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FIC: Regrets

Title: Regrets
Fandom: Watchmen
Characters/Pairings: Rorschach, Nite Owl
Date Written: 2009
Summary: They died together, that night. The masks survived.
Rating/Warnings: PG-13 for imagery/violence.
Notes: AU, 60's. Not sure where this came from really. Just a nastydark little what-if.


*

The man under his gloves is dying by careful, measured degrees, face purpling in the strobing light, fluttering hands rendered into a grotesque stop-motion as they claw for breath. There is nothing worthwhile in his eyes, nothing that deserves a second chance, a third chance, a seventeenth chance. Dozens of children(some too young to stand, some nearly too old to fit) are strapped into the nearby cages like experimental animals, and that's what they are: strung out on some new cocktail that's days from hitting the streets, the luckiest of them are already unconscious. The rest are digging stubs of fingernails under skin until it tears, are winding fingers and toes through the rough metal wire, are strangling themselves on their drip cords. Their eyes are black and empty.

Across the room, Nite Owl is heaving; there's not much left to bring up, but the smell of slow, living rot is pervasive and unrelenting. He's pushed his cowl and goggles back to keep them out of the way, and they hang between his shoulderblades like the shed carapace of some gigantic cicada.

[He will say later: he regrets that it happened like this. He'd wanted to unmask voluntarily, in a moment of solidarity and trust, to hold out his hand and spin his old name into the vocabulary of this bizarre space and time they share, not strip back his disguise in a moment of blind panic to keep it from being drenched in vomit.]

Eventually the purple is so dark that it's nearly red again, nearly the color of blackening blood - and in the still-frame picture show these things have become, all disjointed moments with nothing connecting them up in between, he watches the hands fall away, the head loll back, the body start to go still but for the ribcage still constricting, fighting, trying.

[He will regret that he was so incapacitated, that he was not instead going from cage to cage, breaking the hinges apart with the force of all the sickness and rage that's hollowing him out, burning up his insides, drooling from his lips to the cold floor and leaving him empty empty empty]

The body may or may not make a sound as it hits the floor; it's impossible to be sure with the way the children are screaming and wailing and rattling the doors of their cages, howling like diseased monkeys. The crates behind them hold the drug itself, pre-parcelled out for ease of delivery. The street dealers will be here in the morning.

[He will regret many things, but he will be too far gone by then for this one: he will not regret feeling it through the concrete when the ringleader dies under his partner's hands. That will feel right, and good, and no, it will do nothing to assuage him when the first boy they free dies in his arms, but when the report is filed - coronary failure, it will say - he won't hear it, too busy changing into something new, something that cares little for details like 'there was nothing you could have done.']

The noise is unbearable in its stunning silence, and Rorschach waits until he's sure no breath remains in the body under him before he staggers over to pull Nite Owl to his feet(even with the mask gone he is still Nite Owl), haul him towards the cages, set him to work breaking locks. Between them, they have more to do here,

[between them, they will change, are changing, have changed]

and justice for these screaming and broken living carcasses is the kind that can only be measured in blood and spittle flecked on blue lips and the rattling heave of lungs collapsing inside of ribs and in the slump of a body as it rolls to the ground, and they are changing

[we're always changing]

with every pair of eyes that cannot focus to meet theirs. The police will come and take the children away and some will survive but the fortunate ones will not, and they will watch from the shadows, expressions sharp-edged and darkening, and the officers will ask each other

["Who called this in?"]

and

["Where are they?"]

and

["Who did this?"]

and in the morning the petty dealers will show up and find vengeance waiting and the police will have to come again,

[in the shadows, watching, changing]

and they will not understand regrets, not really.

*


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Comments

( 28 comments — Leave a comment )
bane_6
Aug. 10th, 2009 03:45 pm (UTC)
Whoa. Painful and wonderful.
etherati
Aug. 10th, 2009 03:52 pm (UTC)
Mostly painful was what I thought - was one of those late night 'compose it straight into the comment box in a half an hour' deals so I dono how good it is really? But there's something about it I like.
por_queeee
Aug. 10th, 2009 06:40 pm (UTC)
That was wonderful. The tone and imagery is really disturbing and overall it was just fantastic. For some reason I like fic like this the best, the kind that's dark and bites into you and won't let go.

I liked the detail about Daniel unmasking for the first time and later saying he had intended to do it voluntarily the first time rather than out of necessity.

and some will survive but the fortunate ones will not That line really struck home for some reason.
etherati
Aug. 10th, 2009 06:53 pm (UTC)
Yeah it's always written like 'and then one night Dan unmasks because he trusts Rorschach and etc etc' which I have written on before, but I wanted to play with the idea of them both breaking like this before *either* knew the other's name, and with Dan losing the chance to do these things the way he wanted to.

Thanks :D
neutralsurgeon
Aug. 10th, 2009 07:00 pm (UTC)
you know, I love darkfic more because of the metaphysical and philosophical stuff you can touch on much more easily, and because the graphic novel was definitely more dark than anything else.

and that's why I know you're a great writer, because you can write darkfic or happy fic or any kind of fic and it's still a trip to read.
etherati
Aug. 10th, 2009 07:11 pm (UTC)
Heh thank you, that means a lot. I enjoy it for a lot of the same reasons, but I still need to write... I dono if 'happy' is quite the right word in WM but 'marginally ok' fic sometimes just to keep from depressing myself to death. D:
misachan
Aug. 10th, 2009 08:29 pm (UTC)
I love fic with Dan following Rorschach into the darkness, esepcially when it's done with this kind of brutal poetry.

And yet, it's stil not as dark as the canon --- at least here neither of them are alone in the shadows.
etherati
Aug. 10th, 2009 08:35 pm (UTC)
Thank you. Dan's break always takes a slightly different form, but it's a really interesting thing to explore, trying to find something that would break them both at once and see how they'd each respond to it.
badra1018
Aug. 10th, 2009 08:55 pm (UTC)
thaaaaat is just... beautiful and tragic and just :c I don't really know how to use words to say how it made me feel, but... I love it ;n; <333333333

awesome
etherati
Aug. 10th, 2009 09:01 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much. :)
katie_havok
Aug. 10th, 2009 10:19 pm (UTC)
<3333
I'm neither articulate nor an author, so I'm not going to throw a bunch of pretty word-porn your way saying how wonderful this is; I'm simply going to say that this will stay with me for a long time, because the emotional texture of this is real and visceral and heart-rending, which is the best kind of fanfiction to read with this pairing.

I'm so glad you're an author for this fandom, because you (and so many others!) are a serious asset to the community in general. <333
etherati
Aug. 11th, 2009 01:33 am (UTC)
Re: <3333
Thank you so much; that there IS an emotional texture, much less that it's what I was trying to have it be, is such an amazing thing to hear.

(also, you seem plenty articulate to me heh)

Those two really do just attract discontent and heartbreak and the emotional violence of the worst of human nature like magnets, don't they? :\
radishface
Aug. 11th, 2009 12:42 am (UTC)
Ouch. Intense.

"He'd wanted to unmask voluntarily, in a moment of solidarity and trust, to hold out his hand and spin his old name into the vocabulary of this bizarre space and time they share, not strip back his disguise in a moment of blind panic to keep it from being drenched in vomit."

Of course he did. D:

What I love about your fic is that it really does touch upon the truth-- your characters aren't just in-character; they're just themselves. And with that, I can sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride that is as canon to me as is Alan Moore's or Zack Snyder's canon.
etherati
Aug. 11th, 2009 01:37 am (UTC)
Yeah, was trying to subvert the whole 'Dan unmasks one night! to show much he trusts rorschach! and it's a Moment!' which to me fair, I did specifically WRITE in 'Prisoners', I just wanted to try a different angle here, considering the imminent Spiral Into Madness they were both about to fall into.

Oh man if only my OWN canon were freaking consistent. So many of these stories exist to the exclusion of each other. XD But I do try, I do. I love these characters even when it doesn't look like it because I'm putting them through hell, and I love writing them, and I hope that shows. :)

Also: <3 icon.

Edited at 2009-08-11 01:38 am (UTC)
__perplexity__
Aug. 11th, 2009 02:48 am (UTC)
I'm so sorry I never get back to posts and comments when I'm meant to, I'm a very very bad person -.-;

"...in the morning the petty dealers will show up and find vengeance waiting and the police will have to come again..."

That's what got me. Added to the weight of the scene, the permanence of it. Without that it might've just seemed like "Team Owlschach find something nasty > violence happens > roll on next night!", but that really helped it stick.

You also win Can O' Beans for hinting unflinchingly at something so horrific. In fact screw Can O' Beans, you get the whole damn crate.

Thanks for sharing <3
etherati
Aug. 11th, 2009 03:12 am (UTC)
Thank you! *noms beanz*

Yeah, i was trying to really get across that this was a sort of no-turning-back break point for both of them, that this was not going to fade in the morning, or tomorrow, or next week. D:
findmyantidrug
Aug. 11th, 2009 02:55 am (UTC)
So I said pretty much everything I wanted to say anonymously already, but. ...but when the report is filed - coronary failure, it will say - he won't hear it, too busy changing into something new, something that cares little for details like 'there was nothing you could have done.' and the quiet, nearly methodical description of the man dying, and the repetition and and in the morning the petty dealers will show up and find vengeance waiting and the police will have to come again - the way you've worked their bodies turning into ideals and. Yeah. This is awesome.
etherati
Aug. 11th, 2009 03:15 am (UTC)
Wow, thank you. :O

I always figured that was probably how rorschach-who-isn't-walter would view death - as a mechanical process, nothing particularly special, since, you know, we all come from oblivion and return to it and there's no point to any of it anyway.
unimagine
Aug. 11th, 2009 03:01 am (UTC)
D:
...I have NOTHING to say in this moment of incredible incoherency that this piece has induced.

YOU. If I can have your ability to spin words in JUST the right way to make it feel as if my heart is being pulled out of my chest, I will die happy. But hell, I can't even express how much I love this. D:
etherati
Aug. 11th, 2009 03:17 am (UTC)
Re: D:
I have induced incoherency! That was the next goal on my checklist! :D

Seriously, Thank you so much. :)
0armoredsoul0
Aug. 12th, 2009 05:50 am (UTC)
I'm going to go and cry now.
The death of innocence is a thing most do not care enough to mourn, though it be a precious thing.
etherati
Aug. 12th, 2009 01:43 pm (UTC)
Thank you; While I'm not sadistic enough to say 'I'm glad I made you cry', I will say that I'm glad this had an emotional impact, as it's such a dark and depressing left turn.
jack_infinitude
Aug. 13th, 2009 01:58 am (UTC)
This was great, in that stomping-on-my-gut way. The description the children is spare, but no less unflinching. Kudos.

This fic hits me especially hard because there's been a recent spat of child-abuse cases in my area. Different from this, but just as shattering. The fortunate ones are indeed the ones who die.
etherati
Aug. 13th, 2009 02:03 am (UTC)
Thank you.

And... I'm not actually sure how much I believe that myself, but that was definitely the mindset they were sliding into here, so it seemed a valid piece of narration -

I'm sorry to hear you've been dealing with that. People really do make me very angry sometimes. :\
jack_infinitude
Aug. 13th, 2009 02:55 am (UTC)
It's definitely other people that makes me go "If I ruled the world, things would be different!" Thank you for fic, and sympathy. *bows*
etherati
Aug. 13th, 2009 02:56 am (UTC)
"Hell is other people", as it were. :\
akemi42
Aug. 13th, 2009 06:19 am (UTC)
Wow...really twisted. A good idea that was very well executed.
etherati
Aug. 13th, 2009 06:24 am (UTC)
Thank you so much; execution's hard on this kind of thing because it's so easy to go over the top. I'm glad it works. :)
( 28 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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