Title: Third Time's the Charm

Pairing(s): Yusei x Aki

Rating: K+

Warning(s): Mentions of sex. Also, fluff.

Note(s): Sort-of kind-of a sequel to Now, and takes places a couple of months after Promises, Promises.

"Each moment of a happy lover's hour is worth an age of dull and common life."

- Aphra Behn

Everything had to be perfect. There couldn't be a smudge of mascara (which was of the waterproof variety, just in case she got a little bit emotional) under her eyes; not a single hair atop her head could be out of place; her breath had to be so fresh when he kissed her that he could literally feel the coolness of the peppermint fill his mouth.

At first she thought nothing of it; of course she was excited when he told her they were eating at The Hanakotoba for their sixth month anniversary. She even took off time from work to get ready for it. However, her giddiness was only a result of the fact that The Hanakotoba was one of the swankiest restaurants in town and reservations were nearly impossible to get. It wasn't until she casually brought it up in conversation with Carley that her entire perspective changed.

Carley practically screamed, and Aki had to jerk her phone away from her ear to save her hearing.

"Was that really necessary?" Aki complained after her friend calmed down, sounding quite annoyed.

"How can you sound so calm? You're going to The Hanakatoba!" Carley squealed.

"Yeah, I know it's exciting, but it's not that exciting," Aki retorted. The other side of the line suddenly fell silent, prompting Aki to check whether she had lost connection with the reporter.

"Aki," Carley began dramatically after a long moment. "The Hanakotoba is not a place where couples go to have a nice meal; it's where they go to get engaged."

This revelation shook Aki; she had not for one moment suspected this was the night Yusei was going to propose to her. She knew they were serious, but was not aware he was ready to make that type of commitment to her yet. However, Aki approached the situation with the grace and calmness anyone else would if they were in her shoes... by completely flipping out.

What would she do? What would she say? How should she say it? After spending eight years abroad working hard toward getting her M.D. and finally getting hired at the Neo Domino Hospital, would he want her to quit and move in with him? Would they have children? How many? Just what did marriage entail anyway? Did she even want to marry him?

These were all things she contemplated after ending her conversation with Carley, pacing up and down the hallway in her apartment in a panicked state. Even though she was partially hysterical at the time, after much self-evaluation (and a well-thought out analysis of what living with Yusei would be like), Aki finally came to the conclusion that, yes, she did want to marry him.

As Saturday, the day he was supposedly going to propose to her, approached, she became more comfortable with the idea of being referred to as Dr. Fudo (which, ironically, her husband-to-be would also be known as). Being married, she decided, could be fun. They could travel together, perhaps go to Europe or America if both of them managed to ever get time off. Being greeted with an affectionate kiss when she first woke up would certainly be nice. Not to mention, there was a certain sexual aspect that came with being married, especially since they had both agreed from the beginning to wait (despite the fact that neither were virgins, but she supposed saving themselves would only make their first time with one another more meaningful).

However, when Saturday actually did come, she was struck with anxiety once again. Hence why she had been sitting in front of the bathroom mirror for nearly two hours, running through the possible scenarios in her head and rehearsing her answers to each one, all while making sure she looked absolutely stunning.

When the doorbell rang, she sucked up all of her messy emotions and kept them hidden under a calm exterior. Showtime.

Aki was impressed with how composed she had managed to remain throughout the night. She had worried her nerves would cause he to say or do something stupid that would ruin their date, but so far, she was thoroughly enjoying herself. She was, however, starting to grow impatient. Dinner (which was delectable) had already passed, but he had not asked her yet.

She had discreetly checked her wineglass to see if there was a ring lingering at the bottom. Nothing. She ate her food with care, not wanting to swallow it in case Yusei had asked the waiter to slip it in. But she never felt the cool taste of metal in her mouth. Aki sucked in her breath, realizing this meant he would ask her over desert.

"I don't think I can eat an entire piece of cake on my own," Yusei said thoughtfully, looking up at her from over the menu. "Maybe we should share something?" Aki nodded.

"I think that's a good idea," she replied, wondering if this was somehow tied into his plan. It wasn't until after they agreed on something and ordered that Yusei reached across the table and lightly touched Aki's fingers. She nearly jumped at the gesture, feeling her heart begin to pound.

"Oh God," she thought, inhaling sharply. "This is it."

"Aki..." he began quietly, reaching into his pocket and pulling out that little, crushed velvet box. Aki had to restrain herself from hyperventilating. "I know this relationship is beyond materialistic objects... and I don't expect you to give me anything in return for this, but..." He took her hand fully into his, opening up her palm and setting the box atop it.

"Open it," he said, smiling. Shaking, Aki nodded.

What she found inside his gift, however, was not what she expected. There were diamonds, but it was not a ring. Instead, what laid gently placed on the velveteen was a necklace with a heart-shaped charm. It certainly was a breathtaking piece of jewelry, but it did not hold the same kind of promise a diamond-studded ring would.

"Oh Yusei..." she sighed, allowing a small smile to spread across her face. She couldn't keep the edge of disappointment out of her voice though. "It's beautiful. Thank you." She leaned across and captured his lips with a chaste kiss, whispering that she loved him as she pulled away.

It took a couple of weeks, but Aki managed to get over the disappointment of not being engaged. In fact, she had talked herself into believing it was for the best. Why rush into marriage? She was perfectly content with what she and Yusei had now, and it did not need to be changed. She already had her PHD and she didn't need her MRS degree, yet.

Still, she couldn't always stop her imagination from stealing away into the land of what-could-be.

"Aki?" Yusei inquired, snapping the doctor out of her thoughts.

"What is it?" she asked, sounding concerned.

"Nothing, you were just dazing off."

"Oh..." Aki shook her head. "Sorry. Just thinking."

The pair had met up during their lunch break and were taking a casual stroll through the Neo Domino Park. They normally didn't spend lunch together since the hospital and the Momentum lab were so far apart, but Yusei insisted they try to work something out that day. So Aki informed the head doctor she would be leaving her shift a little bit early that day to meet up with her boyfriend (which he was surprising perfectly okay with) and met up with Yusei at a cafe halfway in between their respective workplaces.

Yusei raised his brow at her, but didn't push the subject. Aki checked her watch and realized the hospital would be expecting her very soon.

"As pleasant as this was, Yusei, I really need to get going-"

"-They know you're not coming."

Aki's head snapped up in surprise.


Yusei stopped in front of a water fountain in the center of the park, dropping her hand. His expression was serious, unwavering.

"I made a personal phone call to the head doctor, to let him know you wouldn't be returning after lunch." He paused, chuckling. "I didn't think you'd be very focused afterward." Aki froze- just what was he implying? He couldn't be- no, she thought. It was just her secret desires scrambling her logical thought process.

Suddenly, Yusei bent down on one knee and Aki nearly had a heart attack.

"Oh my God. Oh my God. OK. He's actually doing it." She swallowed and closed her eyes tightly for a moment, bracing herself. But when she opened her eyes, Yusei was standing again, admiring the aluminum ¥1 coin he had just picked up. Her face flushed scarlet red with embarrassment.

"You jerk!" she declared, hitting him hard on the shoulder. She then spun away from him, burying her face in her hands. Yusei looked at her wide-eyed, seemingly confused.

"What? What's the matter?" he asked with what sounded like genuine concern. Aki turned back to him, still flustered.

"I-I thought... I-I thought you..." she stammered, unable to articulate her words.

"What did you think?" At this point, Yusei couldn't hide his amusement. He knew what she was getting at, but he wanted to hear her say it. Seeing a playful grin spread across his face only enraged the former Claw Signer- did he think this was some sort of game?

"I-I... You... Ugh!" Aki turned away from him again, running her fingers through her burgundy hair haphazardly. Yusei laughed, coming up behind her and resting his hands on her shoulders.

"Did you think I was going to propose to you?" His breath tickled her ear, sending shivers down her spine. Aki bit her lip, trying to contain herself. Never in her life had she wanted to scream and punch him so badly as she did at that particular moment.

"Yes. Is that what you-"

"Would you like me to?"

His question caught her completely off-guard. She broke herself away from him and turned to face him, looking at him with hard eyes.

"Yusei Fudo," she said angrily, though her voice was teary around the edges. "This had better not be a joke. Because if it is, I swear to God, I'll kill you." By then, a small crowd had gathered around the couple, many having recognized them as members of Team 5D's, the champions of the first WRGP nearly a decade earlier. Yusei deadpanned.

"It's not." There was a collective gasp as he dropped to one knee once again and Aki, realizing that he was actually serious this time, had to sit down on the edge of the fountain to keep herself from toppling over.

Yusei couldn't help but smirk, thinking back to their anniversary dinner several weeks earlier; he honestly couldn't understand why Aki seemed so disappointed when he presented her with his gift. At first, he felt a little guilty when Carley told him it was because she had convinced his girlfriend he was going to ask for her hand. And then, he couldn't help but laugh. How awful it must have felt for her to be sitting there all night expecting a proposal and end up with something else entirely! It was ironic though, because he had originally considered buying a ring but decided against it, fearing their amorous relationship was still too young to leap into marriage. But hearing Carley add that Aki was prepared to say yes gave him the courage to ask for her father's permission (which was happily granted) and head back to the jewelry store.

"Aki Izayoi." He stopped to stifle a laugh as she began crying, her face still red with embarrassment. He reached out and took her left hand into his, which actually just made her cry and laugh some more. And then, after unveiling a platinum ring and presenting it to her, he asked, "Will you do the honor of marrying me?" The crowd, now having grown quite large, buzzed with excitement. Aki hastily wiped the moisture away from her eyes and muttered a sheepish yes.

She watched him slip the ring onto her finger before wrapping her arms around his neck, weaving her fingers through his dark hair and kissing him fiercely. Her fiancé responded with great enthusiasm, so much so that when he stood up, he nearly lifted her off the ground. The crowd erupted into cheers when she kissed him, and many whipped out their cameras to take photos- some of which would probably end up in the hands of the media. Yusei couldn't help but laugh against Aki's lips, imagining Jack and Crow's shock when they found out he was getting married from some entertainment reporter on television that evening.

Their audience left the couple to themselves after they broke apart.

"You're still a jerk," Aki muttered, breathless. Yusei chuckled and just kissed her again.


Comment(s): Eurgh. I hate this. Too cutesy and fluffy for my taste. Hope you enjoyed it though.