He was called a demon…a devil.
A ruthless assassin, a pitiless killer, a man whose hands were stained in the blood of innumerable innocents, a man whose eyes were unkempt bitterness encased in steel. He held a razor-sharpened extension of that steel, and with it he ended them. Ended them all.
He had no holy doctrine; he was not a merciful angel descended upon earth to ease suffering, even in a delusion of his own mind. No…in his mind he held only cold, brutal sanity. He knew precisely what it was that he did…he killed. He killed for himself. He killed for his ambition.
He killed for his vengeance.
He was a renegade soldier, a betrayer…and they sent others to pursue him. But never could they reach him, never could they corrode the steel in his eyes. Always he lived; always he vanished.
He was of the mist, the silent mist, and always he vanished.
Heartless, emotionless, a machine consumed by vengeance. He was called this, and he did not care. What did useless titles matter to him? If he held no regard for the blood spilt upon the ground, rent upon that ground by his own will, who could expect him to have any regard for meaningless words?
At one time blood was spilt upon snow.
And in this snow, in this coldness that so embodied himself, as a natural accompaniment to his own merciless temperament, he found something.
In rags, shivering alone in the coldness, the snow, this someone looked upon him with the guileless hope of the innocent. Him…the devil…the demon…the ruthless assassin…with hope.
"…I…can see myself in your eyes. We have the same expression!"
That was what he was told.
An orphan, an urchin, a pathetic waste of humanity.
This was thought of both of them.
This someone, this orphan, this young, pure, innocent soul, was tainted, they said. Cursed. Cursed with power. Power of his blood.
This power…would be useful.
So it was that the devil took in this soul, this innocent, this angel unto earth, and honed the power to be found within him to a killing edge. Years of training, of teaching, of conditioning. And from this innocent soul came power unlike anything seen before.
Power…that belonged to the devil.
For the angel was devoted to the devil, for from the devil had come the only kindness the angel had ever known. The only one who did not scorn him for his power of blood…the one who desired him for it, who placed value to him for it.
The devil did not fear power.
The devil did not scorn power.
Rather, the devil embraced power, demanded power, and in this he found a loyal servant, a devotee to whom betrayal was an unknown idea. To whom the devil's orders were the doctrines of life itself. To whom the dreams and wishes of the devil were the purpose of life itself.
The angel became ruthless, but only for the devil. Always for the devil.
They sent others to pursue the angel now, but the angel was never taken down. The angel was strength. The angel was determination. The angel was invincibility. None could strike the angel; none could spill the angel's blood.
The angel's blood was power.
Yin and yang, light and dark, rage and compassion, taint and purity, the devil and the angel moved as one, struck as one, killed as one, lived as one. Inseparable as a man to his own shadow, they were twin blades swathing through opposition in a path of crimson ambition.
But then…one group brought force back unto them, and they fought.
The devil against a man of skill and experience, the angel against a boy who might have been a friend but for this opposition, this standing upon opposite sides of the spectrum.
They fought well…they fought like the wind, like ice, like steel…cold, hard, ruthless steel. The man and the boy were strong, but they could gain no ground against the devil and the angel…for they were driven by ambition.
And then…in a flame of rage, a flux of power so great and terrible that the earth itself may tremble in fear, the boy released his fury…and the angel knew he had lost.
But the angel could not face his death…not when he still had a purpose.
The man had bested the devil, as well, and was poised for the killing blow.
But as the executioner's axe descended…the angel was there.
A martyr to his sin, the angel's own blood was spilt upon the ground…and the devil remained. The angel ended himself that the devil may reach the pinnacle of his ambition…
And epiphany as a bolt of lightning struck the devil to his core.
He had cared.
He had loved.
He had cherished.
Not power…but the angel himself.
And now the angel was ended…in a final expression of his own loyalty and devotion…now the angel would leave the earth, free from his taint, and would ascend.
The devil knew sadness.
The devil knew love.
The devil knew loss.
The devil was human, and he knew loss.
He stood, alone upon the field of war, still in opposition to the man who had ended - though with no intention - the angel who had unwittingly but indefinitely changed the devil's heart and soul, and he, too, knew that he had lost.
It all was ended.
The devil knew he would not join his angel, but would descend in death to that place reserved for him, that place of endless, boundless pain, but this did not frighten him. This did not trouble him.
He knew boundless pain…for he felt it now.
And he thought about his angel, remembering his angel's innocent smile, his angel's light, adoring eyes, his angel's boundless love and devotion…
And the devil cried.
The white coldness that descended from the clouds, the frozen flakes of winter, was not an accompaniment to the devil's coldness, to the devil's icy, unyielding, unfeeling eyes…but an accompaniment to his tears.
His angel cried with him.
"…He…was born in a village where it snows a lot…"
"I see…he was a pure spirit - as true and clean as a newly fallen snow…you can go with him…go to that place…together."
The devil cried.
The angel cried.
And their pain was ended.
Zabuza and Haku are hands-down my favorite characters in Naruto, and hence I felt the obligation to write about them A tribute to them, the devil and the angel, who knew pain and faced it head on. I can only hope that Kakashi-sensei was right, and they both know peace now...in that place.