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FIC: Captcha and Misc IX

Fandom: Watchmen
Date Written: 2009-2010
Summary: 5 Commentfic/Captcha Ficlets. The first four are from comment_fic and #4 is adult but not explicit. #5 is a very, very old Captcha that I've been convinced to claim, now in present tense for less awkward grammar!fail.
Rating/Warnings: PG except for #4, which is R.

#1
Title:
Numbers
Prompt: 'Dan/Rorschach, Prisoner 62186'

It takes less than twelve hours. The mugshots are everywhere – tiny, smeared rectangles of newsprint, grainy renditions on the television screen, an inset of black and white in the corner of the screen with a name under it, a number. The name and the face mean nothing now; they meant nothing before, severed from any meaning by the man who bore them but now they are less than that.

Dan should have known, Nite Owl should have known, first. But if he thinks too hard on it, it makes him feel queasy and strange, confused in a way he associates with earlier years and earlier betrayals. It reawakens sense memories of bloodscent and the prickle of cool early morning air on the back of his neck, gooseflesh and creeping horrors, so he's trying not to.

The number, though – that's burned in.

*

["What's that?" he asks one night, casual; they've hit a lull in patrol and while he navigates the labyrinthine corridors with a careful deliberation, the Owlship skimming just high enough over the alleyways to not snag power cables or clotheslines or upset the sleeping innocent in their top-floor tenements, Rorschach has pulled a different book than usual out of his coat. Is carefully laying clippings of newsprint into it with tape, jotting down notes under each one.

Rorschach looks up - there's no face but what chance and thermodynamics care to interpret for him and that still unnerves him, even now, even a year in – and then glances back down. "Logbook," he says, taping down a final scrap. They're mugshots, Nite Owl can see now, and they're familiar. "Trying to keep track of the scum we take off the streets. Keep a sense of perspective."

A pause, just long enough to be awkward.

"Perspective on–"

The pen flashes in the periphery of vision, clarifying the prisoner's designation under the hard-to-read clipping, but not the name. "Unimportant, Nite Owl. You should pay attention to flying the ship. Inattentive drivers make their passengers uncomfortable."

"Right, right," Nite Owl mutters, attention back on the city below them, on the controls. Three nights ago they'd had a discussion on how useless this seemed, sometimes – how little of an impact they seemed to be making. Perspective; the word feels coded. "Why just the numbers?"

Another pause, and the hard slap of a book closing too suddenly. "Numbers are all they are. All they deserve."

There's a scuffle down below then, a distraction from further questioning that Rorschach seems pleased by, the tension draining out of his frame as he uncoils, liquid, from the chair – heads for the hatch.

And as Dan pulls Archie into a tight descent, he's already counting the thugs, calculating their odds, running numbers in his head like the upcoming battle is nothing but math and the people below nothing but ciphers and maybe, maybe Rorschach is right.]

*

Three killings, they're saying. Five policemen injured. Three broken ribs, second-degree burns. Murder one, murder two, seven counts of assault. Four floors through that broken window and eight years since Keene, ten since the crime that put him on their radar, twenty since the first time he appeared in this newspaper, Nite Owl by his side, triumphant over their first gang victory; it amazes Dan in a detached, cynical sort of way how much the world relies on its numbers, its shortcuts, its easy explanations for the unexplainable.

[The logbook grew thick with newsprint, filled up, was replaced and maintained until well into 1975. Afterwards, Dan never saw it again, and he supposes now that there wasn't much use for it when Rorschach started leaving too little left of his quarry for the police to give it a number, bother taking a picture. The dead have no numbers; only names, whispered in dark places, immortal.]

Cellblock seven. Fifteen minutes to get in and out. Two arrive on the ship, three leave, and then soon enough it's two again, skimming over the ocean to the place where they will all live forever.

The newspaper is still back in his kitchen, wedged under a canister of flour on his countertop, and it'll be there for a long time. Fat flakes of snow swirl, uncountable.

Far away, people die, uncountable.

Silence for a moment, and a face that's had no name for too many years, and the numbers drop away.

*

#2
Title:
Uninvited
Prompt: 'Dan/Rorschach, gatecrashing'

"No, no, no," the man says, all snooty detachment. "Even if you had an invitation – which you don't – neither of you is properly attired to meet the Congressman's dress code."

It's an incredible understatement. Nite Owl's costume is as far from black-tie as you can get, and there are leaves and brambles stuck in the spandex, clinging; Rorschach's trenchcoat is smeared in mud, the suit under it entirely inappropriate in color and cut. He grumps indistinctly off to the side as Nite Owl fishes through belt pouches for the photograph they'd pulled from police archives yesterday night. His idea had been to sneak around back, pry up a window, sneak in. Nite Owl had decided that, public servants the city sees them as, they should be able to talk their way past the defenses, stroll in with the homeowner's blessing.

It isn't working.

"Look," Nite Owl says, unfolding the photograph, holding it up in the light. "We're looking for this man – he's a known money-launderer, he's wanted on more counts of fraud and extortion and aiding and abetting than we have time to list right now. He's in there right now."

The party's halfway done, so there's no one else arriving this late; they're alone out here. The night is a complete, new moon darkness, and they could have sneaked in so easily.

"That he may be," the usher sniffs, "But you don't strike me as law enforcement."

They're too close to the entrance and the man is making too much of a fuss, too loudly. Their target could be overhearing right now, making his escape out the same back window Rorschach wanted to go in through, slipping away into the night, through their fingers. Again.

"And you also don't appear to have a warrant."

It's too much, he's had enough of this simpering appeasement tactic, and the target could be getting away right this second

"Look, come on now–"

A blur of motion then, and it's over before Nite Owl can possibly react or stop him – one punch, perfectly aimed, unexpected and untelegraphed. The man drops to the ground like a sack of laundry, and in the wake of it, the grounds are silent.

Then, laughter.

*

"What?" Rorschach asks as they take the stairs two at a time, defensive, prickling at Nite Owl's amusement. "Was obstructing justice."

"I think," Nite Owl says, "that would be considered assault."

"Probably, yes. For the greater good."

Nite Owl puts a hand on the doorframe, steadies himself. "You just sucker punched an unarmed civilian."

A long silence; then a response comes, as he makes ready to pull back the door. "A very annoying unarmed civilian."

"God," Nite Owl says, and there's still laughter in his voice, alongside the mock-horror. He takes a last look at the photograph before putting it away. "Remind me never to annoy you; you've got a hell of a right hook."

"Annoy me constantly, Nite Owl. Special dispensation."

"Because I'm your partner?"

Another suspicious silence, longer this time. From inside, the party is obnoxiously loud.

"...yes. Of course."

*

#3
Title:
Good Advices
Prompt: 'Rorschach, getting ready for the Crimebuster's meeting'

He closes the coat. Opens it again.

Tilts his head to one side, considering; the long mirror in Nite Owl's basement matches him, showing a figure far more intimidating than the young man he knows is under all the layers. Walter frowns too much; has horrible hair and horrible ears, like a child or an overkicked dog; pricks his fingers on sewing needles and burns them on his hotplate. Is miserable, ugly, weak. Has human needs. Rorschach doesn't need a thing.

Certainly doesn't need to worry about his appearance, or about the opinions of other crimefighters, even if some of them will be the old guard, the ones who started this thing. The squirming filth of humanity, burrowing madly into every warm body it can find, digging away from the light – that might be what inspired him to do something, but these men provided the framework, the idea. That's due some respect, surely.

No. It's–

He closes the coat again, squaring his shoulders.

It's irrelevant. He's doing more good than any of them do anyway; he's heard all the recent exploits, the fashionable photogenic raids and conflicts, the easy, clean work that anyone with a cape and a pair of handcuffs and pocket change for the payphone could manage.

His hat's crooked; he reaches to resettle it, carefully centered. Meticulous fingers flatten through the creases of his scarf, pressing it down over the lapels of the suit jacket.

No one's opinion matters but his own, and even that is going too far, is ridiculous, because appearance has nothing to do with–

"Coat open," Nite Owl says, wandering past behind him, sparing the reflection only a second's glance. "Makes you more approachable."

Rorschach glares after him, gloves curling into fists at his side. "Didn't ask for your opinion, Nite Owl."

"Apparently can't decide without it," Nite Owl mumbles, running the last few pre-flight checks on the ship.

He hesitates, caught between violence and incredulity – turns back to the mirror, considering.

"Anyway, I thought you didn't care about things like that."

"Don't," Rorschach growls, sharp and censuring. Abandons the pursuit entirely, crosses the basement like the threat of lightning and oblivion, hauling himself into the hatch and moving to brood antisocially in the rear corner of the ship.

Nite Owl doesn't say a word when they arrive, when they drop down to the pavement outside of their host's home and his coat's somehow found its way open as advised – just smiles, wide and self-indulgent and biting back worse, and it's a very punchable expression.

*

#4
Title:
In the Night
Prompt: 'Dan/Rorschach, "bump in the night"' (monsters)

There are worse things in the city than them.

That doesn't make any of what they do acceptable; doesn't make these illicit moments of heat overwhelming sense anything other than a transgression. They are the worst kind of monster he knows, two human minds pared down to animal depravity, will subjugated by the hot slide of skin over skin and the sharp, small sounds that have no place in battle and no place in the light; too many limbs at all the wrong angles, horrible and nightmarish. It's a creature from the blackest depths of the human psyche and they're compelled to summon its likeness every time the violence is too much and leaves them too hollow it its wake, every time they need to split themselves apart and become something else, something not human enough to care what it's seen in the gutters and alleys of a city gone rabid and deaf and dumb.

He leans in, bites Daniel on the mouth; tastes iron and salt. The choked sound he pulls free is halfway to a sob, and there is some poetic justice in the idea that this monster will wound itself, devour itself, touch no one else with its ichor. Once its lifeforce is spent it will retreat and leave only two broken men behind, curled in against its ravages – dispossess them, like a spirit leaving its host, once they're sweat-stained and open and vulnerable enough, once there is no going back.

Daniel groans again, high and desperate, and Rorschach closes the distance between them, all teeth and scraping nails and hands that could do a thousand injuries, sooth a thousand more. Could.

There are worse things in the city than them, than this heaving mass of muscle and bone and sinewy flesh tight under the press of palms, turning itself inside out in the shadows of Daniel's bedroom. Things that murder, steal, take the virtue of the unwilling. The inhuman creatures they capture and punish by night – tonight, last night, every night – hurt others. This monster shrieks and tosses and looks like bloody murder stared in the face, but in the end, it will only ever hurt itself.

A rolling motion, and they crash against the wall, and the sheets are uncomfortable and scratchy under his back now. A brief struggle, too many hands all too wet and skin that gives too easily, and then Daniel is sinking down onto him, crying out like he's being gutted, hoarse and small. In that instant, there are no lines anymore; they are one thing, hot and dark and crawling out of the shadows on spidery legs. A thousand nightmares. A thousand more.

They only ever hurt themselves. They only hurt–

They only–

He bucks up and he bears down and there is no Daniel and no Rorschach anymore, there are no names. Just a beast that craves flesh but no blood, violence but no death, darkness but no victims other than itself, unraveling to its threads and pooling on the bed around their knees and later they will sleep in its remains, a nest of entrails going cold and sweet with rot all around them.

Devoured.

*

#5
Title:
WTF is this I don't even. It doesn't get a title. Sorry.
Prompt: 'of jacky'

It's the thud that does it – Rorschach has been known to make some odd noises the few times Dan's offered him the couch and he actually accepted – but this sounds heavy, and Rorschach's definitely not in the habit of falling off of the couch in his sleep.

Dan flicks the light switch up on his way into the living room, only to find Rorschach on the floor between the couch and the coffee table, still asleep, tangled in a blanket and shouting.

"Whoa, whoa," he says, reaching down to try to calm the thrashing without losing an arm, or an eye. "Rorscha– come on, buddy. Wake up."

The panicked movements stop, and that's the only way Dan knows that his partner has come around; he went to sleep in his mask, and his eyes are hidden. Tight, uncontrolled breath into the space between them, then, quietly, the usual rough edge to his voice all but gone: "...Daniel?"

"Yeah," Dan says, crouching down. "Hell of a dream, looked like. You wanna... uh..." he trails off, realizing how idiotic the offer to 'talk about it' is, considering the recipient.

There's a long moment where Rorschach just looks back at him, evenly; then he shudders, bone-deep and dangerous. "Horrible."

Dan nods, not having expected a response but willing to encourage it.

"In the future. Don't know when. Ozymandias destroyed half the city."

Dan furrows his brows. "Why would he do that?"

"Motives unclear." Rorschach shakes his head from side to side, as if trying to knock off heavy rainwater. "Everything was happening out of order."

"Out of order?"

"Died," he says, flatly. "Then wasn't dead. Like a book with the pages torn out, pasted in out of sequence. They kept taking my hair off."

Dan, who still hasn't seen Rorschach's hair and doubts he ever will, hasn't even been sure there's any under there, tries not to show his incredulity too obviously. Tries not to react to the idea of Rorschach dying, though that one's a bit harder.

Dream. Just a dream, and not even his.

"...didn't always put it back on," Rorschach continues, voice taking on the tone of a stream of consciousness ramble, untangling himself from the blanket with stiff and uncooperative arms. "You had armor. Thought it would be safer, but it was flimsy. Plastic. No protection at all." He shifts, shoving the remainder of the blanket off, motions showing his irritation more and more with every passing second. "Someone... a stranger. Insisting we keep doing the same things, over and over again. Say the same things. Until they were perfect. Hrm. Perfect for what?"

Dan offers a hand to help Rorschach stand up, now that he's finally gotten out of the blanket; it's ignored, and Rorschach pushes himself up with a grunt. Seems to have reported everything he can remember, until he freezes, one hand on the arm of the couch.

Dan feels his stomach drop out; he knows that stillness, knows that it means something horrible has happened or is about to happen and he's still half asleep, can't deal with this right now.

When Rorschach finally speaks, his voice is a horrible growl, pained and desperate and afraid: "My face. Had holes cut in it."

*

Comments

( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
mad_bertha
Feb. 14th, 2010 01:28 am (UTC)
I'm skimming at the moment, bookmarking stuff to read later, but couldn't resist skipping to #5 and lolled! "They kept taking my hair off" and "Insisting we keep doing the same things" and the last line--!
etherati
Feb. 14th, 2010 01:48 am (UTC)
Sigh silly fandom meta XD
sepulchre_angel
Feb. 14th, 2010 01:46 am (UTC)
OKAY SO WOW.

#1: AUGH. Saaaad. And it hurt my heart that Rorschach only kept the log book to keep things "in perspective" til '75 and then he didn't care about anything else enough to have any other type of perspective. If that makes sense.
#2: LOL. I loved this! I could absolutely see this happening. Favorite line: A very annoying unarmed civilian. OH RORSCHACH EVERYTHING ANNOYS YOU. Also: ...yes. Of course."
SUUURE.
#3: AWWWWWWWW. And lol at Dan. Why is this so pseudo-domestic to me?
#4: Oh Rorschach. YOU HAVE SO MANY ISSUES. D: This was so IC, it hurt my heart a little bit. :(
#5: Ohhh yeah! I remember this one! I thought it was hilarious! especially the line about taking Ror's hair off. LOL
etherati
Feb. 14th, 2010 01:51 am (UTC)
1) I know, I didn't mean it to turn so sad, but about halfway through I got a sense of where it was going and once I got to the 'the dead have no numbers' bit I was sure of it. :(((
2) I love writing Ror randomly sucker-punching people, totally outside the context of a fight. I have no idea why.
3) Becaaauuuuse I was specifically going for the 'old married couple' dynamic heh.
4) I'm glad you think it was IC; sadporn is useless if it's not at least IC. :(
5) Pshhhh old piece of crap, but Tuff decided I had to post it. XD And hopefully it lightens things after the sadporn.

Thank you!
robinnevermore
Feb. 14th, 2010 08:28 pm (UTC)
#1: Sad had hell....depressing and make me want to cry.
#2: Makes me smile and feel all warm inside.
#3: Makes me smirk....and then the smirk instantly breaks into a huge grin. I adore subtle snarkyness from Dan.
#4: Makes me squirm at the imagery that Ror's mind produces.
#5: Laughed until i wanted to pee myself. I love how he seems to take the dream seriously. And that last line...I ADORE it with every fiber of my being. I can just see Ror's face under his mask with a WTF? look.

This is the exact face i tend to see whenever Ror is confused or sees Dan doing something he finds attractive:

http://apps.facebook.com/getflair/viewflair.php?id=10929094&ts=proftab
etherati
Feb. 14th, 2010 09:37 pm (UTC)
1) There is a lot of sad built into WM, sorry. :(
2) Yay!
3) Dan has no idea how many times over most people would have been socked in the face for the same shit he gets away with. XD
4) Ror's head is a scary place, yes.
5) Only Ror would take a dream like that seriously heh

Thanks!
tuff_ghost
Feb. 14th, 2010 08:56 pm (UTC)
a very punchable expression

ahahaha, the beauty of this didn't catch me on the first read-through. I bet Rorschach often thinks that about Dan, no matter how much he loves him.
etherati
Feb. 14th, 2010 09:37 pm (UTC)
Oh yes. Constantly. Dan just gets the courtesy of not actually being punched, or at least, not being punched very hard. XD
daylilymoon
Feb. 15th, 2010 03:21 am (UTC)
1-- Agh, god. Beatuiful and heartbreaking. It always feels like such a cheat that we never get to see Dan really react to Ror's arrest (or his murders), and this fills that hole very well.

2-- "Annoy me constantly, Nite Owl. Special dispensation." :D :D :D

3-- D'awww, Rorschach! So young and secretly hoping to impress and. D'aaaw. And I love the underlying tone in this one and #2 of "you annoy the hell out of me sometimes but I love you anyway."

4-- Holy shit. This is a fantastic take on Rorschach's mindset during sex, tying in that monster from the nightmares and becoming it. This monster shrieks and tosses and looks like bloody murder stared in the face, but in the end, it will only ever hurt itself. Damn. Yes!

5-- I remember this! And it is still hilarious :D

What a delicious buffet of tones and moods all done right om nom nom. KEEP ON ROLLIN' ♥
etherati
Feb. 15th, 2010 07:32 pm (UTC)
1) Yeah; Lio and Sandoz have both written fics that address this nicely as well,so I was trying to come at it from a slightly different angle, but the sad could still not be averted.
2) :D
3) That is exactly the tone I was going for with both of those, yes. :D
4) I hope it's not like this for all versions of him - I think it depends a lot on the context - but yeah, it seemed like something his very vivid imagination would come up with. :(
5) KM1 REPRESENT.

Thanks <3
steals_thyme
Feb. 15th, 2010 12:33 pm (UTC)
I agree with Daylily in that I always hated that we didn't get a proper reaction to Rorschach's arrest. Of course, it leaves a nice, delicious gap for fic like this. Ouchy.

I know I have already expressed my delight at Rorschach randomly punching people and Dan being the exception to all his rules, but I'm gonna do it again here. HOMG LOVE <3 That's how you crash a party, Watchmans style XD

A young Rorschach trying to make a good impression is just way, way cuter than it should be. Lapel-adjusting is imminent!
etherati
Feb. 15th, 2010 07:33 pm (UTC)
I don't know why Ror randomly punching people amuses me so much, I really don't. And yeah, lapels will be adjusted with impunity, and then of course they'll fly away again in Archie to go have sex go fight crime. <3

( 12 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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