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FIC: Shakes

Title: Shakes
Fandom: Watchmen
Characters/Pairings: Z!Rorschach, Dan
Date Written: 2010
Summary: Zombie Physiology 101, or: Why Rorschach drinks decaf.
Rating/Warnings: PG.
Notes:  Zombie!verse, the first autumn after the outbreak. Nonsense. Complete, utter, throwaway nonsense.

*

They're well above the city by the time he notices it, cutting a lazy circle through the low-hanging cloud ceiling of an autumn rainstorm in the brewing. Underneath his hands, the controls, the dash, the guts of the ship, then: open sky, and their city, the lights of cars and the animated neon of nightclubs and search spotlights showing no signs of quieting with the advance of midnight. The city is twitchy, tonight – and so is his partner, apparently. It's just a tiny motion from the corner of his eye but it’s enough, and Dan pulls the ship into a stable hover, quiets the police band radio. Swivels the chair around to get a better look. "How many of those have you had?"

Rorschach cradles the styrofoam cup between bare hands, half-masked face held close to the steam. It's still early in the night but he'd complained of cold, had consented to this short break. Adrenaline must have masked it, before. "Two. I think. Not... Two. Yes."

"Counting that one?"

Rorschach nods, a sloppy and uncoordinated motion, and the cup sloshes in his hands. It's still half full, which means really he's only had one and a half–

And yeah, Archie's coffee machine makes it a little stronger than most people are used to, but if anyone should be accustomed to it by now, it's Rorschach. "You usually go through four without so much as a jitter," Dan says, and he's a little nervous because if that's not to blame then something else is, and Rorschach's shaking like he was a few months ago, starving himself into a midsummer freeze. "What's going on in there?"

Rorschach grimaces, bringing the cup close for another sip but thinking better of it before it gets there. "Nothing. I'm fine."

"Like hell," Dan says, reaching out to pluck the cup from his hands before he spills it; Rorschach moves to reclaim it, lunging in entirely the wrong direction, a second too slow. "Come on, talk to me here. Are you hungry?"

"No," and he shuffles in the seat, something like embarrassment in his posture. "Nothing like that."

"Cold?"

"No more than usual for the weather."

The coffee cup is heavy in his hand, and hot – he looks down at it for a moment, then up again, eyes narrowed. Maybe he'd discounted it too quickly. "Feeling jittery at all?"

Even the small motion of his head to track Dan's voice is broken into a sequence of stuttered jerks, and that's enough of an answer. But Rorschach still shrugs, a sharp, fast motion. "Lot of energy, if that's what you mean."

"How about... I don't know, do you feel kind of dissociated?" Dan crouches down to eye level, tracking the subtle list-and-correct of his partner's motion, side to side.

He's not impressed with the scrutiny. An annoyed grump, then, "Not sure. Haven't ever been 'dissociated'."

"Remember back in '68 when we went after the Dark Hands that first time, and the one guy hit you with the pop-bomb?"

Rorschach hunches his shoulders, looks away like he'd rather forget. "You're asking if I feel high."

"Yeah, basically."

A shuffling of coat collar, and a measured silence. "Mildly," Rorschach finally concedes, and his voice really does sound strange – sort of hollow and swimmy, like he isn't quite feeling his vocal chords, is just enacting speech through blind muscle memory. It's eerie.

Dan's doing his best to ignore it, ignore the way pale hands shake on the edge of the chair and one knee has started to bounce restlessly. "Huh. What about your equilibrium?"

"No."

"What, there's nothing wrong with it, or you don't have any?"

The ship lists lightly to one side then, caught in an unexpected air current with extremely convenient timing, and it's enough to rock Rorschach out of his chair – onto his feet instead of onto the floor, through some old battle-honed instinct. He crosses the cabin with the same tweaky, jerky motions they see in the coked-up college kids that they scare out of the park sometimes, but he's also obviously off balance. He finally comes to rest against the far wall, hands finding purchase there, clinging like a man hopelessly lost at sea – and Archie hadn't even moved that much.

"...the latter," he finally says, the admission seeming to annoy him more than his condition. He pushes off from the wall, tries to navigate his way back.

Dan catches him halfway there, halting the motion with hands on his shoulders and it's like Rorschach wants to vibrate clear out of his skin, the way he's shaking. "Hey," Dan says, gesturing with one finger. "Pull your mask up for a minute?"

A moment's confused silence, then Rorschach hooks his fingers under the latex, pulls it the rest of the way up. When his eyes come into view, they're blown wide open, reflective backlighting filling out almost the entire iris, and that shouldn't even be possible anymore. "God," Dan says, laughing suddenly, maneuvering Rorschach back towards the copilot seat. It's something like maneuvering a drunk housecat. "Here, sit down."

"What is it?" Rorschach asks, irritation clear even through the usual growl.

Dan's working to compose himself; picks the coffee cup back up and tosses it into the nearest trash hatch no matter that it's still hot, still perfectly good. Slumps down into his own chair, still laughing.

"What. "

"God, man," he repeats, rubbing at his eyes. "I haven't seen this shit since finals week at Harvard."

Rorschach growls, low and steady; his hands can't seem to stay still. "Liberal intellectual stronghold, students indulging in illegal drugs. Always suspected as much. Must have been planted in Archimedes's water supply, got into the coffee from there," and he's going a mile a minute now, words tumbling out faster than he can form them–

–and it's going to be a very, very long night. Dan can only shake his head, still laughing, putting one hand up to interrupt the tirade. "No, no, look. It is the coffee. Massive caffeine high, from what I can see. It takes most people six cups to get to this state, eight maybe. I have no idea how you got this bad on a cup and a half."

Rorschach's already out of the chair again by the time Dan finishes, ignoring him, scuttling along the wall. He's following where he probably imagines the water supply pipes are running. It's really the exhaust panel. "Why did you refill it, if it was hitting you this hard?"

"Wasn't," he says, and it's bitten off. "Not until – all at once. That’s how most drugs work." Fingers start prying into the panel next to him, looking for a grip to peel it back.

That's Not A Good Idea. "Whoa, whoa there," Dan says, springing up to put a halt to what appears to be an attempt to dismantle his ship. "It's not in the water, seriously, and that's not where the water is anyway."

"Where is it," and there's a rising note of panic in his voice. He crosses the compartment with a fast, irregular tread, momentarily distracted by the sudden appearance of his own shadow on the wall he's approaching before he starts scrabbling at the next panel over instead. "Have to find it, find out what it is– find an antidote–"

"Stop taking my ship apart, Christ. " Dan stalks after him, swatting at Rorschach's hands when he gets there to direct them away from the wall. He's already gotten the panel wrenched back by maybe a half an inch, and Dan sighs, fingering the damage. "Seriously, sit the hell down. It's not drugs."

A long silence, interrupted only by the faint cracking of joints where Rorschach clenches and unclenches his fists, compulsive. The ship's innards whirr and burble away behind the wall panel innocuously.

"Coffee can't do this, Daniel," and he sounds uncertain even as he makes the assertion.

Dan shrugs, leaning into the panel to try to wedge it back into place. The metal groans unhappily. "Maybe it can, now."

Rorschach reaches for his mask – it's already above his browline and they're too far above the city for it to matter – sweeps it the rest of the way off, and fumbles it through restless fingers. "Because... hn. Because I process it differently now?"

"You process pretty much everything differently now," Dan says, abandoning the panel for now and taking him by the shoulders again, directing him to the chair. They really are comfortable chairs; you'd think it wouldn't be so hard to keep someone in them, no matter how stoned on caffeine they are. "And it's just another chemical."

"Don't use drugs."

"Yes, actually, you do," Dan says, pushing his own goggles up and out of the way. "Coffee's legal, cocaine isn't. But they'll both tweak you to hell and back in the right doses. All that means–" he cuts in, before Rorschach can say whatever he'd opened his mouth to interject with, "–is that we have to adjust that dose. Cut you off after half a cup from now on, maybe. Moderation's the key to everything, you should know that by now."

After a long, skittery silence, the bolts in the base of Rorschach's chair rattling in their fittings as if the act of thinking were itself a mechanical thing, he finally nods.

Dan makes a mental note to stock up on decaf, and goes back to flying the ship.

*

The gang members and drug dealers and pimps and petty thieves all have a strange story to tell tonight, to the police who drag them in or to the people they end up sharing a holding cell with, packed in like cattle. No one ever knew Rorschach could be so talkative, especially while punching them in the faces or tying them to posts or dropping like a nightmare horror from the fire escape above – blathering on about exactly what their delinquency is doing to the city, with verbal flow charts and asides and elaborations all rattled off so quickly they could barely catch a word that he said. It was bizarre, as was Nite Owl laughing at their predicament, ears talked clear off their heads until they were happy to be cuffed and abandoned and arrested for the goddamned silence it brought–

But the subsequent nights bring no similar news, all the reports indicating a return to normalcy, to the silent and efficient dispensing of justice that is this particular vigilante's modus operandi. And if there are slightly fewer calls, a less crowded cell on those later nights, well, that's back to normal too – one masked man or even two can only move so fast, can only be in so many places at once.

*

Comments

( 45 comments — Leave a comment )
jack_infinitude
Feb. 10th, 2010 02:08 am (UTC)
VERBAL FLOW CHARTS. SO MUCH YES.
etherati
Feb. 10th, 2010 02:12 am (UTC)
THEFT LEADS TO ARMED ROBBERY LEADS TO MURDER AND ALSO TO PROPERTY DAMAGE WHICH LEADS TO FRIVOLOUS LAWSUITS THAT ARE DESTROYING OUR LEGAL SYSTEM. ALSO TO LIBERALS. AND THAT FAKE BUTTER THEY PUT ON POPCORN SERIOUSLY THAT STUFF IS AWFUL AND -YOU SCUM NEED TO PAY-.
jack_infinitude
Feb. 10th, 2010 02:27 am (UTC)
BRB LOLING FOREVER.
etherati
Feb. 10th, 2010 02:29 am (UTC)
MY WORK HERE IS DONE
orockthro
Feb. 10th, 2010 02:25 am (UTC)
This made me unbelievably happy. XD
Of course Rorschach would process chemicals differently, that makes perfect sense! That's something I love about your universe: it DOES make sense. You don't just hash ideas together and sew 'em up tight and squeeze your eyes shut at the bulges. You ... make it work. And it's beautiful.
:D
But besides that, Dan and Ror are just adorable. I love them. XD
Thanks for posting this!
:D
etherati
Feb. 10th, 2010 02:30 am (UTC)
Oh man, thank you so much. I always worry that I'm getting inconsistent or losing my grip on all the loose threads, so that's so awesome to hear. :D
tuff_ghost
Feb. 10th, 2010 03:28 am (UTC)
Are you hungry?"

"No," and he shuffles in the seat, something like embarrassment in his posture. "Nothing like that."


yessss, this is just why sane zombies are SUCH A GREAT IDEA.

It struck me as I was picturing this scene in my head that their proximity and familiarity - Dan crouching down to look at him, steering him into the seat - must look PRETTY GAY. Like, Dan could even have fixed Rorschach's lapel there and it wouldn't have looked out of place :D

Also, when Dan said "take off your mask" and Rorschach DID, right away just like that, that was just one of those inconspicuous delightful moments to read. Plus it resulted in Rorschach wearing the mask on his head like a hat after, which is an image that always makes me happy.
steals_thyme
Feb. 10th, 2010 08:53 am (UTC)
Plus it resulted in Rorschach wearing the mask on his head like a hat after, which is an image that always makes me happy.

Like a swimming cap :D :D :D
etherati
Feb. 10th, 2010 08:35 pm (UTC)
It's a great image XD
etherati
Feb. 10th, 2010 08:35 pm (UTC)
I knoooow it's a whole new level of awkward, I love it.

And... yeah. The mask thing. There's no reason for him to fight on that anymore, and yet it still feels so satisfying, every time.
sepulchre_angel
Feb. 10th, 2010 03:50 am (UTC)
AHAHAHA. OH VERBOSE!SCHACH, HOW I LOVE THEE. <3 <3

Seriously though? I've been having ultra stupid brain lapses that have just resulted in me having the shittiest day ever. And it's worse because I have no one to blame but myself. XP BUT THIS. This made me feel so much better, don't even know. I love their familiarity, their closeness even when they're not being close and VERBAL FLOW CHARTS WHY IS IT SO PLAUSIBLE?? LOL. XD Anyways, thank you thank you!!

(it's also really awesome how much new stuff you're putting out here lately. seems like every time i turn around, you've got something new and awesome and I LOVE IT.) XD
etherati
Feb. 10th, 2010 08:37 pm (UTC)
The familiarity without the outward acknowledgement of the closeness that would come later, is part of what I love about writing them in this time period. And yesss the flow charts <3

What it really is is I had a ton of stuff in-progress/almost done and just went in and started finishing things.
brancher
Feb. 10th, 2010 07:06 am (UTC)
oh man - I lost it in about five different places here. You got to write more humor, you're amazing at it.
etherati
Feb. 10th, 2010 08:39 pm (UTC)
Really? I thought I *sucked* at it. XD Thanks haha
akemi42
Feb. 10th, 2010 08:41 am (UTC)
This great. Rorschach had a crazy conspiracy theory to try and excuse his altered state. Love it.
etherati
Feb. 10th, 2010 08:41 pm (UTC)
Of COURSE he did. XD
steals_thyme
Feb. 10th, 2010 08:58 am (UTC)
Oh man, I have a ridiculous soft spot for...well, anything Rorschach, but a tweaked-out, talkative, conspiracy-spouting Rorschach who makes criminals go, 'oh god, shut up' is just GLORIOUS.

Also laughing at Rorschach's indignation over Dan's assertion that he takes drugs. And then the mother-henning, 'only half a cup for you, young man!'

Okay, this has set me up in a great mood for the rest of the day <3

"Remember back in '68 when we went after the Dark Hands that first time, and the one guy hit you with the pop-bomb?"

BTW I NEED THIS STORY TOO /greedy
etherati
Feb. 10th, 2010 08:42 pm (UTC)
AGH WHY DOES EVERY STORY I WRITE SPAWN OFF ANOTHER STORY

NOT FAIR

The 'oh god shut up' thing was my favorite part of this, on reflection. Just this idea that they have no idea what to make of him and don't even care anymore after a while because he's being so annoying. XD

I'm glad to have helped with your day! <3
marie_phantom
Feb. 10th, 2010 01:38 pm (UTC)
I LOVE tweaked out Rorschach. Normally, he has such a difficult time talking, and now he is high in caffeine he talks a mile a minute! I was howling with laughter, which was difficult to square away with my flat mates. Thank you for adding just the little bit of joy to my life.
etherati
Feb. 10th, 2010 08:44 pm (UTC)
Aww, not a problem, I never would have aimed so high as to think my silly little fics could bring joy but if they have, I'm glad. :)

Thanks! <3
robinnevermore
Feb. 11th, 2010 01:08 am (UTC)
LOL! God i was laughing so hard! I loved this, i loved the idea of rorschach tweeked out on coffee and talking to the criminals. And then there's Dan, who i can just see pointing and laughing. It's friggin as amusing as hell. Kudos, man. Your shit is always so awesome, you make me smile AND make my day when you update. :D
etherati
Feb. 12th, 2010 04:07 am (UTC)
Not everything in zverse is super dire, after all. XD It's good to laugh at the ridiculousness brought on by an absurd situation. Poor Archie, though. :(
kovacsisdead
Feb. 12th, 2010 02:38 am (UTC)
Hnn. Caffiene-addled Rorschach is such a perfect and beautiful idea.

Verbal flow charts indeed.

I will be drawing stoned Z!Ror now.
etherati
Feb. 12th, 2010 04:09 am (UTC)
Honestly, his monologue in Veidt's office in the GN when Dan's 'hacking' was pretty much one huge verbal flow chart. For someone so terse, he can do WORDS WORDS WORDS pretty well under the right circumstances.

Or just when he's tweaking on coffee, idek.

Thank you. :3 And oh man, that will make for an awesome, awesome picture.
kovacsisdead
Feb. 12th, 2010 04:15 am (UTC)
hnn, I find his verbosity in that particular scene amusing as well though. One could almost call it babble, except it's Rorschach and god knows HE doesn't babble.

Zombie eyes are frustsrating. Going to have to stalk boyfriend's cat with camera to get reflection right.
etherati
Feb. 12th, 2010 04:25 am (UTC)
Yeaaaah I usually just color the pupils something other than black - something lighter/warmer to give the impression of the reflectivity, but that is because I am a lazyass and not an artist.

mustinvestigate had a great theory about the babbling on her lj, that he was just SO GLAD to have someone to talk to again other than his journal, and that maybe pre-Roche he always babbled like that; I don't really think it's true but it's a very amusing mental image.
kovacsisdead
Feb. 12th, 2010 04:37 am (UTC)
Can't bother with a job if I'm just going to half-ass it. Seems pointless.

The idea of it being typical of Ror to babble at any point in his life is quite funny. I wonder if Daniel would have come to miss that... if it was ever the case. Of course, by that point, Daniel probably had other things to worry about and miss.
etherati
Feb. 12th, 2010 04:58 am (UTC)
That was kind of what she said, that Dan at the time would have been like 'god just shut up shut up SHUT UP'. And then Roche happened. And Dan felt terrible. The usual WM miserysad ensues. :\ But yeah, much bigger things to miss and deal with losing.
daylilymoon
Feb. 13th, 2010 12:17 am (UTC)
Okay yeah I was hoping this would somehow get written after reading the little mention of caffiened out ZRor in the other fic so YAY :D Dear god, this made me laugh so hard. Of course you are not intoxicated Rorschach it is THE LIBERALS AND THE WATER SUPPLY MUST TEAR ARCHIE APART RIGHT NOW!
etherati
Feb. 13th, 2010 12:48 am (UTC)
HE DOESNT USE DRUGS.

REALLY.

Thanks heh. I've never really tried straight-up humor before, but this one nagged at me to be written.
(Anonymous)
Feb. 18th, 2010 06:31 pm (UTC)
Ahaha, this made me smile. C: I love Dan being all gay motherly like, "Are you hungry? Take off your mask." And the image of Z!Ror on a talkative rampage as he pwns criminals with Dan loling in the background is all sorts of good.

I drink a lot of coffee, like, a LOT of coffee, and yesterday I drank three of those Monster Java things. It all hit me like WOAH and I was shuddering and jerking around and I kept thinking "HOLY CHRIST MY HEART IS EXPLODING OH SWEET FANCY MOSES-"
At the time, it sucked. Now I can look back on it fondly and think of cracked-out!Rorschach.
etherati
Feb. 19th, 2010 05:15 pm (UTC)
Thanks! :3 Dan is halfway mothery and halfway concerned for his own safety, and also halfway concerned for his SANITY once he figures the issue out, hence the half-a-cup cutoff.

(That adds up to three halves but that is how I roll.)

And yes, this was inspired by a too-much-caffeine morning I had, which was very much as described above. I gather it's not totally normal - most people don't report the equilibrium issues - but I've always had a strange reaction to caffeine and I figured zombies might, too!
i_am_your_spy
Feb. 20th, 2010 04:02 pm (UTC)
Hahahaha yes. *slips Z!Rorschach more coffee, sits back to watch the inevitably amusing results*
etherati
Feb. 20th, 2010 04:40 pm (UTC)
SABOTAAAAAGE

Dan's going to kill you.
aceles
Mar. 1st, 2010 12:37 am (UTC)
*scuttles in*

That shit was hilarious. VERBAL FLOW CHARTS. DO WANT.
etherati
Mar. 2nd, 2010 06:31 pm (UTC)
Thanks! Haven't seen you in ages! <3
sweetphaex
Mar. 12th, 2010 03:42 am (UTC)
Can just imagine him going on like Gobby did when Batman juiced him up on I'm a Marvel/I'm a DC.

FREEBIRD.
etherati
Mar. 13th, 2010 04:35 am (UTC)
FREEEEEEE BIIIIIIRD

Thanks for the mental image XD
cdiar
Mar. 17th, 2010 02:20 am (UTC)
*reads this with a slight grin*

No one ever knew Rorschach could be so talkative...

*lolz her fucking head off* Yeeess. God, I miss caffeine highs!! Ror on a caffeine high? I approve!

Edited at 2010-03-17 02:20 am (UTC)
etherati
Mar. 22nd, 2010 04:31 pm (UTC)
Yessss it is a pretty hilarious mental image, I agree. :D
hohaiyee
Jun. 26th, 2010 12:23 am (UTC)
lol rory is a tweaker1
"Yes, actually, you do," Dan says, pushing his own goggles up and out of the way. "Coffee's legal, cocaine isn't. But they'll both tweak you to hell and back in the right doses.

Word
etherati
Jun. 27th, 2010 03:36 pm (UTC)
Re: lol rory is a tweaker1
So many people refuse to admit that caffeine's a drug haha. I mean, I say this while drinking my morning tea but, yeah. <3
hohaiyee
Jun. 27th, 2010 03:49 pm (UTC)
Re: lol rory is a tweaker1
...and then there is refined sugar.

...my brother who is in Life Sciences (and is blessed with a high metabolism so he's a thin furnace) frequently disagree with me over this, he held that sugar is not a drug, it is food and we need it for energy.

Well, I think sugars in our food isn't drug, but refined, it is. After all, what heroin does is mimic endorphins naturally released by our body during exercise and sex and feeling pain, and is naturally a good thing, and something we NEED or we wouldn't get through life at all.

...and this is part of why I think we need a more scientific attitude towards drugs. As opposed to, The Government Says This Is Illegal Because It's Bad, the gov is always right, versus this is not a DRUG and therefore I can't die from it.
etherati
Jun. 27th, 2010 04:04 pm (UTC)
Re: lol rory is a tweaker1
haha. Well, as a biology/premed student, I think I'd agree with your brother - refined or not, it's still just sucrose, which is a disaccharide of glucose and fructose, naturally occurring in sugar cane. The refining process cleans up the arrangement a bit, and usually involved bleaching it to make it prettier, but it doesn't change its essential chemical makeup as pure simple sugars, which are carbohydrates and therefore a building block of nutrition.

But I agree that a more scientific outlook is *definitely* needed in regards to these things.
leaper182
Jul. 13th, 2011 02:58 pm (UTC)
The mental image of Rorschach being absolutely tweaked out of his mind on coffee is freaking hilarious. And after so small a dose too!

I love Rorschach wearing his mask on his head, and Dan being Dan and mother-henning Rorschach, and Rorschach being all "no, mom, I'm not hungry" and then trying to open panels to get at the very obviously drugged water.

So, yeah, I have nothing new to add to the slew of comments, other than to say, "OMFG, HILARIOUS RORSCHACH."

I kind of almost want him to accidentally overdose on coffee again. Possibly after the one time he ends up working with Laurie (or even the Frosted Flakes spoon incident), just so that Laurie can stare and laugh her ass off.
( 45 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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