Title: Panopticon

Author: Anactoria

Fandom: Watchmen (Movieverse)

Characters: Adrian

Rating: PG-13

Word Count: 500

A/N: This is total movieverse (don't run away!) but I'm borrowing a copy of the GN tomorrow and shall be remedying my shame forthwith. Yeah.


Adrian watches the world he has rebuilt according to his own design, and, for the most part, it is good. Oh, not perfect; there is still suffering, of course, loss and confusion and injustice -- but no more than is unavoidable. The world is better now. His world. He watches it gain in strength, open out, spread like sunlight. He watches it grow.

And then, one day, there is a stain.

It's barely anything. Adrian sees it for less than a minute, less than an eye's blink, in the bottom corner of a single screen. It might be nothing at all, but it stays with him, niggling, all day, so that late that evening he cancels his engagements and takes the stairs to his private office after hours, alone. Halfway up he realises he is holding his breath -- like an intruder, like a criminal -- and forces himself to exhale and to tread normally. It doesn't take him long to find the frame and enlarge it, and there it is: a grainy, white blur of a face; a black blotch that might be anything.

Most likely a copycat. The journal has been found and disposed of, of course, but not before an idea or two had time to creep out, to worm their way into the city's underbelly and hatch a pocket of conspiracy theory here and there. And in any case, Adrian does not believe in ghosts. Still, it does not hurt to be alert.

So three weeks later, when he's working late into the night and his office door slides open uninvited some time just shy of midnight, Adrian is not entirely surprised. He does not bother to stand up, simply regarding the interloper expectantly, head a little to one side. Mask or no mask, a look is enough to tell him that this is not the man who died at Karnak: the build is a little too stocky; the gait a little too loose.

"How'd you like your brave new world, Veidt?" The voice, too, pitched a semitone higher. "Not gonna get rid of us. You know that. Human nature."

Adrian does not dignify the intruder with a response, and the body that is found in the Hudson two weeks later is unidentifiable.

The next, four months afterwards, is barely out of his teens. The one after that, a woman, with a face full of scars.

The first tape goes missing. This unsettles Adrian. He does not mislay things. Of course, the footage has little use in and of itself; but nonetheless, he catches himself glancing at the surveillance screens more and more often. He hires investigators, on every side of the law, and learns nothing.

And one by one they keep coming, and one by one he deals with them. But each is stronger than the last.