Disclaimer: I do not own X-Men. Marvel does.

A/N: Writer's Block buster for the "post anything you write" challenge.

Rating: T


They all know him by different names.

Shaw. Schmidt. Sebastian. Herr Doktor is the worst, the man who locked them up until it was time to play. Sometimes - sometimes - someone will call him "Daddy", but that is always followed by a sharp crack, gentle murmurs, and soft sobs that try obviously not to be heard.

They live in a room of thick concrete, in poorly-lit cages of thick cement and plastic, where the highlight of their days is the sight of this multiple-named man.

Erik was the first, small and broken and demonic in rage that burned in unnatural silver eyes. He is the one who knows Herr Doktor in the twisted, intimate way a wandering soul knows their Reaper, who will taunt and bite and submit in sharp turns that cannot be predicted. He is the one who makes certain that everyone who walks through the doors of this prison knows of Herr Doktor, and knows that Herr Doktor is for him alone. He does not treasure the fact, but covets it like a blood-stained knife tucked safely beneath his pillow.

Then came Charles and Raven, second and third, together and covered in blood, a few years after Erik. Charles walking, catatonic, and Raven with silent tears that slipped down her face, they were beautiful children who had been shattered like glass. They are the ones who know Schmidt, who with their own scars from Before, look to Schmidt and his practices with eager eyes and accepting hands. Little brother and sister, ruined but alive in there somewhere, so far to be reached. Schmidt is theirs. Only theirs.

Emma followed shortly, fourth, a seductive age of nineteen, all beauty with blonde hair and blue eyes and skin the glittered like diamonds. Her smile was fake and her touch cold - she took no interest in the children around her. And it has always been this way. But she glows every time Sebastian walks into the room and gently takes her hand, her eyes light and her skin warm. Her screams are loud and strong enough to curdle blood, but she comes back from Sebastian with a smile on her face and one word from her closed lips. Mine.

Azazel is fifth, and though they did not come together, they were close enough that Janos is often called "second fifth" instead of sixth. Azazel looks like the devil, and Janos looks like the windswept sand, and both are silent and stoic and watch over the children and Emma like it is their only purpose. Shaw names Janos "Riptide" and that is wrong and okay at the same time. They do not outwardly claim Shaw, but their loyalty is unquestionable and never hesitant - with dead eyes they are always dirty.

Schmidt calls them his children.

But they are never permitted to call him any variation of "father".

Shaw calls them his soldiers.

He demands that they call him "sir".

The only word Sebastian ever says is "lover".

But it is only ever to Emma, only crooned tenderly in symphony over her screams.

Herr Doktor calls them nothing at all.

But every smile with his sharp sharp teeth as he peers down at them during "play time" says everything that titles cannot.

He wears the same face, but to each he is a different man. Every morning, every day, every night, he very softly tells them all "if you want to leave, you may", the keys to their cages dangling just outside their bars, and promises no consequences if they take the offer.

Every single day, and yet every single one stays.


Let me know what you thought? :) May or may not become multi-chaptered… I won't say either way.