When you save the world together, it creates a bond that nothing will ever break. Sure, they didn’t save the world; more like some crucial part of the United States economy. And it wasn’t so much the two of them as it was John - while Matt tried hard not to die - but still. Matt liked to think that they’d ended up as some sort of friends; where John tolerated Matt and didn’t kill him when Matt went on and on about how wrong the new OS he’s using is and how much the latest update screwed everything up. And Matt called John at all times of night and day and had stopped even trying to hide his hero worship.
It worked for them. Okay, it worked for Matt and since John didn’t protest too much, Matt just assumed it worked for John as well.
It was kind of cool to be friends with somebody who didn’t speak ‘hacker’. Like discovering a new species. Not that Matt would ever tell John that. He was pretty sure that, if there was a limit to John’s patience, calling him a separate species would get very close to it.
Yes, Matt thought about stuff like that during random moments in his day. Didn’t everyone? Thoughts like that were usually followed by a phone call to McClane, but this one time Matt would refrain.
He jumped when his phone rang, which was understandable. His jumpiness had saved his life on a number of occasions when McClane wasn’t available.
“Anyone ever tell you, you have very strange timing? Which is either good or bad, I’m not sure yet.”
“Something’s wrong with my computer,” John’s voice on the other end was gruff, as always, with a healthy dose of annoyance.
It was possible that Matt had an entirely separate scale on which he rated McClane’s annoyance, ranging from “it’s Monday” to “Lucy decided to date again” to “I’m going to kill you with my pinkie”. Not that he would admit to it, mind you, he had far better survival instincts than that.
The annoyance he was hearing right now fell slightly beneath “Lucy’s dating again”. Matt would classify it as “I’m going to kill somebody that is not you”. So it was ‘healthy’ annoyance, from Matt’s perspective.
“You there, Farrell?” John’s voice pulled Matt out of his musings.
“Yeah, sorry, I was trying to figure out how to get to your precinct,” he lied. Though it wasn’t an outright lie. The moment Matt had heard McClane needed help with his computer, he’d turned around and started to calculate how fast he could get from here to there. His John-related musings were simply more toward the front of his brain. Calculations, he could do in his sleep.
“Okay, I’ll be there in twenty minutes, thirty if traffic is really bad. Try not to hit anything that looks like it’s connected with cables. And try not to shoot the screen.”
“You really think I have so little self-control?”
For a very brief moment, Matt considered answering the question, but ultimately decided against it.
“I’ll be there in twenty to thirty minutes. Just hang in there,” he said and hung up. He didn’t know how badly McClane had broken his computer, so there was no reason to annoy John more than necessary beforehand.
“You know the PD has its own IT department, right?” Matt asked from beneath John’s desk. He had to make sure all the cables were connected. You never know with John. You would be happily powering down the computer and then suddenly, your apartment could blow up.
“Isn’t this what you do anyway?” If Matt didn’t know any better, he would swear John sounded confused.
“Not really, no,” he replied, crawling out from under the desk. “I tend to prevent malicious attacks on big systems. At least nowadays.”
He hooked up his Mac to John’s PC and pointedly ignored all the dirty pictures and puns that his mind threw at him. He was a sick person but the world didn’t have to know that yet. Or ever. He typed in several commands and watched McClane’s screen fill up with line after line of code. Interesting.
“I’m like the Secret Service to your IT department’s night shift security guard at some apartment building,” he continued his explanation while he worked his way through the system. “By the way, the security system here could really use some work. I could hack it in under a minute. Not that I would, mind you. I wouldn’t, because that would be highly illegal, and anyway, you would probably kill me with your pinkie. But I could. If I wanted to.”
Matt heard a snort.
“Look at you, all law-abiding citizen.”
“That’s right. And don’t you forget it. If fact, I’ll email your IT department so they don’t have to look for the holes in the system. That’s how nice I am.”
He’d started to type up detailed instructions before he’d even finished his sentence. John needed this system to work, so Matt figured that he should have all the best tools. Then again, he quickly amended, McClane wasn’t exactly tech savvy. But you never know. Tomorrow could be the day when John McClane decides to embrace technology and Matt had to be ready. Or, rather, the system had to be ready.
“I bet if you just did your thing, it would get fixed faster.”
It was an offhand comment and Matt had a feeling John hadn’t even noticed he’d said that out loud; but it still put a huge smile on his face. He couldn’t help himself. Even though McClane had absolutely no idea what it was exactly that Matt did, he was still confident Matt was the best.
That’s where saving the world together got you. Matt loved it. Once he’d gotten over the whole getting shot thing.
“Possibly,” Matt said still smiling. “But ever since you forced me into—I mean convinced me a life of cyber crime is a bad, bad thing and I started to earn money honestly, I’ve learned that time is money. And they aren’t paying me to fix your system.” Matt saved all the changes he made to John’s computer and powered it down. “I already fixed your computer and you owe me coffee. I want a double caramel macchiato.”
“That’s not coffee,” John rolled his eyes.
“Your fixed computer says it is,” Matt pointed out and dragged John out of the precinct. And by dragged he meant he looked from John to the door and back again until McClane grabbed his jacket and left the bullpen.
The following day Matt had already forgotten about fixing McClane’s computer - even though he remembered every single detail of the coffee that followed - and was concentrating on beefing up the security system of a Fortune 500 company that was actually paying him. At the same time he was wondering how he could have turned into such a sell-out.
He was awesome at multitasking.
Though, in retrospect, he should’ve looked at the display when his phone started to ring.
Instead, he just answered it with a distracted ‘hello?’
“There are two guys at my desk, waving some email at me – that I apparently sent them - and demanding to know what I did to my computer.”
Matt’s brain immediately classified John’s tone of voice as “I would kill you with my pinkie, but you’re too far away” on the McClane Scale of Annoyance, which automatically made Matt pay attention.
“Huh?” he replied while his brain tried to make sense of what John was saying.
“Farrell,” there was a very clear warning in John’s voice this time. “Why are there two geeks from Cyber Crimes asking me about an email that I didn’t send to our IT?”
“Why would you be sending…” he trailed off as his brain finally made the connection. “You didn’t send it! Yesterday. Remember how I fixed your computer? Well, I might’ve beefed it up a little. I don’t see why you should suffer just because law enforcement is behind on their updates. But all I set up was a simple firewall that would prevent unauthorized remote access to your computer. Oh. Oh,” Matt grimaced, once he realized what he’d done. “I guess they tried to track down the origin of the email and couldn’t access your computer and got worried that maybe it was compromised. Sorry?”
He really hoped the apology would somehow save him, though he doubted it.
“Of course you are.” Much to Matt’s surprised John sounded more amused than annoyed. “Now fix it,” McClane said and next thing Matt knew he was talking to some guy from Cyber Crimes, detailing, step-by-step, what exactly he’d done to John’s computer.
It felt a little like explaining higher math to a ten year old, but Matt had a healthy fear of the cops, so he endured. Half an hour later, and after running through everything twice, he gave them his name and job description. He also told them how he knew McClane. After they heard about Firesale, he would’ve sworn their tones changed, but he couldn’t tell for sure.
They didn’t even threaten to arrest him, so he counted the conversation as a win.
It might’ve been proof of his short attention span - or just confirmation of how busy he was, now that he had to earn his rent the hard way (and, apparently, pay taxes) - but a week later and he’d already forgotten about the whole Cyber Crimes thing and fixing McClane’s computer.
Apparently he was the only one.
He was sitting on John’s couch, during their weekly “hey McClane, I was bored, wanna hang out? I have pizza?” Friday, waiting for John to bring him a beer, when he heard McClane yell from the kitchen.
“I was informed today that you’re a big deal.”
Matt frowned, confused, and turned around to look at John. “I am?”
“Our printer decided it no longer wanted to print mug shots. I wanted to call you in to fix it, but I remembered that Secret Service analogy you used the other day.” John handed Matt the beer and sat down on the couch. “So I called IT. They said they could fix it sometime next week. So I told them not to bother and I’d just call this guy I know, Farrell, and you’d do it in five minutes.”
Matt nodded. He probably could fix it in five minutes. He’d seen the printer they have there; it wasn’t exactly the latest model.
“They asked me if I meant Matthew Farrell and when I confirmed that, they started acting like Lucy did when she was twelve and in love with some guy named Nick Carter. But we got our printer fixed within an hour, so I’m not complaining.”
Matt giggled before he could stop himself. He had fangirls. Awesome.
John, of course, mistook it as Matt laughing at his precious Lucy and glared at him. “You’re acting weird, stop it” on the McClane Scale of Annoyance. Just a little higher than “it’s Monday”, so Matt wasn’t worried.
“I’m a big deal,” he informed John with a happy smile. He had fans. He’d be bouncing if he wasn’t already sitting down.
John looked at him for a moment before he shook his head, trying to hide a smile. He reached out and mussed Matt’s hair a little. Matt recognized an affectionate gesture when he saw, or rather, felt one.
“That you are,” John said and there was absolutely no annoyance in his voice.
Matt should probably start gathering data for his new John McClane Likes You scale.