Snow falls from the sky, white flakes that turn grey as they land on drifts and get trampled into slush. People hurry along on the sidewalks, pulling their collars up to ward off the chill. And as they stream of people flows along, few of them notice the one man standing still, carrying a dingy sign that proclaims the end is nigh. His hair must have been red once, judging by the freckles, but now it's grey and grizzled. His bony fingers clutch at the handle of the sign and his clothes look as worn and wrinkled as his skin. Those who do see him pity him, this obviously older man, likely half-crazed, wandering in the icy evening. One or two will wonder if he is homeless or has a place to sleep or has had a half-decent meal in recent memory. He does and has.
Daniel waits patiently inside his brownstone, knowing that he will never win the argument against his partner. No matter how much he frets, Walter insists. People need to be warned, the city must be patrolled, there are things to watch out for, he says. Even if he cannot fight the monsters in the dark anymore, he can watch them. So all Daniel can do is make sure that there is hot tea, with enough sugar in it that it probably counts as syrup, and a warm meal waiting for him.
He comes in, no lock to break. Daniel worries that he will crack a leg if he kicks it so it's always unlocked whenever Daniel is home. Which, these days, is almost always. The city is cold and hard and does not sit well with his aging body. No matter; there is more than enough to do around the house. He neatens and tidies, sweeps and dusts, and at dinnertime makes sure there are placemats even if Walter never appreciates them. Sometimes he thinks about writing a memoir like Hollis. But the name and the thought make his chest ache, and he puts it off perpetually for another day.
Walter stumbles in, later than Daniel would like, half-frozen and still holding onto his sign. Daniel smiles and comes over, pries the sign out of his hands and sets it aside, loosens his scarf and undoes his buttons. On the street the ginger's expression does not change from its set grimace, but inside Daniel's home he allows himself to smile at the face that has grown soft, framed by hair that has become grey and feathered, mottled like the wings of the owls he loves.
When Daniel sees him smile, he presses a kiss to the wrinkly, freckled cheek.
"Darling, you're like ice." He takes Walter's knobby hands between his own plump ones, trying to warm them up. "You need better gloves. Ones with fingers."
"Nnk. No use. Waste of money. Be dead soon."
"Then I'll get you some nice lined ones for the holidays," Daniel says with a smile and kisses his forehead. "Now let's eat before it gets cold."
The beans Walter eats these days are warm, set out for him in a china bowl with flowers sprinkling the rim. Daniel always remembers to make them, and flavors them with extra brown sugar and pieces of cut up bacon. Walter eats them quickly and noisily, and Daniel takes his enthusiasm as a sign of appreciation.
Because he fears the answer, just a little, Daniel does not ask how the day went. And there wouldn't be much to tell him if he did. Veidt, now president, somehow managed to make a reasonable semblance of peace. Things have been lost, but nothing that Walter and Daniel could get back, even as Rorschach and Nite Owl. They tried to speak; nobody believed them. They tried to fight, but the years wore on and left them behind, old men with bodies grown older, faster from punishment.
So now they finish their dinner and sit on the couch. Daniel has gotten something called HD installed. Walter isn't certain how it works, but it is new and shiny. Daniel has never gotten over loving gadgets and it makes him happy to have new toys to play with: an iPod to listen to while he cleans, a Wii to fumble with as he tries to bowl.
"Look ridiculous," Walter had snapped the first time he brought it home and tried it out. "Too old for such nonsense."
"I know!" He laughed and tried to roll again. "Do you want a turn, sweetheart? There's boxing on here too, you know."
Walter grimaced. "Yes."
But they are tired tonight, so they only watch. Daniel pulls Walter in, presses him against his worn sweater vest. It is an old and familiar piece of clothing, something he wore even when he was young. Born old, he would laugh sometimes, before the memories grew too painful and he came soberly back to the present.
As they sit, Daniel's hands wander up and down Walter's neck, feeling the folds of flesh that have started to sag and lose their elasticity. When they were younger it would escalate from there until the couch was creaking. Now Walter turns to Daniel; he is infinitely more interesting than whatever whores are parading themselves on the screen.
"Yes, I think so." Another nuzzle, another kiss, this one to his jaw.
They trudge up slowly to the bedroom. The stairs take more effort these days and Daniel wonders if he ought to finds something flatter, in a better climate, where winds don't blow so harshly and the streets aren't coated in grey slush each December. Go to California like Sally did, back in the day, or Florida, God's waiting room. But Walter would never put up with that so Daniel reminds himself to take medication for his arthritis and swallows the pain.
Together they undress slowly, taking peeks at each other like they were both young and unused to seeing one another naked. Daniel sometimes wonders if Walter has ever gotten used to the idea of nudity. But they are unclothed soon enough and stretched out on the bed, an unpretty sight of sag and wrinkles, age spots and paunch, all tangled together. They are not young anymore, but to them this only means that they know each other's bodies that much better. Daniel eases into Walter and gets him to come, then nestles against him. The graying ginger is finally warm and looks at peace.
"I'll always want you," Daniel whispers. And he is not Jon. He tells the truth.
A/N: I originally posted this on the kinkmeme as a response to an older Dan and Walter request – since I've seen some other stuff from there wander over here over the course of the last few days, I thought I'd share it here too in case somebody doesn't visit that lovely little corner of the internet (though if you don't you should – there's marvelous stuff up on there and it's all requests, all the time). Some slight edits were made (since I posted as an anon I couldn't correct any mistakes) but other than that, it's in its original form.