Title: Curtain call (the final act)

Author: paws-bells

Beta-ed by: Fallen-Tenshi, ItachixSakura Forever, BlueGreenApples

Characters/Pairing: Haruno Sakura and Uchiha Itachi

Type: Continuous (InComplete)

Genre: Romance/Angst

Word Count: 2840

Theme: LJ Community, 50-shinobi theme #49, Curtain call (the final act)

Rating: M (Contains content suitable for mature teens and older)

Disclaimer: Naruto belongs to Kishimoto-san.

Summary: Sequel to heart strings. It should be obvious by now that they were never meant to be together. Fate was doing everything possible to tear them apart, but one thing binds them closer together than never before. As long as hope never dies, life would continue to blossom.

Chapter Last Revised on: 07/03/08

Chapter 1

I think I'm drowning
I wanna break this spell
that you've created

you're something beautiful
a contradiction
I wanna play the game
I want the friction

you will be the death of me
you will be the death of me

bury it
I won't let you bury it
I won't let you smother it
I won't let you murder it

our time is running out
our time is running out
you can't push it underground
you can't stop it screaming out

I wanted freedom
bound and restricted
I tried to give you up
but I'm addicted

now that you know I'm trapped sense of elation
you'd never dream of
breaking this fixation

you will squeeze the life out of me

bury it
I won't let you bury it
I won't let you smother it
I won't let you murder it

our time is running out
our time is running out
you can't push it underground
you can't stop it screaming out
how did it come to this?

you will suck the life out of me

bury it
I won't let you bury it
I won't let you smother it
I won't let you murder it

our time is running out
our time is running out
you can't push it underground
you can't stop it screaming out
How did it come to this?

—Lyrics from Time is Running Out, by Muse

When Kisame arrived at the charming little cottage that the kunoichi had claimed as her own, Itachi was already waiting outside with edgy impatience. It was not obvious to anyone of course; it was just that the Kiri-nin had been partners with the Uchiha for so many years that he had long since learned to recognize the different subtle nuances that the younger male would display. After all, the ability to anticipate the Sharingan-wielder's reactions never failed to make things easier for everybody involved.

Kisame was hardly affected by the Uchiha's current bout of moodiness. Compared to what he had to put up with when they were still searching for the little Leaf's whereabouts, this was nothing. Besides—he had a good reason for his tardiness.

"I made some enquiries around the village," the tall blue-haired nin remarked as he ducked into the small entrance of the cottage, following his partner into the tiny home. "Apparently no one was aware of 'Midori-san's' ninja background. In addition to having an unfortunately deceased husband, she was also a civilian healer."

Looking around the cozy and tidy surroundings, Kisame lifted a non-existent brow. "It certainly explained why she chose the outskirts of this village to live in."

Finished with his brief survey of the living area, Kisame turned around just in time to see Itachi reemerge from one of the bedrooms. Cradled carefully in his arms was the expectant little kunoichi, a blanket draped over her rounded and clearly unconscious form.

Judging by the wary and terrified look on her face the last time he saw her, Kisame was willing to bet that her sleep wasn't a voluntary one. He wasn't foolish enough to ask for a confirmation, though.

"You planning on carrying her all the way back to the headquarters?" The shark man asked his partner instead.

Itachi inclined his head curtly.

"We are moving fast."

Kisame nodded in agreement. At their normal speed of travel they would reach the hideout in roughly a week. If the kunoichi was allowed to move by her own means in her current condition, it would probably take a month, perhaps more.

"She sleeping the whole way back?" It was going to be damn boring if it was so, and to think that Kisame had been so looking forward to talking with the feisty little Leaf-nin too.

His partner's question was completely ridiculous. Her need for nourishment was more crucial than ever now, and she had to be awake to take it.

"She will wake soon." Itachi started towards the exit of the cottage. If all goes according to plan they would be a fair distance away from here by the time she comes to. "We leave now."

Kisame merely shrugged and hefted the pack of supplies that had been prepared for the return trip.

It was just after noon when Sakura started to stir.

Surrounded by warmth and oddly at ease with her surroundings, her body took its time adjusting between the realms of sleep and wakefulness. Lulled by a completely familiar scent of fresh rainwater, the kunoichi arched slightly to relieve the familiar pressure of her womb pressing insistently against her spine before settling back lazily against the warm surface that supported her.

She frowned slightly. Her bed seemed to be lumpier than she remembered but at the moment, her mind was just too groggy to wonder why.

But then when her bed shifted under her, the kunoichi knew immediately that something was wrong.

Beds do not move—and most definitely not hers.

It was as if her entire senseshad been splashed abruptly awake by an icy bucket of water. Sapphire blue eyes snapped open with alarm, and then—

They saw crimson


Everything rushed back to her in a brief second.

Kisame and him.

In her cottage.

Claiming her baby.

Forcing her unconscious with the Sharingan.

Taking her baby to Akatsuki.

It all clicked into place. Her eyes widened and almost immediately, the pregnant female tried to push away from the father of her unborn child with wild panic. He allowed her to do no such thing.

"You will calm down or I will knock you out again." His uncharacteristically sharp command was successful in making her cease her futile struggles. Panting hard from her exertions, she froze and started to glare at him angrily.

They were currently resting under the sheltering shade of a large tree and she had been propped beside him earlier on, her body leaning fully against his for support as she used his unknowingly as a surface to doze on. It had also not escaped her notice that they were no longer in Wave country, and feeling as if she had just been forcibly extracted from the home that she had so painstakingly created for herself, she burst out in helpless rage.

"You have no right to do this!" she hissed, her blue eyes turbulent with chaotic emotions.

He stared at her quietly, her exact opposite in temperament.

"On the contrary; I have every right." His voice was calm.

She bristled defensively, still trapped by his side and inwardly furious that she had actually slept against him the entire while and had not known of it. He was now holding firmly to her, his long fingers effectively acting like unyielding manacles around her wrist, and it made her even angrier that she could be so easily restrained by him thusly.

"All you did was physically father my child," she growled out in a low, harsh whisper. "I didn't need you to take care of me. I got through the past six months of my pregnancy very well on my own. Again, what right do you have to come now and even think of enslaving my baby to your vile organization?"

In a single heartbeat, his seemingly placid expression changed.

His elegant features turned dark and forbidding, and his hold on her wrists started to pain her. She refused to flinch, only glaring defiantly at him with as much ferocity as she could muster.

"You carry my flesh and blood within you," he rasped, his normally lilting tone made almost guttural with his own increasing anger at her stubborn obstinacy. "From now on you belong completely to me. I have every right."

Once upon a time, she might have been secretly thrilled by that fierce possession in his voice. She would have been contented with the knowledge that even if he could never care for her the way she wanted him to, his blatant covetousness of her would at least prove that he wanted her nearby, in a way.

But now was no longer the past—now there was another person to consider: the wellbeing of the little one within her so important to Sakura that it would take immediate precedence over each and everything that she had once held so dear to. Her baby needed her complete protection; weak and utterly defenseless, it would have only her as its champion and she would not let it down.

The kunoichi snarled angrily. "You will never own me."

It was clear that she would not back down without a fight and he returned her rage with a savage snarl of his own, bringing his face towards hers for the confrontation. "You are mine, Sakura. You were mine from the very moment you chose to turn your back against your beloved Konoha."

She flinched at his contemptuous sneer of their birthplace.

"You are completely alone now. Defenseless." By now his voice was barely a whisper. "How will you protect our offspring in your current condition? How can you flee a pack of hunter-nins determined to bring you down, to take your head in for a bounty? Will you let our child die because of your foolish pride?"


Staring at her frozen form with hard crimson eyes, he released her wrist abruptly. The bruising on her delicate skin was not lost on him and the Uchiha bit off a mental oath.

But she did not move away from him.

"You need me." His statement was flat, and so very true that she simply could not refute it. Sakura closed her eyes, defeated.

Seeing her like this did not sit well with him. The powerful Uchiha stood up soundlessly and started to walk away from the petite kunoichi, clearly allowing her some time to accept his permanent reentrance into her life.

Sakura listened to his movement as he treaded almost noiselessly to the edge of the clearing.

And then he stopped—and spoke; his voice calm and emotionless once more.

"Unless he chooses that path, Akatsuki will never sink its claws into our son."

The unspoken vow was there.

I will make sure of it.

It was obvious when Kisame returned to the clearing after his water gathering trip that something had changed.

The kunoichi was finally awake and it appeared that she had finally come to terms with the fact that she was going to be taken to Akatsuki, like it or not. The atmosphere was still slightly tensed of course, but it was certainly nowhere near as bad as the terror that the Kiri-nin had witnessed in her eyes when she first saw Itachi.

Not that he would blame her; his partner could be one scary son of a bitch when he wanted to.

The brunette kunoichi lifted her head when she heard his approach to the clearing that they were temporarily stopping in, and he grinned unabashedly at the petite female when their eyes met. There was no outward reaction from Itachi; the Uchiha had sensed his presence even long before she had.

"Hello, little Leaf." The immensely tall shark man greeted almost cheerfully. "You are definitely looking a lot better compared to the last time I saw you."

Sakura looked at the powerful Kiri-nin; he appeared genuinely glad to see her again and despite herself her heart lightened a little.

"Hello, Kisame." She gave him a small, wan smile. It was all she could give at the moment, and luckily enough he understood that she wasn't exactly feeling over the moon at this most recent change of circumstance that had so rudely forced its way into her life.

Kisame squinted at the little female currently resting under the large, sheltering boughs of a tree. She looked mostly healthy, her figure softly rounded in her advancing stage of pregnancy. She was a little pale though, probably stressed by the abrupt change in environment as well as the company she was forced to keep. A fair distance away stood his prodigious partner, observing their interaction with seemingly careless disregard.

Kisame cleared his throat slightly and then dug around his packs of supplies before extending a recently filled water bottle to the kunoichi. "Here. You must be thirsty."

Sakura stared at the proffered water bottle, and when she didn't accept it immediately, the Kiri-nin frowned. "You need to drink," he insisted gruffly. "For the kid."

The kunoichi may be feeling quite miserable at the moment, but she would have to be blind and deaf not to detect the note of awkward concern in the man's voice. Slowly, she accepted the flask from the nukenin. Her tired smile became a little livelier. Grateful.

"Thank you, Kisame." It was as if she was thanking him for a lot more than the proffered water. Understanding, perhaps.

The blue-haired nin only nodded once, and then moved away from her to allow her space. Sakura unscrewed the bottle cap and took a small sip to whet her palate before eagerly drinking more.

When she was done, Kisame came forth once more to retrieve the bottle from her, stowing it safely within his packs once more. Then Itachi stepped forward and stopped before her.

"We will move out now."

"Er, yes? How can I help you?"

Dr. Ichikawa Ryuji smiled hesitantly at the three men standing before him, feeling a serious sense of déjà vu as he regarded the people in front of him with a tint of wariness in his eyes.

There was a tall, lanky blonde with bright golden hair and what looked like whisker tattoos etched on his cheeks, followed by a slouchy looking male with dark, bored eyes and even darker hair that seemed to be sticking up all over the place like a pineapple. Lastly was the oldest male in the group, who had spiky silver hair and an almost droopy eye.

Yes, only one eye. Because the other was concealed by what looked like a lopsidedly placed hitai-ite.

They all wore forehead protectors; Ryuji saw as much from the very moment they entered the building, but it was the Konoha insignia that was proudly inscribed on each of the metal headbands that made him pause.

It was completely too coincidental that she had come in with a Konoha hitai-ite as well.

That dreaded feeling of déjà vu increased exponentially.

The one-eyed nin asked politely, "Dr. Ichikawa-san, you had a patient named Haruno Sakura, am I correct?"

Ryuji nodded immediately, patient confidentiality be-damned. The last time one of these nins came asking about that particular pink-haired kunoichi he had very nearly lost his life in the process. Ryuji was not keen on repeating that experience anytime soon.

"Yes, we had. But like I told that gentleman nearly one month ago; Haruno-san had healed herself completely after she recovered from her chakra exhaustion and was discharged soon after."

The blonde, who had been fidgeting the entire while, finally burst out in relieved questions. "So Sakura-chan is alright? She is healthy and has survived her injuries? When did she leave?"

Before the poor doctor could be barraged by even more questions, the silver-haired shinobi laid a hand on the younger man's shoulder. "Naruto," he admonished calmly. "Let Ichikawa-san finish speaking."

Reluctantly, the seemingly excitable blonde quieted down at last whereas an exasperated roll of eyes could be detected from the last nin, who had so far still been silent throughout the entire exchange.

When it was obvious that Naruto would not be interrupting again, Kakashi nodded at the young doctor. "Please go on, Ichikawa-san."

Ryuji nodded immediately. He could not help but notice that this group of nins appeared completely non-threatening compared to that utterly terrifying aura of the shinobi who had came an entire month before them. Just remembering the sheer presence of the tall, raven-haired nin, made shivers run up and down the spine of the good doctor. He would never forget his close brush with Death for as long as he lived; he had no doubt that any man who was so capable of generating such an overpowering amount of killing intent would also have no trouble committing murder.

His encounter with that dangerous nin made his current situation with this group of polite Leaf shinobis look like a walk in the park.

But then again, they are ninjas. Pleasant could change into deadly in a single heartbeat, and Ryuji really had no wish to risk his life again. The accommodating doctor quickly spilled all that he knew.

"Haruno-san left the hospital exactly a week after she was brought in and that was the last we saw of her."

There was a brief pause as everyone digested the facts and mentally calculated a timeline.

"So it has been almost three months since she was here." Naruto appeared completely crestfallen.

Once again, Ryuji nodded. Before he could elaborate on the condition of the kunoichi though, the pineapple-haired male finally spoke up.

"You mentioned earlier that there was a 'gentleman' who had also asked about her a month ago." Behind that seemingly lazy gaze hid an unbelievably keen awareness. "Can you still recall anything about him?"

Ryuji really did shudder this time, and his action was not lost on the nins.

"Yes, I do." The doctor admitted immediately. "I don't think I will ever forget it."

When no further elaborations were given, Shikamaru frowned.

"Well? Can you tell us more?" The lazy genius probed. "What did he look like? What did he ask?"

Ryuji still remembered the encounter as if it had just happened yesterday.

"He was tall and lean. I recall that he was a very distinctive individual; dressed completely in black. Obsidian eyes, long raven hair but it was tied at the nape-" Ryuji was busy gesturing just where the nape was and didn't notice the way all three nins stiffened with recognition. "I'm very sure that the gentleman is a shinobi as well." The doctor admitted in a hushed voice. "A very powerful nin. He was leaking so much killing intent when he found out that Haruno-san was no longer in the hospital."

Ryuji paused, and seemed to be thinking about something.

Before either of the nins could ask more, he continued to reiterate his encounter.

"He was very intimidating to speak to and oh, I'm not really sure how but his eyes could change colors—they turned blood red when I told him that Haruno-san was three months pregnant when she was brought in."

Stunned silence, then—



Questions That I Would Like To Answer Before You Ask:

Finally! (I can just hear you guys saying that, by the way. Or grumping.) She has uploaded the first installment for Curtain call! Well, many thanks for all your patience (as thinly stretched as that must have become) and I hope that you were not disappointed for your wait. The subsequent chapters will get a little longer than this and don't worry; I'm planning to post new chapters at least once a week.

Remember how I used to bemoan that 'silk kimono' was the longest one-shot that I had ever written? Well, Curtain call is going to take over the new record. I'm only four-fifths done with it and the unedited version is already about to exceed 50,000 words. Hope you guys are happy!

And well, Curtain call is rated 'M' for a very good reason too. You will see, haha!


I know I have never used a theme song or any such thing to my fics before but I just cannot help it this once. To be honest, I freely admit to being a complete music nut and I will get grumpy without my daily fix of tunes. Time is Running Out was playing when I was in the midst of writing Curtain Call, and I was completely struck by how it fit the theme of this fic. Heck, I think it's a song that would agree with all ItaSaku fans out there.

I see that I have caught some of your attentions. Want to listen to it? Not saying anything much, but you may get a surprise if you are willing to poke around the links on my profile!


I'm sure that you smart, detail-orientated people out there have already sniffed out the presence of my new betas. You are right. FallenTenshi, BlueGreenApples as well as MelissaRose85 have joined ItachixSakura Forever as my team of dedicated QC people. Do give them lots of love!

I'd also like to give my thanks and overwhelming appreciation to everyone who had been so kind enough to volunteer for the beta positions, as well as how understanding you guys had been when I had to regretfully turn down your generous offers:



Protected by an Angel



Chaerring Trinity

Angels Falls8

Anariel Tindomerel




Quiet Moon

Fire Valkyria



Youkai Goddess


Thank you, thank you, thank you so much!!


Your reviews fuel my passion for writing. So please leave a comment if you like this fic, thank you.