“I am not fucking John McClane!” Matt’s voice echoes along the stairwell, reverberating down three flights and coming back up to him in waves before dying out.
Warlock smirks. “But you’d like to be.”
“I’d like to kick your ass down these stairs.”
“I’m wounded, man,” Warlock says. “Wounded.”
Carter shoulders past them next to the railing and grins at Matt over the lip of his Styrofoam coffee cup. “Glad to know McClane’s virtue is safe with you, Farrell,” he says.
Matt resists the urge to trip the smug bastard—barely—and only because the Feds keep talking like he better toe the line or face worse than Azkaban. Matt’s grateful for the gainful employment; truly, he is, but he could do without Big Brother all up in his business. They even forced Matt to share an office with Warlock to “better consolidate resources.” Matt’s no fool. He knows what that really means. If McClane hadn’t also taken a job consulting for the Bureau, Matt thinks he would’ve lost his mind a long time ago. The only reason Matt has any breathing room at all is clearly because Bowman trusts McClane to keep Matt out of trouble.
Warlock gives Carter the finger behind his back and starts down the stairs again. “Look, Matt. You live in the guy’s house. You spend all your free time with him. You cook his damn dinner. You might as well be fucking him.”
“Life is not a wet dream, Frederick. It’s not even a B movie. Guys like McClane don’t fuck guys like me. Ever.”
Matt limps down the rest of the stairs, Warlock trailing after him like a duckling, and when they finally get to the lobby, Matt’s knee will barely hold his weight.
“Jesus, kid,” McClane says. “What the fuck are you taking the stairs for anyway?” He puts a bag of frozen peas on Matt’s swollen knee, and Matt winces at the sudden chill.
“It’s part of physical therapy. I’m supposed to use the stairs instead of the elevator.” Matt tries not to notice how warm McClane’s hands are on his thigh as he stuffs another pillow under Matt’s leg.
“Down ten stories? Oh, yeah. Exactly what the doc meant.” McClane twists the cap off a Bud and hands it over to Matt. “You know, for a genius, you really are a dumb shit sometimes.”
McClane smiles then, an expression that manages to look both goofy and menacing at the same time. McClane has been randomly grinning at him for weeks now, and it confuses the hell out of Matt. The corners of McClane’s eyes crinkle when he smiles like this, and the line of his jaw somehow softens. It’s a fond smile, the kind of smile McClane might give someone he finds endearing, and Matt doesn’t know why in the hell McClane would ever look at him like that.
Matt knows what he’d like that smile to mean, but he can’t afford to let his fantasies color reality. He’s worked too damn hard to make a real friendship with McClane to jeopardize it for anything. So Matt rolls his eyes and drinks his beer and doesn’t think about McClane’s hands on his body. Much.
“Is he taking his medicine?”
“Yes, Lucy,” Matt says and switches the phone to his other ear.
“Seeing the shrink?”
“Eating at least one vegetable a day?”
“Are potato chips vegetables?”
“Damn it, Matt,” Lucy says. “I’m trying to be serious here. Is Dad eating okay?”
“Yeah, Lucy. He’s eating okay. I sautéed asparagus last night, and McClane said it wasn’t too bad for rabbit food.” Matt does not tell Lucy that he sautéed the asparagus in bacon fat. He likes his face in its current arrangement, thank you very much, and anyway, he’s planning on gradually substituting olive oil for the yumminess of dead pig and hoping McClane doesn’t notice.
“What about you?” Lucy says. “How are you doing?”
Matt shrugs even though she can’t see him. “Knee’s acting up, but nothing I can’t handle.”
“Alright,” she says. “Thanks for taking care of my dad. Let him return the favor sometimes, okay?”
“Sure thing, Luce.”
When McClane gets home that night, Matt has made vegetable soup, and McClane chows down without complaint, even going back for seconds. “Good stuff, Farrell,” he says and won’t let Matt help wash up.
Matt watches him at the sink, suds up to his elbows, water soaking the front of his t-shirt and molding the worn cotton to his abs. Matt very carefully does not imagine slowly peeling that damp shirt off McClane’s chest. He doesn’t picture the skin underneath—the livid scar on McClane’s shoulder, the older ones on his ribs—and he most certainly doesn’t wonder what that skin tastes like, what it might feel like on his tongue.
McClane turns around to clear the rest of the table and catches Matt staring at him. Matt blushes so hard his ears burn, but McClane doesn’t say anything. He just smirks at Matt like he knows exactly what Matt’s thinking, like he knows and he doesn’t mind, like maybe he’s been doing some thinking of his own.
“What do you mean there’s a maniac loose in the building?” Matt says.
“I mean there’s a fucking maniac loose in the building,” Warlock says. “The call to evacuate came from Bowman right before you got here. The Xerox dude has gone insane and taken the whole fifth floor hostage.”
“Bob? The short guy with the unibrow? He always seemed so normal.”
Warlock says, “They always do.”
“Where’s McClane?” Matt says, suddenly remembering that McClane is actually working in his office for once. His fifth floor office.
“How the fuck should I know?” Warlock says. “He’s your platonic life partner, not mine.”
Matt tries McClane’s cell, but the call goes straight to voicemail. Matt has a really bad feeling about this. “We need to get down there and figure out what’s going on.”
“You’re crazy. We need to get to the roof and wait for the chopper. We’re running the fuck away and letting the whole building full of people with guns handle the maniac.”
Matt tries McClane’s office phone next. He gets nothing, not even a busy signal. “I’m not crazy. I just want to make sure McClane isn’t in trouble.” Privately Matt concedes that he does sound a little crazy, but Warlock will just have to deal.
Warlock pushes back from the wall of computers they share and swivels around in his rolly chair. “Dude. Delusions of grandeur much? Newsflash, Matt—McClane doesn’t need your help. He’s Han Solo, and you’re C3PO. C3PO with no legs.”
Matt ignores Warlock easily; he’s had years of practice. “Call Bowman back. Ask him where McClane is.”
Warlock grumbles, but he calls Bowman back. “Matt wants to know where McClane is,” he says.
“What are you? Five? Give me the phone.” Matt snatches the handheld from Warlock. “This is Matt. Where’s McClane?”
Bowman clears his throat and exhales noisily into his cell.
“He’s in there, isn’t he?” Matt says. “Isn’t he?”
“Don’t go off half-cocked, Farrell. Evacuate the building via the roof--”
Matt hangs up on him. “Can we get security feed of that floor?”
“Way ahead of you.”
Before long, they have a pretty clear picture of what’s happening on the fifth floor. Bob has herded all the agents into the lobby and tied them up, McClane front and center with toner cartridges taped around his waist. Bob is holding what looks like a homemade bomb detonator complete with the big, shiny, red button in the center. Everyone else seems just shy of hysterical, but McClane has his eyes closed and his legs stretched out in front of him on the floor and crossed at the ankle.
“Nobody seems hurt,” Warlock says. “Yet.”
Matt drums his fingers on the desk and tries to think. Killing helicopters with cars is more than a little above his pay grade, and anyway, Bob seems to have had the decency to leave the heavy machinery at home. There’s got to be something he can do, though. No way is Matt leaving McClane hanging. He’s got McClane’s back, always.
Matt says, “We need to talk to Bob. Maybe we can get through to him. I mean, we know the guy, right?”
Warlock shrugs. “I thought his name was Bill.”
Matt pinches the bridge of his nose, hard, and counts to ten. When he looks up, Warlock is texting on his Droid, and Matt nearly loses his shit. “What the hell are you doing? This is serious, Warlock. You can tweet the deets after McClane loses the C4 accessories.”
“Keep your panties on, Farrell. I’m sending in a support request.”
“You wanted to talk to the guy,” Warlock says.
Matt watches Bob pull his cell phone out of his pocket and scowl at the screen. Bob’s face gets redder and redder as he reads, his shoulders hunching down until his neck disappears into his chest. He sort of looks like a very angry garden gnome. Behind him, McClane opens one eye and yawns.
Bob starts stabbing at his phone with a shaking finger, and when the call goes through, Warlock puts him on speaker. “The paper is jammed? Your toner is low?” Bob says. Matt can see the spittle flying from his mouth as he speaks. “Maybe if you kept your fat assess off the machines they wouldn’t break every five minutes.”
“Guys on the third floor are making a collage of The Mona Lisa using only photocopies of their asses,” Warlock whispers to Matt. “It’s a thing. I may or may not have been asked to provide the left pupil.”
Matt makes a mental note never to set foot on the third floor. “What do you want, Bob? Is this about money or—”
Bob cuts him off. “No! This is about respect. This is about all those people that work their fingers to the bone all week at jobs that nobody gives a shit about. This is about me wiping your assprints off the platen glass every goddamn day!”
Bob clutches the detonator in his hand while he rants, and Matt suddenly has an idea. “When I give you the signal,” he mouths to Warlock, “turn on the sprinklers.” Matt snatches the phone and heads for the stairwell. He can’t risk getting stuck in the elevator.
“What’s the signal?” Warlock calls after him. “Hey, Farrell! What’s the signal?”
The corridors are strangely empty, and Matt wonders what in the hell all the agents are doing. They aren’t rushing to rescue the hostages for damn sure. “Where is everyone?” Matt asks under his breath, but Bob must hear him because he laughs into the phone.
“I imagine they’re on the ground floor trying to find the bombs I’ve hidden away. It took me weeks to sneak them all inside.” Matt can hear the pride in Bob’s voice. “Gabriel had the right idea, you know,” Bob says. “The wealth and power in this nation are concentrated in the hands of too few. We need to shake up the status quo, give the little guy a chance to make something of himself.”
Matt’s knee is killing him, but he’s almost to the fifth floor landing. “I don’t think we were watching the same fire sale, Bob. Gabriel is not Robin Hood. He wasn’t taking from the rich to give to the poor. He was taking from everybody to give to himself.”
Bob doesn’t answer, and Matt cuts the call. He’s in position and in no mood to listen to any more of this crap anyway. Matt sidles up to the window in the door to the fifth floor and takes a peek around the lobby. Bob’s back is turned, and Matt forces himself to tamp down his fear when he pulls the door open and tiptoes behind the receptionist’s desk. He thinks McClane sees him come in, but he can’t be sure. The guy looks half asleep. Matt waves his arms at the camera in the corner and hopes like hell that Warlock is paying attention.
Just like magic, the sprinklers cut on. Matt is instantly soaked, his socks squelching in his shoes as he shifts his weight uncomfortably from right to left. He can hear Bob cursing and knocking over chairs and underneath that the white noise of a hell of a lot of water hitting the floor.
“Back in the day,” McClane says from across the room, “it was SOP to cut the power and the water in a hostage situation. You must be something special, Bob.”
Matt pokes his head over the desk. Bob’s back is still turned, but he’s leaning down over McClane in a way that Matt definitely does not like. The detonator smolders in Bob’s hand, randomly shooting sparks before it completely fizzles out. “Shut up,” Bob says and backhands McClane, the sound of flesh striking flesh somehow louder than anything else in the lobby.
Later, Matt will not be able to remember exactly how he got across the room. He will remember watching Bob hit McClane but not how he came to be kneeling over Bob’s unconscious body holding an industrial sized stapler. McClane nudges Matt with his boot, and Matt looks up.
Water sluices down McClane’s bald head, pooling in the hollow of his throat, and, so help him, Matt can’t keep his hands to himself. He reaches out to touch McClane’s face, his fingers ghosting over the mark just starting to purple up on McClane’s cheekbone.
“Don’t tell me,” McClane says. “I’m all covered in sexy bruises.”
“Something like that,” Matt says and cuts through the ropes at McClane’s wrists and then the tape at his waist.
The doors burst open just as the sprinklers cut off, and soon all the agents are free of their bonds and Bob is in custody. Bowman looks like he wants to corner Matt and rip him a new one, so Matt hauls McClane to his feet and starts dragging him to the elevator.
Once the doors ding shut, Matt feels like he can breathe again. He props up against the elevator wall, taking the pressure off his knee as much possible. Now that the adrenaline is wearing off, Matt realizes he’s freezing. He starts to shiver. McClane rolls his eyes and presses in close, tucking Matt under his arm. Matt doesn’t even try to figure out why McClane is hugging him; he just rolls with the alternate universe he’s landed in and snuggles up closer to McClane.
McClane pushes Matt’s wet bangs out of his face and leans in until Matt really can’t wonder anymore about his intentions. Matt has one moment to think, “I’m about to be kissed by John Fucking McClane,” and then McClane’s mouth is moving on his. Their kiss is slow and wet and tender, and it lasts all the way down to the first floor.
“Let’s go home and get you out of these wet clothes,” McClane says with a smirk as the doors roll open. On the way to the parking garage, McClane takes most of Matt’s weight, his broad palm splayed in the middle of Matt’s back like a promise for later.
Turns out peeling McClane’s damp shirt off his chest is just as awesome as Matt dreamed it would be. McClane’s nipples are hard already, and Matt sucks one into his mouth, bites down, and worries it between his teeth. McClane growls, literally growls, and pushes Matt down on the bed.
“You drive me crazy, kid,” he says and tugs Matt’s jeans down to his ankles.
Matt knows he must be grinning like a fool, but he never thought he’d be naked in McClane’s bed with McClane actually, you know, present and equally naked. Besides, McClane’s wearing a pretty stupid grin at this point himself. Matt resists the urge to fistbump the sky and gets down to the business of putting his mouth on every single inch of McClane’s bare skin.
He starts at the top, his tongue catching on the nearly invisible layer of new hair growing in, and Matt doesn’t care if he’s being weird. He’s wanted to kiss McClane’s bald head pretty much since he met him, and, anyway, if the noises McClane is making are any indication, McClane really doesn’t mind. Matt can feel McClane’s blood thrumming in his veins when he reaches McClane’s throat, the steady throb of McClane’s heartbeat underneath his lips. Matt is gentle with McClane’s shoulder even though he doesn’t think it bothers him anymore. He runs his tongue reverently over that raised and twisted skin, over that place where McClane proved to Matt that he will always take the bullet for people he cares about. He sucks for awhile on McClane’s hip, making marks with his teeth, until McClane is squirming and panting and fisting his hands in the sheets.
McClane says, “You’re killing me, Matt,” and Matt swallows him down, McClane’s cock heavy and thick in Matt’s mouth. Matt tries to go slow, tries to make it last, but McClane clutches at Matt’s shoulders and bucks his hips, and Matt can’t help but respond to that kind of urgency, that kind of desperation. He sucks McClane hard and fast, and when McClane comes, his entire body convulses—his back arching up off the mattress, his toes curling into Matt’s calves—and Matt has never seen anything so hot in his life.
McClane doesn’t even take the time to catch his breath. He yanks Matt up beside him on the bed and grips Matt’s cock with one lotion slicked hand. “This first time,” McClane says, “I want you to come while I’m kissing you.” McClane puts on the brakes a little, his tongue licking into Matt’s mouth with the same slow rhythm of his hand stroking Matt’s cock. Matt feels like he could stay like this forever—right on the knife’s edge of orgasm, tangled up in McClane’s arms and kissing and kissing and kissing. Matt holds on as long as he can, but too soon, he’s coming, and McClane is wiping them both down with Matt’s freezing cold t-shirt. Matt forgives McClane, though, when he slides beneath the sheets, turns the corner back, and tells Matt to get his ass under there already.
“So, I heard a rumor at work the other day,” McClane says, throwing his arm over Matt and cuddling him like the little spoon he is.
Matt threads their fingers together on top of the blanket. “What about?”
“Carter says we’re not fucking.”
“Oh, John,” Matt says and rolls over to face him. “You should never listen to office gossip.”
And then neither one of them says anything but “Yes,” and “Please,” and “Don’t you dare fucking stop,” for a long, long time.