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FIC: Prisoners

Title: Prisoners
Fandom: Watchmen
Characters/Pairings: Dan, Rorschach.
Date Written: 2009
Summary: Skin-on-skin is its own confession, and we are all caged.
Rating/Warnings: PG. Not actually slash, despite the summary. Nothing offensive at all, as far as I can tell.
Notes: Kinkmeme fill, prompt was for Rorschach's reaction the first time Dan unmasked.
Clarification: (Because I'm paranoid) When the word 'man' is used in this, it is not meant in a gender-loaded way, but in the more general sense of 'human being'.

*

This is wrong.

It's a repeating chorus, wandering over a monotonic meter. He couldn't name the melody, put a label on the pitch and timbre of the notes, but he knows: this is wrong.

This isn't Nite Owl, standing in front of him, with wide warm eyes the color of the cheap cocoa he buys in winter. Owls are hunting creatures; their eyes are gold, fixed and intent, with no care for anything but the jagged, panicked path of their fleeing prey. They do not gaze in expectation, pinch in nervousness, light up in misguided delight. Their beaks cannot accommodate the childish and hopeful smile sliding off of his partner's unmasked face by disappointed degrees.

There's a hand out, in the air in front of him. It is ungloved; flesh and muscle and blood and all the mess of the human condition. Soft, for all of its visible calluses - the gauntlet on the workbench beside them is incapable of bleeding. It's hanging and it's asking manipulative questions: I trust you, do you trust me? This is what I look like, what do you look like?

Everything is transactional.

It's not as if he'd thought his partner an automaton or a suit of Kevlar animated by some errant hunting-owl spirit; of course there has always been a man underneath it all, just as there is one beneath his own mask. But it's enough for him that he trusts Nite Owl, the hunter, the kindred spirit, the arms and legs and fists that work alongside his own, the voice that alerts him to danger he's missed in the darkness or in the fever-hot waking dream that the worst fights become, everything blurring together around the edges, vital details dissipating myopically. It's enough. He didn't need the bird to shake off its feathers, to push its vivid, all-seeing eyes back onto its head, to crawl out of its skin and become a mere man. To name itself with a man's name.

Daniel.

Men are weak, and debased, and foolish, and given to unsettling notions of what is wrong and what is right. They are flesh, and flesh has its own needs; it crawls and bleeds and calls out to other flesh and of course there has always been a man under the dark, dark goggles but if he could only see himself reflected in them then he wouldn't have to acknowledge that Nite Owl is no shining, brilliant exception to the rules.

There is a hand hanging in front of him; above the hand, an armored sleeve and the sharp line of the costume's shoulders, and that's where it starts getting dangerous because there is an exposed jawline and a smooth, young face that is still trying to smile. The skin is flushed with adrenaline and fight; sweaty brown curls of hair press against it where only feathers should be, sharp and intimidating and all gesture in the edges and angles of the design.

And the eyes, still watching him, still piercing, and they are too expressive and too dark but he realizes he was wrong about one thing: they are a hunter's eyes.

He could reach out, and take the hand, and agree to everything or agree to nothing. He could turn and walk away and pretend this never happened, but the name Nite Owl has given himself – the shape of it like a strange new vocabulary of trust that makes him dizzy, makes his head spin and his knees turn to water – is already at work, changing all of the labels and designations, reworking his definition of the man in front of him even as it shifts and skitters out from under his attempts to pin it down.

Daniel's airship. Daniel's armor. Daniel's workshop. Daniel's blood, running from under the cowl, shining lurid and dangerous in the streetlight.

Daniel's deep brown eyes, still watching, still waiting.

Rorschach reaches up, pulls one glove free. Accepts the grip, skin to skin, acknowledging the cage and curse of flesh for what it is; accepts the reveal as a confession, held somewhere sacred. He cannot show his face and he cannot name himself but he can do this: he can take a hand offered in trust and loyalty and say that yes, yes, we are the same – under the costumes and masks and the thick, caked layers of the city's filth and the bright-hot sheen of believing and trying and doing while the rest of the world slides merrily into hell, we are both these machines, these weak and writhing things, these prisoners.

We are both only men.

*

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Comments

( 19 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
etherati
Jul. 2nd, 2009 04:32 pm (UTC)
Thank you :)
por_queeee
Jul. 2nd, 2009 09:43 pm (UTC)
Ugh, so beautiful. I love when you post fic because it always conveys a mood or emotion quite well, and you always keep them in character so perfectly.
etherati
Jul. 2nd, 2009 10:01 pm (UTC)
Thank you! What's funny is that I started this one intending to have Ror react a different way at the end, but he sort of took the wheel away halfway through and course-corrected nicely. :3

findmyantidrug
Jul. 3rd, 2009 12:44 am (UTC)
Woo, time to add this to my memories!
etherati
Jul. 3rd, 2009 12:48 am (UTC)
I am honored. :D
jimdimitri
Jul. 3rd, 2009 02:00 am (UTC)
Wow!!! I am mad jealous of your prose; I wish I could get mine to flow like that! ^_^ Wonderful job!!!
etherati
Jul. 3rd, 2009 02:10 am (UTC)
Thank you so much. :3 Hell, I wish I could get mine to flow like this all the time. Mostly it's a horrible struggle.
bethan_b_bad
Jul. 3rd, 2009 09:59 am (UTC)
This is fantastic. I love the way it flows.

*adds to Memories*
etherati
Jul. 3rd, 2009 04:51 pm (UTC)
Thank you! :D
jack_infinitude
Jul. 4th, 2009 03:04 am (UTC)
Gorgeous. Love it. <333
etherati
Jul. 4th, 2009 03:08 am (UTC)
Thanks! This is probably my favorite of the recent bunch. :)
midnite_vision
Jul. 4th, 2009 03:18 pm (UTC)
Simply amazing. I could see this being canon. :)
etherati
Jul. 4th, 2009 04:24 pm (UTC)
It's my own canon, at least. :)

I know I know I WROTE SOMETHING ALMOST-CANON THE SKY IS FALLING XD

Thank you. :)
snake_easing
Sep. 14th, 2009 06:28 pm (UTC)
Oh, no. Poor R. So caught up in his own self-loathing and hatred of everything. I'm glad Daiel forced his way through to him. I'm glad R was able to return the gesture--or half of it, at least.
etherati
Sep. 19th, 2009 04:23 pm (UTC)
WHY SO JUDGMENTAL, ROR.

But yeah, I think it shows a lot about his affection/loyalty for Dan that he was willing to go even as far as he did there, acknowledging that they're both really human beings, something he's been hiding from himself since he made the mask. Something about solidarity and unity in the face of the influence their existence wants to exert on them...

of course, most of that probably went straight over Dan's head, but that's pretty par for the course with Ror's ideas/thoughts/ramblings.

Thank you :)
fififolle
Oct. 19th, 2010 10:25 pm (UTC)
Oh! Poor babies.
This was super.
Here from this post - http://community.livejournal.com/rraaarrlship/156575.html
etherati
Dec. 4th, 2010 10:29 pm (UTC)
Eeee how did I not see this sooner!

Yeah, they're so messed up, but they're also seriously trying. Thank you!
isarn
Nov. 20th, 2010 03:54 pm (UTC)
Wonderful, perfect. So moving and elegant at the same time; I love the way you've written them.
etherati
Dec. 4th, 2010 10:29 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much!
( 19 comments — Leave a comment )

what this is.


This is a fic journal for the most part, with some art on the side and a sprinkling of personal posts here and there. I don't write as much as I used to, but I try.

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