Beginning notes: Finally, the final chapter for you all to enjoy. I think this is the end to Pianissimo. Thank you for all of the reviews and the encouragement. I'm glad so many of you liked it. I had fun experimenting with the different ideas that I struggled with psychologically. You guys are awesome. I'm sure I'll be back to writing more frequently once school is out, so look forward to more!
Disclaimer: I do not own any part of Naruto.
Scene I: Detachment
Sakura's eyes fluttered open when her skin tingled in a reaction to the cold air that nipped lightly at her exposed legs. It was mid morning, and she could hear the noise of daily activity of the town outside of the walls. She shivered slightly and slid her legs under the blanket. Her mind immediately thought back to the night with Itachi, their exotic dance of their bodies and souls; and how dirty but also how right it felt to her. She could hear his steady breathing beside her, rhythmic and deep, very much like the rhythm of their dance last night. His kisses…his touches…the roughness…the gentleness…
She turned on her side to find herself gazing into the fathomless depths of his iron black eyes and her stomach twitched in surprise at finding him awake. They stared at each other for a while, neither stirring nor making an effort to move. However, eventually, he wordlessly sat up, not once taking his eyes off of hers, and reached out to brush away a messy strand of hair from her face. His eyes flickered like a candle before they became unreadable and impassive once more, leaving Sakura to easily detach herself from the situation.
"I have to kill you now." She breathed. Their eye contact never wavered.
"And I, you." He replied just as easily and quietly.
He broke their eye contact and let his gaze carefully go over her form as if trying to memorize every inch of it, and he could feel her flush at the intensity of his inspection. All in all, he had to say that he was impressed by her body; it was almost flawless in every way, her skin soft, and her lean muscles aching in pleasure every time he graced her with his caresses. Her beauty was remarkable, but it also challenged the potential of his abilities as a shinobi. He had to overcome the hesitation of killing her so that he could prove to himself that he was indeed stronger than emotions, things that he had long cast away as useless and pointless.
The twisted logic of Itachi was perhaps irreversibly so.
Swiftly, he bent down to crush his lips to her, his mouth searching and hungry for something that was not his, not at all his to own. But she gave it to him anyway, responding to it almost desperately as her mind swam incoherently. He pulled himself away and looked at her again before slowly dressing into his clothes. She did the same, the dread slowly creeping away from her as her emotions died down again, dormant as they were when Sasuke had left. With long, slender fingers, she reached down for her discarded weapon pouch.
It was then that her mind opened up to the fact that Naruto lay in the corner, unconscious and dirty. She could not move for a full minute while she fully comprehended that it was indeed her friend lying there in the corner of the room. Her throat gave a strangled cry as she rushed to his side as a surge of powerlessness and confusion washed over her all at once.
"How long has he been here?" She asked aloud.
The cold tip of a kunai kissed her carotid artery. "A few days."
The room went silent and the air almost frigid. Sakura did not move besides stroke Naruto's dirt-caked face. "So the other that you left in the house was some sort of clone?"
"A clone is too easy to see through. It is a special type of genjutsu."
What terrible power. It almost made her stand in awe before his genius.
In an instant, Sakura parried the kunai with her own, and they now stood at the opposite ends of the small room. Her delicate skin was cut, but she paid no heed to it. Her heart hammered inside of her chest, as her eyes kept their focus on Itachi.
"Can you kill me, Sakura?" He asked, his face set with passive determination. "Do you hate me enough to kill me?"
The kunoichi raised herself to full height and faced him squarely. "I love my friends enough to kill you."
His figure blurred out of sight and then reappeared right in front of her, his lips merely centimeters away from her ear as he whispered, "Such weakness cannot kill me."
Lightning speech that matched his, she blocked a slash to her arm and sliced empty air with another kunai. But she couldn't react to a swift kick to her abdomen which caused her to fly through the wall behind her. Bystanders screamed and fled the scene in a hurry, mothers ushering away their children, vendors pushing away their stands of merchandise. She slid across the dusty road and smashed into the wall of the building opposite of the small inn, and she struggled to get up to her feet as the Uchiha stepped through the huge hole in the wall, still altogether composed and calm.
"You have gotten faster. I thought perhaps you wouldn't be able to block my first attack."
Haruno Sakura wiped away a trickle of blood from the corner of her mouth with the back of her hand and allowed a small, grim smile to grace her lips. She bent her legs in a ready stance, her hands fisting around each kunai. "Let's make this our final dance."
Scene II: Conscious
A dull sound greeted his senses and the ground reverberated with a sudden impact of something against something else, which caused his body to react slightly. Groggy and confused, he did not recognize the small room that he was in. His head spun so fast that it made him nauseous.
Wake up, brat. Wake the hell up. I'm done healing you.
The familiar growl of the Kyuubi cleared his head as his hands moved automatically to push himself from the floor.
"Well, well, you're awake? This was certainly unanticipated." Another slightly amused voice drawled from a couple of meters away. "It seems that Itachi let go of the sleep jutsu now that he's preoccupied with the kuniochi."
Uzumaki Naruto turned to see Kisame grin his horrible smile full of jagged teeth, his sword resting comfortably on his broad shoulders. A surge of hatred and fresh anger boiled inside of him as he remembered why he was there.
Hinata was dead, and that's all he needed to know.
Confused blue orbs turned into cynical red, his pupil contracting into slivers like a fox's, and the whiskers on his face deepened into an angry crimson as he faced the shinobi that had murdered his wife. "I'll kill you."
Kisame's grin widened. "So I finally get to test the Kyuubi's power? This is going to be good."
Let's kill him!
For once in a long time, Naruto listened to the urging of the Kyuubi. He had to get compensation for his loss somehow. No one messed his family and got away with it. No one could murder his wife and think to get away with it without payment. As the next Hokage, he drove a hard bargain.
Your life or nothing.
Scene III: Last dance
The road was clear of anyone who was not involved in the fight. A stray breeze whimsically brushed past the two ninjas as if it was unaware of the seriousness of the situation.
"Hate me, Sakura." Uchiha Itachi said as he approached her.
If you hate me, then it will make it easier for me to kill you without hesitation.
Sakura held her scraped arm. "I do."
I would hate to love you, but it's too late.
"Only the strong survive, and to be strong means to be hated." He came back at her, silently and swiftly, like all the other times. It was how he killed. She dodged him precariously and tried to regain her balance by twisting her body to change her momentum. Her lungs burned when she tried to breathe deeply and her lower side was bruised from the kick.
Acting quickly, she healed her bruise and her arm. Itachi's eyes flickered with recognition at the sight of her healing powers. "Indeed, you were useful in healing my arm."
The kunoichi ignored the stab of hurt at his words. "Glad to be of service." She spat in disgust.
"Killing you will bring me higher in my potential."
My potential may end here.
"And killing you will rectify what I have done."
No one will forgive me even when I do.
Sakura charged her empty fists with chakra and punched the ground. The ground broke in two then in smaller, jagged pieces as she used them like barriers to flit in and out of sight. Itachi's Sharingan easily detected her movements, and he stood ready as the kunoichi ran in circles around him while trying to calculate on what to do. Too late, Itachi struck with unparalleled speed, cutting her upper arm and leg, but it was enough of an opening for her to land a full-blown punch to his chest. Itachi felt several ribs crack at the enormous impact.
He somersaulted in mid-air and landed back on his feet, ignoring the searing pain of his cracked ribs. Sakura was breathing heavily as she looked down at her bleeding leg. It was a deep wound. She stemmed the flow of the blood to decrease her blood loss.
They met again in a clash of steel against steel, fist against fist, leg against leg. Dodging, turning, punching, kicking, they danced and danced, this time to the death. It was their closing dance. The rapid pace of their quickened even more as their heartbeats provided the beat of the drums; they were putting everything that they had into this last dance.
Sakura knew she could keep up with neither his endurance nor his speed, and so she broke away from their engagement to take a break while she thought of another way to kill him.
Itachi took advantage of the pause of the battle. He closed his eyes and concentrated. Mangekyou Sharingan!
Sakura made the mistake of looking into those eyes. She could hear his voice in her head.
You will suffer through all the deaths of your closest friends.
She saw Naruto fighting valiantly against the Akatsuki but they overwhelmed him with twenty kunais piercing every part of him—blood was everywhere—she tried to scream but nothing came out; Ino was ambushed by a rouge band of missing-nin and they ravaged her over and over again until they killed her when she couldn't move anymore—Sakura tried to cry but no tears would come; Kakashi bracing an entire explosion to sacrifice himself in order to save his comrades—his burnt and scarred body being carried back to Konoha by those who had survived because of that sacrifice.
The kunoichi vomited. She was on her hands and knees, doubled over as those scenes flashed before her eyes, and she threw up again when she saw Ino being repeatedly violated. Sakura collapsed out of exhaustion and sheer lack of energy, and she took in a shaky breath when Itachi's genjutsu stopped. She felt him grab her by the neck and raise her up to her feet forcibly. He pressed her against a wall behind them. Sakura's empty hands hung limply at her sides, her kunai lost somewhere on the ground.
"The love you have for you friends always betrays you when in the presence of an Uchiha. All useless…all in vain…" Itachi breathed. His quick fingers twirled a kunai and then smoothly stabbed her straight through her chest. It was frightening how graceful his movements were.
Sakura jolted at the sharp agony and tasted the bitter taste of blood on her tongue, but she smiled. She coughed a little, splattering blood down her chin, and she looked down at the bloody hand of Itachi still upon the fatal kunai. She wrapped her smaller hand around the kunai also, securing him in place. She felt her body shutting down—she knew she was going to die—and she called upon everything left in her body.
"Satsugaite…no…Jutsu…" She breathed inaudibly.
A ball of killing chakra formed in her free hand and without a second thought, she slammed it into his body, feeling his skin and flesh tear away as her chakra destroyed all of his cells. Itachi did not look surprised or shocked, just blank and uncomprehending. His Sharingan retreated for the final time and his vision became its usual blurriness, but he tried to focus through the pain at her face. Breathing no longer came naturally for the couple. They had to consciously force themselves to breathe.
"So this is my potential." He whispered to her.
Itachi frowned in the slightest. "My brother was foolish enough to let you go." Blood dripped from the gaping wound in his chest.
"As long as I have you, it doesn't matter anymore."
"I have always told you that lies are always the quietest." He exhaled and he felt his body relax into her arms.
"You can decide if that is a lie or not."
Itachi closed his eyes as if at peace with the world. "If it is a lie, then I will have died for nothing."
The kunoichi, as if she knew he wanted to see her, drew closer and kissed his soft lips. "Then this is how you play the game, Itachi."
And their heartbeats faded away into a pianissimo. Their dance was concluded.
Scene IV: Kakashi
Hatake Kakashi had arrived just in time to see Sakura kill Itachi with Tsunade's Satsugaite no jutsu. He was indeed too late; too late to save her and to take back home. He saw her whisper to his face and kiss him before falling slowly to ground, her pink tresses cascading behind her like the rain of sakura petals in the spring. He watched in fascination as Itachi stroked her cheek once before going still.
He walked listlessly, his uniform marred with signs of heavy travel through the woods. He slowly approached the dead couple and knelt by Sakura's peaceful form which was partially resting in Itachi's limp arms. She looked gorgeous even in her eternals sleep, even with blood speckling her face; somehow, that added a strange, haunting beauty to her. He gathered her in his arms—she seemed so vulnerable still—and faced the direction of the inn where a battle raged wildly. Kakashi looked down at her bloodly figure and the kunai still embedded in her chest. For some reason, he could not bring himself to pull it out. It felt like she would be sad if it was.
Bringing Itachi's body seemed be an obligation since he possessed the famous Uchiha Sharingan. He couldn't risk letting anyone else have that kind of power in their hands.
There was a battle in the confined space of the inn, Naruto destroying everything on sight.
"Go help him, sensei."
Startled, he almost dropped the petite woman in his arms. Sakura gazed up at him with hooded, dull green eyes that seemed to plead with him to do as she wished. "Sakura, you'll be fine. Don't talk. We'll get you to Tsunade."
Sakura shook her head and winced as the kunai in her chest shifted even deeper. "I don't want to go back. Too many things I've done wrong. I am ashamed to face Konoha." Kakashi opened his mouth to say something, but she quickly went on. "Please, sensei. Let me stay here. I belong to him now."
Kakashi's eyes—both of them—stung as he made the effort not to let his tears show. "You belong in Konoha."
His beloved student gave him a small smile. "That person gave me a chance to dance. I want to keep dancing."
He had to concentrate even harder to keep the tears in check. A shinobi must not show his emotions; he must not be vulnerable. He turned around and walked toward Itachi again. Kakashi placed her in a sitting position against the wall that was still stained with her blood. In a magnificent show of delicate tenderness, Sakura carefully rested Itachi's head on her lap. She stroked his beautiful face, peacefully slumbering. "If we ever get reincarnated, I hope we meet in different circumstances."
"Sakura, please don't leave."
She looked up, her eyes brighter than he had ever seen them, and she gave him such a pretty smile. "I'm sorry I let you down, sensei. Find happiness, sensei, and thank you…for everything."
Scene V: Resolution
The battle-worn Naruto stood over Kisame's bloody body in the small room. His maniacal red eyes receded back into their normal orbs of deep blue, and his body automatically began to mend itself from the several deep gashes from Kisame's enormous sword.
He was breathing hard and he sat down in the middle of the destroyed room, taking a breather after completing his vengeance.
"Naruto, you're okay." A quiet voice said from behind him.
Quickly turning around, Naruto was surprised to see Kakashi standing there, his clothes bloody though he didn't seem to have any outward wounds. "Sensei, what happened?" He exclaimed, his exhaustion forgotten.
"Sakura is dead." His voice was flat and emotionless.
At first, Naruto did not move. Shaking himself out of his reverie, he laughed nervously. "Wait, what?"
"Sakura is dead."
A blur of golden head charged at him and slammed him to the ground, and he was pinned down by Naruto's heavy body. "Damn it, don't say so casually!" He shouted. "Don't say it like that! Don't say it at all!"
So there was silence. Naruto looked up to see a familiar shade of pink against the sun-bleached wall of a building. Angry tears welled up and he got up, ignoring Kakashi, to walk to his best friend. He staggered a little over the scattered rubble of the inn, and when he reached Sakura's dead form slumped against the wall, he clamped his eyes shut and fisted his hands. He trembled and his throat burned with a sob. He felt hot tears slipping from his eyes.
When he composed himself enough to look at her again, he opened his eyes and took a shuddering breath. Naruto knelt beside her and gazed at her beautiful face, almost smiling when he noticed at she also had a smile on her face. He half expected her to open those emerald eyes and smile that brilliant white smile while laughing at how good she was at faking death.
"Boy, I really had you going there for a bit, Naruto, didn't I?" But that never came.
It never would.
Naruto wrapped his arms around her and pulled her close. Her limp body simply obeyed. "I don't have anyone anymore, Sakura. Why did you have to go?" He moaned in despair. She remained silent.
Kakashi could not watch the heart-wrenching scene. He turned away and sighed a heavy sigh. It was going to be a long day.
Scene VI: Home
"…even though she made mistakes, I still honor her dedication to correct her wrongs. She was one of the greatest medical ninjas that I had the pleasure of teaching. I will miss her." Tsunade concluded. She turned to the side and nodded at a certain golden haired shinobi. "Naruto, would you like to say a couple of things?"
The multitude all clothed in black shifted as Naruto strode forward uncertainly and hesitantly. He cleared his throat. "Sakura was the greatest friend that I had. Maybe because she paid for most of my ramen when I was younger." A ripple of quiet laughter traveled through the crowd. "She helped me out when the Akatsuki were after me. She always made sure to visit me whenever she could, and she worried about me constantly. I'm just disappointed that I wasn't able to do much for her…" His voice broke.
Kakashi stepped in and rested a reassuring hand on the younger man's shoulder. Tsunade commenced with the burial. It was time for the ultimate good bye.
Naruto looked up at the sky and let a breath of finality. "You're home."
Upon her gravestone, there was an epithet:
She lived a quiet life and many did not recognize her, but her love was always there, just at a minute pianissimo.
Ending notes: There you have it. Another finished story. Sorry if it was short. But now, I must work on Blind Vision. Ending reviews would be awesome! Thanks for everything, my lovely readers!