Disclaimer: So likes, I don't own 'em.

Sakura-Angel: Alright! So I finally found the motivation to rewrite this one. Unfortunately, the motivation came at about two in the morning. But! It's done. And of that I am proud.
Thought I'd go for something different with difficult!Tifa. She's usually so easy-going and reactive to teasing and prodding (at least the way I write her) that I thought it'd be interesting to mix things up. She's still Tifa, just a little less easy to pin down. (Hence the lame title?) It was hard to write her this way, but I think it's worked out. If not, tell me what you think. And if it worked for you, it'd still be nice to hear it. Hehe. Read on! And as always, I hope you enjoy.

Shopping With Mona Lisa

"Whyyy?" he asked like a boy refused a cookie before mealtime.

"Because it's plaid," she replied like a mother with the cookie jar in her hands.

"Why?" he repeated.

"Because," she replied, cocking an eyebrow, "it's plaid corduroy."

"You know, that's funny, because that's exactly why I do want you to get it." He stroked his chin, contemplating its appeal. "I'd understand if you wouldn't see its beauty though. It takes a very distinguished eye."

She turned away to take in all the other furniture, making her choice clear. "I didn't even know plaid corduroy was possible," she tossed him a bone.

"Oh but it is." He climbed over the hideous couch to join her on the other side. "Made evident by the couch you are going to buy."


He smiled at her fondly, an isn't-that-something look in his eye. "If you insist," he conceded, gentleman-like. He inclined his head and spread an arm to start her on her way. "You're missing out though."

She smiled back at him as she walked past, the curve of her lips no more decipherable than Mona Lisa's. She both hated and loved it when he made her smile at things she didn't want to smile at.

"What's that for?" He pointed at her mysterious smile, walking with her.

And then a shift - less Mona Lisa, more Tifa now - a tad shy, the tiniest smidgen sheepish, but wholly herself. "Nothing."

He grinned wider at this, though she couldn't see since her back was turned. She walked on past the dining rooom tables and armoires and he tailed her blindly, nearly knocking over an expensive looking floor lamp.

"What was that?" she asked, twisting her torso at the small thump. Small as the sound was, she knew Zack - despite the suave impression he gave, he could be clumsy enough for the both of them. (He had proved this earlier that day by somehow managing to leave two giant scuffs on the topside and underside of a bookshelf shelf. "Hah!" he had laughed at being told the compensation price, but then sobered up at the owner's thunderous frown.)

"Nothing," he said dismissively, giving the lampshade one final tweak.

"I doubt that," she told him, but not unkindly.

He assumed a sunny expression, choosing to glaze over this, and pushed at the small of her back. "Get back to couches."

And so she did.

"This one."

Not without some help though.


"This one."


"Pretty lady wants a couch like this one--"

"NO." And she flopped down onto said couch.

It was hideously ugly, all embellished roses and too-curly curlicues, run through by the occasional ill-fitting stripe. To top it all off, the material was scratchy, like bad quality wool.

He flopped down next to her. "You know, I'm starting to think that you really don't want a new couch..."

She itched, wriggling and burrowing.

"And that you only asked me along..."

"You invited yourself!"

"Because you want to spend time with me..."

"Oh, Shiva." She put a hand over her face, leaning forward and away from the scratchy material of the ugly couch.

"Hey, no need to take it so seriously," he crooned, rubbing a hand over her back.

She took her hand away from her face and moved to look at him. "Zack, I've already told you..."

"I know, I know," he said placatingly, his hands held up to gesture that she need not speak. "You 'don't need a relationship' right now, since you're so busy with your other stuff. But hey, that doesn't mean that you can't admit that--"

"Here it comes..."

"--you love me." He grinned. "You know it, Teef. It's just lying to yourself to say otherwise."


"But if it makes you feel better, go ahead thinking that."

She frowned and sank back into the couch, head bouncing slightly against the stuffing.

Zack detected mild female anger. This anger was of course because he was right. He slipped an arm around her shoulders. She didn't object. Not that he thought she would.

An elderly lady walking by noticed the pair sitting on the couch. She nudged her friend - didn't they look nice together? "You two make an awfully cute couple!" she called.

To his delight, he felt her squirm.

"Thank you ma'am!" Zack smiled at the lady. Keeping his smile, he turned to his suddenly squirmy companion. "You hear that, Teef? We're cute!"

"How could I not?" she mumbled by way of reply. Again to his delight, he saw that her cheeks were blushing pink.

He hugged her the smallest bit closer. "So, you ready to admit you love me yet?"

Her mouth became a screwy line and she kept her eyes downcast. He found he rather liked the shade of pink on her cheeks. She turned away.

He grinned again.

She loved him.