fuel and fire

chapter one:

we're gonna go, go, go…

a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z

As soon as Zack Fair found himself in his boss's office, he knew he had landed himself in an unfortunate predicament. He'd been doing things on and off for the past year that could get him in trouble… Massive, inexplicable trouble that could land him without a job, and now that he was finally sitting in Mr. Shinra's office, he felt his fingers go cold and begin to tremble. He'd managed to become a favourite employee of the plump business owner, doing little things here and there like babysitting his young daughter, Ashley Gabrielle. She was in third grade, insisting she was a 'big girl' and that she was called by her full name. When Zack leaned down and ruffled her hair, he called her 'little Ash Gee' only to obtain a smack on the hand. He promptly learned to call her by Ashley Gabrielle, not leaving out a syllable or slurring the words together lazily. Within a few months of babysitting the girl, they developed an almost familial bond. She was more than happy to see his face on Wednesdays and Thursdays, dubbing him Uncle Zacky.

The door to Mr. Shinra's office swung open and in stepped Zack's boss, his full face heavy with an emotion that the boy couldn't read.

"Zackary."

"Mr. Shinra, sir." The older man nodded, grunting as he made his way to the shiny maple desk in front of Zack. The cheap old chair creaked as he sat down, lips pressed into a thin line. Zack nervously fidgeted, fingers twisting together in anxiety.

"I assume you have figured that this is not a social call," Shinra said with a sigh. Zack stayed silent. "I've let you get away with a substantial amount of things. You know that, right?" Zack nodded in reply. His boss tapped his fingers on his desk. "I've let you borrow money--"

"Which I always paid back," Zack interjected, holding up a finger to accentuate his point. Shinra glared, warning him not to speak again. Zack leaned back in his chair, silently obliging.

"You've broken into your office multiple times…" Zack sat up, opening his mouth to say something again, only to receive another pointed glare. He pressed his lips together and looked down at his knees. "And Zackary, these are only things that are coming immediately to mind. I could have filled up an entire marble composition notebook of things I have let you get away with. Understand?"

"Er. Yes, sir."

Shinra looked as if he were in pain. "However, this time you have absolutely crossed the line." Zack raised a brow, conveying his confusion. "I'm sure you know what I am speaking of, Mr. Fair."

Zack felt his stomach drop. His boss never called him Mr. Fair.

"I can assure you I don't," he exclaimed carefully, scooting to the end of his seat, face stony. "Is this about that coffee incident last week? Because that one was Cid's fault, honest--"

"No. This has nothing to do with the coffee, Zackary. This has to do with a complaint filed by Scarlet earlier this week."

Zack frowned.

"Scarlet? What'd she say?"

Shinra eyed Zack carefully, searching for any sign of guilt.

"Scarlet," he began. It took him a moment. "She's filed a claim that you have…"

"Yes? What?" Zack said anxiously, leaning forwards, eyes widening. Shinra dropped his head.

"That you have sexually harassed her."

Suddenly, it felt like someone had punched Zack in the stomach. He lost his ability to breathe for a few seconds, blinking in disbelief as he stared at the top of his boss's balding head.

"I'm sorry, Zackary, but--"

"Hold on," Zack said, barely audible, holding up a single finger. "Scarlet filed that claim?" Shinra brought his head up, nodding.

"And we have a witness."

Zack's eyes narrowed.

"Who?" Shinra steeled his expression, crossing his hands on his desk.

"My son saw the incident," he stated in a simple matter-of-fact way. Zack felt his eye twitch.

"E-excuse me?"

"Yes, Zackary. Rufus walked in with the girl the day that it happened. She was absolutely terrified."

There was a long pause and behind the opposite side of the desk, Zack's fists clenched in anger. Rufus had joined in a devious plan with Scarlet to get him fired. No wonder the Blonde-tard duo had been so inexplicably giddy all week. Somewhere inside of him, a smirk tried to force its way to his lips. If only Rufus knew how many times Scarlet had basically molested Zack.

"Is there direct evidence to support this supposed claim?" Zack inquired, raising a brow. "I know you keep cameras in the office ever since that Sparky kid peed in the water cooler."

With a shudder (probably from the memory of being the only one to fall for the sticky note plastered on the cooler that said 'lemonade'), Shinra spoke, "there is no camera in your office, Zackary."

Zack's shoulders dropped. Sneaky bastards! They'd planned it out flawlessly.

"Sir, no offense meant, but have you perhaps taken into account that Rufus is Scarlet's bitch – excuse me, rather, boyfriend, and that he would believe most of anything she said?"

"Yes, I have taken into account many things in this situation, such as the fact that Rufus is my son and I could get a lot of shit for believing him," Shinra said, his voice sharp. Zack took this as a 'shut up'.

He frowned.

"Zackary, this claim is serious. I'm afraid that this has crossed the line as I stated earlier."

"…and?" Zack pressed.

Shinra sighed. "Zackary, you know you're one of my favourite employees. Everyone in the office knows that. Even Rufus does and I am quite sure that it does not please him to know I prefer your office work to his. However, even favourite employees do not have special privileges to avoid claims of this magnitude."

"But Mr. Shinra--" He began, trying not to let his anger show.

"Zackary! Stop! I will not listen to protest and I will not have you argue with my superior's decision. Do you not think I have tried the same thing? I sat with my superiors for an hour and a half trying to convince them to give you another chance! It was useless."

"Why didn't you--"

"No! Zackary, stop!" Shinra roared, slamming one of his large hands on the desk, causing it to shudder. "There isn't a damn thing I can do! They want you out of this office! Today!" Zack felt his stomach bubble with rage.

"Fine! For all I care, your superiors can rot in hell! So can your damned scheming son!" Zack cried, pushing his chair back. "I…I hope somebody pees in the water cooler again!" With that, Zack turned on his heel, tripping over the chair as he stormed out of his boss's office. He skittered to a halt however and turned around, poking his head back in, pointing one solitary finger at Shinra. "You were a good boss though! That's about the only redeeming quality about this entire escapade!" Zack waved his finger a bit, then looked at it awkwardly before disappearing from Shinra's office once more.

He strode down the hall, taking large steps and pushing past someone holding a stack of papers. He nearly fell over, hands grabbing at the papers that flew askew when Zack bumped into him. His coffee splashed to the floor, splattering all over the fallen papers. The man squeaked.

"NO! THE CULLEN-SWAN REPORT! OHGOD!" Zack ignored the gasping employee who fell to his knees in angst in front of the coffee-stained Cullen-Swan report.

Zack threw open the door to his office, only to see Rufus sitting on his desk, playing with a small trinket that Zack had gotten from his ex-girlfriend.

"What the hell are you doing in here, Shinra? Get out," Zack hissed. Rufus dropped the object carelessly beside the desktop computer.

"I've come to see the look on your face when my dear father fired your pathetic ass," Rufus said nonchalantly. "Whatever else?"

"Rufus, I swear to fucking Gaia if you do not get out of my office, you are going to rue the day you met me."

"Am I supposed to be scared? What was it like to be accused of something you didn't do, hmm?"

"Shinra. Get the hell out, right now," Zack said, clenching his fists. "I'm not in the mood for your skinny blond ass being a douche. Clear out while I clean my shit and leave."

"Oh, but it would be so much more fun to watch you pack in your misery," Rufus said, tapping one finger against his chin. Zack snapped.

"SHINRA. Get out or I will rape your girlfriend!"

Rufus's eye twitched noticeably at the thought of Zack's grimy hands on his Scarlet. Despite the minor shock and disgust at Zack's verbal threats, he smirked. "Really, now? Asking for another formal complaint, are we?"

Zack stepped forward, his eyes blazing. "You better get prepared for two more, cause you're 'bout to have a foot up your ass if you don't get out of my office."

"Is that a challenge?" Rufus inquired, standing and cracking his pale knuckles.

"Maybe it is, mother fu--"

Before Zack could finish his sentence, another man entered the room, banging the door loudly against the wall as he slammed into it. Zack snapped his attention to the new occupant of his office. It was Cid.

"Hoo, man, I thought I heard some kinda shit 'bout your ass gettin' fired! Ain't true, right?" Cid inquired. Before he could get an answer, he looked over at Rufus. "'Ey, what's this douchebag doin' in here?"

"He was just leaving," Zack growled. Rufus put down his arms, his eyes glinting again.

"Actually, I was here to give my condolen--"

"Yeeeeah, whatever blondie, git yer ass outta Zack's office," Cid interrupted, his voice demanding. He pointed his thumb behind him. Rufus stood in silence for a moment, then looked at the two before pulling his chin up and walking out, making sure to shove past Zack's shoulder on the way. The two watched the blond walk out.

"Son of a--!"

Zack promptly kicked the chair in front of his desk.

a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z

Cid slammed his hand on the bar.

"Two more shots!" He yelled. The bartender looked up at glared at him.

"No need to yell, buddy, ain't nobody in here," he said, looking around the deserted bar.

"Wh'ever. Jus' gimme two more," Cid repeated, waving his hand around at his and Zack's empty shot glasses. Around Cid, there were around ten, and Zack? A good twenty. He grumbled in response, his head on the bar, blinking slowly. His mood had plummeted drastically. He had gone from full of rage to drunk and miserable. It wasn't pleasant but seeing double at least kept him a little entertained.

Zack brought up a finger and held it in front of his one open eye.

"Y'know… If I'd been drunker, ther'da been two'a Shinra an' I'da been able ta kick boff'a dere asses… Woulda been twice as satisfyin', y'know?" Zack slurred, entranced by his one finger magically transforming into two.

"Mhm. Know whatcha mean. An' if you was wit' a girl… she'd 'ave four tits 'stead o' two... Tha' always trips me ou'."

"Tha'd shure be a lil' bit weird," Zack mumbled, rubbing his eyes. The bartender disappeared for a second, and brought up a bottle of tequila, glancing at the two drunks sitting miserably at the bar. He narrowed his eyes at them and filled two more shotglasses.

"Ahhh, 'ere we go," Cid said, reaching forwards, nearly missing the shotglass and sloshing it into the bartender. Once he finally managed to grab it, he threw it back, swallowing it all gleefully. He set it back down on the table and let out a content sigh, looking up at the bartender.

"Wha?"

"I'm not callin' you guys a cab, that's all I'm saying," the man said with a shrug.

Zack downed the shot, not even bothered by the taste anymore. He looked over at Cid.

"Hey."

"Wha?"

"Wha'dya think I should do 'bout the job?" Zack asked. Cid shrugged.

"Try the classifieds. Tha's where I fin' my shi'."

Zack managed to raise a brow. "Shit?"

"…Chicks."

"Cid, chicks aren' the same as jobs," he said.

"Wha – y'think I don' know tha'? If it supplies girls, it gotta supply jobs, 'eah?" Cid said. Zack grumbled.

"Guess so," he conceded. "Ey, Cid. Can y'take me home?"

Cid looked over at him wearily. "Eh. Guess so. Yer ass is more drunk tha' mine." He stood up from the stool. "How much tha' gon' be?"

The bartender glared.

"Eighty bucks."

"Wha--?! Y'fuckin' kiddin' me?"

"I don't make the prices."

"Good, cause if ya did, I'd kick yer ass… Eighty fuckin' dollars… Pu' it on m'tab!" Cid exclaimed, slamming his hand on the bar again.

"Certainly, if you stop slapping the bar like you're angry at it."

"Wh'ever… Less go, Zack," he slurred, grabbing Zack by the shirt and pulling him off the barstool. Zack yelped and stood up as best as he could. "Ho, boy, yer real drunk, aren'ya? Where'dya live 'gain?"

Zack looked at him like he was crazy.

"I'm your neighbor…"

a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z

AN: OH MY GAWD I WROTE SOMETHING?! Okay, so it's only like seven pages, but it's the first chapter! You guys are fuckin' excited, right? Haha, yeah I know you are. Anywho… Reviews are lovely, lovely, lovely… And second chapter shall be up eventually. I also want to thank Kaltmr for being beta-y.

Till next chapter!