[Meet Victor, everyone. He's going through a lot. I promise most of my writing isn't this goddamn emo. content warning: self-destructive behavior, asphyxiation, please please don't try this at home.]
Victor needed no mirrors to know how everything looked. Human bodies were, in general, once you got down to it, copies of the same thing. Very little creative design there. Perhaps his bones stuck out a little more, perhaps his skin was a little more ashen, but if he were stripped down, reduced to his component parts, what he would find would be no different from what he’d seen a thousand times before in the laboratory. Muscle, bone, flesh, viscera. Wet and red and scented like death.
Yet the scars that one gained through their life, those were written on the skin, and perhaps these were a more reliable method of identification. He’d witnessed people identify their loved ones in a morgue. Once the face becomes waxen, there’s always an element of doubt as to whether this inanimate thing was truly the breathing person that they had cared for- and then something, a birthmark, a scar, some mark of the skin attained through the process of life, would remind them, and if they were not weeping before, they would weep then.
Frowning, he leaned his head back against the cold metal of the autopsy bench, and traced fingers over his own scars.
Except for one, neatly-stitched, long biopsy scar, the marks were mostly localized to the neck. Large, dark spots meant for hands far larger than his own. They still ached with the memory of pain. One, or perhaps two, had been given without the intention of causing him hurt at all, rather the opposite, and yet it was these that Victor despised most. Most of them, however, were a testament to his own fragility. He did not need mirrors to know how they looked, covering his skin.
And he did not want to look, because human bodies are, in general, quite indistinguishable, and the bruised neck of a Victor would not look any meaningfully different from an Elizabeth, except for the fact that one, through no fault of its own, still carried blood within it.
Almost unconsciously, Victor shoved his hand up to his neck. He curled his fingers for a moment, pressed against the wounds, opened his hand wide enough to enclose most of his throat, and squeezed.
Someone had told him once that people did this for pleasure, which made little sense to him. He did not know at all what he hoped to gain from this, but it certainly wasn’t pleasure. Well, perhaps there was something interesting in the way he could feel his carotid artery pulsing vainly beneath his skin. Or the extensor muscles in his forearm, bulging slightly as they controlled the motion of his fingers. Victor wondered, absently, what it would be like to cut that open, pluck the muscles and tendons like harpstrings and see the way his hand was forced to react.
He didn’t know why he was doing it, really. It was not as though he could seriously harm himself like this. A perfect negative feedback loop- as oxygen ran out, the muscles would naturally relax, oxygen would begin flowing again, allowing the muscles to contract again and the cycle to continue.
Victor twitched, struggling against survival instincts, his free hand clutching for something on the lab table to hold on to. Thoughts became less and less coherent- not that he’d been coherent anyway when he started this- dark spots fluttered before his vision, the laboratory slipping in and out of focus. His chest heaved with effort, and he writhed on the table for a second, still holding on, and just as the spots clouded over again, his body won out against the terrible decision his brain had made. The hand slipped back against his shoulder, limp. He pressed his head back further as it spun with the sudden rush of blood sweeping back in through no-longer-compressed arteries.
There’d be new bruises from that, certainly- gingerly touching the affected area hurt all over again. Good.
Victor lay still for a while, calmly noting the sensations- the feeling of arteries pulsing, muscles occasionally constricting and relaxing, the ache of his skull and shoulderblades against hard metal, his chest rising and falling as lungs expanded and contracted, the quickly-fading bliss of anoxia. He eyed the door for a moment, but there was no worry of being interrupted. There had not been a worry of that for quite some time now.
His legs felt as unsteady as the rest of his muscles when he tried to stand, but at least his mind was clear. Sometimes one had to starve thoughts out.