Title: Dancing Around It
Characters/Pairings: Dan/Rorschach, every last one. Mentions of Dan/Laurie
Summary: Ten songs, chosen by iTunes' shuffle, only work on a given ficlet until the song you're writing it to is over, then move on. As one might imagine, these are a little time crunched, and I cheated. I think. I wrote in Aaron-eese (my personal shorthand), then translated it into longhand when all ten were done. Added nothing, just… you know, used whole words.
Ratings/Warnings: Mostly PG13. Number six is possibly bordering on R. Slashiness and language abound.
Notes: Some of these are approaching seriousness. A couple are just plain silliness on my part. Ficlet 1 is nothing but me babbling. Ficlet 5 is pure unadulterated awfulness. Ficlet 6 takes place in Etherati's Zombie-verse. Ficlets 3, 6, and 10 are pure silliness on my part.
1. Speeding Cars—Imogen Heap
It’s all over the news that morning, splashed in three-inch type across the front of every newspaper. Keene’s Act passed- the age of masks is over. It’s time to move on.
Dan will not deny that he feels some relief, waking to the news. It’s not just for himself, either. He’s been watching Rorschach try to kill himself for years now, and maybe- slim chance, but maybe- the man will come to his senses when he sees this. Because he can’t keep on like this. There is no good time to quit, he knows, and so why not now?
He tries to make his case when Rorschach appears in his dining room, pacing like a caged thing. There is a predictable argument. He tells him how worried he’s been about him, how bad this is obviously hurting him, how he needs a break at the very least. And somehow, after each piece of reasoning is brushed aside and Rorschach gets more and more agitated, it all turns into Dan trying to soothe and comfort.
“We’re the good guys,” he tells his friend, finally getting the smaller man to sit at the table. “It doesn’t matter if we’re out there risking our lives under a mask, Rorschach. We can still do the right thing without the masks.”
The words mean nothing to the other man; he tilts his head to the side and stares at Daniel for a long time before standing. “Going to quit then?” He asks, and Daniel is surprised that he doesn’t sound angry. “For good?”
All he can do is nod. He has to- it’s now the law. And Rorschach surprises him all the more by just nodding back. “I’m not cut out for dodging the law any more than we already had to,” he admits. “Between the choice of quitting now or ending up in jail with the real bad guys, the ones we already put away…”
He feels Rorschach’s hand on his shoulder, the gentle squeeze. “Not much of a choice. City needs us.”
“The city chose to tell us to quit, buddy.” The words feel like a cop out, and somehow the fact that Rorschach isn’t fighting with him over this hurts even more. What he wants to do is beg Rorschach to look at this his way, to stop this self-destructive crap now, to stay here with him.
“Always been a good friend, Daniel,” the other man says softly, the tone somewhere between sad and yearning, sending a chill through him.
When he turns- to do what, he’s not sure- Rorschach is gone.
2. I Want Love (Studio Remix)—Akira Yamaoka/Melissa Williamson
It burns inside him like a chemical fire, hot and ruthless and all-consuming; impossible to put out. Sometimes it simmers, a low heat that he can almost ignore; but at the slightest encouragement, it flares into a murderous blast, blocking air from his lungs and tripling his heart rate.
It would take a miracle for Daniel to feel something for him beyond simple friendship, and it’s more than he deserves to ask for. And he knows its wrong, knows he's sick in some way for feeling this. He knows that he's as depraved and debauched as any of the criminals they take down.
But there are moments, in the night while they're walking side by side (sometimes a little too close, sometimes notably separate) that Daniel will turn his head and look at him. And it's just a look; he can't even see Daniel's eyes through the goggles (can imagine, though, smiling and creased and deep deep brown) but he knows that it’s meant to be more because of the smile that curves his lips.
He can't help it sometimes, and he's afraid that Daniel (who is not stupid, who is capable of extrapolating the motives from actions) will one day come to the right conclusion on his own. Moments when his hand grasps Daniel's shoulder for a moment to long; moments when he stands just slightly too close. Moments where hands that should be checking for wounds wander astray.
Daniel doesn't know that he feels these sick things; doesn't know how badly he wants to reach out and touch and feel and claim when he receives that look. Daniel mustn't know, because Daniel thinks that any desire is natural and acceptable and would never spurn him for his depravities, might even encourage them and he can't take that risk. He can't take the idea of degrading either of them that way; can't stand the idea of Daniel latching on to his weakness with some liberal-minded, misguided attempt at charity.
3. Boom Boom—John Lee Hooker
To Daniel, it seems like he has to fight for every inch of progress he makes with Rorschach. He might as well be suggesting murder to ask the smaller man to stay the night; might as well be trying to disrobe him to take his hand and tug him upstairs after patrol.
But there's just… just something to the way Rorschach walks into the dining room, something to the way he says No, Daniel that really means convince me, beg me, make it okay. And, hell, maybe it’s a masochistic streak he hadn't discovered, but Daniel kind of likes the drawn out process; kind of likes having to talk him into it, to have to make the same promises and assurances each and every time.
Maybe the process is drawn out and borderline frustrating, but there's always that moment where Rorschach ends up on his feet, prowling around the kitchen table as he talks in shorter, more precise sentences, the words tipping toward agreement. There is just something Daniel loves about that moment, that walk, that muttered consent. How Rorschach always ends up behind him, leaning down to whisper haltingly in his ear- okay, upstairs.
It gives him shivers every time.
4. The Littlest Things—Lilly Allen
It seems unlikely, but Dan wonders if Rorschach ever thinks about what they had. He wonders because it seems he can't stop thinking about it. Little things remind him of their brief romance; simple things like putting sugar in his coffee or running the sheets through the wash. He wonders if he could ever get Rorschach to trust him to be close again.
Maybe it’s stupid, how tightly he clings to old memories. He can remember every gentle, probing conversation; persuading his partner to come closer, to stay for the night. He remembers how it felt to kiss him, the feel of latex (left on in a grudging concession on Dan's part) against his cheek as their lips brushed; the staccato stutter of Rorschach's breath against his lips. How exceptionally shy and- so incongruous to his normal spitfire personality- scared the other man could be in bed.
He remembers just laying there with him, maybe curled together but more often just side by side, sharing space in a way that might be innocent if they weren't both panting and sweat-slicked and completely spent. Just laying there, together-- he dreams of it sometimes, wondering why Laurie can't just… lay there. Why it always has to be motion and action with her. And he knows it's wrong, that he thinks of Rorschach while she's right there, straddling his hips and working on the buttons to his shirt… but sometimes he can't help dreaming of rougher hands that were somehow gentler, less experienced but infinitely more capable of leaving him undone. There's no way Laurie- no way anyone, he thinks- could ever replace Rorschach in that respect.
5. Lay Your World On Me—Ozzy Osbourne
He wants to say something as they fly into what Dan has the sinking feeling is going to end very, very badly. There is a nagging sensation of needing to clear the air before it's too late, and he really wants to say something.
He wants to say something about wishing he'd been there to stand with Rorschach all along, about how he's been a shitty friend and how he's missed him; about broken promises and wishes; about would-haves and could-haves and should-haves. About how he knows he didn't deserve to have Rorschach standing behind him all those years and that he doesn't deserve to have him next to him now. About how things will be different- and of course they will, because everything is different now. About how, if Rorschach will let him, he'll give him whatever he wants.
But there aren’t words for all these things, and really, he's not sure Rorschach wants to hear them if they do exist. Nothing he can say is going to be enough, and he really doesn't deserve to have this man with him right now, much less to have him trusting him. But they need each other to have any hope of surviving this, and Rorschach can't run into this thinking he's alone.
He knows Rorschach is fucked up in ten thousand different ways, and that he has some deep personal issues with their relationship- he could barely bring himself to shake Dan's hand. He also knows that he's never loved anyone as much as he loves this man, and that Rorschach is killing himself. He needs to say something to let him know he's here, not going away, not going to back out.
"I'm here, you know…" he says finally, the words feeling clumsy and stupid in his mouth. It seems to disarm the other man, and maybe that's good for all the most selfish reasons, and he looks away from the driving snow to flash a weak smile at him, apologizing and bracing at the same time. "You can talk to me. I'll listen."
In the moment the considering grunt and ensuing silence feel like acknowledgement. Later, when everything has happened too fast and too terribly, it will feel like what it is—so much nothing.
6. Still of the Night—Whitesnake
Much as he hates to admit it, there are the occasional moments when he's not thinking of justice or morality or anything but warm skin under his hands, soft breath against his back, of heat and fear-that's-not-fear and lust. Filthy thoughts, thoughts that objectify Daniel in an unforgivable way, that degrade the both of them.
Still. In the end he can convince himself it's about warmth and Daniel and not about himself or his base desires, and in the end it's okay. And during the day, when he's lurking on street corners in his disguise and hiding the pale of his face from the sun's unforgiving glare, it's almost forgivable to think of Daniel and heat and what Daniel sometimes does to share that heat.
Really, it's okay, Daniel promises, the words whispered in the stillness between days, voice vibrating the skin under his lips as he mouths over the other man's throat. He wonders at how Daniel always knows his mind and grunts something noncommittal- because this is not okay, but it's also not stopping- before biting sharply at a convenient fold of skin.
And Daniel hisses and arches and Rorschach feels the surge of predatory lust that comes from having that pulse point bared so willingly under his teeth, shuddering slightly despite the warmth. Feels hands scramble over his back, pressing and insistent and willing. Daniel hisses something about good and okay and ohhh, and Rorschach gives in, grinding against him and bearing down into the warmth and heat and sweetness that is stretched out beneath him.
Later, out in the soothing, insubstantial heat of the spring sun, his mind will focus on more wholesome things. Time spools out and they work together like before, like there's nothing complicated between them. It's not until the chill starts to sink back in that his mind wanders as the night winds down and he has a moment to just watch Daniel move.
He'll try to keep himself at a reasonable distance when they return from patrol, and he does try—but the smile that curves Daniel's lips is so much sabotage and he can't resist when Daniel takes his wrist and pulls, the look on his face positively wolfish as he leans down to kiss him, muttering a soft 'C'mere'.
7. This Must Be the Place—David Byrne
Sometimes, all Daniel needs to feel at home is having Rorschach with him, and that kind of says something right there. It confuses him, sometimes- when home stopped being about a place, about things and little material comforts, and started being about this strange, strange man.
He doesn’t question it. Better not to talk about it, to just go with the flow and see how this plays out. They’ve got plenty of time, and he’d rather let Rorschach take the lead. If they’re making it up as they go along, at least it’s kind of fun.
It’s maybe a little surprising, how different Rorschach can be from day to day, night to night. Sometimes outlining whole grand schemas and monologues just for Daniel as they sit in wait; sometimes just silent and intense and almost oblivious to Daniel’s presence. Sometimes gentle and willing to touch; sometimes brutal and struggling to get away. Completely unpredictable, and this shouldn’t be as nice as it is, as good and fulfilling, but all Rorschach has to do is turn his head a certain way and Dan feel’s he’s home again.
He forgets sometimes, who found who first. Not so much about the partnership- it doesn’t much matter- but who decided it was okay to take that bond one step further. To share space for longer than just patrol.
It’s kind of comforting that they’re so wound together that he can’t tell, and he knows that sometimes this isn’t about anything other than making sure they’re both really alive, both going to be okay for another night; it’s sometimes just about covering the blank spots in their personas that they can’t bear to let show.
But for a minute or two it’s a lot like love and that’s enough to make him happy.
8. Calling You—Blue October
“Love you,” Daniel mumbles sometimes, two words ghosted against Walter’s skin, warm and light and enough to make his stomach do bizarre things. It’s something he can’t explain—of all the people in the world, why him? He can’t get a straight answer out of the other man, either.
And, sick thing that he is, Walter feels the same way. Something in him won’t let him just say it, not in those words, so he’s left trying to show it. It’s hard, because he doesn’t want to seem needy—he limits himself to hands checking for wounds and closed-mouth kisses that only give away half the relief he feels when he finds Daniel is okay. Sometimes the brusqueness makes Daniel defensive, but more often than not he just laughs, pulling him closer and giving him permission to take more.
He can’t just say he’s in love with the other man—can’t have it that open or real. So instead he’s obsessively protective in a fight, to the point of what he knows Daniel thinks is reckless self-endangerment. And some nights, when he can stand the closeness and the contact, he says it in glances and in wandering hands, with lips that don’t speak but instead find just the right spot to press. With his body he can say ten thousand things at once, and Daniel is always willing to listen.
9. I Can’t Live with You—Queen
Their relationship is, as the cliché goes, like a rollercoaster. All hills and valleys. Mountains and canyons, maybe. There are these beautiful moments where they’re in perfect sync, in tune with each other in a way that seems almost supernatural, and then there are moments when they miscalculate or misjudge each other with such hideous magnitude that each is afraid the other is gone for good.
But they always find some way of coming back up the slope, out of the pit and to the peak. Sometimes there are apologies, and sometimes it’s just pretending nothing happened. There is, almost, a kind of balance to it, and they both (in their own ways) appreciate that. There is honesty, at least, in the way that they work together even when they’re fighting. They click on some level that transcends the need for perfect agreement, making sure that they’ll always end up together again.
And love is sometimes about those little white lies that keep you from hating the other person. It’s about saying, “No, it’s okay” and “you’re right” even when it’s not and they’re wrong. Sometimes the lies burst out of them at the same time, and it’s just too much; Daniel will laugh and Rorschach will turn away and that’s fine too—they’ve learned to laugh at themselves more than anything. Laughter beats anger any day.
And through it all, through all the yelling and fighting, through the tears that can’t be helped and the laughter that can’t be quelled—through all the little concessions and agreements and indulgences, they each know that in the end they need each other. Can’t live apart even if they can’t live together.
10. Sharp Dressed Man—ZZ Top
Dan knows- he knows- that Rorschach doesn’t dress to impress. In all likelihood, his costume is more stylized convenience than statement- he knows that whoever lives under that mask doesn’t have the luxury of wealth backing him. The shifting mask is probably about as close to eccentricity and symbolism as Rorschach goes. The rest is pure functionality.
So he shouldn’t find himself staring as his partner rolls his shoulders under the pinstripes, trench coat set aside for the moment. Shouldn’t admire the way those neat lines highlight the other man’s trim frame, accentuating his wiry leanness into something very nearly sensual. Because this is Rorschach, and he’s not sensual. He’s practical, and very likely to punch Daniel if he ever were to say something about how great that suit looks on him.
He shouldn’t be jealous of the women who sometimes do stare or bite their lips or give one of a hundred thousand facial cues to express that they like what they see. He shouldn’t envy that they can get away with their silent appreciation in a way he can’t afford to. He should just, you know, make sure he’s focused in the moment and not joining them.
But it can be very hard not to stare when Rorschach is rolling his sleeves down and pulling his coat back on after stitching Dan’s shoulder closed. Watching him cover creamy, freckled skin in slow, controlled motions that are very close to being taunts. And he knows this is an awful joke in some circles, this getting turned on by watching someone get dressed, but he can’t help it, especially when Rorschach is facing him and (yes, the mask might be concealing something, but it also might not be) looking right at him, as if to make a point.And he knows that’s not the same as permission and that he’s supposed to wait for Rorschach to make the first move, but some things are just too much, and the implications of that look fall somewhere under those lines, and he’s on his feet, catching one gloved hand in his own and holding it still, muttering something about helping and doing exactly the opposite.