Title: A Weekday Afternoon

Rating: PG

Characters: Daniel & Rorschach

Word Count: 530

Summary: Happens pre-graphic novel. A chance meeting on the sidewalks of the city.

Cradling a book with jotted notes stuck between the center pages, Daniel headed down the concrete sidewalk toward his home in the afternoon. He figured that the walk from the library would do him good. The sun peeked out of the clouds on occasion to cast a brighter light upon the city. Despite the noise of the afternoon bustle and graying sky, Daniel found himself in relatively good spirits, the cool breeze rustling his trench coat.

Sighting a street vendor on the corner made his stomach rumble suddenly. Daniel stepped onto the short line. Shifting the book he held to one arm, he smiled ruefully to himself as he grasped his impromptu lunch, thinking that the toppings on the hot dog would undo whatever good the walk had done for his body. His smile faded as he had the sudden sensation of being watched. Turning as he stepped away from the vendor's cart, he noticed a man a short distance away leaning against the faded brick wall of the building adjacent to the sidewalk. The man's face was expressionless, but somehow this made his gaze that much more piercing. Even when Daniel's eyes met his curiously across the distance, the redhead didn't look away, holding Daniel's gaze to the point of discomfort. Daniel found his eyes falling to take note of the man's hands stuffed into his coat pockets, the adjacent crate that the man may have been sitting on at one point, and the crumpled wrapper on the ground by his foot, the forgotten remains of what the street vendor had sold him.

A pedestrian hurrying past jostled the distracted Daniel. The book slid out of his grasp, spilling papers upon the concrete as it fell, a few carried up by the wind. Muttering under his breath, Daniel knelt to gather the papers one-handed, sliding his notes under the hard cover of the book. He blinked as a shadow was cast down upon ground in front of him. Gazing upward, he peered at the red-haired man through his glasses, noting the papers that he held in one hand that Daniel had feared lost. As he rose to his feet, the man extended them toward him, his eyes fixed on Daniel's face.

"Um, thank you," Daniel told him, a faint smile on his face despite his discomfort at being faced with the weight of the man's odd gaze up close. The redhead didn't speak, but nodded in response. After holding Daniel's wavering gaze for a moment more, he turned to walk off down the sidewalk, the light wind tossing the fabric of his open coat. He raised the sign that he retrieved from its resting place as he passed skyward. Daniel watched him go, finding something about the other man oddly familiar in a way that he couldn't quite place. Shaking himself from his reverie, Daniel continued on his way. He didn't look down at the crate as he passed where in the corner where wooden box met wall a napkin fluttered open blown by the wind, the mustard that had been strewn across it before it had been pressed together causing a bright mirror image stain.

End