By TheLostMaximoff

Disclaimer: I don't own these characters. R/R.

He thinks about it more often than he should. He's been trying to rewrite himself, to fix what he considers to be the real faulty programming. Still though, he hasn't quite gotten all the bugs out of the system so sometimes he catches himself in bed late at night mapping it all out. He's gone over the scenarios a dozen times, more than he'll ever admit to and more than he ever should. In the end, it usually makes him throw up because he feels so sick to his stomach that it's the only thing he can really do to stop feeling disgusted with himself. Yet every time he does this, Victor Mancha swears it will be the last time. The others never really notice it but after nights spent thinking about it, he'll usually be more helpful the next day, more protective, more eager to prove that, yes, he is their friend and, no, he would never do anything like that. Still though, he hasn't ironed out all the bugs.

Gertrude would've been the first to go. After watching the scene play out behind his eyes, Victor knows she was the biggest threat. Now though, Gert's gone so the scenario changes. The brain of the team has been neutralized already and now he moves on to other body parts, dissecting the Runaways one member at a time. Molly would have to go next. She's the strongest one out of all of them. Victor doubts that any of them, even her, knows how strong she really is. Yet she's also the weakest because Victor knows that if he can survive that one, Earth-shattering blow then she'll be out like a light and at his mercy. The key against Molly isn't matching her strength. The key is endurance. Once she's exhausted, Victor knows he can take her apart.

Karolina is an unknown quantity. Ultron didn't have files on her race so neither does Victor. What Victor does have thought are files on Skrulls. Xavin may be a warrior but he's still a novice. Victor's sure he can break the Skrull and when he does then Karolina will crack. He's learned that her powers are solar-based. Keeping her away from the sun will diminish her abilities. It might also help to find the bracelet she used to wear. Analyzing the metal could be very helpful.

Victor wants to stop. He can almost smell the blood and hear the screams. He fights against himself, tossing and turning in bed in an effort to somehow beat the urges out of his system. It never helps. He moves on to Chase. Old Lace won't be a factor and neither will anything else Chase brings to the fight. He's only human, so frail and fragile that probably one blast will rip him in half. Victor knows which buttons to push too. Chase has been an emotional wreck since Gert died. Victor can use that to unravel him until Chase will eventually beg for death.

Victor can feel the cold sweat run down his body as he fights to tread water while the tide rolls in and threatens to smother him. It's always the last part that sickens him the most. He's not sure why he always saves Nico for last. Maybe it's because she's not as much of a threat. Maybe it's because he's in love with her and hopes to God she'll be gone by the time he's finished with all the others. Or maybe, just maybe, it's because he's seen the darkness in her and hopes that she'll help him in the end, help him on his grand quest to murder every hero on the planet. Victor doesn't know which is more gut-wrenching, murdering Nico or watching her give into the darkness and help him. Even now, Victor turns to look at her sleeping next to him. She looks so peaceful, so peaceful and serene that Victor almost thinks that all the nightmare scenarios his programming causes him to create will never come to be. Then the vision of her dead flashes behind his eyes and he feels his stomach churn because he can feel the sticky wetness of her blood on his hands. He can still taste the flavor of her lip gloss as he gave her a kiss goodbye before killing her. Victor sprints to the bathroom and lets out a violent, gurgling noise before throwing up into the toilet. He heaves again as his guts twist into knots and more vomit spews from his mouth. Victor stares into the toilet as he vaguely sees a reflection of himself as Victorious grinning back at him. He doesn't register the light that Nico flips on. He doesn't feel her hands on him as she turns him around. She's crying his name but all he can feel is the slow current of the darkness inside him as it sucks him into the abyss. He shudders and responds with ragged breaths as his eyes roll back in his head and the scenario is cataloged with the others. Then, he kicks himself back online and stares into Nico's eyes.

"Vic?" asks Nico, "You there?" He suddenly kisses her fiercely and holds on to her tight. She doesn't question. She just kisses him back and holds him while he learns to breathe again. He clings to her because he's afraid if he lets go then he will drown. She is his life-preserver as he fights to keep himself from being swallowed by the darkness. He's still treading water but Victor Mancha knows that some day, his legs are going to give out and when they do he's going to go under forever.