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Words by Storm
Christa's Fanfics
Watchmen: Nelly, Adrian, HJ/Nelly, PG-13 
8th-Jul-2012 08:15 pm
crazy little thing called moth
Title: Not Gonna Watch The World Burn
Fandom: Watchmen
Rating: PG-13
Pairing/Character: Nelly, Adrian, Eddie, background HJ/Nelly
Warnings: violence, character death
Summary: This was his way out; it was over. That night, Nelson Gardner crashed and burned.
Notes: Written for this prompt at the Watchmen kink meme.

Not Gonna Watch The World Burn

Adrian stood pressed so closely to the coat rack that he could smell the cologne and aftershave that had settled into the coats that hung there. He hadn’t counted on having to hide; not here, not in Nelson Gardner’s house. To Adrian it had seemed like such a safe place from the moment he first set foot in it a few weeks ago. When Gardner had invited him, following a letter Adrian had sent the man. Adrian’s desire to become a vigilante, to follow in the footsteps of the Minutemen had grown considerably, recently and had finally taken shape. He needed to help; he had to make a difference in this world. And now, it seemed, Nelson Gardner was prepared to help him.

Therefore the contrast between Gardner’s clean and wholesome home and the scene that was taking place just outside the door could not have been any bigger. Outside, a man with a face that seemed to sneer perpetually stood, facing Gardner who looked pale and livid. He’d told Adrian to hide when the stranger had turned up.

“Ever wonder how it happened?” the sneering man asked, obviously amused, his voice loud enough to carry through the open door. “Wonder if he fought or saw it coming?”

As Adrian watched Gardner’s hands clench into tight fists he wondered who they were talking about.

“I didn’t fancy him doing either. It took too long to find him in the first place. So, don’t worry. It didn’t take a second. One well-aimed shot; that’s all it took.”

There wasn’t a second’s warning that this would happen, but suddenly Gardner flew at the man who’d been taunting him, his fist colliding with that ever-present and unpleasant smirk. It knocked the man back, from the looks of it partly from force and partly out of surprise, and he stumbled, but didn’t lose his footing. But it caused enough of a delay for Gardner to launch himself at his target, knocking him to the ground. He again began to lay into him, punch after punch until both his fists and the man’s face were bloody.

The tables turned suddenly, Gardner’s opponent swinging up and rolling them over, ready to give as good as he got. Adrian stood in the shadows, curious, but unsure about what he should do. His instincts warred between intervening, calling the police and continuing to watch. But there were reasons against each of those options while outside Gardner’s opponent seemed close to gaining the upper hand. Only, though, until Gardner managed to kick his attacker in the stomach with his knee and a viciousness that made Adrian wince. The man reared up and off Gardner for a moment, obviously winded, and Gardner rolled out from under him just in time with the police sirens approaching from a distance. The neighbours must have called the police, Adrian thought, though none of them had come out of their houses. Cowards.

The threat of the law seemed to have spooked the nightly visitor a little and while he and Gardner stood, chests still heaving from the exertion of the fight, they exchanged words too low to be heard by anyone else. Threats, probably. The man disappeared down the street and Gardner remained waiting. The police arrived a few minutes later. Adrian had to hand it to Gardner that he greeting towards them was nothing other than friendly and professional, even though he was covered in blood, dirt and bruises.

Gardner returned into the house half an hour later, after the cops had left. He closed the door and, inside, heaved a weary sigh. That was prompt enough for Adrian to come from his hiding place.

“Who was that?” Adrian asked and Gardner stiffened and turned to face Adrian, eyes widened as if he’d forgotten that he’d had a visitor.

“You saw all that.” It wasn’t an answer and it wasn’t even a question. It was a statement of a fact that Adrian was sure the other man wished he hadn’t created.

Adrian raised one arched eyebrow and gave Gardner a once over as if to let him know that whether he’d seen the fight or not, it was pretty obvious what had happened. Gardner sighed and motioned for Adrian to follow him into the kitchen where he washed his hands; cleaned the blood and grime off. Adrian was mentally adding gloves and a costume and mask to the man and it confirmed what he’d thought many times previously: Captain Metropolis must have been quite the impressive force.

Gardner remained with his back to Adrian for a few moments before turning to him again and giving Adrian a long appraising look. As if he were sizing him up.

“Are you still planning to go through with your plan to become a vigilante?” Gardner asked and Adrian confirmed this with conviction. Gardner nodded to himself and seemed to come to a decision.

“Then I think it is safe to tell you that that was the man who killed Hooded Justice.” There was a slight waver to Gardner’s voice as he said this and Adrian recognised anger and something more. But that revelation alone was enough of a shock. So that had been who they were talking about.

“He assassinated Hooded Justice, didn’t he?” Adrian asked.

“He did.” Again Gardner sighed and he ran a hand over his face, something that obviously caused him pain what with the bruises forming there. Suddenly, Gardner looked tired and old in a way Adrian hadn’t seen him before.

“Then why is he still here?” Adrian exclaimed, feeling some anger well up in himself. “Why hasn’t he been arrested yet?” A thought suddenly occurred to Adrian. “Did you even tell the police about this?”

Gardner shook his head. “It’s not that easy,” he said. “There is… He’s more than the man who killed HJ.” And it looked like he really hated admitting that.

Adrian nodded, indicating that he was listening. He was also thinking Gardner needed to clean up and have his face looked at.

“He’s Edward Blake,” Gardner finally said and there was a sense of gravity to his voice. “He is the Comedian.”

In the silence that followed this statement one could have heard a pin drop. Adrian’s mind was reeling for a moment as to how this could be and why would the Comedian kill HJ? Why, indeed; Adrian just had to ask.

“Why did he kill Hooded Justice?”

Gardner shrugged. “Well, they never got along, exactly, as you might have heard.”

Adrian nodded. He had; heard and read.

“But I doubt this was a purely personal killing,” Gardner continued. “Blake started working for the government very early on. I have no doubt he still does and that there are people in high-up places who haven’t forgiven HJ for escaping the HUAC hearing.”

Adrian nodded, though inside, as much sense as this explanation made, an explanation was all it was. It accounted for nothing.

“That’s no excuse,” Adrian said fiercely. “He belongs behind bars.”

For the first time that night, Gardner looked at Adrian with a smile and a small, renewed spark in his eyes.

“Oh, believe me, I agree,” he said, finally joining Adrian in sitting at the kitchen table. “But if Blake has friends in the government this needs to be handled more delicately.”

Gardner turned thoughtful for a moment and Adrian was almost certain he could see his brain working inside.

“You have a plan,” Adrian said, mildly impressed.

“Well, it’s not quite a plan yet,” Gardner said. “Call it an idea.”


“I want to kill him,” Adrian groused, following the Crime Busters meeting. He was pacing up and down in front of Gardner’s desk at the old Minutemen Head Quarters. Gardner, who was disposing of the remains of the map the Comedian had burnt, chuckled, and managed to sound only slightly bitter.

“Many people do, I’m sure,” he said.

“Yes, I wouldn’t be surprised,” Adrian agreed. “Do you?”

When Gardner looked at Adrian next his expression was almost amused; almost.

“Maybe,” he said.

Adrian sighed.

“People like Blake are poison,” he muttered. “We can save this world.”

He looked back at Gardner; the man was smiling at him with the strangest expression.

The sound of the newspaper slapping onto the desk seemed ominously loud in Adrian’s office. Nelson was surprised; it didn’t look like any office building he’d ever been in before. In parts, it looked more like a museum, Egyptian artefacts encased in glass dotting the area.

Adrian was looking at him from behind a clinically clean and tidy desk and Nelson could no longer recognise him as the boy who’d come to seek his guidance years ago. Adrian had grown up; Adrian had grown cold. Nelson himself, he’d grown older; he’d grown tired to an extent he could hardly bear anymore.

“I don’t think your dream will come true, boy,” Nelson said, smiling sadly; meekly. “The world is so close to its end.” It was still a hard thing to believe, all the nuclear power and the danger that came with it. But these days everyone knew; not only the scientists.

“It won’t,” Adrian said and Nelson was startled by how sure he sounded.

“How can you be so sure,” he asked. Nelson couldn’t see in Adrian’s eyes what he thought should be there. In fact, he could see nothing but closed-off calculation and Adrian’s smile was no more reassuring.

“I have a plan,” Adrian said; and he began to explain.


A few hours later, Nelson felt sick to his stomach. He’d had it; he’d heard too much. He knew too much, he knew that now. Adrian hadn’t made it clear, but Nelson hadn’t needed any more than the hints. It was time for Nelson to go, he knew that now. But secretly, he’d harboured his own plan for yours. No, not a plan; an idea. It hadn’t turned into a plan until an instant before.

Back at home, he placed a sheet of paper in his typewriter and began to type. The message did not hold all the details, but enough to tip somebody off about what Adrian was planning. And Nelly almost felt sorry he was doing this; almost. But he wasn’t the man he used to be; no one was who they used to be anymore.

Nelson dropped the unsigned letter into Blake’s mail box. Then he got back into his car. It was just starting to rain; it was getting dark… This was his way out; it was over. That night, Nelson Gardner crashed and burned.
9th-Jul-2012 07:08 am (UTC)
Oh, I like how you've woven this in to fit canon; it feels very plausible. I'm not normally a big fan of Nelly, but you've made me feel for him here.
9th-Jul-2012 08:39 pm (UTC)
Thank you. :) I always love hearing that my writing has had impact on the reader. I'm glad you like it.
9th-Jul-2012 07:44 am (UTC)
Ooh, this is really cool. I love Nelson's strength and resilience (even if it's also really sad), and the idea of Adrian almost looking up to him, but most of all I like the way you reinforced the way that things got so much more serious during the Crimebusters era - the way that the new masks surpassed the old. I think you wrote that very, very well.
9th-Jul-2012 08:43 pm (UTC)
Thank you. I find it absolutely fascinating the way it all evolved and especially like focusing on how the first generation deals with the changes. Because, it does become a darker world on a much larger scale and very definitely coincides with Adrian's descent.

And Nelly, well. Breaks my heart most of the time. :( I have to admit I do keep my happy headcanon alive that he's not dead and HJ isn't dead and all, but unless it's a fixit I tend to go with the more realistic angsty one.
9th-Jul-2012 08:56 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I like to think they both survived and live a happy and disquietingly domestic, sickeningly romantic life together, but fic like yours tends to be more realistic (and consequently better).
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