Disclaimer: I do not own Watchmen or Alan Moore.
Author's Notes: I'd been struggling for a week to come up with a healthy combination of the graphic novel and the movie, especially when it came to the slightly different timelines. I finally decided that creating my own timeline would be for the best. Please treat the story as AU -- so if some events end up out of sequence, or some people aren't the right age, it's because I'm not following the main timeline(s). Though I am vaguely following the Watchmen storyline, I see several possible outcomes to my story, and none of them will be near the original endings. If I would have to choose, I would probably say the story followed the movie more closely, however. I hope none of this is annoying or too confusing. Parallel dimensions are fun! :)
Also, I would like to take the time to mention Silential, an amazing author whose own Watchmen fic (currently still ongoing, Dreamless) inspired me greatly. Reading her story really made me want to get back into the world of fanfiction again. Thank you for your wonderful work, Silential!
It had been weeks since Laurie first started out, but nights like this especially, she felt ridiculous.
Usually her rounds ran through areas that were low-traffic, but tonight the streets were full of people. Though mostly they paid no attention to her (ones with clean consciences seldom did), occasionally someone would look up and gawk and she would feel self-conscious all over again. She took a side street into a residential area she was unfamiliar with. This street was empty and silent apart from the low hum of traffic in the distance and the hollow bark of a stray dog. Laurie sighed.
Walking at a brisk pace she tried to stay alert, keeping an eye out to the bushes and dark corners, but she was distracted. Finally, she stopped and looked down at her outfit, running her eyes down the black and deciding it wasn't the suit itself but the scarf that made her out of place.
Laurie had been training most of her life to become a masked crime fighter. It was her mother's dream to mold her daughter in her image -- a well known image that would soon be revealed to the world, reinvented.
"When you are older -- seventeen or eighteen is probably ideal," her mother had told her about a million and one times. Laurie didn't understand the necessity for theatrics or this proposed date, as if she would suddenly emerge into the world a superhero the moment she reached a certain age. Laurie hated being paraded about by her mother, and she especially did not understand her way of thinking when it came to her taking her mother's place.
At age seventeen or eighteen, Laurie was expected to appear in her underwear and dazzle everyone. Laurie was surprised her mother hadn't hired her an agent already, so parallel was her life to her mother's younger days. "But better!" her mother liked to insist. See, her mother never had the privelege of getting the best training and conditioning and mentoring, or any other positive word with a participle attached (her mother had used all of them to describe how wonderful Laurie's life was compared to her own). Still, that was two years away -- who knew what her mother had planned in the meantime. Things could be worse.
Even so, Laurie would have none of it. For the better part of last year she had contemplated running away. Though the longing kept her from facing the reality of the situation for many months, finally she had to give in to the fact that she had nowhere to run to. Laurie was incredibly sheltered and had no friends, no family apart from her mother and a maiden aunt of whom she had heard of but wasn't close to. Of course, her mother's old friends -- fellow crime fighters from back in the day. At some point Laurie was so desperate she imagined going to one of them; the remaining ones at least. A couple of years back a few of them had visited her mother. Three older men that were vague father figures, more distant uncles with whom she had no kinship. She tried to think of how it would pan out if she appeared on one of their doorsteps: Nite Owl, Captain Metropolis, even the crazy Mothman.
No, even the Mothman would call her mother in an instant. She couldn't run away.
Nevertheless, the prospect of becoming a carbon-copy of her mother was distressing to Laurie. Laurie was still young and wished to please her mother in some way, though in another way she stubbornly wanted to show her mother how displeased she herself was. Crime-fighting, the career chosen for her, seemed inevitable, and she did the best she could to mold the unpleasant outcome to her liking.
Laurie surmised that given the almost obsessive way her mother had tried to manipulate every small detail in her life, any equally small detail that went wrong would be enough to annoy her mother. Foil enough of the details together, and she was almost certain she could somehow drive her mother crazy.
Laurie's mother wanted her daughter to be the next Silk Spectre. What if Laurie went out and made a name for herself as a crime fighter -- but with a different identity? Laurie had laughed when she first thought of it. In her mind she saw headlines: "THE GREAT CRIMEFIGHTER" they would read, though she hadn't thought of a name for herself, so the rest would be up to the imagination -- Not-Silk-Spectre -- "THE GREAT CRIMEFIGHTER TAKES DOWN THE INFAMOUS MOLOCH" or insert any other prevalent crime boss or hazard to humanity. The headlines didn't matter. What mattered was the picture. Yes, the press would find her and take her picture and her mother would read it and she would know. Making a big name for herself, Laurie would become a crime fighter independent of her mother, and her mother wouldn't be able to say anything about it.
This amusing passing fancy became the primary focus for Laurie. She began to obsess over it as almost as much as her mother did over her own life and Laurie knew then that she had to try it or regret it for the rest of her life. She put on a simple leather body suit that covered her throat all the way to her ankles. On her feet she put practical black boots, then she finished the ensemble with a scarf to cover her eyes. She had cut holes to see of course and braided the ends into her hair, which she then pulled back to prevent her mask from slipping off. She looked in the mirror and felt foolish. But how much more foolish would she feel when she was wearing practically nothing? No, it wasn't original but it was simple and she didn't want anything gaudy. Nothing that would bring too much attention to her -- not until she had made a name for herself.
That first night she had stepped outside, Laurie wasn't exactly certain as to what her goal was. How did crime fighting work, exactly? From the stories she heard, crime fighters seemed to just instinctively know where the "bad guys" were. The only thing she could remember at the time was one of Nite Owl's animatedly detailed stories of his adventures and going over the words and gestures he used to describe his exploits she couldn't help but wonder if her mother and her friends were all just pulling her leg about the whole rotten business.
Laurie stepped out cautiously, feeling awkward at first, though relaxing a little as the night wore on. When the moon came out and darkness prevailed, so did the stranger entities of New York's harsher streets. Though the first night Laurie was only getting her bearings, she saw the silent, wary way some people looked at her. Even though they had never heard of her, never seen her until this day, her mask said something to them. They just seemed to know what Laurie was up to and would disperse when she came near -- those who had something to hide, at least. Laurie felt pleased and convinced herself that it was all this easy. For the next few days all she did was patrol, relying on her presence to discourage any criminals that had the fortune of crossing her path.
Laurie became bored after a while, and she began actively searching around, letting her senses guide her. In the course of another few days, she was surprised to find that, what at first glance seemed to be rows and rows of quiet streets were silently teeming with a slow pool of illegal activity. Looking into the still water lairs of these alley-people -- almost shy in their regard of her, too compliant, too accomodating -- Laurie was shocked as she realized how far the murky depths reached. Dipping into the figurative darkness with a bare, unprotected arm she felt her hand give way to slime and filth, re-emerging to find it festering with boils and writhing with a thousand flesh-eating insects. That's what it seemed like to her: the prostitution, the drug-deals, the homeless, the careless violence that made simple murder seem polite and necessary. In these depths lay other things, things Laurie had within reach but did not dare grab at, and other things beyond her reach, so beyond the scope of her innocent imagination she felt like screaming just to think of them. Laurie turned and ran back home then and did not come out the next night.
Two days went by before she felt restless again and ventured out into the streets once more. She decided to stick to the bigger areas and not look too hard or think too hard about what she had -- or thought she had -- seen.
"Life is hard," her mother would say to her, over and over again throughout the years. Those were just words, though, without even images to provoke any sort of emotion in Laurie's mind.
Life is hard. Her mother had tried to show her without truly showing her. Without even elaborating -- giving no examples, those words meant nothing. Unprepared for the world outside, Laurie began to wonder just how her mother expected her to survive in a place like this. As a crime fighter no less! Bitterly she wished for once she could be like the normal children she heard of -- not even was allowed to talk to, just heard of -- children who went to public school, grew up, went to college, work and the other things that made them normal.
"No daughter of mine is going to get stuck being a housewife," was one of her mother's other favorite sayings. She would chew on the words as if she were reciting gritty titles of a trashy pulp fiction novel. House. Wife. Laurie had tried to explain to her mother once that she wanted to work with animals -- become a veterinarian. Her mother had scoffed. What good would that do for the world? She had asked her in that tone that implied that only mother knew best. (Silly daughter, your ideas are but fantasies, only my thoughts deserve any sort of merit, now did I tell you about the time I was a crime fighter?) Still, her mother had noted that it was a better profession than (House. Wife.) what those "other girls" were striving for. Laurie suggested that she had two professions -- veterinarian, maybe eventually a wife? A working mother? Feeling generous Laurie even threw in the idea of crime fighting on top of it all -- a life of multiple interests, to appeal to all generations! No, her mother had said; that idea was shot down with such acidity that for a moment Laurie was afraid her mother would slap her.
No, no veterinarian for Laurie. Just a crime fighter. An idea so deeply embedded into the workings of her life that her only source of rebellion was to become a different idea of crime fighter than what her mother had in her mind.
Yes, Laurel Jane Juspeczyk felt ridiculous, but in some ways she was free.
At least, as free as she could get, providing her circumstance.
To be continued...