"Where is he?!" Rorschach growled at one of UnderBoss's minions.
He had the man raised up against a brick wall in the alley. Rorschach gripped the front of the man's shirt roughly and shook him. Him and Dan had been following this man for awhile, just to get a lead on UnderBoss. But this man wasn't a dummy and knew he had been followed.
Rorschach grasped one of the minion's fingers, the index, and snapped it back so quick that Dan didn't even realized it happened until the man shrieked out in pain.
"UnderBoss, now! Or thumb's next."
Dan stepped up beside Rorschach to put a hand on his shoulder, but he scowled visciously with the ever changing patterns on his mask going wild. Dan backed away momentarily to let the situation sink in. The man was sobbing and wailing, but Rorschach could care less. He went to his thumb to give the man one last chance.
Tell him! Dan screamed in his head. He didn't like doing things this way. He didn't like this side of Rorschach.
"Rorschach! Let him down. We don't need to break any more fingers, okay?" Dan said shakily.
And Rorschach grumbled for a moment, but slowly and surely the man was let down. The minion slid to the ground holding his broken finger and rocking back and forth. Both Dan and Rorschach waited patiently (as patient as they could be) until the man finally calmed down somewhat and shot off his mouth. He told them the address and Dan was satisfied enough to walk away. But Rorschach squatted down the man's level and got in his face.
"If you lied. Thumb won't be only thing broken."
And with that, Dan and Rorschach walked out of the alley to leave the snitch lying in the garbage.
The next day Rorschach showed up at Dan's. He came in through the maintenance hatch a few blocks away, trudging along the tracks until he reached Dan's workshop. Dan hadn't been down yet. Nite Owl's uniform was still hung up. So Rorschach busied himself with various gadgets lying around. Some of them were covered in dust. Long forgotten or put aside for another time.
"Hello Daniel. Came to investigate lead," Rorschach mumbled out gravelly.
"Today?" Dan said, a little put off.
"Better to catch him before he disappears again."
Dan came down the stairs slowly and walked over to his suit. He stopped in front of it, eyeing it wearily. Dan felt tired, but Rorschach was right. They needed to stop UnderBoss, and fast.
"I suppose." Dan lowered his head and turned toward Rorschach. "Just give me a minute."
Rorschach nodded once as Dan grabbed his suit and went back upstairs to suit up. He took his time and when he deemed himself ready, he joined Rorschach once agin and they both climbed in Archie and took off.
"So... What made you want to go now?" Dan asked.
Rorschach turned to Dan and tilted his head. "Don't you want to stop UnderBoss?" He grumbled.
"Surely. But during daytime? Did you even sleep last night?" Dan was concerned for his friend even if Rorschach didn't like it.
"Hrrmm... Filth comes first," was all he said.
The rest of the ride was silent and awkward. Dan shifted in his seat a few times, Rorschach being calm all the while. When they reached the address Dan sighed with relief. He parked Archie on top of the roof and they when to the fire escape. As they climbed down they came to a window that lead to the apartment where UnderBoss was supposedly held up in.
Dan peered inside but couldn't see anything. The curtains hung in the way and Rorschach made an unintelligible noise.
"Must knock first," Rorschach said sarcastically.
They rounded the apartment complex and entered. The room they needed to find was 23.
"Elevator's busted," Dan observed as he clicked the button a few times. "Guess we're taking the stairs."
Dan and Rorschach went up a flight or two and stopped in front of 23. Dan knocked lightly on the door and swore he heard... Laughing? Child's laughter. By the time he processed it, it was too late. A woman in her mid thirties answer the door with a smile and took them both in for a moment.
"You must be the clown," She said towards Rorschach.
"Pardon?" Dan puzzled.
"Come in! Come in! The party's just starting." She shuffled them inside and lead them into the living room.
Kids skipped around merrily, being loud.
"Children! Settle down now! The clown's here. And he brought his side-kick," she announced.
"Clown?" Rorschach echoed.
"Side-kick?" Dan said as he looked over at Rorschach who looked back too.
The kids quieted down some and gathered around on the ground in a circle in front of them. Waiting intently for the fun to start. The father came out from the kitchen with an amused look on his face as he eyed Rorschach.
"A clown?" He mused. He walked around to Rorschach and scoffed,"What kind of clown wears a mask?"
Dan cringed and prayed to God that Rorschach wouldn't punch him.
"Not a clown," Rorschach mumbled.
The mother put her hand to her face in worry. "Oh no. There must have been some mistake."
"No mistake, ma'am," Dan said reassuringly.
"But he just said he wasn't a clown," the father mocked.
"He's not just any clown. He's Rory the Mystic," Dan covered slickly.
The mother's face lit up and said wonderful as the father nodded suspiciously. Dan felt Rorschach's eyes on him and he flushed.
"Daniel. A word."
They turned their backs to the audience and huddled together.
"Must leave. Now."
"Now, now. Just wait a second. We got in this mess and--"
"YOU got us in mess," Rorschach interjected.
"Okay." Dan thought of how he could change Rorschach's mind. He'd feel bad if these kids were let down "Then just bare through it. Just this once. If you can't do it for me, do it for the kids. They're counting on you!"
"Hrrmm..." Rorschach fidgeted a little, but finally said,"Fine. Must be quick though."
They turned around and Rorschach stared at all the expectant faces. Something inside made his heart swell a little.
"You wanna see a magic trick?" He asked. And all the kids practically cheered in excitement.
Rorschach pulled his hat off and dug around in his pocket to find an object he could use. He retrieved a bulky coin and showed it to the kids. He proceeded to place it in the hat for all to see. Rorschach mumbled a few words that sounded like Hocus Pocus Kazaam and moved his left hand in a circle over the brim. And when he revealed to the crowd that it had disappeared, all the children gasped and clappped.
The mother looked simply delighted, her face lighting up the room and the father clapped lazily around his cup, smirking slightly.
As the party progressed, Rorschach got more and more into the role he was playing. Grabbing left over balloons of all shapes and sizes from the decorations. He'd blow them up and twist them into distorted shapes resembling dogs and giraffes. Handing them out to all the party-goers.
Dan stayed by the parents most of the time just enjoying the peaceful atmosphere, chuckling softly to himself every so often as he watched Rorschach entertain all the kids. He wasn't actually that bad with children. He was collected and patient. Polite even. Dan couldn't help but smile.
And after awhile the parents offered them both a piece of cake. Dan accepted but Rorschach politely declined. Everyone gathered around the table to eat cake and watch the birthday boy open his presents. There wasn't many of them, but Rorschach felt it was better than none at all and he silently wished he could've grown up with a family like this.
He sighed and went to excuse himself to the bathroom, but was stopped by a little girl. She tugged lightly on the back of his trench coat and he turned and looked down.
"What?" Rorschach asked.
She stood there a second, hands behind her back and body shifting side to side. Something about her made Rorschach ache. She reminded him of Blair Roche. His heart sank.
"I didn't get a balloon animal," she said softly.
He reached for the balloons on the table and blew it up. He twisted and folded a dog for her. But he reluctantly tossed it aside. No dogs, he scolded himself. He made another one instead, a giraffe, and handed it to her. She took it with a smile and hugged it to her body.
"Thank you Mr. Clown!" She chortled and skipped back to the party.
"Thank you so much! The kids absolutely loved you!" The mother beamed.
"Don't thank me ma'am. Rory here did all the work," Dan chuckled heartily.
The mother looked over to Rorschach and hugged him warmly. Rorschach froze, but hugged back (well, sort of).
"You have such a great charm with children," She said sincerely.
They were lead out with party favors wrapped in tiny plastic bags and said their goodbyes. Dan and Rorschach walked down the stairs and out of the building. Up the fire escape and into Archie, they took off.
"I guess it's safe to say he gave us a faux address," Dan laughed nervously.
"Humph... Sense of humor needs work."
But Rorschach smiled beneath his "Face" all the same. He could be amused too, he just hardly showed it. And today, Rorschach showed an entirely different side of himself to Dan and he couldn't care less. Rorschach had a good time, a great in fact, but he wasn't about to go and tell Dan how happy it made him feel.
Dan lowered Archie down steadily and flipped off all controls. They exited the craft in silence. For awhile him and Rorschach just stood there, not knowing what to say.
"Sorry," Dan murmured.
"Making you handle all those kids by yourself."
"Humph... Minds are fragile. Not hard to amuse."
Dan nodded in acknowledgement and took off his goggles and mask. He threw his gloves on a desk and turned to Rorschach.
"Do you want to come up for coffee or something?" He asked giddily.
Rorschach yanked his coat collar up roughly and stocked down the dark tunnel. Dan could barely make out his figure just after a few strides.
"Got business. Needs taking care of." The words echoed down the tunnel and Dan only assumed he was referring to the minion they knocked over just last night. He thought about catching up to stop him or perhaps go with him, but decided not to.
Afterall, it was just Rorschach being Rorschach.