AN: This is for ClubRuno on Deviantart's kiddie contest – show Rude and Reno as children. I just had this idea, and had to write it down quickly. Normal service will be resumed shortly. Cheryl arose from an rp with ShadowHaloedAngel. Thank you to Sophie for proof reading.
Warnings: Bad language, dealing with adult themes through children's eyes.

Rude pushed open the door, walking through into his house, a lollypop that David had given him in his mouth. He didn't have much homework today, and it was the start of the weekend, so it was going to be good. The house he lived in was the nicest in the neighbourhood, his parents had put a lot of effort into fixing it up, and it was right next to the playground. He liked living here, there were lots of other children so he never got lonely. He threw down his schoolbag, knowing full well that he'd be told to pick it up again later, and walked through to the living room and froze. He couldn't believe what he was seeing.

Sitting on the sofa was his mum, Cheryl, with Reno cuddled up against her chest. She was stroking the bright red hair gently, murmuring something to him. Reno's head raised, and his eyes were red. It looked like he had been crying. Rude glared at him. Reno glared back. Rude wasn't surprised at that. He'd heard Jessica's mum saying that the boy was trouble. Big trouble. Trouble with a capital T. Reno didn't go to school, he just hung around in the park, normally with some of the bigger boys. Rude wouldn't ever admit it, but the thin boy scared him slightly.
"Why's he here mum?" He asked, trying to hide his anger and concern.

Cheryl smiled softly, cuddling Reno closer to her.
"He's going to be staying with us for a few days Rudey. His mum's in hospital." Rude nodded, understanding. His grandma had been in hospital last year.
"Does she have a tuna?" His grandma had had a tuna, but it got better. He tried to be friendly when he asked.
"A tuna's a fish you idio'." Reno snarled back. Rude blinked, shocked at the way his mum still was holding the other boy. She should have told him off for acting like that. Still, Rude decided to give it another go.
"What's wrong then? Will she get better?" Rude asked curiously. Reno shrugged. Rude remembered what little he had seen of Reno's mother. She smelt funny, like Christmas parties, and her hair was always in a mess. She scared him more than Reno did. He had heard some of the adults say she drank too much and it must make her ill. He could sympathise. He had drunk so much cola at Susan's birthday party that he had been sick three times. "Did she drink too much?"

"Ya can just fuck off." Reno glared, pushing away from Cheryl and running up to the spare room. Rude's eyes widened more. He couldn't believe that Reno was allowed to say things like that. When he had said that word, and it had only been once, his mum had made him wash his mouth out. It wasn't fair that Reno could swear whenever he wanted.
"Mum, aren't you going to tell him off?"
Cheryl shook her head, frowning when she heard the upstairs door slam shut.
"No. Rudey, I want you to try really hard to be nice to him okay? Don't say things like that. He's really upset right now, and he needs friends. I don't think he has any."
"If he wasn't so weird he'd have friends." Rude muttered, and got glared at by Cheryl in return.
"One day baby. One day you'll understand. Until then, just try and be nice."

Saturday morning, Rude woke up, stretched and got dressed, before heading downstairs for breakfast. Reno was already sat at the table, rapidly devouring the breakfast Cheryl was cooking for them. The red-haired boy was wearing some of the old clothes Rude had outgrown. Rude screwed up his nose slightly at the sight of the other eating. He had no table manners. But he decided to try and be nice like his mum had said.

Reno looked up and smiled nervously, flinching back into his seat. Rude sat down with him.
"I think my mum is the best cook in the entire world." Rude smiled. Reno looked down a little and nodded.
"Yeh... I think ya migh' be righ..."
Cheryl reached out and ruffled the mess of red hair.
"Reno helped me make breakfast today. He's really good at it."
"I...I do a lo' of cookin' a home... norm'lly jus' san'wiches an' stuff, if the bread ain' gone bad." The boy's smile grew more confident. Rude felt a little jealous, his mum hardly ever let him help in the kitchen, let alone allow him to cook by himself.

Cheryl smiled at both boys.
"I gave him some of your old clothes Rudey, you don't need them anymore. Now why don't you two go and have fun in the playground after this? I'll come and get you when lunch is ready." Reno opened his mouth to ask if she'd need his help, but she laughed, speaking before he got a chance to. "It's okay Reno, I can manage on my own, but thank you."

Rude ate his breakfast, shocked when Reno asked for and received a third helping of everything. It was weird. Reno was really skinny, you wouldn't think that he could eat very much at all, and it was really rude to keep asking for more. When breakfast was eaten, the two of them headed out to the playground. Reno ran straight up to the slide, clambering up the steps before hurtling down the metal chute. Rude joined him, racing and pushing to see who could climb up first. When they got tired of the slide, they went on to the seesaw, and then the roundabout. Rude pushed the roundabout, running as fast as he could, and Reno squealed slightly in delight, holding on. When they'd finished on the roundabout, the two of them lay down in the grass, both feeling more than a little dizzy. Reno lay on his front, playing with the daisies, and slowly shuffled closer to Rude. Rude frowned slightly, but tolerated the other's closeness.
"Tha' was grea' fun." Reno murmured with a smile. Rude nodded, trying to work out what had seemed strange about it. His eyes rested on the swing and he realised.

Because Reno didn't go to school, he'd often just play in the park on his own. Some days, Rude would see him sitting on the swing when he went to school, and still being in the same place when he came back. Sometimes Reno wouldn't even be swinging, he'd just be sitting there, eyes staring blankly out into space, which Rude felt was kind of a waste. A few weeks ago, there had been a thunderstorm. Rude had had his bedtime story read to him, and been tucked in and had his forehead kissed by his mum. He had pretended to be asleep until his mum had left and the light was turned out, and then he'd gone to the window to watch the storm. The rain had been pelting at the glass, but he had felt warm inside, and had enjoyed seeing it. Lightning had suddenly lit up the sky and he had seen Reno there, still sitting on the swing. Rude wished he was allowed to play outside in the thunderstorm. But if he was going to play in the thunderstorm, he'd make sure he wore a nice warm coat, not the t-shirt Reno wore.

Rude had looked out a couple of other times as well. He'd seen Reno out playing on the swing a long time after supper, when Rude was meant to be asleep. It wasn't fair, he wished his mum was as cool as Reno's mum was.
"Reno, how come your mum lets you stay out so late?" He knew that Reno didn't have a dad. Rude had a dad, but he was away at work a lot, so his mum said that Rude was the man of the house and had to do important grown up jobs like getting rid of any spiders. If Reno stayed out so late, he wondered who got rid of the spiders in his house. Reno's house looked like the kind of place to have giant spiders.

Reno shrugged, no longer making a daisy chain but instead shredding up the grass between his fingertips.
"My mum don' give a fuck wha' I'd do."
Rude gasped slightly at the other's swearing.
"Your mum lets you swear? I'd be in so much trouble, your mum must be so cool!"
Reno shrugged, turning away slightly.
"She's always too busy wi' her boyfrien's." He walked over to the bench and curled up where he sat; knees up against his chest.

Rude followed after a few moments, thinking about what Reno had said. He'd heard the grownups talk about the number of men that went up into Reno's house. He'd got bored one evening, and when he was staying at David's for a sleepover with the rest of their gang, he'd realised that David's window looked right at Reno's house. When he was watching, which wasn't all the time because they were also watching an action movie about a SOLDIER, he saw at least five men go into Reno's house. He'd heard of double dating before, but he wasn't sure what it was when you had five boyfriends. No wonder Reno's mum was too busy to mind about Reno swearing. He sat down on the bench beside Reno.

Reno looked so sad that Rude wanted to help somehow. He reached out and stroked the other's hair, the way he had seen his mother do the night before. It seemed to help. Reno leant against him, body going slightly limp as he relaxed.

The two of them sat together for about five minutes before a strange man approached them. Reno's eyes opened and he panicked, hand clutching at Rude's too tightly. The man smiled at both of them.
"Hello Reno." He paused. "And your friend... do you know how your mummy is?"
Reno shook his head.
" ..I don'" He took a deep breath. "Rude, thi..this is San, he's uncle... San, this is Rude..." He bit his lip, then added two more words. "My frien'."

San smiled, holding out his hand to shake Rude's.
"Well, it's always a pleasure to meet a smart young gentleman like yourself. I assume Reno's staying with you?"
Rude nodded, impressed that Reno's uncle looked and sounded so polite and smart, it was very different from Reno or his mum.
"Well Rude, you let your parents know that if Reno is too much bother, he can come and stay with me. He stayed with me last time his mummy wasn't well."
Rude felt Reno's grip on his hand tighten even more. Yesterday, he would have asked San if he could take Reno away, but now he wasn't sure about it. He didn't think Reno wanted to go. He didn't like seeing his aunt, she made him uncomfortable jumpers, but San didn't look like the kind of person to make jumpers. Even so, he wasn't going to make Reno go with him.
"It's alright thank you." Rude said, trying very hard to sound grown up about it. "I like having Reno stay with me. He's my friend."
San shrugged and walked away.

When he was gone, Reno clutched at Rude tightly, clinging to him. Rude had laughed slightly in shock, before stroking his hair gently to help relax him again.
"Are you okay Reno?"
Reno nodded, then bit his lip, moving so that he could whisper into Rude's ear.
"Thank ya fer sayin yer my friend. My mummy isn't well because she takes too much medicine. It makes her happy but sometimes she feels really sick."
Rude hugged him close.
"Well I hope they can give her medicine which makes her feel better soon!"

Reno didn't feel much like playing anymore, so they returned home. Cheryl cuddled them both.
"Did you have fun?"
Rude nodded enthusiastically, and Reno nodded a little more hesitantly. Rude paused.
"Mum, Reno's uncle was there and he said Reno can stay with him if we'd like, but I want Reno to stay with us. I don't think Reno likes his uncle anyway."
Cheryl's mouth turned into a thin, angry line, and Rude worried he'd said the wrong thing, but a moment later she smiled again.
"Rudey-baby, why don't you make a start on your homework, while me and Reno talk for a bit?"

Rude nodded, going to get his bag, whilst Reno and Cheryl went into the kitchen. They returned almost an hour later. Reno's eyes were red again, and so were Cheryl's, but Reno was clutching a cookie in his hands. He broke off a bit and handed it to Rude with a watery smile.
"That's for being my frien'." Rude grinned and ate it, not minding much this time that Reno got a treat that he was only allowed when he had done all his homework. Cheryl cleared her throat.
"Babies, I'm just going to go out for a little walk to clear my head, I'll be back soon." With that she walked away. Rude wondered why she was upset. David said that mothers sometimes got upset for no reason because of their hor-moans. He hoped his mummy wasn't going to be sick because of them.

Rude stared at his homework without enthusiasm. He continued working quietly until Cheryl returned, by which point he was thoroughly bored. He poked the homework with his pen, muttering at Reno.
"It's not fair that you don't have to go to school! Our teachers are so mean, they set us tonnes of homework!"
Reno shrugged, staring blankly at the pages, not understanding what was written on them.
"I wanna go to school. It's jus' too expensive."
"It's only two gil a day." Rude answered with a smile, thinking Reno just hadn't realised how little it cost. Reno shrugged.
"I know tha'. 's still too expensive. I wanna go. I'd like to get to play with ya."

Rude gasped, grabbing Reno's hand and pulling him through into the kitchen. He stared up at his mother.
"Mum, I want more pocket money."
Cheryl arched an eyebrow.
"Rudey, don't say it like that. You should say 'Mummy, can I have some more pocket money please'. What is it you want to buy anyway? It's not another one of those robot toys is it? We can get you that for your birthday."
Rude shook his head.
"No mum. It's for Reno... you give me five gil a week right? Well, if you give me ten a week then I can pay for him to go to school..."
Cheryl gasped, sweeping her son up into a tight hug, and cuddling him.
"Okay... okay baby, look, I'll pay for Reno to go to school okay? Then you can still have your five gil a week. You're so sweet, and I'm so proud of you...I'll make both of you packed lunches..." She cuddled him even tighter. "I'm so proud of you Rudey, you're such a good man of the house... such a good boy."

Rude squirmed, looking desperately at Reno.
"Help?" He squeaked. Reno laughed, helping Rude escape from the overbearing cuddle of Cheryl. Cheryl shrugged, then picked up Reno instead, ruffling his hair.
"You've got such nice hair Reno, maybe if we get it cut, and I'll buy you some new clothes for school, if you'd like you can keep your clothes here and come and get changed so that you don't need to worry about..." She trailed off, cuddling the little boy. Eventually she put Reno down, and the two boys fled into the relative safety of the other room.

Reno couldn't stop smiling. He grinned at Rude.
"Ya know wha' I'm gonna do when I'm older?"
"No, what?" Rude shook his head, smiling slightly as well. He hadn't realised that Reno would be so happy at the chance to have to do too much homework. When Reno was happy, he talked a lot, and so Rude was quiet, not wanting to interrupt.
"I'm gonna be a Turk. The bes' Turk ever...I won take shit from no one... bu, if ya wan, yer can be my par'ner, an you can be the secon' bes' Turk ever." Rude nodded, smiling softly. He liked the way Reno talked when he was happy, the ideas he dreamt up. He was glad Reno had come to stay.

The next week went well. Reno was in a different class from Rude, and got into some fights, but the boy was already making friends and learning. He ate lunch with Rude every day, and Rude decided he'd rather eat with Reno than with David or Susan. They'd have sleepovers in each other's rooms, where Rude would tell Reno his secrets, and Reno would make up let's pretend games. They were both upset when it had to end.

Reno looked down, shaking a little. A big part of him wanted to stay here, with Cheryl and with Rude, but he knew his mum needed him. He had to cook, and to go and buy her medicine, and to put her to bed when she was too out of it to make it up the stairs. He needed to be there to take her boyfriends' coats, and to make his mummy proud. He didn't want to go back. He clung to Cheryl, fighting back tears. He'd miss having a real mummy. She cuddled him close. He smiled weakly at Rude.
"'s okay, she'll ge' ill again soon, 'n then she's gonna have to go back ta the hospi'al again...Maybe I coul..."
"You're always welcome here." Cheryl said calmly, and Reno grinned, wiping away his tears.
"Than's. Well, Rude, see yer for school tomorrow kay? We can meet a' the swing."