Cataracta's Notes: This fic inspired by the song "Maybe You Can Owe Me" by Architecture in Helsinki. Which I don't own and advise you to look up. Enjoy!

Maybe You Can Owe Me

"It is one of those moments when you know one of two things has happened; the world has ended, or you have gone insane. Sasuke X Sakura"

You're standing at the edge of the forest and wondering if it even matters. Wonder if anything has ever mattered, or if it all was just an illusion; something you dreamt up to keep the time from stopping. But then again, the memories are burned into the back of your eyelids and you can't stop drowning in the blood.

The first step is the hardest, and what's that old saying? 'If you're facing in the right direction, all you have to do is keep walking'. But how does one know if they're facing in the right direction? What's right? For that matter, what in the hell is wrong? And if you stray from the 'right' path, how do you get back on it? Why can't all the paths be right?

You shake your head to clear it of the annoying, circular thoughts. With a simple shake of your head you somehow manage to find a few seconds of peace, and it's in those few blissful moments of calm that you find the courage to take that first step. It's much less of a deal than the sayings and nerves would imply, but you ignore the anti-climatic feelings and merely concentrate on putting one foot in front of the other.

And maybe that's the hardest part. Maybe it's not the first step of the journey that's the hardest, but the second, the third, the fourth. The hundredth. Maybe it's not as hard to begin things as it is to follow them, to finish them. Maybe it's easier to give up halfway or to deviate from the path. You're sure there's another saying, another proverb, another piece of advice just waiting in the wings, but for now you ignore the impulse to assign a theme to the action. You're just walking.

And that's all you've ever done really; you've just walked. Walked the path of avenger and hunter and hater, of child and adult and everything in between. You're not quite sure when it was that you switched from one to the other and back again, but you are nearly certain that it doesn't matter. Because that's not who you are now, or so you'd like to think.

The city gates come into view as this last thought crosses your mind, and it's as you're crossing the threshold into your childhood home that you think; that's not who you're going to be. You walk throughout the ancient, somehow still modern and thriving city with a sense of vague astonishment, noting the changes and the not-changes. It has changed, and not-changed, same as you. Your childhood home has grown up, too.

With a sense of even greater bewilderment, you walk through the streets and find that your old childhood friends have grown up, too. They recognize you, and there are greetings and hostile expressions in interchangeable amounts, but mostly there is just acceptance. You are no longer an enemy here, the same way that you are no longer a friend, and haven't been for a while. But you're okay with the half-way promise, because for some reason you know that the city has grown up, just like you, and you have forgiven the city just as it will one day forgive you.

And it's really no surprise when you wind up on the doorstep of what should have been the last house you'd want to visit. You'd expected your highly trained feet to take you straight to the doors of your mansion, or even straight to the graves of your family. Instead, you find yourself standing on the doorstep of a girl who has maybe grown up, too.

You're half expecting her to squeal when she opens the door, but as she does, you know that it's one of those moments. It's one of those moments when you know one of two things has happened; the world has ended or you've gone insane. Personally, you're leaning towards the latter.

Haruno Sakura stands in front of you the embodiment of beauty, her body lithe and thinly muscled. The dress has changed to the formal kimono expected of a woman her age (though you're still getting over the shock that she has grown up, just like the city) and her feet are bare. Her eyes, big and bright and emerald as ever, watch you with a certain curiosity, but not hostility. Not hatred. There is not even foolish, childish love there. There is simply a question framed in those eyes by a perfect face, framed by pastel pink hair. A question you think you might be ready to answer.

She's changed, you note, and then you think that you're brain is lagging and about three seconds behind the rest of you. Because, somehow, you're already in the door with your arms wrapped around her thin form, your body crushed to hers. You claim her mouth without so much as a hello, and you don't know what in the hell you're thinking, but then you remember that you've gone insane.

Because it's been (five) long years since you've seen her, and 'the more things change, the more they stay the same', and maybe it's that 'distance makes the heart grow fonder', and maybe it's a lot of things. But maybe it's mainly the fact that you've been lonely for so long, and she's always been there, whether you wanted it or not. And maybe you didn't realize it then, but you sure as hell realize it now, that you needed that unwanted, often hostilely received support. You needed that childish, foolish love.

Now, you think, now you need something different but something almost exactly the same. You need a grown up, mature love. And as Sakura wraps her arms around you and her mouth moves over yours with an intensity to match yours, you think you've found it.

There's a lot still to be said, but that can be said later. You can deal with lost years and lost friends and lost family, lost cities and lost tears and lost feelings, lost everything later. For at the moment, there is only Sakura and her grown up love in that grown up city, and, ultimately, that grown up woman that she is. For the moment that's all there is. And the world hasn't ended, and you're fairly certain you're still sane.

So maybe it's one of those moments when you know one of two things has happened; the world has survived to limp along another day, or you've just found that missing link in the chain. And maybe, it's both.

Cataracta's Notes: Let me know what you think!