Orochimaru knows his containers in and out and all too well. Drabblelike shortfic.
He knew all of them by heart. They wanted him to give them power; in turn, he took their everything and became them. There were times when he played their memories like a broken record: here was her birthday, and here she died, but she never really did, did she? There was no harm in it, either - it couldn't be called voyeurism if he was never there.
Here he kicked the body aside and called his father a bastard. Here she shifted too much to the left, and the snap of a breaking twig sounded like thunder in the night.
They were not merely prodigies - they were far too important to be called that. They were portals to what he never felt. He knew their accomplishments and failures, and grew one step closer to learning everything he wanted about the world; when he saw something sickening, he promised not to repeat it. The key to immortality was wisdom - "knowledge from experience", supposedly.
So even if he looked in the mirror and saw a horrifying serpentine face instead of his eyes or her hair or something struggling to be a smile, he knew he was just the same as any of them. When anything begins to look remotely familiar (whywhywhy won't the blood come off - why is he looking at me like that - Mom, the cookies smell like they're burnt), he knows enough to rip himself apart and start anew on the path not prepared. Orochimaru would prefer not to have history on a loop.