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FIC: Confessions of a Redheaded Stepchild

Title: Confessions of a Redheaded Stepchild
Fandom: Final Fantasy 7
Characters/Pairings: Reno, Tseng, various OCs, various pairings.
Date Written: 2000-2007
Summary: A collection of short, miscellaneous Reno-POV bits I've written over the years.
Rating/Warnings: R. Language, slash.



Closer Now
Notes: written in the mindset of a Reno I was roleplaying on a generic ‘anime/game characters are snatched out of their worlds and dropped in Tokyo’ muck.

*

It's another cold morning...Pretty early, really. Well before true dawn, though hints of the impending lightening are beginning to creep up into the horizon line. Tendrils of liquid fire and gold, dispersing like dye dripped into a glass of amber-hued water. It's stunning, honestly, but it's one sunrise of many. One of many past, and one of many future... fate willing.

There's a single figure sitting out on the bluffs, right out on the edge- thick hardy grass threaded through his fingers where hands lay splayed behind him, slumped back into the questionable support of seemingly tired arms.

Yes... Reno's tired.

Very, very tired, but it's a good sort, that weary-in-the-bones feel of living and working and playing too hard. This world presents all-new opportunities for all three... options that had been severely limited in the old. No one to work for... no time or motivation for 'play'... and out of time to live. They'd all rather soundly run out of time, hadn't they?

At least, the way he's heard the story. Which may not be worth a half-second's piss into a chocobo's water dish, but who cares anymore?
Time... exists in abundance here.

Life isn't running out, ticking down like an eggtimer.

This world isn't ending.

He regards the growing light in the east with eyes that have seen it a thousand times... but there's a glint of anticipation there borne of not thinking he'd ever see it again. Red and gold and the retreating fuzzy blue-grey reflect back from his eyes, dancing just beneath the surface. A steady western breeze catches up hair unfettered and untamed, streaming it out behind him in a banner of red so vivid only the coming sunrise can hope to best it. Fingers tighten marginally behind him, the autumn grass crunching in his grip. It loosens, goes slack.

No movement for a long moment.

Then, slowly, he allows his head to tip back, eyes widening involuntarily, searching out the last lingering stars still stark against the retreating darkness. Wordlessly, he watches them blink out... one by one...

It's a good morning. One of many past...

One of many future...

Fate willing.

*

One Minute
Notes: none, really.

*

I was a child in a world that didn't allow for children.

I was a young man in a city grown too big for its britches, too drunk on its own beauty and prosperity for the promises it echoed to the horizon in glittering neon to be anything but empty.

I was grown too soon.

I was grown in a place that only favored you kindly until the wind shifted, among people whose loyalties were as unpredictable as the weather. And they talked about the weather when I was around, to distract themselves from what they talked about when I wasn't.

Never show it your fear.

And I moved through their ranks for years, and some were curious and some were afraid and none of them ever said a goddamned thing. I... we... were a scary story used to wring obedience from their children. 'Go to sleep... eat your broccoli... do your homework... or the men in the blue suits will come for you.'

I held fast to what loyalties I found. Held a bit too fast, at times. But loyalties shift, and no one's guaranteed to outlive tomorrow.

And if I survive to see it, I'll be an old man in a world that spits over its shoulder at me every chance it gets. Should be depressing, really.

But it's not.

After all... isn't that all it's ever done?

*

Another Starwatcher's Blues
Notes: A hypothetical post-Meteor world where Tseng has somehow survived the incident at the temple. Reno has made his confessions. Reno is out walking in the rain and is all fucked up, predictably. He’s probably talking to himself in this; can’t see him saying any of this to another person. Slash.

*

Amazing where you find yourself, sometimes, when you just let yourself walk. When you just let yourself go. Miles from home and a lifetime away from where you started. Eh, but does it really matter? Some places, you're meant to stumble into.

It’s not that I believe in fate or any've that bullshit, but you know? Life on the razor's edge and all. Unpredictable, and as fickle a bitch as ever I've met, but... at least it's not bored with me yet.

Heh...

I guess I should've... here, have it this way. It's easier to understand.

You're a kid. You're a kid and your mom leaves and your dad was never there. You're a kid and you're on the streets, and it's Hell. It's dark and cold and miserable and you're wallowing in filth and shit and tripping over druggies and corpses and your own goddamned helplessness. And you never have enough to eat and the water's all poisoned and you watch your friends drop like flies from drug overdoses or muggings or just stepping left when they should have stepped right.

To put it simply, everything really fucking sucks. Childish sentiment, but there it is.

Then this poor idiot comes along one day, wearing his bank statement on his sleeve. And you decide to relieve him of a little've that excess cash. And... well, fuck, it's getting dark, isn't it? Long story short, he sees something in you you don't even know is there. Decides to try an' help you, pulls you up to the plate. Gets you a place to stay. Wants you to make it.

Doesn't know what he's getting himself into, but then, neither do you. All you know is, this whole 'eating every day' thing sounds like a sweet deal.

And... ten years go by, right? And somewhere along the line, you realize that... there's no one on the fucking planet you want to be closer to than this... hell, this stranger, who gave you a chance when no one else thought you deserved one, believed in you when everyone else thought you were beyond it. Taught you what love and trust were by being the first goddamned person to ever be worthy of them.

Shit. What a scary moment that is.

But you don't say a thing, 'cause this same person taught you what trust is also taught you what respect is- and the thought of losing his respect and losing what you already have is so much worse than the thought of never touching him. And it goes on like that for a long time, but it's okay 'cause you've got him as a friend and a brother and a comrade. Hell, closer than friend, and closer than family. And as long as you have that, well. It's all you really need.

Then the fucker goes and dies.

"Ya stupid bastard, taking the easy way out. All you had to do was die. We're the ones had to live through the shit-rain that came after. We're the ones had to watch our world fall apart."

So you forget about love and trust and respect. You go get yourself snockered every night, maybe land in with some girl looking for some fast cash as much as you're looking for oblivion. Destroy love and trust and respect. Forget they existed. But you’ve played that game before, and you should know better by now. Only works for so long before the regrets come crashing in.

An' one day you're walking along, minding the ruins and the rain and your business. Armageddon's been and gone, and you're still standing, which's gotta be some kind of oversight but you’re not one to question it.

And a ghost steps out of the shadows and into the lamplight.

And suddenly, everything's the same again. Everything's just like it was, in the ways that matter, except that now you've got this fuckin' stupid voice in the back of your head going on about missed chances. And about how you might not get another.

It goes on, and on, and on. Shut up. Shut the fuck up. NOW.

Nope, never that lucky.

So one night, you're wasted on Scotch and Peppermint Schnapps and a glass of his Congac, and it's all warm and fuzzy. And it's a lot later than it seems. And you start talking. And like the damned idiot you are, you tell him everything. Sure, it's met with the ironclad dedication and honor you expected, but now there's this... thing, in the air between you.

And you end up wandering the city the day after, stuck in a haze and talking to yourself like a crazyman, because you can't stand the idea of just going back and facing the changes you've wrought.

Because sure, he didn't say yes, you didn't expect him to. But he didn't say no, either.

Fucking uncertainty. Give me rejection any day.

*

Strike the Demons
Notes: Misspent youth, first year on the plate, aged 15 or 16. ish.

*

He is a symbol for transience; I am a symbol for being unwanted. Almost anything can be reduced to symbols, if you’ve got a quick enough mind. I haven’t read as many books as some people would like but I can read the language of people, pull the single word out of their tangled personalities that defines them as cleanly and sharply as the cracked and discordant blinds split the moonlight, thin slivers spilling into the room.

Good with words, me.

I lay here in the darkness, reading him without needing to look at him, feeling the buzz of everything he is in the corners of my mind, like a phantom taste on the back of my tongue. There is a single sheet over us but I don’t think you could say we share it; it landed where it landed, is all. He reaches over to play with the unruly strands of my hair, plastered to my face. I take his hand by the wrist, move it away.

I knew he was gonna do that, and he’s embarrassed. He knows not to touch, not to seek a connection. Not to complicate this. “Sorry,” he says, glancing elsewhere in the dark room. “It’s just such a great color. What kind of dye is it?”

I just laugh, and it’s a horrible, ragged sound, even to my own ears. When you can hear your own desperation seeping through the cracks in your voice, it’s a really bad sign.

He doesn’t ask the question again, letting it die in the miles between us. It isn’t really fair; he has no way of knowing what the color is to me, or that it’s a blazing reminder of the first time someone I trusted tried to kill me.

Trust is bullshit. I believe that now, or at least, I try to.

Yeah. Time to move on.

*

(no such thing as) War Without Tears
Notes: First mission with the Turks, screwed up and screwed over and dying.

*

I’m alone with him, and I’m fading, I’m poisoned and I can feel each heartbeat, weaker than the last, shuddering, trying. Failing. This is my last chance, my last shot to do what I’d been sent here for, to be a little less of a fuckup for all that I’m not going to live long enough for it to matter.

Can’t see. Shapes in the darkness. Acting on sound, aiming by sound.

His back is turned as he reaches the door; he hears the hammer cock before he sees the gun. We’re both going on sound. He might reach for the door, or let his hand drop to his side. Let his head drop, regarding the nothingness that is the spot on the wall, somewhere over there.

“…the games we play…” he whispers softly, shallowly. I think I hear a smile in his voice.

I pull the trigger. I hear a wet-hot smack and the boneless thump of 140 pounds of flesh and muscle hitting the ground all at once. There’s a light clatter of metal-on-metal in there somewhere. I don’t really notice.

After a second or two, I can’t feel my hands anymore. I can’t feel time passing. There’s wet on my face; blood or tears, I can’t tell the difference. A crazy voice that still thinks I’m going to make it through this tells me that I’d better get used to it. It might be mine but it sounds different- echoes funny, is too deep and too calm. I vaguely feel hands and arms against my sides, hear hushed, angry whispers. I feel the ground roll away from under me, and there’s a sense of motion.

Dark.

*

Tiger and the Tree
Notes: Nothing in particular. Anna isn’t a canonical character, just one I made up to fill a gap in his backstory.

*

I was good today.

I don't use that word lightly. Good. Rarity makes things more special, yeah? And goodness in my life, in our lives, is such an extreme rarity. That's not to say we're evil shits all around the clock but things like selflessness and altruism don't have much place in the day-to-day world of corporate espionage. I used to have compassion, when I was young and stupid and didn't know that compassion got you killed. I used to be warm inside. Warmth is where the bad ideas grow, like bacteria, the stupid and wonderful ideas that tell you to be human, to not pull the trigger, to stand on the roof and feel the wind in your hair and wonder at being alive. That's how they get you. The bad ideas tell you there are things worth dying for.

There are people worth dying for. But no things, no ideas. Not ever.

I don't think about these things. I don't want to give that impression. I'm no philosopher, I don't debate morality or listen to my inner child moan where it's bound and gagged in the corner. I don't rage against the dying of the light. That's all bullshit. I just know that the squidgey warm feeling I get inside when I've done something stupid and human is uncomfortable, like wet socks or a chestcold. Dampness. Vulnerability.

The kid wandered off, afterwards. Just looked at me with eyes like glowing disks and wandered off without a word. For all I know, she might not've been able to talk yet. When I was growing up down here almost no one could read. That's progress for you.

But she looked like Anna for just a second as she left, all moon-eyes and dark hair and waifish gait, stumbling away into the cluttered razor-edge nighttime slums. She looked like Anna, Anna who was still alive somewhere, who had met no end that needed avenging. She was young and afraid and already dying behind her eyes and the man who was holding her against the brick wall had looked like one from my own nightmares, and the two things weren't connected, but they were enough.

I might get in trouble, later, for this mess. For interfering beyond the scope of my duty. For wasting company time; that would be a good one, wouldn't it? If anyone tells ShinRa what they'd seen me do, if anyone feels the need to snitch on the killer of a childkiller in their midst.

But they won't.

This is a village, under the plate, full of junkmetal huts and teeming primates, jabbering and pointing and hustling their children out of sight and looking at me with a low, cool glare of justice done. I know what village justice is; it's a thing of rocks and blood, of a single gunshot in the night. Village justice only cares that the wicked get what they deserve. And if the blue-suited demon stood on their side this time, it will not be remembered by tomorrow, but neither will it be betrayed today.

I tucked my pistol back into its holster, one round lighter. Wasting company equipment, that's another one they could get me on. I was bleeding and my jacket was torn and there was a bullet somewhere in my shoulder, broken glass between my ribs. Anger makes you sloppy. Ego makes you sloppy, too, and the body was left for the scavengers, my slug still somewhere inside it. This wasn't one I was ashamed of.

I wandered away then, seeking the shortest path between this shithole and a medical facility. There’s a limit to dignity. It's not about appearances anymore when you've got bits of a vodka bottle working into your lungs.

The girl just disappeared into the metal jungle like she'd never existed. Tomorrow will bring her more death and danger and oblivion and hard reality. I bought her a day - only a day. The rest, she'll have to buy herself. But she has a chance.

Anna would not approve of my methods, but I kinda think that in some small way, she'd be proud.

*



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