I will end this thing. I will finish a fiction. XD Though it's looking to be slightly longer than originally planned...but that's good for you all at least. Still really close to that ending though (as you'll notice, I'm sure). So - Thanks for reading and hanging in there!
Note: I'm updating this from a phone so line breaks aren't working. I'll add them later. XD
"Something ain't right." Eddie muttered around his cigar as he wandered the streets of the dreamscape. Adrian was behind him, cape swishing slightly as he walked. "This place is giving me the creeps."
"Considering what you consider to be comfortable I'm not surprised." Adrian sighed as he turned he corner along with his partner of the moment. Working with the Comedian was never a pleasure, but at least it was better than working with Rorschach. Doubly so now that the masked man was an emotional wreck over the loss of their mutual friend Daniel. "If I were you, I'd feel out of place as well."
"Like you don't feel out of place now Mr. Five-Hundred-Dollar suit."
"Fine, suburbia isn't my destination of choice." Arian pursed his lips and crossed his arms behind his back. It wasn't his fault he was wealthy. Adrian had worked for that money. "Sue me."
"If I thought I could beat your fancy lawyers I'd take you up on that."
The two vigilantes walked side-by-side down the bright lit street next to white picket fences and houses painted in pastel colors that would make the easter bunny jealous. The picture-perfect middle class neighborhood that looked untouched by even the lowest denominator of crime. There were even fresh flowers surrounded by brown mulch lining the sides and surrounding each mail-box post and a cheerful bird song in the air.
All in all an odd place for a murderer to hide out.
Eddie blew a smoke ring. "He's messin' with us."
"Oh, shut-up, Adrian." The Comedian slammed his boot into the nearest fence gate and smashed the thing wide open. Eddie was more than ready for a fight already and the scenery was doing nothing for him. "Let's just start bustin' in and looking for the guy."
"Might as well." Adrian followed through the gate taking in his surroundings as he went. Aside from the total lack of other human beings, the neighborhood truly did look and feel like any other. "I'm half surprised he hasn't paid us a visit already."
"You'll jinx us talking like that." Eddie smirked as he shoved the butt of his gun into the brass doorknob of the house he had wandered up to. The knob came off with an echoing crack and the door swung open slowly and Eddie grinned. "Then again, maybe that's what we want."
Veidt smiled as they wandered inside. Suburbia melted away into a decaying, rotting entrance of hallway foyer. The inside of the home looked like a fire had swept through it and then left to lie open to rot. "It seems we're finally getting somewhere."
"One, Two, Freddy's coming for you."
Both men turned quickly to stare back to the front yard beyond the door. Three girls in pristine white dresses stood in the yard with a jump rope. They were singing a rather creepy number song and it was sending chills down Veidt's spine. "Blake."
The door slammed shut locking the two of them in the destroyed house.
The Comedian cocked his rifle. "I think the fun's about to start, Ozy."
"Somehow, I doubt this will be fun." Adrian braced himself for something popping out of any corner. The temperature in the room seemed to drop almost instantly and his breath fogged in front of his face. Kruger didn't appear to be holding back any stops this time around.
The Comedian snorted and took a few steps until his back was flush with Adrian's. Best to cover all the angles and nothing was more fun than a good old fashioned back-to-back brawler. "I think you and me got different definitions of fun."
"You and 'I.'"
Edward Blake paused even while his eyes continued searching the room. "Did you seriously just correct my grammar?"
"Only when it involves me."
"I hate working with you."
If asked later, both would deny that they pressed flush into each other when the room burst into fire around them.
Rorschach dodged with a roll to the side when the fake Nite Owl thing lunged at him for the sixth or seventh time. Rorschach was losing his breath from all the fighting. The lowered temperature of the ice box was stealing his breath from him. Plus, for a rotting corpse the fake Nite Owl sure could move quickly. On the other hand, it helped remind Rorschach this monstrosity was not his friend. Daniel was never that swift on his feet. Silk Spectre on the other hand- "Urg!"
Spectre's grin widened so far the stitches in her mouth snapped at the edges. She pulled the knife out of Rorschach's gut with a slick 'shlopp' and spun it once in her hand. "Gotta' move faster than that you little weasel."
"Whore." Rorschach spit out as he held a hand over his wound. He ducked when a couple of arms tried to wrap around his shoulders in a bear hug. He hit the ground with a grunt and wondered where Freddy was hiding. He'd much rather by-pass the imitation dolls and go straight for the gut of the real deal. "Wasting time."
"That what we always were to you, Rorschach?" The Nite Owl Mimic hissed and threw another punch at the limber vigilante. "A waste of your time?"
Rorschach blocked out the voice. No matter how much it sounded like Daniel, it wasn't. It wasn't. A fake didn't deserve an answer.
"I mean, that's how you always treated us, right? None of us were good enough for you little mission." The Owl continued. His femme fatale partner circled Rorschach, but kept her distance. She let Daniel take the lead. "Especially after '75, right? You remember that. That was when you stopped fighting crime and started eliminating it."
"You chastised us for being too soft." Fake-Spectre added with a grin and flipped her bloodied hair over her shoulder. "You didn't think we could keep up with you."
"Nothing we did was ever good enough for your new standards. How I handled criminals. What we did with them afterwards. The hours I worked as a vigilante." Nite Owl glared down at Rorschach. "And apparently not even my cooking. You never would even let me heat up your food."
"Lies." Rorschach spoke up quietly. He never thought less of Daniel. "Lies!"
"Are they?" Nite Owl stopped his assault suddenly and stood straight. With a swift pull, he removed his cowl. The stitches and rot fell away to the ground with it and revealed a normal, flushed face framed by brown hair. "What did you really think of me, Rorschach?"
"Daniel." The masked man's throat closed up as he looked at familiar brown eyes. Krueger could conjure up a convincing fake. That was all. "You're not him. I don't think anything of you."
"I'm not the real deal?" Daniel smiled softly and took a few striding steps forward until his face was a hair's breath from the swirling black and white ink of his friend's mask. "You sure about that, Buddy?"
Rorschach braced when Silk Spectre wrapped herself around Nite Owl's back. She was too close and Rorschach couldn't trust either of them. The fake Laurie rubbed her face in Nite Owl's side and rubbed off the rot. It revealed the same painted face he was greeted every time the harlot showed up at the group meetings. However, his attention was soon drawn back to the man standing before him. It was a fake. It was a fake. It was a fake.
"The world's a funny place, Rorschach." Dan started and pushed a hand up to rub at the dual-toned fabric of Rorschach's 'face.' "A few years ago, if you would have told me my soul would be stolen by some freak with his face burnt off, I would have laughed and called you crazy." He dropped his hand lower and shoved Rorschach in the shoulder. "And yet here we are, right, Buddy?"
"No." Rorschach slowly shook his head. That wasn't possible. Daniel was dead. His soul wasn't trapped. Didn't belong to that monster. "Lies."
"You remember, Twilight Lady, Rorschach?" Dan grinned this time and pat Silk Spectre's arm as she leant up into his body. He was so cold. She was warm; it probably felt the same to her. "You tried to kill her, and I knocked you off a roof so she could get away. You wouldn't talk to me for a week."
Rorschach froze and looked the smirking man in the eye. It was hard to breathe. "You."
"Yeah. I promised I wouldn't tell anyone that's what happened. Your partner picking a criminal over you? Yeah. Bad for your reputation. Hell, it was bad for mine all things considered." Dan leant back when Laurie's arms tightened around him. "No one knew that but you and me, buddy."
"Dan...iel." Sick started to rise in Rorschach's throat and he started to back away from the image before him. Couldn't be Daniel. "No, no, no, no."
"Yes." Daniel's face split into a grin, revealing tiny little tears where stitching had been. They were slick and white like scars. "Yes, yes, yes." Nite Owl started to run forward to tackle his friend. "You condemned us to this! It's all your fault!"
Rorschach couldn't bring himself to block the tackle and he hit the ground with a thud. Hands were wrapping around his throat and Rorschach wondered where this solid brute strength came from. It was unearthly and the man couldn't move; could only claw at the arms that belonged to a man that could very well be his friend. "Daniel."
"And soon, you're going to be suffering with us." Dan smirked and leant down into Rorschach's face. "Just not right now."
The fake (real?) Daniel smashed his gauntlet covered fist into Rorschach's gut and the man lurched forward and over. Rorschach scrambled to shove himself up onto his feet and stared around the empty freezer room. His hand felt the place where he had been punched and could feel the bruise developing. But, why had he woken up? What was the point? Rorschach looked over to the chairs Veidt and the Comedian had been sitting in and cursed.
"I really, hate working with you, Blake!" Veidt shouted as he fought off the flames. He was still reeling with the logic that a room could be cold enough for his breath to fog and yet still manage to be surrounded by fire that was definitely hot to the touch. Two extremes in the same place. "Figure out how to get rid of this fire!"
"Aren't you the smart one!" Eddie snarled back as he searched for an opening to escape the flames. They were pretty surrounded on all sides and while it didn't appear to be crossing some invisible circle around him and Ozymandias, the fact remained they were pretty stuck where they were. "You figure it out!"
"I've been trying!" Adrian huffed. "I don't know if you realized this or not." Ozymandias spun to the other side of The Comedian when a flame licked towards him. They were now standing chest to chest. "But this dream world doesn't particularly follow logic." He dodged left as the flames continued to dance around them. "And the illogical is more your area of expertise than mine!"
"Blah, blah, blah." Eddie rolled his eyes and hunched over Adrian when a beam fell from the ceiling and smacked into the armor on his back. He grunted, but was otherwise okay. Adrian merely glared at him as thanks for preventing his tiny body from being crushed. "That's all I'm hearing."
"Yes, well." Veidt looked up to the ceiling where the beam had fallen. Smoke lingered and covered the ceiling but now there was a hole. The smoke filtered into it and went up to the second floor. Smoke was the lesser of the two evils momentarily. Veidt could hold his breath and with as many cigars the Comedian smoked, he doubted the man had even noticed the air was full of the stuff. "We'll have to go up."
"Up?" The Comedian followed Veidt's eye-line and hummed. It was an opening and it was better than getting turned into the next fried special. "How are we going to get up there?"
"Give me a boost and I'll reach down for you."
"Think you can lift me, twinkle toes?"
"Just boost me up already!" Adrian threw his hands on the Comedian's shoulder and vaulted himself up. Taking the hint, Blake cupped his hands and created a foot hold for Veidt to jump up into the open space. An easy lift later and Veidt sat comfortably on the second floor, surrounded by smoke, but at least all that was up here was the lowered temperature. He leant over the hole and shoved an arm down. "Give me your hand!"
"Don't have to tell me twice!" Eddie leapt up and grabbed the arm and felt himself be lifted. He got as far as the ceiling before using his own weight to pull himself up. "Well I'll be damned. You could lift me."
"Oh shut up." Adrian brushed off his arms. The Comedian acted like Ozymandias didn't work out. Being a gymnast required a lot of muscle strength dammit! "Come on, let's jump out a window and get back into the open."
Not two steps later, the floor beneath them opened up and swallowed them both, dumping them into the flames that now covered the entire floor.
The Comedian and Veidt were on fire.
Rorschach immediately turned both chairs on their sides in an attempt to wake them both up from the jolt. They merely kept screaming and writhing on the ground as the flames ate away at their clothes and skin. Burnt flesh filled the room and penetrated past Rorschach's mask. He went to the Comedian first and pat at the flames and tried to roll the man to put the fire out. It didn't seem to work. With a grunt he tried kicking the man in the head. "Wake-up!"
When that failed, he turned to Veidt and repeated the process. Rolling the man, patting at the flames, throwing frost from the ground of the freezer onto the flames all were futile. Only their screams continued on into the air. And Rorschach jumped up and searched the room desperately for something to wake the two of the men up or to put out the fire.
The room was empty save for the two chairs. What had at first been a precaution to prevent Krueger from having any advantages was now a disadvantage. Rorschach snarled when he noticed those two had now caught fire and were burning steadily in the corner filling the locked room with smoke. Rorschach knew how fire could eat away at everything in its path. He'd used it before to bring justice to sick men who played and violated small girls. He couldn't stop it and eventually Rorschach stilled.
The bodies had already stopped moving, and the fire slowly dissipated as it lost the fuel necessary to keep burning. Dried, stiff corpses laid where were once two fellow vigilantes. One Hero and one man of questionable motives. Rorschach gripped his fists tightly and breathed in the smell of burn flesh and smoke. So many smells over the past few days. Each more rank than the last.
Krueger had picked them all off one by one starting with Ms. Jupiter and ending with the Comedian and Ozymandias. He had even taken Nite Owl, Daniel. This monster had long past the point of being unforgivable. And now Rorschach had absolutely nothing to lose. Krueger's next fight would be with the cornered dog who had been beaten and starved now clinging to its last bit of life.
Rorschach was alone.