He relished every flinch, every wide-eyed back-peddling of bloated authority and pretense. The fear tasted familiar, the loathing felt like home. It was all he knew now. The thought brought a bitter ache to his throat as he sat back on the shelf chained to the wall that served as his bed. The concrete was cold, the bars making their splintered shadows in grotesque patterns of light on the floor. the cell, the cage, the pretenses....it mattered little now. He heard the mocking shrieks of the other inmates, all blathering largely empty promises about his inpending demise, various pieces of his body described in sickening inuendos, and then...the threats. He heard his name cursed, snarled out like mad dogs fighting for it. He allowed a vicious smirk when he remembered the dog's head and that befuddled look of the beast's owner before he hurled the carcass through the glass. All else was a blur after that. He remembered that he had no thoughts at all..just impressions, and snatches of moments...open flame, shrieks of anguish, the stench of burning flesh, how just and right it seemed to leave that thing chained to the stove, the dying wails as flesh was imoluated in a perverse offering that could never bring about healing.

Bodies, he mused. There were two human ones that night, one of an inocent child butchered and broken and thrown, literally to the dogs, and the other, burnt to a smouldering pile of charred bone, if only for his own unsated sense of justice. Vengence was a piss-poor substitute for absolution. He looked down at his hands, ran thumb over marred palms, grimaced at how small they were, frowned at the vague curling fringe of red hair that denoted each knuckle. Strange how such small hands could be soaked with so much blood. He put a hand over his guant cheek, let it linger to the hollowed onclave of his jaw, pushed the mottled bruise and savored the ache. Pain was another steady anchor in this turmoiled sea of thoughts. He felt naked without the mask, pitiful, and vulnerable. It was almost sad to look back at his- Walter's face- and not know who he was. His mother had looked at his face with loathing...spat his name in a drunken rage and slapped his cheek, and called him bastard, hissed at him that she didn't need to be reminded of another mistake.

A mistake. Hated and unwanted, unplanned and depraved...he ran a hand through his greased hair, felt the oily strands slick beneith his abscent fingers, curled a lip at the flame-bright color. It was ironic how somebody so small, ugly, and ignored could have such garish hair. Perhaps his father's hair was red. He shrugged off the thought wearily. He would never know, and it didn't matter now. He did not flinch at the loud clang of something striking the bars of his prison cell, only troubled himself to raise his eyes in rigid waiting. The guards were lining up by his cage, guns drawn, terror stinking up the few feet that seperated them. He clenched his fists, but stood up, docily, waiting for them to enter and take him to his appointment with the court psychiatrist. He allowed them to chain his wrists, obediently shuffled out with the six, and did not pay any heed to the dribbling rain of insults and fury that was hurled down from the cells as he indifferently lurched on his way.

It was the sneer, the glint of teeth bared back from a face that looked as if it had been hacked from granite. The high cheekbones, and lips drawn back into the jaws, those eyes that scathed over the concrete and the doctor's polished shoes before coming to rest warily on the court-appointed pyschiatrist. The doctor could not help the audible gulp when those eyes flickered with some sort emotion that he could not name as Walter kovacs shuffled forward in shackles, flanked by the guard dogs. They had their billy clubs drawn and ready.
"Mr. Walter Kovacs?" The question was almost timid as the prisoner only grunted. Apparently, the answer was not enough, as one of the guards abruptly drew back his club and brought it down full force over the prisoner's bowed spine. The doctor did not even have time to cry out before the prisoner shrugged off their grips with his whip-like limbs and belted the guard. The doctor shuddered when he heard bones crack, the shrill cry of pain as the guard fell back with a palm covered with blood to his face. The prisoner pivoted to face them, his shoulders heaving, and silent...waiting.

The doctor swallowed again, and ventured, "Mr. Walter Kovacs?" The prisoner's face jerked towards him, his eyes narrowing, and his lip digging deeper into his teeth. "Umm....Why don't you sit down?"

The prisoner gave the chair a scathing glance, and unwillingly slid into it. The doctor glanced uncertainly at the guards, the one who had been punched was still nursing his nose and glaring at the prisoner. He swallowed hard again as the prisoner's eyes darted from the mass of uniforms behind him back to the uneasy doctor for a long moment. "Sitting. What now?" The growl was laden with disgust and weariness. The doctor swallowed again, forced a paternal smile.

"If you don't mind, I'd like to ask you a few questions." The prisoner's only response was another indifferent grunt. The doctor slid his hands back to the table and brought forth a stack of pristine white cards that he carefully arranged."I'm going to hold up a card, and you tell me what you see, alright?" He gave the prisoner a benign smile and inwardly cringed. The prisoner gave him a curt nod, but never lost that rigid, seething glare.

"Alright then...we'll..begin." The doctor held up an inkblot, and watched as the prisoner only stared at it, indifferently, before his cheeks curved in distain.

"Clouds." The word was spat unexpectedly, and the doctor forced another smile. "Very good, Walter. And now?"

The prisoner scowled. "I don't like you." His lip curled when the flustered doctor mopped his forehead with a shaking hand, and gave him a crumbling grin. "And may I ask why you don't like me, Walter?"

"You called me Walter. and you're fat." The doctor grunted as he looked down at his generous belly, and shifted with a shrug.

"Well, Mr. Kovacs, some things just can't be helped. why do you not want to be called Walter?" The prisoner grunted in answer, and was slient again. The name fell on him, from the lips of a whore, thrown at him like blood, soaked in his skin like some unclean disease....the name was spat at him from his mother, sickening, filthy....

his thoughts rattled in his head as he curtly answered, "Don't like it. Not me." The doctor quirked an eyebrow at that, studied his face and was more alarmed than annoyed to see that the prisoner needed no mask to hide his innerworkings. The doctor trembled at the thought that there may not be anything human about his 'patient.'

The doctor held up another card, as the prisoner continued to tick off benign lies, one after the other. He answered, "a pretty butterfly' but hid the flinch of the image of the mutilated corpse that ripped through his soul.

He answered, "flowers,'' but saw his mother splayed out in the bed, her lover beating her and breaking her, and that animalistic howl in the dark made him answered, "a puppy,' but saw the glitter of bones of that little girl's ravaged remains as her killer sat, fat and sated and bloated in the chair, idly flipping through the channels and throwing one of his beloved dogs a treat.

Onward, and silent, the rise of white cards and smeared colors and his cold, obligated answers, as he studied the doctor's quaking throat and felt the billy club jab his side when he started to rise. The doctor wisely curtailed his session short, serenely stacked up the cards and placed them in his suitcase, gave the prisoner a gentle grin, and a nod.

"Thank you for your cooperation, Mr. Kovacs. I think we've made some progress today.... do you have any questions?"

The prisoner only stared at him, coldly for another unbearable minute of silence, before spitting out, "Doctor, are you more interested in making me well, or what is making you sick?"