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FIC: Now, As Before - [1/12]

WM - R - end is nigh
Title: Now, As Before
Fandom: Watchmen
Characters/Pairings: Dan/Rorschach, lightly
Date Written: 2009
Summary: "After changes upon changes we are more or less the same."
Rating/Warnings: R. Language. Violence. ZOMBIES. Cracky premise, non-cracky treatment.
Notes: This is completely a guilty indulgence – I love reading zombie AU fics, don’t usually write stuff like this. So! This was a zombiefic challenge from elsewhere(the kinkmeme *coughs*). AU. Pre-Roche, so expect reasonably complete sentences from our favorite psychotic redhead. Warnings include: 'zombies created by SCIENCE' cliché, bad science on top of it, mild gore, MotherHen!Dan, non-explicit slashiness(Dan/Ror). Also: OMGWTF*LONG*.This sucker is sitting at about 50 pages in Word right now. End notes are at the end.
Spoilers: Some Roche stuff eventually. Not much else.

EXTRA NOTE: All illustrations are by liodain , NOT ME. 

*

Day 1.


*

(What the hell now…)

It's a scratching, clicking noise, coming from his front door – the scrape and tug of a rake over tumblers, and Dan can't be certain, but he doesn't think they can pick locks. Burglars or looters though, maybe. All fight and nerves, he snatches up the nearest heavy object and heads straight for the front door, puts his hand on the knob. Flicks the lock with his thumb and yanks, hard.

It's been a very long day. Not a great one either, as quality goes. (Wrong day to mess with-)

There's a stretch of several seconds in which Rorschach tries to take in the fact that his tools are no longer in his hands along with the fact that Daniel is standing over him with a table lamp poised to strike, head twitching to the side with the sort of confusion that comes from being so focused on one task that anything outside of that is completely beyond processing. It only takes a second more for Dan to see that disorientation, recognize the strange way Rorschach is holding himself against the doorframe, catch the overpowering stench of blood and adrenaline – add them all up to 'very wrong', and bundle the smaller man into the entryway without a word.

*

"I thought you were a goddamned burglar, you know. You usually just kick the lock in."

Rorschach sways almost imperceptibly on his feet, trying to tuck the pick and tension wrench back into their case with badly shaking hands. Reaches up to lift the mask up over the bridge of his nose, and his breathing doesn't sound right. "The door wouldn’t have been very useful without a working lock. They can use doorkn-"

"Right. I know. I don't actually care." Dan interrupts in a rush of words, wired and aggressive from his own frenzied flight from the streets not an hour ago. He slams the deadbolt home before rounding on his partner, hands clamped firmly on either shoulder. Not in any mood to screw around. "Before you start, don't say you're fine; I can see the damn blood. What happened?"

"Nrrk. Was across the street from the… 'research' building when it…" he trails off, seemingly at a loss. That's remarkable in and of itself; Rorschach is never without a turn of phrase. He sways again, slightly more noticeable. Shifts his weight off of one leg.

"'Breached'?" The quotation marks are audible in Dan's tone. 'Breach' is what they’ve been calling it on the radio news for the last two hours, and it's a ridiculous euphemism when you consider the fact that what they've actually done is accidentally let loose thousands of top secret test subjects infected with only god knows what, 'people' only a touch shy of the living goddamned dead, and maybe they are people but they're still trying to eat you.

He refuses to say the word that is on the tip of everyone's tongues. Refuses to think it.

"Yes. Coincidence, was just passing by. I-" A beat of sudden, confused silence before Rorschach's legs finally buckle under him, threatening to send him to the tiled floor where blood is already starting to pool in dark, ominous splatters. The rate he's losing it at, it's amazing he's standing at all…

…and Dan moves quickly, catching him under the arms and guiding him into the kitchen, straight into a chair. Under the better light he can see the dark stains against the pinstriped fabric, soaking one pant leg clean through, coming from somewhere higher. Can see how much there is. Can see that there's far too much. The coat's covered in muck and grime, telling the story of a roundabout and unpleasant trip to the brownstone's door, and if he was dropping blood this fast the whole time... mf. Dan reaches for the knot in the coat's belt; pauses, looks up. "Here, let me just…"

No response. Almost worse than being rebuffed or, on a bad day, hit in the face. Something cold twists in Dan's stomach.

He works the coat open, one eye on Rorschach for any sort of reaction, then sucks in a breath, harsh and fast. It's a complete mess, worse than he expected – a jagged tear in the fabric, high on the outside of the leg, and a more jagged tear in the skin underneath and – god, is there a chunk missing? There is. He sees something that looks like bone and almost loses it, almost throws up right then and there all over the kitchen tile; swallows down hard on the rising bile because damn it, there are more important things to do right now, and of all the times to come stumbling in with a hospitalization-worthy injury, the streets overrun and medical care inaccessible…

Fuck.

(Slow down. Take a breath.)

"All right, I… I'm not sure if stitches are really going to cover this, but let me get the kit down and I'll do what I can, okay? You're probably stuck here for a while anyway…"

Again, no response. Again, something twists. Again Dan ignores it, crossing to the shelves to pull down the kit, hoping like hell he remembered to restock it after the last time it was used. He's popped it open and is eying the contents speculatively when Rorschach finally finds his voice, strained and rougher than usual: "Daniel. Do you have a firearm in the house?"

Dan freezes, hand in the kit, then resumes again, picking through the suture weights. "Somewhere. Closet, I think. Don't ever use it."

"Loaded?"

"No, Rorschach, I don't tend to keep loaded guns lying around." And it's almost lighthearted, almost a joke. He settles on the heaviest weight he can find, pulling the package and a fresh needle from the box.

"Load it. Keep it on you. As long as I'm 'stuck here'."

Dan's coming back over now, sutures and needle in one hand, a pair of bandage shears in the other. He makes a noise that is part laugh, part sigh, part nervous breakdown waiting in the wings. "Come on," he says, and he's trying to be persuasive, but who is he trying to persuade? "This isn't some stupid horror movie. We have no idea if… look, the pants are a loss, I'm gonna have to cut this away, all right?" A vague nod. Daniel sets to work stripping the fabric away, peeling it back as carefully as he can, and it really says something about how far out of things Rorschach is that he's not insisting on doing all of this himself, physically able or not. "…if it's even communicable, or how it's passed… we don't even know what the hell we're dealing with, all we know is what they look like. And they're not what they look like, I'll say that now."

A noncommittal noise, and as Dan starts to clean the blood away as best he can, Rorschach shifts slightly in the chair, his only concession to discomfort. "I'm not taking any chances." A pause, slightly longer than it needs to be, then: "Not with you."

Dan pauses, glances up at his friend, at what he can see of the face below the mask. Shakes his head slightly. (Blood loss, that's blood loss talking…)

Still…

"All right, well, if it makes you feel better, I'll get it down. After I stitch this up."

Another unintelligible noise, sounding like vague approval. Silence for a few moments, as Dan starts stitching, pulling the wound closed as well as he can without clean edges. Rorschach just sets his mouth in a tight line, getting tighter with every pass.

Sensing the need for a distraction, Daniel ties off a stitch and hesitates before beginning the next. "So, how exactly did he manage to do this much damage, anyway?"

"They," and it's halfway a word and halfway a grunt but it gets the idea across.

"They?"

"Daniel. You think I would have let this happen if there was only one of them?" And it's another almost-joke, one corner of his mouth turning up ever so slightly, and wearily.

Daniel huffs a nervous laugh, starting the next stitch. "No, sorry. What was I thinking?" A matching smile-that-isn't-quite-a- smile. "Let's see, now. Ten?"

"Hrm. Getting warmer."

*

--->Chapter 2

*

Comments

( 39 comments — Leave a comment )
elle_vee
Apr. 13th, 2009 02:21 pm (UTC)
You have taken two of my biggest loves (Watchmen/Zombies) AND TURNED IT INTO SOMETHING SO AMAZING MY SMALL HEAD HAS EXPLODED WITH THE SHEER DEPRAVED AWESOME OF IT ALL.

HAVE ALL THE INTERNETS, EVER. TAKE THEM. THEY ARE YOURS NOW.
etherati
Apr. 13th, 2009 03:44 pm (UTC)
BWAHAHA MY PLANS HAVE FINALLY BORNE FRUIT, NOW THE TAKEOVER BEGINS.

Thanks :D
februaryfinds
Apr. 13th, 2009 02:42 pm (UTC)
Am intrigued. Will continue reading (Am compensating for Rorschach's complete sentences ^_~)
etherati
Apr. 13th, 2009 03:42 pm (UTC)
Sane!Rorschach is actually surprisingly hard to write sometimes. D: Like, I can read his dialogue from the Crimebusters meeting flashback and UNDERSTAND intellectually that he spoke pretty much normally but he keeps wanting to turn into a crazy little weasel.
weyrwolfen
Apr. 14th, 2009 02:24 am (UTC)
Wait, you have zombies, Rorschach, and zombie!Rorschach?!?! This is like my birthday and Christmas all wrapped into one! Thank you!
etherati
Apr. 14th, 2009 02:54 am (UTC)
HAPPY BIRTHDAY AND MERRY CHRISTMAS SIR OR MADAM.

And thank YOU for reading. :D
aceles
Jun. 29th, 2009 06:10 pm (UTC)
i don't know if you remember me, but you gave me permission to record a podfic of this fic? Well, erm, it's done now. Hope you like it.
etherati
Jun. 29th, 2009 06:41 pm (UTC)
Of course I remember!

Am downloading it now. :D I'm *really* curious to see how you handled some of this, because the thinky italics crap in particular would have caused trouble, I would have thought. I'm just thrilled that you wanted to do this, and put so much time into it, and I can't believe it's 2 hours long! That's nuts!

Thank you so much. :D
aceles
Jun. 29th, 2009 06:45 pm (UTC)
OH MY. Well I hope you like it okay. It was actually pretty difficult, but in a good way, where it was challenging? I don't know if I properly got across that it's not dialogue, but I tried to drop my voice to make it sound more like an unsaid thought.

I know! It's funny, I tried to split it into two parts, and by the time I got to the halfway point it was like halfway through one of the chapters. And I just said. :/ You know what, I'm going to just power through this, why not. When I split fics up, they're usually over 50,000 words and it takes four or more parts to do them. This one would have been two, so I was like why split them up when I can do it all at once? But it's the longest single podfic I have ever done. Editing it was INSANE in the membrane, but I was happy all the way through because I love the story that much. Seriously, you have no idea. I respect it as a writer as well--it's so subtle and it evokes so much emotion. I don't think I've ever seen anyone write their dynamic better and they are TRICKY fuckers to be sure.
etherati
Jun. 29th, 2009 07:55 pm (UTC)
YES THEY ARE. D: And the crazy thing is, that was the first time I'd written them. That is scary possession-level shit, right there.

And yeah the chapters were unfortunately not metered out by length, so I can see the difficulty with finding a split point that's close to split time-wise and also a good thematic pause-point.

I'm really curious - is there actually some kind of centralized podfic archive kind of thing that you contribute to? Or did you come up with this idea? Because it's honestly brilliant. :D
aceles
Jun. 29th, 2009 08:01 pm (UTC)
.___. I am incredibly impressed. It felt like you'd put alot of work into the characterization either way, so my props to you.

Right! Plus, I was like, "I am perfectly capable of just doing this as one ginormous lovely thing." Because I could not bear to break it apart. So that is what I did.

ROTFL! No, I am not responsible for the idea of podficcing. I think it started more in the Supernatural and Stargate fandoms? It's just something I discovered a few months ago and became interested in. There is a massive archive, however, and you can get to it through amplificathon. People who submit there (myself included) get uploaded to the archive site, which I think they have a link to in their profile? I personally do mostly bandom, but I also do stuff in my other fandoms as well. Watchmen being one of them, obviously.
etherati
Jun. 29th, 2009 08:44 pm (UTC)
Oh no I definitely did work at the charactertization. It just came a little easier than new characters usually did - somehow or other I just sort of connected with them really easily. XD

Huh! That archive is pretty insane. :D I think I will be scouring it for things what to listen to.

(Haven't been able to listen yet, waiting for a UPS delivery that I can't afford to miss, so I can't put any audio on until it gets here, but I will soon!)
aceles
Jun. 29th, 2009 08:49 pm (UTC)
I know the feeling. Sometimes you just click with a character in a big bad way, even if they are unfamiliar.

Isn't it? I love it to bits.

No rush! :D
etherati
Jun. 29th, 2009 09:00 pm (UTC)
I think I actually know what part of it is, which is that I tend to click best with characters that are slightly unknown quantities. Pre-Roche Ror and pre-Keene Dan, we don't see a whole lot of - just a few cameos here and there. So you're a little freer to just get a gut feeling and go with it.
aceles
Jun. 29th, 2009 09:03 pm (UTC)
Definitely. The fact that everything in the fic was pre-roche made it even more compelling for me, because I was so curious to see how you were going to handle it if it did come into the story, and it ended up being my favorite part of the whole thing. It also made it more challenging to read, because it wasn't easy to get a bead on a Rorschach who's not entirely batshit nuts. XD
etherati
Jun. 29th, 2009 09:07 pm (UTC)
That's part of why I keep getting stalled on Brushtrokes; I'm so used to writing pre-Roche marginally-sane Ror that writing post-GN Ror is *hard*. Particularly predicting his motivations, after the 'wtf' Rochelike transformation moment in the snow. Other people have, I think, nailed it down better than I have - but I'm trying.
aceles
Jun. 29th, 2009 09:12 pm (UTC)
I haven't had a chance to read your other fics yet, but I will put that one on my list. I have every faith in you! It is rough, but it's really just a matter of figuring out what motivates him now, and how it's different from what once did.
etherati
Jun. 29th, 2009 09:17 pm (UTC)
Well yes, and also trying to juggle split-brain psycho-Adrian and creeeeepy mindless hordes of perfect, perfect citizens and brainwashing tactics and history being broken and Dan talking in his sleep and WAFFLES. And so on. It was, possibly, an overly ambitious prompt to take on. XD That said, I also probably complicated it beyond necessity.
aceles
Jun. 29th, 2009 09:18 pm (UTC)
._.

I may need to go read this like, right now.
etherati
Jun. 29th, 2009 09:23 pm (UTC)
I WILL BE HERE FOR YELLING AT WHEN YOU HIT THE MOST RECENT CLIFFHANGER. It's what everyone else seems to do. D:>
aceles
Jun. 29th, 2009 09:28 pm (UTC)
DDDD: Well I just read the first chapter and your Manhattan takes my breath away, so we're off to a good start?
etherati
Jun. 29th, 2009 09:59 pm (UTC)
I don't think he's coming back, unfortunately. I actually really enjoy writing his POV because the narrative style *changes completely* and is fun.
liodain
Jun. 29th, 2009 09:52 pm (UTC)
YELLS
YELLY YELL YELL
etherati
Jun. 29th, 2009 09:58 pm (UTC)
Re: YELLS
OW.

I'm sorry! I've been. Otherwise occupied. *coughs* I WILL finish the next part soon, I SWEAR.
liodain
Jun. 29th, 2009 10:17 pm (UTC)
Re: YELLS
YAY

Not that I'm complaining if you happen to be distracted again along the way <3
etherati
Jun. 29th, 2009 10:22 pm (UTC)
Re: YELLS
Trying to decide whether to post the most recent DISTRACTION. I don't want everyone on the flist to start thinking OH I GUESS ALL SHE WRITES IS PORN NOW but at the same time, I am somewhat proud of my newfound depravity! *coughs*
liodain
Jun. 29th, 2009 10:34 pm (UTC)
ENCOURAGES
Your porn ratio is low. I suggest you post at least another...lets say, six, before you start worrying about that.

Or seven.

Just intersperse it between chapters of Brushstrokes :p

Or eight.

Nine, maybe.
etherati
Jun. 29th, 2009 11:19 pm (UTC)
Re: ENCOURAGES
HAHAH OKAY.
akemi42
Aug. 4th, 2009 05:48 am (UTC)
I came over here after reading the porn which I enjoyed even without the backstory. I love how you write these two and am back for more.
etherati
Aug. 4th, 2009 06:01 am (UTC)
Thank you so much! I'm so attached to these versions of them I can't even say, they're so much fun to write. :D
ladydarthorn
Sep. 1st, 2009 11:49 am (UTC)
<3
I know this is probably really old now but I wanted to comment anyway, because this is awesome. It's my favorite thing EVER when someone writes cracky AU, but they write it seriously and in character/keeping with the basic feel for the origional story, which is exactly what this is. I look forward to the rest (and uh, I'm gonna go read it now. 83)

etherati
Sep. 1st, 2009 02:39 pm (UTC)
Re: <3
Thank you so much <3 It doesn't matter at all that it's old, I'm thrilled that people are still finding this/reading/enjoying it, because it was such a labor of love and I'm so invested in this AU now that it's kind of silly. XD

I'm so glad you found it in character and true to the source material; I think that's a huge part of what makes good AU, or at least, AU you can care about (as opposed to just 'pfff whatever'). I hope you enjoy the rest of the story as well as all the followup pieces that I've thrown out there (and continue to throw out there, because i am obsessed arggh)

Thank you again. :)
ladydarthorn
Sep. 2nd, 2009 05:12 am (UTC)
Re: <3
Not silly at all :) I think it happens a lot with people who create their own universes through writing/art, even when its an alternate version of someone elses x)

Yeah, exactly. It kind of makes the whole thing seem more real, because it WOULD affect the characters like this, and they WOULD act that way, and it makes it so much more interesting, so much more involving. A well written AU can be a pretty awesome. Wow, I kind of let myself ramble a bit. Sorry xD

etherati
Sep. 3rd, 2009 02:15 am (UTC)
Re: <3
Nothing to be sorry about!

I try to keep them as realistic in their reactions as possible no matter how crazy or unrealistic the situation. XD Otherwise it's like, you may as well be writing other characters, yeah?
hohaiyee
Jun. 25th, 2010 03:20 am (UTC)
zombies!
"Hrm. Getting warmer."

Somebody (who is not a zombie), hold me imma scared!
etherati
Jun. 25th, 2010 03:26 am (UTC)
Re: zombies!
It is perfectly normal to be scared of zombies, it only means that you're still human (or something to that effect) XD

*comforts anyway. with cupcakes.*
(Anonymous)
Feb. 21st, 2011 10:10 pm (UTC)
Где то я уже это встречал.
Интересно написано, но мне кажеться я уже это где то видел...)))
etherati
Feb. 22nd, 2011 12:46 am (UTC)
Re: Где то я уже это встречал.
Thank you, but I don't know what you mean. It's been posted on a lot of fanfic sites, maybe you saw it on one of those?
(Anonymous)
Jan. 31st, 2012 04:24 pm (UTC)
Blam!
And there goes my brain. Thank you for this spectacular piece (the illustrations make me happy, too. Pass on the compliments!)

~proser132
( 39 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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