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

A/N: I sit at the keyboard, and something takes control of my fingers. And somehow Charles is always insane.

Rating: M for implied molestation, suicidal thoughts, dark material, child abuse.


imagines


There are times Charles imagines holding a knife to his wrist and dragging it slowly, slowly down.

He imagines the blood would feel like relief - sees himself, in his mind, releasing a groan of pleasure, head falling back as his eyes flutter closed, crimson liquid dripping obscenely to the floor as something in his fucked up life finally goes right. He stains the God-forsaken white floors of tile with his pain as vengeance, laughs just a little as his body finally understands and falls, just enough to give them all the nightmares they deserve and take medication to avoid.

He imagines.

But outside his mind there is nothing sharp to hold onto.

-x-

His hair is gone.

It's the first thing they took.

He no longer brings himself to miss it, and even the once haunting echoes of the buzz of the razor are now nothing more than a soothing lullaby.

What a fright he must look, though; skeletal and bald and vacant. He's covered in a white gown as thin as paper, and it hangs off of him like broken parchment on splintered scroll. Sometimes, if the company is right, he forces a smile to his dried lips, feels the ways his skin cracks and pulls at the gesture, but calls it forward all the same.

They always run.

And that makes him laugh, too.

-x-

He gets lost sometimes, starting in the middle when he hasn't explained the beginning. Talks to whoever will listen, to whoever doesn't, but never to the people who are trying to understand what he's saying.

It started so simply.

'Mother, this is Raven. She's your daughter.'

'Charles, I don't have time for this. You're far too old for imaginary friends.'

But he doesn't remember the beginning quite as clearly as he should. As he did.

-x-

You see, Raven came first.

His beautiful little sister, blue-skinned and golden-eyed, precocious and vicious and breathtaking. His only companion, his only comfort - he could feel her cuddling up to him when they were children, after Kurt had sent him to bed with aching bones that wouldn't let him sleep, after his mother had thrown yet another bottle of alcohol at his door. She would press against him and hold him, locking their bodies and grounding him, reminding him that he wasn't alone, that it was bad now, but would get better. Had to get better, because she was there.

She would whisper jokes to him when the air became too tense, would play games with him when the manor became too lonely, would delight in his laughter as much as he delighted in hers.

'I'm your only friend, Charles.'

She was his salvation, and he swore by her until he was fifteen and 'dangerous' was no longer a creeping sensation.

His mother told him he was ridiculous, and walked away for a drink.

Kurt said nothing, and made a phone call for a car.

The doctors shaved his head, and told him Raven didn't exist.

-x-

Charles spends his early nights on his special bed, plays with lightning while they tell him his life was invented by his own mind. And isn't real.

He'd be shattered if Raven's voice wasn't still a whisper in his mind.

-x-

He can't remember the beginning, but he knows he was fifteen when his stepfather brought him to this place called 'asylum'. He wondered then and wonders now, if they know the irony of their own fucking term.

The walls are white. The floors are white. The sheets are white. His clothes are white. Blank slate, perhaps, or an effort to erase and build anew. No sharp objects, no rope, no unmonitored liquid, no personal anything.

On Charles' second day, some poor boy ripped three pages out of War and Peace and shoved them down his throat; suffocated on heavy words and no water. The doctors called it suicide. Charles knew he was just hungry.

Books were banned after that.

His fifteen became sixteen became seventeen becomes twenty.

-x-

They think his madness is deep because he doesn't scream - they think he can't feel the pain and his brain has locked him away.

'If only,' Raven says dryly whenever he thinks this.

He snorts and agrees, smiles, and is back on his special bed again.

-x-

Twenty-years-old brings on the new voice of Hank, timid but brilliant and soft enough that it doesn't add to the headache of his treatment. He's kind, and he's strong - Charles whispers encouragements into his pillow of his safe bed at night, telling Hank how wonderful he is, how there is nothing wrong with him, and slowly Hank starts to respond back, more confident, more brilliant, as if he's being built up by Charles' words and own imagined wonders.

Charles pushes Hank towards Raven with the gentleness of a friend and the love of a brother.

With his wrists and ankles bound by leather, his body fading away under medication and cure, she will need someone to actually be there for her.

-x-

An insane child is treated with hope and condensation.

An insane man is treated like an invalid and an abomination.

There is no either-or, though sometimes,

an insane man is treated like a tied-down whore.

Safe bed is a play on words, and he laughs through violation and numbing mind static.

Safe bed. Asylum.

Safe for whom?

-x-

'Do you believe I'm real, Charles?'

'I don't think I can afford not to, darling.'

'Don't break to them.'

'There's nothing left to break, love.'

'Take your pills, Charles. They'll help you sleep.'

A nurse hovers over him, fake and cold.

"Take your pills, Charles, they'll help you sleep."

-x-

Five years is a long time.

Fifteen to twenty, from Raven to Hank to Alex and Angel and Darwin. Sean is still just out of reach; he's so fragile that Charles is afraid to reach out and touch.

But Erik is new.

Erik is all hard edges where Charles wants sharp, cold hard fury where all that's wanted is silence. It bleeds through, seeps in - he breaks the bindings of his special bed and knocks his doctor to the floor before he can understand why he's angry - why Erik is angry - and then he's tied down and screaming from memories he can't remember having and wanting to see blood that isn't his own.

'Why don't you fight?' Erik sneers in his ear as the orderly pulls his straps fiercely tight.

'Why don't you?' Charles snarls back as something sharp pricks his skin.

Silence is immediate as drugs push him to sleep.

But he doesn't feel alone.

-x-

His new theory, he explains to Erik some time later, is that asylums are safe havens for the people that put the patients there. The patients themselves are irrelevant.

'The patients are labrats,' Erik argues. Charles thinks of lightning and cannot disagree. He tries not to argue with Erik, because unlike Hank, Erik's loudness brings Charles more pain than any treatment.

The doctors are passing around words that Charles isn't supposed to hear, questionable treatments they can try.

Screws are metal.

For some reason, that seems important to note.

-x-

'Sometimes,' Charles admits to Erik, because he cannot admit to Raven. 'Sometimes, I think there is something wrong with me. There must be.'

'There isn't,' Erik hisses viciously, a twinge of pain to his head.

'I sincerely hope there isn't.' A wave of reluctant curiosity.

'Why is that?'

The psychiatrist, old and tired, peering at him over thick glasses. "Why is that, Charles?"

He swallows and imagines what color on the walls would look like.

'It would kill me.'

-x-

He screamed as they dragged him away from his home.

It was night, a warm summer night, and he was fifteen - pulled from his bed by men in strange uniforms.

He screamed so long and so loud his throat bled, begged for Raven who screamed and cried with him, reached for and clutched at his mother "Mother! please Mother please don't do this why are you I love you don't let them take me why", cried as she calmly stepped away from him and back into the house.

They shaved his head the next morning, and he lost who he was as Raven sobbed in the corners of his mind.

He remembers this.

And Erik gets angry again.

-x-

'You can trust him, Charles.'

'Says the voice in my head.'

'Says your sister, you dick.'

-x-

They pull him out of his room to cautiously tell him Kurt is dead.

Charles says nothing.

But he imagines a broken, violated, rotting corpse beneath the feet of a tall figure that is both foreign and known to him.

After enough silence, they put him back.

"Thank you," he says as they strap him down.

They smile and pat him and feed him his pills.

-x-

Raven knows Erik. Hank knows Erik. Angel and Alex and Darwin know Erik. Sean, broken and soft Sean, whispers that he knows Erik.

In Charles' head, everyone knows everyone.

'Why do you not give up?' Erik asks, because Erik is never silent, even when he is.

'I thought you wanted me to fight?' He teases back, and presses further back into his blankets.

'I cannot decide if you are naive or strong.' He snorts, bitter now where he wasn't before.

'I am not as difficult as many believe, my friend.'

'...I would have you be strong.' And there is the phantom feel he has been told is a lie - of a kind hand brushing against his own. It makes him smile and ache and want to stop breathing.

'I'm afraid I will soon not be.'

-x-

They strap down his arms.

His legs.

His head.

"Charles, Charles.

It's alright.

It will be alright, see?

This won't hurt,

not where it matters."

Something strong and sharp and metal presses against the side of his head. Something loud begins to buzz.

'...I would have you be strong.'

Pierces, a screw to his head.

He screams.

The room becomes a burst of white and fire and violence.

And then they scream.

-x-

Here, not there.

Raven laughs and hugs him close.

Here, not there.

The children gather around and love him simply as he is.

Here, no there.

Sometimes, there are times Charles imagines holding a knife to his wrist and dragging it slowly, slowly down.

But Erik always points out, with gentle hands and soft kisses, that knives are metal.

It seems important to note this.

"Go to sleep, Charles."


A/N:

I went away. And now I'm back.

This is heavily inspired from SuckerPunch and American McGee's Alice: Madness Returns. If you're not too easily creeped out, I recommend viewing the game's asylum images, or watching the cutscenes from part 33/ending on YouTube to get a better feel of the mood and imagery of this world. :)

Let me know what you thoughts?