I cannot for the life of me understand why I like Rorschach so much. Maybe it's because at the end of the day, he's the only one still fighting for what he believes is right. The movie was fantastic (GO JACKIE EARL HALEY!) and I just about wept at that final scene, mostly because of JEH's perfomance. The fearful and yet defiant look in his eyes stunned me too much with how powerful it was.
I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed every moment of that movie. (Well, except for the extraneously long sex scene in Archie. That was..not okay. Was two pages in the book.)
I own nothing. As far as which universe this is--bookverse, with maybe a tinge of movie verse if you squint. I sense a lot of Watchmen stuff coming from me soon, mostly about Rorschach because I've got a few ideas/would like to try writing him more.
Spoilers, obviously, but guys, seriously. Book's twenty-something years old now. You should all have read it by now.
Also wrote a majority of this while listening to "Odalisque" by the Decemberists--dark and moody and very neat. The title's from one of the lines.
Summary: They are 35 achingly long minutes too late, and soon blood will be on all their hands, but for one.
Rorschach was not a fearful man, as Walter Kovacs had been. He was alert, always on his toes, which many (including his former partner) called paranoia. Rorshach disregarded this because they simply couldn't see how wretched and filthy the city was, always had been. He hated pity, he hated thanks, and never stayed around long enough for the victims whom he rescued to say anything.
And yet it was not unfamiliar to him--he'd seen it in the eyes of those he'd taken down with all the ferocity of a wild dog. He'd seen it in Dan's eyes on a case one night. A drug dealer had been tracking down a young girl, spewing crude and disgusting propositions. The heroes had surprised the man, who immediately pulled a gun.
The dealer shot at Dan, and missed. Rorschach swiftly took him down with a kick and a right hook to the jaw. The girl scrambled away, but the dealer, gun still tight in his grip, shot at her. The bullet caught her thigh, and Rorschach could hear the crack of her femur splintering in its path.
Dan had scrambled after the girl, who lay howling in pain. Blood boiling, Rorschach brought a boot down on the man's wrist, shattering the tiny bones in most of his hand. He did not allow the man up, only grinding his hand into the pavement further. The shapes on his mask shifted in fury as he reached down and grabbed the man by his collar. Size belying his strength, Rorshach hauled the man off his feet. Already, the dealer's hand was a swollen, pulpy mass. Beneath his mask, Rorschach growled.
Dan observed in a cautious silence, the girl shaking in his arms because of the shock. He lifted her and dashed toward Archie, watching in passing as Rorschach charged the man into a wall, heard the crack of bone breaking. The man was a bloody mess, all swollen and unrecognizable from what he had looked like before. When the masked man finally let him go, he scrambled to his feet, trying to run.
Rorschach merely grabbed the arm he had not decimated and twisted it behind the man. He brought a gloved hand up to a certain point, and merely pushed. Beneath the dealer's shirt, the dislocation of his shoulder was quite evident. And yet Rorschach showed no sign of stopping.
The girl safely tucked into the passenger's seat, Dan jumped from Archie and pulled the masked man away from the drug dealer, whose fear carried him away on the wind. A fist connected with Dan's head (thankfully protected by the cowl of his costume), and several more strikes landed on his person before Rorschach realized who had interrupted him. Dan touched a hand to his nose, bleeding and broken.
Rorschach's face and body language were unreadable, but he managed a "Sorry. Didn't realize it was you" before turning and walking away.
A touch of remorse in the voice. But not much. Rorschach is sorry, honestly. There is fear in Dan's eyes. Dan does not see that scum who threaten children are worse than anything else. Does not understand that anyone who comes into his personal space is often trying to kill him. That it was self defense. Usually was better around Daniel, though (he was the only one Rorschach would allow to tend his wounds besides himself). But the damage is done.
A month or so after that, Daniel quits. Rorschach does not. They don't meet again until Eddie Blake is thrown from his apartment to the streets below.
Until Rorschach's 'paranoia' gets to Daniel (and the second Silk Spectre), too.
When Doctor Manhattan leaves Earth.
When Veidt is at the heart of it all.
When they are thirty-five achingly long minutes too late. Standing there, cold and sore, he hears the conversations around him. How Veidt "saved earth from hell". How they can "never tell". News reports on Veidt's wall of myriad televisions create a din that Rorschach wishes he could ignore, because in his heart he knows his answer to all of this. For the first time in a long while, the fear creeps up his spine. He wonders, distantly, if it's the fear of death.
"How...how can humans make decisions like this? We're damned if we stay quiet, Earth's doomed if we don't. We..."
"Count me in. We say nothing".
For a moment, Dan looks at him, confused.
He really did know Rorschach better than he thought.
"Joking, of course. "
He turns towards the door. Hears Dan saying they have to compromise. Saying it's too big to be 'hard-assed' about.
"Never compromise. Not even in the face of Armageddon."
Rorschach walks towards the door, out to the snow. The bottom drops out of his stomach, because he knows Dr. Manhattan is following behind him.
There's the owlship, a few hundred yards away.
He knows he'll never make it. He will still try. Each step feels heavy.
"Where are you going?" the superman asks. Rorschach wonders why he asks a question he knows the answer to. He answers, biting his cheek hard. The fear is creeping around his heart, making his head swim. Tears are imminent.
"Back to owlship. Back to America. Evil must be punished. People must be told."
It is the truth. Despite the hate, despite the war that would most certainly follow, despite the fact that he himself would most certainly end up dead. Because it was wrong on every level for Veidt to play God and sacrifice innocent along with unclean.
"You know I can't let you do that."
There is no sentiment in the statement at all. No judgement. Tears prick Rorschach's eyes. He reaches for the bottom of his mask, peeling it away from his face, tears wet on his cheeks. Of course Manhattan can't let him go. There is no way to get away. Never could have been.
"One more body amongst foundations makes little difference," Rorschach's voice drips with anger and bitterness. He looks up.
Manhattan was hesitating. Behind his odd, shining eyes, a hint of emotion.
"Well, what are you waiting for? Do it."
It is the first time the vigilante sees the blue man hesitate.
It will also be the last. His hat is on the ground, his face in his hands. In the antarctic winds, the tears are only momentarily warm and wet on his cheeks.
The heroes are sacrificing one of their own. He is afraid that no one will ever know. Perhaps it is fitting the world may never know he tried to tell them.
He is saddened that now his blood is on their hands. His death on their souls.
A sudden, blinding pain. Then it's over.
Rorschach is dead.
Yet, so far away, so much later, his journal rests in the crank file at the New Frontiersman. A hand pulls it from the basket, flips it open.
Rorschach is alive.