Part I

Present

March, 4011 A.D.

He's right on time, as usual. The bastard. He closes the door behind him, barely two feet away from me. It is as far away from me as my tiny cell will allow. He carefully stays out of my arm's reach, though he doesn't make a big show out of it. By this time, he knows about my tendencies to maim people I don't like and to take things that aren't mine, despite all the security they have on me. All I can use to hurt him is my mouth. The daily challenge. Let the games begin…

"Your fashion sense is still for shit, you know that?" I comment. He raises an eyebrow at me, white doctor's coat swirling to a standstill as he leans against the white wall, one hand in a lower coat pocket, the other loosely holding a thick manila file. I take the eyebrow as an invitation to elaborate. "I mean, who wears white on white slacks? For one thing, it stains." I inwardly smirk when he surreptitiously glances down to make sure his ink pen is still in its place, in his coat's upper pocket. "Aw, don't you trust me?" He smiles. It isn't a nice smile.

"No."

"Oh, that hurts," I say, giving a mock pout. He ignores me and opens that damned file he brings every day. It is time for the business part of our routine, which means he will now put his impersonal doctor mask on. It never fails to remind me of a conscientious butcher trying to avoid getting bloodstains on his white, immaculate clothing.

"It says here that you bit the doctor today. He needed ten stitches," he says calmly, voice almost a monotone. His face is so smooth and icy I could skate on it.

"Good." I toss my head a little.

"You are not the least bit repentant, are you?"

I immediately frown and shake my head.

"Oh, that is just too bad about the stitches; I hope he's not in too much pain. And he was such a good doctor too…" I say mournfully. I can't help it, the grin just creeps up on my face like a wolf stalking its prey. "Except for the part when he put his face too close to mine." I snap my teeth and give a nasty little laugh. He slowly shakes his head, unsmiling.

"It still amazes me how much control you have over people with that voice of yours," he remarks. It is suddenly hard to keep my grin in place. That…is a low blow. But I keep the game going because although I cannot win, I will not lose.

"Then why don't you come over here and unlock these chains, huh, doc?" I purr, holding out my arms, straining more than a little to do it. The huge cuffs are made of iron coated in steel and weigh a freaking ton. Seriously, I think they weigh more than I do. Which, on second thought, isn't all that hard to do, considering my skin and bones status right now. Apparently the budget for food around here is a little tight. They'd rather spend money on the charming little white collar around my neck which chains me to the wall and sends a few thousand volts though me if I move my ass more than two inches.

"I would rather not," he answers.

"What," I say, batting my eyes, "are you scared?" A sudden stillness permeates the air as I realize that he is finally accepting my challenge. The third part of our daily games.

His cerulean eyes pin mine, and I am a butterfly caught in his razor-sharp gaze. He picks me apart, and everything blurs. The only clear things I can see are his blindingly white doctor's coat and my own toxic memories. For just a second, I think I also see two paper-thin wings, so delicate that if you touched them, they would collapse into fine pearl dust. But the vision quickly disintegrates like ash. I…have no defenses. Not against such a merciless collector of pain.

"Never." His toneless voice breaks through the melting of my mind; I blink to life, as if waking from a trance. I remember to breathe and all of a sudden it is much easier to think.

He leaves much as he had come, his trench coat swirling, the door shutting soundlessly behind him. Of course he could leave as soon as he had made his point.

"God dammit," I whisper. The pulse of my hate beats thickly, shamefully, in my chest where my heart used to be, and it wells up heavily in my throat. I can taste it, like iron butterflies. This is the fourth and final part of the game that we play out every day. This part is most important, consisting of a single message, his point, that he makes clearly, efficiently, and effectively every single fucking time:

GAME OVER.

I lose.