Chapter Eleven Title: Investigation

So, as it turns out, it is actually pretty difficult to keep Dan and Ror IC and still manage to get them to do something they would probably never do in a million years. I have to give serious props to all the authors out there who write Dan/Ror slash and make it seem less than ludicrous. I hope my readers are able to count me among them. All in all, probably not.

Credit where credit is due, I'd like to thank everyone who's written a Fic that I stole something from. Give me a break, we all do it.

There hadn't been enough sleep by the time the two woke up. Dan had some pretty good light blocking blinds since he was, by nature and necessity, a day sleeper, but the sun was making the room uncomfortably warm. He felt his partner move stealthily out of his arms. His eyes opened and he put his glasses on. The red hair came into focus first, followed by that rock solid body. 'Polka dots are always in,' he recalled having read somewhere. It was a cruel comparison, "Shoes," he said.

Rorschach turned around, cocking his head.

"In the closet, there's a pair of shoes that are your size. They're tennis shoes. I wasn't sure…" He drifted off, having trouble making things connect properly after two hours of sleep, "The alarm hasn't gone off. Why are we up?"

Rorschach went to the closet and fished out the black Converse All Stars, "Going for a run." He dropped the shoes on the floor by Dan's side of the bed and sat down beside his feet to put them on.

Clearly, Dan's Masochist side was still out in full force because he opened his mouth, "Would you mind some company?"

His partner focused on his shoes, as though inspecting the bow he'd tied the laces into, "Would like that." He stood up and looked at Dan, who rolled out of bed and stood facing him. Rorschach reached up and pulled his Master's face close and kissed him slowly. Dan's eyes closed and when he opened them again the kiss was broken and his partner had disappeared from the room. He licked his lips and got dressed quickly.

Roof running was very different from going on a morning run with his partner. Was he in disguise enough to be Walter? Dan decided yes. Walter was in much better shape than Dan. He ran every morning, rain or shine or snow or fog; unless he was laid up with an injury that wouldn't allow it, and sometimes that didn't stop him either.

He pushed Dan's limits. He was very patient, but he didn't shorten the length of his usual run, even though he did occasionally slow down to wait for Dan to catch up. If running in place or, more embarrassingly, backwards could be counted as slowing down. At least he wasn't literally running circles around him. That would have made him give up, or, more likely, punch Walter in the face-mask, whatever.

On the way back, they stopped at the news stand.

"Whew." Dan said, stretching and incredibly grateful for the break. Walter jogged in place as he waited for the newsman to count out the nickels, "This sure is bracing. I feel like a million bucks."

"We'll work on it," Walter grated. Dan shot him a dirty look and the corners of his partner's mouth turned up.

After they returned home, Dan bided his time. 'Walter' went off to work, and Dan waited about an hour before changing into a pair of jeans and a button down shirt. He put on an old newsboy cap he hadn't worn since he was about sixteen, and left the house.

It was a simple matter for a detective, someone used to hunting down criminals in locations they didn't want to be found, to figure out where his partner went when he went home in the morning. It didn't surprise him that the address was smack in the middle of the neighborhood Rorschach so clearly hated. 'No big surprise,' Dan thought as he passed two very familiar looking Katie heads, sporting fresh bruises, lounging on the corner, 'It must drive him crazy, passing these guys every day and not being able to do a thing about it.' Most of the buildings in this neighborhood were built of brick and the mortar was crumbling. There was graffiti up to ten feet above street level, broad swaths reaching the roof where there were fire escapes.

Walter's tenement in particular was no different. Dan stood across the street for a moment, fumbling with a cigarette which he'd decided suited his disguise's cover. He put it in his mouth and blew lightly, to make the end glow and look like he was actually smoking it. This trick only worked in cold weather, when his steamy breath was indistinguishable from smoke. He pulled the collar of his jacket up and surreptitiously studied the building; a quick count of stories and the number of windows, and years of intimate familiarity with the layout of cheap apartment buildings like this one yielded the most likely location of Rorschach's apartment.

It was on the top floor, 'Easy access for a roof runner, hard for anyone on the street,' and only had one window, 'minimum number of entry points to be attacked from.' He rubbed his hands together and started walking towards the nearest building with a fire escape. 'Let's see what kind of lock he's got on his door.'

He shimmied up the fire escape to the roof of the neighboring building, leapt to the target building, and looked down from above the window. It looked to be about a seven foot drop from the edge of the roof to the window ledge. Dan blocked out the part of his mind that started calculating how narrow the ledge was and at what velocity he would hit the ground if he managed to miss it. (four inches, and not fast enough to kill him, just fast enough to put him in the hospital and open him to some very awkward questions from his partner.) 'He snooped first.' He told himself.

He swung himself off the roof and didn't miss the window ledge. He did notice there were conveniently missing bricks in the masonry around the window and spaced just perfectly for a person about ten inches shorter than Dan; of course. The window was one of those that slide upwards on a sort of built in rail. He reached down to pry open the window when he realized that Rorschach would have means of detecting this. Pulling his goggles from their hiding place beneath his cap, he focused along the edges of the window and noticed, at the very corner, a fine red hair pinched between the window and the frame. 'Well you're not the only one who has read detective stories, my friend.' He pressed the toe of his shoe on the hair to hold it in place, and bracing himself against the brickwork with one hand he reached down to push the window up the rail. It budged, and then stopped. He looked around his arm. Of course, the damn thing was locked. Well, it should be a simple matter of using the blade of his pocket knife and releasing the latch.

He took a moment to rescue the hair and tuck it in his back pocket for use on the way out, then flipped open the pocket knife and slid it along the bottom edge of the window. It caught on something wooden before it could reach the latch. He tried from a different angle with the same result. This was taking far too long. Someone was bound to notice a guy on a window ledge. He worked at it, only to realize there was a trick to moving the latch with the knife, when he went at it from straight on. The instant it clicked free, he shoved the window up and fairly rolled inside.

The window left him fuming. 'What kind of paranoid nutcase is worried about window break-ins on the third floor' It turned out Rorschach had installed some sort of wooden block that kept the window from being unlatched from the outside. Once he'd figured out the trick it had been rather painless to undo, but in the meantime he'd been hanging from the side of a building for almost five minutes.

In his frenzy about the window, he hadn't taken the time to look inside and determine if this was even the right apartment. The security strongly suggested it was, but the smell absolutely confirmed it; it had that distinct, unpleasant Rorschach odor to it, like the man in high summer.

Dan straightened up and looked around. There was no doubt about who lived here. The trappings of the apartment itself were like so many of these places; sort of an avocado tint to everything, peeling wallpaper, the usual. It was the level of personalization that stunned him - there was none, nothing on the walls, nothing to indicate that this was more lived in than any hotel room. There was a small pile of clothes on a hastily made bed, dirty or just unfolded it was hard to tell. There was a kitchenette, a hot plate, and a garbage bin overflowing with empty cans. A single set of silverware, a single coffee mug with a broken handle, and a can opener sat on the counter beside the hot plate. There were two doors. One had a coke bottle balanced on the handle, so he assumed that one led out to the hallway. The other revealed a miniscule bathroom. Just a shower and toilet. The occupant of the quarters was obviously expected to use the kitchen sink. On a small shelf was a shaving kit.

Dan decided this was as good a place as any to start snooping, and went through it to find the usual things one finds in a shaving kit. He checked under the bath towel draped on a peg on the back of the door, in the freshwater tank on the back of the toilet, and tried to see if the mirror was concealing a built in medicine cabinet; it wasn't.

In the bedroom/living room he ran his hands under and across the mattress, searching for concealed…anything. He resisted the temptation to make the bed more neatly. With hospital corners, perhaps. He carefully shifted through the pile of clothes, making certain he returned them in the same order he'd found them. Nothing. No mail, no personal documents, nothing.

Then he remembered. The way they'd first started communicating information before they'd really become partners, before (presumably) Rorschach knew where to find Nite Owl when they wanted to patrol together. They'd left messages in the dumpster outside the Gunga Diner on 43rd and 7th. He looked apprehensively at the garbage pail, considering how long it would take an emaciated teenager to eat through that many cans of beans. How moldy the stuff on the bottom must be. Well, if this was going to be a thorough investigation, it was only right that he read any mail the other man had lying (covered in trash or not) around his apartment.

He started pulling cans out and setting them in the sink. At first they were just crusty with dried on juices, but the further he went, the nastier it got. Eventually, he got to the bottom and found a plastic sack. It was stiff with paper, and he carefully pulled it out.

Inside were the things he'd been looking for. Three birth certificates, state issued photo ID, two fake drivers licenses, and a couple old newspaper clippings. That was it.

From these he learned that his partner's name was Walter Joseph Kovacs, that he was born March 31, 1950 to Sylvia and Charlie Kovacs, in the St Georges hospital on Amherst . That, as Walter J Kovacs, he was not legally permitted to drive a vehicle in New York State, though he could as Morgan Burleigh, born August 15, 1947, and…Dan stared at the other fake ID. His partners picture glared up at him from all three ID's, the same picture, in fact. But the third ID…

'He stole my identity.' Dan thought, a sort of coldness moving up his body from his feet. Then he looked more closely. It wasn't quite right.

David Dreiberg, born September 4, 1945.

He flipped through the birth certificates to the one for David Dreiberg. It listed both Dan's parents and the time of Dan' birth, but five minutes later.

'He made us twins.' The cold feeling expanded and changed into something else. There was no way to tell how long ago this birth certificate had been forged, but clearly…no, nothing was clear here. He looked at the rest of the paper in the file.

There were three newspaper articles. One was about the murder of a woman named Kitty Genovese, one about the forming of the Watchmen, and the last was an article featuring Rorschach and Nite Owl after being interviewed, or more accurately, Nite Owl being interviewed and Rorschach ranting about the corruption on all levels of society. The three articles were marked and had items circled, the way Rorschach always did when looking for leads.

It was an odd article to chose, Dan thought, it wasn't their first appearance in the paper together, and it wasn't their biggest bust which had landed them the journalist's attention. In fact, he remembered the interview pretty well.

They were standing in the shadows, watching the police haul away a group of miscreants they'd busted for drug running. The reporter was new to the job, eager and still bright eyed. He juggled his notepad around and asked them silly, first timer questions, "Why do you hide your true identities?" and "What makes you so hungry for justice?"

Nite Owl was younger then, and tried to answer in sound bites, "We cannot endanger our civilian friends and family by revealing our activities to criminals," and "We cannot stand idly by and tolerate the crimes perpetrated by the members of society who do not wish to attain to society's standards." Rorschach had paced behind him, and when he said this, surged forward.

"The bleeding heart liberals have spent too much time turning their back on this city. They pretend if they just whore themselves out to the rich, those political Johns will buy their tricks and set them free from the filth they've entrenched themselves with. These Jewish fraternities of wealth and ignorance are going to drown this city, and this country in their hedonistic, self-gratifying, opulence until there is no more want; except those children left crying in the street when their means of living has been bought out, and their fathers turn to thievery and their mothers turn to prostitution. When they sacrifice their own offspring to the gears of the machine, that their blood, sweat and tears may oil it, and consumption and degradation can go on."

The journalist's pencil was flying, occasionally he would mutter a word like "hedonistic" or "mothers turn to prostitution." Nite Owl just turned and stared at his partner. They'd only been working together a few months and it was one of the first times he'd gone on a rampage against anything more abstract than the criminals they'd fought that night. Or once, about a song he'd been forced to endure overhearing about a woman's sexual exploits. After the journalist offered his hearty thanks, mostly to Rorschach who distained to acknowledge him, Nite Owl had pulled him aside. He was barely able to keep from slamming him into the alley wall.

"I'm Jewish," was the point he decided to settle on. There were so many offensive and hideous accusations in the diatribe that it had been hard to pick just one, so he'd chosen the one that hit closest to home, "Do you think I'm like that? Do you hate me?"

His partner stayed quiet under his furious gaze for a long time. He had almost believed that was an unspoken confirmation, because even in his short time with Rorschach he'd learned that the other man wouldn't lie. He'd also learned that sometimes he had to think about his answers before he was willing to commit to them. Shocking, considering the statement he'd just committed to in front of a large portion of the newspaper reading populace.

"Can be…soft, sometimes, Daniel. Mostly, good. Couldn't hate you. You are my partner."

"But those things you just said. Don't you even care what effect they're going to have when people read them?"

"People will believe what they believe."

"You said those things about me, Rorschach. You believe those things about me."

"Didn't take your background into account. Will try to be more careful in the future." Rorschach shrugged away, as though that was the answer to everything. At least Nite Owl realized it was as close to an apology as he was going to get.

"I'll check the drop point to see where you want to meet, tomorrow," he sighed. His partner walked away silently.

It had taken Nite Owl half the walk home to realize that Rorschach had called him Daniel.

He ran his finger over the birth certificate. He didn't think back on the dark parts of their early days as much as he thought about the glory of the busts, and the camaraderie they shared. That meant he hadn't seen the changes his partner had gone through. From hating Jews, and Daniel knew he still wasn't exactly their biggest fan, to being willing to wear a Jewish name because he shared it with his partner. It was tacit forgiveness, if nothing else. In truth it was much, much more.

Author's Note: This is my first real attempt at Rorschach going on a rampage. I don't know enough about politics and conspiracy theories in the late 60's to write on them with much authority. Not nearly as much authority as Rorschach has, anyway. But I ranted and hit a couple points that I think Mr. Extreme Right Wing would resent. Anyway, it's all just a vehicle for plot. Forgive me my weakness.