Title: Just Passing Through
Author: Jedi Buttercup
Summary: CSI, Die Hard 4. Catherine pitied the CSIs that had to pick up after one of John McClane's "bad" days. 1400 words.
Disclaimer: The words are mine; the worlds are not. All your John McClane are belong to Bruce Willis and your CSI to CBS and Anthony E. Zuiker.
Spoilers: Vaguely season 9 of CSI; post-"Live Free or Die Hard" (2007)
Notes: For phoenixrae, who requested "Die Hard 4/CSI (Vegas). John McClane/Catherine Willows, UST."
Catherine's first thought, when she glimpsed an all-too-familiar profile above a dark leather jacket at the end of the bar she'd just entered, was that she was very, very glad she wasn't on shift that evening.
Her second was that her night was about to become a lot more interesting.
"Hey, Ray?" she murmured to the colleague accompanying her. "Do you mind if we continue the tour of case-free hotspots another day? I just spotted an old friend from out of town that I haven't seen in years."
He raised his eyebrows a little at that, but didn't seem perturbed; she wouldn't be surprised if they'd already partied harder that evening than he normally did in an entire week. He was a solid, intelligent guy and a competent if still inexperienced CSI, but she was really looking forward to loosening him up a little.
If it could be done, of course. She already knew he favored Grissom's style more than hers; but it couldn't hurt to try.
"Not a problem, Catherine," Ray replied, warmly. "I still have some reading to do that I've been putting off; I'll catch up with you next shift?"
"Of course," she replied, grateful not to have to explain any further. "Be safe out there."
They parted with friendly smiles and a few more polite words; Catherine watched him go, then turned and stalked up behind the man at the bar, grateful she'd made the effort to dress up that evening.
"Hey, hero," she murmured huskily in his ear. "How about you buy a girl a drink?"
He straightened up at the sound of her voice, then turned to her with a smirk. "Well, if it isn't Catherine Willows," John McClane said, looking her up and down with an appreciative eye. "Or is it Flynn now?"
She slid onto the stool next to him, appreciating him right back. Damn, the man had aged well, considering everything he'd been through. The baldness suited him much better than the receding hairline he'd sported the last time she'd seen him, and the few new visible scars merely accented the tough-man look he had going. She was surprised he wasn't already surrounded by dozens of people begging for his autograph-- but then again, dressed down like this, with neither badge nor gun visible, it was a little harder to associate the roughly attractive middle-aged man with the larger-than-life image of the Independence Day Hero that still showed up occasionally on the news.
"It's still Willows," she confirmed with a rueful smile. The last time they'd run into one another, she'd been in the middle of divorcing Eddie; the fact that he remembered that-- and that his left ring finger showed bare where it curled around his glass-- boded well for her burgeoning hopes for the evening. "I decided it was too much trouble to change it back, and besides, Lindsey would never have forgiven me. Do I need to ask about Holly?"
He followed her gaze to his hand and nodded. "Back to being Gennaro. Permanently, this time; she finally got fed up with my bullshit. Jack kept my name, but as far as Lucy's concerned, whether or not she's a McClane depends on whose daughter she feels like being when you ask her."
Catherine knew what that felt like; some days, she thought Lindsey would disown her if she wasn't still living under her roof. "Sure looked like your daughter when I saw her on the news last summer."
John snorted at that, but his expression was fond. "Yeah, well, she gets the stubborn gene from both of us. Right now, she's just a little fed up with me for punching out her fiancé."
"Sounds like a good reason for being angry," she replied, amused.
"Kid deserved it." He shook his head, then took a long pull of his beer and waved the bartender over. "I told him I'd kick his ass if he ever went there, and he went ahead and dated her behind my back."
Catherine's eyebrows flew up as she tried to imagine any man young enough for John to refer to as a kid-- a kid that had actually met him-- daring to defy one of his orders. "Brave young man," she commented, admiringly.
A reluctant grin broke over his face as he accepted another glass from the bartender. "Vodka martini for the lady," he added, then turned back to Catherine. "Why do you think I only punched him," he shrugged. "I hate to admit it, but this one might actually deserve her."
Catherine chuckled, then accepted the martini with a grateful nod and a change of subject. "So do I need to call the department and have a S.W.A.T. team standing by for the duration of your visit? Or do you think you might be able to keep things to a dull roar?"
"Whoa, whoa." He leaned back a little, raising his empty palms in mock surrender. "I'm just passing through this time, I swear."
"You were 'just passing through' here the last time, too," she reminded him.
"That wasn't my fault! I didn't ask to be in that casino when it was robbed."
"Right," Catherine drawled, grinning at John as she traced the rim of her glass with a fingertip, "you just happen to have the worst luck of any detective I've ever met."
"It could have been worse," he shrugged, an amused twinkle in his eye. "I didn't even have to fire my gun that time."
No man his age should have any right to be that charming, Catherine mused, strawberry blonde hair sweeping over bare shoulders as she shook her head. "Lucky for us; it sure made our job in the lab a lot easier. I pity the CSIs that have to pick up after one of your bad days."
He sobered a little at that, staring down into the depths of his glass. "I think I've finally had enough of those for one lifetime," he said somberly. "Time to leave the excitement to the up and comers."
Catherine blinked at him in disbelief for a moment, trying to process the oxymoronic thought that was John McClane, retiree. He wasn't one of those cops who'd stayed with the job because he thought he was good at it, or because he wanted to make criminals pay; he did what he did because it wasn't in him to do anything else. He'd be eighty-six and in a wheelchair and still doing his best to take down any criminals he spotted, that much was obvious from even five minutes' acquaintance with the man.
"Oh, I don't know about that," she said, laughing low in her throat. "They sure don't make 'em like they used to. Besides. You're only eight years older than I am; hell, you're younger than Brass, and he'll be wearing a badge until they pry it from his fingers."
The corner of John's mouth curled up again at that, though he tried to hide it. "It's not the years, it's the mileage," he grumbled good-naturedly, rubbing absently at his right shoulder. "They're gonna disability me out one of these days, whether I like it or not."
"But that day isn't here yet," she murmured, reaching out to lay a hand over his rubbing fingers. He'd been shot there during the events of the Fire Sale, she remembered; he'd been wearing a sling that evening on the news. Not that you'd know it to look at him now; he'd always been well-nigh indestructible, bouncing back from injury after injury without any visible impairment.
Which boded well for his stamina, and the likelihood of his having avoided other kinds of age-related impairment too, she thought wryly.
He stilled at the touch of her hand on his, something shifting in the depths of his eyes like a dart striking home. Electric anticipation thrilled through her; it had been so long since she'd indulged herself, especially with someone who knew her and wouldn't expect anything more from her later.
"So how about we go someplace a little more quiet and-- catch up?" she suggested huskily.
John swallowed, then opened his mouth to reply--
--at exactly the same moment a gunshot sounded somewhere near the door.
"Uh, can I have a rain check on that?" he asked, sliding out of his chair.
Catherine stared in disbelief, then shook her head, laughing. "I might have known."