Author's Note: Another chapter for you lovely people, hope you're all enjoying this semi-serious fic at least a little. Lol I've written better than this XD
Beta: Sargent Crash
© Anime by Masashi Kishimoto
Whats and Whys
One of Naruto's clones had fallen into the water again, and another one pointed and laughed. "You suck!" He exclaimed before being pushed in by another clone.
"Shut up!" Is what he said.
"Hey hey, cut it out!" Naruto yelled to the clones while struggling to balance himself on top of the water. "This isn't playtime, how am I suppose to learn if you guys won't take this seriously?!" He questioned, "Stay on as long as you can, quit goofing off!"
Sasuke scoffed, taking slow steps across the water on his end of the lake. "They're you, how are they suppose to stop?"
"Who asked you?!"
"Shut it!" Sakura yelled, wobbling a little before regaining her balance. Sasuke rolled his eyes, Naruto grumbled something inaudible, then all was quiet again.
They were at this practice for days (about an entire week), nonstop. The progress was very clear from the fact that they hadn't fallen in in a while. When Kakashi saw that none of them completed their 'tree walking' he told Naruto everyday to make a few clones (as suggested by Sakura), so they could watch over Tazuna since it was too dangerous for him to go out alone.
When they came home from their water training the first day, Kakashi was the slightest bit confused. "Why are you all wet?" Was what he had asked.
"It's sweat," Sakura had answered, before either Sasuke or Naruto (well... maybe just Naruto) could.
"... You're soaked from head to toe-"
"It's sweat, goodnight." She repeated, cutting him off while pushing her teammates along. Sakura chuckled at the memory.
"That was the dumbest excuse ever."
'But, you do see that he never asked about it again?'
"That doesn't mean he believes that, maybe he just doesn't want to deal with your idiocy. Ever think about that?"
'You can look at it your way, I'll look at it my way.'
Naruto stepped off of the water, then dispelled all of his clones, gaining the attention of Sasuke and Sakura. "What are you doing?" Sasuke questioned.
"I'm gonna try it on my own now," He replied, then stepped back onto the water. Sakura and Sasuke watched closely as a smile grew onto his face, while he walked around on the water. He grinned widely, "I'm doing it!"
Sakura smiled, clapping. "Great job Naruto-kun!" Sasuke curled his hands into fists, unconsciously, and looked down at his feet. He could stand on the water perfectly fine, he turned to Sakura.
"You said if we learned this technique, we could run up the tree in one go." He reminded her, "We learned it."
She nodded, "Yeah, that's right..." She shrugged, "Then I guess we're trying the tree again, that is if you guys are ready for that." She said as she crossed her arms.
Naruto quickly nodded, "Yeah, we're ready! Believe it!"
'I practiced like you made me, so... will you help just a little?'
"As long as you promise to put in some work too,"
They each removed one Kunai from their pouches, and stood in front of a different tree. Naruto and Sasuke both looked at Sakura, as if they were trying to ask if she was positive about the results of her training method.
She nodded at them, and they both nodded back in response. They each took a deep breath, focusing their chakra to the soles of their feet, then got into a readying stance. After standing that way for a few seconds, the three of them charged for their tree at the same time. Running up it as if they were running on the ground, no one made any foul ups. No one fell down, or split the tree under their foot. They ran high.
Straight to the top.
They all breathed heavily, looking at each other, then Naruto broke out into a smile. "Sakura-chan... you were... right!" He said, in-between breaths. "We did it!"
"Hn," Sasuke grunted, "I guess that wasa pretty handy trick.. Sakura," He looked at her, "You're smarter than you act."
Sakura chuckled, "I kinda feel like... you're calling me smart and dumb." She said, rubbing the back of her head. "But, all the same, I thank you Ducky-kun." Sasuke rolled his eyes, and Naruto laughed.
"Your hair looks like a duck's butt!" He shouted, pointing at the Uchiha.
Sasuke's eye twitched, "Shut up!"
Sakura and Sasuke headed back to Tazuna's, virtually exhausted one might add. They ran up and down those tree's many times, just so they could get the feel that they understood it, and even then Naruto still decided that he wanted to practice some more; the water walking. It was crazy, but then again it was Naruto. He'd felt like he didn't learn it well enough, even with all of those clones at his aid.
But the more chakra you had, the more difficult it was to control. Naruto had his own chakra, plus the demonic, unstable chakra of the Nine-Tails. The fact that he'd gotten as far as he did wouldn't have been possible without his clones, so what he was feeling about it was pretty much true.
Sakura was seated at the table with Kakashi, a few medical books next to her, while Sasuke mumbled something about taking a nap. Sakura had one of the bigger ones opened in front of her, her eyes scanned over the words as tried to process what she was reading. Human anatomy.
"After the long day you've had, I would've thought you'd be asleep right now." Kakashi commented.
Sakura sighed, running a hand through her bang. "Me too, I guess, but... I don't think I'm all that tired, sensei." She said, shaking her head. "Plus, I'm trying to study all that I can anyway. Sleeping can be left for the nighttime."
Kakashi raised an eyebrow, "You seem to be very serious about medical jutsu," He said, grabbing one of her smaller books and flipping through it. "Any particular reason for that?"
She glanced up at him, then back down at her book. Sighed before closing it, she couldn't focus on it that well."Why'd did you close it? I was looking at that too you know!" She grabbed another one and opened it, flipping to the chapter that explained 'Mystical Palm'. "It'll come in handy in the long run, I know it will." She answered, "We're Genin right now, but it won't stay that way forever. Eventually we'll be going on dangerous missions like this without it just be some sort of mix up. There'll be times, just like this one, where we face an opponent that over powers us. You won't always be there to stand in front of us, Kakashi-sensei. If Sasuke-kun and Naruto-kun ever get hurt, I'm gonna be the one to fix them. I'll have to be, and hopefully, when that time comes, I'll know all that I can and need." She explained.
Kakashi stared at her, surprised. He wasn't expecting that type of answer from her, he thought she would say something more along the lines of 'Because I think it's cool'. He chuckled a little, "... That's a very grown up way of thinking Sakura, I'd say that I'm surprised... but I probably shouldn't be." He looked up at her, "Out of the three of you, you seem to be the one with the most maturity."
She smiled, nodding. "Thank you, I appreciate that thought Kakashi-sensei." She said, then they were both silent once more. The silence made her mind wander, eventually she wasn't even paying attention to the words that her eyes were analyzing. They were just there.
She thought about Zabuza and Haku again, many things racing through her mind. Their fight with Zabuza, Haku showing up to take his 'dead' body, and most of all what would happen to them in the end.
That whole situation in person was weird, scary, just a multitude of things. How it played out, you wouldn't ask yourself any questions while watching it from a TV. But right now, it made Sakura wonder why Haku had been waiting silently in the trees like that. Was he trying to watch Zabuza's back, jump in in case things got out of hand for him?
No, neither of those things could've been the case could it? Zabuza was death on legs, he wouldn't need someone to watch out for him. So maybe, was it possible that Haku was waiting for the right opportunity to 'kill' him?
"Something on your mind Sakura?" Kakashi asked. She had a blank face, and her eyes weren't moving anymore. He could tell that she wasn't reading her book.
She jumped a little, being shaken from her thoughts, and looked up at her teacher. She sighed, nodding. "Yeah... I was just thinking about this whole thing with Zabuza again..."
"Hmmm..." Kakashi hummed, his curiosity being peeked. "Care to elaborate on it?"
"Well..." She trailed, "It's just, there are some things that kinda don't make sense."
"That boy, the hunter-nin, I know he was hiding there the entire time you and Zabuza were fighting. His showing up when you were about to deal the killing blow to him... that being a coincidence is damn near impossible. He was watching." She explained, and Kakashi nodded.
"That is plausible, I think I may have felt his presence a few times," He admitted, "It shifted on and off, but I was too preoccupied with Zabuza to focus on it. More so since he never directly attacked us, I let it be."
She nodded, "Do you think that, maybe, he showed up at the exact time Zabuza did and just kept himself hidden? Or maybe, they met up there?"
"Most likely, the former." Kakashi said, "Tazuna could've been anywhere, while searching separately would cover the most ground, I doubt they had any method of long distance communication. If one found us, the other would more than likely still be unaware. And, unless they decided on a rendezvous point, searching for each other would've been hassling."
"This is dangerous," Sakura added, "Not only is Zabuza still alive, but now we have to deal with someone who's abilities and skill level are still unknown to us." She shook her head, "And Zabuza... he didn't make sense either."
Kakashi folded his arms, "Explain?"
"Think about it," She said, "He outmatches me, Sasuke, and Naruto. Even you struggled with him." She leaned back in her seat, "He's a master at the Silent Killing technique, something that even your Sharingan can't negate. He most likely knew that, he could've used that knowledge to his advantage and kill us all. We wouldn't have seen it coming, he'd take us out before we even knew what hit us. He had many opportunities to do it, like when he performed the Hidden in the Mist technique." She said.
"We couldn't see a thing, but he could see us. Instead, he just... toyed with us. Tossing threats, trying to scare us."
"Fear is the killer of the mind,"Sakura nodded.
"Fear is the killer of the mind," She repeated to Kakashi, "He was trying to subconsciously paralyze us I bet, it would make killing us easier since we wouldn't be able to defend ourselves..."
"But he still didn't do it," Kakashi said, and Sakura nodded.
"Exactly, just like when he trapped you in that water prison. He could've drowned you, but instead he let you have air." She rested her elbows on the table, "It just doesn't make a lick of sense..."
"Think about it," Sakura-ichi said,"We know Haku was there to jump in if things went too far, sure. But Zabuza, he didn't kill you because that wasn't what he aimed to do."
Sakura raised an eyebrow, 'How? He wanted to kill Tazuna, it's his mission to insure his death. Why wouldn't he-'
"Because you all were there," She cut off, "His mission is to kill the bridge builder, not you guys. That fight... it was just to give you a taste of what he was capable of. So you wouldn't get in his way a second time, everything he did was just to show you how easy it would be to take you out."
Sakura gasped, "That is it!"
"Figured it out?" Kakashi questioned, "You make a lot of faces when you think, Sakura."
"Yeah I noticed," She said, with a roll of her eyes. "Zabuza was giving us a warning, he wasn't even trying during that battle. It was his way of saying... that we're as good as dead if we continue to try and protect Tazuna."
Kakashi put a hand to his chin, "That does make sense, possibly exactly what he was trying to get across." He looked up at Sakura, "But still, why do it? Why give warning when he could just kill Tazuna and be done with it?"
Now that made her think, Kakashi had a point. Zabuza didn't have to do that, so why did he? "He could have had his own reasons, clearly he isn't taking this mission very seriously. If he didn't just kill him right then and there." Sakura-ichi was just too smart for her own good, it made Sakura glad to have her inside her head.
"Maybe he isn't taking the mission seriously," She said, answering Kakashi's question. Kakashi gave her a look, she shook her head. "I know that sounds ridiculous, he's an assassin. Killing is what he does for a living, but maybe..." She trailed, then remained quiet. She didn't really know.
"Maybe?" Kakashi asked, then, Sakura-ichi felt like she should explain more.
"Look behind Zabuza, the real man pulling the strings is Gatou. How Zabuza feels about his 'Boss' could very well affect how he carries out this mission. If he hates him, why kill all the bridge builders quickly? When he could just stall and get under his skin."
"... Maybe it's got something to do with Gatou."
"The owner of the Shipping Company?" Kakashi questioned, and Sakura nodded. "What about him?"
"Gatou can't be all that tough on his own, he probably isn't capable of killing with his own two hands. Someone as rich as he is doesn't have to get his hands dirty, but instead have people do his dirty work for him. Like Tazuna told us, Zabuza was hired by him to take out all the bridge builders. Gatou's paying him, but that doesn't mean he has to respect him. Zabuza's possible dislike for him, could be the reason for his purpose delay. Right?"
"So, what you're trying to say is..." Kakashi trailed, processing all of what Sakura explained to him. "Zabuza does in fact want to kill the bridge builder, and get us out of the way first, but his reasons for not doing it right away... were to give us the opportunity to walk away, as well as make things harder for Gatou."
She nodded, "Exactly, the longer Tazuna stays alive the closer the bridge gets to being completed. Time is wearing thin and the bridge's completion means the end of Gatou, and he knows it."
They both remained silent, then Kakashi chuckled again. "Well, you must've been thinking about all of this quite a lot Sakura." He said, "To come to a conclusion like that, just because of how a brawl went down, that's very observant of you. Well done."
Sakura blushed, rubbing the back of her neck. "W-Well, I mean... there's probably way more to it than just that. Zabuza probably has a lot more reason for his actions than just pissing off Gatou. More than he shows, I don't know that much about it." Hell, that probably isn't even it at all.
"You wouldn't have even gotten as far as you did in your theory, if it weren't for me."
Sakura smiled, 'Yes, I know. You're the best, Sakura-ichi!'
"Cha! You're damn right I am!"
"Well, still, that was a very good start." He said, slowly standing up and stretching. "More can be elaborated on later." He said, and Sakura nodded in understanding.
Later that night, at dinner, Naruto had shown up with his hair and clothes damp. "More sweat?" Kakashi asked, after glancing at Sakura.
Naruto shook his head, making some water droplets fly out. "No, I fell in a lake." He said, as he removed his jacket.
"... You fell off of a tree, and into a lake?" Kakashi questioned, and Naruto shook his head harder. Getting some water on Sasuke and making him glare.
"No! I fell into the lake, I was water walking," He said, and Kakashi blinked.
"I thought I told you to practice tree walking, water walking is too difficult."
The blonde nodded, "Yeah, it sure is! But, Sakura-chan told us if we learned it, then tree walking would be a snap." He said, sitting down next to the pinkette. "And she was right, it is! But, I just wanted to practice some more."
Kakashi looked at Sakura, who shrugged, bringing her attention back down to her food. Tsunami walked over and sat a bowl in front of Naruto, handing him a pair of chopsticks. "Eat up Naruto-san, you look hungry."
He grinned, "I sure am!" He said, taking the chopsticks from her and breaking them apart. Beginning to eat. He glanced up at Sasuke, "I bet if I keep practicing like this, I'll get better than you."
Sasuke scoffed, putting some food in his mouth. "Fat chance of that, you're a dead last. Or did you forget?"
"Oh yeah?" He pointed a thumb at himself, "Well this 'dead last' is gonna be better than you, with my clones I can learn anything faster than you! Sasuke-teme!"
Sasuke shot Naruto a look, squeezing his eating utensil a little harder. Naruto had a point and Sasuke knew that, it made him shoot a glare Sakura's way. She was the one who gave him that tip in the first place. "Do get mad at me, just cause he's right." She shrugged.
Naruto laughed, "Ha ha, see? Even Sakura-chan agrees with me!"
Sasuke rolled his eyes, "That just proves you can't do anything on your own," Naruto blinked, "A true ninja doesn't need petty tricks to get stronger, can't function without your precious little shadow clones?" He teasingly asked.
Naruto growled, grumbling instead of answering him. Which made Sasuke smirk, "All right, cut it out you two." Kakashi said, for once. He looked at Naruto, "How did your training go, Naruto?"
He smiled, "Great! I'm really-" He paused, then his eyes widened a little. "Oh wait, that reminds me! Some guy passed by there earlier, said his name was Haku or something." Sakura quickly turned to him, "He was looking for herbs and stuff then he asked me if I had precious people, and I've got tons of them. Like Iruka-sensei, and you guys... and I guess that includes Sasuke." Sakura chuckled, he just admitted to considering Sasuke 'precious' to him.
Naruto looked at her, "You should've seen him Sakura-chan, I mean really, he was way prettier than you!"
Sakura hung her head, sweat-dropping. "Gee... thanks Naruto." What girl wants to hear than a boy is better than her in the looks department?
"O-Oh! I didn't mean it like that! You're really cute too Sakura-chan, I was just saying is all!" He quickly tried to cover up, a blush on his face. Sakura only shook her head, continuing to eat, chuckling as Naruto threw her more apologies.
After a while, Tsnami, Tazuna, and Inari were all seated down. Things had been going just fine, until Tazuna brought up Zabuza again. Wanting to know the word on him, the guy was trying to kill him after all.
After some back and forth, Inari had finally had enough of it. He slammed his hands down onto the table and shouted at them, "Just shut up already!" Everyone looked at him, surprised. "You're all a bunch of idiots, how many times do I have to say it?! He's too strong, he's gonna-"
"Kill us all, blah blah, you shut up!" Naruto snapped, pointing. "I'm getting tired of all your whining, what gives you the right huh?! All you do is go up to your room and cry all day whilewe're the ones actually doing something! I'm sick of you telling me I can't do this, or I can't do that when you've got no room to talk! You're nothing but a weak kid, letting this guy walk all over you! Learn how to stand on your own two feet, grow a pair, then come and fucking talk to me!" He shouted.
Tsunami gasped, putting a hand over her mouth. Tazuna and Kakashi stared at Naruto in shock, even Sasuke (whose mouth was open just a little). And Sakura looked at Naruto and Inari with a sympathetic expression. Naruto threw his chopsticks onto the table and got up from the table, walking towards the rooms. "Naruto-kun, you barely touched your food. Where are you going?"
"I'm not hungry anymore," He said, then slammed the door behind him. Everyone looked at Inari, who had his head down. His hat covered his face, but it was obvious he was crying again. His shoulders were shaking and tears were falling onto the table. He quickly jumped from his seat and ran outside.
"Did he have to take it that far? He's just a child."
'He needed to hear it, trust me.'
"Oh gosh..." Tsunami trailed, resting her face in her hands. Tazuna rubbed her back.
"... What was that about?" Sasuke asked, and Tazuna sighed.
"Inari... he hasn't been the same since he died..." Tazuna answered, then went into the deep story about how Inari's step-father was killed by Gatou. After questioned about who he was.
Kakashi shook his head, that sounded horrible, Inari witnessed the whole thing. Kakashi stood up, walking towards the door to go have a talk with him. Sakura stood up, starting to follow him out, and Kakashi stopped her. "I'll handle it Sakura, maybe you should go check on Naruto."
"Alright, sensei." She said, nodding, then jogged to the room Naruto entered. When she opened the door, she saw Naruto sitting up against the wall. His arms crossed with an angry look on his face, she closed the door behind her. "Still mad?"
"Who the hell does that brat think he is?!" He exclaimed, "I've had it up tohere with him!"
"Guess that answers your question."
Sakura sighed, walking over to Naruto. "Inari was being pretty harsh, but for a reason Naruto-kun. His views on 'heroes' have drastically changed over the years, according to Tazuna."
"Changed how? He acts like he never believed in that stuff in the first place!" He argued, then Sakura sat down. Repeating the story back to him, his look softening the closer she got to the end. "... I didn't know that..."
"You couldn't have," She said, "I know he's acting like a brat, but maybe you should look at things from his perspective."
Naruto nodded, "... Does this mean I have to apologize to him or something?" Sakura shook her head.
"I'm sure sensei is taking care of that for you," She said, then stood back up. "Are you alright now?"
He sighed, standing back up as well. "Yeah, I guess so."
"Good, cause you still never finished your dinner." She reminded him, then his eyes widened.
"Crap, you're right!" He exclaimed, running past her and back to the table.
The next day, they were all set to leave with Tazuna, to accompany him to the bridge. Tsunami gave him a hug, patting his back. "Be careful alright?" She said, and he nodded, muttering an 'of course'.
"Hey!" Inari shouted, running down the stairs and towards them. Naruto looked at him, his shoulders falling a bit, then his eyebrows furrowed a little.
"You're not here to call us stupid again, are you?" He calmly asked, and Inari shook his head.
"No... I just..." He looked up at Naruto specifically, "I'm sorry! Please protect my Grandpa!" He exclaimed, making Naruto's eyes widen a little. He looked back at Kakashi, whose eye crinkled closed. Signalling he was smiling.
Naruto then looked back down at Inari, grinning then rested a hand on top of his head. "Of course we'll protect him, that's what we're here for. We're heroes after all, believe it!" Inari looked up at him, his mouth open a little, then grinned back. Making Naruto chuckle, he liked this Inari better.
"Do you think it's safe to leave Tsunami and Inari here alone?" Sasuke asked Kakashi, "That's a little dangerous, Gatou could send someone after them too."
Kakashi shrugged, "Well, they can't come with us."
Naruto turned around, then pointed at himself. "Oo, I can make some clones! They can do the job!" He said, making the hand sign and created three solid clones.
"Yeah, we can do the job, Kakashi-sensei!" One of them said, the other two quickly agreeing.
"Don't leave them out in the open," Sakura warned, "Two of them has to hide, that way if someone does show up they'll just think Naruto's the only one guarding."
"Good thinking Sakura-chan!" Naruto said, then turned to his clones. "You heard her, you two hide." He pointed at them, and they pouted. Muttering a 'fine' and going outside to conceal themselves.
"Don't those things disappear when they get touched or something?" Tazuna asked, and Sakura waved it off.
"It's fine," She said, as they all left the house. Tazuna just wanted to make sure his family was safe in the hands of those copies.
"Are you sure?" He asked again.
"Positive, those things are modeled after me! I'm Uzumaki Naruto, you're all in good hands!" He said, but that didn't seem to reassure Tazuna at all. In fact, that made him a little more weary.
As they all approached the bridge, they saw unconscious workers scattered everywhere. They all stopped, and Tazuna gasped, "What the hell happened here?!"
That's when the four ninja felt it, the demonic presence. Along with a second one, "Looks like the fun is about to start..." Sakura sarcastically trailed to herself, as they all stood protectively around Tazuna.
Author's Note: Just in case anyone was thinking about it, I'm not gonna change too much right now. This story is gonna contain both parts of Naruto (as you already know) and there will only be minor changes during part one, along with only two or three major changes (one of with will change Shippuden a little, before it even starts). Things won't start to drift away from canon until Shippuden. Cause let's face it, I change stuff willy-nilly now it'll be hard to keep up with the stuff I'll have to change later.
Right now, I'm trying to stick pretty close to canon. But don't worry, things will still be switched up a little (like how I've been doing so far). Just so I don't bore you guys :)
Don't ghost read, see you next update!