Title: Behind the Curtains

Author: paws-bells

Beta-ed by: MelissaRose85

Characters/Pairing: Haruno Sakura and Uchiha Itachi

Type: OneShot Collection (InComplete)

Genre: Romance/General/Humor

Word Count: 2611

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

Disclaimer: Naruto belongs to Kishimoto-san.

Summary: Curtain call-verse. Various one-shots depicting the lives of the Uchiha Family.

Created on: 22/11/08

Completed on: 22/11/08

Chapter Last Revised on: 28/11/09


Chapter One


He suspected the truth even before she fully realized what was going on.

It had been a rather busy month for her, and it was not surprising that she had missed all the signs in favor of attending to the other distractions around her; it was the flu season and the village children in particular had been most vulnerable to the airborne viral strain that transmitted the sickness around the small, close-knit community. As the village healer, she had been kept fully occupied dispensing remedies and making house calls, and when she herself had experienced bouts of nausea and giddiness, she had simply dismissed them as the symptoms of a swiftly passing cold.

And when the morning sickness came, she was convinced that she must have eaten something bad the previous evening, and had been impatiently dismayed. She didn't have the time to get sick!

However, by the fifth morning his lover had wrenched herself from the bed they shared to dry heave miserably in the adjoining bathroom, Itachi began to get the impression that Sakura may not be ill in the manner that she had carelessly thought. She seldom fell sick in the first place; her sensible medic nature ensured that she always took good care of herself and their family, and therefore a mild inkling of concern plagued the powerful Uchiha. To add further to her existing misery, Itachi's sharp memory revealed that her monthly period should occur soon; in fact, she was already a week overdue when her menstrual cycle had always been unerringly regular.

And now that he was alerted to this strange occurrence of her delayed cycle, it quickly dawned to him that she seemed to have completely missed her period last month as well.

This time around, it wasn't difficult for the Uchiha to put two and two together and come immediately to four.

Even if he didn't seem to show it, he was, if nothing else, extraordinarily attuned to the wellbeing of his petite mate, and if his current hunch was right on the spot, Sakura was going to require a bit more care and support than usual.

Like it had almost a lifetime ago, the ramification of his logical, purely analytical deductions was downright astounding—and disconcerting. But he quickly dismissed his surprise; he could worry about it later if he was correct. Meanwhile, the raven-haired shinobi slipped from the futon and made his way towards his currently miserable lover. She was still bent over the toilet when he treaded noiselessly into bathroom, her shoulders heaving as she fought a futile war with her berserk gag reflexes, shuddering as she tried to gulp down her rising bile.

Wordlessly, he crouched down beside her, long fingers methodically gathering her sleep mussed long hair from her face even as his other hand reached for her shivering form. Slowly rubbing his palm against her back in small, concentric circles, he lent her his support in the only way he knew, in the same manner that he had always done unfailingly for her and only her. Luckily for him, it was enough, as it always was. Stoically standing guard over his woman, he waited patiently until her stomach finally decided to stop tormenting her, and when she finally straightened wearily, her face pale and her normal, healthy, peach-hued coloring off, he did nothing other than manually offer her a piece of dampened cloth, as well as a glass of tap water for her to rinse the taste from her mouth.

She accepted his offerings gratefully, sighing softly as she tried to refresh herself. Strange, but she was feeling so tired and lethargic nowadays. It was frustrating; she still had so many things to do, so many patients to look after, she certainly had no time to spend being sick! No matter, sick or not, she would still make her way down to the village. The thought of little children younger than her own sons unwell and without medication did not sit well with Sakura at all, and as usual, she was about to prepare herself for yet another busy, exhausting day when her silent lover finally spoke.

"You should rest." His smooth tenor voice, although mild, was still slightly roughened from sleep. However, there was no mistaking the quiet ring of authority in his tone.

Sakura shook her head regretfully.

"I can't." she murmured. "There are so many things to do; preparing breakfast, household chores, and I need to go down to the village later-"

"You may visit the village later." He interrupted her calmly, the rare streak of persistence that he so seldom showed to the world surfacing blatantly. "Rest now."

His suggestion was so very tempting, but she quickly sensed something amiss in his behavior. He normally trusted her enough not to interfere in her judgment when it came to her own wellbeing, well aware that she knew her limit and wouldn't drive herself past it, and in the process, distress their two young sons. However, he was unusually unwavering in his decision for her to rest this time around, slowly but firmly herding her out of the bathroom and back to bed.

As it was still very early in the morning, she submitted to his will easily. He was right, after all; she needed to sleep as much as possible in order to recover faster from this abrupt bout of flu, and the sudden dizziness that assailed her after the horrendous nausea ensured that she emitted nary a word of protest as she climbed back into bed and settled amongst the covers with a relieved sigh.

He joined her, much to her surprise, but she remained perfectly pliant as he gathered her to him, curling his larger body around hers in a protective gesture that she did not fail to miss. His warmth was a comforting reassurance, and silently, she turned her head and hid her face in the side of his neck, pressing her lips against his pale skin in a gesture of thanks. In response, his hands came up to her body, an arm locking firmly around the slender indent of her waist, whereas the other hand rested on her middle, long fingers spread open against her slim belly, almost possessive in nature as he stroked her lightly with idle fascination.

She shifted slightly, lifting her head to meet his quiet, watchful gaze.

"Itachi?" she enquired, curious about his behavior. His beautiful onyx eyes regarded her calmly, and then he informed her of his suspicions.

"It's likely that you are carrying again," he told her quietly, and her eyes widened in surprise. "Your symptoms are very akin to that of pregnancy, and you have already missed your monthly flow twice."

"But-" Sakura was absolutely stunned by the possibility that her lover had just boldly pointed out. "How is that possible? We never planned-"

Her disbelief came to an abrupt halt when she considered her own exclaimations. The conception of Kuro and Kusa hadn't exactly been planned, and as to the question of how the pregnancy could be possible…

Sakura refused to blush. She was already twenty-nine years old, and making love to her stoic, but stunningly tender lover had become such a natural occurrence by now that she shouldn't have anything to feel embarrassed about. The notion that she might be pregnant again, however…

Had she been so busy lately that she hadn't even noticed what her body had been trying to tell her? Instinctively, she raised a hand and laid it on her stomach, directly over Itachi's. He didn't attempt to pull away from her, content to watch her as she considered the possibility of a new life now nestled within her.

"I think I may have forgotten to take birth control measures a few times before…" she admitted slowly at last, a little chagrinned over her own carelessness, even as a burst of giddy joy began to overwhelm her. "You are right; all the symptoms are there. I could be pregnant."

Her captivating eyes lit up as they met his, and it was obvious to him that she was not adverse to the thought that she would carry his offspring within her womb once again. Her sweet joy and excitement appeared completely genuine, and although he said nothing, he tightened his hold slightly over his beautiful, petite mate.

"I will need to carry out some tests later," she continued almost to herself, her mind already ahead of her in terms of plans and preparations. Trying to find out if she was really expectant through direct chakra stimulation to her womb would be ineffective at best and harmful to the new fetus at worst in her fledgling stage of pregnancy, and therefore, only the more traditional methods could be employed. "I will also have to-" she broke off, looking carefully at him.

It had suddenly occurred to her that he hadn't seemed to react much to the news of her possible pregnancy, be it positively or negatively. As usual, he appeared outwardly neutral and composed, but her past pregnancy had showed her just how fiercely protective he could be when it came to her and their children.

For them, he had sacrificed his ambition, turned his back on the powerful organization that he had once belonged to, and in the process, successfully shielded them from the attention of an ancient evil.

And when the end came, he had returned to her, effectively grounding himself to her and the boys, effectively clipping his own wings, this powerful man who had once desired his freedom more than anything else in the world.

Rarely, Sakura wondered if he missed those times in the past when he answered to no one, when there were no obligations holding him back from his goals and ambitions. With that thought in mind, the brutally frank part of her began to question if this pregnancy would not please him as much as it did her—or had his intensely possessive reaction that first time over seven years ago been a fluke; a responsibility that he had chosen on a whim not to shirk?

Sakura did not allow herself to speculate further; it was utterly ridiculous to do so. It may be true that Itachi was oftentimes frustratingly vague and deliberately misleading in his verbal replies, but there was never any doubt in the meanings behind his every action. He had remained with her even till now because he wished it to be so; it was as simple as that. She trusted him implicitly; this was the man who held her heart in his possession, this was the father of all her children.

Just the thought that she might have another precious child from her quiet, reserved lover made her heart swell with overwhelming happiness and love for the little one who may be currently nestled within her, as well as its father, who had his strong arms around her; almost as if making a silent vow to shelter, support, and protect her. It was as he had always done; her tiny anxiety attack really had no basis whatsoever.

She relaxed fully, curling into him and closing her eyes briefly, enjoying this air of peaceful contentment that surrounded them at the moment. Of course, this feeling was only due to the fact that it was still early morning and the boys hadn't awakened yet. Things would definitely be markedly different, not to mention a lot less quiet, in an hour or so.

She opened her eyes again, and looked to her lover.

"What are your…thoughts on this?"

She sounded slightly hesitant, and he gave her his full attention.

"The war has recently ended," he spoke carefully, and it was true. The Fourth Secret Ninja War had finally come to a conclusion a little more than six months ago. Konoha had barely fought off its Kumo and Iwa enemies, but still, they had won the war. "Our children will grow up in relatively peaceful times, assuming Konoha continues to maintain peace, and that the council does not get wind of the twins' abilities."

That wasn't exactly the reply that she had been looking for, but she should have known that he was as bluntly practical as ever, already methodically considering the possible threats and danger that might pose a problem to his family, present or future.

"That wasn't what I meant," Sakura promptly amended her previous question. "What are your feelings, Itachi? If it turns out that I'm really pregnant...?"

She was looking at him straight on, her own emotions displayed clearly, openly in her eyes. It wasn't difficult for him to see the small flash of uncertainty reflected in the crystalline depths of her gaze, and he understood that she was feeling insecure for some reason or another, and merely wished for his assurance.

A formidable kunoichi she might be, but even now, she was still the same sweetly sensitive woman who had first caught his attention like no one else had ever managed so long ago. For him, she had readily given up her village, her family, and her friends in exchange for a lonely, isolated, existence in Wave. She had selflessly offered herself to him; a protective, nurturing harbor to return to as he wearied more and more of being set adrift amongst the Five Great Countries, never allowed to settle down, never allowed rest. She had given him a pair of sons filled with so much raw potential that he had no doubt they would one day surpass him in terms of abilities and powers—they would be his ultimate measure, the undeniable proof that the Uchiha blood ran strong and true within their veins.

It shouldn't be any surprise that he had remained firmly by her side all these years—and that was unlikely to change whether or not she was expecting.

In fact, he was prepared to be with her all the way this time; watching her grow round with his child within her, staying with her as she brought their babe into the world, fulfilling his share of parental duties that he had missed with the twins the first time around.

Did she think that he would leave her?

"I would be pleased." He told her simply, truthfully.

His quiet, firm words, as well as his steady grey eyes as he leveled them on hers gave her no doubt that he meant exactly what he said.

You are mine.

Lover. Wife. Mate.

He was always a man of little words, and after years of living with him, this was probably one of the most touching declarations he had ever made to her. Sakura didn't know whether to laugh with drunken happiness or weep with joy. It appeared that she was so hormonally imbalanced that she was immediately convinced she must have conceived after all.

The beautiful kunoichi ended up pressing her face into the crook of her lover's neck, and she rasped a wet laugh even as she proceeded to drench Itachi with gentle tears. Her raven-haired mate bore through her strange mood swings stoically, as he had always done.

"I love you, Itachi," she informed him unabashedly when she was a little recovered from her 'excess' emotions, and he merely shifted his gaze to look at her, now no longer perturbed by her desire to express her affection to him in all manners, verbally or otherwise. He also noticed the renewed light of humor in her eyes though, now that she had finally gotten all the shock out of her system.

"But you know that you are still going to be the one to break the news to Kisame and the boys, right?"


::owari::


Questions That I Would Like To Answer Before You Ask:

Well, rumors of my death has been greatly exaggerated, I assure you all.

I'm alive, if only barely so. College is eating into a lot of my writing time, and as it is now, I'm really supposed to be mugging for the two killer papers, and not over here posting fanfiction. Once again, I'd like to declare that I'm not giving up on any of my fics. Please understand that I would really like nothing more than to sit down and write fanfics all day long, but between studies and real life, that's clearly not possible, so please, I'd like to ask for just a little bit of your understanding and support.

I know that some of you are increasingly frustrated by my lack of updates, and for that I sincerely apologize. It is not my intention of leave any of you 'dangling,' and if it's of any consolation, I do promise that I will begin writing in earnest again after the exams, so do bear with me for just a little longer.

Thank you all for being so wonderfully patient with me all this while, as well as for all the earnest reviews/PMs even throughout the length of my absence on . I missed you guys too!

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Onto the topic of 'Behind the Curtains,' well, I did promise on 'Curtain Call' some donkey years ago that I will start a small one-shot collection depicting the lives of the Uchiha Family. It took almost one and a half years for me to fulfill my promise, but here it is.

A small warning in advance—the various chapters may or may not be interconnected, so it will be best to take all of them as separate one-shots unless otherwise stated. As most of you can already expect by now, updates may or may not be constant, so follow at your own risk, okay?

…By the way, before any of you can start complaining about how I'm haring off with a new series again, go take a look at the completion date of this installment first!

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This chapter occurs a few months before the Epilogue in CC. It's a bit shorter than my usual length, but word count will vary from chapter to chapter.

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Last but not least, on a totally unrelated note, I will try to put up the next chapter of 'cabbage patch' within the next two weeks. So sorry for the long wait, folks!

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

--paws