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FIC: Captcha and Misc VIII

Fandom: Watchmen
Date Written: 2009
Summary: Captcha/Misc/Commentfic Ficlets. #1 is a captcha, #2 is from a prompt for 'random fluff', #3 is a comment fic from comment_fic. #1 and #2 are z!verse, #1 and #3 are srs bsns, #2 is ridiculous crack.
Rating/Warnings: PG.

#1
Title:
Superstition
Prompt: 'january repays'

It’s a new year, the calendars say.

In the summer of the year, cold from bloodloss and head filled with the lurching horror of what this was, what this meant, what exactly was spinning through his bloodstream with every panicked step, he hadn’t expected to live to see 1976. Part of him had hoped he would die in the street before he ever reached the brownstone, but he knew it was more likely he’d face his end staring down a shaking barrel, the face beyond it twisted in grief, his own mind too far gone to care.

He stops, leans against a lamppost, hunches his coat tighter around him. Old habits.

This is technically a patrol, but the streets are empty. Everyone’s at the Garden, he knows, waiting for the festivities to swell and crescendo and finally give under their own weight. Daniel’s ill tonight, bundled into the sofa, temperature too high to risk soldiering through it on a night this cold. Probably watching it all on television.

He can feel heat on the breeze; there’s an oildrum fire nearby, and it’s sending out tendrils through the crisp, still air, the night so motionless it could shatter like ice all around him. It’s technically a patrol but he’s mostly putting one foot in front of the other, wherever they lead him, and he’s always been one to trust instinct even before instinct came to ride blisteringly close to the front of his brain. Under a bridge, past the streetwalkers and dealers all huddled together against the cold and uselessness of the night, through alleys and sunken doorways and into places only cats can map and understand.

In the end, he ends up deep in the Park, in front of the Bethesda Fountain. It must be heated somehow, kept just above the frostpoint; the water is clear and dark and with no light reflecting off of its surface, a thousand copper pinpricks glint up at him from its bottom. He pushes one hand through the water – it’s freezing cold, will dry off of him colder – and runs gloved fingertips over the rough concrete, through the pile of coins like some heavier, thicker liquid, sunk to the bottom.

Wishes, he thinks, and he scowls under his mask. Children’s wishes; a puppy for Christmas, Mommy and Daddy to stop fighting, the stork to come and take the new baby back to where it came from. Grandmothers and grandfathers, dying in sterile hospital rooms, a little more time bought for them here in pennies and gullibility.

[Blood on his fingers and on the doorframe and slicking the tools in his hands, thoughts running wild and jumbled and settling onto a core of hope that the door will just open – not because he’s afraid for himself, howling starting to echo up the street from the next neighborhood over, but because the house staying dark and quiet would be the worst sort of prophesy and he has to be here, has to be safe, has to be–]

He pulls his hand from the water; lets the moisture drip back to its glassy surface in uneven and heavy drops.

[And could that be called a wish, uttered wordlessly into siren-strobing darkness, clambering at a door that won’t open and desperate just to see a living face framed in the entryway’s light before he succumbs?]

His dry hand is fishing in his pocket before he even knows why, sorting through loose change until he comes up with a new penny, brilliant in the soft light from the city, a full moon in miniature resting weightless in his palm.

He settles it to the surface of the water and only then lets it go, soundless, twisting in its descent to the depths. After a moment, the ripples still, and in the breezeless night, the water is again like glass, motionless, impenetrable, trapping its hopes and dreams and winking brassy eyes in what could as well be another world.

Debt paid, Rorschach shoves both hands into his pockets and walks back the way he came, one foot before the other, through the dark spaces and doorways and alleys and bridges, towards home. It’s past midnight, and 1976 is settling into his bones like so much history in reverse, waiting to unfold in all of its horror and splendor and grotesque humanity; he knows Daniel will have waited up.

It’s a new year, the crowd noise lifting over the skyline says – and against all odds, they’ve met it on its own terms, struck the old year's demons, and survived.

*

#2
Title:
Spoons
Prompt: Generalized fluff.

It'd be unfair to call it morning; it's pushing one in the afternoon but vigilantism keeps its own schedules and even the metabolically challenged wake up craving Frosted Flakes from time to time. Rorschach's sitting hunched over a bowl at the kitchen table, half-masked, crunching the flakes dry and sucking each one carefully for its sugar, when all at once there's someone else in the kitchen.

The someone isn't Daniel. That takes a moment to actually sink in – he's halfway to a grumbled, incoherent greeting before his brain throws an interrupt – and another second or two for the foraging, sleep-clumsy figure in too-big pajama bottoms and one of Daniel's old sweatshirts to resolve itself into-

The spoon falls from his mouth to the table with a clatter.

Juspeczyk turns toward the noise, all fight instincts kicking to life, buried under a deep bleariness.

"Oh," she mutters, rubbing her eyes, going back to rummaging through the cabinets like she has right to them, like she lives here. Like she– "S'only you. Scared the shit out of me."

"What are you doing here," he growls, because going by the clothes she's clearly here by invitation and this is his home – not sure when he started thinking of it that way, home, not residence, but it's irrelevant at the moment. Point is, she doesn't belong here.

"Currently? Ugh. Looking for coffee. Any idea where he keeps it? I feel like a fucking zombie."

"Not funny."

"Not intended to be." She squints against the afternoon light, sallow and exhausted, and one of her eyes is blackened.

Must have gotten in a lucky shot, he catches himself thinking, but then immediately dashes the thought away. Punctuates each word with a steadily rising growl. "Why. Are you. Here."

"I don't know," she says, grinning teasingly through the fatigue. "Why am I here? You're the detective."

The growl pitches lower, more dangerous.

"Oh, cut the horror movie bullshit and eat your cereal," she says, finally finding the coffee canister and peeling the lid back with fingers that are bandaged in more than a few places. "You know that shit doesn't scare me."

"Should."

"Doesn't. Christ, you've never even eaten anybody, what the hell kind of street cred is that? Great undead terror of the underworld, eating cereal with a cartoon tiger on the box. Gonna have to work a little harder to–"

The spoon pings across the room with deadly accuracy. She ducks, just in time, and it continues on to narrowly miss Daniel as he steps in from the living room, lodging in the doorframe. The look on Daniel's face – part confusion, part horror, part disappointment – is enough to send Juspeczyk into a fit of sleep-deprived laughter, and even Rorschach can't quite suppress a fractional smile, just the tiniest twitch of muscle, there and gone again in the space of a blink.

*

#3
Title:
Understood
Prompt: 'never in so many words'

It's the winter of 1982, somewhere in the muddy, grey-washed depths of February, and it's hard to remember anymore what sunlight feels like warming over skin. The days are short and over before Dan blinks and it's all he can do dial the heat up, turn all the lights on, make cups of cocoa and coffee and tea and nurse them until they're half-finished and cold. All the usual solicitors have disappeared in the wake of the season like squirrels, hibernating away until spring – so when the knock comes, somehow weak in its brittle, sharp precision, there's really not many people it could be.

He opens the door wordlessly – does a once-over, takes in the strange way the sleeve of Rorschach's coat is pulling against itself, halfway up his forearm. Sighs.

"Go on," he says, nodding into the house, the nature of the visit clear now. "And lose the layers, so I can see what I'm working with."

*

Once he's in the living room, he does – careful, careful, easing them over the increasingly obvious deformation under the skin. The stripping away of leather and cotton is no great act of trust; the nights that would end with them both bare to the waist and mottled in bruises and carefully patching skin back together with quiet wonder, amazed at the sheer humanness of the bodies under all the armor and bravado, are long gone. This is nothing – this is procedural, like all of Rorschach's visits since '77. It could just as easily be a broken axle in Archie's hydraulics he's reaching to repair.

"This is gonna hurt," Dan mumbles, and it's the stupidest thing he's ever said because he's got his fingers laced through Rorschach's and the other hand anchoring at his elbow and he's about to pull and no shit it's going to hurt. But there's a moment where the mask scrunches up, riding over a face Dan can tell is pinched in awful anticipation and the only thing he can think is god, so he can still feel after all

Then the bone is set and Dan's splinting it and the breath next to him is ragged and uncontrolled, verging on a vocalization it'll never quite form.

He won't be thanked for this. This is procedural; like so much of everything, like so much of nothing. He ties off the end of the gauze; doesn't suggest casting, knows it'll only end with an insult and he doesn't have the stomach for it right now, in this shared space, so close to the heat of another body and wrapped in the scent of violence and familiarity. The bare elbow is cold and heavy in his hand, as if all of Rorschach's weight were anchored there in his palm.

He won't be thanked – he never is, never has been, even in those early days when every other word and every combination were at the man's command, spun so easily into the texture of their lives, the city's life. Words and words and words, enough to drive Dan insane at times, but never those two. Unspoken. Understood.

Rorschach coughs, choking on his own breath, and leans in against him – for support against shock and dizziness, maybe. For something else, maybe.

He won't thank Dan, and Dan won't point out the way he'd tensed up before the pain in some washed-out lizard-brain memory of fear. In return, Rorschach will use this last refuge to momentarily slide back into who he was in 1966, 1967, hunched under Dan's careful hands in the basement, human skin shifting and bleeding under all of the pretense. It'd always been a secret too big to bear alone.

In a half-hour he'll be gone, disappeared out the door again and maybe it'll be a month, six months, a year. But for now he'll lean in and shiver away the pain and let himself be supported and every carefully controlled breath will say it: Needed you. Still need you. Have no one else to go to.

Thank you.


*

Comments

etherati
Nov. 29th, 2009 02:56 am (UTC)
Re: Touched anon is touched. (wibble)
Oddly, the situation here was actually inspired by btb - the bit on the dock when ror's just woken up, and dan's remembering him coming to him in '82 with a broken arm. If this is from that verse, this'll actually be the last dan sees of him until 85, BUT, that also means they end up alive in the future etc etc. With the chance to try to fix themselves.

Thank you <3