?

Log in

 
 
07 December 2009 @ 08:59 pm
(fic) eventually, as before  
Eventually, as Before | [info]radishface
Watchmen → Zombie!AU → Dan/Rorschach
The years go by, and Dan wants to make sure that everything will be all right. 1290 words.
A/N, Z!Ror and Dan deal with 401Ks and growing old. Captcha fic for "mortality finances," apologies to etherati for playing in her Z!verse.

*


For his fifty-seventh birthday, Laurie invites Dan to a nice place uptown for brunch. Over eggs and French toast, Dan takes it in; this face across from him, the little crow's feet at the corner of her eyes, the lines around her mouth. Though obviously not as bright as they used to be, her eyes still hold a glimmer of humor.

"Out of all the things he can do, surely Jon must be able to reverse the aging process," Dan says after their waitress dropped off his free birthday cake and he's blown out the candle. Laurie just crinkles her eyes at him.

"Well, the anti-aging compound he developed for Veidt's cosmetic line a few months ago just got approved by the FDA." Her fork pings idly against her glass of water, eyes downcast, like she's looking at her reflection. "If you're interested, I could probably snag some for you."

Jon's mostly off in the Middle East these days, and Dan knows that Laurie doesn't even get to see him much anymore. "I'll take my chances, thanks."

"They already sold out of pre-orders at Bloomingdale's," she shrugs, a dry little smile playing on her lips. "The waiting list is supposed to be decades long."

He laughs widely in response, tongue pushing against the bottom row of his teeth. His mouth tastes like maple syrup, tomato juice and vodka. It's not unpleasant.



*


They go for a stroll around the block after Laurie foots the bill, Dan, it's your birthday, of course I'm going to pay, stepping down the streets close together, not really going anywhere except where their feet take them. A Macy's window display gives them pause: a mannequin family is dressed for the beach, their smooth, plastic faces pinched around the mouths in the suggestion of smiles. A tapestry of the Hamptons hangs behind them, backlit and cheery. Laurie huffs a little. It doesn't sound exactly like longing but it doesn't sound not like it, so Dan isn't sure what he feels, if it's disappointment or relief.

He settles on relief.

They keep walking, but after a while Laurie slips her arm into his. Their steps slow a little, savoring.



*


Rorschach isn't there when he gets back. Dan settles in the couch with a copy of Money magazine and waits.

It's a little before dinnertime when he hears a familiar clunking up the stairs. The kitchen bookcase unlatches and swings open. Rorschach emerges from the basement, stinking of sewage.

Dan gives him a withering (but fond, always fond) look over the casserole he's making. "I put the disinfectant in the basement for a reason, you know." He wrinkles his nose in a way that he knows is endearing.

"Already did," Rorschach says briskly.

Dan points toward the stairs, unfazed. "Bath. Now. Dinner'll be ready in half an hour."

"Enh," Rorschach grunts, and starts for the hallway. A few minutes later, there's the sound of water humming through the pipes, the distant patter of the shower.

They eat mostly in silence. Rorschach smells of soap and clean clothes, and in this dim lighting Dan can almost pretend, almost, that he can't catch the faint ring of iron and rot wafts off Rorschach's skin, that the darkness over Rorschach's cheekbones is from the heat of his recent shower and not from the bruises that linger months and months after impact. The glimmer of scars, the black sutures; just a consequence of his eyes growing old and the debris floating in them, white spots and black spots dusting his vision just as when he stands up too quickly.

Rorschach is done eating first and sits back in the chair, arms crossed and eyes sleepy; the faint gold-glimmer in his irises is just another trick of the light. When Dan finishes, Rorschach stands up and gathers their plates and utensils and heads for the sink.

Water running, again. Dan closes his eyes and his hands fold over his stomach, digesting happily. His knees creak when he stands up and heads to the living room. Rorschach joins him moments later, dishes presumably all washed and put away (though Dan knows he'll have to go back and check, Rorschach never gets them completely clean, not even after all this time). The copy of Money is folded over his lap, temporarily ignored in favor of the evening news. Rorschach settles in besides him and watches too, uncharacteristically quiet.

Dan presses the mute button when the commercials come on and turns to face Rorschach. "Where are you off to tonight?"

Rorschach studies his face for a moment, takes his time with answering. "The usual," he says.

They can't cover the city like they used to. Nite Owl II's retirement was never official, because Dan never knows if he might wake up one day thirty years younger (anything can happen in this city, he thinks mildly). When he does take Archie out it's only to hover above ground, to provide a cover and exit for Rorschach, who still moves with all the agility and alertness he had twenty years ago.

The mouths of the talking heads are moving, gaping points of black emptiness in an animated space. Rorschach's turns his gaze to the television, then back at Dan. He points at the magazine in Dan's lap.

"Don't need to," he says, the real issue at hand.

Dan takes a breath. "Sure I do," and he loops an arm around Rorschach's shoulders, bringing him in closer. "We'll need it later on. I'm not--" he pauses, reconsidering his words. "Money could run out if we're not careful."

"Know what you mean, Daniel." Rorschach is rigid in his embrace. "But don't need it. Can live without comforts eventually. As before."

"Rorschach, please," Dan begs, aware of the ironies but too tired to explain again. It hurts them both to explain, to listen. Instead, Dan pulls them closer together, one hand weaving through wiry, red hair to rest Rorschach's head in the crook of his neck and shoulder. Rorschach shudders, lips parting instinctively over the knot in Dan's throat, a low growl against Dan's jaw. It's not a threat, hasn't been for ages. Dan isn't arrogant enough to think it's an entreaty, not sentimental enough to think it's a promise.

But here in the singularity of mouth and throat, this pinprick of mortality, there is a wish. In the flicker of Rorschach's tongue over his jugular, in Dan's steady, unmoving acquiescence, there is a wish. One day, there will be nothing of this body left to preserve, but the wish will remain.

Rorschach pulls away and it makes Dan's heart twist to see that face full of fear in all of its minute manifestations-- the hard grind of teeth behind thin lips, the narrow sheen of red-rimmed eyes and eyebrows knotted in incredulity. And once where it would have been winked away in the blink of an eye, here and now the emotions linger, intensify, grow unbearable. A juvenile part of Dan cries it's not fair, have no right, can't do this to me--

--but mortality is all screwed up, these days.

He leans in so he won't have to look anymore, and presses a kiss to the corner of Rorschach's mouth. "It's gonna be fine, buddy."



*




"Can still do it," Rorschach says one day, voice breaking over the words.

Dan's smile is as steady as the hum of the fluorescent lights and the drip of his IV. He extends a hand, pale and spotted and wrinkled, resting it on Rorschach's. With their ashen hands both there, bunched up and knuckled over Rorschach's knees, it's hard to tell them apart.

The tubes in his mouth and nose make it difficult to speak but Dan somehow manages to. "It'll be all right," he echoes.

Rorschach never asks again.



*

part two > darkness, you are gentler

 
 
 
unimagineunimagine on December 9th, 2009 06:00 am (UTC)
sob.

*hugs Dan*

I'm not feeling too eloquent today.
radishfaceradishface on December 9th, 2009 08:23 pm (UTC)
when i'm feeling sad i write stuff like this. i'm sorry. |..(
daylilymoondaylilymoon on December 13th, 2009 05:14 am (UTC)
Oh hey part two is locked

And I just realized that for some reason your radishface entries don't show up on my flist! I would like to ask LJ what is this trickery
radishfaceradishface on December 13th, 2009 05:32 am (UTC)
oh hey unlocked now!

My actual 'radishface' account entries? Why would LJ do that to meee

daylilymoon: watchmen // archie // 2amdaylilymoon on December 13th, 2009 05:46 am (UTC)
Yeah! I can see daikontime just fine but I never even saw your last ten entries or so on radishface, woe. :(

All I can think of is that your layout doesn't have dates and maybe that confuses LJ's horribly feeble brain?
radishfaceradishface on December 13th, 2009 07:46 am (UTC)
I think I fixed it! =D I think... people have started commenting.

And here I was wondering if I was just an extraordinarily boring boring person. u_u