.


Ward of the state, oh Christ. He’d never seen Farrell’s file. He knew nothing about this kid, nothing. Except that he was a potential threat to national security and...currently of no known address that wasn’t now blown up. 


“No – ” John stopped the nurse before she could reach the door. “You can just leave it with me. That’s fine.”


She hesitated, but her eyes softened and she patted him on his good arm when she handed the papers back.


He was going to regret this.




The extra room upstairs had been intended for Lucy and Jack when he bought the place, but John had taken the bunk beds apart years ago after they went unused several summers running.


Lucy had been a little too thrilled about the idea when John explained why he’d need her help hauling the mattress out of the basement. It shouldn’t really have surprised him, but John couldn’t help a swell of daddy’s pride – followed by a little wave of absent father’s guilt – when she pulled out his tool box and showed no trouble at all setting up one of the old bunks in the den on the first floor. Holly had done good.


There was a desk in there, which Farrell should like, and this way he wouldn’t have to deal with the stairs.


“You’re doing a good thing, Dad.” Lucy said, before stepping onto the bus back to Rutgers.


Yeah, he was really going to regret this.




So Farrell stayed, and there was food everywhere. Pizza pops, pizza pockets, pizza on little bagels. There were horrible syrupy jet-fuel drinks in his fridge, and more kinds of toxic-coloured cakes than John knew Hostess even made.


But there were packages of pasta in the cupboard and steaks in the freezer now, too.  And once Farrell was up and walking around the house, he started actually cooking things that – most nights – John didn’t mind eating.


He just kept reminding himself it was temporary.


There was one morning they had an early rehab appointment at the hospital. John glanced through the cupboards and rejected the eight different colours of sugar-coated cereal Matt had stashed in there. John generally wasn’t much for breakfast, but he had to eat something so he could take his pills, so he prepared for a fight with the toaster.


He lost. He was a regular one-man Larry, Curly and Moe for a minute while he shook the thing, jiggled the little handle, and then finally made the fatal mistake of sticking his finger into the slot to pull the toast out before it started smoking. At least he hadn’t grabbed a fork.


When you burn the shit out of your hand, the first reaction is to shake it around a lot. Instincts don’t account for recovering bullet-wounds though, and suddenly John was in no small amount of pain, and one hell of a mood. And it seemed that Farrell was conditioned to respond to ranting and swearing, ’cause suddenly he was right there. With ice and a towel somehow.


Trouble was, when Matt moved too fast like that, the knee on his injured leg tended to – yep, there it went – and John threw his left arm around Farrell’s waist, holding his throbbing right one out of flailing-range.


“Okay?” John waited while Matt shook his head and panted a little in pain and surprise.


“I will be. Just...” Farrell grunted as he tried to right himself, overbalanced, and ended up braced against John’s hip. He huffed a little frustrated laugh. “Thanks. Just don’t let go.”


“I gotcha.”


Matt’s hands were full with the ice and towel, and John’s hands were full of burn blisters and Matt. Stalemate. They exchanged a chagrined look, and then Farrell waved his fistful of ice at John’s quickly swelling burn-mark.


“Lemme see that.”


John obeyed, placing his hand on top of the towel, but he damn near yanked it away again when Farrell pressed the ice cubes directly onto his over-heated skin. He settled for his favourite curse-word.


He said the curse part louder than the ‘mother’ part.


Farrell had his head down over John’s fingers but this close up, he could still see the corner of his mouth twist upward. Yeah. Funny.


“Baby.” Farrell accused, under his breath.


“Don’t make me drop you, kiddo.” John laughed quietly. The ice was stinging its way down to a low level ache.


“Like you would.” Farrell murmured his dare without looking up. “Wuss.”








They were both chuckling softly now. John had practically forgotten the burn, with the distraction of Matt pressed against him, hip to hip. Every time they laughed it sent Matt’s breath warm down his collar, and the trailing ends of his hair were a shivery tickle at the side of John’s neck.


Aaaaand that was about enough of that.


“Okay brainiac, how do we get out of this one?”


“Hmm? Oh!” Farrell met his eyes for just a second, then looked back down at John’s hand. “Okay, got it. I do this...  


Farrell cupped his hand under the towel and around John’s fingers, holding the ice in place one-handed, and wrapped the towel around it to keep it there. 


“Then this.” With his hands now free, Farrell wrapped one arm around John’s back, and twisted his other hand in the front of his shirt before he drew himself upward. There was a split second too short to even get uncomfortable where Farrell laid the entire length of himself against John from shoulder to ankle, then gave a little shove to get himself upright.


“Okay, whoa.” Matt said, hopping around, and John kept a grip on his arm while he found his balance. “And ow. And...taa-daa!”


Farrell made little jazz-hands and looked completely and thoroughly pleased with himself once he was steady.


“Nice trick, David Cop-a-feel.”


“Mmm, how about a hand for my lovely ass-istant.” Farrell said, making gropy-motions at John. Then he stuck his fingers in his mouth where they were reddened and wet from holding onto the ice.


“Listen, thanks for – ” John held up his towel-bound hand. “Now go get your shit together, huh? You know it’s gonna take you twenty minutes to get into that car.”


“Sure.” Farrell smirked, “And thanks for the pillar-action, Samson. Oh no waaaait,” he drawled, “Samson had hair.”


“Just go get your smart ass in the car.”


“Jeez, McClane, anyone ever tell you you might have a control issue?” John sighed heavily. It was 8 am and he was tired already. “Alright alright, I’m gone! I’m gone.”


And John absolutely did not laugh as Matt hobbled off down the hall, bitching about people rocking the attitude just because they saved the world a couple of times.




John hadn’t had anyone touch him – unless it was to punch him, or patch up a gunshot wound – since Holly. So there was probably some kind of shrink-psych explanation for it, but his reaction to the close contact was really throwing him for a loop.  


Their little scene in the kitchen kept re-playing itself in his head, bringing with it this weird sense-memory effect where John could swear he could feel his skin warming everywhere Farrell had been pushed up against him. He kept analyzing every move - the concern Matt showed when he’d seen John hurt himself, the way he just let John hold him up long enough to actually forget he wasn’t standing on his own, suggesting there was a heavy dose of trust growing there.

And then John thought maybe there shouldn’t be. Because, he was definitely starting to notice things he probably shouldn’t.


Like the way Matt’s hair curled damply against his neck when he came out of the shower – it would dry that way and go wavy, if he didn’t comb it right away. Then there was the way John knew that when Matt got too quiet it meant he needed a painkiller, and sure enough half an hour after John reminded him he’d be himself again, babbling away like somebody put a nickel in him. Nah, who was John kidding, sure, talk was cheap but Matt was giving it away for free.


But the most disconcerting, was when he found himself watching the way Matt sucked powdered sugar off his fingers after eating those little doughnuts, and how his adam’s apple bobbed when he swallowed.


Two days into this mental battle, a fresh distraction appeared. There was a new toaster on the counter when John went to pour his morning coffee.


“This yours?” He asked Farrell, who was sitting at the kitchen table with his own coffee cup and one of those magazine things he insisted was some kind of novel, but that John knew was really a comic book.  He paused with the cup halfway to his mouth, and looked up at John through his bed-messy bangs.


“It’s yours,” Matt shrugged, and nearly spilled his coffee all over his comic and John’s table.


“Sick of burned pop tarts?” John tried not to smile.


“I’m sick of burned you.” Matt set his coffee cup down safely so he could wave his hands around like he liked to do when he talked. “That thing was a serious fire hazard. You know I don’t even think it was compatible with like, wiring installed after 1955...not that this place has any of that.” Matt muttered.


“Kid I’m fine, it was one time. You don’t have to – ”


“Come on, McClane, just keep it okay? It’s the least I can do. I mean you let me stay here for free, and if that wasn’t enough, which it totally is, and thank you, again, by the way. But seriously. I owe you my life. Like literally, my life. And on top of that – look around – pretty much everything that’s in it, right now. So. Please. It’ll make me happy. Okay? Just…okay?”


Now suddenly John was eating toast every day, and couldn’t even look at the shiny new gadget without some big, dumb smile on his face. And frankly, it kind of pissed him off. Because – honestly.


He had to get a grip on himself. It was a compliment. Remember compliments? People tend to like a guy who saves their life. Shit just kinda works that way.


John had done things that saved a lot of lives. He had medals and a plaque from the City of Los Angeles he couldn’t even hang on the wall because he hated looking at them. He just couldn’t stand the idea of ‘heroics’. Being a hero was how guys ended up dead. Hell, ending up dead was how guys became heroes.


So you could keep your medals. But give him a stainless steel bread-warmer and suddenly the guys at the precinct are cracking jokes about shit eating grins way too big for riding the desk, and how the Irish must have gotten lucky last night.




As if all that wasn’t batshit enough, the whole thing had finally come to a head about a week ago, when John had decided Farrell really needed to find his own place. He’d help him. It was for his own good. And John’s sanity.


He’d made up his mind, it was time. The kid had to go. He’d been ready to tell him. Waiting for an opening really, as they sat on the couch watching the nightly news as per usual. Only – also the usual – the kid just wouldn’t shut up. On and on about government cover-ups, the CIA, the IRA, the NBA, something about computers called a valve portal, and no shit, the special mutant chickens Col. Sanders was breeding. Yammering.


And maybe John was an idiot to get in the kid’s face and put his hands on him like he did – he’d just wanted a second to collect his thoughts before he made it sound like he was putting him out on the street. But when he’d made that move to cover Matt’s mouth up, it all just turned into touching, and biting, and then more fuckin’ touching, and Matt actually goddamn kissing it better like a four year old.


And John couldn’t say it after that. He couldn’t say much of anything, so he gave up and went to bed.


Not that he slept. He just laid there, prodding constantly at the swelling Matt’s mouth had left on his palm and rapidly losing what was left of his proverbial shit. It was a kiss, so what, so nothing. Sure, the kid had a set of lips on him fuller than most women John had ever – Jesus, Mary and – see, this was fucked up. Wasn’t it?


The thing was, John wasn’t sure any more. These days they had sensitivity training and shit, and you weren’t supposed to think like that.


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. Just more tabs. Goddamn, Tab A everywhere. No B. They say there’s always option C, but C wasn’t an option, really. Not in this house. Better not be.


No. No, this was not happening. He would have to get over it. And Matt would be fine, they’d just have to find him a new place. One where he didn’t have a guy nearly twice his age following him around and staring at his mouth. Christ.


He’d just get over it, make it through. This was temporary, right? Matter of time. Whole thing’d be over soon and life’d be back to normal.


         ~~~~~~~ Back to Live Free or Die Hard ~~~~~~~~ Part 2



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