Title: Aftershocks

Author: HalfshellVenus

Characters: John/Matt (Slash)

Rating: T

Summary: Matt tried to adjust to living on his own, but it seemed like something was missing.

x-x-x-x-x

Matt was surprised as hell to hear John's voice again, let alone realize how much he'd missed it. It had only been three weeks since he'd moved out of John's place, though they'd seemed like three incredibly long weeks. Maybe that should've given him a clue.

Living on his own again was kind of weird, after everything that had happened. You never knew when some whackjob might break into your apartment and start shooting the place up. Not likely, but then hey—Matt hadn't seen it coming the first time, either.

After he and John got out of the hospital, Matt crashed at John's apartment for almost two months. It worked out pretty well, given that Matt suddenly had no place to live and that both of them needed some help getting around for the first month or so. In retrospect, in was kind of pathetic—the two of them groaning their way through the night in their separate rooms, popping pain pills and waiting for morning when the visiting nurse would come. The nurse was a beefy guy named Stu, who liked black denim and Doc Martens. He helped them get showered and dressed every day, and herded them out to the sofa where they could pass the time watching Judge Judy or one of John's twenty or so VHS movies.

After a week, Matt sent Stu out for a DVD player and got John hooked up with Broadband Internet and Netflix. That was a huge improvement.

The days gradually got easier, broken up into dress and hygiene, physical therapy, and semi-vegetative companionship. Sometimes Matt and John snoozed side-by-side on the sofa, like a couple of old men in a retirement home. Matt hadn't spent so much time doing nothing since the summer of his sophomore year in high school.

It hadn't chafed until the final two weeks, but Matt was the only one who noticed it. John didn't seem worried.

"That restless energy is how you know you're done getting better."

"Wish someone would tell my gimp leg," Matt joked.

"Keep working it, kid. I've been laid up five times in the call of duty, and I haven't let it get me yet."

Matt stared. "You must be half cyborg by now."

"Maybe I am, kid," John teased him. "Maybe I am…"

It took Matt awhile to get comfortable with a computer again. He still knew all the things he'd known before, but now there was the added fact that someone had tried to use his computer to blow him up. That last part was kind of hard to forget.

Still, he managed well enough to line up a contracting job (fame had its privileges), and rent a furnished apartment in the city. It was hard to leave John's place, but he'd put the guy out long enough by then. The new building had an elevator (Matt hoped he wouldn't need that forever), and everything in the apartment seemed to work. He'd have a better idea if he spent any real time there, but the place weirded him out. It was too quiet—which made him jump at every little sound—and he felt like a sitting duck, living there all by himself.

When John called about getting together, Matt would've jumped through the phone if it was possible. He missed John, he missed being at John's apartment, he missed the simplicity of the time they'd spent recuperating together. Sure, the recovery had been painful, but after the first few days the meds had taken care of that. It was better than the routine he had now, which tended to involve working late and then going out for dinner followed by a movie or coffee shop or bookstore. Once you reached the point where you'd calculated the minimum amount of time you could be at home without making your employers nervous, you clearly were already in big trouble.

John met up with Matt at a bar with a big-screen TV and great burgers, which was perfect. They talked and ate, and watched the Jets try to rebound from a ten point deficit. John mentioned that he was back at work again on desk duty, and he seemed to be itching to get out on the street. He asked about Matt's job and apartment, and nodded when Matt said he rarely spent any time at home.

"PTSD," John said.

"What?"

"Post-Traumatic Stress—"

"I know what it is, I just can't believe you're saying it," Matt mumbled. "Seriously?"

"You've got all the symptoms, and plenty of cause," John said. "C'mon kid, that had to be one of the scariest days of your life. People were shooting at you and trying to kill you- all PTSD triggers. You probably feel exposed whether you're at home or work, like something's out there waiting to—"

"All right, all right," Matt said. "Yes, I'm incredibly paranoid now and I have a lot of trouble sleeping. What do you want me to do about it?"

John patted his arm reassuringly. "Nothing. I'm just telling you that it's normal, and it's not your fault. There are lots of places that treat it, if you need help. That's all."

What was not normal was the heat rising up through Matt's skin where John was touching him. It brought back moments from that incredibly long day, memories of John's hand on his arm or shoulder or back, of John holding him close against danger.

"It's even worse than that," Matt blurted out. "I haven't really felt safe since I moved out of your apartment." Oh God, he hadn't meant to say that. What the hell was wrong with him?

John leaned forward, his face concerned and his voice incredibly soft. "Why didn't you tell me?" he asked. "Why didn't you call?"

Matt blinked. "I'd taken up enough of your time already. You have a life, John, and it's bigger than my dumbass problems."

"Yeah, well," John shrugged, "I wasn't doing much with it anyway, especially lately…" He nudged Matt's arm, as if he'd made a decision. "Tell you what, let's go back to my place, have a beer or two. You can fill me in on the details."

"Okay," Matt said, trying to sound casual. The idea of going to John's apartment made him feel relieved and unreasonably happy, all at the same time. He couldn't begin to say why.

They walked the two blocks to John's place, where John unlocked the door and ushered Matt in. The sudden rush of "home" was completely unexpected, hitting Matt so hard it made his knees go weak.

"You okay?" John asked, putting a hand on Matt's shoulder.

God, but it was hard to focus. Maybe Matt had already had too much to drink. "My leg," he finally said. "It's not what it used to be, you know?"

John chuckled. "I hear you."

Matt took a step forward and promptly stumbled, falling into John. I used to be able to walk, damnit! He straightened up just as John leaned toward him, and his nose brushed John's face.

Oh, God…

Anyone with sense would have backed away in embarrassment, which was why Matt was surprised to find himself suddenly kissing John like his life depended on it. Even more surprising was the way John moaned in response, and kissed him back every bit as hard.

Five minutes ago Matt would've sworn he wasn't into other guys, which just sounded stupid now that his heart was racing in overdrive and his pants were cutting off his circulation because of the things John McClane could do with his tongue.

They worked their way awkwardly toward the sofa, never quite letting go. John pushed Matt down and over onto his back, their legs tangling as they shifted and rolled and ground into each other like a couple of teenagers with more hormones than sense.

"Any idea how we do the next part?" Matt asked shakily, in between kisses.

John laughed and bit softly along Matt's jaw. "I thought you knew."

Well, there'd never been any reason to need that information before now, so Matt hadn't exactly paid attention when the opportunity had come along. But he was still the kind of guy who could hack his way into almost anything, and John had to be the only man on the planet who would even think of killing a helicopter with a car (let alone actually succeeding at it).

Good enough.

"Let's wing it," Matt suggested, his lips brushing John's ear as he spoke. John groaned in response, sliding his hand up Matt's neck until it came to rest against Matt's face and held him firmly while John kissed him stupid all over again.

Matt touched John everywhere he could: back and shoulders (god, what shoulders), massive pecs, and firm, muscled ass. The man was a machine.

When John started to roll his hips against him, the last traces of coherent thought fell out of Matt's brain. All that was left were Nnngggh and God and Yessss as he wrapped his legs around John's and hung on tight until the world bled orange behind his eyes and the ride was over.

"Mmmmm," Matt sighed happily, face pressed against John's neck.

"Good?" John asked, and Matt could almost see the smile that went with the question.

"Very good," Matt said. "Like you didn't already know that."

John raised himself up on his elbows and looked at him. "So, what do you think, kid? Does this mean you're moving back in?"

Matt froze for a second, making sure he wasn't imagining anything. "I don't know. Does this mean you're asking me to?"

"Hell yeah," John said, as if the whole thing was obvious. "Should've never let you leave in the first place."

That feeling of relief, of belonging, of home swept over Matt again, fueling the smile that lit his face. He couldn't think of anything he wanted more.

"I suppose you kept my room for me," he suggested lightly.

"I suppose I might have," John answered, leaning in for a kiss and settling down beside him. "But it doesn't matter. I don't think you'll be using it much."

"Hey, I don't have to be a workaholic," Matt protested. "I could be home more."

"I sure hope so," John said, "But that's not the point.

"Say goodbye to the guest room, kid. You're about to get a serious upgrade."

- fin -