Fandom: Watchmen AU
Date Written: 2010
Summary: "To be trusted is a better compliment than being loved."
Rating/Warnings: PG-13, I guess.
Notes: For Kink Bingo(prompt: 'shaving/depilation'), posted early just so I don't porn-bomb flists when I'm done. Not being crossposted until then.
The razor rides precariously over the knot of his throat, miraculously steady for being held in hands that seem to want to shake. For all his failings, Nite Owl was always reliable under pressure, and this is not a trait Daniel shed with the costume ten years ago.
It still feels sharper there than it ever has before, just an ounce of stretched tension away from all the violence neither of them have ever been able to completely wash their hands of, brave new world or no. One slip–
But there won't be a slip.
Watching Daniel watch him is too much, to close to a nested mirror trap, drilling back and back and laying everything bare. Rorschach closes his eyes.
"You're getting the uh. Backwoods hermit look, there," Dan said one lunchtime, waggling two fingers at his own head as he tried to place the right descriptor. "Or like some kind of crazy survivalist."
Rorschach glanced up from where he was opening a can of stewed beef with the sharpest part of a too-dull knife, tin plates stacked on the floor of the boxcar at waist height. They'd built the fire small and smoky, so as to not draw attention, and Rorschach fixed him with a look that made him squirm in his thirdhand coveralls.
"Okay," Dan said, laughing a little. "Yeah, I know, it's appropriate."
Rorschach groused, went back to the can. "Yes. It is."
"But it uh. Causes other problems, you know?"
"No," Rorschach said, "I don't."
"Well, it... god, I can't believe I'm saying this. It kind of burns, you know, when you..."
It trailed off, the silence of a few seconds allowing it to sink in. Then the can and knife both fumbled, can clattering to the ground, and when Rorschach looked up the rest of his face was redder than his hair or his stubble.
Dan can feel his pulse up behind his ears, pounding away accusingly. There isn't much about the sight of his partner with a blade to his throat that makes his lizard brain happy; it conjures too many bad memories, how dirty the streets had been and how unfairly the odds had been stacked against them even at at the start. The flash of a knife and mask fluid running through clenched fingers, rendered brilliant red in his nightvision and it'd been easy to believe, then, that it was over.
"With the grain," Rorschach mumbles, and tilts his head back, eyes closed against the humid afternoon sky. Figures are wrought in the clouds like a lazy slideshow, reflected in the steel, each moment becoming the next with seamless grace.
A pale strip of skin reveals itself through the soap, unmarred.
Dan takes a deep breath, pushes the terror aside, and keeps going.
Dan caught up the can – it was their entire lunch and dinner for the day – and rubbed one hand up Rorschach's back, careful deep circles. It wasn't a soothing motion; it was meant to stop him from choking to death on his own indignation.
"Seriously," Dan said, after the spasms calmed. "It's becoming a problem, or I wouldn't even have–"
"Enough." Rorschach set the knife down, keen edge inward. "One-track priorities, Daniel."
Dan laughed then, as Rorschach dug through his pockets and came up with a small case. Stopped laughing when it flipped open to reveal the folded and well worn handle of a straight-razor.
"Uh," Dan said, as Rorschach plucked the tool from its case. "Wouldn't a safety razor be a little more..."
Rorschach thumbed the blade open with long practice, let it catch the sun threateningly; all so much theatrics. "Possibly, given lack of a mirror. Do you have any?"
"No, I threw out my last one yesterday. I thought you'd have your own."
A sharp motion and the blade swung closed, and Rorschach offered it across the space between them. "I do," he said, meeting Dan's eyes carefully.
"Wait." Dan had one hand in the air, laughing again but it wasn't the same. "You want me to–"
"No mirror," Rorschach repeated, and then the offering between them was more than an object, more than a handle and blade; the threat of bloody, violent death, put into someone else's hands without any hesitation.
"I can't believe you're letting me do this," Daniel mumbles, after the first few bloodless passes, working his way carefully around the hard line of his jaw. Rorschach can feel the catch of stubble on a blade not honed as well as it should have been; knows without needing to see that Daniel is erring on the side of a sub-par shave rather than risk injuring him. "I've never used one of these before, I don't want to accidentally..."
Fingers are on his chin, the edge sliding over the corner of his jaw and it feels like too many points of contact, like there's a string between them and he's poised to jump on it, spin and spin, do whatever Daniel's hands set him to – but that is an old fear too. He has let Daniel do so many terrifying things to him already.
"No one else available," he says.
No one else I trust, he doesn't say, even as he swallows against the blade, feels his skin rise under it like it's a caress; fingernails or teeth bared behind lips, raking down his throat.