Ameri, Veidt's gold and brown capuchin monkey daemon paces back and forth behind his desk, restless animal intelligence in stark contrast to the studied calm of his façade. Mereida sits on the windowsill, a skin and bones calico who could as easily be an alley cat as a daemon. She's nervous, tail swishing and ears back, but it's not Veidt or Ameri getting that reaction. Rorschach seldom allows her near him when he's in costume now, but he's aware of how unnerving others find this and has brought her with him as a gesture towards tact.
'If that makes him a Nazi might as well call me a Nazi too,' says Rorschach.
Veidt's dismissive 'hmmm' is echoed by bared teeth from Ameri. Mereida stands up, eyes narrowing at the larger monkey. The daemons glare as their humans snipe at each other, an echo of distrust and dislike.
When Rorschach drops away from the window Mereida rides on his shoulder, jumping off feet from the pavement and landing neatly upright.
'Should warn Daniel,' she says quietly. She's slinking along in the shadows, aware he doesn't want her seen.
'Later.' Rorschach wants to see Daniel almost as much as he wants to avoid him. 'Will be with Hollis now. Beer night.'
Mereida shakes her head, flicking ragged ears as she does, but says nothing.
Rumour has it that Doctor Manhattan's daemon was once a Labrador. If you look closely at the abstract form outlined in blue light maybe you can still make out a kind of dog. Square muzzle, triangular legs. Maybe. Laurie's leopard, Aralan, is sitting in the corner, looking dull and dejected. Laurie herself looks much as always.
When Jon's daemon looks at her Mereida arches her back and skitters sideways, so clearly scared that Rorschach is ashamed to be with her. His glare sends her slinking away, tail down. She won't come back until he needs to look normal again.
They argue, Aralan adding counterpoint snarls as Laurie starts shouting at Rorschach. It's Aralan that asks Jon to teleport him away.
Daniel's lock is terrible, broken with one good kick, a mask killer could finish him easily. The thought sends cold fingers down Rorschach's spine.
He finds Daniel in the kitchen and, shockingly, Mereida is there as well. Dimendia, Daniel's pearl spotted owlet daemon, is sitting between her ears as she lies on the table gently preening her matted fur.
'Should not have come here alone,' says Rorschach, glaring at his daemon.
Mereida might only be a house cat but she's tough, Rorschach's seen her take on a wolf daemon before and win. Right now she looks as if she wants to hide, Dimendia hops in front of her and spreads tiny wings. Rorschach despises the little owl, a visual reminder of how far Daniel's dreams for himself fall short of the reality, and he almost can't stand the sight of his daemon cowering behind her.
'She comes here a lot,' says Daniel, faintly apologetic. 'It's always good to see her.'
When Rorschach takes a step towards her Mereida pulls herself together and stands up. She's hissing at him. 'Where else would I go? If you cared where I went when you sent me away you would have known.'
There's despair in her voice, it's one of those times when it's all too clear she's Walter's daemon and not his. Rorschach looks away, blocks her out the way that's all too easy now.
'Suppose she told you about the mask killer,' he says.
'Yeah,' says Daniel, he bites his lip. 'Don't you think you're being a little paranoid?'
'Is that what they're saying about me? That I'm paranoid?'
'Yes,' says Dimendia. 'And it's true.'
She hops close to him, relying on the fact he won't touch another person's daemon.
'Look, Rorschach. The Comedian had a lot of enemies, political enemies, it doesn't mean…'
Mereida stands up and looks Daniel in the eyes. Her paw reaches out as if she wants to pat his face. 'Please, Daniel,' she says. 'Be careful. You're all we have.'
Rorschach grabs his daemon by the scruff of the neck, yanks her sharply to the floor. Dimendia screeches at him and Daniel says, 'Rorschach!' sounding scandalised.
'Going now,' says Rorschach, he flips the badge at Daniel. 'Don't be complacent.' He stares contemptuously around the well stocked kitchen. 'If you can help it.'
Mereida follows him reluctantly through the tunnel. She won't leave him although she knows she's in disgrace. Once they're outside he grabs her, shoves her against the wall and feels the bruises down her sides. It hurts.
'Stay away from Daniel,' he hisses. 'Will not tolerate your weakness.'
He drops her, nearly throwing her at the ground, and pain shoots through her leg. When he walks away she still follows him.