Sorry about the late update. The chapter has been finished for a while though and I have been able to work on the next one so hopefully that means I can get the next one out to you quicker. Anyway, thanks for reading and please review.
Disclaimer: I do not own or have rights to Naruto. It is a work created by Masashi Kishimoto.
A couple of days had passed since Naruto's outburst. As a result of this, some things changed. One such change being Inari's growing respect for Naruto after the talk he had with Kakashi. He realized that he was wrong about Naruto and took the next opportunity he could to apologize to him. Well, it was more like a stuttering, humble mess that Naruto understood as an apology. So Naruto, in a Naruto-esque way, simply patted Inari's head and told him that it was ok. After that they were fine. Another thing that happened as a result of Naruto's outburst was Sasuke and Sakura's increase in interest of Naruto's life. They had not said anything to him yet but Naruto could sense that they, well at least Sakura wanted to ask questions. While all of this was going on, Naruto and Sasuke had managed to complete the tree walking exercise. This led to the current situation of Naruto being unconscious due to near chakra exhaustion. While Naruto rested, Kakashi went over the guard duty assignments for the next day on the bridge.
"Alright, so you do you guys understand the plan?", asked Kakashi.
"Hai sensei!", said Sakura. A simple nod was received from Sasuke.
"Also, if Naruto is not awake by the time we get up in the morning then we will let him sleep in until he is able to join us. We should be fine protecting Tazuna."
"Sensei do you think we can adequately guard Tazuna now?", Sakura asked due to insecurities after their last run in with enemies. Although it was not a guarantee that they would meet opposition tomorrow, she was still wary.
"You guys should be fine. Besides, I will never let any of my comrades die." Even with Kakashi saying that he understood Sakura's fears. They had just encountered a very powerful foe not to long ago and not much had changed since then. Honestly, teaching them the tree walking exercise was more of a tactic to help them get rid of the fear they were experiencing. It was a placebo to boost their confidence. The truth was that he could not raise their abilities enough to truly compete with Zabuza in such a short time. Of course it would not be helpful to verbalize that at this moment even if they already knew that. At the least, he needed them confident in the abilities they already possessed. Sasuke and Sakura responded with nods. "Well anyway, let's prepare to rest."
"Wait a minute sensei, I have a question", blurted out Sakura before Kakashi got up to leave.
With an eyebrow raised Kakashi responded, "Yes?" Sasuke was also intrigued.
To be honest Sakura was a bit ashamed to ask this question but she still wanted to know. "Sensei, about Naruto's reaction to Inari's words the other night, why did Naruto respond the way he did?" At this question Sasuke also look expectedly at Kakashi.
"Well, you know Naruto is an orphan right?"
"Yes sensei but his reaction seems to suggest that there is more to it than that."
"You truly are bright Sakura. You are right. There is a bit more to it than he being an orphan. I believe it may be better for Naruto to tell it to you though." With that Kakashi got up and went to his room for the night. Sasuke and Sakura shared a look and they two went off to bed.
Naruto woke up very peacefully to warm sunrays caressing his face. The genteleness of the rays reminded him of the voice of the awfully girl-like boy that he met early in the day yesterday. 'What was his name again...hmm...Haku. He was nice. Speaking of nice, the sun looks nice when it is close to overhead...wait...overhead...that means close to noon...I'M LATE!' With comedic speed Naruto was up and ready to go. Within seconds he had eaten a very quick breakfast that was waiting for him on the table (courtesy of Tsunami), opened the door, and yelled goodbye to Tsunami and Inari on the way out. Tsunami and Inari had one collective thought to cross their minds as they both sweatdropped: 'It should be illegal to eat that fast.' After a few minutes of extremely fast tree jumping travel, Naruto noticed the environment around him had been mutilated by a sharp object. Some would be surprised to know that Naruto was wise enough to notice the abnormal situation and what the direction of the destruction implied. As he would respond to anyone who asked, he is not stupid, just not the most well educated. That is why he quickly realized through natural wisdom that Tsunami and Inari were in trouble. 'Aw crap.'
Just as Inari was about to meet his death via sharp, cold steel slicing through his body, an orange blur delivered quite a blow to the jaw of the thug who raised the blade. At the same time another orange blur delivered an even more devasting blow to the chin of the other thug who barely had anytime to react to his partner being knocked unconscious in an instant. The first orange blur then appeared in front of Inari and helped him to stand. "Sorry for being late Inari...but you know heroes make dramatic appearances", said Naruto with a smile on his face. In the time that Naruto picked up Inari, the clone that knocked out the other thug had helped Tsunami out as well and reunited the mother and child. "Alright you guys I got to get to the bridge." With that both Narutos burst into smoke. Both Inari and and Tsunami looked at each other with dumbfounded looks. It should not be a surprise though because the average person has never seen the shadow clone technique. Naruto, now on the bridge, had just received the memories of his shadow clones. 'Good. I made it in time', he thought with a smile as he ran toward the odd ice structure that Sasuke was currently trapped in.
Sasuke, who had gotten himself trapped in the ice mirrors of Haku, noticed Naruto on the outside of the structure. 'Never have I been happier to see this idiot. Maybe we can find a way to defeat the jutsu.'
"Hey Sasuke, I am here to help."
"Wha- What are you doing in here idiot?"
"It's unfortunate that you stepped into this dome. Now you both will die", said the masked figure who had taken Zabuza away that day.
If Naruto was afraid he definitely did not show it. In fact, he was smirking. At this Sasuke grew irate. "Idiot! Do you understand that we both are trapped right now? This guy's jutsu is impossible to escape from." Naruto continued smirking as he pulled out a smoke bomb. The masked ninja responded to this action, "Obscuring my vision does not help you to escape." As he said this the masked ninja began throwing a barrage of senbon at the group. He was surprised when he did not hear grunts of pain from the cloudy area but instead he heard an explosion. When the smoke cleared, his eyes widened. The two young ninja were gone. Why? The area beneath his ice dome was gone.
"Looking for us", called out the blonde charging directly at Haku. Haku remained silent as he threw a few senbon at the blonde. They met their target but the target dispersed into smoke. 'Bunshin huh?' "It seems that you are much more clever than I assumed young ninja. Who would have thought that you would destroy the bridge beneath you to escape my jutsu. Quite an ingenious use of explosive tags if I must say so myself, although you are only delaying the inevitable."
"Get real! As if we will lose to you."
"I think I can agree with you this time Naruto", chimed in Sasuke.
"Well, let's see who will come out of this battle alive then", said Haku gently as he sped toward the two Genin.
To say Kakashi was relieved would be an understatement. For a second there he was worried that Naruto had gotten himself caught in the jutsu but was pleasantly surprised to see that both Naruto and Sasuke had escaped. Just then a blade was descending on Kakashi from above intending on bisecting him vertically. Kakashi was not a Jounin for nothing though as he quickly planted his left foot and pivoted away from the blade while redirecting it with his hand plates.
"You should never take your eyes off the battle Copy Ninja", taunted Zabuza, "Although I too am amazed at the fact that they were able to get out of the jutsu. This looks like it will become much more interesting."
"Let's say we finish this Zabuza?" His only response was a smirk that he couldn't see because of the mist. Kakashi definitely felt the sinister intent though.
Although they had escaped the the ice dome, Sasuke and Naruto were not faring much better against the masked nin. They both had quite a few scratches and torn bits of clothing. As the mask ninja charged toward them again Naruto gave Sasuke a nod. Sasuke gave no indication that he saw Naruto but he began to withdraw a couple things from his pouch. Right as Haku reached them, Naruto unleashed his signature jutsu, filling their immediate area with about 15 shadow clones. At the same time Sasuke had dropped a smoke bomb. It was still no issue for Haku to disperse the various clones. Within seconds the all of the clones were defeated. What remain was Sasuke and Naruto retreating to the hole on the bridge from the earlier explosion. Haku descended on them in a flash. He threw some senbon at them but to his surprise they casually fell into the opening on the bridge as the senbon pierced them. They dispersed. 'Bunshin again.' Haku approached the hole cautiously ready to attack, but was caught off guard by the grinning faces of Naruto and Sasuke as they waved from the surface of the water. The space beneath Haku's feet began to glow and just as he was jumping away an explosion blew him away. At that moment Naruto and Sasuke came back to the bridge. They arrived just in time to see the damage done to Haku. He had escaped harm for the most part except for a few singes here and there, but the most noticeable thing was that the mask was broken and sliding off his face. As the mask slid completely off Naruto's smirk transformed into a look of shock. This did not go unnoticed by Sasuke. "Oi Naruto, what's going on?"
"It-It can't be. Haku..it was you?", asked a bewildered Naruto.
"Hai Naruto-kun. Remember what I told you in the forest. Well Zabuza-sama is that precious person to me. I hope you understand."
"But Haku, we do not have to fight." Just as Haku was about to respond a struggling Zabuza shouted, "Haku hurry up and finish things over there!"
"It would seem that Zabuza-sama needs me." With that, Haku's face transformed into the "weapon" that he was for Zabuza. With a brutality that was not shown before, Haku began to assault the two young ninjas. Within the blink of an eye, he was upon them with a swift leg sweep that caught Naruto and just barely missed Sasuke. With the flick of his wrists, he sent a couple of senbon through both of Naruto's hands and a few into Sasuke's body, effectively pinning Naruto down and slowing Sasuke down. Before Sasuke had a chance to react, Haku blazed through some hand seals and softly called out "Ice Style: Spears of the Tundra." Before his very eyes, Sasuke saw considerably sized spears of ice form out of the moisture in the atmosphere and fly straight toward him. Sakura, Sasuke, and Naruto all knew that he would not be able to dodge in time. Time seemed to slow down as Sakura screamed out, "Noo!", Naruto looked on terrified as he pried his hands from the bridge surface, and Sasuke stared down the ice spear a couple of feet from him. Suddenly Sasuke realized that things actually seemed as if they slowed down. To everyone else it looked as if Sasuke had moved imperceptively fast as he dodged the spears that seemed as if it was on a guaranteed collision course with him. When he lifted his head both Naruto and Haku noticed that Sasuke's eyes had changed to a complete red color with three tomoe in each eye. This bought Naruto enough time to gather himself and stand near Sasuke. For a second they all stared at each other until Haku unleashed another barrage of ice spears.
Zabuza thought that he had the upperhand in this fight up until now. The reason being that he was now held down by Kakashi's nin dogs. Who would have thought that Kakashi would let himself get cut intentionally in order for his dogs to sniff me out. His eyes suddenly widened as Kakashi began to gather chakra for his signature jutsu as he called it.
"Well, this is it Zabuza", calmly stated Kakashi as he prepared to take off to impale him through the heart. Haku sensed Zabuza was in trouble and dashed off to save him. Naruto and Sasuke, who looked worse for wear due to the various ice spears and senbons that tormented them, tried to follow but Haku was much to fast. Kakashi was already within a foot of Zabuza when Haku suddenly appeared in front of him, but it was too late to stop Raikiri now. The lightening blade met flesh as Haku was impaled through the upper right breast. Haku gave out a gasp of pain as Zabuza grinned mischievously behind him. Realizing that Haku was restraining Kakashi's arm, Zabuza immediately raised his sword, the Kubikiribocho, to cut both Haku and Kakashi in half. "Excellent job my weapon!", he screamed maniacally. Zabuza never had a chance to start his descent with the sword as a red blur smashed into his side, flinging him toward the edge of the bridge where he slammed violently into the rail. This red blur was accompanied by the most malicious presence one could ever experience. Unlike everyone else there Kakashi knew the source of this presence and if he could not do anything about it soon, things could get back. The red blur, now noticeably seen as Naruto, settled into the spot where Zabuza was and shouted, "How dare you think about defiling the body of the one who so easily devoted their life to you! I'll kill you where you lay!"
"Naruto-kun", called out a weak voice from the direction of Kakashi. Immediately Naruto lost the red cloak of chakra that surrounded him when he heard that voice. He turned back to see Haku being placed on the ground by Kakashi. "Ha-Haku? How are you still alive?", questioned Naruto.
"It seems that he was fortunate. The speed in which he recklessly flew in to save Zabuza caused him to be pierced in the right side of his chest instead of the left. He is lucky to be alive but he will not last for long without medical treatment."
"Do not worry. Both he and Zabuza will be dead soon anyway. Along with all of you and the bridgebuilder as well", called out a short man with glasses from the far end of the bridge.