Author's Notes: Criticisms are totally welcome. I'm not a professional writer. I do know the canon though, and by god, I am trying to treat it with the respect it deserves.
Also, please keep in mind several things:
1.) This is not set in the modern day. The attitudes of people are NOT the same as they are today. While it may seem weird or unthinkable, the whole 'honor your mother and father' thing was very very important to Christians, especially Catholics.
2.) There's *gasp* racism in here. It's not the focus of the piece, but again, it's a period piece.
3.) I tend to be heavy on description and internal dialogue. I'm trying to keep things pared down to what I think is necessary for the story only though, so if you see something you don't understand or think shouldn't be in there, tell me. I won't yell and scream and throw a tantrum-I want to keep things as short as I can, otherwise, this will be fifty thousand words easily. Urgh on that!
4.) Rorschach, or should I say Walter, may seem a bit OOC. Again, this is MY take on a certain... bit of the book, which will come clear later on. We don't have a clear view on how Walter actually thought or felt, just that he seemed more or less normal, and talked in complete sentences, and didn't like being around women. His misogyny didn't really come into the forefront until after he became Rorschach... or so I think. But it was always there. We just don't know for sure, really, but he did have a certain view of what was right and what was wrong. I'll guarantee that ugly SOB never had a date though. :P
5.) I'm not QUITE sure how the sweat shops would work, and I'm not quite sure on what sort of "garment shop" Walter worked at. I did what research I could (not going to devote days to a fanfic piece, sorry) and came up with something that seemed reasonable to me.
6.) This deals with very adult material. Kids probably shouldn't be reading some of it.
With that said, enjoy.
It was hot and dirty in 1961. August, always a hot month, seemed particularly unbearable in the shop. Alana didn't want to work there, but she hadn't much of a choice. Times were tough, and this was the only job she could get, being just one in the nameless masses. At sixteen, she lied about her age to get in, but the boss didn't care too much. Her fingers were dextrous and skilled in needlepoint for the fine detail work on dresses.
She cherished her late mother's lessons in needlepoint. Her mother had died too soon, only a few months ago. Her father had taken it hard and began drinking. Soon, he was drinking down each paycheck, and as a result, Alana grew up too quickly. She took care of him as best she could, but she wasn't an adult, and not his wife. Too often, he stayed out at nights, doing lord knew what at the pubs and whorehouses.
Starting at the garment shop, she was nervous, but bobbed her head, saying 'Yes, sir' and 'Thank you, sir' at everything her boss said. The job seemed to be easy enough; all she was to do was embroidery, the faster the better. It wasn't so bad...but it was dreadfully hot. She had pinned her Irish red hair back into a sensible bun and wore a light dress and still she roasted. The bodies packed together, and the smell... it was enough to gag a horse. She smiled tremulously though, afraid of upsetting the boss, every time he looked at her. But the job was simple enough; no, she had no questions.
Alana was shown around by the other women-and it was all women who did the fine filigree work on the special order dresses, though there were plenty of men working here, out on the floor-and it was all simple enough. Someone would drop off a package of dresses-if they were working on the mass produced variety-or a single dress with instructions at her work station. She would do the work, and someone else would pick them up. The faster she could complete them, the more she would get paid as she was paid by the piece. Because of the intricacy of the work, in general, the commission was better than those out on the floor, but still nothing to write home about. As she settled in with a package of dresses, all the same design to be done on them, it got hotter and hotter. Sweat trickled down her back, making her dress itch. The work itself was a breeze, and she finished a design in fifteen minutes. The next, seventeen, and so on... until her fingers ached from repetition. It was awful, but at the end of the first day, the boss smiled at her and complimented her on her work. All of her pieces had stood up to inspection, and there were quite a few of them. The first day was probably the best one. The longer she worked there, the more her fingers and back ached, even after she got home to soak them in a bowl of hot water. She began to feel like an old woman, and it was only a week! The first paycheck she got, however, made her feel ten feet tall. Her father might be dropping the ball, but she would take care of both of them.
Alana floated home, throwing her coat down on the davenport as she entered the small apartment shared by her and her father. He was watching television, a televised fight. "Whars fer supper?" he drawled. Drunk already, but she paid it no never mind. "A bit of liver with onions, and potatoes," she replied, heading immediately into the kitchen.
"I'm sick o' liver," her father grumbled. "It's what we have," Alana replied, taking the pans out. Her father liked his meals prompt, and she hurried to get something cooking. "I can add a hamburger patty if you like."
"I doan want no hamburger," her father said from the doorway, lurching there as the alcohol was unsteadying him. He approached her and she deftly stepped away. Lately, he'd been looking at her in unseemly ways, and she hoped he'd just decide to go out. She was a decent Christian woman after all, and the things she'd heard on the streets...it was unthinkable.
He watched her as she cooked, and when she finally was able to shoo him out of the kitchen, she breathed a sigh of relief. It wasn't until later when Patrick and his daughter were having dinner that it started again. It was just a look, left too long on her face, moving down. She wore demure clothing, though she could make much nicer, more ... modern clothes if she wanted. It made her uncomfortable, men staring. Him staring...
The awkward dinner finished, and Alana got up to clear the table. Her father watched her as she busied herself with the dishes, only getting up to refresh his glass of whiskey. She hated it when he drank whiskey-beer seemed to mellow him out, but the whiskey-nights were when he stared at her. After she finished, she smiled pleasantly at him, forcing herself to see him as her father instead of some stranger drunk, and excused herself for bed. She always took a shower at night, and again in the morning, at least in the summer. It was too hot, and she always woke sweat soaked. The only fan in the house was in her father's room, which he sometimes carried out into the living room when he was watching the television. She dressed in her nightgown, cotton and rather heavy, but it made her feel safer, more like the little girl she used to be. It was a silly thought, but she couldn't imagine doing otherwise. Maria, her spic friend, said she sometimes slept naked, and that thought shocked Alana. Then again, the spics were all like that, and she bet Maria just said those sorts of things because it was daring. Alana wished she was that daring at times, but most of the time her sensibilities intervened. Besides, it wasn't Catholic to be daring; rather keep your head down and obey God and your parents. She soon fell into a light doze, thinking these thoughts.
Somewhere, a dog howled, but it was the shadow in her room which woke her. Alana sat up in bed, and wiped sleep from her eyes as the shadow lurched towards her. It was her father. "Father...?" It wasn't the first time he'd done this.
He sat down on the bed hard. Muffled sounds came from him, his hands over his face. He was crying, and mumbling to himself. Alana patted his back and rested her cheek on his shoulder. "It's alright," she said, trying to soothe him.
He wrapped his arms around her, and wept. She couldn't make out much, except her mother's name, and how much he missed her. "I can't.. raishe... I missh you, Bonnie..." She tried to comfort him as best she could, with soothing words and pats, and he nestled further in her embrace.
Wetness tickled along her collarbone, and she shivered, despite the heat. Her father's posture had changed, and the wetness she felt wasn't tears. Alana froze, feeling shadows shift and play in her mind as they did on the wall, flickering in the reflected neon light. A low sound escaped her throat; that was all she could manage to do to say no, or to even ask what he was doing. Some instinct in her knew what he was doing, and she couldn't wrap her mind around it. His grip changed and she seemed to shrink as he swelled.
The rest was darkness.
It was hot in the sweat shop, but that wasn't what gave Walter discomfort. The package he was carrying, the bundles of cloth made to look like a woman, a pack of women, made his flesh crawl, but he'd be rid of it soon enough. Even as that thought crossed his mind, he approached the basket at the new girl's station. He dropped the sheaf of cloth in her basket. When he did so, she looked up and smiled briefly at him, just a flicker of her lips. The rest of her looked awful. Dark circles lined her eyes, making the normal brown color look almost black. Her hair was done in the usual bun, but sloppily; her clothing, dishelved. It was enough of a deviation even he noticed.
Noticed for a moment anyway, then it was back to work. Walter worked steadily, knowing enough to pace himself to make it through the day without being totally exhausted. It was easy enough, repetitive work, but during the summer in these conditions... exhausting. He hated the stink of the place, but he resolutely put it out of his mind. One task after another. It was necessary but distasteful work. He filled his mind with what he'd do afterwards. First, he'd go down to the gym. He liked it there. At twenty-one, he was in his prime. Fit and muscled, he kept in shape by boxing. There were a few fellows there whom he didn't mind being around so much. It was a rough comrarderie, and something he didn't have much of in his life: a feeling of belonging. Although he was short and seemingly small, the joes at the gym respected his ferocity in the ring. There was even some talk that maybe he should enlist in the minor leagues for boxing.
It was a pipe dream though, and not something he dwelled on too much. The surroundings of the boxing matches turned him off. The smoke, the booze, the noise, the crowds, the ... immorality. He didn't want to be a part of that. All of the fights were rumored to be fixed by the mob, and he'd never throw a fight. Sometimes, though, it was pleasant to think about it.
After that, with a pleasant ache in his limbs, he might walk by the library and make use of his library card. He didn't care for television- they were too expensive anyway-but books could take him anywhere. He most preferred nonfiction, but rarely he'd induldge in a modern detective novel, trying to figure out the whodunit. More often than not, he was right-the authors were usually transparant, and not very practical. His favorite, however, was Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and the famous Sherlock Holmes. Those mysteries, written so long ago in a more innocent age, drew him. The partnership between Holmes and Watson, going from case to case, fingering the guilty and the wicked, and casting them to jail. It was the closest thing to a fantasy he had since childhood, but again, not anything he dwelled on often. Most of the time, he read nonfiction...dry boring books most would call them, but a keen mind would serve him well, and it helped him escape from the drudgery of his daily life.
Before he knew it, the day was done. He shuffled over in line with the rest of the sheep, punched his card, and exited. By coincidence, he was right behind the new girl. He didn't notice though, until a couple of his coworkers caught his attention from behind.
"She's a fine piece, e'nt she?" one of them said, ribbing the other. Walter waited paitiently for the line to shuffle through to freedom.
"She looks all proper," the other replied.
"Nah, she's Irish, all of them are Catholic, y'know," the first replied.
"What's that got to do with anything?"
"They don't make you wear rubbers," the first said with an air of authority around him. "They're all sluts." He elbowed the second one, "Didn't you ever hear anything about what goes on in Catholic schools?"
Walter frowned slightly at this patter, but the line was opening up as people walked outside. He was ten feet from freedom, if that. "No... we're Protestant." The second sounded confused, but intrigued. All of them, filth, Walter thought, disgusted by the conversation. Almost free.
"Trust me," the first continued, "if you want to get laid, get a Catholic girl." He nudged his buddy. "Ask her out. I bet she'll say yes."
"I don't know," the second muttered, but their opportunity was gone. She had been ahead of them, and was through the door before they into the warm summer afternoon. Walter moved away from them as soon as he could, the chatter fading into background noise. He walked at a brisk pace, making the conversation fade from his mind. The gym was ahead, that was what he should think about. Ignore the sinners and the filth. It wasn't any of his business how they lived, but he didn't want it to touch him. It was unclean to think about it. As he passed the bus stop, a flash of red from the corner of his eye and a sob as the girl cried her eyes out almost made him rethink his resolution for a second. But the gym was waiting.
Time passed, and things didn't get any better. She would make them better. Alana didn't dwell on the darkness, and the things which happened therin. Instead, she pinned her hopes on the checks, squirreling money away when she could, hiding it from her father. As time went on, things only got worse when he first hit her for resisting, saying No in a wavering voice.
After that, hardly a day went by without at least a slap. She pretended it didn't happen. Even when faced with the mirror every day, she powdered her face as normal and exited, head held as high as she could manage. It wasn't her father who did that. It couldn't be. It was the shadows.
The funny thing was... no one noticed, or if they did, they pretended right along with her. How that happened she had no idea, but she was thankful for it. Why these things happened to her, she didn't know. She had a dim idea her father was a sick, sick man, but this was not the sort of thing people brought up in polite conversation. The situation was unbearable, but what else could she do? She couldn't live on her own, though, and while she had few friends, none of them could help support her either. Her only real hope was to marry out of the household...or save enough money to just up and leave. But then, what would happen to Patrick? It was a daughter's obligation to honor her parents. Her... father. And if anyone knew...
Those boys at work. Those men. They knew. They knew how dirty she was. She'd broken down that day at the bus stop, drawing sympathetic looks from the driver, and a few of the other passengers. They didn't ask questions. No one did. It wasn't their business. Everyone pretended along with her.
A few days later, and she was back to her old self on the outside. Inside, she ruthlessly squashed every memory of what had happened...at least until she was home again, and the shadows approached. Consequently, she spent as much time at work as she could, her two lives seperating as if cut by a scalpel. Work wasn't pleasant, but it was honest and pure. The less said about home, the better.
Once she was able to relax slightly while working and look around, there were a lot of people there, just as miserable as she was, yet they made the best of it. Resolute, she concentrated on work. As the weeks passed, she learned to pace herself rather than trying to finish everything as fast as she could. A few rejects because of sloppiness taught her it was better to be accurate rather than fast, but best to be both. The people around her were from all ethnicities, but they all blended in as the same after a while. She listened to the women chatter in their work area, talking about their families and their sons and their husbands. Alana smiled her smile, and tried to participate, relating stories about her mother. Mostly she stayed quiet, but enjoyed the talk. It was a soothing balm, achingly normal.
The only other person she saw on a regular basis (other than the payroll clerk as he handed out the checks) was the man who dropped off the parcels in the respective baskets, delivering the orders as the dresses came off the floor. He never looked at her. He never looked at the other women. He just did his job and that was all. He seemed the perfect robot, programmed to do one task and that was it. It was the blandness which made him noticeable to her. He stood out among the others, who tried to get along with each other. Even during breaks, he stayed apart from everyone, looking like a car parked in neutral. Some other guy clapped him on the back once, and the redhead flinched from the friendly contact. A mild look of distaste had crossed his face, there and gone in a blink. He had put it someplace else so swiftly no one else but her noticed.
When she was sporting a new bruise, even if it couldn't be seen, it was felt. The despair kept her on the edge of tears. Alana gripped her control with what strength she could, but some days it was so hard to stay neutral. To stay bland. That he could, and did, every day amazed her. She resolved to be like him: a robot. Just doing one task after another. And so she took to studying him.
Being naturally friendly, Alana couldn't help but to smile at him at first. She smiled at everyone, getting an answering one in return more often than not. It was habit more than anything else, something her mother had told her, to soften people with a smile. Heck, she used it on her father when she needed something, and sometimes it even worked. Even when people didn't smile back, it was hard to resist smiling at them. He never responded. Never looked at her.
She studied his face, the lankness of his expression. It wasn't tense. He was relaxed, or as much as he could be. The more she looked, the more positive she was that he didn't want to be here, but she was never able to pin it down. It was... bland. A blank slate. A still pond. Underneath the water though, she could sense something undefined, yet familiar. His eyes seemed empty, but not dead. He saw his surroundings, seemed alert most of the time. Unemotional was what he came across as. Once she thought she saw some gratitude in his eyes when the boss was talking to him, but she had been too far away to tell for certain. He was ugly as sin. Oh, his body was in good shape. Most of the women were envious of the men who could get away with wearing just an undershirt while they were working, so she couldn't help but to notice his muscles, but he was ugly. A face only a mother could love. He must have some private hurt, she pondered. Like me. Most women would turn away from him, except for prostitutes. How awful it would be to have to pay for love, which surely must be his secret shame. Yet he never let it show. He brushed off his surroundings as if they didn't exist.
She emulated him, as best she could. She let her features relax, and emptied her eyes of everything. Feeling utterly silly, she practiced in the mirror, trying to erase all the knowledge in her eyes. She couldn't. It was there every time she looked, but less and less every day.
"You don't smile anymore," he said abruptly.
The girl looked up at him in some surprise, and Walter himself was surprised. However, in the weeks and months she had worked here, she had always smiled at him. It was a fragile thing, but she had always looked at him and smiled as the pieces of cloth were dropped off. It made him uncomfortable at first, wondering if she wanted ... something from him. It made him think of his mother, and he got angry. Through years of practice at the home and later at work, he didn't show it, but inside he was seething. The feeling was an angry beast which demanded an outlet. He worked out extra heavily at the gym those early days, always thinking of his mother, beating out his aggression until the smile was out of his mind.
Then... sometime around November, the smile started to fade. It was never very bright to begin with, sometimes just a quirk of the lips, but it got smaller and smaller. His anger receded and he realized she was watching him. Studying. The why of it escaped him. He knew what he looked like. The girls from his youth and their taunts rang in his head still. He expected her to make the same remarks, and tensed every time he came near her. She never did though; barely spoke two words to him at all. Once he applied logic, he realized it wasn't that. She... was being friendly.
That was something he had to turn over in his mind a few times, examining it from every angle. No woman had ever just been friendly, except for a couple of teachers who had felt sorry for him. He didn't need their pity. Didn't want it. The look in her eyes wasn't pity though, but envy, and that threw everything off. Why should she be envious of him? It made no sense. It was a puzzle, and as much as he hated to admit it, he wanted to solve it. Not because he cared for her-far from-but because it was there, and it was something to distract him from work. It wasn't the best distraction, but someone envying him... anyone envying him, was mind boggling.
"I...I'm sorry, sir, I need to get back to work." And she bent back to work, but he could sense she had wanted to say something else. Interesting. Walter went about his duties, turning the problem over in his head. His lip curled up in a sneer as he thought about it-she was Catholic, those others had said. All women were like that though; it didn't matter what religion they were. Time passed slowly that day for him, and each time he passed near delivering a parcel or even just crossing the room, he saw her watching him, like a freak. She's like the others, he thought. She wasn't being friendly. She was trying to corrupt him.
It was getting intolerable. Walter missed those smiles-it was rare when he saw one just for him, being polite or not-but likely it was because of some ulterior motive. Months had gone by since she started; she was just setting him up for something. No, she couldn't be; she didn't even know him, and she didn't notice him outside of work anyway. Yes, there had to be a reason. Agitated, he decided to see what kind of woman she was-though he knew already. He just needed proof, then he could set himself at ease again. He punched out, but he lingered behind, waiting in the shadow of the building for her to walk out. He followed a good ways behind. If nothing else, following her was a good test of his shadowing skills. Instead of going to the bus stop, she walked past, her footsteps dragging. He watched her posture slump with each pace, until her shoulders were hunched together.
They arrived, her before him of course, at a shabby apartment building not unlike his own. She entered, and he watched for lights to come on. After a few minutes, he was not disappointed. Shadows moved behind the curtains, back and forth. Other lights came on, went off. Dogs barked. Cars passed. Walter watched, not quite sure he was watching the right window, but pretty sure. It would be better if he climbed on the fire escape, but it was too early in the evening. People would notice.
"This is useless," he chided himself, muttering. Time passed.
A stray breeze lifted the curtains for a moment, showing a glimpse of red, a head bent over the sink in concentration. She washed dishes, oblivious to his presence. A garbled shout may or may not have come from there, but her head jerked up, and he was back to watching shadows. Another, larger, shadow entered. Her shadow shifted, turning, until he could see her back when the wind lifted the curtains again for a brief second. A sharp, fast movement and her shadow cringed.
"Hurm," he murmured, thoughts racing. Another movement. And another. Walter left.
She wasn't at work the next day.
The day after had been nothing but pain. Alana'd blacked out during. She didn't know what set him off. It didn't matter anymore. December had blown in yesterday with a vengeance. It seemed the wind howled her pain, but that was probably all just in her mind. The blood had rushed to her ears right away, and again after he boxed them. She didn't leave her bed the next day, except to crawl once to the bathroom to pee. The next day was better, and it was normally her day off. She was able to get to the shower and wash up, fearful of him entering any second. However, he seemed to be gone, and hadn't been back since the beating. For the life of her, she didn't know what she said to set him off. She'd talked about maybe getting a steak for dinner the next night, to celebrate the weekend. The next thing, bam. What was so bad about steak? she wondered.
In the afternoon, she called her boss from a payphone. People stared at her. Alana ignored them as best she could. She explained she had an accident, and she was sorry she didn't call, and begged for her job. Her boss was no fool though. He knew. He told her her paycheck would be penalized, but that she would be needed back at work on Monday.
That taken care of, she went for a walk. She wandered by the park, up the street, not sure of where she was going. When she stopped in front of the police station, she knew. She wanted to turn him in. This had gone on for months now, this and the other. She started to walk away, then walked back, pacing almost across the street from the station. An internal dialogue consumed her.
He's beating me.
He's my father.
He hurts me.
Honor your mother and your father.
He... does things.
It's not fair.
He's my father... he's not supposed to hurt me.
He just misses my mother.
I didn't do anything to deserve this.
I love him.
Please, please God.
Alana couldn't. She had almost a hundred dollars saved. She could just move out, after a while. Get away. She'd have to. Walking stiffly away from the station, she stifled her tears. Moving out would have to do. She couldn't turn him in. She would just have to suffer through it.
On Monday, everyone pretended with her again. Eyes slid away from her blackened eyes and bandage on her cheek from where her skin had split. She left her hair down this time to hide some of it, and wanted to wear dark glasses, no matter how ludicrous they looked... except she needed to be able to see. She worked slowly that day, hiding behind her work.
"You don't smile." His voice. She jerked her head up, clenching her jaw. She was suddenly angry. Angry that he was so blank, angry that he was there, taunting her. What in the hell did she have to smile about? She was furious he was able to hide his secret self away and she had to wear hers on her face. All of that must have played across her face, her emotions spilling out for everyone to see.
His head canted ever so slightly to the side. "You should." And then he smiled. It wasn't much, and she might have imagined it, but the corners of his mouth turned up, just the tiniest bit. His eyes changed, echoing her pain, but at that point tears blurred her sight, and he walked away, having deposited his parcel. Someone noticed. Someone understood.
There was a shipment of cloth in May 1962 which fascinated Walter. It was part of a special order, which meant the bolt of cloth had to be special ordered. He was lucky enough to be the one who unpacked it, and delivered it to the seamstresses. It was beautiful. White and black, ever changing, but never mixing. It hypnotized him, and for the first time, he dallied at his work, not wanting to part with the beautiful fabric. It was something that seemed to click inside him, the thought of things being so clearly delineated. Black and white, no grey at all. It reminded him of simpler times.
Reluctantly, he went to the seamstresses. The redhead with no name who smiled at him (and did every time she saw him now after he said what he did), stood up to help him with the bundle. He motioned her away, but she blinked when seeing the cloth. "What's this?"
"A bolt for a special order," he replied. "It's pretty thin, maybe enough for two, three garments. At the most." He didn't mind her anymore, now that he knew the why of her, having solved the puzzle. The smiles didn't bother him at all. She was... pure. In a bad position, sure, but innocent enough. Life was hard, for everyone. It wasn't any of his business anyway, but he understood why he was drawn to her. It was an imperfect reflection, and it made it impossible to be totally aloof even though she was female.
"It's... beautiful," she murmured, running her hand over the fabric, changing the pattern in the cloth. "It's not mixing at all." She looked up, meeting his eyes for a second then looking away. She always did that. A trait of the abused. Walter knew it too well. Weak, he thought. He didn't sneer at her though, since they were at work. He might not have anyway. The sneers were for the whores. "How do they do that?"
"Special fabric from Dr. Manhattan."
"Really?" Her eyes opened wide, looking at the fabric again. Dr. Manhattan still made people leery, and most were in awe of the hero. Walter shifted uncomfortably: they were drawing attention. "It's like... night and day." She pressed down on one of the dots, making a ring pattern for a moment as the black swirled away from the pressure. "Uhm, you better get going. I think Teresa's waiting for it." She stepped away quickly, which was fine by him. It was probably the longest conversation they'd ever had. No... it was the longest conversation they'd ever had, but he appreciated her point of view at least. He ran his hands over the fabric, watching the spots run. Black and white. Night and day. Right and wrong. Moral and immoral. He liked that.
"I don't know why you bother spending time with him," Janice said, blowing cigarette smoke over the street. It was November, and damn cold. The girls shivered outside, taking a quick break along with a small crowd of others. "I don't spend time with him," Alana replied, waving away Janice's smoke. "I'm just being polite." A pause, "I don't even know his name."
Janice took a drag off her cigarette and shook her head. "He watches you, you know. It's creepy. You should stop encouraging him."
"He's harmless," Alana replied, thinking that she'd prefer someone watching her than the alternative any day. At least the redhead didn't make catcalls or do anything untoward, and if he did watch her, she had yet to notice it. She knew he did already, but she never saw him watching her. Nothing creepy at all.
"Foo," her coworker replied. "Just wait until they find you in an alley somewhere." She glanced at her watch and tossed the cigarette out in the gutter, "Back to the grind."
The girls hurried inside with the other smokers, and went back to their stations. During the winter it wasn't so bad in the shop; pleasantly warm was how she would put it. She got herself situated back at her station, and there he was. Alana smiled, thinking about what Janice said. "Hi," she murmured, chickening out at the last second. No, he's totally harmless. He's never even looked at me in a bad way!
"You don't smell like smoke," he replied.
She blinked. "I don't smoke."
"Good." With that, he left. She rocked back in her chair and stared after him. That was the oddest exchange they'd had yet, leaving her with a lingering uneasy feeling. Was Janice right?
Summer again, and with summer the heat. It broiled on the streets, and roasted inside. During the evenings it was alright though, and Walter preferred to take a walk in the later hours, when it was cooling off nicely. It was a good end to the day. Just because it took him by her house didn't mean anything. It was on his way, a nice circular route. At the height of his walk though, he was surprised to find her outside. She was never outside when evening fell, save in the winter months when it was unavoidable as the factory closed its doors well after dark. He approved of that; only whores were to be found on the streets at night. She was crying on the steps, face held in her hands, bawling for all the world to see. Disgusting.
He slowed his pace and stopped across the street, his usual spot. Her shoulders shook, and she gasped in noisy breaths he could hear from where he stood. She had threatened tears before-awful, wet, noisy things-but had never cried that he ever saw. He looked up at the windows of her apartment which she shared with her father, and saw the dim light of the television on. He was home, and likely drunk. Walter didn't see much of her personal life-that would have been prying-but he saw enough to know it mirrored his in eerie ways. How alone he had been. How afraid. How angry.
What would he have done if someone had held a hand out to him? He didn't know. He didn't want to know. He wanted to be left alone; that was his only goal. That he chose to include her in some private ritual was one thing. To interfere with her life, even minutely, would be inviting something else. He wasn't ready for that. He would never be ready for that. But if he could invite anyone, it would probably be her, being as his dad was never going to come back for him, or find him now. For the first time, he truly wanted to ask more. The brief exchanges were already too much at times, but he was satisfied that she wasn't like his mother. Well, he was pretty sure...she could always be lying.
Wasn't lying now, that was for certain: there was no one to see the lie. That thought drove him over the edge, and down the curb, across the street. She was so absorbed in her weeping, she didn't notice him at all. He could feel the raw pain from her clearly. Something was seriously wrong. "Hello," he said mildly, the only way he spoke.
Her head jerked up in surprised and she recoiled away from him. Her eyes were red, and her cheeks soaked with tears. He recoiled away from her. This was a mistake.
"Oh!" was her exclamation. Then after he took a step away, poised to flee, "It's, y-you." She relaxed slightly, her nose a mess. She snorted unladylike into a handkerchief.
"What's wrong?" It was getting too involved, and he wanted to flee. He didn't. The right thing to do would be to comfort her, but Walter couldn't quite do that. He could, however, ask. She shook her head soundlessly, tears starting anew. Normal people would sit down next to her at this point. He couldn't do that. "It's not the end of the world," he said quietly. "Whatever it is."
Little by little she got herself under control until she chanced a look at him. He studied her. Her eyes warmed for a moment, and she shook her head, tears coming anew. "It is." A sneeze, and a wipe.
He had to think hard about what to say next. A warm feeling both familiar and unfamiliar to him had started to spread through his chest. He was angry. Not at her, though. The father. Someone should do something about that. She should do something about that. Weak... but the rebuke held no fire. She was a victim. What was happening was wrong, but it was normal. What happened behind locked doors stayed there. "You're strong," he said quietly. He knelt so they were on the same level. "I've watched you get through worse than this." There weren't any bruises, but they could be where he couldn't see.
"I ... don't think I can," she whispered. "Not this time."
He licked his lips, feeling antsy and anxious. Walter looked at her, catching her gaze with his and holding it, willing her to be strong and pure and innocent and not like his mother. "You don't deserve this," he said, his voice strong, though quiet, intensity from someplace deep inside him blazing through his words. I didn't deserve it either.
"I... don't have no place else to go," she whispered, looking down, then back up again. Her gaze wandered, but he was used to that. She tried to steady herself visibly, but it was no good. Whatever it was, shattered her; what he was seeing now were pieces being held together by force of will. "I need money for an apartment, and... I don't have family here, except..." The tone of her voice was like a man drowning.
"You can," he said slowly, enunciating the words clearly. After a long moment, he added, "Lock it away. Do what you have to."
The handkerchief lowered and she steadied herself, this time with some success. Her eyes were very dark, and Walter found himself not thinking about that it was a woman he was looking at... just someone else with a shared experience. A rarity. A precious rarity. He got up, stuffed his hands in his pockets, and began to walk away. The bond had held a second, but afterwards, he was sick to his stomach. Shaking with anger, but it was none of his business. Not really.
He'd done what he could.
Three hundred, seventeen dollars, and fifty-six cents: the total amount she had saved. The number rang over and over again in her mind, like a church bell. Maria knew where to go to get one-of course the spics knew-and she swore the "doctor" was reliable. As the girls walked to the address, Maria tried to keep her spirits up. It wouldn't hurt, she'd heard. It was just like being in a real hospital.
The man was reliable enough, but the place was shabby. It was cleaner than Alana had hoped, which was a good sign, but everything looked dirty to her. This is where the dirty girls go, a part of her wailed. Three hundred dollars gone. Three hundred dollars and her soul, that was. It was a mortal sin, but what else could she do? Even though she was eighteen now, everyone knew she didn't date. She wasn't married. Only dirty girls got themselves in the family way. He gave her something that made her go to sleep. When she woke, she was in terrible pain, cramping and bleeding. The man was almost sympathetic, and Maria was there to help her home. He had been a doctor, Maria had told her. Maybe he was still trying to be one now. It didn't matter though. Nothing mattered anymore. A part of her had died in that shabby place. Her father left her alone for the next couple of days. She had arranged this time off of work-a whole week, and the only time she had ever requested off-because Maria told her she'd have to heal. Nothing but blood. It hurt when she peed. She could barely sleep because of the cramps, and she felt restless. Nightmares plagued her. Her father was nowhere to be found those first two days. He must have known what she did, and hid from it. She couldn't. She would have to live with what he made her do for the rest of her life, and then be condemned to hell forever.
When he came home on the third day, the anger... always present, but always controlled... exploded. Hate coiled around her heart, burning her with its coldness. That night, she went to bed with a knife, sharp. He didn't come.
But he did the night after that.
Drunk and smelling as always, he pawed at her. Never mind that she had aborted his filthy child four days ago. No, never mind that. He still wanted his comfort. He wanted to put his dirty hands on her. Defile her. Bastard. The knife was very sharp, and when she pressed it against his neck, she cut him without meaning to. He stilled. "Never again," she rasped, her throat closed and tight. It was hard to breathe, and her hand trembled as she held the knife. "If you touch me again, I will kill you when you sleep."
"You doan want to do thish," he slurred, reaching up to take the knife away. She pressed, and he stopped moving. "I'm your father!" He managed to sound indignant.
Somehow, she stopped herself from killing him, but a haze settled over her. If he touched her again, she'd kill him then herself. Never again. Ever. "If you touch me again, I will kill you," she said slowly, her voice grating, almost feral. "I swear to God and all that's holy I will. I'll open you like a pig." It must have sunk into his whiskey soaked brain. He eased off the bed and backed out, fear playing over his features. Her father, afraid of her. Good, she thought savagely. I was afraid of him. Let's see how he likes it! She didn't sleep at all that night, afraid he would come back in after she fell asleep. The same problem was there-and now she had to start over. She had no money. She couldn't move unless she married or had her own funds.
The next day with her remaining seventeen dollars, she bought a good strong lock, and a wicked sharp knife.
Author's Note: (Upon a suggestion in one of the reviews, I moved my frame of mind stuff to below)
I don't normally write fanfiction. I actually hate most of it. I do peruse it now and again though for laughs or to see other people's takes on characters whom I love. The Watchmen fanfic community is starting to explode with the popularity of the movie, and while many of the older fics here treat the canon with respect, the newer ones... don't. Most of the writers are pretty decent though. Just... not quite getting Rorschach. Yes, I lust with everyone else after the actor, and I admire the character, but face it ladies: He's a hands off kind of guy. There's no way I can think of him "getting" with someone. I was getting quite put out of sorts by the amount of people who seem to be aiming at putting an OC together with him.
That's not going to happen.
But while I was thinking of it, a story got put together in my head. We don't know that much about early Rorschach. He seemed odd, maladjusted, but way, WAY more normal than latter Rorschach. Re: Not a psychopath. There are gaps in the stories where fanfiction can fall in and explain what might have happened, how things might have ended up a certain way. There's a ton of gaps in Watchmen. It's not like another comic series where the canon gets bigger and bigger-it's finite. There isn't going to be a sequel, and a lot of it leaves people wondering as to HOW some people get that way, and why they say or do what they do or say. This is one of those stories.
It's not a romance. It may seem to be, especially in this first segment, but it's not. This is my explanation for two words in Watchmen, created because I hate the OCxRorschach pairings I'm seeing. (We won't get started on the Nite Owl II/Rorschach slash. Implied slash is one thing, but yeeesh. Some of the other fics out there are... yeah.)
I think this will be in three parts. There is an OC here, but it's not a self-insert or Mary Sue. Rather, it's hard to construct a woman whom Rorschach would not view with disdain. Not love, certainly not romantic love, but with some respect, maybe. Sympathy, perhaps. He wasn't always how he ends up. This is exploring that, in part. However, to get the whole story, it's told from a his and her point of view.