New Love

Chapter 1

"Alrighty, the woman glaring at me from behind the glass tells me we're almost out of time. Hey sweetheart what's our check?" Reno lifted his head from the microphone in the small radio booth and looked through the glass at his producer. Elena rolled her eyes.

"We've got three minutes Reno," she replied.

"Great, time for one more call," Reno nodded, pumping his fist. "Alright Midgar, who out there wants to talk to me?"

"Well that's a short list," Elena snickered. Reno stuck out his tongue and hit the button for Line Two on his console.

"Yo, what's cooking doc?" he asked, sitting back and putting his feet up.

"Hi, um…this is…Steve."

"Steve, you can't tell us your real name?" Reno asked. The man on the line stuttered a bit.

"Well, I…that is…"

"Ah don't sweat it, what's the problem?" Reno muttered.

"Well, I'm…having some trouble with my…girlfriend…" Steve replied.

"She not putting out, she ugly, she a bitch, come on man talk to me!" Reno urged. "It's sweeps week and I got a kid to feed!"

"You mean a dog," Elena said into her mike. Reno flipped her off without turning his head.

"Um…she does, no, and no," Steve replied.

"Well she meets my criteria so what's your deal?" Reno shrugged, frowning. Yeesh, who the hell was this guy he had someone like that and was having trouble?

"I'm…not really sure, to be honest…" Steve mumbled. "It's just…I love her, and she loves me and we're living together and it's great and we both work and…"

"Steve, you talking to a radio host or writing your autobiography?" Reno yawned.

"Well…there's nothing really wrong, it's just…our relationship is a little…I guess the word is stale."

"Stale?" Reno muttered.

"Well, we're just really comfortable with each other, we've known each since we were kids, we hooked up in high school and…we know each other inside and out."

"Kinky. So basically, you're bored," Reno said, putting his hands behind his head.

"I wouldn't put it like that," Steve replied.

"Well I would. So here's what you do Stevie, my advice is to either find something to spice up your relationship with this apparent goddess of a woman, or call it quits. Thanks for giving me a story to help me sleep tonight." Reno hung up without waiting for a response.

"Well we're done today, this is Reno Turk signing off-"

"-telling you all, if you see me on the streets, feel free to leave me the hell alone."

Cloud Strife lifted his eyebrows at the DJ's trademark signoff and reached over to turn off the radio on his desk, sighing and hanging up the phone. He looked up at the clock on the wall. Another hour until he went home. He stretched back and lifted the bottom of his blue dress shirt to rub a small bruise he had gotten bumping into a desk earlier that morning.

"Alright, your afternoon coffee, and the invoice replies. Now I got faxes to send," his secretary said, entering his office and setting the items down on his desk. Cloud sipped his coffee and grimaced. Three months working here and she still hadn't gotten the blend right. He suspected she was doing it on purpose though. It was drinkable at least.

"Yuffie," he said, calling up the program for the invoices on his computer.

"Hm?" she replied, punching in the fax number on the machine.

"What do you do when the thrill goes out of a relationship?" Cloud asked.

"Break up," Yuffie shrugged, feeding the paper into the receiver. Cloud rolled his eyes and sighed.

"Alright, let me rephrase that. What should I do when the thrill goes out of a relationship?"

"What?" Yuffie exclaimed, turning her head. "Trouble with Tifa? You're kidding me, the girl's a saint."

"No trouble, just a hypothetical question if I were seeing someone else," Cloud clarified. Yuffie made good usage of boy-toys she found in bars on a weekly basis. Why in the world was he asking her for help? Yuffie made a show of sighing and tilting her head back in thought.

"Well, if you were in a relationship with some non-Tifa woman and it had gotten boring and you don't wanna break up…lemme think," she said. Cloud waited for a moment and took another sip of his coffee. "You ever tried doggie-style?" Yuffie asked.

Cloud's eyes went wide as he sprayed his coffee across his desk and onto his computer monitor. He coughed and pounded on his chest with his free hand, putting his coffee down.

"What?" he croaked between coughs, reaching for the box of tissues nearby.

"Just asking. Sexual positions are fun if you try new ones," Yuffie shrugged. "Doggie-style, sixty-nine, screaming Nelson."

"I don't know what that last one is and don't want to," Cloud groaned, wiping off his hands and tie. "I'm serious Yuffie. Trust me, there is nothing wrong in the bedroom with me and Tifa."

"Oh, so we're done with hypothetical situations now?" Yuffie teased. "Why don't you tell me what the real problem is?

"I don't know what the real problem is," Cloud groaned. "Its just…there's something missing…"

"Heat," Yuffie nodded sagely, punching in the fax number for the next piece of paperwork.

"Huh?" Cloud asked, looking up at her.

"Heat, passion, fire, lust. I can see in those squinty blue eyes of yours," Yuffie explained, turning back to him.

"My eyes are not squinty," Cloud protested.

"Are you attracted to Tifa?" Yuffie asked suddenly. Cloud snorted and reached up to grab the picture he had of Tifa on his desk and held it up to her.

"You've seen Tifa and you're asking that question?"

"Yeah, she's hot, and if I went lesbo I'd be on her like a sneaker. But that doesn't answer the question. Are you attracted to Tifa?"

"God, yes, she's attractive!"

"I know she's attractive, but do you find her attractive?" Yuffie repeated.

"What kind of question is that?" Cloud cried.

"One you've managed to avoid answering for about half a minute and counting. It's not a complicated question, Cloud. Are. You. Attracted. To. Tifa?" Yuffie said the five words Cloud was coming to hate slowly, gazing at him expectantly.

"If I say yes will you stop asking?" Cloud muttered, going back to his work

"Oh yeah, say it just to get rid of me, I'll buy that," Yuffie laughed, picking up the third and final fax.

"Okay, fine…" Cloud took a breath. "I'm attracted to Tifa. She's beautiful, stunning, and I find it funny when guys stare at us when we go out. Happy?"

"I'll believe it," Yuffie shrugged, sending the final fax. Cloud rolled his eyes and picked up an invoice. "But do you believe it?" Cloud threw up his hands and let his head hit the desk. "My cousin got a concussion doing that," Yuffie warned.

"Have I mentioned how happy I am you're getting transferred?" Cloud asked the wood of the desk.

"Five times today," Yuffie nodded. Cloud smiled. Yuffie had worked for him well enough, even if she was a little lippy. He had gotten used to their friendly banter once he realized she was just joking with him. But she had gotten transferred to an office across town and today, Friday, was her last day. Come Monday some other secretary was coming in for him. Hopefully she could brew a decent cup of coffee. Cloud comforted himself with that and took another drink of the caffeine-flavored water Yuffie had made.

"I know you'll miss me," Yuffie said, picking up the sent faxes and paper-clipping them together. "Hey, relax, I might come visit and I've heard about my replacement they're sending over. She's nice and she works hard, at least that's what Heidegger said. You'll be fine."

"Can she make coffee?" Cloud asked, tapping the edge of his mug.

"I never said I couldn't, I just didn't want to," Yuffie said sweetly, leaving the office. Cloud nodded at her back. Yup, figures.

Cloud unlocked the door to the apartment and pushed the door open, hanging his keys up on the hook on the inside wall.

"I'm home!" he called. Muffled music filled the small apartment he and his girlfriend shared. He shrugged off his coat and shoes and went to where he knew the source was. The apartment opened into a main room with a kitchen to the right of the door and a doorway between them leading into a hallway where the two bedrooms lay. He and Tifa slept in one, Tifa used the other as her workout studio.

Cloud pushed open the door and was silent. Tifa Lockhart, dressed in shorts and a tank top with sweatbands, was doing chin-ups with a bar nailed to the ceiling.

"Yo," he called over the bass of the music. Tifa turned her head and screamed, letting go and tumbling to the mat below with a groan.

"Cloud!" she scolded, rubbing the back of her head and sitting up. "You scared me."

"Sorry," he muttered. "How come you're still working out, you're usually done when I get home."

"I know," Tifa sighed, climbing to her feet and turning off the music. "Blame Zangan, I'm already busting my ass and he says I'm getting sloppy. He wants me ready for the exhibition and says my technique is getting too laxed."

"You spend four hours a day training here in addition to the time you spend at the dojo, how can you be getting sloppy?" Cloud thought aloud.

"That's exactly what I said!" Tifa replied, shaking her head. "He's just on edge, I dunno." Cloud nodded. Tifa worked as a part-time teacher, part-time student at a martial arts dojo several blocks away. She officially only took and taught karate and taekwondo, but under her teacher Zangan's "suggestion", she also practiced judo and yoga at home, in addition to a few other styles Cloud couldn't remember or pronounce the names to. Cloud's friend Barret had once joked Tifa could kicks his ass in a fight. Cloud would have to agree.

"Hey, come here," Cloud waved Tifa towards.

"Hm?" Tifa asked, stepping up. Cloud wrapped an arm around her waist and kissed her. Tifa put a hand on his shoulder and leaned up for a better angle.

"I missed you today," he whispered, letting her go.

"Apparently," Tifa smiled, putting a hand on his cheek. "I was thinking we could watch a movie later, there's some good stuff we can order on the TV."

"My type of movie, or yours?" Cloud asked warily.

"Ours," Tifa replied, slapping him on the arm.

"Meanings yours, but I'll be smart enough to keep my mouth shut."

"Shut up."

Cloud smiled and turned to leave Tifa back to her workout. Heading into the kitchen and grabbing a water bottle from the fridge, he took a long drink. A movie with Tifa. He teased but she knew enough to rent something that wouldn't bore him. Plus she wasn't into "chick" movies as Barret called them, she liked action flicks as much as Cloud did. And as a bonus, a movie meant possibly falling asleep on the couch with her, which was nice in a pseudo-romantic sort of way. Or it could lead to non-sleep related activities.

"How the hell could Yuffie think I'm not attracted to her?" Cloud said aloud. He was, he was a guy and Tifa was a good-looking woman. Cloud frowned for a moment. "So why did it take me so long to answer?" he finished. He fell silent and slapped himself in the forehead as he realized he was talking to a bottle of water. Content to let the issue die and forget about his conversation with his now-ex secretary, Cloud headed back to the living room. Hopefully whomever the company had found for him come Monday wouldn't make the office so awkward for him.