A/N: Set in my Crimebusters AU, where a): Mason didn't publish Under the Hood until the late 70s and, b): The Comedian decided not to drink at the first Crimebusters meeting and, sober, was smart enough to realize that if he kept his mouth shut and rolled with it, he'd get to work alongside his daughter. As a result, the Crimebusters actually happened, complete with a group headquarters and semi-communal living.
Characters: Nite Owl II, Rorschach, The Comedian, Silk Spectre II
Disclaimer: Don't own any of it, sadly.
Warnings: None. Silliness, maybe.
Drop-dead tired, Nite Owl and Rorschach finally arrive back at the Crimebusters headquarters, only to find that the place is deserted.
In the front hall there's a note from Captain Metropolis explaining that the others have gone out to get food. Dan hopes it's not Chinese again, because there's only so much lo mein one man can eat in a week, but it probably will be. The Comedian seems to have an inexhaustible appetite for Chinese food. He throws himself down on the big overstuffed couch in the common room, utterly bushed.
Rorschach takes a moment to shed his trench coat and then flops down next to him, uncharacteristically boneless. He lets his head fall back against the cushions with a groan, obviously exhausted as well. Dan turns his head (which is about all the motion he feels capable of right then) and carefully looks his partner over, because it usually takes a broken bone to get that kind of a noise out of him, and says, "Wow. I could sleep for a week. Hey, you all right? I noticed you were limping a little after we ran that last bunch down."
"Hrrrnh." The patterned mask tilts his way, ink spots shifting slowly. "Caught my foot on the fire escape, it's nothing serious. How's your shoulder?"
Dan rolls one shoulder experimentally. "It's OK. I'm gonna have a hell of a bruise, though." He smiles at his partner. "Good bust tonight, yeah?"
Rorschach nods, muttering an affirmative "Mmh", and Dan grins at him as they lazily tap their fists together in acknowledgement. Dan drops his hand back down and mutters, "Oh man, I need to grab a shower and get some sleep."
"Mmm-hm." Rorschach agrees. Neither one of them moves, though.
After ten minutes Nite Owl is sound asleep, little buzzy snores purring out of his open mouth. Beside him, Rorschach is also out cold, his breathing a steady tidal rhythm behind his mask. He slumps down, slowly sliding sideways on the couch.
An hour later, the others return from their expedition. As Laurie unpacks bags in the kitchen, she wonders how it is that yet again, she seems to be the one expected to deal with unpacking the food and dishing up the takeout. She resolves to make the first item up for discussion at the next meeting a request to investigate why having a vagina seems to be required Crimebusters equipment for putting away groceries. As she's tossing the last unpacked takeout bag in the trash, the Comedian comes into the kitchen.
"Hey princess, you still got that Polaroid One-Step thing?"
She looks at him, puzzled and still a bit irritated. "What, the instant camera? Yeah, sure. Why?"
"You got film in it? Go get it."
Laurie debates for a moment, then shrugs and leaves to get the camera. When she returns, the Comedian grins and takes it from her, beckoning her to follow him. "Come on. You gotta see this."
Nite Owl and Rorschach are asleep on the large couch in the common room, dead to the world. Nite Owl is sleeping sitting up at one end of the couch, snoring, his head tipped back. One of his arms rests along the arm of the couch. His other arm is draped possessively over Rorschach, who is lying down with his head resting in Nite Owl's lap, taking up the rest of the couch space. The pinstriped arms are wrapped tightly around Nite Owl's thigh, like he's a small child and Dan's leg is his favorite stuffed animal. His fedora has fallen to the floor and is lying next to one of Nite Owl's boots.
Laurie meets the Comedian's gaze and fights hard not to laugh out loud. Instead, she keeps it to a muffled snort. He grins back at her and whispers, "Awwwww."
Ozymandias and Captain Metropolis wander into the common room, quietly discussing something. They stop to take in the scene. Nelson shakes his head at the Comedian but doesn't say anything. He regards the sleeping men on the couch and looks a little sad for a moment, but it's gone before anyone can notice his expression and remark on it. Adrian looks pleasantly inscrutable, as always. "Just let them sleep, Edward," he murmurs, then takes Nelson's elbow and leaves, continuing their conversation.
The Comedian steps up to take a picture, maneuvering around to get the best angle. As he does so, Nite Owl's eyes open slightly. He looks blearily at the Comedian, then his eyes open the rest of the way as they register the camera and the Comedian's shit-eating grin.
Taking great care not to move any other part of himself and risk disturbing his sleeping partner, Dan moves the arm that's not holding onto Rorschach. He brings his hand up and extends his middle finger toward the Comedian. The Comedian grins at Dan and snaps the picture, then saunters off with Laurie to get some chow.
Dan holds the salute for a few moments until they're out of the room. Then he drops his hand down and lets his head fall back again to resume drowsing. But as he does, he takes a moment to look down at Rorschach and a fond smile turns his face into something almost beatific. Before he slides back into sleep, he takes a moment to reach down and brush his fingertips across the top of his partner's head in the lightest of touches.
The next night, they all trickle one by one into the common room for a meeting. Dan walks right by the bulletin board and takes a seat, but Rorschach stops to examine a photograph that's pinned to the corkboard with the caption 'Strategy Session' scribbled underneath it. Dan looks up as he hears a strangled "Ehnk!" from his partner and groans as he sees him examining the photo. The Comedian starts to snicker.
Rorschach rips the picture off the board and glowers at the Comedian, who bursts into a guffaw. Rorschach looks like he's going to tear the photo in half, but settles instead for vehemently flinging it into the trash basket. He snarls, "Grow up!" at the Comedian and stalks off, bristling.
Nite Owl sighs and gets up to follow him out, pausing on the way to throw the Comedian a truly filthy look as he informs him, "I really hate you sometimes, you know that?"
The Comedian just beams at him and takes a big fat drag off his cigar, saying, "I know, Spanky."
Later that night, Dan gets out of bed and sneaks quietly downstairs. As he furtively approaches the trash basket, he looks around several times to reassure himself that he's the only one up and about. Seeing that the coast is clear, he picks up the basket and roots around in the mess of crumpled paper, but the picture is gone. Disappointed, he sighs and replaces the wastepaper basket, then returns to bed.
The picture in question lies tucked securely into the pages of Rorschach's journal (not the one he carries in his trench coat, but the finalized version that never leaves his room), safely hidden under a particular section of the floorboards in his closet.