Date Written: 2009
Summary: Ficlets. 2 written to various randomly generated two-word captcha prompts, the last is just random.
Rating/Warnings: R if you consider panicked repetition of the word 'fuck' to constitute an R rating, PG-13 otherwise. Implied slash in the first one, language in the second one, crack-premise in the third one. All Dan/Ror oriented.
Extra Note: The illustrations here are once again NOT MINE. Gifts from anonymous, who is all kinds of awesome.
Prompt: 'oil trestle'
It's a slippery dark oilspill of a night, blacker than black and with a fine, delicately unraveling quiet that bleeds prismatically around the edges – the kind of night where you can see anything in the water at all, faces and memories and prophecies sidling up behind your reflection, stalking you through the endless mirror-sky with eyes that say 'I'm always here, I always will be...'
One foot falls silently and mechanically after the other, the exact span of ties set into the old railway bridge worked easily and instinctually into Rorschach's cadence. This is the easiest and fastest way across the river on foot and alone, and there have been whispers and screams alike tonight that point to the far docks with accusing fingers. If the ringleader isn't there, his men will be, and it will be a good night's hunting regardless.
There's a patch of something slick on a few of the ties that he doesn't see, too focused on the far shore and the unfolding web of tactics in his mind and an awareness of how much slower this is that just taking the ship would have been – (motor oil), he thinks disconnectedly as his feet go out from under him and almost slip straight down between the planks. Catches himself in a surreally drawn-out moment, keenly aware of the distance to the water below; ends up spread flat face-down over several ties, utterly still.
There's oil soaking through his pant leg. In the shifting mirror far below, he can see his own reflection, a stark mass of rippling white around the black that seeps into everything else down there, peering through the faint striation of the rail bridge; Over his shoulder, a too-large moon, crescented and silvery, hanging like a ghost of every horrible idea.
Rorschach jerks his head back up, looking for its twin in the real sky above him. There's nothing but the inky darkness and the faint spangling of what few stars aren't overwhelmed by city glow. New moon, and he knew that. The blackness is absolute.
He really could have taken the ship for this. Could have shown up in the tunnel, and Daniel would have clapped him on the shoulder and pocketed the console and they would have climbed aboard, into that claustrophobically tiny space where he can just about hear both their heartbeats making some old instinctual effort to sync up, to hide their numbers from predator or prey – dash lights glittering in the almost-dark like the cityscape below or every star above. Daniel's hands sure and strong and delicate on the controls, and the way he always laughs and laughs when they rocket free from the tunnel and into the open air beyond, voice layered with all the dizziness of the air currents they're slipping through and...
[Daniel's hands reaching down to push his own away, to pull back the scarf because the bleeding isn't stopping, ignoring the way he tenses and growls and tries to shift out from under the touch – and the gloved hand is all warm leather and the suggestion of fingertips and it's another crescent, curled in against the hollow of his throat, a sliver of moonlight that smooths back fabric and slips under his skin and turns all of his secrets inside out. Empties him out onto the steelplate floor, while he stands and shakes and shakes.]
Rorschach breathes out harshly, gives his reflection – alone now, obviously a trick of the light – one more glance before reaching for the vertical struts, hauling himself carefully to his feet.
There are three dozen more steps to the other end of the trestle, and he takes each one now with caution, meticulously deliberate in the placement of every footfall. There are more patches, he can see that now, glinting wetly in the near-total blackness. Each one could kill him with a single misstep, send him slipping down and down into silent depths from which there is no return.
[Daniel says his name, quiet with worry and fear, crescent-moon hand all slick with red – and the sound of it hums and vibrates and spreads through his mind like oil in water and the ship is too small, far too small.]
He scratches idly at the stitches ridged underneath his scarf and takes another mindful step. This is still, by far, the less precarious situation.
Prompt: 'conning 20' (Zombie!AU)
The thug's eyes are wild, roving madly, whites glinting in what little light filters this far into the rotting inner corridors of the city. They're a long way from the nearest real street, a long way from a casual passerby's notice and alarm. Rorschach is sure the man's aware of that fact, as sure as he is that the twisting struggle under his hands has nothing to do with fear of capture or arrest. Rumors spread quickly in the underworld, and the city's gut-level knowledge of the virus is absolute; the criminals still don't know exactly what's under the mask, but they're fairly certain that whatever it is, it's pale and dead and probably hungrier than they'd like.
Rorschach's got him pinned against the wall with one arm, unyielding in its intent, and the criminal's breath hitches into something like a sob when the other hand come up to hook the mask up over his nose, exposing lips curled back away from teeth and set in an expanse of too much white. Rorschach leans in, a huff of cold breath curling over the man's sweat-stinking skin - inhales sharply, and he can smell the salty tang of flesh and the metallic, heady rush of blood pounding underneath. The growl materializes almost of its own volition, singsongy, rising and falling and thoroughly unhinged.
"Fuck," the man finally spits out, though he's roughing over the hard consonants, a lump in his throat like cold sweat and fear that won't let the sounds through correctly. "Fuck fuck fuck, Fuck, man, help me, god, he's gonna fuckin' kill me, you can't let him kill me man jesus fuck..."
Further into the shadows, Nite Owl doesn't even look up.
The growl intensifies, and the arm pinning him to the wall slams in harder, jarring him from shoulders on down, knocking breath loose and breaking his litany down into a rhythmic hiccupping, air coming hard-won and ragged. His eyes aren't even focusing anymore, and he's right on the edge of hyperventilating, and his mouth is still moving around something that looks like 'oh god, oh god, oh god' - but the words refuse to come. He smells more like fear than meat now, adrenaline and cortisols, life flailing hard against the bars of its cage for one last reprieve and...
...and Rorschach can sense the moment terror finally wins out and consciousness flees, can feel it acutely: the thug's eyes roll hard towards the top of his head, form slumping limp against the wall, all defenses spent. Vulnerable. Helpless. One corner of his mouth tugs up into a grin against the fluttering, frantic pulse, and he steps back from the wall - letting the man drop, a boneless heap, to the floor of the alley. His free hand comes out of the trenchcoat's pocket wrapped around a halted stopwatch; he studies its face in the insubstantial light, then wanders over towards Nite Owl where he crouches, binding another man's wrists.
"What's the verdict?" Nite Owl asks, concentrating on the complicated knot he's working.
Rorschach shrugs, holding the watch out.
Nite Owl finishes the knot, pulls another piece of cord free from the coil around one arm. Looks up, squints through the goggles. "...thirteen seconds- damn it, Rorschach." Keeping a careful eye on the last man still clinging to consciousness, he stops to rifle through his belt pouches, eventually coming out with a fanfolded and worn twenty-dollar bill. Slaps it into the outstretched hand with more force than is strictly necessary. "I swear you're tampering with that thing; you get faster every time."
Rorschach shrugs again, pocketing the bill and reaching up to pull his mask back down into place. "Practice," he says simply, then takes a piece of cord and returns to the unconscious man by the wall, ducking to bind his hands behind his back.
Prompt: AU-mashup - Canon collides with Zombie!AU through the use of applied phlebotinum.
"Unbelievable," Dan says, keeping a careful watch on the crowd they're moving through, wary and edgy and on the lookout for too-pale faces, too-pale hands. They've seen a few of them already, have no idea how dangerous they really are; it's hard information to wheedle out of people who've been living with the situation for months, who don't get why you don't know, don't understand. "Bad enough Jon managed to screw up like this, but to land us in the middle of a late night horror movie..."
Next to him, Rorschach just grunts noncommittally, hands fisted in his pockets, trying not to notice the strangely wide berth the crowd is giving him.
"Almost makes me want to, uh. Check on myself. Ourselves. Make sure we got through it." It's a morbid thought, but the idea of living other lives naturally carries with it the fact of facing other dangers, and for some reason he just feels like he needs to know and...
Another noise, this one vaguely annoyed. "Sentimental, Daniel. Useless information. Not staying here."
Dan glances down. "You're telling me it wouldn't bother you if you found out-"
"No," comes the short and certain reply.
Dan bites back a response; the conversation lapses to silence, both too far on guard to justify small talk, on too much of a time constraint to waste it on philosophical ramblings. It's a solid five minutes of uneventful walking before Dan's sliding dodge of an errant pedestrian lands him right next to one of the - what are they even called? He's sure 'zombie' is probably inaccurate and offensive but it's the only word his mind can cough up, faced with the reality: ghastly and hollow-faced and eyes burning like cinders and he's so small, that's why Dan hadn't seen him in time, a half-head below the rest of the crowd-
Small and fierce and looking straight at him.
He's forced down the shudder and shouldered past before he can catch the recognition in the look, and that's just as well. Has a second to think (Hang on, I know him, I've seen him outside my place before-), to consider the implications of that sort of synchronicity, before a chill creeps its way, all cold fingers and roiling gooseflesh, down the back of his neck. It's another half-second before he realizes that he's walking alone.
When he turns back, Rorschach is two feet from the man, staring him down from the expressionless depths of the mask, blots swimming furiously. The corpse shifts his sign over his shoulder and stares straight back, firelit eyes jumping with a strange mixture of hostility and confusion that reminds Dan, synaesthetically enough, of the low and dangerous sound of Rorschach's voice on the rare occasions that Dan manages to completely throw him off his guard.
There's a long stretch of stillness, the crowd breaking around them to reform on the other side; Dan's twitching to end this bizarre showdown, visions of every horrible zombie movie he's ever seen floating through his brain, and he really doesn't want to have to drag a mangled and screaming vigilante the rest of the way, through populated streets and without any time to stop for first aid and...
"Rorschach?" he finally asks; they both turn in response, but Dan is so very much not processing that right now. He makes a gesture with one glove, a vague summons. "Come on man, we have to keep moving if we're gonna get back."
Rorschach just mumbles something incoherent, shoving his fists harder into his pockets; turns and follows. He doesn't say another word the entire way, no matter how cleverly and insistently Dan tries to engage him, something unsettling and strange clinging to him that hadn't been there before.
In ten years, watching his friend's mugshots flash across the television screen, Dan will understand - but for now, they have a trans-temporal spacetime anomaly to catch.