Date Written: 2009
Summary: Two AU Mashup ficlets, one very old, one new. The first is a pileup of all the supernatural/transformation AUs on the kinkmeme at the time it was written. The second is Z!Rorschach and a version of Dan from the fic 'A Poor Hand Played Well' in which Dan loses his finances, his house, etc, and has to stay with Rorschach. In-jokes abound in both of these, sorry.
Rating/Warnings: PG, pretty tame all around.
Tales from the Twilight-Zone Corner
“So, ah… what are you?” asks the only version of Dan to be relegated to this corner of the room. His wings rustle restlessly.
The elf-eared version of his partner shifts. “Half-Sidhe,” he replies, because bald honesty seems to be the order of the day.
“What is that?”
“It’s a… a kind of faerie.”
“Sure got that right,” barks some version or another of the Comedian as he walks by, laughing around his cigar and not even pausing to see if the hit lands. Dan and the vampire both glare after him, but the intended target doesn’t get the joke at all.
It becomes a guessing game.
The Rorschach that wanders over covered in clinging, relentless pigeons is relatively easy to figure out. He doesn’t even mind the speculative attention, because it distracts him from the endless blathering on and on and on about raisin bread and popcorn. Dan finds himself petting the birds idly, and that’s okay too.
This newcomer though, they’re having a hard time with. Looks normal. Acts normal, or Rorschach-normal anyway. Then the pale one on the end puts his mask up over his nose, and the newcomer stares and stares and stares some more.
“…what’re you in for?” Dan finally asks, conceding defeat, trying to play it like a joke.
The newcomer pulls off his gloves then, and the ink swirls and pools there, too – and they understand.
“Another vampire?” asks the first, curiosity piqued at the sight of a second deathly-pale face.
A grunt, settling into the only free chair left. “Metabolic disorder.”
“That sounds like a cop-out to me,” says Dan, ruffling up his feathers. “If this disorder had a close second-cousin in mythical terms, what would it be?”
The word coughed out around a sugar cube sounds a lot like ‘zombie’, but they can’t be sure.
“Christ, what the hell happened to you two?”
They make no attempt to bring over extra chairs, just slump together onto the floor next to the rest, and it’s probably for the best because these flat-backed chairs wouldn’t accommodate the thick ratlike tail snaking out from under Rorschach’s trenchcoat or the fan of feathers that’s making it hard for this Dan to even sit on the floor.
“Goddamn Adrian happened,” Owl-Dan says, reaching to smooth feathers down in unfamiliar places. Rorschach jabs him in the ribs with a frightening furry elbow. “Right, right, I know, can’t talk about that. Timelines. I know.”
“Would still like to hear,” says the pigeon-tree, head cocked to the side in a strangely birdlike fashion.
The two on the floor look at each other; Owl-Dan swallows. “No, I really don’t think you would.”
The golem leans forward in his chair, scanning the crowd.
"Looking for someone," says the fuzzy, not-a-rat Rorschach, and he'd been very insistent about that, definitely not a rat.
"Walter," the first mumbles, distracted. "One of your pigeons," he continues, turning to glare at the bird-decked version of himself. "...has torn a hole in me with its claws. Need repair work done."
The vampire tears his eyes away from the sixteenth – sixteenth – sugar cube he's watched the zombie unwrap for himself, and that just isn't goddamned fair. "Walter exists separately for you?"
The golem nods; it's 1975 or earlier for most of them, so this is simply a curiosity. Only the Possum is jealous.
"You're the only one with no magic in you," the half-fae observes out of the blue, narrowing his eyes at the second undead among them.
"Told you. Metabolic disorder."
"The rest of you have it clinging, and you," he nods to the golem, "Are soaked in it. The basis for your existence. But he doesn't have any at all."
The zombie digs in his pocket for more sugar; finally comes up empty. "Hrm. People don't need magic to work nightmares."
He's standing suddenly, swiping blindly at the birds on his shoulders, until one of them in particular finally flies off. He glares after it angrily.
"What was that all about?"
"...was having impure thoughts about you, Daniel."
There's a pause, where everyone present is trying to put this together.
"The pigeon, " he clarifies.
The golem puts his hand up – and they suppose it is a hand, even without bones and tendons to explain its shape – to call a pause. He's looking at the vampire. "You're saying that you and your Daniel are..."
The vampire shrugs. "Assumed that was true for all of us."
Attention shifts to each in turn; the pigeon-covered Rorschach is silent on the subject, the fae shifts uncomfortably, and the zombie coughs with far too convenient timing for someone who shouldn't technically need to breathe very often. When they look to the winged version of Daniel, he just shrugs. "Yeah, I mean... yeah."
"Disgusting," mutters the opossum unconvincingly from the floor, dragging rough claws through his fur as if chasing after fleas.
"We should put up a sign," Daniel suggests after an hour has passed, and he's just put the vampire and the zombie in opposite corners of their little space because they'd found more sugar and the jealousy had ballooned into death threats, and he's laughing but he's tired. "Rejects from reality: all are welcome."
"Hmf," says the golem, fiddling with the seam on his glove.
Another pigeon goes flying, pinged across the room with deadly accuracy. Dan suspects that this time, it was just for fun.
"Make our own reality," grumbles the vampire, eying the sugar crystals caked onto his fingertips. Doesn't lick them.
Dan shifts from one foot to the other; feels cold fingers from the other side running curiously down his feathers. The owl-Dan on the floor has settled onto his back, arm-wings spread flat. The fae looks up at him, eyes a mess of homesickness and swirling gold, and bizarre as it is, all of it makes sense.
"...yeah. Yeah, I guess we do."
He doesn’t mean to lose his partner in the spiraling maze of the city – it’s a maze he knows, has navigated hand-to-the-wall for years now, and it should be a simple thing to just keep up. But he’s tired; tired, and overwhelmed with a sudden swell of sympathy for Rorschach, who’s had to manage a day job and crimefighting in balance for years and years. Here he is, three days into and would you like naan with that? and he’s already dragging, feet heavy on the asphalt.
It’s not just the job. It’s the weight of everything – the loss of his life as he knew it, the shock of discovering he’d been had, the pressure of trying to fix it and then, on top of it all, whatever this idiotic thing between him and Rorschach is turning into.
So he stops, tries to catch his breath. One hand rests on the brickwork, and he closes his eyes behind the goggles, willing the dancing sparks there to disappear. Just a minute, just five minutes, just–
When he opens them again, Rorschach’s in front of him, expectant and somehow more still than he’s ever been.
“Christ,” Dan mutters, a step back against the wall, one hand over his suddenly hammering heart. His nerves have been shot since the, well, the bug incident, and cannot handle surprises in their current state. “Trying to kill me?”
He can see the shadows pool where the mask furrows its brows. “Of course not. Concerned when we got separated. Thought you’d be glad to…” Rorschach trails off, cocking his head to one side. “Feeling all right, Daniel?”
“Yeah, sure, just. Things have been a little rough?” he says, with the tone of explaining something that shouldn’t need to be explained. Surely Rorschach can understand why he’d be a little on edge, after this morning – even if he hadn’t quite believed him about the bug, something had obviously been wrong.
Instead, Rorschach just steps further into his personal space than he should be comfortable with, what with the events of the last few days. Puts the back of his hand against Dan’s exposed cheek, probably checking for fever, and hell, since when does the great untouchable bastard voluntarily initiate contact like this? Since when does he lean in so close?
“God, you’re freezing,” Dan says, the words tumbling out before he can catch them, shocked into bluntness by the way the leather’s leaching the heat right out of his skin.
A long, considering look, inkblots swimming more slowly than they should be; then the hand is withdrawn. “Come on,” Rorschach says, stepping back. Dan exhales sharply, in relief and something less tangible. “Not well. Going home.”
It’s a block or two before Dan realizes they’re headed for his old address, not Rorschach’s. He pulls up short. “Where are we going?”
“Said already,” and annoyance is creeping into his tone. “Home. Owl’s Nest.”
“That’s not… Rorschach. I lost the house, remember?” And this is so surreal, and maybe he is sick and delirious or maybe Rorschach is. “I’ve been staying with you?”
This time the icy hands don’t stop at skin; they shove his goggles up onto his head and lift his eyelids and a swarm of inkblots regard him, narrowing into his eyes. Checking for concussion, his brain supplies, and for just a second he thinks that maybe, oh god, maybe this has all been a dream, maybe he hasn’t lost his home and his life and he hasn’t been changing clothes in an alleyway and making absurd advances on his partner and being molested by insects and–
Then Rorschach glances around to see if he has cover, lifts his mask up over his brow to give him clearer vision because dark irises and pupils are hard to tell apart at night and how does he even see through the mask anyway–
And Dan finds himself regarded by flaming eyes in a corpse’s face, brows pinched in incongruous concern, stinking of rot and blood, and he isn’t even sure, later, how long or how far he runs.
In the alley, Rorschach sighs, and puts his mask back down – thinks of wings and owls and rats and bugs, and serial killers and cattlehands and cybernetic constructions, of data shifting across a faceplate and the sound of wolves.
It’s nearly 3 AM, and his own Daniel is apparently still missing. It’s going to be a long night.