I'm back everybody. I had issues with laptop for a while and I had become a bit busy. I might be able to update regularly now though. I really hope you continue to enjoy the story.
As usual I will state that I do not own any part of the Naruto series. All rights are to Kishimoto Masashi-san.
The short man was flanked on both sides by a horde of men with various weapons. It provided quite an intimidating display to say the least. Here was a small group of ninja, low on chakra, and a bridge builder facing off against a band of about 40 to 50 fresh men with weapons. Then again, they were not shinobi in words only. "It seems we are no longer enemies Kakashi", said Zabuza as he was standing up clutching his ribs.
"I would have to agree Zabuza. We have a mutual enemy."
"Don't act tough before your death. Nothing will stop you ninjas from dying today. That means you as well Tazuna. I will make sure you "enjoy" yourself before you die", growled out Gato. Tazuna gulped.
"Don't worry old man Tazuna, these guys do not stand a chance!", exclaimed Naruto as he performed his signature Kage Bunshin no jutsu. Immediately 30 copies of the blond appeared on the bridge. Right after Kakashi stood and created about 10 clones. If this sight was not menacing enough, Zabuza and Sasuke quickly flanked Naruto and Kakashi with their weapons raised. Gato and his men began to get a bit nervous at this sight but it became outright fear when Zabuza enacted his Hidden Mist jutsu while slowly stalked toward them with his Kubikiribocho casually raised behind his back. "What are you idiots waiting for? Get them!", screamed Gato. A couple of men complied by charging Zabuza, but as soon as they entered the mist the only sound heard was torn flesh, blood spilling, and the screams of the men. At this sound the group turned around to leave but they turned around to multiple small explosions destroying their ships and a group of about 10 blondes waiting for them. In short, Gato and his men were made quick work of. Within five minutes, Zabuza killed 10 of them while Naruto and Kakashi's clones beat them to a pulp and tied them all up. As Inari and the townspeople arrived to help clean-up the mess, Zabuza picked up Haku and hurriedly dashed off.
"Shouldn't we pursue them?", questioned Sasuke.
"It would be pointless now. Our mission is completed", simply stated Kakashi. At this Sakura let out a sigh of relief. As Zabuza reached the clearing across the body of water, Naruto leapt to the end of the bridge and called out. "Hey Zabuza, Haku, let's meet under friendlier circumstances next time!" Zabuza simply smirked and dashed through the tree-line.
The defeat of Gato had the people of the wave in a celebrating frenzy. He had been one of the fortunate ones who escaped the blade of Zabuza, but he did not escape the justice of the people that he oppressed for so long. Their judgment on him was an unique one for the circumstances. Instead of putting him to death, they put him and his men to work. Tazuna definitely found the extra workers helpful. He had Gato and the men repair the bridge and help finish construction of the bridge as well. After completing that, they would be used in the construction and repairs of the towns all over the Wave Country. To put the icing on the cake, the land of Waves also received all of Gato's assets. This provided a much needed boost to the economy. It would be a while before the land of the Waves would flourish again but the removal of Gato was a monumental step in the right direction.
A week after the battle on the bridge, team 7 was packed and prepared to leave. They rested the first couple of days after the fight and they spent the past few days helping to establish order with the people and repair some of the damage done by Gato to the people and the land. It was during this time that Sakura decided to question Naruto about his outburst with Inari.
"Oi Naruto, can I ask you something?", asked Sakura as she was putting the finishing touches on a small garden they were helping to build in the town square. They hoped that placing small signs of hope like these would be inspirational to the people as they continue their rebuilding effort.
"Sure Sakura-chan! What's up?", said Naruto expectantly.
"Why did you respond to Inari so vehemently that day?"
"Basically, why were you so intense? Passionate? Angry?", she questioned. At this, Sasuke perked up to listen as well.
With a forced grin Naruto quickly responded, "I don't know, I guess it's just one of those things."
"It seemed like so much more", interrogated Sakura.
"It's nothing alright", said Naruto softly.
"It's because you were an orphan right?", asked Sakura coyly. At this Naruto froze and seemed to get a faraway look into his eyes. After a few seconds he regained his composure and stated plainly that it's alright before he excused himself from the gardening. 'Well, it's a start', thought Sakura to herself. 'I'll have to ask him again at another time.' Sasuke simply returned to gardening.
As they stopped in front of the newly built bridge that connected the land of Waves and the land of Fire, team 7 and Tazuna's family faced each other for one last time before departure. "Thanks once again for helping us you guys!", said Tsunami earnestly.
"Right. We are especially grateful because you did this when you had no obligation to do so. For that we are eternally grateful", said Tazuna.
"Maa, it was our pleasure. Besides, Naruto wouldn't have let us abandon you", said Kakashi. At this statement his three students all smiled. Then Naruto noticed Inari's trembling form and addressed him. "It's ok to cry Inari", said Naruto with comically teary eyes.
"I'm not going to cry Naruto-ni", retorted Inari with equally comical teary eyes.
"Well goodbye then Inari", said Naruto as he turned away.
"See you later", said Inari as he turned away at almost the exact same time. Needless to say that they both bawled. After all they had created a brotherly bond since their incident and it was tough to say bye to someone who you bonded with. With that team 7 began crossing the bridge. As they were leaving Tsunami looked up and noticed something. "Hey Otou-san, what should we call the bridge?" At this question Tazuna seemed thoughtful for a moment before smiling. "How about we name it after the one who influenced so much change in this people? Naruto", said Tazuna. "The Great Naruto Bridge."
"That sounds great Otou-san. An impressive bridge for an impressive individual", said Tsunami with a smile.
"Right! That's my ni-san", exclaimed Inari with an even bigger smile.
'Until this point the trip back has been peaceful', moaned Kakashi. All three of the Jounin's students were very quiet as they were absorbed in their own thoughts. Naruto was busy admiring his skills during the battle on the bridge. Sasuke was being his normal self, while Sakura was contemplating asking Naruto about his past again. She decided against it. That peace would have remained if Naruto had not asked Sasuke to spar at some point when they returned to the village. In turn there was a cocky response from Sasuke and that did not sit well with Naruto to say the least. Bickering ensued and of course Sakura joined in. After 15 minutes, Kakashi was able to divert the conversation elsewhere. The rest of their journey was made in peace.