Disclaimer: I don't own Final Fantasy or any of its character. I do own a couple of wheeled chairs.

AN: Originally posted for irishais in 2007, taken down when I thought I was leaving fandom forever, now lovingly reposted for Anshu. It goes in my First Dates universe (which I'll eventually repost) but I think it can also stand on its own.


The Hazards of Falling

He should've known the chair wouldn't hold both of them.

Come to think of it, he had known. In fact, Rufus distinctly remembered telling her such when she insisted on joining him. But had she listened? Of course not. Ms. Lockhart seemed to think she was exempt from trivial things like taking sound advice where he was concerned.

And now here they were, getting well-acquainted with the floor and each other. Who knew he could withstand a fall from a rolling desk chair? Who knew his fall would be followed up by another unhappy demonstration of gravity? Who knew such a dainty-looking woman could be so ungodly heavy? Certainly not him. Or at least he hadn't ten seconds ago.

"Ms. Lockhart..."

He was interrupted by the sound of his office door opening and a, "Hey, boss, we heard a crash." There was no time to push her off or squirm out from under her (nor would squirming be appropriate in the position they were currently in). Scuffed shoes appeared by his head; when Rufus looked up, he saw wrinkled pants and an untucked shirt.

"Oh," Reno said with an expression on his face akin to bewildered envy. "That's...why."

"This isn't what it looks like," Rufus was quick to say. If it were what it looked like, his hands wouldn't be flapping about like confused birds. They'd be doing...other things. Most likely. And Reno surely wouldn't be standing there watching.

"Copy that," said Reno, but the look he gave Rufus bordered on hostile amusement. "I'll just tell the others" —he jerked a thumb over his shoulder as he backed out of the office— "that things are, uh, under control."

When the office door clicked shut, Tifa grinned down at Rufus in a way that did nothing for his nerves. This was going to be office gossip for the next two weeks, he just knew it. Just like last time. Bloody hell. He'd have to refrain from working late, too, unless he wanted some more relationship advice from the chatty cleaning lady.

What a wretched mess.

"Why didn't you tell him the truth?" Tifa asked him, eyes crinkling mischievously. He braced himself for a verbal equivalent to an EMP stick. "Why didn't you tell him we were down here about to have hot, messy office sex?"

Rufus's brain fizzled—no, sizzled—damnation! And he had even been prepared for it. "Wha—? I—? You—? But—? Truth?" Gods, he was an idiot.

"Rufus, I was kidding," Tifa said, chuckling. She gingerly slid off of him, rose to her feet, and stretched a hand down to him. Still helplessly witless, he automatically grasped it and allowed her to haul him upright.

"Of course," he said, avoiding her eyes by smoothing down his suit and testing for broken parts. "I assure you, Ms. Lockhart, I fully understood that."

Her grin grew wider. "Of course! Never doubted it." She pointed a thumb at the door and backed away, much like Reno had just done a minute ago. "I just wanted to drop off your watch—the one, you know, you left at the bar last night."

Rufus glared at the watch sitting on his desk. He had the faint impression that it was smiling at him. "Of course, I assure you, Ms. Lockhart, I fully understood that," he said, then realized he had said the same thing a minute ago. Great. Now he was a parrot. Godsdamned verbal skills.

"Right." She pulled his office door open. "Well, have a nice day, Rufus."

"Yes!" They were back to polite formality—this he could do. "Ah, you, too, Ms. Lockhart."

She was halfway through the doorway when she paused, hand on knob, and said, "Oh, and, Rufus?"

Rufus tensed. Here it comes, he thought. "Yes?"

"Next time you plan on changing your light bulb again, call me." A wink, and then she was gone.

Heat immediately flooded his cheeks. Damnation! And he'd seen that one coming too.