It was the chilling wet arcing a bright path down his scarred cheek, dribbling over the broken bone, lingering in anguish over his heaving jaw and then spilling on his bent knees. The chaotic swirls of black wove into a pattern of molted pain, and froze as he drew his shaking hands to the hem at his jaw. They could only watched, all in vicious, uncertain silence as he slid downward into the snow, from a pain so bone-deep and a realization so heavy that it could only break him. It was not a bow of surrender, but a last stand crumbling under the weight of sorrowing truth.

It was all a lie, festered and bloated and filthy, a violation of his last remnant of reason. Manhatten silently drank in Rorschach's brutal realization with gentle indifference.

Rorshach raised those scarred, burning eyes high to meet his for a long, tortured moment, the feral sneer melting away like the snow in his clenched fingers.

Manhatten stood over him, his god-deep eyes colorlessly pondering the sad mortal display, as his azure hands came to rest in serene, untouched sadness.

Rorschach's breath hitched between his jaws as he tore away the mask, with the viciousness of one tearing a scab away from the scar. He flung the mask away, panting, and trembling. They could not stop gaping at *him* the tangled mosaic of scars, and bruises over brittle flesh and bone that was far too frail to bear the mask again.

"Do it." It was a grief-ravaged snarl, the last tired cry of the beast before it turned its throat to the waiting teeth. It was an invocation for a mercy he would never find here.

The only sound was the wrenching hiss of breath through Rorschach's bared teeth, and the bitter silence.

Manhatten tilted his head to the side, breathed his name out with the reverence of a prayer. It was laced with sorrow as he raised a pleading hand, and halted.

Rorschach reared back, cornered and caged and breaking apart until every twitching nerve was shattered and splayed into futility. His teeth were bared, his entire body flinched as he rose. It was raw flesh shoring itself up before terrible devinity.

Manhatten's mouth twisted in compassion as Rorschach's tears rose and fell over his *human* face, a face that was made ugly by the toll of a life sacrificed for an unyielding rancorous morality. Manhatten felt a bright stirrring, subtle as a butterfly's wing, when he stared into Rorschach's storming eyes, and was bombarded by the haphazard weaving of years that had composed Rorschach's tortured path to this....

The wounded eyes of an unwanted boy who sprang from a night of too much alcohol and a blurred memory of his mother's casual ways. That dark, wrenching uncertainty of listening to the animalistic moans and rustling sheets as he cowered in fear of a slap or a blow or worse. The vicious, vicious ache where guilt should have been when he wearily accepted the news of his mother's demise with only a casual shrug and a hitched shoulder.

A dull gleam of a child's bone in the circle of the street lamp as the dogs snarled over her ravaged remains, and that savage, savage futility that shrieked in violation of his once cherished belief in morality.
Human goodness was a farce, Rorschach had once snarled out. His belief in it had been scraped out by the perfume of cheap whores peddling their bodies in the dark, the stench of rot and bloated indifference from the wounded, wounded streets. That sense of injustice he could not sate or satisfy, no matter how many bodies fell, or what retribution was meted out...

The gloaming beasts of the alleyways, his blood-soaked hands, the dead faces of so many merging into one arc of fire that swelled in his soul and burned. All of it, woven and broken and reforged again into the hellish tapestry that made Rorschach's wretched destiny, all black and white and shifting as the twisting lines that hid his face.....

And now, that mask had been stripped away, left nothing but anguished rage, as Rorschach was staring into the pits of hell. Only then did allow himself to blink, when it all shattered....

And now, those eyes were filled with betraying tears. Manhatten drew in a breath, shaken by the depth of emotion it invoked. What a perverse grace it was to discover that the killer would evoke so much humanity in such an inhuman situation.

"Do it!!!" The words thundered over the collective torpor, the world itself was breaking apart, as was that fierce, brittle human before them. The words were flung out as Rorschach only trembled, and waited.
Manhatten could not decipher if it was rage, or grief, mercy, or torture....a demand, or a plea.

It was with infinite sadness that Manhatten raised a palm as if in farewell, or blessing, gently splayed those cerilian fingers, and granted Rorschach his wish.

Flesh swelled, quivered at the sudden dissolution, as Rorschach's very essence curled inward and then willingly surrendered to the ending of it all. There was not even time for him to smile as his existance ceased. His remains were cleaved out the fabric of the universe itself, the flesh and bone obliterated with the span of a breath. His hat fluttered to the snow, and came to rest over the swell of red that merged into a parody of a smile.