Author's notes: Ok, so this is a series of (hopefully) 100 drabbles examining the relationship between our lovely crime fighting pair, Dan and Rorschach, beginning at… well, the beginning and (hopefully) going in order from there to 1985. Of the 80 chappies I have planned, only 2 are actual slash (and even those are pretty tame), and they will have warnings if that's not your thing. The rest are intended to be just friendship, but if you choose to see them as implied, I have no problem with that 

Warning: mild swearing overall, not just in this chapter.

Oh yeah. Watchmen isn't mine. Obviously. God, could you imagine?

First Meetings

Nite Owl was on patrol. He was young, he was strong, and at that particular moment, he felt invincible. He'd just caught his first criminals of the night. A couple of would-be carjackers that were too surprised at the sight of a grown man in a spandex owlsuit leaping out of the shadows to really put up much of a fight, but as Nite Owl was handcuffing them to a lamppost for the police to find, he couldn't squash the swelling feeling of a job well done.

As he was securing them, he launched into his lecture about the importance of following the law and accepting the consequences for your actions and how they were lucky this was all that was happening to them. This was where one of the carjackers interrupted him, "Shit man, I know how lucky I am you're not that crazy inkblot guy!"

Nite Owl paused, blinking in surprise, "What inkblot guy?" He asked cautiously, not sure if this was some weird thing these kids were pulling to make him look stupid or…what. But the kid seemed more than willing to elaborate with the attitude that he or someone else had been grievously wronged when secretly they knew they probably deserved it.

"He's a mask, like the rest of you freaks," Stupid little punk. "Only this guy's a psycho! The crazy little bastard broke Fred's fingers just for being around some guys who were selling--"

"Shut up, man," The second kid finally spoke up for the first time. Good. Nite Owl had been concerned he might've given the little idiot a concussion, "Rorschach could be here right now and you'd never know it." And Nite Owl thought he was dramatic. But the fear in both their eyes was apparent. And interesting. He'd never heard of this Rorschach and to be quite honest, he wasn't willing to take the word of some stupid kids that he existed at all. But still, if he did, then he'd gained quite a reputation, at least in the eyes of these criminals. Which, Nite Owl understood, wasn't saying much, but at least they feared him. The most Nite Owl could manage was sheer bafflement, which worked. Finally, Nite Owl shrugged and left the kids tied to the lamppost.

***

At the end of the week, Nite Owl had completely forgotten about the mysterious Rorschach. In fact, that Saturday night, he was more preoccupied with the rather unlucky predicament he'd found himself in than anything else. As it turned out, because this was the way Nite Owl's life worked, he'd unwittingly stumbled into the middle of some kind of drug deal. And not the kind that happened between two or three people. No, this was some kind of…drug dealer to-do or something because there was about 10 of them all touting various weaponry and none of them seemed to appreciate the fact that Nite Owl had interrupted their meeting.

Imagine that.

Unfortunately, they'd recovered from the shock faster than Nite Owl and before he could do anything, they had him surrounded. Figures. Now Nite Owl was at a crossroads. He could try to fight it out, but he really wasn't in the mood to get his ass handed to him in a fight, or he could use that auto-retriever he'd installed in Archie even though it had never been tested and it would really rankle his pride knowing he had to run from a fight and --

"Waugh!" The heavily tattooed man directly to his left let out one strangled yelp before suddenly someone (or something) sucked him into the inky shadows at the end of the alley. Everyone froze, including Nite Owl, who knew in the back of his mind he should take advantage of the universal bewilderment to get the hell out of there, but he just couldn't force his legs to move. Later he would tell himself that his sudden immobility was because he didn't want to run away from a fight. But if he was really being honest with himself, it was mostly because he was too shocked over everything that was going on to make any sort of definitive movement.

Their confusion slowly turned into panic when another of their group disappeared in a similar manner, snatched up by the dark shadows. Before any of them could react further, a small tan blur exploded from the depths of the alley, landing in front of Nite Owl, in the middle of the throng, taking everyone by surprise.

He was robed in a frayed tan trench coat and violet pinstriped pants. There was a dirty fedora perched atop his head and even though he was standing in with his back to Nite Owl, he had the distinct feeling the look on the shorter man's face must be terrifying, which only partly stemmed from the utterly horrified looks on the other men. There was a moment of shock as the man pursued the scene before him. He let out one dissatisfied "Hurm." before leaping into action. Damn, but he was good. He didn't have any sort of weapons or gadgets or even armor that Nite Owl could tell, but he seriously doubted the guy needed any. He was really, really good. It was the type of good that made Nite Owl feel rather inadequate. It was like watching a dance, a lethal, deadly dance, yes. But weirdly graceful.

Quickly, and far too easily to be possible (which made Nite Owl more than a little envious), he'd taken care of the problem and without even acknowledging Nite Owl's presence, casually stepped over the groaning bodies and started to walk back down the alley. Nite Owl jerked out of his stupor and lurched forward, picking his way through the sprawled dealers, "Hey! Hey, wait up!" The small figure paused, half turning to face Nite Owl, just enough for Nite Owl to see his mask. Nite Owl couldn't sustain a single shocked gasp. His mask, well god, his mask was weird. It was white enough to glow against the backdrop of shadow that pressed against him but was covered with some black viscous material that changed every so often. Nite Owl had heard that a while ago, there'd been some fabric that could kind of do that, responded to heat and all that, it was just weird as hell seeing it on a person.

"Uhh," Nite Owl had momentarily forgotten what he was going to say, "Hey, you're Rorschach, right?"

The man in the strange mask made no reply, just stared at him suspiciously. Or as suspiciously as a man could when he had no face, "Uhm." Wow, this was awkward, "I've heard of you." he finished lamely.

Rorschach stared flatly back at him and Nite Owl suddenly felt very silly. He was to say something else equally stupid, he was sure, when the pattern shifted and he spoke, "Nite Owl. Have heard of you too. Hrn. I've never really thought I'd ever have to rescue another masked rescuer. Interesting." Dan would just have to take his word for it that he did find it interesting because his gravelly voice showed no interest , just a vague contempt.

"Yeah. Yeah, you really saved my ass out there. Thanks." Finally remembering his manners, Nite Owl extended his hand out to the shorter vigilante, who actually started with surprise. After a moment of awkward staring, a purple gloved hand slowly emerged from a pocket to hesitantly touch Dan's own. Dan grasped it. They shook. Rorschach held on longer than was probably necessary and Dan (pretty good at reading body language) could tell he was taken aback. When he broke the shake, however, the purple hand flashed back into the depths of his trench coat.

"Hurm." He muttered as a sort of goodbye and stalked back down the alley.

"Hey Rorschach!" Dan called to his hunched shoulders, "If you want, you could join up with the other masks. We meet sometimes. If you want, I could give you--"

"No."

The gravelly voice rang out with a tone of finality and Dan was left standing alone in the middle of a dripping alley surrounded by the bodies of ten guys he hadn't touched.

Sometimes being a masked hero was weird as shit.