perpetual_motion: saul panzer is a fierce bitch (mmmm vest)
[personal profile] perpetual_motion
Title: And the Cock Crew (1/1)
Author: Perpetual Motion
Fandom: Watchmen
Pairing: None
Characters: Nite Owl, Rorschach
Rating: PG
Summary: The question Dan may have asked. Possibly. We hope.

Dis: Lies and bullshit.

Author's Notes: [personal profile] lasergirl is fully responsible for this, and I know she doesn't feel bad. That's okay, because I rather like it, too.


And the Cock Crew
By Perpetual Motion

"What happened to your pronouns?"

Dan doesn't mean to ask, but once it's out, he's glad he has. It's been bugging him for months, the way Rorschach's silences have gotten longer, the way his staccato sentences have gotten even shorter. Rorschach doesn't answer him, but Dan can read the swirls of the ink. The curved lines around the edges of his eyes tell Dan he's confused him.

"Pronouns?" Rorschach asks. "Do not understand, Daniel."

Bullshit, Dan thinks but he can't say. The Rorschach he knew and the one in front of him are different. He doesn't think anyone else has noticed, but Dan's known him a long time, worked with him a long time, knows how to read him. The man in front of him now is tenser, quieter. The man in front of him now nearly brained a man on a spark hydrant tonight. "Pronouns," Dan parrots back to him. "It's a part of speech, meant to stand in for a person, place or thing."

"Still use them," Rorschach replies. "Just did."

How no one else has picked up on Rorschach's wiseass streak, Dan doesn't know. Maybe it's because no one else works with him as often. "But you don't," he argues.

Rorschach glances at the open end of the alley where they're hiding and supposed to be planning their next route. "Dogs ate them," he says after a moment. "After…"

"After?" Dan prompts when Rorschach doesn’t finish the sentence. "What dogs, Rorschach?"

Rorschach looks at him again, the whole front of his mask is one solid blob of ink. He's going to avoid the question, Dan knows. "Not important. Should be planning."

Dan presses his lips together in frustration. Rorschach being reticent isn't new, but he's never been dismissive like this. Dan thinks for a moment, lets his memory flip backwards over the months to when he first noticed Rorschach's even more abbreviated speech. "You don't use personal pronouns," he finally says, and he sees in the set of Rorschach's shoulders that he's close to walking off, leaving Dan in the alley because of the questions. "You'll use them for other people, and for things and places, but you don't use them for you."

Rorschach watches Dan for a long moment, the ink of his mask rolling from his chin to his forehead like waves on a stormy, grey beach. There's a sudden clench of freezing cold, black fear in the pit of Dan's stomach. He should have asked earlier, he thinks. Back when he first noticed it. Shouldn't have let it fester this long so that it's nearly a wall between them now, holding them apart when they used to be closer.

I'm a superhero, Dan thinks, and I don't even know my best friend's face. He expects to feel depressed at that thought. Scared, maybe. But all he has is the black fear in his stomach that Rorschach is hurt somewhere, mentally, and he's waited too long to be helpful.

"Am fine," Rorschach finally says. He turns away from Dan, pulls up the collar of his coat, slides his hands into his pockets. "Loitering too long," he says. "Becoming bait."

It's a dismissal, Dan knows, and he nearly lets it go, but he can see the tension in Rorschach's shoulders, a wire that's about to snap. And this man is his friend, damnit. He will not turn his back on a friend.

"Rorschach…" Rorschach adjusts one shoulder. The only sign he's listening. Dan pushes out his next words as hard as he can, hopes to clear the awful black fear in his stomach. "Rorschach, what happened?"

"Am fine." Rorschach repeats.

"Bullshit," Dan spits out. He doesn't mean to say it, but it makes Rorschach look at him again, the ink settling into a V over his eyes. Dan's made him angry. He's pushed too hard. Even if Rorschach takes a swing at him, Dan decides, he doesn't care.

At the mouth of the alley, a couple walks by, laughing and holding hands. Neither of them glance into the darkness to look for danger. Rorschach watches them pass then turns to look at Dan again.

"Am fine," Rorschach says for a third time, still watching the mouth of the alley.

When Dan was a kid, he'd had a friend who was Catholic. He lived down the street and one Sunday, after he came home from Mass, he told Dan the story of Simon Peter denying Jesus three times.

"Why would he do that?" Dan had asked. "Isn't he supposed to be the guy's best friend or something?"

The kid had shrugged, not understanding it either. Dan had asked his parents what it meant as they had dinner, and they'd looked at each other and told him it didn't concern him. They weren't practicing Jews then, but they'd both grown up that way, and the story of Simon Peter didn't hold significance. The next day, Dan had gone to the library and flipped through a Bible until he'd found it:

Then saith the damsel that kept the door unto Peter, Art not thou also of this man's disciples? He saith, I am not.

It had rankled him for days, wondering why someone who was supposed to be a best friend would lie like that. And do it more than once.

"You're not fine," Dan replies. He reaches for Rorschach's shoulder, his fingers sliding from it as Rorschach slips from his grasp. "Whatever's happened, whatever's made you think you don't count anymore, don't listen to it, okay? I don't…" Dan takes a deep breath. " I don't want you to think you can't talk to me if something's gone wrong. If you need help with something, okay? I know you're not…fond…of help, but it's here if you need it, okay? I'm here if you need it."

The mask shifts again as Rorschach turns to look at him, the blots resting heavy on Rorschach's eyes, two streaks of ink sliding high on his cheeks. "Will consider offer," Rorschach says. "Will let you know."

"Good," Dan replies, and he clenches his hand so he doesn't reach out again. "I'll be here."

on 2010-11-27 01:01 pm (UTC)
lasergirl: puppy with the word "obey" under it, and a heart (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] lasergirl
I fucking love you. And this.

on 2010-12-02 04:15 pm (UTC)
etherati: B&W Dan and Ror in front of Owlship, from GN (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] etherati
Absolutely lovely. We've had plenty of fic where Dan approaches him post-Roche about the violence or his hygiene or his general demeanor, but I don't think anyone's ever had him pick up on the pronouns, and I have no idea why! It seems so obvious, in retrospect. And I love how clumsy Dan is here, in both approaching the subject and trying to resolve it, because of course he would be <3

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