Come As You Aren't
Disclaimer: Buffy and all characters thereof are property of Joss Whedon, Watchmen is DC's. Studio Ghibli gets Kiki's Delivery Service. If you recognize anything else, it isn't mine, either.
A/N- The original version of this was posted on ff.net, I revised it a bit when I noticed it fulfilled a listed challenge and decided to post. I'll warn you though, it can be months between updates, though as I revise the chapters I already have they'll be going up.
Willow moved down the isles of the new costume shop with ease. It was cluttered and filled with people who took little to no notice of her; just the way she liked it. Sun, wonderful vampire deterrent sun, streamed through the windows highlighting great clouds of dust and tiny pieces of costume. Ethan's had a homey, lived in feel as if it was one of the antique/second hand shops that had been running for decades. The funny thing was it had only been open for two weeks.
The girl allowed herself to bask in the light between two racks of super hero costumes, which had been unusually unpopular this year, before looking up to check on Buffy. The blonde girl was looking through a miscellaneous bin and would probably be occupied for a few minutes yet.
"Wills!" Xander called happily as he cut through a group of middle-schoolers like a shark. "You thinking of spandex? I'm thinking spandex." He grinned and gestured to the array of heroine costumes around her. "You got the hair for it!"
"I. Uh..." She gibbered for a moment before shaking her head. He was just being nice, right? Though her hair was a little unique; a dusty auburn inherited from her grandfather. She looked up at the boy and fiddled with her purse strap. She could probably afford anything in the store, her parents were reasonably well off and Willow herself didn't have much she spent her weekly allowance on, but she already had an idea in mind. Spandex was not on the list. "Did you find the packaged ones?"
"The mass produced pre-packaged and totally unoriginal cheaper than dirt 'guises?"
Willow nodded with a smile.
"Down this isle on the left, just around the big red dress on the wall." Xander turned to see Buffy digging through the box as Willow zipped off and frowned. Why didn't the girl see him as a man? Well, the boy thought, she'll see how manly I can be tonight! All I've got to find is a good gun.
The red headed teen scanned the wall of costumes. Most of the girl's outfits were the exact opposite of what she wanted. They were skimpy, revealed way too much, and basically screamed whore. Barmaids, witches, and cat-girls, oh my...
Flipping over the zip-locked bag she noted the company and price: it was by the same people that made the costumes she wore when she was little. The costume was a simple ghost that looked like a bed sheet with holes cut out for the eyes and 'boo' printed on the chest. It didn't stand out, and most importantly it covered everything. Only the tips of her shoes would be visible.
Happy and surprised to have found exactly what she wanted, the teenager bounced back to her friend illiciting brief stares of annoyance from the shoppers she cut off during her passage.
Buffy heard her irregular, skipping footsteps and put down the decorative pumpkin she was examining. "What'd you get?"
Willow gave her a wide smile and proudly offered up the plastic package for inspection. "A time-honored classic!"
Buffy stared at the package and for a heart-stopping second Willow felt like she was dealing with Cordelia. The blonde's voice came out low with a touch of anger. "Okay, well. Can I give you a little friendly advice?"
Willow's throat constricted. "Is it not spooky enough?" She would admit that there had been another costume that came with a lot of body paint and fake blood easily beating the sheet ghost in the 'spirit' of the holiday.
"It's just..." Buffy sighed. "You're never gonna get noticed if you keep hiding. You're missing the whole point of Halloween."
The red head looked at the white sheet in the package, thinking. "Free candy?" Xander had always been one for the candy, and she'd always given him the ones she didn't like. The chocolate and banana taffy, for instance.
Buffy rolled her eyes every inch the high school queen she once was. Willow blinked as she had a flash of insight. If Xander was the King of Cretins, Buffy was their Queen. So what does that make me?
"It's 'come as you aren't' night. The perfect chance for a girl to get sexy and wild with no repercussions." Buffy flashed her teeth. But I don't want to get sexy and wild, Willow thought in alarm while lowering the costume and shaking her head. Her mouth felt a little dry as her nervousness began to assert itself. "Oh no. I don't get wild. Wild on me equals spaz." She swallowed and tried to work moisture back into her mouth.
Buffy took her hand. "Don't underestimate yourself. You got it in you."
It was a deadlock of wills. The short blonde smiled supportively, eyes all but sparkling at the thought of bringing her shy friend out of her shell. The red head rocked back on her heels, mind reaching for a way to get out the situation. People all around them, Santa outfit in font, Xander coming up from the side.
Her eyes widened. "Xander! What'd you get?"
Buffy eyed the small plastic automatic rifle he produced from the bag with disbelief. "That's... not a costume."
The boy shrugged and turned away from the slayer still miffed about earlier. "I got fatigues from an army surplus at home. Call me the two dollar costume king, ba-by."
Willow mentally applauded his save as Buffy apologized about stepping into a man's fight and promised to never do so again. Willow shifted her feet and looked down at the ghost costume. Should she switch? If only to make Buffy happy, maybe she could try something different. Maybe a vampire? No, poor taste for Sunnydale. The natural ginger blinked and shook herself as Buffy began walking towards the back, obviously lost in her own thoughts. The red dress, like the girl in the book with the skinny wasp waist.
As Buffy twirled with the dress in the mirror, Willow wandered back to the costume wall. She paused with the ghost package, about to put it back, and sighed. She didn't want to do something revealing but Buffy would be disappointed, though Xander probably wouldn't mind. He always supported her ghost fetish.
"Can I help you?"
Willow jumped, nearly dropping the package. The store manager, Ethan, was beside her eying the costumes. "Oh. Sorry, you startled me."
"Sorry about that. Did you need help?"
The brunette man was letting off weird vibes and kept looking at Buffy as the cashier packed the dress into a box. Willow shrugged. She could probably get the ghost and, if she wasn't comfortable in what the slayer picked out for her, change. That seemed the safest course. Satisfied with her decision Willow was about to ask for check out when guilt washed over her. She'd always gone as a ghost. Buffy was hoping for something that was totally unlike Willow. Xander might even be fun to surprise, still...
"Um, I wanted something that would cover me up, make it hard to tell who was under the costume, but all I found was this." She proffered the ghost. "Do you have anything else?"
Ethan paused, eyes narrowing and taking in her subdued posture while scratching his neck. "Hmm. There are some larger demon masks you may like."
Willow shook her head in the negative. "No, I don't like how those stick to your face and make it all hot and sticky and... well..."
The man grinned as a thought occurred to him. "I may have one outfit, it comes with a cloth mask that fits around your whole head, and breaths very well. Doesn't leave a bit of skin showing if you have it on right. Though, it is a male character."
Well, it was come-as-you-aren't-night, and she was certainly not a man. Willow frowned. "It's not spandex, is it?"
"Not at all! Suit, scarf, gloves, mask, and hat. There's also a grappling gun but that costs extra. I assure you, with this costume no one will ever be able to guess who's under the mask." He gave her a salesman's grin. Willow thought it over, but she didn't have much time. On the other hand if she bought the costume she would be putting the ghost back, and Buffy couldn't expect her to waste a good costume, could she?
"Okay Willow," Buffy called as she checked her black wig in the mirror. "It's time to come out and show the world what you got!" There was no response. "Willow?" The girl moved to the door and froze, mouth dropping open slightly. "Okay, I know I said come as you aren't but... who?"
"Do you like it?" Willow's chippery but unsure voice came from the menacing ink blot like mask. "I decided to follow your advice, something different!"
"Yeah, it's good. Totally not you, but I was thinking something a little more..."
"Yes, actually." She slayer tilted her head and grinned. "Still, I love it! Xander's so gonna freak! Who is it supposed to be, anyway, the boogie man?"
Willow shrugged as the doorbell rang and Buffy went to answer it. She hovered at the top of the stairs, pleased. "A comic book superhero, I think. Rorschach."
As Xander declared his renunciation of spandex, something the Rosenberg never thought she would hear, Willow thought it would be a fun night. Quickly schooling her features she set her shoulders, adjusted the shoulder pads, and slunk down the stairs.
"...Wills?" Seeing her nod the boy broke into a giant smile. "You look great! Terrifying! Casper just had a heart attack."
Willow laughed, almost tripped, and laughed again. Buffy's mother, Joyce, walked in from the kitchen jingling car keys. "How 'bout I give you kids a ride to the school?"
Willow followed her group trying to look intimidating. She straightened her back, looked straight ahead, and occasionally gave a soft growling when one group interfered with her own. It was so liberating to be something new! It was almost as if the costume was changing her, bit by bit, as if she was falling into character like some actors did. When the costume goes on, the real person vanishes.
The teen fought a giggle, which would be completely out of character for Rorschach. "Last house." She called to her group with a jerk of her head. The two goblins took the lead and rang the doorbell as she stood back, surveying.
An old woman came to the door smiling with the stereotypical pumpkin candy bowl. "Oh! Aren't you adorable!" Funny thing to say to someone trying be scary. "I'm sorry I'm all out, I could have sworn I had more."
Willow inwardly sighed. She was probably going to give the kids toothbrushes or apples or something equally unsatisfying instead. Heartless.
A wind went through the chimes on the porch, and the masked girl shivered. She suddenly felt faint, and far too warm. Using the wall for support she rubbed her head, and the screams started.
Rorschach looked up to see a trio of children dressed for Halloween run by, screaming in fear. Real fear, not the play kind. He could tell. There was also a... monster... choking an old lady and shaking her with surprising strength for such a small body. He didn't know how he had gotten wherever he was, but the questions fell back as he was presented with a problem. Evil. Evil must be punished.
The vigilante stepped forward, and nearly fell on his face. Balance off... taller? Shoes not padded. Within seconds Rorschach closed the distance, kicked the green goblin thing in the face, and began breaking the grip on the old woman. She wheezed and rushed into her home, locking the door.
The goblins gibbered and snarled but fled after a single hit. They were pathetic weak cowards: the worst kind of scum.
Stepping off the porch, the underworlds greatest fear walked calmly into suburbia. He adjusted his fedora and glanced about, spotting a boy dressed, sloppily, in military clothing looking around confused and clutching his fake gun like a life preserver. Rorschach narrowed his eyes and the pattern on his mask shifted to reflect his pensive mood. The teenager felt familiar, as if he'd known him for quite some time, but he couldn't remember ever meeting the boy.
Just as the man stepped forward to question the teenager, as he seemed the only one not running away, the youth went slack for a moment and if Rorschach hadn't been watching wouldn't have believed it possible. The toy gun gained mass, more specifically, it extended to the proportions of a real one and took on a metallic gleam. The boy blinked and straightened, jumped at the growl of a small dog like creature behind him, and pointed the weapon.
Rorschach frowned. "Solider."
The teen spun, weapon ready, stance filled with purpose. Training had taken over, but only for a moment. The boy stared at him with surprise written all over his face. "...Rorschach?"
The vigilante prepared to run. Clearly, whoever the boy had become knew of him, possibly intended to arrest him. But he needed more information. He still didn't know what had happened, though his best bet was that Manhattan had done something at his girlfriend's urging. Silk Specter II never liked him.
Absently the vigilante noticed that the streets had cleared, but the gun at his chest was more pressing. "Don't know how arrived. Do you?"
"Last thing I remember I was with the boys at the range.... but you don't exist. You're just a character in a comic book."
"Circumstances disagree." Rorschach replied evenly. When you've eliminated the impossible, the remaining however improbable had to be the truth. He was starting to develop a theory.
"Damn. Rorschach?" The boy was having difficultly accepting his existence, but didn't appear to be hostile. They both heard a low growling, and looked to see some sort of female cat monster hybrid stalking toward them from across the street. "Fuck." The boy levered his weapon at the monster, took aim, and fired.
The creature howled as a bullet tore through her shoulder, and fled.
"I'm still a little shaky, okay. Besides, we don't know what's going on, I would suggest wounding until we know exactly what in the hell-mouth is happening." The boy check his weapon and blinked. "Holy... there's nothing... I must have fucking unlimited ammo."
"Hrm. Truce? See woman." Rorschach pointed.
The two fighters headed across the street toward a dark haired beauty who looked as if she had been pulled out of her own time. She turned wide, frightened eyes on the men, and screamed as she saw Rorschach's mask. "D-demon!"
The solider sighed and ran a hand through his hair. "Lady, it's a mask. You know, so he can do all sorts of heroics and not worry about the authorities."
"Is it, magic?"
"Yeah. Magic. Are you hurt?"
"N-No. What's going on?" She asked as she latched herself onto the boy's arm. He had a musket, and therefore offered more protection. Not to mention he carried himself as some of the soldiers that visited her uncle's estate did.
"Lady, that's the million dollar question."
"Suggest shelter." Rorschach commented as he continued to scan the street. He picked up an abandoned bag and pocketed the candy within. "Civilian cannot fight."
The boy nodded and moved the noblewoman behind him. "You know a place?"
"Many places." He gestured to the neighborhood. The solider shrugged and followed the masked adventurer to the nearest empty house; the few occupied ones contained civilians frightened out of their minds that would probably attack first and ask questions later.
Rorschach was disturbed by how weak his body had become. It took three kicks to break the lock on the empty house they picked, small windows with only one story, and easily defensible. The soldier was going through the house and collecting dining table chairs and other furniture to reinforce the windows and door. The noblewoman sat worriedly on a love-seat as she watched the two men barricade everything but the front door.
"Do you suppose some evil wizard is doing this?" She asked hesitantly.
Rorschach considered. Demons running amok, things that he hadn't believed in before, and sudden teleportation. Magic was the best bet. "Possible." He went to the window and heard a faint scream. It was a woman, and though the scream was clearly distressed it wasn't as frightened as he would expect. The masked man put his hand on the busted door nob. "Heard scream. Going to check out."
"Understood." The soldier leaned against a bar stool, weapon at the ready, and prepared to stand vigil. The girl's bottom lip trembled while she twisted a hanker-chief in her hands. "Be careful, sir."
The temperature had gone down in the time they'd holed up in the empty house, and without walls the sound of fear was clear. At the end of the street he could see a woman in a ripped cat suit running from what looked like a lumbering baquas. Rorschach ran quickly, passed the female, and planted his fist in what he hoped was the solar plexus of the creature. Regardless, the move caused the thing to double over in pain before he slammed his elbow into its nose.
Rorschach looked up to see the cat girl watching from behind a tree, a calculating look on her face. "Why didn't you kill it?"
"You know what it is?" She shook her head. "Come." The vigilante wondered if she was a whore, which he wouldn't have bothered saving, then remembered it was Halloween. They walked quickly back to the safe house sticking to the light. It would make them stand out, but then if anything jumped out they'd see it.
At the house Rorschach knocked rapidly twice, paused, then a third before entering. The soldier was in the same spot, but he had a cut of tea next to him and the noble woman was delicately sipping one of her own. What looked like an antique tea set had been liberated from a china cabinet along with a set of china plates bearing hostess cakes. "Sir, you've returned!" She exclaimed happily, before registering the cat girl. "Who, are you?" Her voice was thick with disapproval.
"Buffy?!" The woman exclaimed with incredulity. "Xander? Shouldn't you guys be, I don't know, doing something! I was just attacked by jo-jo the dog faced boy!"
The noble sniffed. "I haven't the slightest idea of what you mean. My name is Elizabeth Yorkshire."
"No. You're Buffy, the Slayer. Stop drinking tea... I know that brand!"
"Not to interrupt ladies, but what did you mean earlier?" The soldier asked while taking off his jacket and setting it around Cordelia's shoulders. "My name is Jimmy, not Xander."
Elizabeth poured two more cups and handed one disdainfully to Cordelia before staring resolutely into her own. She was determined to block out the chaos around her, hoping it would go away. Cordelia scowled. "Party town is never going to give me my deposit back..."
Rorschach watched the teenagers argue and stood next to the 'Elizabeth' waiting for tea. At least she was trying to be helpful, in her way. He cleared his throat and the two turned to him. "Cat girl has point. Others out there, in danger. Evil."
"Got that right, ink blot." Cordelia commented as she fingered a rip.
"Need to clear streets." Rorschach spoke in a dead tone with a hint of malice. It was unclear if he meant to get people out of danger and inside, or to take down the monsters that had suddenly plauged the town. Jimmy/Xander grinned and switched the safety off of his gun.
"I'll take north, you want south?"
Elizabeth/Buffy slammed her cup down. "Surely you don't mean to leave us?"
Soldier boy pointed to Cordelia. "There's some knives in the kitchen and a bat close to the door. Anything tries to get in without the knock, Miss Liz knows it, attack. Most creatures don't seem to be too bright. Be sure to move the chair in place after we leave."
The brunette girl was quite for a moment, both annoyed and worried, but she finally nodded her assent. "Fine."
The warriors left the building, one silent and the other promising to be back in half an hour if not sooner.
Rorschach moved through the shadows, occasionally moving to disable a monster, and found himself unsettled. When he fought the baquas monster he'd noticed his hands were smaller, but thought it mostly just the sheer size difference over emphasizing everything. Now he wasn't sure. He was thinner, too. He had to put effort into disguising his voice.
A child dressed vaguely like a doctor ran up, one of his arms torn up with scratches, crying. "Willow! Please, Veronica and Kyle got cornered. They need help!"
Willow? "Show me." The boy ran back the way he came, cutting through bushes and between houses with mud sloshing everywhere. Rorschach spotted the two children, dressed as a prince and princess, pressing together as a mob of adult-sized gray faced monsters leered and hissed.
Rorschach took only a second to pick up an abandoned flashlight before jumping into the group. He brained one with the steel torch before kicking at another and successfully catching their attention. They were stronger, possibly stronger than him, but stupid and delicately built. Red-black blood pooled at his feet and he dropped the flashlight as the last one went down, wheezing.
The three kids watched from atop a garbage bin, eyes wide and in shock. "Get down. Follow. Stay close." The boys nodded, the doctor wincing as his torn up arm brushed against the girls dress. Rorschach headed back into the night.
It was the strangest thing he'd ever seen after the toy gun transformation. A little girl, presumably dressed as a fairy, was glowing as she stood in a tree with frightened eyes. Around the tree were unconscious or semi-conscious monsters with burn marks on their bodies.
She gasped when she saw him approach, but calmed at the sight of three other kids behind him. "You are?" He asked, eyes on her gossamer green wings.
The fairy chewed her lip. "I'm Lorenza." She looked around, sad. "Have you seen my mother?"
"No." Tears formed in her eyes and little bolts of energy wafted off her to blacken the tree bark. "Come."
The masked man was scary, but she was confused and alone, and his charges promised some company. The girl sniffled, and glancing around at the fallen but quickly recovering enemies, flew down. Rorschach made sure to break some legs before they left, just in case.
He left the children and fairy on a porch and headed towards the park. There was a commotion near the jungle gym as a group of middle schoolers fought against a trio of vampires. The blood drinkers faces looked hideously disfigured as they taunted the preteens.
"Come dearies, you can live young and beautiful forever! Just a little pin-prick is all it takes!"
"Micheal!" One of the boys shouted, angry and scared, as he held a wooden prop sword in front of him. "Snap out of it, man! Come on!"
Rorschach grabbed one of the monsters and punched him, wincing. They were stronger than the others; built stronger. Faster too. Still he had skill and though his body was new to him it was slim and his clothing suggested extra bulk and height. He surprised them with his maneuverability. He rolled under a swing as a vamp snarled, jumped up and tried to crack its ribs.
The hero felt his fist connect with what felt like concrete, and heard the children gasping and running. One of the vampires, a female with bright red lipstick, tackled and pinned him. She leaned down, whispering in a giddy way. "Who might you be, little... girl?"
Rorschach saw red. The teenager with the sword tossed his weapon across the rocky playground, and in a burst of rage and adrenaline Rorschach snapped up the toy and bucked the undead off just before she bit him. Quickly, he kicked a costumed child vampire in the chest and out of the way before plunging the impromptu weapon into the woman's chest.
She exploded into ash, and with looks of fear and surprise the other two ran. Rorschach managed to stake the other adult before turning and looking for his now over-sized group of children.
The noblewoman had liberated cushions from the barricading couches and beds to create a small nest around the low coffee table. A pair of grim-faced boys, brothers they looked like, were sitting at the table munching on gum and one had a gun out on the coffee table. Rorschach herded his children inside and noted with approval the bloodstains at the door and the smudges on the bat. Cordelia was perched, tense, on the bar stool with the bat balanced across her legs and a large carving knife waiting in her palms.
"Xander went out again." She stated in a sort of disbelief and shock. A girl in a witch outfit walked in from the kitchen with a black cat trailing at her feet. She was carrying a tray of sandwiches. The short haired witch jumped at the new people, but quickly calmed and made a curtsy.
"I'm Kiki." She gestured to her cat. "And this is my black cat Ji-ji."
Rorschach grabbed a sandwich and nodded as the noble woman fussed over the little princess and began straightening out her hair. The smaller children flocked to her, and she seemed to loose much of her panic and flighty nature while mothering them. "Come children." She assured them with the serenity of those born to society, and began patching up the new arrivals with bandages made from ripped bed sheets.
Rorschach watched them for a moment, the mothering and the children, and for a brief second he wondered how he would have turned up his mother had stayed like that. At one time, he recalled dimly, she had watched over him. But she was a whore, and whatever love nature had gifted her with was buried under her profession. Thinking of Kovacs' mother brought to mind the vampire's comment and the children. Who was Willow? It didn't sound like a girl's name. Who named their kid after a tree?
Cordelia watched him turn and tightened her grip on the knife. "Where are you going, now?"
"Bathroom." Rorschach plodded down the hall with heavy steps.
His hair was darker, longer, and cleaner. His eyes were a murky green-brown and his skin was clear. He was taller. He was a girl. If the breasts strapped to his current chest didn't prove it, well, he had checked down there too. At least he could take comfort in that no one had touched the body in 'that' way, but it took every bit of emotional control he had left to not punch the mirror.
"Willow." The word was spoken in his usual monotone, but it carried a meaningful wonder. It was the name the normal children had addressed him as, presumably the one which the body he was inhabiting belonged to. If people were turning into their costumes, for whatever reason, then she had dressed as him. Why? He knew he was disliked by everyone, he hadn't ever tried to be a people-friendly vigilante like Minute Men or Daniel. Why? He found himself staring at his reflection, a teenage girl's body. He felt nothing, but in a odd moment of morbidity he wondered what kind of woman this Willow was.
A virgin. Who dressed like him. Rorschach began to quickly dress as a voice, the girl with the cat, knocked on the door.
"You're a witch." The inkblots moved as he stared down at her, and the girl nodded. Her eyes never left the cat in her arms, and though the creature could speak close inspection revealed sewn seams. It was an animated stuffed toy, brought to life likely by the same magic that changed them.
"In training. All I can really do is talk to cats and fly my broom..."
"It beats walking everywhere." Jimmy reasoned from his post. He had brought back with him a mermaid who had landed herself when the chaos started, and was currently in the bathroom tub being treated by Cordelia. Water creatures and cement didn't mix well, and the smaller monsters had found great fun in torturing the young girl. "If you could fly on up and find trouble spots, it'd be a big help."
"I can do that... but... when I was up there earlier, I could feel the magic. As a witch we're taught that all magic comes from inside us but this... it's being pulled from somewhere else and I'm scared." She scratched the cats ears as it eyed the two older teens. "If whatever brought us here ends, will I lose my magic? It's happened before."
"And you don't want to fall to your death."
Rorschach gave a low growl and gestured to the middle schoolers in the corner. "Then we find out who did this. Why didn't everyone change? Why us? Why not cat-girl or the princess? Find out reason. Find culprit. Find solution. Get retribution."
The girl who had dressed as the princess rubbed the silk of her costume between her fingers. "Miss Willow? I dunno if it will help, but Grandma made our costumes. Maybe she did something to protect us when she made them?"
"Yeah. Right." A girl who was wearing some kind of cosplay evening gown slurred sarcastically. "We'll I bought mine online, and I know George's dad made his armor."
"He did." George said, suddenly alert. Rorschach watched as an idea formed. "And Tom and Micheal went to Party Town... but I remember him complaining that they ran out of what he wanted! So he went to-"
"Ethan's." Cordelia entered the sitting room with blue blood on her hands the thoroughly used first aid kit. It was a lucky thing that mermaids were quick healers, or at least quick to scab over. A few of the injuries she thought would need ER attention. "I know Buffy and Xander, cheapskates that they are, went to Ethans."
Rorschach rounded on the girl and allowed menace to leak into his gravely voice. "Where is Ethan's?"
He approached the shop cautiously; tired. It seemed that the closer he got to the costume store, the supposed epicenter of the magic, the more power the change had over its victims. In other words, the girl's body he inhabited was growing stronger to match his own. It was a little unsettling to think about, and so he shut it out like he did everything else. Evil had to be punished, and now it had a name. Ethan.
Above him the witch circled against a dark red morning sky, and the small walkie-talkie in his pocket crackled to life. "Uh- Sir. I don't see any more monsters... though there's a... a... man... I think... parts..." she trailed off into silence though a few chocking sobs came threw before the communication went out. He'd have to talk to her about that. Rather, he'd have to point her to someone else to talk to about it. The girl was useful to warning him when a pack of possessed civilians were coming; they seemed to want to stay close to the source of their power.
His right arm throbbed from blocking an attack, but it would be over soon.
It only took one kick to break down the door to Ethan's; better locks than it had quailed before the vigilante. Rorschach grinned viciously beneath his mask, the patter moving to accommodate, and causing the only other occupant in the building to swallow his greeting. The Brit gave a sick smile to the masked adventurer, eyes flicking to the barred storefront window. "Ah. Good morning, Sir." He spoke with the skill of a practiced con-artist, but Rorschach could detect a faint undertone of worry. This man knew who he was, knew his reputation, but was waiting for something. The question was: What?
"You know why I'm here."
"Yes. Sorry to rip you out of your universe, but it's only for one night." Ethan took a step back further into the rows of clothing as if to give himself cover. Rorschach walked in a steady pace toward him, mind analyzing the speech, body movement, everything.
"People died tonight." The vigilante wondered briefly if he should have accepted the Soldier's offer of assistance, but it reminded him too much of his recent disbandment with Nite Owl II, and the civilians needed someone to help them. He was used to this sort of show down type thing anyway... but it would have been nice to have someone watching the back door.
"Oh? I had thought they'd have enough sense to run."
It was the wrong thing to say. Innocents had died because of this -witch? wizard? warlock?- actions. Blood had been spilled. "Thought you might, too." Rorschach closed the distance between them in seconds. Metal clothing stands crashed to the floor as he pushed them aside, and try as he did Ethan soon found himself socked in the jaw, teeth loose, and bleeding onto a creme super heroine's dress. The vigilante, so close to the source of the magic, easily lifted the dazed man by his collar. "Guess not." He punched the man in the gut with his free hand and heard something crack. "Stop it."
There was no question just what 'it' was.
Ethan lifted his gaze to the angry blots shifting on his attacker's mask, blood dribbling out his mouth, and gave a painful laugh. "Why?" Small drops of red flew from his mouth as he spoke, busted jaw causing him pain. "Almost done. Almost complete. Little point, really."
His hands moved feebly toward Rorschach's grip as he was dragged by his neck toward the counter. Rorschach slammed Ethan's head into the cash register. "How do I stop it?!"
Ethan gurgled, shaking, eyes drifting dazedly between the window and the back. Rorschach followed the other man's gaze and noticed a soft yellow glow coming from under the back room door. His mind reached. It's only for one night. Almost done. The words echoed in his ears.
Rorschach cursed, threw the Brit to the ground, and ran for the storeroom door. Despite being locked, it easily gave way as he slammed his body against it to reveal a room filled with candles and obvious occult symbols. As he ran for the center of the mystical set up, morning sunlight filtered into room. It touched the statue a second before he could break it, and the spell was complete.
Willow blinked her eyes, and groaned. Her whole body was sore, and she could swear her hands felt like they got into a fight with a block of ice and lost. Wincing, she struggled to sit up. Wax was dripping onto her costume and a what she hoped was a bottle of ink (it looked creepily similar to blood) had been knocked over and was pooling near her feet. She stood and wondered how she got where she was though looking out the busted door revealed the insides of Ethan's.
"Did I-" She swallowed her words, only just noticing her sore throat. She needed a lozenge. Badly.
Shaking, she left the store and headed for home.
Several thousand realities over, Walter Kovacs found himself suddenly in a filthy alley, staring a wall with his apocalypse sign held limply in his hand. A cat wailed nearby. He shook himself and shuffled off for another day in his world, a world where everything was falling apart and everyone seemed to want it that way.
He wondered what it would have been like to live in that world (he wasn't crazy, he knew the experience had been real) for it had seemed... pleasant if dangerous. No. It was useless to think about it. He would move on and continue the fight here, in his America, even if no one else would.
Though he found it odd he had a sudden desire for chocolate chip cookies.
He didn't even notice he was humming the tune to a pop song that wouldn't be released for another year.