He’d tensed immediately, only taking a shaking breath and nervous laugh when the other calmed. That was probably the worst hello he could have mustered. Almost as great as his goodbye letter.
Which didn’t exist. Shoot.
“Yeah.” A small smile and he’s taking a step forward. Still not close, but at least his back isn’t pressed against his bedroom door. “I used to be great at writing letters, just ask my parent’s workers. But I had to get help that wasn’t here.” He’ll keep to himself that it’d only slowed the consumption. Not quite a 7-day-sober chip holder, but weeks since he’d been absolutely knock-down drunk.
“You been keeping busy.” Look to the wall. Focus on the small pinned moth in the shadowbox that looked well dusted. Try not to smile to wide and dorky-like. “Airplanes have really changed to something swell, i-if you haven’t been on one lately. I was recently. N-not an airplane but.” He sucked in a breath and shifted again. “I-i should go to bed, I just got out of a clinic and flew in-” And boy aren’t his arms tired. Or no, that’s from the constant rubbing. This was becoming awkward fast. “Talk more in the morning?”
Immediately, the man starts rambling, which is the most surefire sign that Rorschach could have been given that this was, indeed, Byron. And he was talking about help - away from him. The smaller man wasn’t entirely sure what he was talking about, but he was hanging onto each word regardless.
Clinic. There it was. For the alcoholism? For the rumored insanity that history spoke so often of? It was anyone’s guess, at that moment, but he certainly looked frazzled. Speaking of airplanes and twitching nervously.
Sleep, sleep would be a good idea. Rorschach shifted for the remote and turned the television off before finally standing. There’s a stretch, snap crackle and pop of his joints before he glanced back over at the other man. “Should sleep as well.” Flexing of his fingers made his hands hurt, and a glance down reminded him that they were still raw from that night’s fight. He’ll have to re-bandage them in the morning. “Will you be here?” That last bit is said without any eye contact. He’s not sure he can sleep, regardless, but if Byron will be gone when he wakes up - that would make it all the worse.
A few minutes of flitting around his room, and the vague sounds of a TV finally reached him from behind the door. Was he still- of course he was. If not some squatter was about to have one very rude hello so late in the evening.
Byron cracked the door and peered out, some static-filled rerun of M.A.S.H. across the screen and cutting to commercial. Every last bone in his body told him how bad of an idea it would be to just walk over and tap the body’s shoulder. If it was Rorschach, he’d be on high alert. If it was anyone else-
He swallowed and stepped out from around the door, shuffling on his feet and rubbing at his arm in a tic he’d gained somewhere in his journey. This would be so much easier drunk.
“U-uh, hello.” A cough to clear his throat. “I had- after what everyone said, what I read. I had to get help before I turned into a kook.”
At first, he didn’t wake. His body too tired, mind too exhausted, and with the television running, he almost didn’t think anything unnatural of it at first.
But the voice was different from the television. A more familiar tone, more real. Rorschach was slightly startled out of his sleep, teeth clenching together as his tense muscles drew pain out of him, and he sat up, balling injured hands into fists and—
—but when he set eyes on the intruder, he had a hard time processing what he saw. Or rather, what he didn’t see, because he had to still be asleep. Had to be dreaming that Byron had returned to him, like so many other dreams before.
Though this was real, and he knew it. He hadn’t heard a word that the other man had said, only that he was there and speaking, and slowly Rorschach unballed his fists, easing back down onto his seat on the couch. Features once fight-ready smoothed back down into confusion, disbelief, and he stared at the other man, blinking.
Byron was, as many jokes to his nature said, flighty at best. He didn’t mean it. He tried. But this new world was… different.
Things that used to be known as bad and taboo were free-roaming things, liquor was quicker on the draw, nobody looked at you funny if you were suddenly the ‘drunk’. Nobody stopped him. Sure Rorschach was there, but then there were patrols and heaters. He carried his own for protection, but compared to the others his was-
Out of date.
So Byron took to drinking himself into a stupor nightly when he could get away with it. Not his time period, not his problems.
It was a few months into it that one of his new-found bar friends started to notice something was off, and with the help of some college kids he disappeared into the night. Like a moth- he was just.
He scooted from clinic to clinic until he could get a hold on his addiction. Rorschach would understand. He’d heard rumors of what happened to himself in a different world. Don’t risk it; don’t be stupid. There was too much to read and do here.
A few more months, and just as quickly as he’d gone Mothman was back. Crawling in through his own bedroom window to eye the dusty surfaces of things that hadn’t changed.
Not under control, just-
The past few weeks had been rather rough on Rorschach, to say the least. He’d grown too comfortable in the company of another - too dependent and soft, and when Byron disappeared—
—well, Rorschach hadn’t known what to do with himself.
Like any good partner, he spent days on end, without sleep, combing the streets. No villainous subterfuge, no traces of a struggle - and not even the heroes of Manhattan had seen hide or hair of the famous Mothman.
Days turned into longer, and Rorschach was growing restless, disturbed with worry and anxiety. He’d been left alone again, left to his own designs, and finally, he’d managed to track the trail all the way back, right to some college hole-in-the-wall, and after a few square hits, he’d been given the most vague of explanations. Gone, left with a “friend”.
So, he’d been abandoned again.
Rorschach didn’t exactly leave the house. It was useful, he’d grown accustomed to it and it wasn’t going anywhere. There wasn’t any sense to leave it behind, not in the middle of winter especially. So he’d stayed - left Byron’s part of the apartment entirely untouched. Except, perhaps, for lingering glances and brief - though maybe not too brief - moments of standing, lingering and waiting. For what? He couldn’t say.
And, custom as well, he’d managed to keep the place at least somewhat tidied up. Though he was eating less and occupying himself more, between patrol work and nights in fighting rings. It was another night for him, curled in a ball on one side of the couch, with bandaged bloodied hands from his latest fight, and the television softly droning into old reruns of MASH. He hadn’t heard Byron return, hadn’t noticed a thing through his exhaustion. Even though he shivered slightly in his sleep from the heat being turned low.
Rorschach could count on one hand the number of times he’d participated in Christmas.
Comic-con in Manhattan this past weekend.
Saw small child wearing a duplicate of my uniform.
… I can’t tell if you mean actual spirits or the people’s spirits.
It’s kind of a shame, it’d be nice if everyone was so ‘in it for each other’ all year round.
But hey, that’s why we’re here, right?
Would not be us without them. Humankind eternally struggles in violent filth.
Can only hope for breaks in endless cycle.
Sometimes false isn’t so bad, if it benefits someone who needs it more than you right? Sure there are limits and it’s never good in the long run- u-um, but… I see what you mean.
Even the air feels better. Does this usually last past the month?
Lasts until end of October. Halloween brings out a bitter taste in Manhattan. Spirits give rise to horror and unrest.
I wouldn’t say for once, I’ve found some happier people
hanging around the barsin some libraries.
But it’s definitely a shift, it’s nice. Even the normal couples I see wandering around seem happier.
False happiness, ruled by little lies and masked falsehoods.
Good for the city.