Fandom: Live Free or Die Hard
Timeline/Spoilers: post film
Notes/Warnings: Written for smallfandomfest Nov 09. Unbetaed, nitpicks & crit all welcome.
Summary: Sometimes, what you're looking at isn't what you see.
After it's all over, after the Fire Sale has been reduced to yesterday's news and another set of scars to add to his collection, he checks up on Farrell. The kid's obviously got a talent for getting himself into trouble, and it won't do him any harm to be reminded of the presence of the Law every once in a while.
Plus, there's Lucy to think of. Anybody who's going to be hanging around his daughter, John wants to know everything there is to know. It's responsible parenting. And not harassment, like a couple of asshole frat boys have tried to claim. John knows harassment. He's good at it. The asshole frat boys learned the difference pretty fast, too.
So yeah, he keeps an eye on on the kid. Takes him out for a beer or a burger now and then, lets him crash on the sofa while his place gets fixed up, gets him talking. All the better to make sure he's not getting up to his old tricks, or harbouring dishonourable intentions towards Lucy, of course.
Not that she appreciates his efforts. She turns up on his doorstep one night when Farrell's on the couch in front of the game, into beer number four--which, for such a lightweight, is as good as sodium pentathol--and yanks John into the kitchen. Her body language is pure confrontation, all hard eyes and hands on hips.
He approves of the look. It almost intimidates him, so the kid would be in tatters.
'This has gone far enough, now,' she says, by way of greeting. 'You have to stop.'
'Stop what, honey?'
She gestures through the open doorway towards the living room, the couch, the kid. 'You know what I'm talking about. This. Matt.'
He holds his hands up, palms outward. At least she hasn't thrown anything at him yet. It's a step up from most of their conversations. 'Lucy, honey, I know you think I cramp your style and I get that, I do. You're grown, you have your own life, you make your own decisions. But I'm still your father, no matter how old or independent you get, and I look out for you. It's what I do.'
He's had that speech rehearsed for a while, and he thought it came over well -- concerned but respectful -- but all it earns him is a shake of the head and that disbelieving, what-is-wrong-with-you stare that obviously came free with the Gennero genes.
'So that's your line? Still? That this is about me, some protective patriarch crap?'
'Hey,' he says, although the objection is half-hearted. Protective patriarch is also a considerable step up from some of the things she's called him.
She looks up at the ceiling as if searching for deliverance. Clearly, she doesn't find any among the old nicotine stains and snatches of cobweb.
'Okay,' she says, 'here we go. Here we go. John --' She pauses, and her voice softens. 'Dad, there's something you need to know. Or stop pretending you don't, at least. You can stop worrying about Matt and me hooking up, okay? It's not going to happen. It was never going to happen. He's not interested in me. At all. I'm... not his type. Really, really, not his type. And by type, I'm not talking about blonde versus brunette, you know? I'm talking about girl versus guy.' She looks at him steadily. 'Matt doesn't like girls, Dad. Not in that way. He likes guys.'
John blinks at her for a while. 'Likes... guys...?' The words sound simple -- one syllable even -- but for some reason he's having trouble extracting meaning out of them.
She nods. 'So, do you get it, now? Do you see what I'm saying?'
'Okay, look -- I'm saying that it's not fair for you to just, you know, have him him around all the time and not... well...' She stops again, and gives another little shake of the head. Then she smiles, reaches up and squeezes his good shoulder. 'You know what? I'm just going to leave it there. You're a smart man, Dad. You'll figure it out.'
She leans in and kisses him on the cheek. Perfume, light and lemony, fills his nostrils. 'Just... try not to be an asshole, if that's possible. Matt's a good guy. You should deal with this, okay? One way or the other.'
And with that she's gone, slipping out the door before he can get his head round any kind of reply. He closes the door behind her, rubbing his chin. He needs a shave.
He can hear the kid whooping at something in the other room but he stays where he is, staring at the back of the door without seeing it. What he does see is an illustration, a picture from some bullshit lecture he sat through once, about sensitivity or diversity or something. The presentation was dressed up in fancy language but was pretty much basic common sense about not assuming you know what the other guy's thinking. He'd drifted through most of it, but the slides had drawn his attention: drawings of vases, or old women, that turned out to be drawings of faces or young women instead. It took a kind of mental switch, a change of focus, that didn't come easy but once you'd got it, you couldn't understand how you hadn't seen it all along.
Somehow, his life had just turned into one of those drawings.
All along, this thing with the kid has been about Lucy, just about looking out for Lucy. Except now, it wasn't. Because Farrell had no intentions, honourable or otherwise, towards his daughter. And yes, just as John had suddenly seen the young woman in that drawing instead of the old crone, he now sees that, sees how obvious that was all along. Suddenly now, the image of Farrell lying sprawled on his couch isn't an interrogation scene at all. It's something else entirely, something that Lucy recognised way before he did.
Deal with it, she'd said. One way or the other.
As in, there was more than one way to deal with it?
As in, A) storm in there and grab the kid by the scruff of the neck and chuck him out with all the standard 'never darken my doorstep again' warnings, or B) sit him down and do the polite, adult, explanation--the 'just not my type' thing, as Lucy put it. Or...
He turns around and leans against the door. He hasn't exactly led a sheltered life, but there hasn't been a C in John McClane's list of options for a very long time. Not since Holly: he's a one-and-one-only kind of guy, always has been. So no, no Option C for... well, more years than he likes to think about. A long, long time.
Long enough ago for the baby girl he and Holly produced to have grown up into the smart young woman who, he suspects, just gave him her blessing to revisit those options.
He runs his hand over his head. Is he seriously thinking about this? Thinking about the kid--about Farrell... Matt... in an Option C kind of way? Thinking about what it would feel like to wind his fist into that ridiculous hair, to slide his hand under those stupid Sci Fi t-shirts, to pull down the zipper of those insanely tight jeans. To crush that mouth against his own, to lick that pale skin: taste beer and sweat and that indefinable sense of maleness that he barely remembers. Hard muscles under his hand, hard body against his, hard cock heavy and hot in his hand. Or silky and smooth in his mouth, or stretching and so filling in his...
'Hey, John, you okay? Who was that, at the door?'
He jumps -- maybe flinches is a better word -- and lets out a sound that's a hair's breadth away from the kill-me-now embarrassment of a squeak. And talking of kill-me-now embarrassment...
He'd half-turned around when he heard the voice, so he quickly angles his body back so that he's facing the door and the bulge in his jeans isn't on display to Farrell. He coughs, leans his hand against the frame and takes a deep breath. 'It's fine, kid. No problem. It was only Lucy. She, uh, says hi.'
'Oh, right. Okay. I was just going to get another beer, you want one?'
John thinks briefly of the bottle of Jack on the top shelf of the cupboard, but that way lies badness. 'Sure,' he says. 'Beer. Beer's good.'
He hears footsteps, but then they stop. 'Are you sure you're all right? You sound a little... weird.'
He chokes back a laugh. Weird. Yeah, weird doesn't even get on the same map as where he is right now. 'I'm fine. Just, you know.' He leaves it there, hoping that actually the kid doesn't know.
'Okay.' The footsteps recede again, and he hears the fridge door open. Bottles clink, and then the hiss of released pressure as the caps are flicked off.
He breathes in through his nose--in, hold, out--trying to slow his heart rate, to get control of his body by sheer willpower. Released pressure. Yeah, he could do with some of that.
He wipes sweat from his forehead. Jesus, is he even fetishising beer, now?
'Uh, John? You, er, want your beer out here?'
He realises Farrell is right behind him, and all John can think is don't touch me oh please god don't touch me.
'No, I, uh, I'll be there in a minute. You go on.'
'Are you sure you're all right?'
He sounds really concerned, and for some perverse reason that just serves to re-inspire the traitorous cock that John had just spent five minutes trying to deflate. He bites back a groan.
But obviously not fast enough, for Farrell's hand is suddenly pressed against his back. 'John? John, what is it? What's wrong?'
Heat floods through him, radiating from the point below his shoulder blade where Farrell's hand is resting. The material of his shirt feels cobweb-thin.
He pushes back, making the kid stumble away from him, and hears glass crash on the floor. 'I'm fine,' he mumbles, 'there's nothing wrong, just... just give me a minute.' He slides out, keeping his back to Farrell, and escapes into the bathroom. He leans against the sink, breathing hard, then runs the tap and splashes water on his face. It doesn't help, the coldness just serving to inflame his skin further.
He throws his head back and takes a big whooping breath. His cock is still painfully hard, and he knows he's going to have to do something about it if he wants a chance of getting back to anything approaching normality. He can't think straight like this.
Quickly, efficiently, he unzips his jeans and takes himself in hand. He gasps a little, taken aback by the rush of sensation as he grips and slides. It's just his own hand, for fuck's sake, nothing out of the ordinary, but it doesn't feel like that. It feels new, strange, exotic. He goes with it, hand and breath speeding up at the same time, and it feels so good it takes him a little while to realise that what's so tantalisingly different isn't the feel of skin on flesh but the images behind his fluttering lids.
Farrell, on his knees... naked, hard... looking up at him wide-eyed but knowing, lips parted...
He groans as he feels the pressure build, his heart pounding in his chest. He opens his eyes and swears he feels it stop dead for a second, as Farrell's face is pulled straight out of his fantasy and into the bathroom mirror.
Jesus fuck, didn't he lock the door?
Time has played tricks on John before; he knows what it feels like to have reality slow to a crawl around you. Usually, though, there's been a bullet heading towards him.
Right now, he wishes one was.
Farrell's face is moving in slow motion, expression changing from nervous concern into something that John can't -- doesn't want to? -- read. He says something, but John can't make it out over the roaring of his own blood in his ears. He's frozen, paralysed--he wouldn't put an actual heart attack outside the realms of possibility--and still his cock won't quit, pulsing in time with his racing heart. He sees Farrell's eyes drop and widen, and he tries to remember if what meagre affairs he's got are in order because if you can die of sheer horror he's going to be checking out any second.
He's a take-charge kind of guy -- the word 'passive' doesn't exist in his world -- but in this moment, with his pants around his thighs, his cock in his hand and Farrell's eyes locked on his, he is absolutely still. He's faced guns, bombs, fire, you name it, and known what he had to do, but right now, he's lost. The part of his brain that adds up the variables and calculates the angles is doing nothing more than screaming fuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuck. Where the plan of action should be, there's nothing but white noise.
Outside, a dog barks, a siren wails. Outside, the universe continues. In John McClane's bathroom, it waits.
Dimly, he becomes aware that for maybe the first time in his life, what happens next isn't his decision.
After an agonising, incalculable length of time, what does happen is that Farrell steps fully into the room and shuts the door behind him. John's cock was finally--finally-- beginning to deflate, but the pointed look that Farrell shoots him ignites his blood like napalm. There's a sound, something guttural, but he honestly doesn't know which one of them makes it.
And time is obviously not done messing with him, because somehow he loses the next few seconds. When he comes back to awareness Farrell's mouth is crushed against his and this time the hand clasped around his cock doesn't just feel different, it is different. He groans and stumbles back a step. The edge of the washbasin digs painfully into his back but he doesn't care, doesn't even really notice, because the whole of his body is on fire and his hands are in Farrell's hair and his tongue is in Farrell's mouth and the world has gone crazy. Because this isn't him. He made his choice, made it a long time ago. He turned his back on this, on this kind of pleasure, on this option. He chose marriage, he chose conformity. He chose Holly.
But Holly's long gone and the kid is here, Matt is here, his own cock hard and smooth against John's hand, breath hot and sweet in his ear, panting and whimpering, Jesus fucking Christ whimpering, and when he says John's name it's just too much and the fire rips through body and up into his brain, shorting out every circuit and leaving him breathless and spent, on his feet only because Matt is taking his weight.
He's boneless, his skeleton's burned to ash, and it's a little while before he can move. When he raises his head he sees Matt looking at him, the biggest damn grin John's ever seen on his face. Although he's felt less fried after five-hour gun battles, John finds it somehow infectious. He grins a little in return. 'Yeah. Whatever, kid.'
Matt shakes his head, then pushes sweat-darkened hair back out of his eyes. 'Oh, McClane, that's priceless. You just had a religious experience, and that's your reaction? Whatever?'
'Religious experience?' John snorts. 'Don't get ahead of yourself, kid. I'm not that rusty, and you're not that good.'
He pulls off a wad of toilet paper and thrusts half at Matt. 'Here. Clean yourself up.'
'Oh, so now you're in charge again?'
John finishes getting himself together and zips up. He turns and locks eye contact. 'Yeah. I am.'
Matt makes no attempt to put his pants back on, just sits on the edge of the tub, apparently content to display himself. He lifts his chin, and John can see the promise of fire still in his eyes. 'Yes, sir,' he says, and John's cock, still not sated, twitches against the rough material of his jeans.
Matt eyes him, and flashes that grin again. 'So,' he says. 'Where do we go from here?'
John looks at the shower stall, thinks about heat and steam and slick, satiny lather. He returns the grin, steps forward and pulls Matt to his feet. 'Oh, I think we've got some options to explore.'