"We both have our problems. So to speak."

Mercury didn't come out of clothes, it seemed. He'd washed them over and over, and still thin traces of white, like ash, rimmed the stains. At last he had given up, douced his clothes in alchol, and burned them in the wastebasket. It was something of a shame, they had been one of his favorite pairs of jeans.

The smoke must have woken his father, as he could hear Walter moving around in the downstairs study.

Peter settled the smouldering can into the shower and started the water before he pulled on a pair of pajama bottoms, making his way downstairs in the silence. He sighed as he crossed the hall, standing in the darkend doorway, "Walter?"

There was no reply, from the study. Passing car lights flashed off of the half-shut blinds, throwing bars of white on the mohogany furnature. The shape of Walter's shoulders and mussed bed-head were silouetted faceing him, as the lights dissapeared.

"Walter, I never thought I'd say this, but... I think we need to talk."

"Talk about what, son?"

The hair on the back of Peter's neck stood on end, and he found himself shifting back, in his footing, danger registering in his mind, "Walter?"

A lighter flared, Walter's face circled with thin light as he casually lifted the cigar to his teeth, inhaling until the tabacco lit. The lighter clicked out again, and his calm visage vanished. The cherry surged orange, as the smell of strong smoke filled the air, and a puff of grey emerged from the dark, "You killed them, son- I'm proud of you."

"Walter, are you alright?" Peter took a step forward, his consern overring his sense of caution.

"Me? Never better." Walter's shape shifted comfortably in his armchair, "Come, sit."

Peter paced across the study, his hand finding the lamp desk in the dark, and he tugged on the tiny, brass chain, a click registering the light that immediately filled the room. Walter had raised a hand to sheild his eyes, and he mummbled airily, "You didn't have to do that."

Peter retracted immediately from him, his senses electrified with fear, "Walter, what's wrong?"

He puffed his cigar calmly.

Peter's eyes narrowed, "You're not Walter."

Walter arched a brow, "I'm afraid I don't follow."

Peter barred his teeth, "What have you done with Walter?" He demanded. His anger and confusion was suddeny forced back in his throat, at the arrival of his father's laughter; deep and brassy, mixed with the scent of the cigar.

"Peter, I'm right here," he smiled.

"You're not Walter. You're him."

"Would I lie to you, boy? Sit, sit, you're making me uncomfortable." Peter did not remove his eyes from him, as he slowly sat in the armchair across from him, and Walter mused the frayed lapel of his bathrobe, "You've taken iniciative, Peter. You showed me that, today. I'm very proud of you."

Peter's brows furrowed, "Walter, I've killed people." He swallowed, his eyes darting to the floor in disgust, "There's nothing to be proud of."

"But isn't there?" Peter looked back up at his father, blue strands of smoke escaping his grin, "We're getting close, boy. With my brain on the mend and your sort of iniciative... I'm certian we'll crush them."

"Walter, what are you talking about?" Peter demanded, "what happened to your brain? Are you still trying to get it back...? I told you it was too dangerous!"

"I had some help," Walter admitted, ashing his cigar onto a coster carelessly, "Nina, she got me something. I thought that since there had been a mix up and it had been chimpanzee, there would be no effect, but it seems that there may be some use in my new, primitive brain tissue after all." He began to crush the ashes with his fingertips, "I feel like I'm going to know everything, soon."

Peter stood, "No, Walter- something's wrong, you aren't yourself-"

"No, Peter- I'm exactly who I am." he tasted the ash off of his fingers, "And, it would seem, you are becoming who you are, as well."

"What?" Peter questioned, flabbergasted, "How can you even say that? That machine- it warped me! It has me doing terrible, horrible things... it's not who I am! And this, whatever this is... it isn't you."

"It's nothing to be afraid of."

"I am afraid! I'm fucking terrified! And you should be, too!"

"In war, there are casualties. You said it yourself, they're soldiers. You've done nothing wrong."

"No!" Peter cried, "Who the fuck are you? This isn't a war! There is no war! We don't have to kill them!"

"And you've got the right idea, too. If we blind them, they won't even know we're coming. We can kill them all-" the cigar suddenly dropped from Walter's fingers, his smooth motions utterly still. Then, he slapped his hands over his mouth, staring up at his son.


Walter stood, stomping out the cigar with his slipper. He was trembling, "I'm sorry, Peter," he stammered, "I'm- I'm so sorry, I don't know... I don't know where that came from..." he raised his hands to bury his finger into his messy hair, "It all seemed so clear, the connective tissue must have triggered... but all I could think of was how I wanted to... to..."

"Walter, is it your brain?" Peter questioned, stepping forward to place a hand on his shoulder.

"I don't know what came over me, I said all of those horrid things," his eyes were glassy with shameful tears, "I didn't mean them, I just... I wanted the answers so badly..."

"It's okay," Peter said. He shook Walter's shoulder gently, until his father looked up at him, "I understand." He smiled wryly, "Of all of the shit that's been happening, I'm probably one of the only people that does."

"I don't like how we're changing, Peter."

Peter's jaw tightened, as his eyes searched Walter's face, "Neither do I."

"Peter, I'm scared."