[personal profile] brancher
Title: Every Day is like Sunday
Fandom: Watchmen
Pairing: Dan/Laurie
Summary: Sam and Sandra Hollis, post-squidocalypse: the winter of their discontent.
Warnings: Consensual domestic battery. This is a pretty bleak and brutal little story, and I'm not sure I understand it myself, but here it is.




1.

A stranger emerges from the bathroom.

"What do you think?" asks the man with Dan's eyes and someone else's blond crewcut and porn-star mustache.

"Well," she says, "It sure doesn't suit you."

"Perfect," says Sam Hollis, and hands her the bottle of dye.

2.

And then they are both strangers.

They leave New York and head north, and don't stop until they're on a long spit of land with the sea on both sides. It's the wrong season for tourists, so it's easy to find a place to rent, and Sam knows enough about cars to get a job at a garage in town. Sandra takes long walks in the dunes while he's at work, her boots crunching in the frozen sand.

It doesn't snow much that winter. She figures that's some kind of blessing.

He reaches for her in only the dark, his touch gentle and hesitant. His hands trace her throat, work diligently between her legs, and if his flesh fails him, they don't speak of it. He presses her into the mattress, kissing her neck, and she wishes he could crush her that way, under the weight of his body.

He calls her Sandra, and she doesn't bother to correct him.

3.

She picks fights. She can't help it. She's alone all day, and the sea is the same slate color as the sky, and in New York they're only starting to identify the dead.

And Sam's just so fucking annoying.

She won't admit it to herself, but she's making it a game to see how far she can push him. They argues over who's doing the dishes, over what to watch on TV. Over money. This is who they are now, she thinks. It's wrong to be angry at him -- it's not his fault -- but there's no one else to take it out on.

He's frustratingly tender with her. Sometimes she can get him to snap back at her a little, but then he apologizes almost immediately. Once, he feels bad enough to brings her flowers, and she makes herself put them in a vase and look at them all day.

She's spent her life living in a bubble, a sealed, soundproofed reality of her own making. There was a moment or two, in a desert of red sand and another of ice, when she thought she could breathe. Thought she was free.

She stares at Sam's flowers until she still can see them with her eyes closed.

4.

The night they fight for the last time, she starts it by burning dinner. Casserole, good God; even her mother never condescended to cook a casserole. He gamely eats it anyway, pretending not to notice, and she says, "Jesus, you're not even going to complain, are you?"

He looks up mildly. "It's not that bad."

"Yes, it is. You just don't care what you put in your mouth. I swear you've packed on another ten pounds since -- since fall."

His face closes up a little, protectively. "Sandra--"

"Sorry," she says, not sorry at all. She's a matador, planting barbs between his ribs. "I guess that's what retirement does, though, hunh? Makes you soft."

Whatever he was going to say, he bites down on, hard. His face gets red and swollen, like a baby's, but he takes a deep breath and looks down at his plate. She can almost see him counting to ten.

"Look," he says, his voice level. Reasonable. "At least I'm trying, here. We're in this together, you know. We have to make the most of it and we can't just --"

She gets up from the table and walks out of the room.,

He follows, plucking at her arm. "Sandra..."

"That's not my name," she says, and turns to jerk his hand away. They're at close quarters, pressed against each other in the narrow hallway, and she'll never be sure what happens next -- but somehow she ends up shoving him off-balance, and he swings by instinct and catches her in the mouth.

He doesn't quite knock her down, just into the bookcase. She puts her hand up to her lip, looking up at him. His face is pale, totally horrified, and he doesn't even move when she hits him back with all her strength.

She's been training, running on the beach and working out with the punching bag in the backyard, and she knows her first two blows have to hurt much more than his did. He sidesteps the third one, pins her to the wall and hits her again across the face, open handed, a heavy concussive thud as the meat of his palm strikes her jaw.

Everything stops again, lurching to a halt. "Oh ... Oh god. I ... are you..."

She sobs out, "Come on, please fucking come on already --"

She's played this scene out in her mind so many times: her mother and her fa-- the Comedian, a darkened room, a split lip and a black eye. She's been waiting for this her whole life. She doesn't care if she's on one side or the other; she doesn't care if she has blood on her knuckles or her mouth. She prays he'll understand. She couldn't bear trying to explain it.

He hits her again, softly this time, experimentally, and she moans in gratitude. He tries again, a backhand with more conviction, and his wedding ring opens a neat cut over her eye.

That's as much as he can take, but it's enough; her face is swollen, and her whole body is shaking, every cell, every molecule, all of them alive. "Dan," she says, and he folds her in and holds her to his chest. She can feel that he's hard.

"Laurie," he says. "Oh god, Laurie. Laurie."

5.

He gets her a cold pack, cleans her up, and carefully tapes a butterfly bandage over the cut.

"God, I never want to mess you up this bad again," he says. "Next time I'll be more careful. You know I'll give you whatever you need," and she can't help it, she leans forward and kisses him.

"I need you," she says. "We can find someone else to beat up."

She sleeps on and off for the next day. Dan's there whenever she opens her eyes, and in between she can feel his big hand stroking through her hair.

When she wakes up again it's late afternoon and sun's slanting in the window, and he's lying beside her. She ignores the pain in her jaw and her neck and pins him down and takes him hard, pushing at him with her hips as if she's trying to get inside him.

6.

The next week, he breaks their lease and buys two plane tickets to California. The week after that, she buys a gun.



-end-

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