Disclaimer- Don't own it. If I did, I would be watching it over and over again instead of writing about it. Also, I don't own Beauty and the Beast - the reference in the title is unintentional - or "Hallelujah" by Leonard Cohen - I just love it too much for my own good.

Rating- M for sexuality and brief strong language.

Summary- The first time she sleeps with him, it makes her his lover. The second time, it makes her a hero. The third time, it makes her human again. Dan/Laurie. One-shot.

A/N- I suppose this is a companion piece to my other one-shot, Unquantifiable Abstracts, in the sense that they both explore what sex means to the characters of Watchmen. I think what I love most about its role in the comic/movie is that the scenes aren't just there for their own sake - they serve the plot and reflect the characters. This is my attempt to reflect that. Also, I just love Dan and Laurie and I'm sad not to see more of them around here!

Like Unquantifiable Abstracts, this straddles both comicverse and movieverse, because I'm determined to have my cake and eat it too. They're so blended that it would be pointless to list every deviation, but, roughly, the first two scenes are movieverse and the last one is comic verse (except that it mentions the master plan from the movie, because, frankly, I still don't buy the alien invasion thing, and because I mention Dan pummeling Adrian, because that was just awesome and richly deserved).

In totally unrelated news, this is my twentieth fic. Huzzah for 5 years of fanfiction!

For Darling (my beta and all around cheerleader), Xtina, and a certain friend of mine (because she actually reviewed this time ;-P). Especially to Xtina for scaring me with Watchmen kink memes and for being disgruntled that I'm not writing about Dr. Manhattan.

Human Again

I. Lovers

It's not when they go to dinner, or when she goes to him after leaving Jon, or when he asks her to stay with him, that she realizes he loves her. It's when they're standing inside Archie and he's holding onto her hand for just a moment too long. It's the tender clamminess of his hand, the nervousness in his eyes, like he's about to ask her to the prom. She was never asked to the prom. She was off breaking drug dealers' bones that night, and probably in Jon's arms later.

When he goes back, she's left in the darkness but sees everything clearly, and realizes that she doesn't want him to go. She doesn't really stop to think about why she takes off the goggles and strides up to the living room, because she's tired of thinking - of worrying about tachyons and atom bombs and parallel realities, of whether that was tenderness in Jon's voice or her own desperate wish to believe that he still loves her (if he ever loved her). The hell with all of it, she decides, as she straddles him. Because she knows, with or without his glasses, Dan has always seen her.

"Um," is about all he has to say to this turn of events. That's just fine. It's gotta be the most complimentary 'um' she's ever heard in her life.

Besides, once she starts kissing him, there's no question of how much both of them want this. It's awkward - so awkward - as he manages to maneuver himself on top of her and there are elbows in the way and he can't quite get her underwear out of the way, but she loves that it's awkward. She loves that he fumbles for words, that he's not just gliding through preordained motions. He's actually here with her, smiling a bit, eyes clouded with worry and desire. She wonders why they never did this before.

Then his hands hesitate over the waistband of his briefs - God, she'd forgotten the anticipation of seeing a man naked for the first time, it makes her tremble - and she can see from his terrified eyes that something's wrong. He mutters something about needing a few minutes and then swears, and looks like what she'd imagine he'd look like if she stepped on his goggles.

She glances down and figures it out. Oh. But he's already assuring her that it has nothing to do with her, kissing her cheekbones and her forehead, running his hand through her hair.

"God, you're so beautiful, and I'm so sorry," he whispers, more to himself than to her, and she takes his hand and squeezes it.

"We don't have to stop."

He nods and then leans in to kiss her lips again, soft and pliant, and then her neck, and her collarbone, humming softly, and she feels the flutter of his eyelashes against her skin. Jon doesn't have eyelashes. She giggles and he smiles up at her as he reaches for the clasp of her bra and fumbles to undo it. He makes some unsteady joke about his clumsy fingers, and she ends up helping him, and he gets with a mouthful of skin as she sits up. He keeps muttering apologies and it just makes her laugh more.

"It's okay. We have all the time in the world," she says, reaching down towards the front of his black briefs. He tenses a little bit but allows her to cup and massage him, making soft shivery noises but still turning steadily redder. After a little while he gently guides her hand away from his softness.

"Maybe we should just go to bed."

"Okay." She tries to keep the disappointment out of her voice.

She's about to reach for her clothes when he stands and sweeps her up into his arms. How did she never notice how tall and broad-shouldered he is? She feels safe and delicate, as he carries her to the bed and does his very best to balance her while pulling back the covers. She winds her legs around him like a spider and kisses him, just to make the job a bit harder, and he makes another startled noise. She's just about as startled - she hasn't even tried to surprise anyone in years, not since she tried to throw a surprise birthday party for Jon way-back-when. That didn't end well.

He lowers her to the bed and says he'll be right back; she lies there, removing the rest of her clothes and listening to the alien domestic sounds of his nightly ritual, and realizes how hungry she is for skin. Certainly, Jon has it, and hides none of it, and she loved the electric tingle of him pressing against her, but she's realizing now that she has no idea what a normal man's skin would feel like against her own. Jon is the only lover she's ever known.

So when Dan returns she reaches immediately for the waistband of his briefs and begins to pull them down before he can protest.

"I just want to feel you against me," she says, and he obliges, kicking the briefs away and then gathering her up against him.

"It figures that I'd fuck this up," he smiles ruefully.

"Believe me," she replies, lacing their fingers. "This is exactly what both of us need."

He drifts off before she does, and as he lies slumbering next to her, snoring softly, she realizes she's never watched someone sleep before. Sure, Jon used to climb into bed with her every night and hold her as she drifted away, but no matter when she awoke, he was always awake too, watching her with his sad, empty eyes. So she watches Dan sleep, mesmerized, and feels that this is the most intimate thing she's ever done with another person.

This is when they become lovers, she decides.

II. Heroes

She finds him naked in front of the relics of the past. He's angry, and she's invigorated. Why the hell shouldn't they go out and do something stupid? It's not like there are any surveillance cameras or government agents or mothers who will question her the next day about where she was.

So they pull on the old costumes and for the very first time she owns hers. She struts down the steps with every ounce of womanly charm her mother taught her, reveling in the look on Dan's face that no mask could hide. For the first time, she feels like the Silk Spectre, sly and feminine and powerful, prepared to take on whatever the night might throw at her. The years melt away as Archie soars into the sky and she feels sixteen again as she takes in the sight of the city howling beneath her. It is broken and depraved and hers. She knows every byway, every hot spot, and everything worth fighting for.

Then she's crashing down through the roof. Awed eyes are on her - it's been so long since they've seen a hero. She barely escapes with her life, and she feels that much more alive. Dan looks more like she's taken a couple of years off of his, at first, but then he grins, and goes about cheerfully serving coffee to the frightened victims. He was always the polite one who told rioters to remain calm.

Then again, he doesn't look so polite when he brings Archie to a stop and puts up the cloud screen. His hand happens to brush the radio and it switches to a station with music, and as a gruff voice sings of broken hallelujahs they're stripping away the costumes they just put on. She feels like all of her is singing too when she pushes him back onto the chair and gets on top of him and then sinks back without questioning whether or not he's hard, because he's not Daniel Dreiburg right now, and she's not Laurie Juspeczyk. They are something more, and they're creating something more as she lifts and falls, her eyes locked on his when she can keep them open, because God it feels good to have him inside of her. They are the best parts of themselves now - because that's what Nite Owl and the Silk Spectre really are - they are only the courage, only the joy, only the belief.

She's a little startled when he sits up, disrupting her rhythm and then kissing her like she's never been kissed before as he pushes her onto her back. He slips out of her at some point but that only makes it better when he thrusts back into her, and then again, and again again again until she feels she's going to come apart even as she can see him rising from the ashes of his former self, casting aside the fear and doubt. It's that feeling, even more than that sudden flood of pleasure when he hits justtherightspot, that makes her go over the edge, her hand flying out to steady herself. He comes right after her with a choked gasp, whispering her name as he rides it out with her.

She's made the flamethrower go off again. They laugh about it as they kiss and caress. He bends down to nip her collarbone in retribution and earns himself a tweaked nipple in return. The real punishment for both of them is when he withdraws at last, and they are themselves again. But then he lifts her, as tenderly as before, and shifts around so that she can lie down on top of him, skin to skin, no masks between them. Not even the kind you can't see with your eyes. Of course, the real world seeps back in slowly, and she remembers that she's just broken the law and that soon there might not be laws to break anymore, nor people to break them.

This is about when Dan decides that breaking into a maximum security prison to save his psychopathic ex-partner would be a really good idea. She comes up with at least two reasons why it's a bad idea. He only has to come up with one counter argument.

"Yea. It'll be a lot more fun."

As she lies there in his arms and smiles, the words of the song echo in her head: "And even though it all went wrong/I'll stand before the lord of song/With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah."

This is when they become heroes, she decides.

III. Humans

They got the end of the world all wrong. What they always feared was oblivion. She knows better now. The horror of the apocalypse didn't belong to the people who were disintegrated when the explosions hit. It belonged to those who survived.

There are no words for what has happened. She doesn't look for any. She feels - cold. But, God, she can still feel - how can anyone feel after what has been done? That must be why the news reports gloss over the millions of dead and focus on the peace negotiations. They can't feel anymore, so the dead don't matter.

Millions. Millions of deaths that she couldn't prevent. Even if every member of the Watchmen added up every life they'd ever saved, they could make no dent in that. They'd fought for the city, one life at a time, one crime at a time, only for one of their own to come along and destroy everything they'd worked for.

It seems to be Jon that feels, in those moments, strangely enough. He's the one who smiles and tells her that he's going to go create some life of his own as he leans in slowly and kisses her the way he used to on rooftops at dawn in a city that doesn't really exist anymore. She thinks she'll miss him. She isn't sure. Rorschach is dead, she hears. She thinks she'll miss him too, if only because he was one other person who knew the terrible cost.

Then Dan barrels into the room with the cry of a wounded animal - because how can anyone be human after knowing what has been done? Every one of the Watchmen had a tenuous grasp on their humanity before - why else would they do the things they did? - but she could no longer feel the ledge beneath her fingertips. Adrian said he'd saved humanity. That was a lie. He'd averted a war and destroyed humanity in the process. Because it was in human nature to fight, just as Dan was now, and it was not beautiful or perfect or even right, but it was human nature. And it was gone.

She and Dan begin to wander off, when Adrian wouldn't fight back and it became clear there was nothing worth fighting for. They search for something in the frozen fortress that will make sense of what has been done. She still feels nothing. That's why she stops beside the massive pool and begs Dan to stop with her, and he spreads out his coat on the ground in an act of chivalry that belongs to a different world. He hesitates as she pulls him down to her and says that she needs him to love her - because, God, they're alive, and they must live with this, and she isn't sure if she can. He smells of something sweet and musky and sad and she asks him what it is just before they kiss.


He lowers her back to the ground, never once losing his hold on her lips. He unzips her costume and kisses every inch of skin that's bared with small, thankful gasps, and she knows he tastes saltwater because both of them are weeping. She slithers out of the latex and searches for his seams, but it takes a while, because every minute or so they have to stop and embrace and kiss once more to remind themselves that this is still real. Finally they're both naked, and pressed against each other, and she trails her lips down his chest and stomach and she can hear a hungry gurgle and realizes that eventually they'll have to eat. They'll have to try to stay alive.

He seems more concerned by the fact that she's hesitated on his stomach and raises his head to meet her eyes. He looks so desperate to lose himself in her and forget that she feels a little forgotten feeling welling up between the cracks of her heart. She slides him into her mouth and sucks hard, reveling in his sharp cry and the warm pulse of him. But he won't let her finish him this way and insists on pulling her away, kissing her three times softly on the mouth before trading places with her, his lips closing tenderly over her throbbing center, his tongue testing her folds. It wasn't so long ago that Jon tried this same thing with her with no effect. Even then Adrian's great machine was rolling forward. She had walked through the streets of New York past people doomed to die, as clueless as they were, and yet she was spared.

"Laurie, honey? Am I doing something wrong?" he asks, noticing her distance. Her heart breaks again to see the look in his eyes and she pulls him back on top of her so that he's pressing against her entrance, and without any more words he knows to press inside of her, slowly, so that they both feel every excruciating pleasure of every inch. At last they're joined and face to face. They've stopped crying at some point, but the tears remain in their eyelashes, and Dan reaches up to brush hers away.

"We're going to be okay," he whispers. "We're going to be okay."

She nods, and as he starts to love her, as slowly as he can, she begins to believe him. They are alive. And it is their duty to the dead to stay alive, and to remember. Adrian's utopia will not last. He can't change human nature, however hard he tries – and the world will need the Watchmen again before long.

Ecstasy comes over them in a wave and at last they lay still, eyes locked, marveling at the wonder of life – imperfect, imbalanced life. Slowly, they pull apart, and Dan begins to cry in earnest. He doesn't say anything to excuse himself, and he doesn't need to. She wraps her arms around him and presses a kiss into his shoulder blade and just holds him as they grieve for everything that's been lost. But, gradually, the tears subside, and he takes her hand and presses it to his chest and whispers, so quietly she can barely hear him:

"I love you."

And she replies:

"I love you too."

This is when they become human again.

A/NWhew, it's finally done! I actually wrote a sex scene! O.O I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it. Let me know if you did!