AN: Yay, an update in a sensible amount of time! Thank you so much for the review, hope this is okay for you.
Warnings: Child and animal abuse, bad language


"What the fuck happened to them?" He whispered, pointing towards the cupboard.

Rufus flinched, looking down and whispering the admission.
"It was my fault."

Reno shuddered, breath racing. He felt terrified. Rufus had admitted it. Those dead animals, stuffed and laying there, were because of Rufus. His first instinct was to run away and never come back, but he knew he had no choice. He was a prisoner. He couldn't run away from him, but he had to do something.
"Wha' kind o' monster are ya? How could yoyau do it? They're jus' animals. They didn' hurt ya."

Rufus tensed, moving away from him slightly.
"I...I didn't mean for it to happen."
"Shouldn' you have been able to work i' out yaself? If they are whimpering and howlin' in pain, ya shouldn't be doing it. Same fer humans."
Rufus looked down.
"I know they were being hurt. I didn't want them to be..." He shivered. Reno moved closer, not touching him, just trying to reassure him. "But Father decided they had to be killed." He shivered slightly, remembering watching as his dear pets were tortured before his eyes. "Because... because I loved them." He shuddered again, more fiercely this time. "I loved them, and father wanted me to be punished, so he had them killed..." He looked close to tears, taking a deep breath in an attempt to steel himself.

Reno stared at him in shock.
"No...no way...why would he do tha'?" He couldn't believe it. Rufus' father was the president for fucks sake.

Rufus blinked, not used to being contradicted by anyone, least of all his servant. Especially now he was trying to open up to him. He looked at Tseng, who was standing nearby. Tseng smiled softly at him, and from that the youth was able to gather the strength to show Reno. He rolled up his sleeves, showing worse bruising and shallow scratches, the ShinRa logo cut neatly into his left elbow.
"They were my only friends." He murmured, gesturing at the stuffed bodies.

"Tha' Bastard!" Reno exclaimed furiously, eyes wide as he looked at the injuries. "I...I ain' gonna let him near yer. Not if he does tha'." He looked over at the stuffed corpses of the boy's pets, realising how much they had meant to him, how much it must have hurt him to see them like this. Compared to the deaths of those creatures, the wounds must have barely hurt him. Reno frowned, realising that he was probably next on the President's list of beloved pets to kill.
"I...I ain gonna let it happen again." He muttered, more to himself than anything, a promise of survival, but Rufus's eyes looked hopeful, so Reno turned to him and smiled. "I ain' gonna let it happen again, I swear ter ya."

Rufus gasped, seeing the conviction in the other's eyes. It was so comforting to hear that. He looked at Tseng, and the other nodded slightly, moving away to give the two room to talk to each other.
"Thank you Reno. It is so kind of you to say that." He smiled softly. "I will do anything for you that I can."

Reno's eyes lit up with hope.
"Could...if yer' gonna gimme wha' I wan', then how about letting me be a real person?" He paused, sure the other wouldn't refuse him. "I don' wanna just be yer pet."
Rufus glared at him furiously.

"How...How could you? I take good care of you, I bought you... You are mine, and I won't let you leave. You're mine."
Reno blinked in shock at the other's outburst after his previous offer of generosity.
"Hey...hey, calm down...I...I didn't wanna get you angry." Reno felt more upset than he would have expected at being denied his chance at humanity. He hadn't expected Rufus to deny him like that. He had wanted more from his life than just being property, and merely suggesting that had got him in trouble.

Rufus frowned, not sure why the other was so upset. He was offering him protection and somewhere he belonged, he couldn't see why it was such a problem. He couldn't imagine why this life had upset the other so much. He didn't want Reno leaving, but other than that, he would give him everything he could. He tried to think of a way of repairing their relationship, and realised that he could offer Reno a lot of things he had never had before, the most important of these being an education.
"Reno, would you like me to teach you to read?"

Reno bit his lip. He didn't want to submit to an existence as Rufus' pet, but at the same time, he needed to learn. He had wanted to read for a long time, but it had never been a skill that Don Corneo or his men had felt he needed to learn. He nodded, not talking to the other to try and show he was hurt. If Rufus registered his upset, he didn't show it. The young Vice President fetched a book for them both.