Ch. 1: Erasing the Lies
Summary: Rorschach visits a churchyard and is haunted by memories he'd kill to forget. Pre-graphic novel; 1960s/Crimebusters era.
A/n: This story was inspired by threads on the forums concerning Rorschach's turning a blind eye to prostitutes in the book and the identity of 'Charlie', Rorschach's father. Dedicated to my accomplice to insanity on the boards, DogWithHeadSplitOpen.
It was a bitterly cold for an early May morning. It was still dark, giving the masked young man time to slink back into the shadows if need be. He wasn't sure if it would come to that, as he was in the company of the dead. The young man walked up to a grave that had been well kept, possibly by a gardener. There were no flowers at the headstone. No one ever brought any. He never had the inclination to visit the grave of the woman he hated. What was she thinking now, wherever she was? Did she care that her only child, her son, held her in the same contempt he held for the roaches and rats infesting his apartment?
"This is the only time I'm visiting you," the masked man said. The black ink of the mask swirled, making a pattern against the white background that looked angry. Rorschach wasn't sure what emotion drove him to come to the cemetery this rainy Mother's Day morning. He never even attended the funeral nine years ago. But, he was tired tonight and his concentration wasn't as clear. What was that saying? The spirit it willing, but the flesh is weak. He let himself get worn out like this frequently and one of these days, it was going to kill him.
Rorschach's vision blurred a little behind the mask. Knowing the dead would never give away who he was, he pulled the mask off of his face in order to read the headstone more clearly. He felt slightly ill. Surely he'd walked to the wrong grave?
'Beloved Mother'? Whoever had that asked to be put on the whore's tombstone, it sure as hell hadn't been him!
"You and I both know there is no truth to that!" Rorschach snarled his voice barely above a whisper. He wrapped his hands around the crowbar he taken from some punk kid a few hours earlier. "Are you trying to hide your faults even in death, whore?"
There was the scrapping on metal on stone. The sound of breaking memories and marble. A voice a few yards away. He didn't care if he was found. Chink! Spark! Crumble! It felt good to see that bitch's name and memory turn to rumble at his hands after 25 years. God, didn't it feel right!
"I hate you!" Rorschach whispered, panting for breath. The voice was getting closer now and still, he didn't care. "I HATE YOU!"
"Hey! What the hell do you think—?" said the voice. Rorschach swung the crowbar, hitting the physical manifestation of the voice in the gut. "Oooh…" Rorschach quickly pulled his mask over his face, picking up his would-be assailant's flashlight.
"Daniel?" Rorschach said, surprised. Dan Dreiburg, the second Nite Owl, was on his knees with his arms around his stomach.
"Apologies. Thought you were a vandal," Rorschach said, allowing the crowbar to fall from his hands. God, he was exhausted. He leaned against the remnants of his mother's grave to keep himself standing.
"Well what the hell were you doing? You're the vandal here!" Dan said.
"It wasn't vandalism, Daniel. It was merely erasing the lies."
"What are you talking about?" inquired Dan. "Who was this person?"
The piece of tombstone Rorschach was leaning against cracked, shattering and sending him to the ground. It took a lot to try to get back up. Dan grabbed Rorschach by the shoulder and helped him to his feet.
"That grave is…my mother's," Rorschach said weakly. "I…am sorry."
"No ill will intended, but you look like shit, even with the mask," said Dan, putting his hand on Rorschach's shoulder as the masked man swayed on his feet a little. "When was the last time you got a decent night's sleep?"
"3 days ago," muttered Rorschach.
"No wonder you look like shit," Dan replied with a smirk. "You're practically dead on your feet."
"Best not give the deceased any ideas, Daniel," Rorschach said. There was a tiny glimmer of humor noticeable in his voice. "They might choose to drag me down with them. My mother especially."
Dan smiled, pushing his glasses up the bridge of his nose as he spoke.
"C'mon, I'll drive you home."
Rorschach's mask swirled, the symmetrical patterns warping, shifting.
"…Thank you," he said after a pause. "Nearly daybreak. It'll be risky getting back into my apartment without the whore seeing."
"My landlady, Dolores Shairp. She is a whore."
Dan looked taken aback at Rorschach's words.
"That seems a little harsh, don't you think?" Dreiburg asked as he and Rorschach walked to the parked car outside the cemetery gates. Rorschach let out a weak chuckle as he slid into the passenger seat.
"Truth hurts," he said simply. "That woman reminds me of my mother, who, mind you, was a whore."
"You are aware that there is a thing called therapy, right?" Dan asked as he started the engine.
"Wouldn't do me any good," Rorschach said. "I already know I am beyond saving."
Dan sighed, silently shaking his head. Why Rorschach was even allowed in the Crimebusters was something he'd never fully understand. Not to say that he wasn't a good man. He was strange, socially cold. It was as though he didn't understand people's emotions.
As Dan neared stopped at a red light, he was surprised to see that Rorschach had his head pressed against the window, his breath fogging the window through the mask. He'd fallen asleep. Dan smirked, pulling into his driveway. He opened the passenger door, grabbed Rorschach by the shoulder.
"C'mon, Rorschach, I'll let you crash at my place."
"Hurm…?" muttered the masked man sleepily. He could barely walk; Dan practically had to drag him inside. Rorschach collapsed exhaustedly onto the sofa, pulling off his mask. Dan got a spare blanket from a linen closet in the spare bedroom and draped it over him. The now unmasked Rorschach gave a weak smile and a quiet, thankful "Hurm."
"G'night, buddy," said Dan quietly.