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FIC: Just One Wish

Title: Just One Wish
Fandom: Watchmen
Characters/Pairings: Rorschach, Blair Roche
Date Written: 2013? I think?
Summary: Living and dead are less mutually exclusive categories than they seem, and that fact makes for strange companions.
Rating/Warnings: PG-13 for all the known awfulness of the Roche case and for disturbing imagery.
Notes: Originally was going to be a long fic, the plot of which came to me as a result of the video for Royksopp's 'What Else is There?'. In the end, I never wrote more than this ficlet, which I posted to the KM in response to a call for ghost fic for Halloween. So. I suck? But I still like this.


*

She can smell them, even this far out. Something on the wind—fear, yes, but helplessness and pain and the desperation of being too small, always too small, has its own scent. It's a little like wet dog and fire, and it carries miles and miles on the city breeze.

It draws her, through corridors and alleys, through doors left carelessly open and into their most private places. Her dress feels too small for her now, but she barely has to move anymore, sailing on the currents of vengeance like driftwood. So it doesn't really matter.
A shade treads in her steps, or maybe their paths were always meant to converge, like everything does when it walks far enough into the horizon. Perhaps she is already at that faraway place, the end of all roads that can never be reached. Maybe he's here with her because they have overshot reality together, bathing in the exploding light of dawn as it sweeps through the city.

There's a man on the floor, and he looks asleep but she knows he isn't; she has a child's mind but a dead girl's sense of inevitability, and it was inevitable that he would die this way, his own knife in his belly, her whispers in his ear.

Come here, her shadow says, from the doorway. He drops to one knee, watches her drift toward him and somewhere under the floor, a murderer's soul is turning and turning like the beating of a heart.

He's sad; he's always sad, and always alone, and there's a hole next to him that she can see but he can't, looming.

Will have to take credit for this, he says, but she feels the words more than hears them. She feels a lot of things: his face and his emptiness and his innocence; he has only ever killed one man. They won't believe you did it.

Because I'm little? she asks.

He does not move, and from that hollow next to him she can hear the barking of dogs, ravenous.

Yes, he lies, but his lies don't hurt like the others' do. They're like the kiss of spring wind. Because you're little.

*

It had felt like when the scary man had stripped the dress off of her, like a peeling inside out, but this time her assailant's hands had cut deeper. Starlight in his fingers and moonlight in his belly and dark dark dark in all his other nooks and crannies, eyes and mouth like pits.

He hadn't been touching her. The cleaver wasn't for her, had already been for her, could not be for her.

He had touched the dogs.

They were bad dogs.

But she was connected to them and to the shifting horror in the back of his mind and she felt the blade even after the dogs were dead, in her skull and heavy in her hand, and it felt so right.

She'd stayed with him for hours, both of them watching the sky blacken into ash, but she didn't think he'd known.

*

Now the sky's lighter, the color of old newsprint, yellowing around the edges. A storm is coming.

She thinks sometimes about the time Before, when she had feet that touched the ground and... a lot of it is missing now. She remembers other people, but not their faces, or their voices. She thinks that they touched her without hurting her and she misses that, wonders why she got so little of it before things Changed.

Change hurts, she knows that firsthand, and her shade knows it too. They both Changed that night, in big letters like that, something fundamental and irreversible. It took both their Other People away, left them stranded out beyond the horizon, but his feet still scrape the pavement with every tired step, and he still stinks like a person, like fears misdirected. He breathes when he talks to her, air drifting through his mouthless face with the bitter sting of one who hopes it will stop coming soon.

Sometimes, dogs bark from the shadows, not at him or at her but at the moon, low and heavy, and he stops and listens. She wonders if the dogs want oblivion too.

She wonders why every house and apartment and tenement and warehouse feels like home, feels like her home, feels like that waystation between nothing and nothing that she’s spent six years in. She wonders who he is.

Sometimes, she wonders who she is.

Then the smell of fear again, the swell of anticipation, her heart already wrapping around the thought of vengeance like a fist clutching at smoke—and she knows what she is, at least.

*