Heheh, so funny story. I was browsing fanfiction on here and came across a Watchmen fic that I really liked. I read the whole thing and came to this cliffhanger that SUCKED. So in my rage I yelled "Why the hell hasn't the author updated?" and checked to see who it was so I could properly express my distaste. Guess who it was? Yeah, it was me. I read my own story without realizing it and wanted to send myself an angry review insisting that I update. Isn't that pathetic?
On the other hand, it led me to update, didn't it?
Anyways, here's the next chapter. I hope there are still some of you out there in cyberspace who are interested in it, because I sure am!
Disclaimer: Why do we need these if I already established that I don't own these guys? Whatever...
Once again Daniel Dreiberg found himself wondering why he bothered with it all. No matter what he did, all he could ever hope to receive was the pain and the blood and the sadness that came with knowing that the one you wanted to help more than anyone else would only end up being the one who hurt the most.
As he sat there on the floor among the wreckage of his living room, Daniel wondered what would have happened if he had simply left Rorschach in the alley. He wasn't a hero anymore, he shouldn't have been forced to take up the mantle of the protector just to save a man that had become more of a mask than a human. It was all wrong, and Daniel just wanted to know when he could wake up from it all and go back to being normal.
But he couldn't wake up. Not while Rorschach was lying in his bed, knocked back into oblivion by his own bare fists. It wasn't his fault he had mistaken the masked vigilante for an intruder, but boy did he feel like he messed up. Daniel had the undeniable urge to call up someone, anyone, and have them take the responsibility for what he had done. But his phone had been smashed to pieces in the skirmish, and not one would be able to handle Rorschach as a patient. Hell, he could hardly handle Rorschach and they had been partners for years.
What had happened over the years that could make him act like this? Daniel had hung up the cape and the cowl, retired along with the other masks, and abandoned Rorschach to the streets. He had felt horrible at the time and felt extremely guilty now, but it had been time. Rorschach couldn't see that it was time for Nite Owl to disappear and become just a memory in their minds, a memento of what could be ironically called the 'happier days'.
Sure, being just plain old Daniel Dreiberg could be boring at times, but at least he got to sleep at night and didn't wake up in the morning with bruises and blood under his fingernails. He didn't have the dreams anymore where he and Rorschach flew over a city bathed in blood and fought tooth and nail to rise up over the growing piles of bodies, only to reach the top and realize that, after it was all said and done, it was just the two of them left in the world.
He had both loathed and loved those dreams.
Hollis had understood to a certain degree, and yet he would never understand completely. The first Nite Owl hadn't been forced to retire in his prime, hadn't been locked down by a government imposed act. Hollis had been able to live out his dreams and was not haunted by the glory days of who he had once been.
The first Nite Owl also didn't have a slightly psychotic ex-partner on his mind every day of the year since retirement. Or, if he had, Hollis did not speak about it. There was no ignoring the guilt that lingered in the back of his mind ever since he told Rorschach he would be facing the world alone from now on. And although he tried not to think about it, that irritatingly hypnotic face of black and white haunted him daily.
And now look where he was. Daniel Dreiberg, once the powerful Nite Owl, was reduced to a broken man sniveling among the wreckage of his past. He had tried to help Rorschach, sure, but was it really because his partner needed it? Or was it because he needed it?
With a groan Daniel rested his head in his hands, trying to ignore the way his heart seemed to skip a beat when he remembered the way Rorschach felt in his arms. So cliché, so... school-boyish, and yet he could not stop remembering what had happened. Would he have been so daringly stupid if he was still Nite Owl?
"Just... just make it stop." Daniel muttered, forcing himself to start cleaning up. "It was a bad idea. It's over and done with."
What a lie. How could he keep lying to himself? He knew that the second he ventured into that bedroom he would thrown back into the painful past and the lingering hope that stained the future.
Cleaning up wasn't much of a chore. Most of the furniture could be repaired or replaced, and what was still stable could be moved to cover the bloodstained carpet until he could get it cleaned. Rorschach really did a number on the burglars, which wasn't very surprising, but he was worried about leaving the vigilante alone again, even if it would only be for an hour to go get groceries or check on Hollis.
Maybe he could let Hollis in on this secret? The elder crimefighter would have some ideas, he was sure of it, and could be certainly trusted to keep quiet about the whole thing until Rorschach was better. Daniel could keep his own mouth shut about their recent change in relationship, while Rorschach would most likely try to ignore the whole chain of events and pretend that nothing happened.
Quickly he hauled the bodies to the basement, intending to dispose of them somewhere farther along in the sewers when he had a moment. Not that he had much experience doing so, since he tended to keep his criminals alive for the authorities, but with Rorschach's certain... violent tendencies he had to, at least for this one time, put his own morals aside to keep them both safe. Hopefully the dead men would not be missed and Daniel would never have to worry about something like this again.
After it was all said and done, Daniel found himself in the bedroom again. He hardly dared to breathe as he watched Rorschach sleep, looking more peaceful than ever.
"Kind of funny how much it took for you to finally get some rest, isn't it?" Daniel said softly, taking a seat next to the bed. "And now I just want you to wake up."
Rorschach responded with steady breathing, edging on a light snore. Daniel continued, safely assured that the other man was out cold.
"I'm... I'm sorry that I hurt you like that. In a lot of ways I think I deserved to take the punishment you did. I didn't realize how much you meant to me." Great, now he was starting to sound like those guys in the bad romance movies that aired on cable TV.
"Uh... I mean that I appreciate you, and I don't want to have to say goodbye again... aw hell, this isn't coming out right at all." With a sigh he sat back in his chair and wondered what the hell he was doing. It wasn't as if Rorschach could hear him, so why was he even speaking?
Tentatively he reached out over the bedspread and inched his fingers over to Rorschach's, noting the bruises and old scars. Night after night of punching criminals in the face would definitely leave noticeable scars, both on the inside and out.
Then, in a burst of recklessness, he closed the gap between their hands. Rorschach didn't move.
This would have to be the last time he did this, Daniel realized, or else the questions and longing would just drive him crazy. They weren't meant for each other. Hell, he doubted that anyone would be able (or crazy enough) to handle Rorschach in any capacity; he was just too intense for normal people. Daniel, on the other hand, could slip into normalcy and find someone in the world to be with, pushing the superhero persona into the dark recesses of his mind and leave it there for good. Rorschach couldn't do that.
There was always that pain, that doubt of actions, that kept Daniel from letting go. He couldn't leave Rorschach behind as much as he could leave the Nite Owl uniform in the closet: they were both a part of him that he could not take away. In this screwed up world it was clear that while they were both as messed up as human beings could get, at the end of it all they had was each other. There was a reason why they both became crimefighters, why they both scoured the streets in the dead of night to try and make a difference. That drive brought them together and would keep them together no matter how much either man protested. Even if Rorschach didn't see that, Daniel did, and for the time being that was good enough for him.
Rorschach's fingers twitched in his sleep, closing briefly on Daniel's before relaxing again. Hopefully his recovery wouldn't take as long as feared. There was something about the masked vigilante that defied normal human limits on any given day, and Daniel prayed that it also applied to healing from grievous wounds quicker than most.
After a while of watching his partner Daniel finally let out a sigh and let his fingers uncurl from Rorschach's hand. Might as well start the motions towards normalcy and hope that by acting as if he didn't mean to cause more harm to the man than good, Rorschach would understand and not kill him when he woke up. He stood and made his way across the darkened room, not bothering to look back.
"Daniel." The interrupting voice was so soft Daniel almost didn't hear it.
"Don't go." It was only two words, but something in his voice made Daniel freeze and wonder who it was that was speaking from under the mask. Clearly this wasn't Rorschach. The Rorschach he knew wouldn't be speaking to him after what had transpired over the past few days.
"What?" Daniel asked, turning back around.
"Don't... leave. Want you here." Rorschach barely breathed the words, but Daniel was over at his side, incredulously staring down at the mask as if he could pick up some sort of visual cue as to what was going on.
"Okay, I'm not going anywhere if you don't want me to." Dan took a seat again, trying not to invade his personal space and yet wanting to get closer with every passing moment.
A heartbeat. Rorschach rolled over onto his side, facing Dan. "Good."
And for the first time in days Daniel felt himself smile.
Wow. Sorry there isn't much action in this scene, but when one vigilante is having a mental crisis and the other is recovering from being pummeled by his friend, there isn't a lot going on outside of their own minds.
And what the heck is Rorschach doing? Could he be actually... forgiving Dan to some degree? What?
Reviews are greatly appreciated! Let me know what you think! Questions, comments, fangirl (and boy) rants, I welcome them! I'm going to stop yelling now and will try to update in the near future!