"McClane," Cobb acknowledged, looking up from his desk as John walked into his office. "You know a Detective Chris Kenner?"
John frowned a little; the name did sound familiar, in a vague, former co-worker sort of way. "From Los Angeles?" he hazarded.
"From their Asian Task Force," Cobb agreed.
The Asian...? The nebulous sense of familiarity cleared abruptly into full color, surround-sound recall, and John winced, abruptly remembering exactly where he'd met the man before. It had been the year after that thing in D.C., two years after Gruber. Two years before he'd moved back to New York. The Nordic-blond, Japanese-raised cop had burned through all the other detectives on the task force, and he'd been temporarily farmed out to other departments in the search for a partner who could handle his antics.
That partner had not been John McClane. Terrorists he could handle. A daily diet of foreign music and kung-fu bullshit? Not so much.
"That Kenner," he said, with a wry twist at the corner of his mouth. "Yeah, I ran into him when I lived out there with Holly. Crazy son of a bitch."
"Sounds familiar," Cobb replied, dryly. "He's here in New York with his partner, following a lead, and they requested you as their local liaison."
"Partner?" John raised his eyebrows. "You mean one actually stuck with him long enough to make the trip?"
"Careful, John," Cobb said, his voice even drier than before. "Let he who is without sin...."
John sighed. "Yeah, yeah," he said, and waved a hand in a 'gimme' motion. "I get the picture."
Cobb lifted a file from the stack on his desk. He held onto it a moment longer, though, before handing it over. "One more thing?"
Cobb frowned at him, in all seriousness. "I want my city in one piece when you're done. No bombs, no exploding airplanes, no throwing people off buildings. You run into any trouble, you call for backup, you hear me, McClane?"
Three different terrorists he'd stopped in his day, and this was the thanks he got? John rolled his eyes and tugged the file free. "No heroics, no explosions, got it."
Cobb eyed him suspiciously a moment longer, then sighed. "At least try," he said, then waved John dismissively out of his office.
John shook his head as he left. Kenner; huh. Well, at least it would be a break from routine.
Johnny Murata flipped idly through a dated copy of a local newspaper as they waited for their liaison to arrive at the airport.
"So you never did tell me exactly who we're meeting," he prompted his partner.
Chris had blithely avoided the subject all through the trip from L.A. to New York as though it were an unimportant footnote to the entire trip, and maybe another cop that bought into his bullshit samurai façade would have bought it; but Johnny knew better, having had an inside window on what made the man tick practically since day one of their assignment together. Helping pay forward long-delayed personal vengeance had a tendency to do that to a partnership.
"No, I didn't," Chris replied, blandly. Then a spark of amusement lit in his eyes, and he grinned. "I was saving the surprise. But you're right, it might be a good idea to warn you before you actually see him."
Johnny blinked, caught flatfooted by the unexpected switch from looming disaster in Chris' air to impending glee. Who the hell could he possibly know in the NYPD--?
A sudden awful, amazing, horrifying idea occurred to him, and he glanced back down at the community story he'd just been reading: an old notice about an award given to a local citizen for assisting a police officer in his efforts to protect the city from a bomb-happy terrorist. "No," he said, aghast.
Chris' grin widened. "Yeah. The other cop who went through partners like tissue paper back then."
They'd talked about previous partners before, comparing stories, and had been amused-- in retrospect-- to find that they'd both, one after the other, been temporarily matched up with John 'Yippee-Ki-Yay, Motherfucker' McClane: the closest thing Johnny had ever met to a real-life Dirty Harry. Johnny had decided the experience was a learning one, half the reason he'd adjusted to the methodical madness of Chris Kenner so well; but the prospect of having a ringside seat to what their crazy multiplied out to together switched his expectations back to 'disaster'. With a side order of 'glee'.
"Does he know--?" he asked.
"That I'm coming, and that I have a partner, but not who it is," Chris replied. "And get this-- he still doesn't have one."
Which meant he hadn't mellowed at all, Johnny thought, not surprised in the least.
"This is going to be an... interesting week."