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FIC: Visions and Revisions (1/3)

Title: Visions and Revisions
Fandom: Watchmen
Characters/Pairings: Z!Ror/Dan, Laurie
Date Written: 2009
Summary: Stupid Dan breaks his stupid arm. Laurie has to stand in for him - and work with Rorschach - on a critical mission, and reevaluations are made all around.
Rating/Warnings: PG-13, minor language.
Notes: Dear god I have no idea what I'm doing here please don't kill me.


“Hey, Brighteyes,” he drawls from around the stub of a cigar – and maybe the names he hurls at her aren’t as insulting as the ones the others earn, aren’t outright demeaning or objectifying, but they still have this way of making her feel like a child, and that’s her mother’s purview. It’s not a right he has.

Laurie keeps walking.

He gestures with the stub, the cherry scrawling red in the deepening late afternoon light, drawing the eye. She doubts very much that his smoking it out here, perched on a side wall, has anything at all to do with Adrian’s recent ban on smoking at meetings. “Thought I’d warn ya, corpse-boy showed up today. Oughta be careful in there.”

She squares her stance, looks back over her shoulder. Resists the temptation to ask just why the fuck he even cares. “Nite Owl come with him?”

“Nope. Which is also suspicious as hell, far as I’m concerned.” Blake stubs out the cigar, levers down to the ground one-handed. “Anyway, good luck with that.”

“You’re not staying.” It’s a statement, not a question, and it carries the obvious goading chill of boys calling each other chicken on docks and train tracks and in freight yards, secretly hoping for the gruesome spectacle of someone flinching back just a moment too late.

But he’s not biting; just laughs, a grating bark. “Fuck no. You know how bad it got at the end of that thing. He may think he’s safe but I’m sure as hell not staking anything on that. Like all the vital bits of my anatomy where they are, thanks.”

Laurie doesn’t bother taking the obvious shot – it’d be cheap even by her standards, and he’s not worth it – just levels a scowl like broken glass, and keeps walking.


He needn’t have worried, which she could have fucking told him if she’d cared enough to bother. The meeting goes more smoothly than anyone expects and Rorschach’s mostly restrained, mostly quiet, like he’s wired in some new level of self-control – bringing up points that need to be brought up and not backing down when Adrian challenges him on a point of tactics, but there’s a tight, observant calm there that she doesn’t remember ever seeing before. She could almost call it Zen.

She could also call it predatory, and there’s something about one vacant chair that is somehow more ominous than two. But that’s ridiculous, and she knows better. Still asks, once the meeting’s over and he’s surprised her by asking her in his usual gruff and unsocialized way to stay behind for a minute, “Where’s Dan?”

A grunt of … what? Frustration, annoyance? She’s spent too little time interacting with him to be able to decipher this shit, and why can’t he just use language like everyone else does? “Nite Owl,” he corrects, grumbling. “Incapacitated. Temporarily.”

“What,” Laurie asks, tone acidic, “He ‘fell down the stairs’ or something?”

Rorschach just cocks his head to one side, and the gesture reads like confusion. “No,” he growls, obviously not understanding the implication, taking the question at face value. “From a fire escape. Third story. Broke his arm.”

“Christ,” Laurie says, pinching the bridge of her nose, and she almost feels a little bit like an ass for joking about it. Almost. Leave it to Dan to be smart enough to build tools that let him scale walls and then trip over a goddamned railing. “He’s all right, yeah?”

One short nod, tight with something she’s not going to bother trying to identify. She gets the gist regardless – his arm’s broken, he can’t patrol, of course he’s not all right; but he isn’t dead or dying, and in their line of work that usually has to suffice.

“Okay then…. I mean, I’ll stop by his place with some chicken soup or something.” Out of a can, she thinks. That’s about all she can manage. “…But other than that, why are you telling me this?”

A shifting of weight from side to side, and none of the visual disquiet comes through in his tone, but nothing else ever does either, so that’s not new. “Nite Owl’s timing was inconvenient. Have been tracking a drug gang operating out of lower Ninth Avenue for the last month. Very narrow window for apprehension. Tomorrow night is the only opening.”

Laurie crosses her arms, leans back against the wall. “And it’s a two-man job, I’m assuming.”


“Well?” she presses, not willing to let this one go. “If you won’t even admit you need help, I don’t see why I should–”

“Schoolchildren in poor districts are the intended target for distribution,” he interrupts, and damn if it doesn’t stop her cold. “Attempting to build a new customer base. I could attempt capture myself, but would rather not risk failure with those sort of stakes.”

Another silence, much heavier. They’ve both seen the results of that particular dealing tactic, everyone in this business has. It’s…

“All right,” she finally says. “I’m on board. What are the details?”

He pulls a cube of sugar from his pocket, obviously relieved enough that she’s agreed to let his guard down – or possibly he’s testing her, rucking his mask up to eat the thing and not bothering to conceal the condition he’s in. She isn’t sure if staring shamelessly constitutes a passing grade, doesn’t honestly care, but she doesn’t flinch at least, doesn’t pull a face.

And then the mask is back down, just as she’s coming to a considered decision on ‘hypothermia blue’ versus ‘corpse grey’. Damn it. “Will explain later. In private. Do you know the tunnel route to the Owl’s Nest?”

“Pff. I know the street address. It’s not like I’ve never been to his place.”

Rorschach grumps indistinctly, and for just a second she can’t tell if it’s disappointment in Dan’s inability to keep anything a secret, or jealousy. “Use tunnel entrance,” he says, and if it’s possible, his tone is about ten degrees colder. “Wear a more practical uniform, if you have one.”

And there it is, the conventional note of disdain; the name-calling riding just under the words. Degenerate. Whore. Laurie grins, and it’s as feral as any wild creature she’s ever found in the night, him included. “What, and pass up the chance to offend your delicate sensibilities?”

“Good chance we’ll be shot at. Choose your priorities.”

She thinks of the Kevlar-lined suit in her bottom drawer, the one her mother never approved of. Did nothing to highlight her assets, she’d said. “I don’t know, that’s a tough one.”

He says nothing – just turns to leave, seemingly content in having made the arrangements.

“Hang on,” Laurie says, reaching out to snag him by the sleeve; he turns back with a growl caught somewhere in his throat, and it doesn’t sound human, and she wonders for just a second if maybe that asshole Blake isn’t as much of a coward as she’d judged him to be, if maybe–


She licks her lips, wills herself to tighten her grip, to not be frightened into letting go. “Why me? Can’t have been your first choice.”

“Considered all the options,” Rorschach says evasively, and he pulls his arm out of her grasp with a motion too fast for her to counter. He pauses, like he’s trying to decide how much of her question to answer. When more words actually materialize, it’s a shock. “…Comedian and Ozymandias have expressed a level of contempt for… nrg. Approaches fear. Irrational, but could bleed into violence under the wrong circumstances.”

Jesus Christ, she thinks. The great right-wing nutjob is crying racism. Specism. Anti-Zombism. Whatever. Then she remembers how many benign carriers she’d seen beaten to death by their neighbors during the height of those insane weeks; remembers Adrian and his secretary; thinks of Blake today, intimating that he’d sooner set Rorschach on fire that trust his assurances of stability.

“Could take care of either if they made a move,” he continues, and there is no pride in the words – just a practical statement of fact. “But it would be a distraction. Would prefer to avoid it in this case.”

“Because of the stakes, right.”


A brief pause, and Laurie leans back against the wall again. “Look – newsflash, here. I don’t like you either.”

Rorschach shuffles his hands into his pockets, looking unperturbed. “Aware of that. Feeling is mutual. However, you have behaved professionally in the past. And dislike is personal, not grounded in ignorance. Will not allow personal feelings to jeopardize a mission.”

And that, bizarrely enough, almost sounds a little like respect, no matter that it came in just about the same breath as an assurance that he likes her no better than she likes him. And he’d all but accused her of being the slut her mother dressed her as, so more likely it’s just a practical assessment of facts as he understands them, and this is a tactical decision. He probably expects her to be upset by that.

“Fine,” Laurie says, smiling tightly. “Five o’clock.”


She arrives to the sound of arguing.

At first, it’s just the mumbly overlapping of voices that carries down long tunnels, distinct from ‘conversation’ for a certain sharpness, a certain edge of too-familiar blades pulled for too-familiar uses. She was woken by it too many times growing up to not recognize it now. As she gets closer to the actual room, the voices resolve into words.

“...ammit Rorschach, I told… not to involve anyone else…”

“Can’t do this one alo… Daniel. No choice. Can’t let them–”

“I know, I know. And I know Laurie can handle herself, but this is just such a bad one, you know?”

“Would have been just as bad for you.”

“I could have taken a lot of hits, I have armor–”

Dan’s sitting at a workbench, the arm on the bench’s top professionally casted – that’s good, means he went to an actual doctor for it – and Rorschach is standing across from him with his arms crossed and something like indignation swimming sluggishly through his blots. She thinks. It could also be a lobster with a chainsaw.

“So do I,” she says, crossing to the bench they’re centered around, a large map spread across its surface. And she does, too, the matte black of the spare uniform thicker and denser and still just as form-fitting, but at least she won’t be taking a gut-shot tonight. Painful bastards. “Anyone ever tell you two you sound like an old married couple when you bicker? Seriously.”

A pause almost too long to be comfortable, and Dan is working his mouth soundlessly like a startled fish. Then he shakes his head, seems to get himself back together. “I. Uh. I just don’t want to see anyone get hurt just because I was an idiot, you know?” He lifts the casted arm for emphasis, smiling sheepishly.

“Cut the crap,” she says, leaning over the diagram, but there’s obvious affection there. “Any of us could get hurt on any of these things. Due to idiocy or otherwise. We knew that going into it.” She senses rather than sees Rorschach’s posture stiffen at her elbow, before he returns to the map, scrawling notes into its margin. His motions seem jerkier than before, twitchier.

“Well, yeah, okay–”

“Wasn’t an idiot,” the low voice cuts in from the side, restrained but defensive, attention still focused on the map. “Was raining. Footing was treacherous.”

Laurie frowns. Defensive, and possessive. As if there’s something significant in the fact that he was there, that he has this unique knowledge of the conditions, as if only he is fit to cast judgment on Dan–

“O… okay,” Dan says, clearly just as thrown, and he keeps darting his eyes between her and Rorschach with something like guilty uncertainty. “That’s not what you said when it happened.”

A shifting, shuffling silence, definitely too long this time. The tip of Rorschach’s pen taps the benchtop through the map restlessly, and Laurie gets the sense that she’s seeing something she lacks the context to interpret correctly.

“Two entrances,” Rorschach breaks in, circling the locations on the map with broad red swoops – and she snaps back to herself, and this is just a pre-mission briefing, and her life out there could depend on paying attention. So she does.


“You sure you don’t want a vest?” Dan is asking again as they prepare to strike out, gesturing vaguely at Rorschach’s coat. “I’ve got one that would fit right under that.”

Rorschach just grunts dismissively. “Would hinder movement. No.”

“I’d just really rest a lot easier if–”

“No, Daniel. Appreciate the concern,” and bizarrely, there’s not a sneering turn in those words. He honestly–

And Dan just looks frustrated as hell, sitting there in civilian clothes and his arm bound up in plaster and trying to stare down the creepiest bastard she’s ever met through those owlish glasses. He puts his hand on Rorschach's shoulder in a way that's almost tender, and pitches his voice lower. "I don't want anything happening to you out there," he says, and there's something so earnest and undefended in his voice that Laurie bursts out laughing before she can stop herself.

Well. It’s good to know her subconscious hasn’t given up on amusing itself.

They’re both staring, and it’s because she’s still laughing. She stifles it with the back of a gloved hand, the smell of Kevlar and leather in her nose. “Sorry. It’s just, I swear – You two are just so cute.”

More staring, this time with a feral, singsong growl added in for texture.

“I mean, it's like you are a couple or something. Do you two want a moment alone here?"

The growling dies abruptly, with a quiet sound halfway between a choke and a sob. Far away, some electrical system cycles down as if to make the point – and there is complete and utter silence in the wake of what she’s said.

Then more silence yet. Dan’s doing his fish impression again. Rorschach’s blots look like murder.

The images collide and start to come into focus: The way she'd only ever been asked over for coffee in the middle of the day, and how evasive he’d been about it, and how carefully platonic he'd kept conversation. The smell of old blood clinging to the wallpaper and carpet and furniture, omnipresent, and Dan not even noticing it; like he was used to it, just so much background noise. The way Rorschach had reacted when she’d smiled across the workbench at Dan, and Dan has his collar turned up and what self-respecting man walks around with a popped collar under a sweater vest unless they’re hiding–



“No way,” she sputters around another bubbling-up fit of laughter. “Seriously?”

“No,” Rorschach growls definitively, stalking off into the tunnel without another word. The lack of a lengthy, tedious tirade on the evils of lust and fornication and homosexuality, though, is pretty damning.

Dan’s staring after him, mouth still slightly open. Laurie sidles up, a playful elbow in the ribs on his good side. “So?”

He looks up at her, startled. “I, uh. Well. He said no, didn’t he?”

“What do you say?” There’s something on his face that’s so conflicted and complicated and weighty that she almost feels bad for pressing. Almost.

Then he smiles, and it’s cautiously prideful, with just a hint of the anger from earlier, glinting like a knife edge. “…Officially, I think I better just say whatever he said. But, you know.”

She just barely manages to keep from laughing again. “Right. When we get back?” She points a finger at him, demanding. “Details.”

And just before she turns to head down the tunnel, to run to catch up and go off to get shot at – probably get shot at a lot – Laurie’s treated to the most abject look of horror she’s ever seen on Dan’s face, blossoming under the fluorescent lights like the fear of death itself.


When she catches up to Rorschach in the tunnel, he’s emitting a concussion wave ten feet across of ‘don’t open your mouth, don’t say a word, or I will break every bone in your body that is not essential to the mission, and I will enjoy it.’


---->Part 2



Jun. 26th, 2010 07:47 pm (UTC)
Meanwhile...or later, at the next Watchmen meeting
"So Laurie, did Rorschach eat Nite Owl or something?"
"...and something, it was and something."
Jun. 26th, 2010 08:13 pm (UTC)
Re: Meanwhile...or later, at the next Watchmen meeting
It's always 'or something' with these two.

I personally love that the first thought everyone has is 'oh no did nite owl get eaten' because of course Rorschach is just a bastion of stability and restraint. XD
Jun. 26th, 2010 09:03 pm (UTC)
Re: Meanwhile...or later, at the next Watchmen meeting
Hmmmmn, I was attempting to make a double entendre oral sex with eating, and so "and something" would refer to additional sex they had that were not oral lol

i has overreached?
Jun. 27th, 2010 03:22 pm (UTC)
Re: Meanwhile...or later, at the next Watchmen meeting
Nahhh I just didn't get it, but yes, in that context 'and something' works. XD