Cataracta's Notes: This is a distinctly AU take on a cannon event.

On 20/20 Vision

"'As soon as you meet someone, you know the reasons why you will leave them'. Sasuke, Sakura, and the only thing that's ever mattered. Sasuke X Sakura"

You've always known he was going to leave. The eyes are the windows to the soul and he was long gone before you ever met Uchiha Sasuke. But you are still young and you cling to the foolish hope that you can make him stay because, goddamn it, you love him.

But even now you know, in the back of your mind, that Uchiha Sasuke had already become a distant memory before you'd ever squeaked your first hello. In fact, you sometimes wonder what in the hell the boy is still doing here, when he really wants – really needs – to be, well, not here. But you, in your squealing, fangirl, I'm-so-in-love-with-him-I-can't-think-straight way, manage to ignore the more intuitive parts of your mind to focus on the not-so-intuitive part.

But you love him.

There's no denying that. It may have started out as a crush, sure, but then you slowly started to see more and more of him. Slowly started to see through a few of the hairline cracks in his defensive walls, and you began to see the true Sasuke hidden underneath all the sarcastic comments and frosty arrogance. You started to see the frightened boy, so afraid of himself and everyone else that he couldn't bear to open up lest he be hurt again. And you love him for it.

And sometimes, in the dead of night, you lay awake and try to imagine what life with Uchiha Sasuke would be like. It's confusing, because you don't have much of an idea, but you've got the bare minimum and so you work with that. You try to piece together the different facts about Uchiha Sasuke that you know into something like a whole, unbroken man, one who is content to stay with you and peaceful and happy and smiling…but it's a lie.

You know that Uchiha Sasuke exists for one purpose and one purpose only, and you also know that you don't quite manage to fit into that purpose. You'd love to, of course. You'd give your right arm and most of your left leg if he would only stay with you, safe and happy and smiling. But you know that even if he were to stay, he'd never be safe, happy or smiling. Whenever he'd close his eyes, a red-eyed specter would haunt him. Crimson streets would trail before him. Still, frozen bodies would surround him. No, Uchiha Sasuke would never be safe or happy or smiling if he stayed with you.

So you've come to this street for a reason, but not to stop him. You've come to this street in the middle of a cold, dark night to tell him something you've told him countless times but never seemed to manage to mean. You've come to tell him you love him. So you do.

"I love you."

Your voice is quiet. No yelling, no screaming, no begging. Just three not-so-simple words and the pure, honest truth. He freezes but says nothing, and it's not until you turn to leave that you feel his strong, yet somehow still shaking arms wrap around your shoulders. You say nothing but close your eyes as he presses his forehead to the back of your neck, his arms sliding from your shoulders to circle your waist. It's simple but enough, and at that moment you're the happiest person in the world.

It's only when he slowly turns you to face him that you see his eyes. There's something hidden so deep in them that you'll never be able to scratch it, except that maybe you already have and maybe you already haven't. So you watch him and stare until he leans down and presses his lips to yours, stifling your gasp of surprise.

And you know what it is he wants – what he needs. He needs something real, something he can hold onto in the darkest moment of his darkest hour. He needs something untainted, something pure and honest and he needs it so much that you can feel it, leaking from every pore and seeping from every cell. He needs something that won't hurt him, could never hurt him, something that will set him free and something that will save that last shred of humanity he's been struggling so hard to hang onto.

And as he kisses you with a passion so great and so desperate, you know that you can give it to him. You can give him something real, something that will protect him in the darkest moment of his darkest hour, something that will save that last sliver of humanity that still stubbornly clings to life. You can give him a piece of you to take with him, pure, untainted, and unattached. You can give him that.

So you don't hesitate when his amazing speed carries you both deep into the forest, and you aren't afraid when his skin is suddenly pressed against yours. You don't flinch when he enters you, pressing you against the ground as he stares into your eyes and tries to see just what it is that he needs and you're giving him. You don't close your eyes even when the pleasure becomes far greater than you could ever dream, you keep your eyes locked with his to assure him that you are there and you are with him.

And when you're both spent and exhausted and trembling, you don't cry. You don't worry about tomorrow or the next day or the next, and you have the feeling you won't ever. Instead, you cradle his head in between your hands and smile, gazing up at him as he gazes down at you.

There is no regret, and there won't ever be. Because you love him, and that love is so deep and so much a part of you that you couldn't imagine living without it. You love him, and deep, deep in your soul, you know he loves you, too, and that is enough. That love is enough. You don't need tomorrow, or the next day, or 'forever'. You've already got that.

So even as he slowly pulls away from you and you both straighten up, you are not upset and you are not afraid. He is going to leave, because that is what he needs, and you are going to stay because that is what you need. And even as he slowly backs away, his eyes locked with yours and his face a confused jumble of everything, you are not crying.

Because you love him, and he loves you, and that is enough.