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under my skin

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This isn't supposed to be about him.

It's pragmatic, really. Nite Owl has a desire. Daniel has a need. Rorschach may be above these things, but his partner is not, and it is his duty to make up for his partner's shortcomings. If anyone should bear witness to Daniel's weakness, it should be him. If anyone should bear witness to Rorschach's—

But this isn't about him. It's about Daniel, who shouldn't, who mustn't debase himself. So Rorschach will instead.

Here's how it usually goes, in the two months 'it' has been happening at all: Daniel initiates, but he doesn't understand, he tries to make this something it isn't—he touches Rorschach like a fragile thing, he insists on fairness like a child—so Rorschach has to take control, bat searching hands away or better yet distract Daniel entirely. He approaches this task with the same focus as any other, takes mental notes to improve his performance. (Daniel complains about marks afterwards but his hips jerk up into Rorschach's hand when he sucks a bruise above Daniel's collarbone; his cock twitches when Rorschach drops into a low growl; his breath comes fast when Rorschach backs him into a corner, presses him against the wall.)

When it comes to reciprocity, though, Daniel is difficult to deter, and Rorschach is learning to bear it. He looks away, clenches his jaw, ignores the voice in his head calling him selfish and depraved, tamps down the burst of shame that follows the horrible crawl of pleasure. Because if what Daniel wants—and Rorschach wants it too, even though he shouldn't—Rorschach is powerless to refuse him.

(Even if it means sleepless nights spent alone, hands white-knuckled to keep from touching traitorous flesh. He refuses to shame his partner that way, to imagine Daniel beneath him solely for his gratification.)

By steps they've moved from dark alleys to Archimedes' floor to the basement, the living room couch, and only recently Daniel's bed. With every step comes complications. Rorschach prides himself on his flexibility.

So it goes like this: Rorschach is on his back, face rolled up to expose the tip of his nose, struggling to control his breathing as Daniel slips a third finger inside of him.

"You're doing great," Daniel murmurs, inane, and Rorschach shudders anyway, makes a choked sound that doesn't come out as the growl intended. He can feel Daniel smiling when he presses a kiss against his thigh. A failed attempt to distract from the burn of stretching, from Daniel's fingers pushing deeper inside of him, searching—"God, Rorschach—"

The edge of the pain is fading, leaving behind a sense of fullness, the feeling that his layers are being peeled away until there'll be nothing left to stop Daniel from staring into the core of him. That's his cue to kick lightly. "Enough, Daniel."

Which is Daniel's cue to ask if he's sure, to which Rorschach will grumble Get on with it already. Until Daniel pushes inside him, always slow and too careful before Rorschach eggs him on, pulls him closer with legs wrapped around his waist. Harder to the point where he can't remember where he ends and Daniel begins, where his pleasure is only an extension of Daniel's and that makes it less damning.

But Daniel doesn't move, doesn't pull away. His fingers rock into Rorschach in a shallow, languid motion, curling inside of him, and for a moment Rorshach isn't sure that he spoke in the first place.

"Daniel," he insists, horrified to hear his voice come out strained as Daniel spreads his fingers wide, opens him up even further and there's no pain, just the awareness of pressure, the smooth slide of Daniel's fingers, the ghost of arousal heavy in the pit of his stomach. "Daniel, enough."

"There's no rush," and Rorschach can hear the smile, not just feel it, as Daniel mouths over the curve of his hip with just a hint of teeth. "Relax, okay? I just want to make sure you're comfortable."

Rorschach hisses through his teeth, "Not the point," and tries to wriggle away. Daniel stops him with a hand pressed flat against his stomach, just below his sternum. The slight pressure is enough to pin him. Rorschach can only swallow, helpless.

Daniel lifts his head, reproach in his eyes. "Come on." The hand on Rorschach's stomach pushes down a little harder; the fingers inside him still but that doesn't make the sensation any less overwhelming. "Let me take care of you for once." The feeling of Daniel's hand against bare skin is unbearable, a touch made indecent by context.

"Not the point," Rorschach repeats, but he knows it's futile; Daniel can be incredibly stubborn when it suits him. "Shouldn't have to."

A huff of not-quite laughter. "That's not gonna cut it, buddy, 'cause I want to," Daniel retorts. There's a touch of exasperation in his voice and no room for argument. The hand on Rorschach's stomach slides a little lower, leaves goosebumps in its wake. "I've been thinking about this—about you—for weeks, and—say 'stop' and I'll stop, but not if it's just because you think I 'shouldn't have to.'"

Rorschach clenches his fists, unclenches, clenches again, wrinkling the sheets. It's all he's capable of in this moment. His mouth is dry and he wants, Daniel's hand slides another few inches and he's aware by proximity of his cock swelling between his legs. He can't think about it directly. He turns his face to the side and blinks, helpless. (Daniel has been thinking about him for weeks.)

Rorschach's not certain if he manages to say the word "Shouldn't" or even what it'd mean. Can't hear his own thoughts over the slick sounds as Daniel—fucks him, hand in place of a cock but no less obscene, more vulnerable, he can feel Daniel watching like a physical thing—the pads of his fingers press in with precision and Rorschach hears himself breathe in, sharp, a jolt of pleasure like a knife between the ribs. One hand flies up to cover his mouth before any more incriminating noises can slip out. His whole body is shaking. His skin is burning.

Daniel makes a small, pleased noise, which is all the warning Rorschach gets before his other hand curls around Rorschach's cock.

For a brief moment he loses all control of his body. Rorschach whines, hips jerking with enough force to lift him off the bed, fingers scrabbling for purchase against the sheets. It's too much and not enough all at once. He's been flayed open and Daniel is observing with the keen, unflinching eyes of his namesake.

And Daniel goes still, surprised by the reaction. (Disgusted, to see that his partner is no better than—) "Alright?" Concern in his voice, but wonder, too, already calculating how to reproduce the results.

Rorschach bites the inside of his cheek and tastes metal. "No more talking," he manages to grit out through clenched teeth.

His face is damp. Rorschach squeezes his eyes shut to stop thinking about it until dots of color burst against the black. He can't stop himself from making a desperate sound high in his throat (muffled, he's sure, by the hand still over his mouth) and grinding down against Daniel's hand—which means thrusting up into Daniel's hand, too, no escape from the thing inside him building to a peak. How could Daniel do this to him? How could he let Daniel do this to him?

Daniel exhales, shaky, the way he does when there's something he wants to say, but he listens for once and stays silent. Rorschach wants, bone-deep, to be able to reach inside and pluck out his thoughts.

(Daniel is thinking: He loves Rorschach in violence but he wants to learn to love him like this, too. He will never say this out loud.)

He takes Rorschach apart piece by piece, the same way Rorschach's seen him take apart his finely crafted gadgets. Turning each piece over until they've warmed in his hands, until he's excised every flaw. A sure rhythm to the motion of his hands, thrusting and stroking in a counterpoint that even Rorschach's jerky movements can't interrupt.

He swipes his thumb over the head of Rorschach's cock, achingly hard and leaking precum. Rorschach sobs wordlessly, thrashes against him. The lines of his body are pulled tight with tension that needs to snap. There's nothing Rorschach can do to stop himself—

A puff of air against his inner thigh, and Daniel is taking him into his mouth—

And Rorschach can't do this to him, can't even think of doing this to him, but Daniel is—

And he's burning, a white-hot fire consuming him from the inside out that fills his ears with static. His mouth opens in a scream but nothing comes out. Daniel is—Daniel is purging him, scraping out the desire, the base needs, leaving him hollow and clean, aching and boneless.

His face is wet. There's nothing Rorschach can do in the aftermath but lie there, panting, sweat cooling on his skin. He's open, empty, weightless. Daniel's hands frame his thighs and that's all that keeps him tethered here, he thinks.

"Alright?" The same concern, the same wonder.

The only noise Rorschach can make is a satisfied "mm." He doesn't need to see or hear anything to know Daniel is smiling.

The shame he's expecting doesn't come. Daniel's thumb strokes his skin in a repetitive motion, and Rorschach's thoughts swirl, shapeless.

Then Daniel moves, and his forehead is pressed against Rorschach's shoulder. Rorschach feels an unmistakable heat in the groove of his thigh. He can't even think about moving, much less raise a hand to help, but Daniel doesn't seem to mind as he takes himself in hand with a groan.

"God," he whispers against Rorschach's skin, "you have no idea what you do to me." (Rorschach could reflect the sentiment.)

It's with great effort that Rorschach lifts his hand from the bed to rest over top of Daniel's, prompting his partner to make an undignified noise that he's willing to forgive. He ducks his head, buries his nose in Daniel's hair and breathes in. Lets himself listen to Daniel's soft sounds, stuttered breathing.

He mumbles into Daniel's hair, "Could've still—inside me," and that's when Daniel gasps open-mouthed against his shoulder and spills across his stomach. The splash of liquid against his skin has all the finality of a brand. Rorschach welcomes it.

Later—when Daniel's breathing has slowed to the regular rhythm of deep sleep, when Daniel's hand is curled loosely around Rorschach's neck, holding him down more securely than any fetter—Rorschach still can't find the words to describe what they've done. What's been done to him.

There's something liquid inside him, something cracked open in the space left behind. It leaves him weak, unable to muster the strength to move and risk disturbing Daniel's slumber. It makes his mind sluggish. The moonlight through the window illuminates only the smallest fraction of Daniel's face: the curve of his jaw, a few strands of hair that seem to glow. Nothing Rorschach hasn't seen before, but his eyes trace the same lines over and over again, searching for meaning. Understanding slips from his grasp.

He can't find the words. He's not sure it matters.