Title: Greetings

Pairing(s): Light Yusei/Aki

Rating: K+

Warning(s): None.

Note(s): These drabbles takes place during the summer right after Aki's first year in medical school. Each chapter is loosely connected, but it's not a firm plotline.

"There is no friend like an old friend who has shared our morning days, no greeting like his welcome, no homage like his praise."

-Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

Her coffee was starting to get cold.

She knew he was going to be late; he had called a little earlier to say that he had lost track of time while performing research at the lab. Aki accepted his profuse apologies and told him she'd wait for him. Unfortunately, she had already ordered her drink. Any other person would have gone ahead and enjoyed their coffee but for whatever reason, she couldn't bring herself to take a sip. At least not until Yusei arrived.

She sighed. It couldn't be helped; perhaps the employees would be willing to warm her drink up in the microwave, if they had one. Aki became so lost in her own thoughts that she didn't even notice Yusei approach the table.

"Aki," he said with his classic winsome smile. "It's so nice to see you." Aki looked up and smiled, too.

"Yusei," she responded, pushing her chair back as if to stand. But she stopped, wondering what the proper way to greet him was; was she supposed to shake his hand or hug him or kiss him politely on the cheek? Their last situation had ended a little more intimate than either were used to and she wasn't entirely sure whether they were supposed to pick up where they left off or start all over. Yusei seemed to wonder the same thing, standing rooted to the same spot for a moment before slowly and awkwardly sitting down.

"How have you been?" he asked.

There were a thousands things she could have said. The first could have been miserable; it was difficult going to school in a foreign country. Learning a new language was more arduous than she initially thought and her courses this past year had been especially demanding. Not to mention, she missed Yusei and the others terribly. She considered calling it quits during her second month in school, but ultimately decided to stay and finish up the first semester- which made it easier to complete the following semester.

The second could have been wonderful; she was proud of herself for sticking it out through the whole year and it had certainly paid off. Living thousands of miles away from home was hard, but it taught her so much- about herself and about life. And while the language barrier was difficult to get around, she made new friends. Communication was difficult at first, but they would teach her a bit of German and, in turn, she would teach them some Japanese. It was an adjustment, but she would be lying if she said she hasn't had fun.

Aki contemplated what she should say for a long moment, but of all the words she could have said, she choose a plain, "Fine." She lifted her head slightly. "You?"

"Same," he replied. Pure, unadulterated silence followed. The sheer awkwardness of the moment cause Aki's muscles to tense and for her breath to get caught in her throat. Her heart ached; it wasn't supposed to be like this. Yusei was one of her closest and most valuable friends. She wanted to be able to share the experiences she had brought home and likewise, for him to update her on the latest happenings in Neo Domino City. This awful tension that hung over them wasn't supposed to be there.

Yusei sat motionless for a moment, watching Aki. His gaze then fell to her untouched cup of coffee. As if by instinct, he reached out and grasped it, immediately noticing how cold it had become. He then stood and tossed it into the trash without a second thought. Aki stared at him with wide-eyes as the scene before her unfolded.

"How do you take yours?" Yusei asked suddenly, turning toward her. Aki shook her head.

"Yusei..." she began quietly. "You didn't have to... I mean, I could have just asked-"

"Aki," he said again, interrupting her. He reached out and lightly touched her shoulder. The gesture alone sent shivers up her spine, like a jolt of electricity. "It's OK. It's on me." Aki seemed hesitant before allowing a small, shy smile to spread across her lips.

"Black. No cream, no sugar," she said. He took a step back; though Yusei was generally an expressionless man, Aki could see a tiny hint of bewilderment hanging from his eyelashes.

"Funny," he replied. "So do I."

As he left to go order, a strange, comforting relief washed over Aki. Her eyes wandered over to the older man and she unconsciously allowed her lips to rest against her fingers; somehow, just somehow she knew that they would be okay.

Comment(s): It should be noted that this is not a Yusei/Aki fluffy goo-goo fic. It focuses a lot more on their friendship, though I do admit there will be mutual flirting. Like all my newer fics, this one assumes they kissed in their final scene together.

It's probably worth mentioning that this entire little project of mine is loosely connected to my story, Now and all the related 8-year timeskip fics that follow.