Disclaimer: Not my characters! They are © square enix

Warnings: Implied non con, implied Remenantcest and a mention of cannibalism. (Don't say I didn't warn you)

His emerald eyes flashed with unexplainable jealousy as he gazed at the woman. It was stupid, he knew. Her situation was far worse than his own. At least he had a kind of freedom. As long as he appeared when called, he was free to play with his pets. The children which had been used to spread the invitation; drive up the fear. Show these humans that the gift they brought would kill. Most of those sent out to spread the disease died on the streets, but a few had made it back to the base like injured homing pigeons. He did all he could to nurse them, make their last few days enjoyable. Yazoo and Loz didn't object as long as it kept him out from under their feet.

It wasn't her lack of freedom the boy envied. It was the way she looked now, eyes closed, chest slowly rising and falling under the remains of an old uniform. Her left arm was bent awkwardly, every finger shattered. She whimpered occasionally, her good hand clawing slightly at the shirt of the man who held her. All that, and she still looked almost peaceful. That was what he envied. The way she could lie there in that man's arms and feel safe. Kadaj watched as the man gently stroked her hair, soothing her as best as he could in a near impossible situation. Kadaj shuffled back as the man raised his head, caught his eye, a weak smile playing on his lips. The man had seen how the youngster was treated, and realised he wasn't like the others.

Kadaj smiled back shyly, then pushed his plate of food over across the floor. He didn't want it, couldn't bring himself to eat one of his pets. Yazoo insisted he practised swordsmanship, and fresh meat should not be wasted, but he couldn't bring himself to eat it. Not after delivering the final blow, seeing the terror in its eyes.

Tseng knew what the meal consisted of, couldn't eat it himself. He had eaten only a few bits from his own bowl in of desperation. No point in starving to death. But the blond had been asleep when the food had been prepared, hadn't been given any of her own, and she really needed to gain in strength. He adored the younger Turk and her devil-may-care attitude, but sometimes he wished she knew when to keep her mouth shut. Asking the man who obviously enjoyed torturing her quite so much if he 'fell out of the ugly tree and hit all the branches on the way down' was definitely one of the things she needed to stop doing if she wanted to live to her twenty-third birthday.

Not that living that long was likely. He had to keep going in the hope that Reno and Rude were safe. The others had said that both Turks had been killed, but he didn't believe them. If they had been captured or killed, he was sure the men would have brought back the corpses, to prove their death. He knew him and 'lana wouldn't be kept alive if Reno and Rude had been captured, as they would have found what they were looking for. Either way, all he could do now was protect 'Lana. She moved slightly and he was brought back to reality.

He smiled at the silver-haired boy, mouthing thanks. Kadaj was surprised, he had never really been shown such respect, but Tseng had been brought up to believe that politeness cost nothing. The teen had shown him kindness and would be going hungry; he could at least show that he was grateful. Tseng shuffled over slightly, so that 'lana was sitting more comfortably in his lap, and gently woke her up, pressing a small piece of the freshly cooked meat against her lips to help her eat as both of her eyes were too bruised for her to open easily. That done, he brought the glass of water to her lips and tilted it carefully, allowing her to drink her fill and ensuring she didn't choke.

Seeing the man struggling to both support the woman and feed her, Kadaj shuffled closer and took the glass from him. With as much tenderness as he could manage he helped her to drink. His earlier jealousy toward her had gone, now that she had given him a reason to be closer to this man, given the prisoner cause to smile at him. After a while Tseng signalled for him to put the glass down. The remnant did so and walked back to his place by the wall, carrying the now empty plate and unaware that what had just taken place had been witnessed by his older brothers. No point trying to befriend the two prisoners, his brothers would kill them soon enough.

A minute passed, and Kadaj's heartbeat slowed back to its normal place. The argument was still going on in another section of the cave. They hadn't seen his weakness. He wouldn't be punished. No sooner had this thought calmed him than Yazoo stormed in, fury flashing in his eyes. On reflex Tseng turned away and moved slightly in an attempt to shelter his partner and Kadaj brought an arm up to try and protect his face. The kick Yazoo aimed at Tseng as he passed made him howl with agony and almost drop Elana as more of his ribs were snapped.

Through eyes clouded with pain Tseng watched as the older man, Yazoo, dragged Kadaj to his feet. He heard Kadaj's screams as the blows rained down across his back and shoulders. Yazoo smirked, kissing his brother surprisingly gently.
"What do you think you were doing with them?" His voice was a hiss, filling the boy with terror. Kadaj gazed down at the floor, not daring to make eye contact.
"I...I just wanted to be closer to Tseng" He bit his lip hard, realising before he even registered what he had said that he had gone wrong.

Yazoo's eyes sparkled with a maliciousness that chilled even Tseng. Elana whimpered louder against him. Yazoo whispered in Kadaj's ears that he could be as close to Tseng as he wished. The boy shook his head frantically, pleading with his brother with wide eyes. Yazoo was deaf to his pleas. If his brother wanted to play at being a family with the prisoners, he could do it properly.

Slowly it dawned on Tseng what was being discussed. The child was crying now. Surely Yazoo wouldn't? He remembered the way Kadaj had been when they first arrived, curled up in the corner and ignoring everything and everyone. Yazoo would easily make Kadaj do that. He tried to make eye contact with the boy, reassure him that it was alright. But such looks were impossible as the remnants gaze was fixed on the floor.

Yazoo kept whispering, poisoning Kadaj's thoughts. He had two choices. Do this, and be hated by Tseng, or have both prisoners tortured, possibly killed. No real choice at all. He would have to lose the man. They weren't friends anyway, all that had happened was Tseng had smiled at him once. That didn't matter, didn't mean anything. He blinked in surprise as he saw the first drops of water land on his shoes. He hadn't even realised he was crying. Yazoo pulled Kadaj into a side room none-to-gently, and a few seconds later he dragged Tseng in. His eyes fixed on Kadaj's.

Kadaj lay curled up as far away from him as he could, trying to hide in an alcove in the cave. It was dark now, and he was alone. He would always be alone, and he was finally beginning to accept it. No point in continuing to cling to his old wish of having a mother to cradle him like Tseng cradled Elana. He had always known that was impossible. He was just the puppet, the sacrifice. Someone not even a mother could love.

The girl's soft snores echoed around the cave, but he could barely hear his ... his nothing. Tseng wasn't his friend. Not his lover. Definitely not, no matter how hard he longed for it, his brother. He was crying again. Stupid humans, always making him cry. Yazoo and Loz were elsewhere, checking on the spread of their disease, so at least tonight he would be alone. He clutched his arms around himself. He was the only company he needed. No one else.

He nearly screamed when a hand grabbed his waist and he felt himself pulled back into someone's arms. He caught a glance of an arm clad in a black sleeve. He closed his eyes, surrendering. He didn't care if tonight wasn't as peaceful as he thought it would be. It didn't matter. Nothing mattered.

"Shush." The voice murmured in his ear. He couldn't place the voice to start with, realising only that it wasn't Yazoo's. He wasn't going to scream. He leant back into the arms, strangely relaxed. What happened happened. The owner of the voice registered with little surprise. After what he had done, he deserved this, or worse. His eyes stayed closed.

A few seconds he opened them again. Wondering why it didn't hurt yet, why this...human was making him wait. He slowly moved his head to look over his shoulder. The arms around him held him tightly, but not painfully. He couldn't stand it any more.

"What are you doing?" he hissed. Not caring if it made it worse, only that it would happen now. He hated the guilt. This would take the guilt away. The closest he could get to clean again.

"Hugging you." The answer was far from the response Kadaj had expected. He wanted to ask why, but was worried that any such question could shatter this moment, awaken him from this dream and force him back into his own reality.

"I... I'm sorry about earlier." He turned his face away, another silver tear slipping down his pale skin. He couldn't look at the man any more.

Carefully, using the pad of one of his fingers, Tseng reached around to wipe the tear away. His other arm stayed around the boy, holding him. Giving him security. He found himself wondering if Kadaj had ever been held like this before.

"I understand."

"Oh." Thoughts raced through Kadaj's mind. He didn't know what to say, how to reply. He wondered if this meant Tseng didn't hate him. He didn't dare ask. He clung to this feeling, burying it deep inside his heart. This was what it felt like to be cared for. He didn't envy Elana any more, as for once, just this once, he knew how she felt. He didn't need his mother's love. He finally had friendship. That was enough.