Warnings: AU, post-GN (spoilers for same)
Disclaimer: Sing it with me now!
Alan Moore, he had a book,
And in that book, there were hot guys,
And I don't own them, so please don't sue,
Here a "don't," there a "sue," everywhere a "don't sue,"
Please don't sue me, 'cause I'm broke,
Summary: What if Rorschach had decided differently in the wreckage of Karnak? Why would he make such a choice, and what would it mean for himself, Daniel and Veidt's brave new world?
Author's Notes: I actually finished this part yesterday, but I've been going back and forth like mad, puttering and tweaking and generally behaving like a big girl's blouse before I threw up my hands and said "Fuck it! We'll do it live!" I do feel a bit justified in my nervousness; not only is this my first attempt at writing anything sexual (tame and discreet though it is), considering the characters and their megatons of issues, writing anything sexual about this pairing is like navigating a deadly swamp. Strewn with landmines. And infested by dragons. Please don't throw me down an elevator shaft.
Also, for anyone who wants to play "Spot the Reference," here are the lyrics to "Chelsea Hotel No. 2," by Leonard Cohen.
Thank you to all those who left comments. Hope you enjoy this part as well! *hides*
Part 1 - "But for me, you would make an exception..."
2. "those were the reasons, and that was New York"
It might have saved him some bruises, Dan decided in hindsight, if he hadn't said that he didn't have to do it.
Upon grounding Archie in the Owl's Nest and climbing the stairs to find Dan's brownstone looted, furniture shredded and scarred, lock kicked in by someone other than Rorschach, the pair didn't even suggest cleaning up. Instead, they walked out into the weak winter afternoon, turning without discussion towards the inner city. Ground Zero.
They didn't make it all the way there. Almost to the center of destruction, as the corpses began to stack up more and more thickly, blood drying in crimson pools in the gutters, Dan suddenly swallowed, and swallowed again, and bent over to vomit without fanfare onto the wheels of an abandoned limousine, waiting for the powerful men and beautiful women who would never come again. After a moment's hesitation, Walter gripped the back of Dan's collar, holding him steady as he heaved, pulling him in the aftermath across the street and into an empty hotel. Shivering in reaction, Dan could only follow Walter mutely up the flights of stairs, ignoring the strain in his knees, not commenting as Walter kicked in the door of the penthouse without so much as a knock. "No need to go closer," Walter said without preamble. "Can see fine from here." And sure enough, out of the wall of windows in the light of the setting sun, the edge of Times Square could be seen, one gigantic tentacle snaking limply from behind a building.
"Jesus." Dan swallowed again and turned away from the sight, walking into the bedroom and sitting heavily on the plushly appointed bed. "Jesus," he croaked again, pulling off his glasses and scrubbing his sour mouth with his coat sleeve. "What the hell are we doing here, Rorschach? We can't... there's nothing here. Nothing." His voice died in his throat and he wished he could call the words back. The last thing he wanted was to call up questions, to remind Rorschach of what he'd given up, what he'd compromised for... for what?
If Rorschach noticed Dan's slip, he didn't comment. Instead, he simply came to stand by Dan, hands in trenchcoat pockets, shoulders bowed under the weight of silence. "Can't despair, Daniel," he said quietly. "Not when there's life." But the sentiment carried no warmth, weak as the November sun. Death was too close, pressing in on all sides, choking them with New York's unnatural silence. And Dan needed, needed to know that there was life, that there was heat and light and love, that something had survived the labor pangs of Veidt's utopia, something worth this terrible silence. He needed it.
So he reached out for it.
Rorschach (no, not Rorschach, not with those sad, silent eyes. Walter), Walter came to him with the same trembling hesitance he remembered from Archie, kneeing his way onto the bed, Dan's hands slipping under the trench and suitcoat, lips slipping gently over Walter's, both seeking warmth. Gloved hands rose, hovering like skittish sparrows, before resting gently on Dan's shoulders. When Walter's tongue clumsily forced its way into Dan's mouth, too rough and quick, Dan wanted to pull away, bile still burning in his throat from his earlier heaving. But Walter's mouth was sweet with chewing sugar and innocence, and Dan forgot to protest, forgot anything but the sweetness of nostalgia, of this one last piece of the old world.
Clothes were soon strewn across the deep pile carpet (a surprising feat since their mouths barely seemed to disconnect). Dan's fingers skimmed lightly over more freckles than he'd ever imagined, and the idle thought made him smile crookedly against Walter's mouth. The smile disappeared as Walter's hand crept down, down, only to freeze at Dan's navel, calloused palm barely touching the skin, stubbled throat working as he swallowed furiously, striving for a blank expression to hide behind. Dan was good at recognizing fear. He'd lived with it for longer than he cared to remember.
"Hey," he said softly, trying to smile again as Walter's eyes snapped to his. "Hey, it's all right. You don't have to." A tiny sliver of Dan was disappointed at the waste of a good erection, but when weighed against the alternative, he would rather never have sex again for the rest of his life than have Walter afraid of him (of him! Of all the things to fear!).
However, Dan had forgotten that this man, this Walter, was still Rorschach on some level, the man who kicked in locks when he could pick them just as easily, and who stole sugar cubes when he knew Dan bought them in catering packs specifically for him, and who never ever backed down from anything, if only out of sheer stubborn contrariness. And it was that man who frowned at Dan, "hurm"ed irritably in the back of his throat and, too fast for Dan to stop, ducked his head and took half of Dan's flagging erection straight down his throat.
And it was good, too good, too much, far too much for Dan to think of contemplating. Walter had barely remembered to shield his teeth with his lips, and the resulting almost-scrape down his length sent firecrackers sparking down Dan's spine. He moaned, loud, splintering the silence like new ice in the sun. Walter jerked his head back at the sound, staring at Dan, muscles tensed as if expecting a blow. Dan tried to think of something reassuring, something calming, but all his lust-fogged brain could manage was "Oh, God, don't stop, please, don't-" That was good enough for Walter, who once again bent his head and applied himself, still clumsy but less hesitant, brows furrowed in almost comical concentration.
Dan would have found it funny, would have normally been glad for the chance to laugh, but he was too busy feeling, feeling all of the things he'd forgotten in the hours since they landed in the silent city, in the hours since they left the silent snows, lifetimes ago. Here, in this cold bedroom, in the dying gasps of a bleeding sun, Walter's red hair blazed like a signal fire. It called Dan's fingers to wind around surprisingly soft curls, Walter warming him with his hair, with his mouth, with his- love, love, I love you, I love you Walter, oh God, I'm alive, you're alive, you're all I have left, all I have, I love you so much- Walter! "Wha- God!"
Dan's orgasm came over him without warning, none for himself, less for Walter. The smaller man reared back again, falling on his side to shudder and spit over the edge of the bed, finally curling up on his side with his back to Dan. Gasping in the aftermath of gratification (and revelation), Dan released his deathgrip on the hotel coverlet and pushed himself onto his elbows, arming sweat from his eyes. "Oh, God, Ror- Walter. Walter, that was so... so..." Only then did he see Walter hunched in on himself, the tremors plain even without his glasses, and his heart dropped to his stomach. "Walter," he tried, reaching out a careful hand to stroke that back, to trace the freckles that had surprised him so, but the other man's voice broke through the silence.
It was rough and raw, familiar, but the same shudder that shook his spare frame had crept into his voice, betraying his identity. Walter pretending to be Rorschach. Dan ignored him, laying a hand against his shoulders, feeling the heat of emotion and arousal on his skin, as if a fire consumed him from within.
Walter growled again, louder. "Daniel. Don't."
"Why not?" Dan asked.
Walter made a disgusted sound in the back of his throat. "Ehhnk. Don't touch me. Unclean."
"Why? Because of this?" Dan mentally kicked himself; he should have seen this coming. Before the world ended, before he was Walter, Rorschach had made no secret of his opinion about homosexuality. But Dan knew better than to question this brave new world, with its brave new rules, and only one broken, precious person in it. "Hell, Walter, that's no reason. I mean, hell, I... I'll do it to you if you just-"
"Don't touch me!" With a vicious jerk, Walter, rolled over to kneel on the bed, facing Dan, eyes blazing in fury. Dan didn't know if the anger was meant for Dan or for Walter himself.
"Hey, now, hang on a minute." Dan reached out a placating hand, entreating for peace.
Walter jerked away again, teeth bared. "Don't. Get taint on you. Aren't meant for... whores."
And with that, all of Dan's pity drained away, anger rushing to take its place. How could he say such a thing? How could he take something meaningful, something Dan had treasured, and make it sound so... ugly? "Is that how you see me?" Dan spat, words twisting bitterly in his mouth. "As someone who doesn't care where I get it, like some kind of... common whoremonger?
Walter's head snapped up, eyes wide. "No!" he said instantly; the thought had obviously never crossed what remained of his mind. "Good man. Not unclean. Not filth. Not... weak."
"No?" Dan echoed mockingly, watching compact muscles flinch under pale flesh spotted with freckles and bruises, glad for it. "Because I enjoyed the hell out of that, you know, out of what we did. Together. If that's what you call weak, and unclean, if you think you're a whore for that, then that makes me a whoremonger, right?"
Dan had seen hardened felons piss themselves in alleys at the sound of that voice, but he was too angry to care, too angry to stop. How dare he, how dare he?? "That's what you think of me, right?" he goaded, twisting the knife. "Just another piece of trash, wallowing in scum like- like a dog in the street! That's what Daniel Dreiberg is to you, isn't it? Go on, say it! Say it!"
"Shut up!" With only that as warning, Walter launched himself across the bed, outstretched hands reaching for the soft flesh at Dan's neck.
Dan was out of shape, softer than he had once been, slower. But he'd sparred with Rorschach in the past more times than he could count, and muscle memory ran deep. Rolling his shoulders to the side, he grabbed one of Walter's wrists, wrenched it behind his back and twisted, pressing down with all his weight. Caught off his guard, Walter's thin shoulders hit the mattress, breath leaving him in a "whuf!" as his legs flailed for purchase off the edge of the bed. "Raaaarl! Let me up, Dreiberg!" he roared, twisting and bucking.
"No!" Dan retorted, seeking better purchase.
"NO!" The fury in his voice surprised Walter as much as himself, the smaller man going still beneath him. Dan pressed the advantage, punctuating his words with hard shakes of Walter's shoulders. "Now I get to talk, and for once, for once in your miserable little life, you're going to shut up and listen until I'm done! Understand?" Dan took the silence beneath him as acquiescence and blazed on. "I don't really care what you think. I don't care what anyone thinks. Not about this. Maybe not about anything ever again, I don't know, but not about this. And you can disagree with me about anything else. You can insult my age, my weight, my heritage. You can call me anything, say anything, you can say the moon is made of green fucking cheese, you contrary bastard, and I won't care. But you do not get to say this is unclean, that this makes you somehow less. Because this..." and Dan gasped, bleeding, dying with the awesome finality of saying it aloud, "because you, you, Walter Kovacs, are all I have left anymore in this whole fucking world.
"I love you, you son of a bitch," Dan croaked hoarsely, blind with tears, lips ghosting over the freckled skin beneath him, tracing a bruise. "I love you, and I'd give anything, do anything for you. But I won't let you take this. Not this." He sobbed, pressing his forehead between Walter's shoulderblades. "Please, not this."
He didn't know how long he lay there, gasping against Walter's hot skin, mouthing prayers and devotions to flesh that burned with life, seared from the inside out. "Daniel," Walter finally said, his voice strained with something unnamed. "Let me up... please."
Dan let go of Walter's wrist, rolling onto his side, waiting for the inevitable blows, too tired to care. But he found himself wrapped in strong, spare arms, thin, sweet lips pressed to his, one rough hand taking his and guiding it down, and finally, after moans and grunts and whispers thick with tears, a single gasp as wetness spilled over Dan's tired hand.
Exhausted, battered, cried and fought and fucked out, the two men managed to pull themselves up the bed and pull the blankets and duvets over them, rich, soft sheets caressing filthy bodies, fingers tracing skin more softly than finest Egyptian cotton. They slept, their breathing chasing the silence away until the sun rose again, gilding the carcass of New York City.
The first day, Dan thought, of many.
He should have known better.
Comments and constructive criticism are always welcome!