Disclaimer: It makes me sad every time I have to say I don't own it.

"Look content, Daniel."

"Hmm? Oh, I've been having a good day," he replied cheerily, ignoring the sudden raid of his kitchen. "It was nice out today, so I decided to do something I haven't since I was a kid. I went to the zoo."

There was a brief silence before Rorschach asked, "Zoo? Why?"

"To see the owls. They have a nice exhibit on birds of prey."

Rorschach stared at him for a moment before turning back to the fridge and giving a soft "hurm."


"Always owls."

With a lopsided grin, Dan sat at the kitchen table to drink his coffee, surprised that Rorschach was actually making fun of him in his own way. "And what's wrong with that?"

"Obsessed with them. People might catch on."

"Or they'll just think I'm a fan of Nite Owl, which is true in one aspect. Besides, how is my 'obsession' with owls any different than your obsession with justice?"

"Mine serves a purpose," he responded gruffly, finally settling on a slice of pizza. He sat opposite of Dan, took his gloves off, and pushed his mask up to the bridge of his nose. It had become methodical at that point.

Dan didn't bother asking him if he wanted the slice to be heated up. The man always seemed to like his food cold. Then he noticed a little more stubble on Rorschach's jaw than usual. Since his partner was being strangely talkative, he decided to strike up another conversation, his curiosity piqued. "Doesn't that get uncomfortable, having stubble under the mask? I can imagine it must itch like hell."

Rorschach paused, then scratched his cheek as if being reminded made his skin react. "Somewhat."

"Been too busy patrolling to shave, huh? I've always wanted to grow a mustache, but that wouldn't really go well with the costume," Dan said wistfully.

As he chewed, Rorschach stared at him, head tilted very slightly. He studied Dan's bone structure for a good two minutes, pictured a mustache or a beard and grimaced. Finally, he stated, "Facial hair wouldn't suit you, Daniel."

"Really?" He let out a nervous laugh, twisting the mug in his hands. "Yeah, I guess some people can't pull it off. You have no choice because of the mask. Is it hard to breathe in that thing? I mean, it's made of latex, isn't it? Something else to thank Dr. Manhattan for?" It all came out before he had a chance to stop it, his boyish excitement at seeing his partner act somewhat normal getting the best of him. Although, he was surprised at himself for not having asked those questions sooner. They'd only been partners for over ten years. But it didn't take a decade to know that Rorschach hated being asked many questions, so the conversation was as good as dead.

Rorschach acted like he hadn't heard him and inhaled the rest of his pizza. After wiping his mouth with the back of his hand, he pulled the mask down, his movements bizarrely slow, almost contemplative. As he put his gloves on, he said, "Don't notice a difference."

"Huh?" Dan had been too busy mentally kicking himself to make the connection right away. "Oh. You must be pretty used to it by now, so that makes sense." The second Dan finished talking, Rorschach was heading for the door that lead to the basement. "Hey, wait! You don't have to go yet."

"Ruined good mood," the shorter man stated as he turned the knob.

Before he opened the door, Dan placed his hand on Rorschach's shoulder. "What are you talking about? I'm fine. It's actually kind of nice to talk like this, even if you still aren't saying all that much."

Rorschach stared pointedly at the hand on his shoulder until Dan released him. When he proceeded to open the door, he caught sight of the expression on his partner's face. A very tiny voice in the back of his mind told him he should stay, that it was rather nice to have a casual conversation with Dan. But Rorschach ignored it and walked down the stairs. Staying for something as trivial as a conversation wasn't something he did, but he allowed himself to admit one thing.

"Talking with you can be pleasant, Daniel."

Dan had not expected that at all, and he couldn't help but smile at the fact that his partner could be civil and enjoy it some of the time.

"You, too." When you're not going on about your conspiracy theories and offensive, right-wing "facts." He stepped onto the platform at the top of the staircase and called out, "Have a good night!" As the shorter man disappeared into the tunnel, Dan thought he heard a grunt in response, but he couldn't be sure.

Returning to his kitchen with a sigh, Dan surveyed the damage before heading out to the nearest supermarket.

There were times when Rorschach drove him crazy, which happened more often than not, but there were also times where the man was agreeable company. It was these brief moments that made him regret his decision to quit, which he still hadn't mentioned to his partner, when the Keene Act will be put into effect in another few weeks. Maybe Rorschach would still drop by for a quick raid, and they could have another oddly comforting chat.

He knew that was a foolish dream.