Title: Now or Never

Summary: "Give me a week…just a week to make you realize you're in love with me." "You have 24 hours." And it was a deal. IchiRuki

"Look, at first it was just orders. And then, everything changed. Okay, I fell in love. I fell in love with the, with the forest, with the Omaticaya people, with you. With you." –Jake Sully, 'Avatar'

Prologue - As It Was Meant to Be

"Rukia…are you awake?"

The tiny shinigami groaned in response and rolled over in the direction of his voice. It was a little early to be trying to strike up a conversation, and her curiosity was the only thing that caused her to respond. This better had been important- she wasn't in the mood. She muttered something that might've been an "Oi," and Ichigo took it as an initiative to speak. He kneeled in front of her bed and rested his chin on the surface of her mattress, peering at her closed eyes in the dim room.

"Can we talk for a second?"


She didn't really have a choice. Too much was on his mind tonight not to get it off his chest, since sleep seemed virtually impossible. One moment, he was thinking only about the trivial things in life, and the next, it was her. Her- with her constantly shifting emotions and irrational actions. Yesterday, they were kissing. Today, she didn't want to talk. Was it something he had said? Something he had did?

Oh yeah- practically throw himself upon her lips. In most cultures, that's considered inappropriate to do without permission.

It's not inappropriate if she kissed him back though, right? He'd like to think so.

He felt around in the dark before pulling on the chain that turned on the closet light. A low groan emitted from her lips and she shoved her pillow over her head to continue to hide in the dark. It was odd that she believed things like this could be covered up so easily. When did silence ever solve her problems? He cared too much. He'd like to believe that she was thinking about it, too- the fact that this was a game he wanted to be over. Stealing kisses behind closed doors and facing denial when they opened. Ichigo Kurosaki was done. At that moment, he was completely and irrevocably done.

"Come on," he attempted to pry the pillow off her face, though it was like trying to pull nails out of a floorboard with bare hands. "I just want to talk."

"Yeah, I know." Her words came out a little funny from behind the muffling fabric.

After a couple of moments of rigorous tugging, the pillow came down and Rukia's face was in full view. Her hair resembled something close to a haystack and her eyes were wide and blinking from Ichigo's incredibly close vicinity and the garish light of the table lamp. His mouth seemed to be taunting her as it curved up into a triumphant grin, and her resolve weakened.

He leaned just a fragment closer, although it was more than enough to close the distance between them. Their mouths found each other like a pull of magnetism, gentle but needy nonetheless, and she sighed against his lips. It would be another one of those moments- a quick, soft kiss that they could no longer ignore, and then going on as if it never happened. She lived for those moments nowadays. She craved them. She despised them. When his mouth finally pulled away, a part of her missed it while another was relieved to be free.

He didn't say anything. Instead, his eyes were closed and his forehead gently leaned against hers as a small smile played on his lips. It was nice- feeling her touch. It was as if she had been gone far too long and had finally returned to him.

"We can't keep doing this," she sighed quietly, closing her eyes and listening to her betraying heart thump furiously in her chest.

"Doing what?"

"You know what I'm talking about!" she said a little angrily, leaning back and moving her face to peer up at his.

He was just so frustrating. It wasn't like she enjoyed getting woken up in the middle of the night for a needy kiss on the lips. Since when had she become so weak? The word 'no' had always been in her vocabulary until their cravings caved in on them and their resolve dwindled away to practically nothing. She hadn't always been like this- so helpless against something as silly as a kiss.

But it was his kiss. Something entirely different.

"I've been thinking," he said slowly, biding his time now that he held her attention, "about…us. What are we doing?"

Rukia knew they were heading into dangerous waters. She lay her head against her arm and pretended that he wasn't affecting her nearly as much he thought she was. Honestly, she didn't know the answer to the question that had been burning in the back of her mind since the very first time they had kissed. It had been so terrifying, so thrilling, but wrong all the same. It was a mistake – she didn't know why, but it just was – that they couldn't take back, but perhaps it was one they could sweep under the rug and ignore forever.

Then it happened again. And again. And they were screwed.

So what the hell were they doing, shaking every pillar of friendship they had carefully constructed and breaking the very foundation they stood on? There is no simple answer. But there is a simple fact- Rukia didn't get the point in relationships. Was anyone around her in one? And she had seen arranged marriages of the nobles and how fucked up they could turn out to be. She wanted no part of it. For one hundred and fifty years, she wanted no part of it, and this idiotic boy kneeling in front of her would not change a thing.

"Do we have to talk about this?" she argued, avoiding his burning gaze.

"Yeah, we do."

"And why is that?"

His eyebrows furrowed and there was an odd mix hurt and confusion on his features. "Do I…does this…" he struggled for the right words. "Does this mean anything to you?"


She tried to make her voice impassive. She really did. But between that look on his face and her ebbing conscience in the back of her mind- she couldn't do it hurt him more than she was already hurting herself. It was one big, ugly, blatant lie that she wanted to take back as soon as it flew out of her uncontrollable mouth.

He half smirked – half laughed. "For a second, I almost believed you."

"Go away."

"What are you so afraid of?" he taunted, leaning closer. "The fact that you might actually care about me?"

"I'm not afraid, you imbecile," she corrected him, shoving at his shoulder in order to get him to back up. "In fact, it's the complete opposite."

"So you enjoy kissing me?"

"Ugh, no!"

"Then why do you do it?"

"Who else is going to?"

He flashed her an arrogant grin and leaned a little closer. "Are you starting to like me?"

"The hell I am!"

Since when had she become such a good liar in front of someone who could see right through her?

No, it wasn't a lie. But it wasn't the truth, either. She didn't "like" him – damn that word – yet, a part of her was dangerously close. There was a steep edge, and she was treacherously near. Her heart tottered on the edge of falling horribly, recklessly, dangerously in love with the fool who was far too arrogant to see it. She hated every moment of it. Rukia Kuchiki wasn't used to being this scared.

He saw right through them. Right past the stony silence and averted eye contact in to something that radiated uncertainty and indecision. And he was scared too – hopefully, she realized that – but that didn't help him keep up all the bullshit acts of ignorance and apathy. In reality, he cared. A lot. Enough to let her know that he was done pretending and was ready to start living. With her. Together. As it was meant to be.

He wondered if she was done tap dancing on his ego. Honestly, he was getting tired of her denial and the fact that the stress was on both sides. He didn't know much about this romantic stuff – parts of it made him question his sanity – so a little slack could be given on his behalf. Ichigo Kurosaki didn't grovel. And she would not make him, if he had a hand in things.

"What do I need to do make you fall in love with me, then?"

That word- love. It gave her the chills to hear him say something so blatantly, as if it really did apply to her. It didn't. She would make sure of it. Her heart was tightly locked in chains. But perhaps…perhaps he had the key.

"You can shut the hell up, for starters," she smiled wryly.

He smiled back. "Then put your mouth against mine."

"You're a pig."

He gently grabbed her arms as she began to turn away. "You don't feel it, Rukia? Do you really not feel it like I do?"

Of course she did. But what was she supposed to do- throw away every shield she had carefully constructed, just for him? Where were the benefits? How did she know this was all going to work out for the best? She didn't. That was the point. She really did want to be with him, but at the same time, she didn't. Damn, she was confused.

"I…I do," she whispered painfully She hated how weak he made her. She hated how quickly she was giving in.

And he knew. "Give me a week," he said quickly, sensing her resolve slipping. "Just a week to make you realize you're in love with me."

This was so hard. Every inch, every centimeter of her body screamed yes. She wanted so badly to believe him. She wanted so badly to believe that he was right. Her heart pounded in her chest as she looked into his pleading eyes. So much hope in one person. It should be illegal.

"You have 24 hours," she said quietly, her voice final, yet defeated. "You don't know what the hell you're thinking, but you have until- "she glanced at the clock "-tomorrow at midnight."


His ego was really starting to give her a headache. He smiled at her before stealing a quick kiss, – the bastard – turning off the light, and going back to bed.

And it was a deal.

A/N: This is my contribution to all the V-Day fics soon to be released. It seems like there's no more plots left out there, so I decided to do this instead. Characters- OOC, I know. But there's no way Ichigo can be a hardass and a romantic at the same time in this chapter. Honestly, I tried. Next chapter- hopefully he will be. I dunno. They're all just so unpredictable. Leave me a review and let me know whether you want this to continue or not! Suggestions, corrections, ideas, criticizm- it's all welcomed. That'd be super-appreciated.

And thanks for everyone who's voted in my profile poll. You guys are helping me in ways you can't imagine.