I don't think there's a single watchman fan who didn't see the preview for the reboot of 'A Nightmare on Elm Street' and didn't squeal "Rorschach!" when Freddy spoke. It was way, way too easy to hear Rorschach saying the line "Why are you screaming? I haven't even cut you yet."
Which of course lead to the thought - I wonder who'd scare who? Rorschach vs Freddy.
And this thing demanded to be written. Demanded it. I just hope it decides to be short. So in the meantime you all better enjoy it. XD Thank-you for reading & reviewing.
"Off tonight." Rorschach rasped as they walked along the back alley of the streets. Nite Owl had taken a nasty hit from the side earlier and was now sporting what was sure to be a rather large bruise under his suit. Usually better at blocking obvious hits. Could have been worse. "Careless."
"Yeah." Nite Owl agreed. Dan sighed soon after and resisted the urge to take off his goggles and rub his eyes. Rorschach was angry, his shoulders tight and his walk brisk. Usually they walked shoulder to shoulder but tonight he was a pace ahead. Dan guessed his hands had formed fists in the pockets. Rorschach wasn't usually very forgiving when it came to taking needless hits in the field. Especially when he ends up dropping what he's doing to go help out his 'idiot' friend in the owl suit. "I'd like to say it won't happen again, but we both know I'd be lying."
Rorschach slowed slightly. There was something in Nite Owl's voice that was off as well. Sounded more like Daniel when Rorschach emptied his sugar cube jar. Sounded empty; like facing something inevitable. "Reason for tonight?"
"I think I'm just tired, Rorschach." Dan felt his shoulders drop. His costume seemed to weigh more than usual as he was walking. Dan just felt heavy all over. A few steps later and he realized Rorschach had stopped completely and was staring. "Rorschach?"
The vigilante in the striped pants felt like someone had punched him in the gut. Rorschach had very few people he could tolerate being around and even far less that he trusted. To hear Nite Owl was, tired¸ almost knocked him from his feet. Daniel could get discouraged and angry and petulant, but he sounded almost broken. Broken men didn't fight crime. They quit or died. Gave up. They left. Rorschach made sure his voice was even before he answered. "Thinking of quitting?"
Nite Owl's eyes widened behind the goggles and his mouth dropped open. After a moment his shoulders twitched and he bit his lip. Rorschach held his breath waiting for the inevitable answer before Nite Owl snorted and shoved his hand his mouth. A few seconds later the fearsome Nite Owl was leaning on a wall holding his gut and laughing hysterically. "Fail to see what's funny, Daniel." Rorschach nearly snarled the man's name.
"I'm sorry." Dan wheezed and his time did lift his goggles a bit to wipe at the tears in the corner of his eyes. He needed a laugh like that. "It's just, wow, you jumped to a pretty big conclusion there, didn't ya' buddy?"
Rorschach continued staring.
Dan coughed into his hand and tried to sober himself up. Rorschach apparently didn't find this as amusing as he did and he was pretty sure under that mask the man was scowling. "I didn't mean 'tired' as in 'tired of crime fighting.' I mean 'tired' as in I only got an hour of sleep last night." Nite Owl chuckled slightly as Rorschach's shoulders dropped. Dan rubbed the bottom of his nose meekly and shrugged. "Sorry to scare you."
"Wasn't scared." Rorschach huffed and walked past Nite Owl, thoroughly embarrassed. A change of topic was in order. "One hour?"
Not wanting to put his friend in a fouler mood, Nite Owl followed suit with the new subject matter. "Yeah, been having trouble sleeping for the past few days." Dan found himself continuing on when he didn't receive a response. "I mean, it's not like I get that much sleep anyway considering our night job, but I usually got at least four to five hours in. Now I'm lucky if I get one. It's just all catching up to me, I think."
"Not healthy." Rorschach muttered. Nite Owl wasn't used to the lack of sleep. "Losing focus at work will cost you."
"Don't I know it." Dan groaned and slapped his cheeks a bit to force himself to be a bit more alert. "It's not like I'm not trying."
Rorschach tilted his head. Something was still bothering him about this. Daniel had never been particularly plagued by guilt and had never been on case (that Rorschach was aware of) that would be enough to keep him up at night. Not one to beat around the bush, Rorschach simply asked. "Why can't you sleep?"
"I don't think I want to tell you." Dan ducked his head down a bit. "You'll just make fun of me." Nite Owl muttered and tried not to turn red.
Rorschach smirked as his partner turned in on himself and fidgeted. He merely prompted him with a name. His partner always caved under pressure. "Nite Owl?"
Rorschach stopped again for the second time of the night. Nite Owl seemed embarrassed but nightmares so horrible they kept one up at night were something Rorschach was familiar with quite intimately. Even now and again visions of dogs and small girls crept into his head where he couldn't escape. It was hard to picture someone who was so optimistic all the time having similar night terrors. Rorschach knew better than to tease. "Same one every time?"
Dan shouldn't have been surprised that Rorschach was strangely accepting of the topic. Had he been Laurie or the Comedian, Dan would have never heard the end of the teasing. If anyone in their group had their share of nightmares, it was probably Rorschach. "Yeah."
"No, actually." Dan started as he stopped on their trek down the long alley to stoop down. He pulled up the sewer cover and prepped himself for the smell. Rorschach jumped down first without hesitation and Nite Owl stalled on the ladder to pull the cover back over. "It's always the same guy though, but I swear I've never seen him before."
"Guy?" Rorschach inquired as he waited for Nite Owl to finish climbing down the steps. As used to the dingy city as he was, sometimes he hated the nights they took to foot instead of using Nite Owl's favorite ride.
"Yeah, guy with a gruff voice and wears a fedora." Nite Owl stopped when he felt Rorschach glaring at him. He immediately held his hands up defensively and took a step back. "Not you, man! Really. I swear! He's got this awful green and red striped sweater and his face is all burnt and falling off." Rorschach continued to look at him skeptically. "Okay fine, but last time I checked you didn't have a leather glove on your left hand that had knives on the end of the fingers." Dan snorted. "Or make horrible puns whenever you do something."
"And this keeps you up?" Rorschach questioned. He was fairly certain he and Nite Owl took out filth in this city every night that was scarier than some nut job with a knife and a smart mouth. For goodness sake, Nite Owl had teamed up with the Comedian before. "Find hard to believe that's scary."
"See? This is where you make fun of me." Nite Owl snorted and trudged down the path towards his basement. He just wanted a hot shower and that bottle of sleeping pills he bought this morning. "I know it sounds ridiculous out loud and we deal with weirder freaks than that on a daily basis, but in the dream it's terrifying. I don't know what it is. But," Dan paused, "It's like I'm not in control anymore. Like all my skills and experience don't mean jack. Like I'm getting played with." Dan looked up. "Were we ever in a boiler room?"
Rorschach tilted his head slightly. They of course bust up some gangs in old warehouses, but he couldn't recall a boiler room. "You're in a boiler room in the dream?"
"Not always, but I usually end up there." Nite Owl turned the corner and rubbed his shoulder. "At some point during these things I get scared enough to wake up and then it's impossible to go back to sleep because it just happens all over again and the process repeats. I think I'm going to try some sleeping pills."
Rorschach nodded thoughtfully as they finally made it to the lair and walked past Archie. Nite Owl shed his cowl, cape and goggles and started to change. Rorschach continued past him and up the stairs to wait in the kitchen. A few sugar cubes stuffed into his pocket later and Daniel walked into the kitchen with a yawn. Now in the light, it was more obvious how badly his lack of sleep was affecting the man. Bags under his eyes told stories. Though, that's not what drew Rorschach's attention. "What happened to your arm?"
Dan looked down at the bandage wrapped around his forearm and chuckled. "Cut my arm. Not sure on what, but it was bleeding when I woke up. I think in that one hour of sleep I was thrashing around and hit something. Nothing major." Dan suddenly chuckled. "That part's kinda' funny actually because I cut my arm in the dream, too."
Rorschach cleared his throat.
"I mean, funny how the mind works that way huh? I thrash in my sleep and cut my arm on a table or something and in my dream that guy with the knife cuts me in the same place." Dan poured himself a cup of coffee to help him stay awake. He still had stuff to do today.
"The guy cut you?"
"Yeah," Dan started a bit. Rorschach's interest was a bit out of place. Maybe the other man had nightmares more than he realized and finally had someone to talk with. Dan almost laughed to himself. Rorschach being open about his feelings. "He's always running around after me trying to kill me."
"Get enough of that during day." Rorschach huffed before standing up and pushing his had farther down on his head. He hesitated slightly at the door. "Get some sleep, Daniel."
"I'll try. See ya' later, Rorschach." Dan nodded as Rorschach disappeared into the night. He rubbed his hands in his hair and went to the cabinet to down a sleeping pill. Nightmare or not he was getting some sleep tonight!
Well, Dan definitely wasn't waking up, that was for sure.
Dan leapt down from a walk-way to the ground beneath it and cursed when he lost his footing slightly. Bare feet did not treaded boots make. The burnt man was still on the cat walk looking down and growling. Dan wasn't sure exactly how long he'd been running around this place in nothing but his pajama pants but he was sure it was longer than the other nights where he would have woken up by this point. Considering he was littered with bruises and his cuts had reopened from fighting off the creep in the sweater, Dan wondered if being sleep deprived wasn't the better option.
"Why ya' running? I just wanna' play." The man cackled from above. "You're lookin' more like a chicken than an owl."
Dan moved and sprint down the hall trying to rub the sweat out of his face as he ran. He had a feeling sweater-man's idea of playing was more in line with something the Comedian would be up for. And damn was it hot in this place; felt like he was melting into the floor. "Go to hell!"
"Been there thank-you! Much nicer up here!"
And he cracked jokes, too.
Dan was fairly certain his subconscious was out to get him. That's what this was. He was being chased by the deranged love child of Rorschach and the Comedian he created in his head and they both wanted to kill him slowly for some reason. Dan snorted as he turned another corner. Rorschach was peeved enough that his dream stalker had a fedora, he didn't need to hear that Dan thought he was out to get him. Man was paranoid enough. "Shit!"
Dan cursed again when he ran into his stalker who had somehow transported directly in front of him. Now he was mixing Jon into the mix. Just. Peachy. This is what Dan got for hanging out with costumed heroes. Instinct kicking in from the close proximity caused Dan to lash out and hit sweater-man in the chin with the base of his palm. The crack of the man's neck snapping back was almost deafening despite the creaking and crackling of all the equipment around them. Steam smacked into his face from the side and he winced from the excess heat.
Dan followed through with a shoulder tackle as soon as he gathered his senses, knocking the man into the boiler before sprinting again. After the past hour or so being chased Dan had learned real quick sweater man could take a lot of damage and just stand back up and hit right back. Which Dan also found out – hurt quite a bit. Speaking, Dan tripped over a pipe and took a tumble to the concrete and he could feel his palms and elbows scuffing the ground. His cursing was turning into a mantra as he heard the chuckling. "Dammit! Dammit! Dammit!"
Mr. Creep dashed out from the side of a water heater and slashed towards Dan's chest; he barely skimmed the surface but it was enough to raise the skin slightly. "It'd be all over if you just let me cut you."
"Yeah, but I'd rather not lose to a freak like you even if it's not real!" Dan snarled before returning a kick to the chest. He just had to keep this up until his alarm went off. That wouldn't be so bad, right? Dan leant against a handrail and heaved heavy breaths. For something that was in his head, the exhaustion and aches were feeling pretty real. Dan wasn't sure of the last time he had dreams this intense. "So go screw yourself!"
"Aw, getting tired already?" Fedora licked his crusty lips and snickered. He tapped his clawed hand against the wall and the clinks sounded obnoxiously loud. He scraped them down creating sparks. "Why don't I remove some of that dead weight for ya?"
Dan's eyes widened when he lunged yet again (where did all that energy come from!?) and this time struck gold.
Dan howled in pain as the knives on his glove sliced through skin just beneath the ribs, enough to cause blood to rush down over his side. Wasn't any worse than getting stabbed in the back alley when he was working alone, but still hurt. Dan covered the wound with his arm and groped for something to use as a weapon. Hand curling around a loose pipe on the ground he swung. Metal connected with head and Dan stared as he realized he'd taken off part of the man's skull, brain now visible.
He was lucky he was in too much pain to vomit.
"Nice shot." A fedora was placed back onto the head, little concern for the organ now thumping slightly. The poor sap's face was contorting into disgust and turning white. "Gotta' say, its' been fun fighting with someone who knows what they're doing."
"What?" Dan was confused. The figment of his imagination had fought other people? That didn't make any sense. He just wanted to wake up already and face his normal every day crazy friends. Was that too much to ask? "Just go away!"
"I don't think so." Another lunge-
Dan woke up screaming.
Cursing he slammed his hand down on the alarm clock and sat up in bed, only to double over as his ribs burned. Looking down he was shaking as his hand slowly lifted from his side. His breathing was heavy and his hand shook harder as he stared at the blood that was coating his hand and his sheets.
Nite Owl hadn't shown up for patrol.
More concerning, Daniel hadn't even left a note. Rorschach was standing in the lair next to Archie and looking around. The room seemed untouched from when they returned the night before, even his goggles were still carelessly left on the table. Rorschach hummed to himself before traveling up the back steps to the house. Normally he'd take the front door, but he was already here. The upstairs was strangely quiet and so when he heard a slight thump Rorschach's' guard went up.
Rorschach entered the kitchen quietly and pulled out a knife from the drawer in case there was a prowler about and kept his back to the wall. He could hear the heavy breathing now and the sound of muttered cursing. It sounded like Daniel, but Rorschach didn't want to take any chances with the possibility of an intruder. The door to the bathroom was cracked open and light was streaming out. Pained, hitched noises grew louder. Rorschach peered around the door and gasped a little, almost dropped knife. "Daniel."
"Jeez!" Dan jumped and cursed when he knocked his elbow on the table. Like he needed another bruise. "Rorschach! You need to stop doing that! Scared the hell out of me!"
"Daniel." Rorschach ignored the scolding and went straight to the other man and grabbed his wrist to pull the arm back and get a better view. Daniel was sitting on the edge of his toilet seat in nothing but pajama pants and stitching up his side which was sporting four deep gashes. Three already done and the forth still lightly bleeding through the disinfecting gel. There were bloody sheets and gauze around his feet. "How?"
Dan coughed and adjusted his glasses. I got slashed in my dream by the psycho following me around and I woke up with the wound sounded crazy even to him. Dan bit his lip. "I don't know. It was just there when I woke up."
"Daniel." Rorschach snarled, hand still wrapped around his wrist. After his eyes finally left the torn side, he got a good look at the rest of his partner. The man was covered in bruises, his face was pale and little scratches and red splotches dotted his skin. "Truth."
Dan tried to pull his arm back. "That is the truth! I had the nightmare again and the pills kept me asleep through it for once. When I woke up I was covered in bruises and my side was ripped open. I don't know how it happened." Rorschach was still squeezing his wrist and it was hurting. "Let go."
Rorschach slowly released the man's arm as Daniel turned back to his stitching, tying up the last of the four slashes. Scenarios started to filter through his head and he turned towards the windows. "Sign of entry?"
"No, believe me I looked. No one's been in my room today or yesterday but me." Dan tried not to shake but it was unnerving. He knew what this looked like and Rorschach didn't take 'it's no big deal' for an answer. "Trust me, I looked." Dan repeated.
Rorschach remained standing at attention in the room, eyes watching the hallway browsing the droplets of blood that led a trail back to the bedroom. Daniel was still shaking and wouldn't look Rorschach in the face. Nervous. "Holding something back."
"How do you do that?" Dan laughed and bit his lip as he strung the needle through skin patching himself. The morphine was starting to wear off and the pain was coming.
"Easy to read." Rorschach sat on the edge of the tub and stared at his friend. Stalling. "Talk."
Dan stayed quiet and sewed until he tied off the last of the string, cut it off with a pair of scissors. Rorschach handed him the roll of gauze and he sighed as he started to wrap himself. "It was in the dream."
"The guy in the dream, my dream, we were fighting." Dan motioned to all the bruises and pointed at a larger one on his leg. "That's where he smacked me with one of those industrial hooks on a chain." Dan swallowed and held his palms up showing the ripped skin. "Where I jumped off a catwalk and hit the ground." And finally he put a hand over the wound on his stomach. "Where he sliced me with his claws." Dan put his face in his hand. "It sounds crazy. I, maybe I was sleep walking or something and got into a fight. Hallucinating even. I'm not sure. For all I know I did it to myself. Whatever happened to me probably crossed over into the dream thanks to my subconscious."
"Daniel." Rorschach let out a small guttural noise in his confusion. These sort of symptoms didn't just pop up over night did they? Maybe something in the water possessing him. Rorschach kept that theory to himself; another government conspiracy and Daniel would shut him out. He tried for the drugs. "Possibility, pills acted badly with system? Caused the thrashing? The sleep walking?"
"Maybe." Dan rubbed his face and sighed. "Whatever it is, I'm awake now and taking care of it."
Rorschach could not deny the slight concern. If Nite Owl had just been careless out on patrol and gotten hurt, Rorschach would have hardly been sympathetic. It's a lesson learned and hopefully not repeated. This though, this wasn't Nite Owl's fault. It wasn't even Daniel's fault. He was clearly a victim of something, but what? His own mind? "Going to do anything?"
"Well, whatever happened I was asleep at the time." Dan muttered before wincing as he drug the needle through the skin again. A deep breath before continuing. He'd sewn up three gashes already, almost done with the last. He could do it. "As long as it doesn't happen again, I should be fine."
"Can't risk it." Rorschach interjected eyes glued to the wound. Daniel shouldn't bleed that much. Should only bruise thanks to his suit. Nite Owl fought, not Daniel. "Might not wake up next time. Lots of blood."
"Look," Dan stood up after tying off the last stitch and headed to the sink. "If it happens again, I'll let you know. I really doubt I'm going to sleep through anything like this." Dan pointed to the wound. "In fact, I woke up when this happened so that's a good sign."
"Don't like it."
"Yeah, me either, buddy." Dan snorted and leaned in towards the window to look at his face. There was a bruise developing on his lower cheek where he had been decked. "But for now, we'll just call it a fluke and leave it at that."
"Tell me if it happens again."
Dan noted that was an order and not a request. "Of course, you know me. "
"Take week off." Rorschach huffed and walked out of the bathroom, hands in his pockets again. He was not looking forward to a week of that disgusting place that dared call itself a city without back-up. Crime had been getting worse lately, but Nite Owl would be more of a hindrance in this condition. "No condition to fight."
"Ah, but I'm all rested this time." Dan chuckled before shrinking back under Rorschach's glare. "Right, right. Nothing but working on Archie for a full week. I got it, so no worries." Dan chuckled. "But you better get out there before the bad guys start to miss us too much."
Inked spots danced around on the fabric but Rorschach nodded before heading back down the stairs to the city below. He was feeling frustrated and Daniel was getting injuries from no where. Had to do patrol without Nite Owl. Rorschach growled and almost felt bad for anyone he ran into. With the mood he was in, it was doubtful the criminals would receive Rorschach's usual mercy.