Fandom: Die Hard 4
Characters: John, Matt (Gen or pre-Slash)
Rating: PG-13 (language)
Summary: If this constituted a 'favor,' John McClane was the damn Easter Bunny...
Author's Notes: For 5_prompts ("a funny thing happened") and for writers_choice ("Duty").
John never wanted this assignment anyway, so it figured that the kid he'd been sent to escort/rescue/wrangle didn't want to come with him, and even pulled out the full repertory of sarcasm to let him know it.
The universe was a bitch, and it had John McClane on speed-dial.
The part where he and the kid nearly got blown to pieces trying to leave the apartment was the cyanide on the cupcake. It almost made John forget how the night began, where just five minutes of talking with Lucy managed to make her even angrier than she'd already been—whatever the hell was going on there. Lucy and her moods had been a complete mystery to him since she'd turned fifteen.
Now, if John remembered correctly, bringing the hacker kid in was supposed to be a catch-and-release operation. It hadn't worked out that way, though. The two of them had left the outpost again when the kid insisted that something bigger was in the works. Then they'd gained and lost an FBI agent in some sort of massive gridlock fiasco, and the government convoy that was supposed to protect them had dwindled down to just the John and the kid, trapped in a tunnel like sitting ducks.
Before long the bullets started flying, kicking John back into action. He wasn't the type to take an ambush lying down, and if that meant turning his car into an air-to-ground missile, well so be it. It sure impressed the hell out of the kid.
Impressed John too, as it happened, but he wasn't about to admit to having been anything less than completely confident that he could pull that off.
After that they'd started driving again, miles and miles through the dark with the kid's admiration keeping John warm and energized against the pull of night. Even when the kid drifted off for awhile, nothing changed. Thomas Gabriel was out there waiting to unplug the Eastern seaboard and plunder the wealth of unguarded financial data, and John and the kid were going to stop him. They didn't have a plan, but they'd be there all the same. In John's experience, that was half the battle anyway.
When they got to the facility, John was pleased that he didn’t have to ask the kid to come along while he worked through Gabriel’s perimeter security. Assuming they made it inside okay, they’d be cutting it close on whether the kid could lock Gabriel out of his own hacked-together system, or at least keep him from triggering the financial download he was after.
The kid wasn’t Bruce Lee in disguise, but then who the hell was? Certainly not John, or anyone else he’d ever worked with on one of his impromptu missions. The closest they got this time was the badass chick in the high-heeled boots who kept trying to break John’s neck, and she was clearly working for the other side. John was glad as hell to get rid of her because if there was one thing he hated, it was a dogged opponent. That was his job. Other people pulling that shit just made him tired.
Gabriel always seemed to be one step ahead of them, though. John wondered how the hell Gabriel's thugs had found Lucy, but wasn't it always that way? John's family was to criminals what mini-marts were to the Stop-And-Rob industry—as if homing signals or beacons were involved.
He tried to pull that thought back as soon as it escaped, but it was too late. The universe exacted its revenge, and John spent the next hour dodging bombs and falling off freeway ramps. The fact that he survived it (too impossible to be just dumb luck), showed that the cosmos' sense of humor was almost as twisted as his.
Everything dead-ended at a warehouse—the semi he'd been chasing, Lucy and the kid, and Thomas Gabriel himself. John moved silently to the doorway, ears tuned to the voices inside. Lucy was in trouble, and time was running out.
He took down one of Gabriel's men, but it didn't stop Gabriel from coming after him. First he shot John in the shoulder (which really fucking hurt), and then trapped him in a headlock and ground his gun into the wound while John's own weapon lay useless and out of reach on the floor.
It only took a couple of seconds before John remembered that the upper hand belonged to whoever would use any means necessary, no matter what it cost him. The bullet he shot into himself from Gabriel's gun hurt worse than the first one had, but when it was over Gabriel was dead and the kid had taken care of the other guy, so it was worth it.
The kid and Lucy—and the rest of the country—were safe. If it ever sank in, maybe John's head would stop spinning.
Afterwards there were TV cameras and ambulances, and mountains of paperwork would pile on later. But not just yet.
Lucy had suffered the least of the three of them, and she'd stopped being mad. They'd probably still go a few more rounds in John's lifetime, but right now things were good.
Shoulder aching, he walked over to where the kid was being treated for the gunshot to the knee. It'd been a hell of a long day for both of them, yet somehow it all faded away as soon as the kid looked up at him with that big, open smile. John crouched down beside him (Matt, his name was Matt), and smiled back, suddenly feeling oddly peaceful.
He wasn't looking forward to the hospital or rehab, and he was sick of the media attention already. Hell, he'd never claimed to be a patient man.
But in that moment, with the way Matt looked at him, John realized he'd wanted every bit as much to be a hero to someone in particular that day as well as to the country—the world—at large.
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