Lips curled back, snarling at clumsy hands.
So chunky and awkward.
And shaking. He was shaking so badly. The test tubes he held were so delicate and he couldn't afford to break them.
If they broke, there would be shards. Sharp little pieces of glass. Sticky substances splattered onto his polished desk. It would take hours to clean. And clean again. And polish once more.
His desk needed to be perfect. Clean.
Which brought him back to his shaking hands. Shaking even more now, that the image of a mess on his perfect desk was burning into his mental vision.
But he needed to finish this experiment.
Needed to create a retro-mutagen.
Needed to fix his mistakes.
Needed to make everything perfect again.
But HE was not perfect.
And once again his mouth pulled back to growl at himself and his clumsy, awkward body and its inability to operate as he willed it to.
Of course, he was a splendid fighter. Nimble, agile in battle, but he was never perfect. Nothing was perfect with him and he blinked his burning, tired eyes against the hot sting filling them.
There was a whisper in the back of his mind, telling him to stop and rest. To remember the time and allow his exhausted body and mind to recover, gather strength to continue.
And then, he heard the laughter. Words taunting him with a voice sweet, sweet like honey. Poisoned words filled his head, threatening to drown out every other sensation.
His head moved in a sharp shake and he took an unsteady breath.
After what seemed to have been ages of staring, he finally moved his quaking hands, tipping the tube ever so slightly. Just one drop.
A single little drop was all that he needed to add to the compound in the beaker.
It was so simple. Such a simple task.
But again, his body betrayed him.
With a mighty jerk, overly tired and strained muscles along his arm seized up, cramping and spasming and with a horrified shriek, he watched, oddly fascinated, as the tube slipped from his fingers.
Cradling his cramping arm, he jumped up, away from the horror right before his eyes.
And again, he could hear the laughter. Louder this time. It made his head vibrate and he took a gulping breath.
Yet, his eyes stayed glued to the mess on his perfect, perfect desk.
Some part of him recognized the warning signs. His gulping, hitched breaths, much, much too fast and much too shallow, the sudden rushing in his ears, so very loud but the laughter still was louder, starting to hurt, and the trembling, that had by now taken over his entire body.
He was panicking. He knew it. He KNEW. It was a reaction to stress, Adrenaline was pumping through his body, detecting a threat that was none, and yet.
As intelligent and logical as he was...
This was stronger.
Stumbling, he moved forward, back towards the mess he had made, the mess that scared him so much.
It needed to go, and quick.
Bare-handed, he started sweeping up the shards and cold chemicals, ignoring the flash of pain as he cut himself. No.
No. No. No. NO!
The filth needed to be gone!
His fingers scrambled to pick up more of the shards, brush away more of that dreadful liquid.
A third hand appeared from the corner of his vision and he gave a violent jerk, a startled gasp on his lips.
Just ignore it.
He almost didn't dare look. He almost resisted.
It would have been OKAY if he just hadn't looked. He was sure of that.
But he couldn't command his eyes to keep staring forward. They moved on their own, away from his task and to the side.
Right into his own face.
The world did a bloodcurdling tilt. Everything just moved beneath his feet, around his self and he gave a helpless, panicked noise, no more than a whimper, as he lost the feeling in his limbs.
He must have stumbled, fallen, even, but at the same time, his feet were glued to the floor, unmoving, frozen in place.
Breathing seemed so much harder now, and he tried listening to his breaths, tried to even them out, but that horrible, sweet, sweet laughter – no longer inside of his head, but outside – blotted out all other sounds.
He cried out as the world took another wild spin, leaving him dizzy, disoriented, scared.
Something was touching him, grounding him for a moment, and he opened his eyes, staring back into wide, chocolate colored orbs, surrounded by purple cloth.
It was like looking into a mirror.
Only that there was none.
And then, he spoke. 'He' spoke to him, to himself, green mouth stretching into a horrible bastardization of a smile, eyes impossibly wide, gleaming with something he could not name.
“Come...“ he, it, he whispered. “Come... I will take you away. I will make it all stop.” he promised, that sweet, sweet voice and he lifted his hands, trembling so hard he barely had any control left to do so. His wide, bloodied, wet palms pressed to his head, pressing so hard to make the sound go away.
But it didn't.
He heard it everywhere. Inside of his head and outside.
That terrible smile stretched further.
“You are already there... you just need to let go and it all will stop.”
His eyes flitted around, trying to catch a glimpse of the shadows teasing at the edges of his sight, moving, fleeing when he tried to see. They were there. Shadows, CREATURES. With glowing eyes and gleaming fangs, hollow eyes and...
Icy cold skin touched against his own and he screamed, clenching his eyes shut, pressing his hands against his ears even harder.
He still saw himself.
He still heard himself.
He still FELT himself.
Touching, stealing the warmth from him with every brush of soft fingers, leaving nothing but icy cold emptiness.
He wanted to scream, but his voice had died.
He wanted to run, but his body had long since gone numb.
“Come...” he whispered again. “I promise to make everything disappear...” Beautiful, poisonous laugh, and for a mere second, he was so very tempted to give in.
He was so, so tired...
A harsh sound tore through him, into his very core and his eyes snapped open.
The shadows were gone. As was he. As was the laughter.
The sound returned, a metallic thumping and it took him a moment to recognize it as a knock. Somebody was knocking on the door of his lab. His empty, brightly lit and silent lab.
A harsh breath left his lips, as if he had held his breath for too long. And maybe he had. Suddenly, his lungs expanded and contracted with new breaths, far too easy after the weight that had obstructed his chest before.
“Donnie, dinner's ready, come on out and eat, genius!”
“Be right there!”
How in the world he managed to sound so normal was beyond his comprehension. But he was glad for it.
Slowly, he placed down his test tube, safely into the storage box. The beaker was pushed back to its rightful place on his perfect, perfect desk.
He knew he needed another moment to collect himself.
He knew he needed to prepare himself.
Get rid of the harsh trembling.
Of the wetness of sweat and tears running down his face.
He needed to appear perfect. Perfect for his brothers.
Perfection was everything.
As he willed himself to rise stiffly from his seat, he wiped away the moisture from his cheeks, grabbing a towel and turned on the water of his small sink.
The others would think he was just cleaning himself to remove some dirt from his experiments. They would not ask.
As he stared at himself in the mirror, he felt himself smile, unintentionally.
He knew he would follow the voice.
That sweet, sweet voice luring him... he would follow.
Not just yet. Not yet.
First, he needed to fix his mistakes.
First, he had to make everything perfect again.
Then... he would follow.
Everything would finally disappear.
Everything would be perfect.
And HE would become perfect, too.