Fic: The Things That Never Happened to People [TTYNKAP AU drabbles]

Title: The Things That Never Happened to People
Fandom: FF7
Rating: PG
Summary: I've been sitting on this one for a long time, heh. It's basically a "five things that never happened" - little changes that if they had happened, would have radically changed the way that Reno's life had gone. Each section takes place in a different backstory chapter.

1. Zhu yin [bopomofo]

He hadn't thought she'd been serious when Jie's mom said that if he didn't come to their place the next morning, she would come get him.

He had been wrong. Spectacularly so. Because right now, Jie's mom and Jie were in his living room, and Jie's mom had a look on her face that made Reno want to hide under something, and it wasn't even directed at him.

Jie's mom's eyes narrowed sharply.

"No," she said, shaking her head. "No. I knew things were bad, but... Come on, Lei Nuo. We're leaving," she said softly. She looked at his mother, disgust in her eyes. "I wouldn't leave a dog in her care, let alone you."

She stopped and looked at Reno's mother. " can't. Can't take care yourself, or child. We go. Reno come stay with me."

"What?! You can't just--who the fuck are you, bitch? He's my son!"

"Not anymore," Jie's mom said, and her eyes glittered. "He half live with me now. You want him? You clean your life, then you come get him." She held out her hand to Reno "Let's go," she said in Wutai, and Reno nodded and slipped his hand into hers.

He squeezed his eyes shut when his mother's face crumpled, but when he opened them again and Auntie Qian's soft tug, he didn't look back.

2. Gong zuo [Get a Job]

His mom was waiting when he got home. She was sitting on the couch, arms wrapped around herself.

"Oh. Hey," Reno said when he saw her.

She didn't say anything at first, and he started to walk past her, into the kitchen,

"I missed your birthday," she suddenly said, and Reno stopped.

"Yeah, and?" he said, making his voice flat. "Ain't like it's the first time. You missed the last three." He shrugged. "I'm used to it."

His mother's face seemed to crumple at that, and Reno felt utterly nonplussed at whatever was going on.

"Reno...I'm gonna try," his mom said, lip trembling. "I'm...I'm sorry. I'm so sorry, " she said, and her voice cracked. "I'm...I'm gonna quit. I'm gonna try. I can't do this no more," she said, biting her lip. "I'll try to get clean. And we can start over, maybe. I just can't go on like this," she whispered. "I did're the only family I don't hate, and I...I didn't even know it was your birthday..."

Reno couldn't believe his ears, but he wanted to, he wanted to so much.

She laughed, and the sound was harsh. "I just...I don't know how I'll find a real job, 'cause there ain't no where what would hire me like this..."

Reno felt something go light in his chest, and he grinned. "Don't worry about that, Ma. It don't pay much, but I know a place what always needs dishwashers and waitresses."

3. Gong zuo [Get a Job]

Reno kind of figured one day he'd end up in jail, and it really didn't surprise him at all that Jie was there right along with him. So here they were, in a holding cell right in the bottom of ShinRa Tower, and he didn't feel a single speck of guilt about what they'd done to the three guys.

Kinda sucked that a patrol had shown up, though. That was what landed them where they were now, and things were looking pretty grim, he had to admit. They hadn't stopped until the three guys were more or less bloody smears on the pavement, after all, and had been caught red-handed. Blood red, in fact.

A man in a suit was standing outside their cell. It was a pretty nice suit, Reno had to admit. The guy looked like he was half-Wutai, and had a tattoed dot between his eyes.

"So," the man said. "You two seem to be in a lot of trouble."

"Looks that way, don't it," Reno said blandly.

"I want to make sure I understand a few things," the man said, and Reno figured he must be a lawyer or something. "Those three attacked his mother, and you two tracked them down and put one of them in a coma, one in intensive care, and were it not for a Life spell at the hospital, would have killed the other."

"Darn," Reno said with a pout. "I was hopin' to have at least offed one of 'em." He knew there was no point in lying; it was them against the trooper's word, after all. That and the broken pool cue and pool-balls-in-very-bloody sock. What they had done was pretty obvious; what they had intended equally so.

"How do you know they were the right ones?" the man asked, voice flat.

Reno snorted. "I asked around. Got some names and matched 'em with faces. Didn't take long."

The man suddenly smiled, and Reno didn't quite know what to make of that. "Indeed," he said. "You two are fifteen and sixteen, right?"

"I'm fifteen, too. But only for another month," Jie said, finally talking. "Either way, it still means we both get tried as juveniles, right?" he said, something calculating in his eyes. Reno had no idea what Jie had up his sleeve, but he hoped it was a good one.

"No. What it means is that you," he said, nodding at Jie, "are just about old enough to hire outright, and you," he said, looking at Reno, "we'll just have to fudge a bit."

The two of them stared blankly at the man.

"I'm here to offer you two a job. Accept it, and all this goes away. Including those three men. They will have never made it to the hospital alive. Or even existed. Turn it down, and..." he said, and didn't finish.

He didn't need to.

"Who are you?" Jie asked warily.

"The name's Tseng," the man said. "And I work for ShinRa."

"And now so do we, it looks like," Jie said, because Jie was many things, but a fool had never been one of them.

4. Gong zuo [Get a Job]

The man, not-Tsai, did a doubletake when he saw Jie's mom, and Reno grinned to himself, not saying anything. Lots of people did a double take when they saw her.

The man stared at her in a way that was a bit odd, though, and something about it kept Reno's mouth shut, kept him from making a comment like he normally would have. It went on too long, but before Reno could really begin to worry about whether he and Jie were going to have to put someone in a massive need to find a someone who could cast a Curaga, the man shook his head. "I'm just seeing ghosts," he muttered under his breath.

"Hey, the only ghost here is me," Reno said, pouting a fake little pout and fluttering his eyelashes to distract them, and the guy laughed as Tsai reddened slightly.

"Heh, you're right," not-Tsai said, something in his eyes showing whatever he had been thinking he had dismissed, and didn't even so much as glance over at Jie's mom again.

5. Shi qu [Losing It All]

Not-Tsai manhandled Jie's mom over to the empty chair, but she didn't go quietly or easily. She fought every step of the way, and then not-Tsai backhanded her so hard so was knocked over.

Jie started at that, but stopped short at Shan Wen's abrupt, "Don't. Who walks out of here and who dies in a pool of their own intestines depends entire on how cooperative you are."

Every millimeter of Jie was tense, like he would explode from the pressure of it all of he moved an inch.

"Tie her up," Shan Wen repeated, and not-Tsai hauled her to her feet and forced her into the chair, but was rewarded with a sharp kick to the shins as soon as she was seated. Not-Tsar immediately punched her so hard in the solar plexus that she was left gasping for air, and he took that time to tie her down firmly.

Shan Wen watched her with almost no expression save a strange light in his eyes until she caught her breath, then he turned to Jie. "You've behaved well, Jie Yao. And for that, I will reward you. I'll let them leave." He focused his look back on Jie's mother. "We are taking my grandson and going," he said, and at that, he smiled just the tiniest bit. "You will be left with nothing. Come along, Jie Yao."

He turned and began to walk out. Jie swallowed, then dropped his head, defeated. "I...Ma, Reno's Ma died yesterday; take care of h--"

Auntie Qian let out a gasp and whipped her head over to look at Reno.

"One more word to her and I shoot her," Shan Wen said sharply, and Jie let out an aborted growl of rage. His shoulders dropped, and he turned to follow after his grandfather.

Auntie's Qian opened her mouth, then looked over at Reno sharply and shut her mouth so hard her teeth clacked together. She flicked her eyes over at Jie, then she shut her eyes and her shoulders slumped. She let out a sob, and Jie flinched, but keep walking.

Right before he walked out the door, he looked back. He didn't say anything but Reno knew that look. And it was reaffirmed when Jie gave him a small nod.

He didn't know when, but he knew for damn certain that one day, Jie would be back. Till then, he'd keep an eye on his ma. And one day, they would all spit on Wu Shan Wen's grave.