There will be an important note at the bottom of this chapter.

I don't own Naruto

Hasn't Everyone Wanted to Catch Snow on His Tongue?

Chapter Six: A Bite to Eat

Haku was being followed, and he was acutely aware of it.

After years of traveling as a missing-nin, paranoia was practically carved into him, his natural habits altered to allow for searching and listening. Zabuza had trained him since he was very young that all mysterious sounds – all of them – should be traced back to its source, whether it be deer, bird, or in worse-case scenario, hunter-nin.

After years of working in the outdoors and practically living off the land for the most part, Haku had learned to recognize the distinct sounds of many animals. The slight difference of the weight of do's footsteps compared to a buck's; the rustling sound leaves made when a snake slithered among them. He was sure he could name many animals by sound alone.

It was these years of experience that told him he was being followed by a shinobi – and quite a skilled one at that. Who ever was tailing him was almost silent, though he (she?) obviously couldn't help the slight bend of a tree branch or the unnatural shuffle of a leaf or two.

The teen had been on edge since he had first noticed this presence behind him; it was nerve racking to think that he had caught of the attention of a hunter-nin, not to mention a bit humbling since his bad temper was probably to blame for it.

But he really couldn't help it! Haku had kissed a snake man; and not just a quick brush of the lips or a tap on the check. It had been a full out, tongue meshing horror of a kiss, and the young man just couldn't get over it – in more ways than one.

At the moment, however, he was mentally cursing himself for going out so carelessly. Haku had weapons with him – a few senbon needles in his obi – but he wasn't armed to defend himself against any hunters from Mist. Zabuza wasn't around either, and although he didn't need the older man to fight, it would help against an opponent of this caliber.

His thoughts paused, and he heard a tree branch bending down closer to him. Without missing a beat Haku whirled effortlessly towards the source of the noise, senbon already in hand. He flung the needles out, the almost hilariously thin cylinders of metal flying out with homicidal precision that his usual demeanor almost belittled.

Haku stood still for a moment, staring in the direction the needles had gone, but relying more on his sense of hearing than anything that he might see. He would have to go back to Zabuza and –

"You almost hit me," a voice all but purred in his ear as a hand landed on his shoulder. The teen's eyes widened and brought a senbon up to jab into the hand only to find his own hand captured as he was turned about, face to face with Orochimaru.

Haku's body was tensed, but as he saw only his 'pet' he relaxed slightly. It was just his snake; nothing to worry about. Still, at the back of his mind, a little voice nagged. Hunter nins couldn't catch him, but a man still recovering from injuries could..? There was something wrong with all this.

"You scared me," Haku stated, his guard not dropping as suspicion crept into his mind. It just wasn't fitting together… He wasn't sure who the man he picked up was, but the snake suddenly seemed much more dangerous.

"Scared you…? Tell me, little missing-nin, when was the last time you took a peek at a Bingo Book? Surely, you should know of me… Your precious Zabuza-san knows who I am."

The teen frowned, attempting to back up, but Orochimaru wouldn't loosen his grip. Not only did he know that Haku was a missing-nin, but he was in the Bingo Book as well? And Zabuza-san would know of him?

"Well, not to worry; I'm sure you'll understand soon enough." Orochimaru smiled, licking his lips as Haku came closer and closer to panicking.

The younger shinobi, suddenly finding himself driven into a corner, suddenly narrowed his eyes and reached into his shirt, only to find… nothing. His brown eyes opened wide again, and he cursed his own stupidity mentally; the small supply of weapons he'd brought had all been thrown away carelessly, save for the one held in his currently indisposed hand.

Looking around for possible escape routes, Haku was becoming more and more disgusted with his trusting nature. No wonder Zabuza-san always cursed him; he was a horrible tool.

"Don't look so frightened, this won't take long; trust me." The words were almost purred, a sweet, almost seductive tone laced into it. "And don't bother attempting to get away."

"Zabuza-san -"

"- Won't do anything; you lied to him, remember? Why would he bother with a 'tool' he can't even trust?" A sly smirk crossed Orochimaru's lips, his eyes all but sparking sadistic pleasure.

"He knows that he can rely on me," Haku stated, trying to keep Orochimaru from doing… whatever he was planning. The young teen's instincts didn't fail him often, and at the moment they were screaming that he needed to get away from this dangerous new enemy.

"Now now, I know what you're doing; I was an ANBU captain when your precious Zabuza" – the name was all but sneered – "was still wandering around in diapers, running into walls.

"Just relax, and this will all be fine," Orochimaru stated, leaning in towards the frightened boy.

Haku tried to pull back, but with his hand caught there wasn't much that he could do. The stronger man jerked him forward, causing him to almost run into the snake. Still, he was close enough, as the man leaned forward just a bit more and bit him on the neck.

Suddenly stiffening in the man's grasp, Haku shivered as he felt sharp teeth sink through the skin on his neck. But it was something more than just a bite; there was a numbing quality to it that seemed to be seeping out from the tears on his skin.

Orochimaru pulled back, smiling and licking his blood-stained lips.

"Good-bye for now, my little pet."

And then he was gone, and Haku had dropped his remaining senbon from his freed hand, clamping it over the wound on his neck. Increasingly worried by the unnatural pain surrounding his wound, and the idea of whom or what he had just run into, Haku began to run.

The woods rushed by him in a blur, bark and foliage blurring together unnaturally. He couldn't stop, the feeling that something bad was going to happen the second he did sitting his chest, heavy as lead.

But he did have to stop, dizzied by the world around him, and as soon as he stopped, everything seemed to tilt on its axis. The pain was now excruciating, and with one last look towards the sky, Haku fell over, landing with a dull thump on the ground.

His glazed eyes stared out at the ground for a moment, seeing nothing, and then they closed, consciousness leaving his mind.

Above him, the snow that he had wished for just a few days ago began to fall.

I'm sorry to say this, but in all likelihood, this is the last chapter of the story. That doesn't mean this is the end of it, because there was more to it than just that, but I don't know if I'll be able to continue this fanfiction the way that it has been written up to this point.

I don't like how I've done the characterization, and I basically think that I totally screwed some of my favorite Naruto characters. It's that fact that makes me want to stop writing this.

Now, there is a small possibility that I'll either try to rewrite this or just try and finish it up, but I'm not sure if I'll do either one. I really am sorry, because I know that some people liked this a lot, but I just can't go on with it the way it is.

If you have anything to say about this, please do so; I don't want to leave all of you reviewers hanging, because you're what made me try and keep this story alive for so much longer. Just tell me if you'd prefer a rewrite or just an ending for this, and I'll try my best to do something.

My apologies, again.