For Your Dream
Volume 3, Chapter 33

"Well, that was particularly brilliant." the Konoha kunoichi was glaring at the witch-child; a surprising fury rising in her breast at the girl's thoughtless words. Although the effect of the glare she directed at the blind girl was wasted, it would have been impossible to miss the vitrol in her voice. It was more than enough to cause Hermione to flinch backwards, and the leaf-nin could only rub at her temples in an attempt to either dissipate her headache or get Inner to shut up. "Somehow, I just can't imagine that pissing Haku-san off is a good way of making him want to reassemble your team."

Now /that/ little bit of information peaked Kakashi's interest: "Sakura." his subordinate didn't even need an explanation to know what it was that he wanted. She may have had a habit of stating the obvious, but her mind was quick enough to grasp the underneath. He was proud of this girl and her accomplishments so far, even if he had never specifically told her so.

The pink haired girl nodded, turning her attention to her squad leader, even if she was keeping a wary eye on Yaone. A ninja had to be able to keep track of more than just one person after all.

"I'm not sure of the details, but as of eight hundred hours this morning, Haku-san officially disbanded his team."

"WHAT?!" the twins practically shrieked, identical expression of distress on their faces, "B-but he..."

"We thought..." Yaone licked her lips nervously, "We just thought that he was feeling guilty. We still want to be ninja!"

The Jounin only managed to cover his laughter through years of experience. The little brats wanted to be ninja! While they were on par with some of the students in the Academy, one could easily tell that not a one of them was on the level of an Academy graduate- not even the ones that were sent back for another year. It was a miracle that they had managed to get as far as they had in the Exam, and not for the first time Kakashi had to wonder just where Haku had picked the brats up.

Not to mention why the missing-nin was even attempting to turn these civilians into ninja to begin with. There was some important piece of the puzzle that he was missing; the piece that would slot everything together and form the whole picture. From what he had seen of the teenager in Wave, Haku was the type of ninja that every Kage craved to have. He was the picture perfect ninja: loyal to his commanding officer, willing to sacrifice himself for the mission, and damnably talented at what he did.

Yes, there was something important that he just wasn't seeing here, and Kakashi had absolutely no intention of leaving it be. This was his village, his home, and it was /that/ long ago that Haku had been his enemy. If he thought too long and hard on it, e could still feel the corpse hanging from his hand... it was only one of the many ghosts that dogged at his steps thanks to the damnable Sharingan.

However... if he was going to figure out just what was happening in regards to this particular ghost, then he had to go and find the boy. He had left the room in such a mood that a lingering chill remained. Although most would consider it to be a good idea to leave someone with such a bloodline to cool down, Hatake Kakashi was not one of those people.

He also wasn't about to learn anything more by the way that the children were bickering.

Haku held many important secrets. From the location of one Momochi Zabuza to the reason why one of his teammates wore /hat face.

If there was one thing that Hakuhyou Potter was good at, it was brooding. The pseudo hunter-nin had had quite a bit of practice at it in his short fifteen years, and right now he was in a spectacular mood. There were few things that could truly set the youth off, and one of those had been picked at spectacularly by Hermione's reaction. The memory of the Dursleys had never been properly laid to rest.

They had been horrible to him, there was no denying that, but they had not deserved to die in that hellish manner. Hermione's implication that blood could determine one's personality- such a close-minded approach for a muggleborn witch!- set him to wondering about his own blood, and how much of his personality was a reflection of Vernon and Petunia. The comparisons were minimal, but in the mood he was in they seemed to be all consuming.

He had curled up into one of the trees along the border of Konoha's walls for a good long brood on the topic. While his earlier conversation with Sakura had helped to make him feel better about himself, he had still been feeling 'off' enough to have caused his out of character blow up at the witch.

At any other time, he would never had said anything like that. With his mind already occupied by dark thoughts, however, he hadn't quite been able to keep a leash on his temper. The deaths of the Dursley family had alwasy been his personal cross to bare, and not even Zabuza-san had been able to ease the pain of that horrible accident. Today, though... those unnecessary deaths had already been teasing at the edge of his thoughts. The stress of dealing with the animagus- with Sirius-- while internalized as any good interrogator had to do, had been baring down on him and-


No. He refused to lie to himself. He would not try to rationalize his out burst away. He had lashed out at Hermione. That was his doing, and his alone. A small part of him burned with bitter outrage when he saw her; he was furious that she had not been able to prevent her own blinding, and bitter that she had added to the guilt that already weighed so heavily upon his shoulders. The guilt that had once sabotaged Zabuza-san's mission against the Mizukage and then again in Wave.

He hated his guilty conscious, but it was not something he was able to give up. It ate away at his soul and devoured his will. From that guilt arose his gentle kindness, he loyalty, and his blood stained hands. There was so much that could be laid at the metaphorical feet of that despicable feeling, and in the moment that he had reacted, all that he had desired was to make her feel even a fraction of the darkness coiled in his heart.

Just a smidgen of that fury, of that pain, of th-

"You've got some skill there."

Haku startled, so lost in his emotional roller coaster that he hadn't even noticed Hatake Kakashi's presence. The Konoha Jounin was hanging upside down from a branch above him, barely a foot away from his own face. Despite the mask that the man always wore, it was blatantly obvious that the Copy-nin was enjoying himself.

The Mist-nin looked away, waiting for his heart to settle back into his chest. Hatake, however, had no reason to give him any such luxury. He immediately launched into his informal interrogation, "I hear that you disbanded your team. Isn't that Momochi's job?"

"Aa." Haku acknowledged the interrogation for what it was. "However, with Zabuza-san otherwise occupied, it falls to the next highest rank in the unit. Might I request that you train your students in how to keep their word?"

Though his words had been spoken with his typical softness and his face remained neutral and calm, Haku's eyes were flashing with emotion. Fury. Pain. Fear. Guilt. Sadness. It was all so very clear in his eyes. It was no wonder why the boy continued to wear the clay mask long after leaving the Mist behind. It was simply too easy to read his eyes once riled up.

It almost made him wish for the nearly soullesS automaton that had lept between Zabuza and he only a few short months ago. However, these were not the thoughts to ponder now, when he had a ninja to interrogate. "Otherwise occupied?"

"I'm sure that if you asked Scare- Sirius, he could explain." That was not something that he particularly felt like discussing, and he instead switched to his own line of questioning. "You're far more visible than my normal minders."

Kakshi stuffed his hands into his pockets, "They were assigned." There wasn't any point in denying it. The Council had put minders on all of the ninja from other villages who had remained in Konoha following the battle. It was standard operating procedure during any time excluding the exams themselves.

Although, given the events of the two days previous, they were considering a constant guard even during the exams.

"And you're not?"

"No." it was a bold faced lie, but as Haku had implied earlier... ninja lied. It was part of the job description. "Since we fought previously, it was considered to be a bad idea."

Haku gave a noncommittal grunt, the sound surprising the Jounin for a moment. He really didn't look like the type to grunt, but that was just another lesson in underestimating opponents. A lot of people took kunoichi to be weaker opponents, and people like Mitarashi Anko and Yuuhi Kurenai used that to their advantage. Haku apparently did too; his feminine wardrobe could very easily produce the same result.

He really did keep going off on mental tangents when dealing with this kid. It was starting to get frustrating.

"Haku. How long do you intend to remain in Konoha?"

"Eager to be rid of me?" Haku smiled the smile of a man who knew his position was less than ideal and didn't care. The silence stretched for an infinite moment until the boy offered an elegant shrug, "I will remain until Godaime-sama is in office. A village without a Kage is a welcome sight to missing-nin. Perhaps you should deal with the unknowns instead of the knowns."

Whatever Kakashi had been about to say would forever remain a mystery, as another ninja landed lightly on the branch. His face twisted with annoyance and white eyes narrowed sharply, Hyuuga Neji looked as though he'd sucked on a lemon. "Hiashi-sama requests your presence," the teenager all but growled, "your deal needs to be... dealt with."

All kindness and teasing vanished from the Mist-nin's face. "Very well. Lead on, Hyuuga-san."

He tipped his head to Kakashi in farewell before taking off after the Branch Hyuuga.

End Chapter.

[slinks in after... five years, five months, and sixteen days]

So hey. Guess what I found while I was unpacking some old moving boxes.