Standard Disclaimers Apply
I would just like to take a moment to thank all of you who have reviewed my story because at the time of me posting this, this story has just reached 100 reviews with a review from 'the DragonBard'. Thanks to you all and to my readers as well. It's nice to feel appreciated. Anyways, as I had promised, here is the next chapter, earlier than I usually post it. This chapter is quite big, alot bigger than my previous chapters at around 4000 words so I hope you like it. Anyways, enjoy!
We should not shed tears
That is the surrender of the body to the heart
It is only proof
That we are beings that do not know
What to do with our hearts
-Bleach Vol. 7 the Broken Coda-
"Remember, I probably won't be here the next time to save you" Shadow warned before he completely disappeared. Naruto's shadow stopped growing now. Information about the techniques used in that fight exploded into his mind probably from the clone. He couldn't use his own Sharingan before or the other would know but he still seemed to copy those techniques.
Haku was now picking up Zabuza's body. "Your battle is now over… and now I must dispose of this body since it seems to be a body of many secrets. Farewell."
And with that, Haku and Zabuza disappeared in a small gust of wind. Kakashi walked up to Tazuna and stated in quite a menacing voice, "You and I have something very important to discuss."
"What do you mean?" asked a quivering Tazuna.
"I mean that we were never told that there would be ninjas after you. Our mission was simply to protect you from bandits and thieves until you completed this bridge. This has now become at least a B-ranked mission. If you had told us about the ninja, it would have been set as one and a higher level team would have done this mission. I'm sure you had a reason but problems occur when you lie about the mission parameters. We are now operating out of our duties…"
"Maybe we should just quit" said Sakura. "I mean we barely survived that attack and that was only because those two other ninjas arrived."
"Hm, maybe it is too difficult for this team" mumbled Kakashi.
'Oh crap, I forgot, we went on to finish this mission after we defeated the Demon Brothers. By changing that I may have jeopardised this mission' thought Naruto. 'I got to make sure they keep going.'
"No! We were given a mission and we accepted" said Naruto. "So what if the details have changed and now there are other ninjas involved. If we're not strong enough, we'll get stronger. There is no way I'm going to give up this mission. With Tazuna's bridge, Gatou's iron hold on this country will break and the people will prosper again. This country needs that bridge or it will crumble under the weight of poverty. We can't let that happen."
"H-how do you know about this? How do you know about Gatou?" asked Tazuna. Naruto seemed a lot more different to him now; he was someone he could respect, not the midget he had labelled him as.
"I'm a lot more informed than most people make me out to be, you know?" said Naruto with a smile on his face.
"What are you talking about, Naruto?" asked Sakura. "Who is this Gatou?"
"Isn't Gatou the head of Gatou Companies, the wealthy shipping magnate?" asked Kakashi. "He's said to be of the world's few extremely wealthy people."
"Yeah, well officially Gatou runs a shipping company… but behind the scenes, he sells drugs and other illegal items, using ninja and gang members to take over businesses and countries. He's one nasty piece of work" explained Naruto. "I'm sure you could explain what this all has to do with Wave Country better than I, Tazuna."
"Well, you see it was about a year ago when Gatou first set his sights on Wave Country. Through money and violence, he quickly gained control of all the industries. Gatou now has a monopoly on all business traffic in the country. The only thing he has to fear now is the completion of the bridge" said Tazuna.
"Oh, I see; since you are building the bridge, you're in the way so he sent ninja after you" said Sakura.
"But what I don't understand is… if you knew ninja were after you, why did you hide that fact when you hired us?" interjected Kakashi.
"The wave country is super poor. Even the Feudal Lord has no money so even if we couldn't afford a B-ranked mission. If you quit now, I will definitely be killed" replied Tazuna.
"But you won't because I'll continue. Guys, I will understand if you don't want to continue but whether you are going or not, I still am" said Naruto, trying to guilt them into it.
"Naruto, you can't. They'll probably send more ninjas like Zabuza to kill him and they will surely kill you too. What will be the point?" asked Kakashi.
"The point? The point is that I can't let something like this happen. If I walk away now, I could never live with myself. If I do this there is always a chance I can get through it. Besides, it's the right thing to do" continued Naruto.
Kakashi sighed. "Well then, if it's okay with Sakura and Sasuke, then we will continue this mission then."
Sakura immediately accepted the mission, moved by Naruto's and Tazuna's words. Sasuke said, "Yeah, I'll do the mission; all the better for me to improve."
"Then it's settled, we're going to continue the mission" said Naruto punching his fist into the air in victory. "Let's go then."
After walking for a bit, Tazuna said to Naruto, "If you knew all along that there were going to be ninjas, why didn't you rat me out? Why did you do what you did?"
"Because I have one great weakness that ninjas are not supposed to have" was Naruto's reply, his gaze never leaving the path in front of him.
"And what would that be?" asked Sakura. She was actually interested in what he had to say.
Naruto put one of his fists up to his chest over his heart. "I have too much heart."
"Naruto, you've really changed" said Sakura after recovering from surprise at his answer.
"No I haven't, I've been the same Naruto I've been for years" said Naruto. This was true, for as long as he could remember, Naruto had always had a good heart.
"But all those things you said. They just didn't seem like a thing you would say" retorted Sakura. Naruto stopped in his tracks at these words.
"Well then, I guess there's a side of me you have never seen before, eh Sakura?" He continued on, passed Sakura who was rooted to the spot.
'When has he ever been cold to me before? And did he just say my name without the chan?' thought Sakura.
"Besides, it was like I said… It was the right thing to do" called back Naruto to Sakura. The rest of the walk to Tazuna's house was in quiet.
They had just arrived at the house and the team were in a discussion about the events that had happened.
"But who was that masked kid?" asked Sakura.
"That masked kid is a part of the Mist Hunter-Nin team. Hunter-Nins are also known as body erasers. Their job is to completely dispose of a body without a trace. A ninja's body has within it secrets of a village's ninjutsu, information about different Chakra types, herbs and other things that will reveal things about a village" explained Kakashi.
"For example, if I died, the secrets of the Sharingan could be revealed. If you don't be careful there's the danger that enemy ninja will steal your jutsu. A ninja's body can reveal a lot of important information. So, by killing and disposing of the Missing-Nins who have abandoned their villages, the Hunter-Nins protect these secrets from getting out. No sound, no smell… that is a ninja's end."
"So that Zabuza has been chopped up and disposed of? Scary" said Sakura.
"Wait. There's something off" said Kakashi.
"What is it Kakashi-sensei?"
"Body erasing teams usually dispose of the body of a person they have killed right there and then" said Kakashi. "But how did that masked boy dispose of Zabuza's body?"
"How would we know? The masked boy took off with the body" said Sakura.
Kakashi went on to explain, "Exactly, if he needed proof that he killed Zabuza, all he would need is the head and destroy the rest where he had died. And the weapon he used to kill Zabuza…"
"Just simple needles" stated Naruto in a calm voice. Sasuke's eyes widened at this realisation, "No way!"
"What are you guys talking about?" asked Sakura in confusion.
"It means that most likely, Zabuza is still alive" explained Naruto.
"What? But Kakashi-Sensei checked and Zabuza was dead" reasoned Sakura.
"Most probably, he was put into a state of momentary death and if he was, he would need a while before his body worked normally again. So in that window, we must train for the inevitable confrontation that will come. Tomorrow, meet me early in the clearing outside the house and we'll find a good training spot for me to teach you."
Evening had fallen and Naruto was walking through the woods. After getting mad at Inari's utter faith that they would die, he said he needed to get out for some air. He found himself in a clearing a good way into the forest and far enough from the house. Concentrating his chakra into his shadow, he started the process he did to call up Shadow like he did the last time. However, all he had to do was start as his shadow detached itself from Naruto and went a bit away to finally merge into a solid humanoid black form with no feature except a mouth on its face.
"You rang, boss" said the shadow in a sing song voice.
"What the hell are you? In all purposes you shouldn't exist and I have never seen a clone that does not look like the person who made it."
"Well then… I guess I'm just special" said the onyx black figure. "The fact of the matter was that I could not arrive looking like I do now because that would raise too many questions, and I couldn't go looking like you do now or it will blow your cover. You see I'm much more intelligent than those idiots you send to take your place normally."
"If you're so smart, then I'm sure you can handle some questions I've got for you."
"Sure. Fire away."
"How did you handle that sword? I've never used the Sharingan on a seasoned swordsman before yet you were able to fight at an advanced level just hours after you were, as you called it, born."
"Because I came directly from your mind melded with your Chakra. You have not copied the styles of a swordsman but you have seen it, and it has been engraved into your memory, memories that are the bases for me. I can use whatever I learn from your memories."
"The plan was to kill Zabuza. You could have killed him so easily, why didn't you? Why did you resort to the manipulation tactics of the Sharingan? Why didn't you do what I wanted?" asked Naruto.
"Why did I go the roundabout way of using the Sharingan? It is because, they were not ready to see the true power of it, and they were not supposed to see such a display of power at this time. Messing it up too much at this point in time and things will turn out different from how you want it to be. Remember Sasuke didn't take your help this time because he hadn't seen your resolve after the Demon Brothers incident. There are thing to be changed that are big but the little thing have got to stay near enough the same. Why did I not kill Zabuza when I could… because it wasn't what you wanted, Boss" answered Shadow, with a grin on his featureless face.
"What the hell are you talking about? We planned it so Zabuza would be out of the way and Haku could carry on with his life. What do you mean I didn't want it?"
"You, Boss, care too much to simply kill off the most precious person of a person you respect. Killing Zabuza would have devastated Haku. Subconsciously, you cannot bring yourself to do that to him. That's where I came in and did it the way that was necessary. You have too much heart to kill a person who can be saved. Remember his grave near the bridge; remember that in dying Zabuza showed that he truly cared for Haku. We can save him from such fate, so I was just following orders."
"What the hell are you talking about? To ensure the safety of Haku and his future, I have to make sure Zabuza is out of the picture. That's what I wanted. That's what is needed to be done, you idiot."
"Where did it go?" asked Shadow shaking his head.
"What the hell are you talking about now?" shouted Naruto in frustration. The bird in the trees around them flew away at this outburst to the sound of the leaves rustling.
"Where did your heart go? Was it torn from you when your precious people were taken from you? Did it disappear when you were betrayed by your best friend? Did it just fade away, only to be a forgotten memory? You have lost something?"
"No. You have lost something… your mind. I have heart, I care about those I call precious to me, I would have never gone back to do it all again if I didn't."
"Sure, you care for your own but you have lost the ability to properly know what others care about and why they care about it. You have lost your way, and until you regain that, I won't be able to help you again." Shadow was now melting, his form distorting from its shape and shifting into a puddle slowly. "I could teach you many things that are locked away in you, I can be an asset on the field, a great ally but, until you regain that what is missing, that can never be. Train hard Naruto, because without me there, you have very precious Chakra left and you can't resort to Kyuubi in this situation without disrupting your plans. Train hard Boss, because you're going to need it."
And with that, Shadow dissolved completely back into Naruto's shadow and Naruto could feel a large chunk of his Chakra suddenly disappear. Naruto cursed and try to recall his Shadow but nothing happened. After a half hour of trying he gave up and walked back towards the house. 'If you won't listen to reason then I will change, I'll train hard and make sure no one dies when they shouldn't have done. I don't need his help; I can do this on my own.'
Six days later…
The early rays of sunlight were streaming through the trees of the luscious forest. A boy no older than twelve yet has experienced three decades of misery, lay passed out in the middle of a clearing. His arms were singed and his body was covered in cuts and splinters. It seemed even Kyuubi had left him in this situation.
The morning after the conversation with Shadow, Naruto had sent an enhanced clone to do the tree climbing exercises. He still had more power than he had the first time around, he could do it all on his own. Skipping out on his team, Naruto went into the hardest training regimes that he had learnt through his travels.
From morning to noon, he would run through the forest dragging two tree trunks. From noon until evening, he would practise his kata, the preset movements of his Taijutsu style in perfect time without rest continuing from one set of kata to another without break. From evening to late at night, he would use Chakra to enhance his sense and help him to move about the forest through the treetops, along the ground and sometimes underneath. He barely stopped for food; he had hunted for some food only because it would help his training. He had barely stopped for rest, so here he was now, passed out from exhaustion on the ground.
Haku was walking through the forest in his more feminine clothes so as to make sure that if attacked, he would be underestimated. He was looking for herb; Zabuza would need some more medicinal herbs if he is to be ready for when he wanted to attack the bridge. Haku liked it in the forest; it was quiet and tranquil, and it allowed him to forget that he was a ninja, to forget that he was someone who killed for a living, if not just for a little while.
Haku noticed something weird and out of place in the forest though, she caught a speck of orange. Bright vibrant orange. Haku went to check it out and found a boy about his age lying unconscious on the floor. He noted the Konoha forehead protector and knelt down, his arm reaching for the boy.
Naruto returned to the land of the conscious to some light pushing and his shoulders and a soft voice ringing in his ears, "Come on, and wake up. You will catch your death of cold if you sleep out here."
When he could see normally, he saw Haku and suddenly remembered that he had met Haku before the last encounter on the bridge. He had been so wrapped up in training to be able to defeat Zabuza that he had forgotten about nearly everything else.
"What are you doing here so early in the morning?" asked Naruto trying to act naturally.
"Me? I was collecting some plants I needed to make some medicine. How about you? Why were you asleep here if all places?"
"Me? I was training."
"I see you have a forehead protector. Could you be a ninja?"
"Yeah, I am a ninja" said Naruto.
"Wow, that's incredible. But why were you training?"
"Because I want to be stronger."
"But you already look quite strong to me."
"No. I'm not strong at all really, I've never been strong enough" replied Naruto remembering every single person he had let down in his old life and all the deaths that he could not prevent. "I need to be stronger and that's why I'm training. I need to be stronger to prove myself to others." Mostly he was thinking of Shadow and Kyuubi, he felt so alone without Kyuubi's constant presence and Shadow had insulted him so much by abandoning his Boss.
"Is that for someone else, or for yourself?"
"What?" Haku started giggling at this. "What's so funny?"
"Do you have someone important to you?" said Haku regaining his composure. "When people have something important to protect, that's when they truly become strong."
Naruto's eyes widened at this. It was bringing up so many memories that he had tried desperately to forget. Even now, only fragments were coming back.
"There is no damn way in hell that you're going to take my brother too…" shouted Temari with her fan in hand screaming out a battle cry as she charged down the corridor.
"Go on Naruto-kun. I have to protect my ninja way. I worked hard to be a ninja and I will die a great ninja today. You will live on to tell stories of what a great ninja I was. I will go out with my flames of youth at their brightest" stated Lee as he turned on his heels and ran in the opposite direction to where they could escape.
"Why did I protect you? Because I couldn't let the next Hokage of Konoha die now, could I?" said Tsunade, kissing Naruto on the forehead.
"Naruto, I'm not abandoning you. I'm making sire you can go on and make me damn well proud of the ninja, no the man that I had raised. I have to do this, Naruto. Please understand" explained Jaraiya from his perch on top of Gamabunta as he started to move against the enemy lines.
"No. No! Why? Why did you do that? Why did you do that for me?" screamed Naruto, the rain pouring down his face mixing with his tears as he held the girl in his arms. Blood was pouring from her wound and was washed away in the small streams that came from the crying skies.
"Because I-I l-love you. I always have and I-I'm just sorry I didn't tell you sooner" stuttered Hinata, her breath short as her eyes closed for the last time. She died in the arms of the man she loved.
"Yes, when people have something important to protect, that's when they truly become strong. Do you understand this?" asked Haku.
"Yeah, I understand it well" replied Naruto.
"Then you will become strong" said Haku as he went to leave.
"Wait. I'm Naruto." Haku turned back and smiled, "And I'm Haku. I hope we meet again somewhere." Haku went on to walk away.
"I'm sure we will" said Naruto quietly. "I'm sure we will."
After a few minutes of sitting there contemplating, Naruto's shadow moved itself up a tree and out emerged the sleek form of Shadow resting against said tree. "So, I guess that you finally found what you lost, eh?"
"Yeah, I can't take Zabuza away from Haku. I see that now" stated Naruto in an emotionless voice. "How couldn't I see it? We're the same. Our hearts are alike, we have precious people to protect; precious people we would be lost and broken without. I can't do that to Haku."
"Great. Now that that's settled, we can start to train you and the great thing is, I have to do most of the work. All you have to do is copy…" Two red eyes appeared on Shadows black face; Sharingan eyes. And from this skin started to wrap itself around Shadow and clothes too until he was an exact replica of Naruto with his Sharingan activated. Black Chakra poured from his hand and formed into a black katana. "You've already masked your Chakra and so have I so don't hold back."
Naruto's eyes turned darker and three commas appeared around his irises that started to spin around it slowly. "Let's get this started then, Shadow." He put his left hand over his other hand. He felt a warm fuzzy feeling that he had lost on that night where he had ignored Shadow's advice. Red and blue chakra sparked together on the surface of his hand before black Chakra leaked out becoming a black katana that was just like Shadow's. He took a fighting stance and looked into the eyes of his clone. "Thank you… for saving me from making a big mistake."
"Don't worry about it. I mean, someone has to save your sorry ass" said Shadow and he charged in with his sword raised.
END CHAPTER SIX
I know I promised no more flash backs but I just needed those few fragments for emphasis in that last bit. I'm sorry for giving Naruto some Sasuke like moments but I really tried to hone his character a bit more. He should have been a lot more affected by his past/future and this was a good time to develop Shadow as well. I hoped this chapter was good enough for you all. In the next Chapter, I expect that it will almost definately be the final Haku and Zabuza fight. Shadow will not make a big appearence again until near the end of that. After that, we will finally have the Chuunin exams where havok will be recled when people find out that Gaara has deep emotional feelings and Naruto isn't on the same intelligence level as a monkey (Has anyone elsenoticed the drop of IQ in Naruto in the fillers of the anime?). It should be great. Please tell me how I did and how I can improve in your reviews because that would be much appreciated.
Hoping to write soon
Deranged Without Glasses