I love you so much, I'm scared, because in a way, I know I am only capable of hurting you over and over. You have no idea and only see me as the "miserable bastard" that you're so fond of calling me. You see me as your boss and don't even try to look past it, because you're so damn sure there's nothing behind my typical behaviour.

You're so wrong.

What would you think if you knew, by some chance, that my deepest sexual fantasies involved you in ways you probably never even thought existed?... What would you do if you could know my thoughts when sometimes just seeing you is enough to awaken my most hidden desires? How would you react if I told you how much you aroused me without even trying?

You shall never know and I shall never let it slip. I want to taste you, but I will not. I want to own you, but I will restrain myself. I'm good at that. At hiding my feelings. Especially when those feelings are as wrong as mine. Love, lust, will to possess you. I'm scared of myself like this. Always, when I think about you...

I've known you for far too long. I remember you as that scared kid, that ten-year old child with bright blue eyes and two symmetrical scars on his face. I remember how I first met you in the slums; you bumped into me and even though I knew instantly you were a thief stealing my wallet, I let you go without pursuit. I didn't have much money anyway, that day.

I found you a few days later, in a place that I never expected to find a child – the ruins of a brothel. A year prior, Don Corneo's men burned the place down, not before killing all of the women that worked there. They said it was revenge for taking away Honey Bee's clients. From what I knew, it was more the fact that the owner refused to pay any tributes. Whatever the reason, the place was now ruins and nobody cared much to clean up the mess. A normal thing in the slums – when something is demolished, the most people would do is pillage whatever can still be useful.

I was given the task of looking around, to check if the place wasn't used as a hide-out of any gangs, terrorists or whatever scum might dwell within such a place.

You lived there, and when you saw me, you hid as good as a trapped child could. You were scared and I could see that. Instead of frightening you further, I left you alone. Only to come back the next day, then next and next... Each time, I brought something with me. Mostly food. At first, you never ate in front of me, but waited until I left. Usually, you also sold the dishes I brought you, and it was alright, because that's why I brought them in the first place.

It continued for a few days until one afternoon, when I came a bit later than usual, you didn't hesitate, like always. I put the package by your hide-out, which was built of some wood, debris and other thrash you probably picked around here. You looked at me and reached out for the food. You must have been extra-hungry. You ate so fast, you almost choked.

It made me happy. It meant I gained some trust.

What won you over, in the end, was hot cocoa. Winter that year was particularly cold and you had no good shelter. On the first day of that freezing weather, I came to you and saw you trembling under those thin blankets that were the only protection from the cold you had. I brought with me a thermos of hot cocoa with ginger. I gave you a cup and you let me inside of your little place. As you drank, I hugged you in order to warm you up a bit. You leaned into my embrace.

Remember? You told me to get you out of there.

So, with no more questions, I took you in. The interesting thing was, I never planned on making you a Turk. I just wanted to give you an education and, maybe, find you a job here in ShinRa, so you wouldn't go back to your old life in the slums. Veld was the one that noticed you and enrolled you on the Turk training program. You were happy about it. So, naturally, I was also happy.

We spent a lot of time together. I taught you things like Maths and orthography and you hated it with a passion, but you loved to spend time with me. When I wasn't at work and you had a free day, I took you to places and showed you what I thought was worth seeing. Every day, I made hot cocoa for you.

I treated you... well, like my child that I knew I would never have. I was proud of the progress you were making and of you in general. I never once regretted taking you in.

At fifteen, you were already a Turk known for his efficiency. That's also when you stopped treating me like a father and started to see me as your superior. It was... strange, at first, but I got used to it and played along. Mostly because I started having those thoughts about you... most inappropriate. Most indecent. It's been like this since then.

I remember the story you told me about yourself. You decided to tell me three years ago, when, after a patrol, you came to the HQ sad and a bit... absent? The place I found you in, the ruins, had finally been cleaned. The debris was removed and in it's place, an apartment block was about to stand. The newest project of the Department of Urban Development. You asked me if I had a while to talk to you. I had. We talked.

You were born in that place while it was still up and prospering. Or maybe you were just taken in by the women that worked there. To you, the only thing that mattered was that they treated you well. You believed one of them might have been your mother; but, as you talked about them, it was clear that you loved all of them the same. They gave you whatever they could, they tried to teach you to write and read, they fed you and even bought you sweets, even when they didn't have money to eat something themselves.

You felt at home with them. You felt loved and needed. They never hesitated to show you how much you meant to them. They called you their little gemstone.

That night, when Don's men attacked, you were there. You saw it all, saw your precious surrogate mothers get slain just like that. You saw more blood than a child your age should ever have. You were so scared, but you couldn't cry, because if you did, those people would have seen you. They did see you, anyway.

When you told me what was next, your face darkened and you refused to look at me. You told me, with sickening detail, how they thought a child was so fun to play with. How they raped you, one by one, in turns, how they forced your legs apart and took away your innocence just for the fun of it. When they finished with you, they just left you there, among the bodies of the women they killed, and they put the place on fire. You didn't know what to do. You didn't remember much more, apart from waking up after everything was over.

Your face when you told me this... the lack of emotion I saw there terrified me. I began to wonder what happened to the child I used to care for, when had that child died and been replaced with someone cold and emotionless. But... I can understand that. I guess I always could. You tried to distance yourself from things that hurt too much, things that were more than a person could bear without falling into insanity.

Gods know we had too many of those that fell, unable to take what ShinRa did to their lives.

When you told me, I felt even worse than ever for... wanting you. It was wrong, and I hated myself for it. At that time, I still believed that one day, I would tell you how I felt about you. Until you told me. Then, I decided never to let you know. Never to make you hate me.

There was a question you asked me sometime later that taught me how much I meant to you. I never realised until then, but you showed me perfectly and I feel special until this day. That one conversation, a few shared moments on Christmas Eve, when everybody else was asleep and dreaming of family warmth, was like a gift. Did you know it? Probably not.

'If I ever do sumthin' against ShinRa... for whatever reason... Will ya be the one to kill me?' You asked, with seriousness nobody but I would expect from you. After all, I'm the one that knows you best. I hope so...

'I will, Reno. I don't want it, though,' I told you, looking at you a bit sadly, and you nodded with a small smile.

'Good. Ya saved my life, ya own me. Ya be the one to end it,' you replied and broke out into a wide grin, completely ruining the mood. Maybe it was for the better. Who knows, maybe I would have said something stupid, back then.

Oh, yes. I just remembered. The chocolate coins.

When I first bought a few for you, you didn't want them. I was surprised, because I'd heard children from the slums loved those. Only all those years later, when you'd told me about your past, I fully understood... For some time, I didn't know why you hated those sweets with a passion. And you started taking them after a while, too.

You loved it when those women bought you those coins...

You kept telling me how much you owed me. You asked many times how to pay me back for all the things I've done for you and I can't help but wonder – have I really done that much? I fed a child. I took this child in. I let the child grow into an assassin, ready to pull the trigger to a man's face. Is that anything to be grateful for?... I didn't let you die. Do you regret it, sometimes?

So, I look at your lithe form, passed out on my bed where you used to sleep a few years back, sometimes snuggling into my embrace when something in the shadows of the night scared you. I look and see not the cruel, yet easygoing man you've become, but the child I had loved back then. You're still innocent in a way, aren't you? When you sleep like this, after drinking yourself into oblivion. You were so drunk, you came here instead of going to that poor excuse of an apartament you keep calling your home. You came here and said it just happened. Then, you gave me a bag of chocolate coins and, when I asked about it in confusion, you said your debt was paid.

I counted them. Fifty six. Did this have any meaning? Apparently, yes. You said I bought you fifty six chocolate coins when you were a kid. You counted them, and you even hid away the wrappers so that you wouldn't forget their number. From the beginning, you had the intention of paying me back. You chose that way, because you had no idea what else you could give me... And now that you didn't owe me anything anymore, you were free.

After telling me this, you passed out. I put you into my bed and here I am, pathetic as always, watching your sleeping face and wondering what if. Stupid "what if's" invade my head, things I'm too afraid of to even consider.

What if I kissed you.

What if I made you mine, now that you were too drunk to even remember, and even protest.

What if...

I won't do anything, though. I will wait until you wake up, I'll give you some water and aspirin, I might make you coffee. And I won't tell you how I feel about you after this night. Now, at this moment, I just want to look at you like this and remember it.

'I love you, Reno,' I whisper to your sleeping form, knowing that you can't hear me. I'm grateful. I owe it to you – the safety that comes with you not knowing. I will bear it. I have to. I would hurt you too much.

That single tear that went down your face under my confession... I'll pretend I never noticed. I'll pretend I didn't realise yet that, even if you didn't want to, even if you were too anxious – you loved me too.