Author: L0C- Taryn Wander'r
Rating: PG, pre-slash
Series: Takes place with the same background as my Snatch story 'Diamond in the Rough', but things work out differently. So an AU of that.
Disclaimer: Snatch and all recognizable characters belong to Guy Ritchie.
Author's note: Written in 50 minutes for the Contrelamontre "Birthday" challenge.
The last time anyone remembered Tommy's birthday was when he turned twelve. It was his mother who remembered it, which would make sense as she was the one doing all the work that day. It was typically the only day of the year she paid any real attention to him. Or was nice to him when she did. To be fair, it was easy to forget Tommy's birthday, being unfortunately timed as it was after Christmas, and two days before New Year's.
He came home after a cold day of avoiding the street's other children, meeting greasy sad men he always felt a tinge of pity for, gathering the money his father would demand when he got back. Tommy got home, his father shouted at him, Tommy gave him the money and his father took off. His mother woke up from her stupor on the lounge sofa long enough to smile gently at him, give him a kiss and tell him there was a birthday cake for him in the refridgerator.
It was a small cake, plain chocolate with plain brown icing, one of the off-the-shelf deals from Tesco, or Marks and Spencer. Except this was not a posh Marks and Sparks off-the-shelf cake, that goes without saying. It was out of its box, and his mother had even taken the time to put candles on top of it. Not twelve- there wasn't enough room for twelve whole candles- but there were four multi-coloured candles lovingly-enough impaled in the Tesco cake, their wicks already black from past use.
It was a lovely cake.
His father had already been there, though, and a fist-sized gorge was missing from the front of it. Tommy smiled warily, took the cake out and cut off the uneven edges left by his father's hand. He lit the candles and brought the cake back to the lounge to share with his mother. It was the last good memory he had of home.
It wasn't long after that before Tommy left home. Tommy left with nothing but an old rucksack, ten pounds, a half-empty box of condoms and a black eye. He had grand plans about where he would go, fantasies of seeing the entire world, meeting nice rich guys who would hole him up in posh flats in every major city, until he was ready to move on. He had plans to be happy.
He was in London three days later and never had the money to leave, despite the amount of not-so-nice guys in London more than willing to pay him for what he had to offer. A few years later he met Turkish and the rest, they say, is history.
They had an uneasy, uneven relationship that grew into a strong friendship, the kind of friendship expressed by snarled insults and hard sneers. Tommy felt safe here, working for Turkish and, at first, sleeping in his box room. It was at Turkish's insistence that he finally got the courage to go and get the test done, and with the exception of a few small inconveniences, he was clean. For the first time in his life he knew he was clean and knew he had a chance.
It was still hard, though. Tommy didn't make friends easily, living in the kind of place where everyone just wanted to take advantage of him, and clung to Turkish like a life long. Turkish, in turn, didn't really like people all that much, and half the time Tommy was convinced Turkish didn't like him either. It was only a matter of time before Turkish turned him out.
He told himself it was okay, and kept trying to save up money to leave again. Leave properly this time, for some other country, some other world, where he would make a proper living for himself, meet a nice guy and fall in love. His dreams were higher now, of love and respect. But his attempts to start saving where always foiled by debt or drink or Brick Top and his shenanigans, and his higher dreams of love and respect seemed even further away.
Every year Turkish absent-mindedly asked him when his birthday was (usually on Turkish's birthday, after Tommy bought him a drink), and every year Turkish would forget. It was too soon after Christmas, when Turkish usually had to deal with his mother and see the rest of his family which, while not too terrible, was always stressful, especially given the fact that he was still trying to keep his less-than-legal profession a secret from them. It was too close to New Year's, a time which was at once full of promise and dread, and usually they got pulled into organizing some huge fight as part of some rich-acquaintance-of-Brick-Top's massive coke-drenched New Year's party. And any work that had anything remotely to do with Brick Top made Turkish understandly nervous. And when Turkish was nervous, he usually started shouting at Tommy. Which didn't make for a very happy birthday.
Eventually Tommy stopped reminding Turkish, shrugging his absent-minded enquiries off with a casual "it doesn't matter". He almost convinced himself it didn't.
The year he turned twenty it got pretty bad. They had made a promise to Brick Top that was unrealistic and Tommy didn't understand why things went so south, but he was sure it was probably his fault. It was with snow on his shoes and a shamed face that he entered the business' office, which Brick Top's goons had recently cleared out. Turkish was going radge. He threw chairs, shouted and swore a lot, and almost made Tommy cry.
"I'm sorry!" Tommy tried to shout back, but he was never too good at shouting. "I know I screwed up, but I'm trying my best!" He still wasn't sure what it was he had done wrong.
"They took everything, Tommy! We have no cash, how the fuck are we supposed to eat this week!" They didn't keep much of their money in a bank account, as it usually raised too many questions. They had a few accounts and stashes here and there, but that was all tied up in the business and not for spending on living expenses. All their living allowance was kept in cash. "We have nothing until we can work again, and who the fuck knows when that will be. Jesus tap-dancing Christ!"
"Well," Tommy struggled with his words. "It... we.. it'll be fine, we have the safe money. We can make it until we work again."
Turkish stood there, breathing heavily and angrily, hands on his hips.
"I mean," Tommy tried again. "That's what the safe is there for, right? One hundred pounds for emergencies?"
Turkish glared a little more, and then his glare faltered a bit and he looked away, nervously. "There's... there's not a hundred quid in the safe."
Turkish sighed heavily. "There's only fifty in there. We needed the hundred a few months ago, I put fifty back for... I meant to put in the other hundred as soon as I had the chance. The fifty is for you." He glanced at Tommy and glanced away again. "I didn't want to spend that money. I wanted to help you start saving for a round-the-world ticket. It was supposed to be for your birthday." He righted a chair he had thrown and sat at the table, burying his face in his hands. "Happy birthday, I guess. Also there's a cake for you in the fridge. Get me a beer as long as you're up."
Tommy was speechless for a second. Eventually he found himself in front of the fridge on his birthday again. There was a small cake, plain chocolate with plain brown icing, an off-the-shelf deal from Tesco. Except this one was still in its box, and it was one of the posh Marks and Sparks kind. Tommy didn't know how he was supposed to react, but he couldn't take the silly smile off his face. He got two beers out, and found a knife.
Tommy supposed he was too old for candles on his cake, and anyways you couldn't fit twenty on this one. He sat at the table with Turkish and cut the cake in half. The silly smile was still on his face, even though Turkish was scowling and looking away. Tommy was a little bit in shock and not sure what he was supposed to feel, and didn't want to say anything in case he wrecked it all again. But he allowed a small part of him to acknowledge that at least the love and respect part of his higher dreams looked like they might come true.
He cut the cake in half and pushed a piece towards Turkish, letting his fingers linger against Turkish's for just long enough. He looked shyly up at Turkish and licked his lips. "At least we have the cake to eat," He said.
It was a lovely cake.