Title: Under Pressure

Pairing(s): Yusei x Aki

Rating: M

Warning(s): Sexism, sexual themes, and mild language.

Note(s): This takes place about one month after Now and four before Third Time's the Charm and it's sort of a prequel to Beauty of Womanhood. One reviewer questioned why I stated in Third Time's the Charm that Yusei and Aki had agreed to wait, even though neither were virgins. The obvious and most appropriate response is to write a whole damn fic about it.

"Love is the answer, but while you are waiting for the answer, sex raises some pretty good questions."

-Woody Allen

It was just one of those days- the kind where everything is exhausting, everyone is irritating, and nothing seems to make anything better.

Aki loved her job, but sometimes it was pure hell. It was difficult being only female doctor in the hospital; her opinion was often looked down upon and her expertise was usually dismissed by her fellow male doctors. As a result, she was usually assigned the "less" important cases- fixing up a child's broken arm, assisting the elderly with a particularly bad cold... And while she enjoyed helping these people, she found her situation to be frustrating.

She had shared her complaints with Yusei, who listened with sympathy and provided the best advice he could- to give the other doctors time to adjust to her and, if the problem persisted, to inform the head doctor of her plight. He insisted that as misogynistic her coworkers might seem, perhaps they were just giving her a hard time because she was fresh out of medical school. Aki retorted that he was giving them too much credit.

Aki's shift had just ended, but she was still at the hospital- the nurses had insisted she stay for lunch and Aki had agreed. She found she connected with the nurses quite well since they often had the similar problems with the same male doctors.

"I mean, it just isn't fair Izayoi-sensei!" One nurse, Eri, empathized. "You have your phD, they shouldn't look down on you like that! It's at least understandable with us, we had less schooling..."

"No one deserves to be treated this way, Eri-san," Aki replied nonchalantly, taking a bite of her salad.

"Men," Another, Hanako, bemoaned. "They're all pigs."

"They're not all bad," Aki reminded the younger nurse.

"Oh, right, I forgot," Eri began, a cheeky grin spreading across her face. "Famous scientist Fudo Yusei must be quite the catch- does he treat you well?"

"He's a good man," Aki replied, sounding neutral. Truthfully, she didn't like discussing her relationship with Yusei; what they had between them seemed so private, so special that she felt she was violating their bond whenever she divulged details about it. Aki tuned out of Eri's and Hanako's conversation as they rambled on about how they wished they could find a nice boyfriend and how lucky Aki was to be dating Neo Domino City's local hero. It wasn't until she realized Hanako had asked her a question that she snapped back into reality.

"Sorry, could you say that again?" she asked, embarrassed.

"Have you and Fudo-sama... well, you know?" Hanako repeated. Aki blushed, realizing what she was implying.

"No, no... We- ah..." she stammered, having difficulty articulating her words. "I... I think we're just waiting for the right time." Both girls sighed.

"How romantic," Eri cooed as Hanako nodded in agreement. Then there was a sudden, male laugh and the three ladies directed their attention to the man who had just entered the room and was now standing behind them- Daiki, one of the problem doctors.

"How naïve," he chortled, taking a sip of his latte. "Do you honestly believe that this Fudo Yusei will hang around if you keep him waiting? " Aki's gaze hardened.

"That's none of your concern," she snapped. Daiki ignored her comment, sliding into the seat beside her.

"Sweetheart," he began tauntingly. That got Aki's blood boiling- how dare he refer to her in such a demeaning way! "Men have needs. If a woman isn't willing to fulfill them, he'll simply move on." There were many things Aki wanted to say- nasty things that could risk her job. Instead, she swallowed her insults back and forced a smile.

"Perhaps that's the case for you," she began as calmly as she could. "But Yusei is much more of a gentleman than you, and therefore, you cannot speak for him." With that said, she briskly gathered her things together and threw out her leftover food.

"I'll see you tomorrow," she muttered, excusing herself. Aki left quickly and quietly, her face flushed with both anger and humiliation. The gall of that man! To pry into their conversation like that, to act like he knew anything about her relationship with Yusei! It infuriated her unlike anything had before, made her want to rip out her own hair.

She left the hospital in a tizzy, climbing into her car and turning on the engine. Her first instinct was to head back home, get a cool glass of water to calm her nerves, perhaps settle down with a good book- but on an impulse, she switched lanes while she was driving, heading in an entirely different direction.

It didn't make any sense.

He had been so sure his calculations were accurate. This because several of his colleagues had worked through the same problem and had come to the same conclusion as he did. Yet, whenever he tried to implement the newly-designed program into Fortune, the energy source would shut off completely (much to the inconvenience of Neo Domino- rolling blackouts had been occurring for the past few weeks upon the failure of the new program).

Yusei sighed and rubbed his temples, feeling a headache start to come on. He supposed he'd have to check his math again.

"Fudo-Hakase?" inquired a small voice from behind the worn-out scientist.

"Shiori-san," Yusei regarded, turning to face the female assistant. "What is it?"

"There's a woman downstairs saying she needs to see you right now. I know you're terribly busy, so I tried to send her away but she insists," Shiori replied, standing a little taller.

"Who is she?"

"I believe she said her name was Izayoi Aki."


"You know her?" Shiori looked surprised, even guilty.

"Yes, she's my..." He faltered, realizing most of his fellow colleagues were listening to his conversation. He cleared his throat loudly and they turned their heads away. "... my girlfriend." The word sounded strange coming from him; though they had been together for over a month, he had yet to adjust to fact that he was actually dating Aki Izayoi, a woman he had for so long regarded as a comrade or friend, but never before as a lover.

"Where is she again?" he continued.

"Downstairs," Shiori repeated. Yusei nodded and rose from his seat.

"Right- thank you," he murmured, hurrying off.

It wasn't hard to tell Aki's feathers had been ruffled- she was pacing back and forth in the lobby, mumbling angry, incoherent words to herself. Yusei might have laughed if he wasn't so worried; Aki never visited him at work. Sure, she had called a few times, but to come all the way out to see him? The commute from the hospital to the lab was long and tedious, so something had to be going wrong in order for her to even be here.

"Let me begin by saying that your little secretary is a pain in the ass," said Aki bitterly once Yusei had approached her. "I had to argue with her for like ten minutes before she decided to get you. She obviously didn't believe me when I said we were dating." Yusei chuckled a little and gave her a kiss for her troubles. The sensation was pleasant, but at the same time, very strange- it seemed that there were so many situations beforehand where they were standing at this distance, just talking. Yet now he could be affectionate and neither of them would even question it.

"Shiori-san's just doing her job." His expression suddenly deadpanned. "Aki, what happened?"

"Nothing," she replied innocently. That was obviously a lie.

"Then why are you here?" he pressed. Aki hesitated, suddenly unsure of herself.

"I... I just wanted to tell you that... " She closed her eyes and swallowed, as though she had to force the next few words out. "... That I'm ready."

Yusei stared at her in utter confusion.

"Ready? Ready for what?"

"Right. I forgot you're male, so I have to spell it out for you," Aki said with an exasperated sigh. The woman took a brief moment to suck her breath back in before continuing. "Okay. I came down here just to let you know that I'm going to go to your house tonight at 7:00 P.M. to have sex with you." Yusei blinked. Once. Twice. Three times.

"Okay," he finally said, unsure how to respond to her blunt statement.

"Okay," she repeated, nodding her head quickly. "I'll see you tonight then."

"Yes. I'll... see you tonight," Yusei replied awkwardly. The scientist didn't know why she felt the need to travel halfway across the city to tell him this. In fact, it baffled him. He always figured this type of thing would just... happen on its own. What was the point of telling him? Did she expect him to do something?

It was after she left that the panic started to set in. Yes, he was male and he enjoyed engaging in... well, that. But, he cared a lot about Aki (more than he had cared for any other woman), and he didn't want something as messy and complicated as that to ruin their relationship. Yusei fell onto one of the sofas in the lobby, running his fingers through his hair. He let out a strange noise that sounded like a mix between a laugh and a grunt.

How was he supposed to work when he had something like this hanging over his head?

By the time Aki parked her car in front of Yusei's home later than evening, she felt like she was going to vomit. What the hell did she get herself into? She was no stranger to sex, but, well, it had been a long, long time since she had last been intimate with a man. Aki took a moment to recall her first time; she was 16, desperate to feel loved and willing to do anything to obtain her sense of belonging. That was 10 years ago. Hell.

Yusei greeted her at the door with a chaste kiss and invited her inside.

"I've already showered so you can go ahead and use it, if you'd like," he offered, taking her coat. Aki nodded, forcing a smile.

"Yes, thank you," she said politely. As if he could sense her nervousness, Yusei patted her shoulder lightly and gave her a reassuring smile. This only proceeded to make her feel worse, however. She brushed him off and hurried upstairs, locking herself in the bathroom. She set her purse on the counter and began rummaging through it, pulling out the things she needed: a toothbrush, a comb, perfume, and a couple of condoms (she was confident Yusei probably had his own, but just in case).

She turned on the shower and let the water heat up for a moment before stepping inside.

Aki tried to remember if she was this scared when she was with Divine, but couldn't recall such a memory. In fact, if she remembered correctly, her stance on the matter was quite different; she was actually thrilled each time he took her to bed because, well, it was proof that there was someone who didn't find her repulsive or terrifying. She wondered, why did she feel so differently now? Perhaps it was because she loved Yusei so damn much that she didn't want to screw up and ruin their relationship.

As she contemplated this, she realized with a start that though she was fully aware she loved Yusei, she didn't know if he reciprocated. He had yet to tell her. Feeling a wave of sickness wash over her, she sank to her knees on the slippery tile.


That was an important detail to be missing.

She shook her head; this was why she decided to sleep with him in the first place. Because, she wanted him to love her and if using her body was the only means of attaining his affections, then so be it.

Yusei closed his eyes, inhaling deeply. He wasn't sure if he was ready for this.

He had been waiting for Aki in the bedroom for nearly ten minutes, and the pressure was mounting. He had enjoyed the exquisite pleasure of having the time to worry about this moment all day long, and now, he was felt like he was going to burst. He wanted so desperately to please Aki and make this a memorable experience for the both of them, but he was having trouble getting past the fact that when she walked through that door, he would have to undress her and...

He swallowed.

Aki was his friend- a friend who he had developed stronger feelings for over the past eight years. Dating her was, more or less, an expiriment. He had a hypothesis, and now he was testing it. So far, his theory had proven accurate, still... adding a chemical as dangerous and wonderful as sex would either cause his expiriment to blow up in his face or confirm his hypothesis. In other words, it was risky; and he wasn't wild about taking risks.

Suddenly, there was a knock at the door.

He sucked in his breath.

"Come in."

Aki slid in, looking more tense than she was that afternoon. Yusei's brow perked up; why was she looking as anxious as he felt? He shook his head; he was probably just making up excuses. She laid beside him wordlessly and he took that as his cue to begin. He kissed her, very lightly, and he climbed on top of her.

Things went very fast from there. Their kisses grew increasingly more heated, and as they did, everything started blurring together. Soon, his shirt was off and tossed to the side, as was her dress. However, Yusei became vaguely aware of how unwelcome he felt when he touched her. She shuddered each time their skin brushed together and he knew this wasn't how it was supposed to be.

His hands stopped at the clasp on her bra, shaking. No, this did not feel right.

"Aki," he began slowly and carefully, the first words he had said to her since she had come to bed with him. "I just want you to know... I don't want you to feel like we have to do anything. I don't want to force you into something you don't want to do." He paused before adding, "I love you too much for that."

"What?" She scuttled out from under him and back up against the frame of the bed. Yusei's felt his stomach harden.

"What happened this morning, Aki?" he asked, sounding a little desperate as he gripped her shoulders. She bit her lip and looked ashamed; he could see water form in the corner of her eyes. He immediately loosened his grip and embraced her, kissing her forehead as he did. This was going to be a long night.

They had redressed and moved downstairs to the living room. The pair kept a respectable distance from one another, sitting on opposite ends of one couch. It took several glasses of wine and some coaxing, but he finally got her to talk. And once she started, he couldn't get her to stop- which was fine with him, really. He just wished she would stop looking so remorseful, like she had done something wrong.

"I knew it was ridiculous to let his words get the best of me," she said, twirling a loose strand of hair with her finger. She had curled up into a ball with her knees tucked into her chin. "... I just... Well, I didn't want to lose you." Yusei shut his eyes and exhaled a hissing sigh; this was a disaster and he should have seen it coming. He reached out a touched her hand, gently. She jumped at the gesture.

"Aki," he began as their fingers entwined. "It doesn't matter. Whether it happens now, or next week, or in six months, or even our wedding night, it doesn't matter."

"Wedding night?"

Yusei flushed and fumbled to cover his mistake.

"My point is, I don't want you to ever think that you have to have sex with me to keep me around." He scooted closer to her as he said this and Aki, finally feeling comfortable with him again, pecked him lightly on the lips. "You're worth much more to me than that." She cracked a smile and nodded, satisfied with his response.

The next day was miserable. She and Yusei had stayed up far too late last night and now she was paying the price. First, she looked positively awful. Her hair was messy and unkempt, her skin was pale and clammy, and she had dark bags under her eyes. Second, her lack of sleep was affecting her performance. She had relied on most of her nurses to get her and her patients through the morning.

During her lunchbreak, she sat by herself in one of the doctors' lounges, sipping on a cup of lukewarm coffee and hoping the caffeine would kick in soon. The male doctors had separated themselves from her, occasionally shooting green jokes her way. She rolled her eyes; maybe she really did need to go speak with the head doctor about this. As she retreated into her own little world, she heard a sudden commotion among the other doctors.

"Sorry, this lounge is only for doctors' and invited guests," Daiki said rudely. Aki looked up and was shocked to Yusei there, his nonchalant demeanor unfazed.

"Oh, but I am a guest. I'm here to see my girlfriend, whom I love very much." Aki lost her breath for a moment, both amused and completely floored. He was putting on a show, and he was doing it just for her.

"Yes, he's with me," she said suddenly, rising to her feet. Yusei smiled her way and approached her, sitting next to where she was. The glaring eyes of Daiki and the other doctors followed.

"What are you doing here?" she asked in a hushed voice, sitting back down. He shrugged.

"I have the day off and I thought you could use some company," he whispered back. He lowered his voice even further, "I also thought it might be nice for you to have a bit of vindication."

She laughed.


Comment(s): I hate writing about sex. Hate it, hate it, hate it. There's a lovely little moral to this story, though: a personal gem of knowledge that I'm sharing with my readers. Can you figure it out?

Little fun fact: the Japanese usually bathe before engaging in sexual activity. Not doing so is considered "gross."