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Matt's memory — it wasn't quite photographic, but it was close enough. He remembered a lot of stuff, and that was why he was better than Warlock.

Not that Warlock wasn't good — amazing, even. The guy was halfway to brilliant. But he was arrogant and moody and when you got into serious stuff, he became the sort of guy no one wanted to talk to. Matt respected him, sort of, but only because he had to, because Warlock had links set up constantly that he didn't have the time to linger on.

Warlock was concentrated. Matt spread himself out.

That was why Warlock had been laid all of three times in his life and Matt... well.

Matt's sex life — it wasn't quite mind-blowing, but it was close enough.


"Watch the knee," he hissed, moving his left leg away from her thigh.

"Sorry, sorry." She was only straddling his one leg now, and she wasn't exactly the smallest girl he'd been with; she slid off him, her hands fluttering over his knee. "I just— I didn't mean—"

"It's okay," he said, letting out a heavy breath as the pain staarted to subside. He knew it was going to throb for a while, but at least he could take his mind off of it if he could get hers back on the task at hand. "Let's just use your bed, okay?"

"Okay." She held out her hand and led him to it, but she stood their, nervous and fidgeting, when he sat down. "I— should I be on top? I mean, for your leg—"

"No, no." He patted the spot next to him. "I'll be fine. Just..."

And then her lips were on his, and he put his hands into her thick, blond hair, and they didn't talk anymore.


He might've freaked out a little bit after the morphine wore off. He wasn't exactly the calmest he could've been when he was questioned, which, even with Bowman and McClane vouching for him, still seemed to go on forever. Their voices weren't loud enough to settle the skepticism everyone else had; it didn't even matter if they believed that he'd helped John, that he'd prevented the final steps of the fire sale — they just couldn't believe he didn't know what he was doing when he'd written the algorithm, didn't believe he wasn't just saving his own skin all along.

Like the bullet wound in his knee didn't prove a thing.

He could remember it all, could remember shooting over and over again and seeing the blood spurt out. He knew, consciously, that he'd done it to save Lucy, that he didn't have the time to wait for John to shoot him, that it wasn't a sure enough thing that that one last lackey would drop to his knees and surrender when Gabriel was down.

He knew it, but he couldn't stop wondering. Sure, it meant Lucy thought he had balls, made her give him those eyes just before they parted ways, but her gratitude didn't ease the sick feeling in his stomach.

So he had to wonder — wonder if maybe that guy wouldn't have shot her, since he clearly couldn't have pulled anything off on his own, and at that point he certainly wasn't getting away. He'd probably have run, turned and tried, without aiming at any of them.


He knew he'd done the right thing, but he couldn't help but remember it in his dreams, and sometimes he woke up and ran to the bathroom to throw up just at the distorted memory of it.

It gave him that much more respect for John, made him that much more grateful.


She was older, and for all the thrill of young virgins there was something to be said about older women's wisdom in the art of sex.

She wasn't the kind of woman he ever wanted down on her knees or up against a wall. No, she was classy, sexy and seductive in her dresses and puffing away on a cigarette. It didn't matter that it messed with his asthma, because he liked being the geeky, dorky kid with her, pretending to be virginal.

She rode him hard, and by the end she was barely disheveled, her hair down and her breath coming a little faster.

Oh, yeah. There was something to be said for older women.


He built his life from the little bit of compensation Bowman offered him — "for your help, and to replace your apartment" — and from scratch.

It wasn't easy to settle after what he'd been through. He wasn't ready for a new place yet, but he couldn't go back to his old apartment. One of his neighbors offered to take him in, but he'd been there for only four hours when the smell of fire got to him.

No one else could smell it. They said it was in his head.

It didn't matter; he had to get out. He'd gone online — on his new, custom-made laptop of his own design — and agreed to meet up with some virgin who'd let him stay the night. She was pretty enough, some blond thing, maybe a few extra pounds on her, but that didn't even matter. He would've settled for some sixty-year-old bag with a walker if he needed to, just to get out of there.

He bid his friends and neighbors goodbye and hobbled out. He wouldn't go back to that part of Camden for more than six months after.


He was a closet case, that much was obvious. He was shifty, and he pulled down all the blinds when Matt arrived, even though he lived on the twenty-eighth floor. In New York City. If anyone could see them, they wouldn't give a shit. Most of them saw more on the subway every day.

It didn't matter, though; the guy didn't have a wife or girlfriend, it seemed, so there was no guilt wasted, and once Matt pulled down his zipper he was all for it, completely into sucking cock. He wasn't bad at it; Matt figured he'd done it before.

He wouldn't meet him again. Matt figured if he tried, the guy would pretend not to know him, anyway. He'd done it before.


So he found himself in New York City not because of John McClane, but just because. He'd bed-hopped for weeks, looking for no more than casual sex and a place to sleep, maybe a meal here and there. When he didn't have company, he'd settle into any place with wireless and simultaneously keep up with Warlock, look for his next hookup, and retrace Thomas Gabriel's steps through the fire sale, trying to fix it all, undo what he could.

He didn't contact him directly, and he refused to accept a legitimate job there doing it full-time, because he couldn't stand thinking about it al the time. Not yet. He needed to be able to turn away, turn into warm and forgiving flesh and pretend he hadn't had anything to do with all the people that died, or lost their money, or just generally panicked that day.

So he left them notes, sneaking into their servers and planting something here or there, anywhere it might be seen. "Look here," it'd say, or "Tell them I'm sorry," and then he'd point them in the right direction so they could smooth down another path, cover up what they'd missed.


New York, Matt decided, was the best place for sex.

So long as he had a condom on hand, there was always someone willing, and they were barely ever more than a few subway stops away.

Of course, it couldn't all be good.

"You want to what?" he asked, tugging at the restraints on his arms. They were awfully tight. "No. No. No way in hell."

"But it's fun!" she said, and damn but she looked innocent, all dressed up like some teenaged princess. The schoolgirl thing didn't turn him on, but she was hot, and he was into bondage enough, so he could accept it, but this... "It'll be kinky."

"A little too kinky for me," he said, struggling to sit up against the headboard. "No. Fuck no."

She ran a hand up his chest, like she wasn't aware of his distress at all, like a little bit of soothing could make him suddenly be into whatever she wanted him to be into. "Come on, Matt. I thought you were adventurous."

"Fuck," he muttered, and then the safe word came out and she pouted, but untied him and let him gather up his clothes without a word of protest.

Before he left, he turned, pointing a finger at her.

"A bit of advice? Tell someone if you're hoping to get into showers of any sort with them. That's not covered by 'adventurous.'"

And then he slammed the door and cursed all the way down the street, because New York City hotels were fucking expensive.


He was actually kind of surprised that he wasn't surprised to see McClane, that it was as easy to deal with his presence as it was.

He was in some fast-food place, somewhere where even he couldn't bring himself to buy a burger for all the fat they soaked it in, leeching off their wireless again when someone sat down opposite him.

He was sort of used to that. Sometimes his hookups met with him in places like that; sometimes that was how he found them in the first place, usually the shy, almost-a-virgin kids. Mostly girls, sometimes guys. Some flirting, some subtle hinting on his part, and one low promise that it wouldn't be anything serious, and then they were off, sometimes with him and sometimes not, depending on who they were.

But this was McClane. John fucking McClane. The thought of sex didn't even come up there.

"Hey, kid." Of course, John had a burger. Matt almost snorted at the idea of it, because of course, but McClane was still more fit than most guys half his age and if he somehow had managed to avoid clogging his arteries for however long he'd been alive, Matt was sure he could keep on doing it without his help. "Surprised to see you here."

"Yeah, well..." And he couldn't say anything more than that, because it was just chance, really. Chance and running away.

"What're you doing in the City? Got a nice, respectable job now?"

Matt did snort, then. "Me? Hell no. I'm still trying to piece my life back together. My apartment blew up, in case you don't remember."

John winced. They both knew it was fake. A lot of stuff blew up then, and John didn't have a whole lot of reason to care about an apartment he was sure to think was crummy anyway. "So you got a place to stay here?"

Ah, right. Zeroing in on awkward territory. Last night he'd bunked with a super-religious college girl whose roommate gave him death glares. That night it was to be some guy named Bo who was into some kind of cops-and-robbers roleplay stuff.

Matt tried not to think about that too hard.

"Yeah, I've got a place." Because it was true, mostly. Not the whole truth, but John didn't seem intent on pushing the issue. "How's Lucy?"

John started going on about her boyfriend, making a lot of use of the words "sleazeball" and "fuckhead." Matt felt intensely glad that he'd had the sense not to pursue something with the McClane girl; he had a feeling neither she nor her father would've been too happy with the casual aspect, and even if it had gone beyond that he wasn't sure he wouldn't be called a sleazeball or a fuckhead, either.

He imagined himself as a helicopter getting killed by a car. Yeah, he was glad he'd let that go.


The guy — the cops-and-robbers guy — was a total dud, completely vanilla and trying so hard to be kinky. Matt didn't really mind, though; a little talking him down, a little heavy petting, and they got down to business the good, old fashioned way.

Then the guy's friend showed up, and maybe he wasn't such a dud after all.


So he wound up staying in New York longer than he meant to, and it only made sense that he'd keep in contact with the only person he really knew in the city. Calling McClane up the first time was kind of nerve-wracking, because he didn't really feel like he had the right to, but John had let him put the number in his cell and didn't seem to mind when he picked up.

They went to a bar, because Matt suddenly felt the need to man up and push his masculine side forward. John was all alpha male all the time, and if the fire sale had been any indication he didn't put up with guys who couldn't hold their own weight that well. Matt didn't know a lot about John McClane, really, but he knew that there were some guys who were so obsessed with their own testosterone levels that even if they were going to take it up the ass, they had to make sure Matt was rough-and-tumble enough for them first. He played it that way.

It felt awkward, stilted. John could tell.

"We're not about to die," John said after finishing off his second beer. "You don't have to pretend to be a fucking lumberjack or something to impress me."

Matt blushed, just a little, and relaxed. It was a lot better after that.


Matt was cool with a lot of stuff when it came to sex. Well, not a lot-lot — he didn't want to have any bodily fluids that weren't strictly sexual on him when it was all said and done, but other than that, he was pretty much up for anything.

It surprised him, a little, when he found out that Nazi paraphernalia didn't fall under that "anything" category.

They were just clothes, he told himself, and he tried to be okay with it, but when he caught sight of that swastika on her arm while she was jacking him off, he couldn't take it. It reminded him in some distant, twisted way of Gabriel. He pushed her away, apologizing profusely, and ran for it.

He wound up in a hotel again. He was starting to hate hotels.


"You are a fucking Luddite" was the first thing out of Matt's mouth when he finally got the privilege of seeing John's apartment.

It wasn't like technology was completely absent, but the computer was dusty and some sort of ages-old Windows shit, and he had a DVD player but it was still in the box propped up against his entertainment system, a VCR still hooked up. There was even an honest-to-god tape in it, and, unsurprisingly, it blinked noon as the time all the time.

"I am going to fix this," Matt promised, and within a week he had John set up with more ridiculously complicated technology than he knew what to do with.

"I don't even know what this shit is for," John complained as he sat at his rarely-used desk.

"Its just a computer," Matt said, rolling his eyes. "It's not really all that complicated."

"Doesn't look like any I've ever seen before."

"That's because it isn't." He didn't bother saying that he built it himself, though he desperately wanted to gloat; he figured it would probably be lost on McClane, anyway. "Don't worry. It's secure, I've made sure of it."

"That's not what I'm worried about." John made a vague gesture, pointing to something that wasn't there. "Where's the— what do you call it? The tower thing."

They had a long way to go.

He'd only put the most basic sort of programs on it, because he figured a guy like McClane wouldn't have a whole lot of interest in most of the stuff he could have put on it. He'd probably write notes with the word processor and maybe send his kids some e-mails. He manipulated the programs himself so they'd operate more or less like their popular counterparts. He didn't need John to be confused every time he sat down at a different sort of computer.

"I set you up with a e-mail account already. I figured you probably don't have one besides the one you use for work." He glanced sideways at McClane. "Did you?"

John grinned wryly. "You know me too well."

Only he didn't, not really, because when he told John he'd set him up with "ThatGuy" as his screenname, he just got a blank look in return.

But it figured, really. Matt could remember useless shit like how fast a fully grown male hyena could run; he'd heard about it once when he was eight and never forgot. He couldn't expect John to remember every conversation they'd had that day, anyway; there were bigger things to remember, like getting shot and not dying and saving the fucking country.

Still, it was kind of disappointing, and he knew he was lying to himself when he tried to imagine that the twisting feeling in his stomach was because he remembered shooting that guy again.


Matt was in heaven. He was a little dubious about being the third player in a married couple's games, but they really were young and adventurous, unlike the last pair he'd tried it with.

He was pinned beneath them, his mouth full of cock and her tight cunt on his dick. One of his hands was on her thigh, the other on his ass, and they were focusing on him just as much as each other.

He came three fucking times. His mind was so blown he almost didn't see McClane when he stumbled out of their home.

"Jesus Christ!" he yelped, and turned around to make sure the Millers weren't at the door. When he rubbed at his eyes and turned back around, John was still there. "What the hell are you doing?"

"Making sure you're all right." John's eyes darted to the door, then back to Matt's face. He didn't look embarrassed in the least. "Seemed to be a little late for you to be out, so I thought I'd just check up on you and see that you weren't getting too deep into any more shit."

Matt barked out a humorless laugh. "You were checking up on me?"

John just shrugged.

"I don't need you watching out for me," Matt spat, probably angrier than he should have been. Damn it, though— it had been such a good night. The last thing he'd wanted was McClane following him around. Stalking him, practically.


"Really." Matt shuffled past him, tired and a little sore and really not interested in having the conversation he was sure was going to come up soon enough. "And my sex life is none of your business."

There was a hand stopping him, gripping his wrist, and he whirled around, almost ready to throw out his fist before he remembered that it was McClane, who could probably have killed him just from the recoil involved in a punch like that.

"What?" he demanded, and he felt kind of like a petulant child, but he figured he had a right to be upset, anyway.

"Hey, calm down. I thought you might prefer a ride to your place instead of walking."

Matt jerked his arm away; if he had had a "place" of his own to go to, he might've taken John up on the offer, but he didn't quite feel comfortable with John knowing that he was heading to someone else's house, some woman who'd offered to keep him for a few days if he satisfied her needs as a divorcee. The Millers didn't really have space for him overnight; he would've been willing to take the couch, but he was pretty sure they wanted him out before Mr. Miller's mother came over the next morning.

He couldn't say why it mattered, but he didn't want John to know.

"I'm fine," he said, purposely making it sound angrier that time. "I don't need to be protected."


John didn't apologize, exactly, but Matt figured it was probably the McClane version of an apology— or something.

"I see you as one of my kids," John explained when they were back in the fast food restaurant with the extra-greasy burgers again. "I can't help it; I've gotta make sure no one's making any moves you don't want them to."

"They aren't," Matt replied, and he wanted to be angrier than he was, like he'd been that night, but he couldn't bring himself to. Something about John made him want to forgive him. "I've done it a lot. I know how to stop people, okay?"

John's eyebrows went up at that. "A lot?"

"Yeah, McClane. A lot."

"I thought you hacker boys were supposed to be sex-deprived geeks," John said, the tiniest hint of a smirk tugging at his lips. "So, what's 'a lot'?"

On one hand, there was the truth, which would probably surprise and maybe upset McClane. On the other hand, there was his pride, because he hated it when someone assumed he was some kind of virgin just because he knew his way around a computer. "Almost every night since I got out of the hospital," he admitted.

John didn't flinch and his eyes didn't go wide, but Matt knew he was surprised, and he felt a little bit smug about it.


The guy was almost ten years younger than Matt, only just in college, and so shy Matt almost thought nothing was going to happen, even though it was a prime moment for the kid: his roommate was out, and he had his cramped little dorm-space all to himself. Matt was pretty sure that didn't happen often enough for kids like him to grab a lot of opportunities.

But finally, finally the kid put a hand on his thigh, set down his oh-so-illicit beer, and kissed him.

And fuck his mind, but it was while he was thrusting into the kid, wincing in sympathy because he was too tense, too tight — it was then that he realized John didn't think of him as one of his kids at all, because he was pretty sure he felt more fatherly to the kid he was fucking in that moment than McClane did to him and wow, that was a sick thought.

He pushed thoughts of McClane aside and somehow the kid started calling him "Daddy." He was okay with that.


"There was this one girl, practically a virgin, who kept bumping into my knee. It was terrible." Matt made a face, then sipped his beer. "But the next night it was this Joan Chen look-alike, a complete cougar. It was like sexual karma; a mediocre fuck one night, and the most fantastic sex you can imagine the next."

He didn't talk about the men, not right away. He was just testing the waters.

"I think if it weren't for that, that karma sort of thing, I'd swear off sex for good, with some of the people I've met." Another sip of his beer. "This one girl wanted to pee on me. I'm into a lot of stuff, but not that. I mean, I get that some people are, and more power to them, but not me, and I just wish she'd mentioned it before I got my pants off."

John grunted and made a face of his own, probably trying not to think too much about it. Or maybe he liked that.

Matt would have to find out before he got his pants off, if he got that far.


Matt loved rimming. If he was honest with himself, he preferred being on the receiving end — preferred it a whole lot — but he never complained about doing it, either, and at least it felt good to have someone fall apart like that, if they were someone that really liked it. If they didn't, they could move on to more interesting things.

The girl he was with just then, some curly-haired thing, really liked it. Her fingers were between her legs, her arm pinned under her, and she was panting like she'd run a mile. Her thighs clenched and unclenched, the muscles of her ass moving around his tongue when he thrust in. She moaned, finally, losing it as he lapped at her, her knees shaking a little.

"Fuck me," she begged, and put her hands on the backs of her thighs, spreading her legs and presenting herself to him. "Please."

As he pushed in, he tried not to think about whether or not McClane was into rimming.


"So did this start after the fire sale business, or...?" John didn't have to finish for Matt to get his meaning: "Is this some kind of weird PTSD or something?"

"No," he answered, calm and placating. He wasn't sure how John would take it; it meant he wasn't fucked in the head, sure, but it also meant John couldn't fix or protect him. He was just—

Just what? A slut?

Maybe. "I just like sex. I lost my virginity when I was fifteen and I haven't looked back since."

And okay, yes, maybe he had picked up the pace since the fire sale, but it was out of necessity. He was starting to run low on money, and he knew he'd need to get a job, but until then he was just doing what he could to conserve his resources. Really.

He changed the subject quickly, then.


Matt thought that maybe he was doing a lot of unnecessary thinking during sex.

Then he almost laughed at that thought.

Still, he was pretty sure that when the twins — God, fuck, twins, what a fucking fantasy — started licking paths up his body, he should've just focused on the feeling, or at least on how good it was going to be to have twins.

Instead, when one of them reached the pit of his knee and all he felt was a slight tickle, a little twitch, all he could think about was how it didn't hurt anymore, how his stomach wasn't twisting, how he had actually been sleeping through the nights. He wondered how it had got to be that long, that much time since he'd come to the city.

His thoughts did go back to the twins, but it just wasn't right for them to stray at all, really.


"So how do you go about meeting so many... people?" Tactful as always, McClane was. It was almost embarrassing, the way he could skirt around the issue, pretend they weren't talking about sex.

Not that he hadn't opened up a lot, and once they got into it they could talk about it like it was anything, no big deal at all. Matt actually liked being able to open up like that, even if he did have not-so-innocent motives. "The internet."

"That's your answer to everything," John huffed.

"Well, it is the answer to everything." He grinned, helping himself to a beer from John's fridge and, after a moment's pause, grabbing one for John, too. "Seriously, though, there are hundreds of sites for hookups — casual, no-strings-attached sex. You gotta find the right ones, though; some are just filled with creeps who don't really care if you say 'no' or have second thoughts."

"'Course," John agreed, like he knew all about it, but after a few almost-silent minutes, just the sound of the TV going, he asked, "So, what's it say on your profile? 'Genius hack boy seeking hot young girls to appreciate his huge, hot brain'?"

Matt chuckled. "No. Maybe it should, though."

Another moment's pause, and then:

"It wouldn't just say 'girls,' anyway."

He could hear John choke on his beer as he swallowed, just a little. He covered it up well. He didn't cover up the way he shifted on the couch well, though; Matt knew that move well.

Victory was just about his.


Matt tried not to compare one hookup to the next too much. Sure, there was good sex and there was bad sex, but he didn't like thinking that one girl was so much prettier than another, or one guy more built than the last. So long as they were a good fuck, what was the point of dwelling on stuff like that, anyway?

Still, he couldn't help it as he lapped at another semi-anonymous guy's dick and balls. The thought struck him hard and sudden; there was no way to anticipate it, no way to stop it.

I'll bet John's dick is bigger.


His body was thrumming with anticipation when he decided, finally, to go for it.

He didn't call and he didn't come on the weekend, like he might normally have; he just showed up on a Tuesday afternoon.

He'd left his stuff in a hotel. He only barely had the money for it, but he couldn't make plans for somewhere else when he was planning on fucking John, and he didn't want John to think of him as some leech or know just how he'd been living.

It might've been wrong, maybe, to hide it from him with the plans he had, but he didn't dwell on it. Much.

He'd known John would be home — the guy didn't get out much, except when it was for work — and so just called up, got buzzed in, waited outside his door. He counted his footsteps, knew exactly when the door would be open, and then he was in John's personal space— not touching, just close.

Just very, very close.

"Hi." He was sure John could feel his breath on his chin, see the intent in his eyes.

"Hi?" John looked confused, ready to push him away, and not because he didn't want it. "Matt, is there some—"

He didn't wait, because for once talking wasn't the answer, would only make it worse; he just pressed his body against John's, his lips following. He licked at John's lips, one hand on his neck, the other on his hip. John's hands went to his shoulders, still at first, like he was going to push him away at any second, but Matt pressed himself into John's thigh, let him feel his cock, hard and ready against his leg, and then John was pulling him in, lost to it.

He led the kiss, all alpha male as always, and Matt didn't really mind; he let John play dominant, because he was pretty sure the older man's experiences with gay sex didn't go very far, if anywhere at all, and after a certain point he'd need Matt to hold his hand.

He never for a moment thought it wouldn't go there. John's supposed heterosexuality didn't matter, and his own sexual history didn't either. It was just them, and he saw the way John had looked at him, noticed the way he moved and fidgeted when they talked about it, and he knew John was past the point of wondering, well into the land of wanting.

He was right.

This kiss quickly turned hot, messy, almost frantic, their hands moving like they wanted to go places, places where clothes were but shouldn't be. Matt nudged, gently, until they were moving, and then John pulled him toward what Matt could only hope was the bedroom — he was too busy paying attention to the groans rumbling from John's chest, the way his cock twitched against Matt's stomach, hardening quick, to work out how to move them there.

Before they were halfway there clothes started coming off, shirts abandoned on the floor, Matt's shoes toed off as he stumbled after John, chasing his lips, his tongue, his hands. John was down to nothing but underwear by the time they reached the bed; Matt was fully naked, but with his pants clutched in one hand. John gave him a questioning look, which Matt answered by pushing him down onto the bed, straddling him once he'd arranged his limbs properly.

"Gotta be prepared," Matt said, rolling his hips against John and fuck, but that felt good. He pulled a strip of condoms out of one pocket, a half-used tube of lubricant out of the other. They were his bread and butter; he was sure John would've had something around, but he didn't like to waste time and it wasn't like they weren't in his pockets anyway.

He got himself ready first, his eyes fixed on John's as he pushed one slicked-up finger, two, three into himself, riding his own hand. He might've played it up a bit, just to get more of those low groans out of him, but the last thing he wanted was second thoughts at a time like that, so he kept the focus on himself, rolling his hips, rubbing against John's erection, stroking himself with his other hand for a moment.

The body beneath his was beautiful, fucking beautiful despite its age, in spite of — or maybe a little because of — its scarring. He'd been with older men before, but none like McClane, none who could have easily fucked up someone his own age. And John's eyes — they were wide, like he couldn't believe it was happening, but he was smirking just a little, like he always did in unbelievable situations, like he did during the fire sale, because John didn't really let anything catch him by surprise.

He pulled John's briefs down to his thighs, no further, and there was a flicker of doubt, a hint of maybe-we-shouldn't in McClane's eyes, so he put the condom on John's dick — which was bigger, oh God was it huge — with his mouth, and that erased all the lingering doubt. He was jittery with arousal then, almost shaking, and he slicked John up and sank down onto him so fast he almost didn't breath while he did it, sinking down quicker than he should have, because he was used to it but not that used to it and fuck, but John was big. It hurt, the burning stretch, but it was a good hurt, the sort that meant he wouldn't walk right the next day, that he'd remember it into the next night. He liked that.

John's hands were on his hips, and one of Matt's was on John's chest, brushing over a nipple when he sank down again, and again, and again— and John was losing it before he knew it, thrusting up into him, pulling him down, flesh meeting flesh so hard it almost rattled Matt's bones, and John's head tilted back and he growled and came inside him.

He only needed a few quick strokes, and thank God it was John's hand, thank God, and then he was coming, too, splashing onto John's stomach.


It wasn't working.

Matt was running out of options, because he had to sleep somewhere and he was barely getting enough food to keep his blood sugar at a decent level, and he was spending more and more time with John, so there was less time to search for new hookups. He'd been with the guy before, and he knew he was good, but—

It wasn't working.

He could still feel the burn, the dull pain from John, and his face was pushed into a pillow and the guy was plowing into him hard but it wasn't enough, and he hated himself for it, but he couldn't come. When it was over, he rolled to the side and jerked himself off, biting his lip and thinking about McClane.



They met again on one of the usual days, when Matt had called ahead. McClane had sounded like he always did, but as soon as they were in the same room — the living room, not the bedroom, no — John was saying things like, "I'm twice your age."

"Not quite," Matt corrected. "And anyway, I don't care."

"I'm in a dangerous line of work. It can be frustrating, getting involved with a cop."

It came just as easily the second time: "I don't care."

"It's part of why my wife left me, you know. Fuck— I have kids. Kids barely younger than you."

And the third: "I. Don't. Care."

A steady stare, and then John said: "I don't want this to be some casual fuck thing, Matt. I'm giving something up here, you know; it's not like I've fucked a guy before. You ready to deal with that?"

Matt's mouth was open, ready to speak, but no sound came out.


It was funny, to think that Camden would be a vacation, but it was. New York City had somehow become home, and that sort of bothered him, but only a little.

The wreckage had been cleared up, the building was safe to live in and there was a new tenant where he'd been, but some part of his brain still told him it smelled like fire and smoke.

He didn't want to live there.

He spent most of the day catching up with his neighbors — the nicer ones and the geekier ones, mostly — and then, at night, went three floors down to a room he knew well.

She was still living there, and when she saw Matt she clutched him to her breast and kissed his forehead, then his mouth. Her lips were hot and insistent and there was nothing about her to compare to John, and it was still familiar, a nice, safe territory.

He'd never promised to be exclusive, he told himself as she sucked his cock, his hands in her short, dyed hair. Hell, he'd never promised John anything.


They argued about the news. John liked turning it on when he was around, just to annoy him; Matt would snipe at him about it, say he was brainwashed and mock the reporters, and then eventually break down and offer some kind of sexual favor to get it turned off.

That one always worked.

But they did stop arguing, eventually. Partly it was because they came to something like an agreement; John admitted that the news bent the facts, or omitted some, or played up certain things to get a rise out of people, make them listen. Matt admitted that although he could remember all the inconsistencies, that he knew for a fact — he always said that, a fact — that they were lied, fear-mongering corporate tools, it wasn't always that bad and they did at least alert people about important shit as soon as possible. Plus, there were traffic and weather reports.

But that was only partly it.

The other part of it was that Matt had started to develop a Pavlovian response to it; every time he heard the evening news correspondent's terrible voice, he got an almost instant erection. John usually ended up missing half the news when Matt was around, winding up otherwise occupied.


He did things that John didn't, some that Matt expected John wouldn't; he dressed up in women's panties, brought out a whip and a blindfold, called Matt terrible things that used to arouse him.

He asked him not to use the whip that time, because he didn't want John to see the marks. After a few barked insults, he asked for "Matt" or "Matthew" or "Matty" — or "kid," even. It made him shiver, and yeah, he came eventually, but it felt all wrong.

He hated that it felt wrong.


"The Warlock loves this song," Matt admitted glumly when John turned on Fortune Son for probably the billionth time. "I could've liked it, maybe, but he's a real dick, and it's just noise. Not that I would've liked it that much, I mean, it's still old and terrible, but—"

John shut him up with a kiss.

They went to a concert at a bar, one where two of Matt's favorite underground bands played, but they missed the second set, the wailing of the band's singer barely ringing in their ears as they left.

Matt had wanted to say it was just sex, nothing more, but once they got to John's place that night more tired than he should have been when he could have been feeling the adrenaline and energy of the bands, they didn't even undress, they just collapsed onto John's bed and slept.

They hadn't left because they were horny, or because John had bribed him with sexual favors; they left because Matt actually felt bad for the way John winced at the screaming and all the particularly high notes, felt guilty for putting that sour look on his face.


"I— I can't."

The words came out so suddenly he almost didn't expect them himself. Certainly she, his Joan Chen look-alike— she didn't expect it, didn't think that halfway through her previously unnecessary seduction he would give up.

And he was hard, true, but even just that made him feel terrible, returned that sick, twisting feeling to his stomach, that feeling he hadn't felt since the fire sale still bothered him, and— oh God.

He could still remember it clearly, but it wasn't just the gun in his hand and the blood and the killing, it was John, the fierceness of him, protecting Lucy and the country and him, and—


"I'm sorry."

He was out the door before he could explain himself, before he could throw his shirt back on, and he didn't see the Joan-clone again.


"I'm yours."

John looked startled by the outburst, and then more startled by Matt's appearance, the bags in his hands, his disheveled hair and the way he was breathing a little too harshly. That was always worrying when you had asthma, but he pushed that worry to the back of his mind, because there were other, more pressing worries.

Well, maybe not, but he did have it under control, anyway.

"What are you talking about?" John asked, moving away from the couch, pulling Matt to him, keeping him close enough to feel against him, far enough away to look down into his face, open and honest like it hadn't been, maybe, since the fire sale ordeal. "What is this?"

"That was a bad way to put it," Matt said, dropping most of his bags less-than-delicately, setting his laptop down on top of them a little more carefully. "I'm— I want to be with you. Only you. And I'm sorry, I've been lying— not really lying, but lying by omission, so I'm just as bad as the news. I was seeing other people, a lot of other people, and I don't have my own place or any money, but if Bowman offers again — and I think he will — I'm going to take that job, I'm going to be honest, I swear. I have to say more, I need to tell you everything, but later— please just kiss me now. Please."

John did, and Matt was so happy he could have cried.

He didn't — John was a liar if he said otherwise — but he could have.


Matt was in the park — a park, actually, one of the city's many parks, and he didn't know the name — when he saw the Millers again, hand in hand.

He wondered how he felt about it, seeing them again. John wasn't around, and he'd told him everything, and he didn't have to feel guilty for thinking about it, so...?

He felt nothing. Yeah, it'd been fun, but he didn't want to be a part of their lives anymore. He was the same guy, but they weren't a part of him.

They looked happy, anyway. Happy without him. He figured that was good, too.


The hardest part was when he had to actually show up in front of Bowman, face-to-face, because it meant he had to go to DC and John didn't come, because he had things to do with his job because, oh, yeah, he had one. Saving the world and all that.

He wasn't that needy or clingy, really, but Bowman usually needed him for more than a few days, sometimes even up to two weeks, and sometimes he had to take longer trips farther away.

John joked that he'd had too much sex before, had become addicted to it, but he always indulged Matt when he called him up and begged for a little phone sex. It wasn't anything like the real thing, but it was good enough to take the edge off, just for a little while.

Plus, there were those times when he finally, finally got home, and John didn't make him eat or sleep or anything when he walked in the door, he just let Matt crawl on top of him, ride him like the first time, or clutch at him and do it against the wall, or over the table, or in the shower—

He understood, basically. Afterwards he'd bother Matt with bad old music until he agreed to turn off his laptop and sleep or eat or whatever.

The easiest part — the one that always caught him off-guard — was how easy it was to fall for McClane.

"Do you still think about the — uh, the fire sale?" Matt asked once, when they were half-dressed and disheveled on the couch but not quite tired enough for sleep.

"What kinda question is that?" John had responded, and Matt almost ducked his head away, because, yeah, McClane, of course it wouldn't bother him, but then— "Of course I do. All the fucking time. My daughter almost died. You almost died. Hell, even I did; you don't forget that easily."

"Oh." And that was kind of a relief, because it had almost been a year, but he couldn't forget, even though it wasn't all bullets and explosions in his head anymore, even though he'd focused on the memories of McClane, made them swell up and push out as much of the bad as he could, but it was still there. He wasn't sure he'd ever forget what it was like to kill someone.

McClane was looking at him out of the corner of his eye, and Matt was a pretty good actor when the situation called for it, but under that stare he couldn't help but squirm and give himself away. "Does it still bother you?"

"Sometimes," he admitted, and he shifted, leaning his shoulder against John's. "I sort of remember all of it. The guns, the fire, every one of their faces—"

John shifted, too, and the weight against him was reassuring. "Too smart for your own good."

"Yeah," he agreed, and then, after a moment: "I remember you, too."

John smirked at him. "That's good."

They were silent again. Matt wasn't watching whatever was on TV anyway — some football game, he thought. He'd always hated the sport. He got the feeling John wasn't watching either, though.

John shifted again, the warm press of his body just a little heavier against Matt. "You remember the first time you and me were together?"

"Every second."

John smirk became something like an actual smile. "That's good."

So Matt's memory — it wasn't quite photographic, but it was good enough.

His sex life, on the other hand—

His sex life was mind-blowing.