There was just no denying it. He hated Christmas. The snow wasn't the problem, it was the holiday itself that made him want to gag. It was suppose to be a time for family, gifts and love. Family, he didn't even want to start dwelling on that. Gifts, you had to have money for. And love? Well there hadn't been anything to brag about in that department. Sure there had been relationships, but nothing worth hanging on to. He could only tolerate snotty girlfriends for so long.

Sighing heavily to himself the man reached up to run his half gloved hand through his hair, shaking some of the snow off. Not that it really mattered if he allowed it to accumulate or not. The powdery white flakes raining down relentlessly mimicked his hair color so perfectly that the two blended together flawlessly. He just didn't want his hair to be drenched by the time he made it home. It was a pretty normal routine for him to just get out of the office to meander through the park late at night when he was restless, but today he had ventured out in the early morning, knowing the snow would keep people indoors. And he was absolutely right, the entire park was barren and silent. He was the only person in existence it seemed, his long red leather jacket standing out against the white backdrop like a road flare.

Keeping his icy blue eyes plastered on the ground in front of him, he kicked at the snow with every step he took. He couldn't help but smirk every time his boots sank into the snow, the crunching sound of it compacting under his weight bringing back fond memories of snowball fights with his brother. His twin. He found himself stopping short in the middle of the walkway, shaking his head to get the memory to fade. It wasn't until that moment, when he glanced around to find something else to occupy his mind with, that he spotted the bench just a few inches in front of him. At first it was easy to see how it had blended in to the surroundings. The snow had fallen so suddenly in the already freezing temperatures that the entire thing was covered in a good inch of snow.

But what actually caught his attention was not the bench itself, but the body curled up on the end of it, hidden by an equally thick layer of snow. The first thought that crossed his mind was undoubtedly morbid. Panic coursing through his body at the thought of stumbling upon a corpse in the park. He instantly scanned the surrounding area, looking for help, but he was alone in the gray tinted world. With a dead body.

"Shit, what do I do now?" he huffed, taking a step back away from the bench.

Go get help. That was the logical course of action, but what was he suppose to say? I found a dead body in the park on a random bench? That would go over really well. As he stood there trying to come up with a plan and failing miserably, a rather large chunk of snow toppled down off of the body onto the ground with a thud, revealing a denim hood pulled up over the figures head. He flinched, staring at the body wide eyed until he realized it was shivering. It wasn't a dead body, just some homeless person with poor sleeping arrangements.

Letting out a sigh of relief he turned on the path, prepared to just leave them alone. It wasn't his responsibility to take care of the homeless people in the city. Shit, he was two steps away from being homeless himself if Lady had her way. What kind of friend bled you for every cent you owned? Scoffing he took a step past the bench, glancing idly down at the shivering form. The thought crossed his mind that if he just walked away and left them sleeping there, they might actually freeze to death and then some other poor bastard really would find a corpse in the park. The least he could do was wake them up.

"Hey, hey buddy!" he called, assuming that the person was most likely male. "It's snowing out here, go find a shelter!"

Pulling his foot up out of the snow he nudged the end of the bench rather hard, hoping to jolt the person awake. But the only reaction he got was more snow crumbling off of their body to reveal more of the denim jacket they were wearing. Groaning he leaned down, grabbing them by the shoulder and tried to shake them awake. The only part of the half frozen body that moved was the head, dipping farther down off of the bench allowing a tuft of snowy white hair to fall out from under the hood. White hair like his own? Now he was too interested to walk away at all.

"Hey, seriously, you can't be sleeping out here," he demanded, reaching down to grab the edge of the denim hood and pulled it back off of the figures head.

A mop of shaggy white hair spilled out around the boy's sleeping face, a little shorter than his own. From what he could see, the kid had pale skin, flawless in a way that made his cheeks burn. He was adorable! The way his eyebrows were pressed together like he was having a bad dream, his bottom lip trembling from the cold. Leaning farther over the end of the bench, he studied his young features more closely, noticing the subtle blue tint on his quivering lips.

"Shit, you're gonna freeze to death out here, kid," his hissed, stepping around the end of the bench to pick him up.

It wasn't his job to worry about homeless people, but he just couldn't bring himself to leave the kid out in the cold. He had to be in his teens, his body light and thin as he scooped him up into his arms, taking a small moment to adjust before he marched off toward his office. At the very least he could give the kid a warm place to crash for the time being. Thankfully, his plan to be the only one out and about worked in his favor as he carried the young boy back to his office. It wouldn't look at all good carrying an unconscious teen down the street…

It was difficult to say the least trying to wrestle the door to his office open while balancing the still unconscious teen in his arms. He nearly crushed his ankle twice in the heavy door before he was finally able to pull it open far enough to wedge half of his body in, keeping it open. Huffing he shoved the door one last time with his ass, stumbling into the office nearly dropping the kid in the process. He stood there for a moment completely still, trying to collect his thoughts. He ran across a random teenager passed out in the park on the verge of hypothermia…and brought him home.

"What the hell did I just get myself into?" he groaned, shuffling over toward his old beat up couch on the far left of the room.

Laying the boy gently on the couch, he just stood there, staring down at him wondering just what he was suppose to do now. He had expected the kid to wake up before he made it all the way back to the office, but he hadn't even shifted in his arms. Several times he had stopped just to check to see if he was still breathing. His first thought was to strip the kid of is wet clothes and bury him in as many blankets as he could scrounge up, but quickly realized how bad that would look in the long run. Naked teenager on some strange man's couch. It had lawsuit written all over it. Rolling his shoulders lightly, he leaned down, tugging the brown boots off of the kid's feet, along with his socks and decided to leave it at that. Shrugging out of his jacket he dropped it onto the pool table next to the couch as he headed for the stairs in search of some blankets.


He was having a hard time finding his way out of the disturbing dream he'd been having into the conscious world. The only things that lingered in his brain were the memory of being so cold he felt frozen and how he now felt as snug as a bug in a rug. Sighing contently to himself he decided to just lay there a while longer. The entire ordeal had to have been just a nightmare. There was no way he could have been kicked out on his ass into the freezing winter night and somehow magically wake up all warm and toasty. It was just a nightmare. He was loved and cared for. Safe.

Letting out another soft sigh he snuggled down under the blankets, breathing in the scent surrounding him deeply. It was then that he realized something was terribly wrong. The smell was no where near familiar. Strong and masculine, certainly nothing like his own scent. He'd been forbidden to wear any type of cologne for longer than he cared to remember. Panic shot through him, forcing his eye's open despite the fear of finding out where he was.

The room was dark, the only source of light came from the large windows that allowed the moonlight to filter in enough to just make out the objects surrounding him. There was an old pool table several feet away with what looked like a jacket hanging off the side. There was an old beat up coffee table right in front of the couch he was laying on, his boots and socks discarded underneath it. He immediately lifted the covers that had been layered on top of him, thankful to find that he was still fully clothed. He was in a strange place, warm under strange blankets on someone's couch, with his clothes still in tact. He'd been through much worse, that was for sure.

"Hey, you're finally awake, kid?" a deep voice muttered, causing his head to whip around to the back of the room.

There was a small neon sign hanging on the back wall surrounded by several weapons that helped illuminate the man that was sitting at the rather old looking desk across the room. His long legs were propped on the desk, arms behind his head as he leaned back in his chair, staring over at him with light colored eyes. The distance between them didn't help the young man to see what color they actually were and the only thing that he could focus on was the man's hair. It was the same snowy white color as his own hair, but a little longer.

The man dropped his feet down off of the desk with a loud thud, leaning forward in his chair to smirk at him. He wondered idly if he would be able to snatch up his boots and socks and make it out the front doors before the strange man could stop him. His eyes darted between the door and his belongings, then back to the stranger without blinking. His limbs felt weak, making him unsure that he could make the sprint without tripping over himself like an idiot. The man seemed to notice his reluctance, leaning forward on his desk to prop his head up in his hands, indicating that he wasn't going to try and chase him.

"Name's Dante," the man muttered. "Found you sleeping on a park bench under a nice layer of snow. Being the nice guy that I am, I couldn't leave you out there to freeze to death."

He honestly wasn't sure what to say. Never in his life did he expect a random passerby would take it upon themselves to just take him in like a stray dog. It had been so long since he'd felt the sentiment of kindness, he wasn't able to even respond properly. He just sat there, gawking at the man in sheer disbelief. There had to be some kind of catch. A hook or something. And given the run down state of the building around him, he had a good feeling that hook was money. He didn't know how to break it to the man that he was flat broke without getting his face beat in. Or worse.

"So, you got a name kid? Or did you hit your head somewhere and lose your memory? Maybe the ability to speak too?"

The young man dipped his head down, figuring he at least owed the man that much. It was just his name after all and he'd already given the boy his without hesitation,

"Nero…" he mumbled under his breath, unable to raise his voice above a low pitch.

"What's that? Can't hear ya if you're mumblin', kid!" Dante shouted, trying to get a point across.

Nero couldn't stop the wave of irritation that washed over him, the past weeks events taking their toll on his patience. He jerked his head up quickly, glaring over at Dante in pure fury.

"Nero! I said my name is Nero!" he shouted, watching as Dante just blinked at him with a blank expression.

The second that he realized he had raised his voice he instantly dropped his eyes to the floor. He hated that it was now a natural response for him to just bail from any kind of assertive nature to avoid being beaten. Damn conditioning… He sat staring at the floor, hands curled into the blankets tightly as he waited for some kid of punishment. But the strange man just laughed.

"See, was that so hard? Nero, huh? Not a bad name…" he chuckled, his chair creaking softly.

Nero's eyes jumped back up to him, trying his best to look less unsure of himself. He'd never been particularly good at socializing to begin with, that coupled with his most recent lifestyle had lead him down a very lonely path. This man, Dante, seemed full of life and just happy. He wasn't exactly sure how to deal with him.

"Neither is yours," he muttered, hoping he wouldn't yell at him again for being quiet.

"So, you wanna tell me why you were sleeping on a park bench in the middle of December? Where are your parents?"

"Parents?" He dropped his eyes to the floor again for a brief moment then glanced back up at Dante with a shrug. "I'm an orphan."

He couldn't help but notice how Dante's smile faltered a bit at that statement, but he just continued talking as if it really didn't bother him at all,

"Guess we have that in common. So that's why you were out there?" he sighed, opening a drawer on the other side of the desk and rummaged around in it.

"N-no, I got kicked out of my home," he stammered, hoping whatever Dante was looking for wasn't something to hurt him with.

"Kicked out? Aren't you a minor, can they just do that?"

Nero shook his head lightly, watching Dante's hand closely as it emerged from the drawer with something so small clutched in it he couldn't even make out what it was.

"No, I'm n-nineteen," he added, trying not to panic.

"Ah, well I guess you're lucky I found you then, here catch," he chuckled, tossing whatever the small object was in Nero's direction.

Nero found himself nearly falling off of the side of the couch as he flailed to catch the small object, looking at it closely. Chap stick? He glanced up at Dante with a confused stare. Chap stick?

"For your lips, kid. Sleeping outside like that they were all chapped. I'm amazed they weren't bleeding," he clarified, standing up from his desk to stretch.

Licking his lips idly, he could feel the cracked skin, hissing slightly when the friction caused his lips to sting. Using the sleeve of his jacket to wipe them dry, he opened the tube of chap stick and ran it over his lips just once. It tasted like…strawberries?

"OK! Now that we've got that out of the way, what'ya say we get you a shower and some dry clothes, huh? You can crash here for now, it's snowing like hell out there," Dante yawned, trotting across the floor toward the stairs.

Nero just sat still, watching him carefully as he moved closer, finally able to make out the color of his eyes. They were blue, but nothing like his stormy blue, they were more like ice blue. Dante didn't seem to notice, or care that he was studying him, cutting the corner of the couch and stopped at the bottom step. For a moment Dante just stared over at him as if he didn't understand what was going on, pausing with his hand on the railing.

"What are you waiting for? Get up and follow me…" he demanded, nodding at the steps sharply.

Flinching slightly, Nero kicked the blankets off of his legs, ignoring his aching limbs as he climbed to his feet to follow Dante upstairs. Freezing to death wasn't something he wanted to face and as long as Dante was being nice, he didn't see much of a point in fighting him. That, and the authority in the man's voice compelled him to just keep his mouth shut and obey. God damn conditioning…


The kid was strange, there was no doubt about that. He acted more like a skittish animal than a human being. Dante found that he had to be a little assertive with him to get any kind of response out of him. He wasn't sure what the kid could have possibly done to get kicked out of his home in the middle of winter, but he was sure it couldn't have been that serious. No one deserved that kind of treatment.

"Why'd you get kicked out?" Dante asked, leading the kid into his room just to get him a change of clothes.

Nero almost skidded to a halt in the doorway once he saw it was a bedroom, lowering his head as he reluctantly shuffled into the room.

"I, uh, I was bad?" he muttered and Dante had to think about what he said for a moment before he actually understood the words. Mumbling.

"Bad, huh? You're not a drug addict are you? Cause I don't tolerate that shit," Dante hedged, reaching into his closet to find something for him to wear.

Nero shook his head lightly, wrapping his arms around himself in what looked like an attempt to take up as little space as possible. Dante couldn't help but shake his head, figuring it was better to not ask questions. He had the feeling that the kid was more likely to have some kind of breakdown before he got any real answers out of him anyway. He was already trembling again despite the fact that Dante knew he couldn't be cold anymore. After digging out an old pair of black jeans and an old gray t-shirt, Dante held the clothes out for him to take while he moved to the dresser to find the kid some underwear.

"Alright, bathrooms right down here," he sighed, dropping the newest pair of boxers he could find onto the pile in Nero's arms and lead him back out of the bedroom and down the hall.

It was a little more than awkward as Dante reached around the door to click on the light and indicated for Nero to go ahead. The teen just stood there in the hallway, staring at him with a blank expression as if he didn't quite understand what he was suppose to do. It slowly began to dawn on him that if the kid was an orphan, he had probably been bounced around to so many different foster homes that he never got to be comfortable around anyone. And if any number of the foster parents had been anything like Dante's, you didn't do anything without permission unless you wanted a good beating.

"Go on Kid. Get undressed and get in the shower. I'm not doin' it for ya," Dante snapped, jerking his thumb toward the shower again to show that it was alright.

What happened next was something he hadn't been at all prepared for. Nero stepped into the bathroom, sitting his borrowed clothes on the sink and immediately started striping. At first, Dante thought to turn away, but as the kid slowly pulled off his long denim jacket revealing the sleeveless red hoody underneath, he froze. Nero's eyes remained on the tile floor as he reached up to unzip the hoody slowly. Dante couldn't help but gawk at him in shock. His arms were covered in thin red lines, raised little welts like he had been beaten with a very thin switch.

It wasn't until the teen started to shrug off his hoody that Dante's eyes made it past his arms to the kid's neck. There, as plain as day, was a thick white leather collar strapped so tightly around his neck that it had cut into his skin enough to make him bleed. How could he have missed that when he first brought him home? It sure as hell explained a lot about the kid's temperament. He'd been beaten his entire life!

"Kid, what is all that?"he gasped, stepping into the bathroom without a second thought.

His hand reached out on it's own, reaching for Nero in some kind of motion to comfort him, but he suddenly lurched back away from Dante so forcefully that his shoulder slammed into the towel rack causing him to yelp. Dante froze in place, gawking at the teen as he desperately tried to find a position between the towel rack and the hand hovering in front of him that wouldn't cause him pain. He had clenched his eye's shut, tears welling up past his long eye lashes from the blow to his shoulder blade. Dante faltered for a brief second before he reached out and grabbed Nero by his shoulders to steady him, hating the way he choked back a sob from the contact.

"Hey, I am not going to hurt you. Look at me," he snapped, holding him gently at arms length to make a point. "Kid, look at me."

Nero's eyes slowly crept open, peeking up at him, tears clinging to his eyelashes like the snowflakes falling outside. The fear in them was unmistakable and it made Dante's heart constrict in a painful way.

"Did your foster parents do this to you? The ones that kicked you out?" he asked, trying to get a better look at the collar around his pale neck.

Nero shook his head gently, keeping his chin tucked down to try and hide himself as much as possible from Dante's gaze.

"Then who? Answer me," he snapped, quickly losing his patience.

"I told you," Nero choked, sniffling lightly. "I got kicked out for being b-bad. For disobeying my…m-master."

Very slowly the words sank into Dante's brain with a little more weight than he thought possible. A collar, cuts and welts covering his arms and probably the rest of his body, his temperament. Being thrown out into the bitter December weather with no remorse. This kid hadn't been tossed around foster homes and abused, he was someone's pet. Dante quickly dropped his hands from the teen's shoulders and took a step back toward the hallway blindly.

"Sit your clothes in the hallway and I'll get them in the washer. Take as long as you need in the shower and I'll see you downstairs, alright?" he mumbled, taking another blind step back out of the bathroom.

"I can go-"

"Just do it. Don't argue. You're good at taking orders, right?"

Nero nodded just once, hugging himself gently with his hoody still hanging halfway off as Dante pulled the door closed. For a moment he just stood there staring at the handle in disbelief. Leaning against the wall opposite the door, he covered his mouth with his left hand, trying to come to terms with he had just seen. He'd heard of the entire S&M empire, he'd been around the block enough times to know exactly what it entailed. But he had never seen anything like that. It was almost as if it had crossed the line of consensual into just plain abuse.

Hearing the bathroom door crack open he glanced up just in time to see a flash of Nero's stormy eyes and a pale hand dropping his clothes into the hall before the door snapped shut again. He waited until he heard the shower cut on before he leaned down to scoop up the damp clothes off of the floor and shuffled toward the stairs headed for the laundry room. What had started out as a normal day had taken one fucked up turn.


He felt embarrassed. Ashamed. He'd been through enough humiliation in his life for it not to bother him anymore, but there had been something in Dante's eyes when he realized exactly where he had come from that made him feel sick to his stomach. Fear crept up in his throat at the thought of Dante kicking him right back out into the cold as soon as he left the bathroom. He was probably disgusted by him and he had every right to be. Hell, Nero was disgusted with himself. He wasn't sure how he had let things get so out of hand, but it was like he couldn't turn himself back around again.

Sticking a hand past the shower curtain, he groped around in the air until he felt the water hitting his fingertips. It was blissfully warm and made him feel hesitant about getting in. At home he hadn't been allowed to take warm showers and would certainly never be allowed to take as long as he wanted. But Dante had insisted. Taking a deep breath he peeled the shower curtain back just far enough to step in, keeping himself pressed against the cold tile along the back of the shower. It took him a moment to weigh his options before he could get his limbs to move forward into the water.

If he went back downstairs without taking a shower, there was no telling what Dante would do to him. He'd said that he wasn't going to hurt him, but it hadn't been the first time he had heard that line. His master had often said that they weren't going to hurt him, just to turn around and do exactly the opposite. He wanted to believe Dante wouldn't hurt him, but then again, that had gotten him into trouble in the past. Absently, he reached up to brush his fingers over the tight collar around his neck, hissing when he touched a particularly tender spot. Yeah, it had gotten him into a lot of trouble.

The warm water was like pure heaven. Nero found himself clawing at the cold water handle to turn it farther down, gasping when the warm water spiked to almost burning. He could feel the tension flooding out of his limbs, forcing him to brace himself on the wall to keep from collapsing. For a long while he just stood there under the hot spray, just basking in the euphoria of it all. He remembered hot showers like these. Remembered a time when his entire existence hadn't been so fucked up.

A sudden thud on the other side of wall jerked him out of his memories, causing him to panic for a brief moment before he recalled Dante's orders. Take as long as you need… Well he certainly wasn't going to push the limitations of that very far if he could help it. Taking a quick glance around the shower, Nero spotted a single black bottle of soap sitting next to a dark maroon looking pouf. The label on the bottle stated it was a shampoo, conditioner and body wash all in one. It was nothing like he had ever seen before, but then again Dante did seem like a fairly simple man. By passing the pouf, Nero grabbed the bottle and squeezed a small amount into the palm of his hand to sniff it. It was the exact same manly scent from the blankets downstairs. Dante's scent.

It took him a moment to realize the warm feeling that spread across his cheeks wasn't from the shower. He was blushing. Shaking his head roughly he squeezed more of the soap into his hand and started with his hair. He couldn't stop the thoughts running through his mind as he scrubbed his hair, moving down his bruise and cut covered body gently. The soap burned the more recent wounds, but the pain hardly registered in his mind, drowned out by Dante's commanding voice. Just do it. Don't argue. You're good at taking orders, right? A strange shudder tore through his body as he ran a soapy hand over his stomach, an all too familiar heat flaring up, causing him to glance down at his naked body in shock.

At first he was just plain confused. Why would a strange man ordering him around cause that kind of reaction? But there was no denying what he was looking at, no mistaking the way his hand twitched, trying to reach out and grasp the throbbing erection to relieve himself. Without even realizing it he allowed his hand to drift down past his waist line, long pale fingers wrapping around the base of his manhood. A shaky breath escaped his lungs as he slowly pulled his hand up his length, tightening his grip as he reached the tip, only to run his hand back down to the base again in a swift motion.

"Ah!"

A deep groan escaped him as he continued to stroke himself, leaning against the back of the shower for support. It was in that instant when he heard his own voice echo in his ears that he remembered what he was doing and immediately ripped his hand away from his member. He was never allowed to do that without permission! If his master ever caught him, it would mean a severe punishment would follow. Just the thought of it brought the teen to tears, sinking down into the tub in a useless heap.

He couldn't even bring himself to get back up to wash all the soap off of his body, afraid that he might not be able to resist touching himself again. Instead, he shifted in the bottom of the tub to where the water hit every inch of his body and just lay there until the water turned ice cold. Once he was sure he had calmed down enough, he reached up to turn the water off and clawed his way out of the tub. There was a maroon towel hanging on the towel rack he had slammed into that matched the pouf in the shower. Man really like's his red… Fighting with his body again, he pulled the towel off of the rack and began to dry his chilled skin quickly.

As he pulled on his borrowed clothes, Nero couldn't help but notice how the black boxers and jeans nearly slid right off of his narrow hips. He couldn't remember ever being that skinny, but then again it had been a long time since he could just stand there and study himself. His hip bones stuck out much farther than he knew they should, his stomach so flat it was practically concave. Even his damn collarbone was pretty much jutting out past his chest under the old gray t-shirt. If Dante had believed him about not being a drug addict before, this would certainly change his mind.

After ruffling his hair with the towel a few more times, he folded it neatly and reached out for the doorknob. Part of his brain kept imagining Dante waiting right outside the door for him, ready to beat what little life he had left in him out, but as he pulled the door open he was faced with nothing but an empty hallway. Maybe, just maybe things wouldn't be as bad as all that with Dante. Maybe…