It is relentless, the rain, shrouding the city in a gray pall and lending everything a funereal cast; a sense of desolation. Apocalyptic, almost. Dan stands at the streaked window, hot cup of coffee cradled in his hands, watching the downpour bounce off the abandoned pavements and batter pulped newspaper into the overflowing gutters. It hadn't really gotten light today, merely transitioned into a washed-out diffusion of neutral colors, miserable and lethargic, then fallen back into night again.
The radio buzzes on the periphery of Dan's hearing; the latest Beatles hit interrupted by the hourly news bulletin. Death toll in 'Nam, earthquake in Sicily, Packers win the Super Bowl again. Forecast for more rain. His toes are cold, the cozy glow of his kitchen is illusory. Outside, the streetlights flicker on, rain pelting diagonally through the sodium orange.
He sighs, knowing it's almost time. His partner won't take lassitude for an excuse. Rain won't wash away the scum, he'll say. Why should it keep us off the streets? Already got your feet wet, Nite Owl, you knew this life wouldn't be comfortable.
Dan finds him a little way off 57th and 6th; silhouetted in neon, he is every bit the noir detective. His pinstripes are darkened, damp leeched halfway to his knee, and rain drips from his fedora, splashing over the popped collar of his trench. Dan's own costume is soaked, plastered to his skin and chafing uncomfortably.
It is eerily quiet, barely an insidious murmur of seedy happenings; only the intermittent splash of car tires and the sound of their footfalls in tandem. The city is soporific, laid dormant by the implacable weather.
His goggles are beaded with moisture, beginning to steam up. He takes them off without thinking, wipes them on the inside of his cape. Rorschach is looking at him, and he realizes his mistake. He should be alarmed, or maybe just embarrassed at the monumental slip, but he is neither, so instead he introduces himself, holds out his hand like it's the first time they've met. Rorschach already knows his name, tells him as much. He doesn't reciprocate, but he does shake hands.
Later, he pulls his mask up over his nose after a small skirmish with a dealer; ostensibly to lick a bare finger, testing an unknown substance. It remains up for the rest of the night, though, and Dan appreciates the gesture for what it is.
Now Rorschach is standing close, maybe talking about new leads on the smuggling ring, low rumble of his voice almost lost in the storm. Dan knows he is only using him as a windbreak, but the rain covers them like a sheet, envelops them and emboldens him, and Dan hasn't been listening, just watching his mouth move and he realizes Rorschach is waiting for him to say something.
It seems like a good idea to take his chin in a gloved hand, to brush raindrops from those angular features with sodden fingertips, and maybe the narcotic has addled Rorschach a little or maybe the night is just too saturated, because he leans in and presses a kiss to the corner of Dan's mouth. His nose is icy against Dan's cheek, but the hand that comes to rest on his waist is hot, and ignites something vital and necessary. Rorschach's mouth is soft, for all its dour expression, and Dan knows that is the only secret he will ever share willingly.
And the rain falls around them, and it falls across the city, and it falls and it falls and it falls.