Summary: Dexter and Rorschach talk business. For dragons_muse, one of three "Dexter" fics based on these prompts. The story is set post-season 3, pre-season 4 of "Dexter."
Characters: Dexter, Rorschach
Genre: Gen, Crossover
Word Count: 3,327
Warning: Several instances depicting physical violence as befitting highly disturbed characters.
Notes/Disclaimer: I own nothing related to "Dexter" or "Watchmen." The timeline of "Watchmen" is bumped up to present day rather than the 1980's (I know, blasphemy!) for ease of character interaction without messy time-traveling devices coming into play. The story also takes place before Rorschach's demise, as the last thing Dexter needs is another dead person hanging around his subconscious talking to him. The last line is dedicated to missbreese , who thankfully shares my sense of humor and let me parody the plot idea at her. :)
can lurk just behind a facade of order -
and yet, deep inside the chaos
lurks an even eerier type of order."
- Douglas Hostadter
"A man feared that he might find an assassin;
Another that he might find a victim.
One was more wise than the other.”
– Stephen Crane, A Man Feared
Taking out the trash. A motto for my work, a personal 'remember the
Save, of course, when it's actual trash. Heaving the plastic bags teeming with the leftover remains of tonight's dinner into the outdoor bin, I plaster a smile on my face. "All done."
Only I'm not. I haven't even started. This isn't the type of cleaning I need to do, though as far as Rita is concerned, the day's over. She's ready to tuck the kids in and turn out the lights, to be content in stillness after a long day's toil.
Heading back, I pause in the doorway where she's standing. "Sorry. Duty calls."
Her brow furrows, trying to understand. "Another victim?"
Well, with any luck.
"You'd think killers would take a night off," I say, although I know we do. There's just enough of us to go around. I'll never be left wanting for targets that fit the code. People are unwittingly generous like that. Like tonight's prey: Tobias Denning. Former private security guard for investment firms, including
Rita draws me into a kiss, her scent leaving a mark on me. Springtime and flowers. I'm not being poetic; her perfume bottle says as much. It's an accurate description at least, no false advertising. It fits her, and I find that... comforting. "Don't stay out too late," she whispers. In the past it would have been a plea. Now it's coquettish, firm. She's changed. I'm adapting to it.
"I won't," I promise. It isn't surprising that she believes me when I act like going out is a chore, like I can't wait to return. Not nearly as surprising as the fact that it's only half a lie. I do look forward to my nighttime rituals, and my need for them won't abate. But I always plan on returning back here. ‘Til death do us part.
One of our deaths, that is.
Rorschach’s journal. September 4th, 2009. Gaudy. Everything’s trying to look new.
Someone will die tonight.
Gutters and grates are everywhere, necessary during hurricane season. Two thousand years ago flooding was a sign of divine retribution. Now it’s just a nuisance, shoved underground, forgotten until the sewers back up. In the papers a man almost died surfing during a storm. ‘Best way to feel alive,’ he said. Police officer sent to get him out of the water didn’t make it. The man had no comment on that. Just as well. Wouldn’t be anything useful, anyway. Words don’t bring back the dead. Nothing does. Regret and apologies are excuses for the living. A mask of safety and civilization.
Daniel wouldn’t have agreed.
Tall buildings are scarce. Everything’s built low to the ground and spread out, with flat roofs and Technicolor. They say south
I’m noticed as I walk. Plenty of costumes here, but no overcoats. No scarves and hats and gloves in colors that blend with filth. The costumes here are meant to be noticed. Their goal is to end the night taken off.
Doesn’t matter. There’re other things to focus on. Denning’s trail is a straight shot. I’ve followed it from
I stop before his house. Looks like it’d be better off abandoned. Empty beer cans and broken bottles litter the lawn. A professional’s homemade alarm system? Probably blew through his security funds. He'll ask, but he won't get more. Should make him prime to talk.
If not, plenty of ways to make someone sing.
Door's unlocked. I move throughout his space, see the pitiful remnants of something like a life. Two TVs, both on. Pizza half-eaten. Can't even finish a dinner let alone a murder. He wasn't the one in charge, but he'll know names.
Living room, kitchen, bedroom, hallway. Place isn't that big. He's not in any of them. Must be outside. There's a broken down shed behind the house, with nothing around it but trees. It's not facing the street. It's perfect. I'm cautious.
Window first. I look in, take stock of the mess, separate the inanimate from the living junk.
I'm not alone.
My scalpel hovers beside his cheek. Denning cries out from where I've strapped him in Saran wrap; he can't move, it's his only recourse. "I haven't even cut you yet," I admonish him, then add drolly, "Besides, it's nothing compared to what you've done." Casually I tip a photograph towards him, nod at it so his gaze follows mine. "Morgan Oswell's body was dissected from the bottom up. Appendages first. Your death will take minutes, but his must have lasted an hour."
"I - I," he stammered.
"Didn't do it," I finished for him as I take my slide sample of his blood. "Is now really the time you want to lie poorly?" I find that more offensive than his murders.
His tone turned pleading, hysterical. He's a screamer. "You don't understand! It was -"
"A mistake?" Perhaps he’s even gotten himself to believe what he says. It’s as easy to invent a humanity as it is to deny it. I thrust two more photographs in his face. "Were these also mistakes? Death has a way of following you, Denning." I pick up my saw. "Or rather, it did."
There, there it is. The realization meeting acceptance; in the end, there's nothing left to do but give in. I need that, need it as much as I do what comes before and after it. The preparation, the realization, the blood, the neat end. I raise my tool, hold it up high so he can see it, and bring it down.
I’m caught. Not in the act, although that, too. In the jaw. A fist meets my face, which then meets the floor. My instrument falls to the ground, now a weapon which I lunge for and grab. Starting the saw once more, I whirl around to face a face that isn’t. There’s a sheet covering his head, strange markings on it that seem familiar in some way. I can’t make out what it’s supposed to be; I assume that’s the point.
My intruder seems cocky. I can't imagine why he feels safe. "Who the hell are you?"
"Nobody." The voice is gruff, a cracked gravel pavement. I know what to look for; every part of him is on edge and in control. They say blood knows blood, and it's true. I know my kind. The only question is, what sort of monster is he?
One who wears his mask in the open, for one.
How naked of him.
Slowly I rise, circling him in the opposite direction he's moving. "I prefer not having an audience."
"Can't say I care," he replies, but he does about something. I just need to figure out what. We wind up facing off, my playdate still splayed on the table that's now between us. The sour stench of sweat, human waste, and moth balls would overpower most. The human body's betrayal. I'm not sure which of them is more to blame for it.
There's no breeze here, so the smell just hangs in the air, stale and lingering.
These are the moments that last a lifetime.
"Christ, just do me already!" Denning screams in a pleading voice. The silence is too much for him. Too intimate, too foreboding. There are very few people with whom you can share silences.
“Shut up,” I say to him impatiently, but my intruder takes a less linguistic approach.
I again said my intruder. Is it like children on a playground, that I now lay claim to him as well? After all, this was my secret ground and my new friend first.
Denning’s cry is stifled as the side of the masked hand nearly breaks his windpipe. Only nearly, though. I note the delicacy in the brutishness as I make my move. My saw catches his shoulder, and blood spurts out across my face. It might have felt warm and inviting, but my goggles prevent it from touching my face. I’m prepared, and I hardly need the encouragement.
My intruder doesn’t scream, or seem to notice his spilt blood at all. He grabs the scalpel from the tray and throws it at me, saying to Denning, “One moment.” It might’ve been polite if it hadn’t clearly been a threat. I block the blade from hitting me, turning sideways to reduce the available surface area for him to strike. I think I catch a moment’s pause from my intruder, surprise I’ve evaded his attack, or perhaps a measure of respect. It’s gone before I can tell, and he knocks the saw from my grasp before swinging my syringe at my face.
I hadn’t even seen him pick it up. I really don’t want to be impressed.
Bending over, I bring my forearms downward forcefully, keeping them crossed. I hit his arm with both of mine, at the point where they’re crossed, and keep pushing down until his arm is trapped in the space between my hands. Taking his right hand’s wrist in mine, I twist it clockwise until his elbow faces upwards painfully and the syringe drops to the ground. He’s off balance, having thrown all his weight into his previous strike. Keeping hold with my right hand, I bear down onto his elbow joint with my left, hearing with a rush of satisfaction the cracking of his bone.
Nothing. There’s no exclamation to accompany it, he barely lets a grunt escape.
I had already guessed this encounter of ours wasn’t his first time, but just how many partners has he done this dance with?
His knee meets my ribs, an introduction that floors me. He’s more practiced at this than I am.
So was Doakes. That hadn’t worked out so well for him.
On the ground I reach for the syringe, but he’s suddenly on top of me. Facing upwards I struggle, looking at him straddle my waist. Leaning down until he fills my vision, the splotches on his face blur as he says, “You don’t have to die.”
I stop struggling and just remain on edge, asking, “And what’s the alternative?” It’s a tactic, a ploy to keep him talking as I regroup.
“Paralysis.” He says this like it’s the most obvious of promises: a fact. Leaving a long pause he eventually adds, “If you keep this up.”
“Refusing to stay down.” He waits again, watching me watching him, shadows playing as features across his mask.
He’s hiding. Who isn’t? But he’s also searching. There’s more than one way to reveal, to unveil what’s shrouded. I change my approach. “What do you want with him?” By him I mean Denning.
“Answers.” His head tilts, and I don’t think he’s enjoying the game. “After that, he’s all yours.”
It’s unspoken but acknowledged that with the way he’s positioned, he could kill me at least thirty ways if he’s creative. Harry’s first rule might be not to get caught, but there’s a more basic rule underlying that one. Don’t die. I nod once, grudgingly, offering up as a temporary truce, “You know your face looks like an inkblot.”
He grunts, perhaps for him that passes for a laugh, and replies, “Imagine that.” Rising, he returns to Denning. I stay down, watching. I can’t deny I’m curious. There’s always room to learn before getting even.
Denning’s now dotted with my intruder’s blood, and the spots dance more than those on the other’s mask as Denning quivers. Fear can even stir dead blood. Denning’s voice fails to form words on his first attempt, though he finally manages, “Ror-Rorschach?”
He goes by Rorschach?
I wonder which came first, the name or the mask?
Rorschach’s right hand, the one unbroken, closes around Denning’s throat. “What happened to Nite Owl?”
I can’t resist inquiring, “Who’s Nite Owl?” I assume it’s a person.
Rorschach’s silent so long I assume he won’t reply, when he subverts my expectations. “Someone now dead.”
Nothing else needs to be said about it.
Was that the blood that bore him to who he now was? A lover, brother, family member or friend? Maybe a pet. Odder things have ended in murder than that. The only continuing thread was that something, somewhere along the way, was lost. Lost, and needed to be filled somehow.
“I don’t know,” Denning responds, a wrong answer sure to be penalized. Rorschach rips one of Denning’s hands free of the Saran Wrap, applying pressure enough to crack every bone in his hands. Denning begins to scream, the sound muffled as Rorschach takes Denning’s broken hand and uses it to smash Denning’s nose. I hear the breaks, see the blood ooze down Denning’s cheek as he chokes, his busted nose covered by his broken hand, held there with Rorschach’s good hand covering both.
This is beyond merely efficient; this is personal. He’s not simply finding release in Denning’s pain, but pleasure. He’s becoming lost in it. I contemplate the saw, but instead offer, “He can’t answer you like that.”
It’s a valid point, and it pulls Rorschach back. He removes his hand, and on the dark, dirty glove, I can’t see the blood on it at all. Denning gasps, crying, and there’s nothing remotely threatening about him now. The pictures of his victims continue to face him, their expressions unchanged by what’s become of him.
Rorschach leans over him, closer than any would find comfortable, filling Denning’s vision as he did mine. It’s a power play, or perhaps a lack of understanding social etiquette. Neither would surprise me. “Try that again.”
Is it really a do over when we all know it’ll still end in death?
Denning seems to agree with me. “Why should I - tell you - anything?” he pants, and it’s a fair question, although he doesn’t deserve fairness. He’s backed against a corner. Already he's gone through all the stages of death, but had the chance of life returned to him, albeit for a limited time. A life strapped to a table tortured. It’s not a full life, not one fit for a human, and he’s reacting as such.
Which, in itself, is fitting.
“Because you’ve been sold out, and this can be as painful as you want.” That’s the longest Rorschach has spoken. I note that, before even thinking on what he’s actually said.
He’s offered a chance of revenge, one that might be imaginary or not, as well as a modicum of power. Denning can control how much he’ll be hurt. It’s not much, but it’s something.
Even though I’ve known him for minutes, it doesn’t seem like Rorschach, and I wonder where he picked up this method.
I wonder how far he’ll go.
“You let me go, I’ll take you to them,” Denning offers, a backstab on a silver platter. His eyes are hopeful, until one is socked shut.
Apparently, my intruder won’t go as far as compromises.
“Keep saying you didn’t see anything and will get the other one taken out,” Rorschach says, gesturing at Denning’s good eye, his patience wearing thin. “Ears gone if didn’t hear anything. Arms if didn’t do anything. Tongue if don’t start saying something useful.”
“You’re only threatening to hurt him,” I note.
Rorschach barely flicks me an appraising glance. “No one else I could threaten.”
It’s true that Denning has no living family. It was one of the reasons I’d chosen him, along with him having long evaded justice. “But if he did have someone?”
“Issue’s with him,” Rorschach says flatly, and I nod. Much like myself, Rorschach would not fall under Harry’s code. He doesn’t kill for sport, or simply out of vengeance.
He does it because he has to, and to those that deserve it.
Staring at me, he seems discomfited by my silence, as though he can tell my realization. A connection of this kind is never expected on nights like these. It’s like a chewed up puzzle piece, the moment too warped to complete the picture anymore.
It’s still less important than the job at hand. Rorschach resumes his attention on Denning, who sputters, “You’re no better than them.”
“Try me.” Rorschach doesn’t move, and his offer doesn’t require it.
Denning licks his lips, ones coated with blood that might be his or his attacker’s. He looks ready to vomit, but there’s nothing inside him that coughing and spewing can dislodge. Words tumble out instead, petty and raving. He’s choosing to take others down with him.
Supposedly, that’s the way all of our kind ends. Whether we intend it to or not.
“Credit Suisse… backed a bad deal. Invested in a green earthworks project that tanked. Killed dozens, faulty machinery. We all got paid to make sure nobody got too suspicious. Word is your boy did.”
“Course he did,” Rorschach spat back, taking pride in his friend’s uncovering.
Denning didn’t seem to find that touching. I’m sure I can’t imagine why. Instead he continued, “Wasn’t just me, everyone there -”
“Who was in charge of the project?” Rorschach demands. He doesn’t care for the story, the unfolding details of industrial progression and panicked covering up. Those aren’t the bottom line, or at least not his bottom line.
“Davidson,” Denning finally shares, exhausted of all but pettiness. The name means nothing to me, and I doubt it ever will. This part of Denning is Rorschach’s. He can have it; the in-fighting and treachery between Davidson and Denning, and the fallout that comes with it. It’s his score to settle, for this Nite Owl, like Denning’s is mine, for his victims that I’ve brought here.
Rorschach exhales, his shoulders never slumping, but something has eased inside him. Eased, or broken.
I don’t ask, and neither does Denning, because seconds later Rorschach punches him into unconsciousness.
“Can wait ‘til he wakes up to kill him,” Rorschach says, and I think it’s his version of an apology. It doesn't cost him anything.
Unorthodox, but one I’ll accept for now.
“That’s the plan,” I say as I rise, and he nods. He seems aware I have a method, one I’d not let his detour override anymore than he’d let it happen to him.
Silence fills the space, and since he’s unconscious, even Denning doesn’t mind it this time. Understanding means there needn’t be words. After a beat Rorschach simply turns away, his exit as unceremonious as he seems to find the entire bloodbath. He leaves as quietly as he came, save for his version of a farewell.