Knowledge and Being - post- to pre- novel crack/time travel/AU

Disclaimer: All characters, etc. from the novel WATCHMEN belong to Alan Moore and DC.

A/N: People are either going to like this or they won't. I'll just say that I got a request to pair them together, and while I was a little daunted at first by the task ahead of me (I never would have paired the 2 in a million years on my own), it was actually a lot of fun to write. I had to change things, and thus, there is a lot that's bordering on OOC, but honestly, having Rorschach and Sally stay completely as they are in the GN would have never led to anything like romance. I still tried to stay very close to the heart of these characters since I love them so much. Here's hoping I wrote something bearable, even if writing it felt a bit like writing original fiction. ;)

With a flash of light and a swirl of particles, Jon ended everything.

But it didn't stop there for Rorschach.

With a cynical feeling of inevitability, he floated up, above the snow, looking down upon the the red stain he'd left behind. A stain that resembled his true face.

He'd lived his life as a thinker, but in so doing, he'd still managed to forgo the contemplation of his own fate. He'd studied religion, knew the basic principles of Heaven and Hell, but this was one spot of grey that he'd never been able to face. He'd lived his life free of compromise; the line between good and evil as easy to distinguish as black and white. But he'd also done things on his quest for truth that could certainly be labeled morally wrong within the context of the Bible. He'd tried to live an existence without sin, but such a thing had proved impossible, even for him.

He was blown backward through time and looking subjectively at all the moments of his life, he was afforded a better view.

He watched his transformation, the day he'd quit being soft. The day he'd lost his last remnants of faith in humanity.

He witnessed his own optimism at the failed Crimebusters meeting; the way he once spoke, like a normal, healthy person, his posture, even the way he'd let his overcoat casually fall open.

He saw himself as a teenager with the full comprehension of what his mother was; acting out, desperate to get away from the woman who never loved him and the terrible things that he saw everyday.

He saw himself as a child. Like all children, he never knew any better than what he had. Mother was the name for God, and the abuse she'd subjected him to was unspeakable.

With the understanding that only comes with death, Rorschach was able to see that he'd spent the whole of his days hating women. They could be victims, but never anything more than that, never anything better. Never had any of them been anything respectable, and ofttimes he'd seen them as something much worse. Only now was he able to see this; see that he'd labeled all women who'd left adolescence behind "whores".

He began to see the lives of those he'd thought he'd understood.

He saw Jon, on the brink of tears in the center of a smiling face in the sand on the planet Mars.

He saw Laurie, who like him, had never been able to know her father. She'd grown up resenting her mother for it and other things, and allowed that resentment to shape her world.

He saw Dan, whose deficiencies were bred of insecurity and his own morality. He'd tried to be strong, but deep down, his strength had always given way to his judgement of what he believed to be right.

He saw Adrian Veidt, whose morals looked to be surprisingly in line with his own. His motives had been seeded in the belief that the world had been too corrupt as it was to survive. The decadence, the ego, and the image he projected upon the public were all a carefully constructed mask, all his own. A fa├žade that he hid his true motives and intelligence behind. The money, all of it, had only ever been a means to an end.

And then he saw Sally Jupiter. He'd never had anything but unkind thoughts about her. She might not have prostituted her body in the same way his mother had, but she'd certainly used her appearance to make money. Looking closer, Rorschach was able to see the real Sally, beneath the makeup, the wrinkles, and the booze. He saw a woman who was nothing like his mother at all. He saw a woman who'd given up what had mattered to her most for a daughter who'd turned out to be her harshest critic. He saw a woman who'd only ever loved a man who'd been incapable of cohabiting in any way with another person. He saw a shy, but driven young woman step out in public scantily clad; hiding her misgivings behind a veil of forced courage. He saw a seventeen year old girl scream in fear and pain as her father abused her in unimaginable ways. He watched her leave home, frightened and alone. A victim. Leaving the security of family money behind, she set out to reinvent herself; free her soul from the tethers of a cruel father and a neglectful mother. Changing her name to start a new life, she took work as a burlesque dancer, even though every part of her screamed that she was better than that. Dodging groping hands and lecherous propositions, she worked; she danced, telling herself that she was an entertainer. At the end of each day, she'd make her way back to her squalid tenement building and the sparse but clean room that she was only leasing until things got better. She didn't cry or bemoan her fate; she was happy that she was bettering herself, happy to be in charge of her own life. And each day, she vowed that she'd never be a victim again.

Rorschach felt a pull, indicating that it was time to go on, but he decided that he wasn't quite ready. He wanted to stop for a while, here and now, in 1937.

He fell to his knees in the snow, a shudder running through his entire body. He could see his breath, heating up the air in front of him with a cloud of vapor. Reaching up with shaking hands, he realized that he'd arrived here, in this time, without his face. No, without his mask. It was going to be very difficult to adjust to everything that he'd learned.

His fingers touched bare skin, sliding along smoother cheeks than he remembered. Gaining his feet, he looked around the alley in which he'd landed. Noticing the darkened windows on a building across the street, he moved toward them, trudging through ice and snow. His reflection was about as it used to be, aside from the fact that he looked like he was only 18 years old.

At the moment, nothing was surprising.

His hair stuck up as wildly as always, his freckles standing out starkly on his pale skin. His eyes were clear and blue, and seemed less weary than they used to be. He was wearing a fine suit made of somber brown material, with a clean shirt and a neatly adjusted tie. Brushing the clinging snow from his pant legs, he headed in the direction of Sally's tenement building.

Her apartment was 10B, and using his new knowledge of this and the fact that 10D was unoccupied, he knocked at the door of the building's manager.

His hands went to the pockets of his jacket, and he pulled forth enough money to let 10D for a month, with plenty to spare. Speaking clearly and legibly, as he hadn't in years, he procured the key and headed up to his room. It was furnished but filthy, and pulling the sheets from the bed, he lay down. He couldn't sleep, so he let his mind drift as he stared up at the water stained ceiling.

He began to spend his days staring out the window at the city below. The cynicism of before had passed; these were all people, with dreams and hopes all their own.

He could hear Sally's comings and goings across the hall. She slept late into the day and worked evenings, for up to twelve hours. She never had company; just stayed in and listened to her radio.

Rorschach found himself cleaning up his apartment; something he'd never really bothered with in his old life. He headed out to the tailor's on Fifth Avenue and got a job as an assistant in the early morning hours.

Sometimes he'd pass Sally in the hall, her fresh young face free of makeup. He'd return from work as she'd leave to run errands. Reserved at first, she soon began returning Rorschach's smiles as they passed each other, working up to an occasional quiet "hello".

He shared the lift with her one day, offering to take a bag of groceries from her arms. Smiling in shy graditude, she offered, "I'm Sally."

Not so very long ago, Rorschach would have killed this girl before disclosing his real name. "I'm Walter. Walter Kovacs."

She called him by name now. It was strange, but gratifying.

One late evening, she had only just arrived home and turned on her radio when the power went out. Blackouts weren't uncommon in the city, and pulling out some candles, Rorschach was surprised to hear a knock on his door.

It was Sally, and she was scared. Embarrassed, she asked if he might keep her company, just until her nerves settled, either here, or at her place. He invited her in, and sitting at his small table, they talked about work and laughed about the shapes their shadows made on the walls.

Hours passed like mere seconds, and smiling, she thanked him for being such a gentleman, but she really should let him get some sleep since he kept such early hours.

The next day she invited him over for supper, and as they spent more and more time together, Rorschach began to feel something amazing happen. He knew that he'd cared about her before he'd even decided to come here, but the feelings he was developing were entirely powerful and new. There was nothing for him but this, and nobody existed for him but her.

They would visit into the early hours of the morning, and sometimes in the afternoon, before she had to leave for work. They talked about anything and everything, and sometimes they'd listen to her radio. She laughingly taught him how to dance, and with sore toes and blushing cheeks, she'd move within the circle of his arms. They were evenly matched in height with her heels on and she'd tell him how nice it was that she could look into his eyes without craning her neck.

She'd run her fingers through his curling hair and tell him how much she prefered his shade of red to her own. She traced his freckles with soft hands, and he'd finger the mole next to her right eye while she snuggled into him on her couch when she was tired.

And then one night, they were cuddled up on the sofa, and contented, they both fell asleep. He told himself that he would only rest his eyes for a moment.

He awoke to the feel of her shifting against him. Sighing softly, she rubbed her cheek against his, bumping their noses together. Her lips fluttered next to his, her breath blowing over him.

He'd never been kissed before. His chest felt tight, his palms damp where they lay upon her back.

Inhaling, she pressed her mouth to his; a soft, burning caress.

Dragging in a gulp of air, he tasted her. He felt her tongue brush him and took it into his mouth, drawing on her with deep pulls.

She moaned softly against his mouth, her knee moving to press against the hottest part of him.

They kissed for long, drawn out minutes and his hands clenched, clutching her to his chest.

Coming up for air, she leaned back a little, looking at him with wide eyes. She told him that she'd never been with a boy that she loved before. He hugged her tighter and told her that he'd never been with anybody at all.

Her kisses became urgent and their clothing melted away.

She was warm and soft; softer than anything he'd ever felt, leading down to a sticky sweetness. There was some fumbling and some whispers, adjustments were made, and then there was heat, swallowing him up. It was quick and sharp and wonderful, and with ragged breaths, he told her that he loved her, too.

Maybe things weren't so strange. Maybe they were just as they should be.

And maybe... maybe this was Heaven.

A/N: Am I the only one who thinks snuggling would be ten times more awesome if you and your partner are the same height?
Anyhow, this was a bit of a departure for me, so please, please let me know your thoughts if you read this. I'd really appreciate it. :3