DISCLAIMER: Waahhhh... long fight scene, which mostly belongs to Masahi Kishimoto...


PREVIOUSLY:

"My distraction has cost me one mirror, but it will not happen again!" Haku told the blond. "From now on, I will take your Sharingan seriously!"

"My… My what!" Naruto started in surprise. His gaze darted to one of the mirrors, where a blond haired boy with red eyes stared back at him. "My eyes!" he started, his hands moving toward them. "But how…?"

Is this because of Sasuke's death? he wondered. Kakashi-sensei said only members of the Uchiha clan could get the Sharingan, I'm sure he did! So how come…

Deep in the recesses of his cage, a fox demon winced slightly at the boy's shock as it reached even the far back of his mind. "Oopps," it managed, rather lamely.

Haku stared out the mirror at the blond's shocked face. He did not know…? Either way, I must make use of his distraction!

Jumping from the mirrors, Haku once again prepared to attack.


Chapter Two: In Which the Battle Draws to a Close and Naruto Receives a Gift

Kakashi whirled the scroll through the air, making a trail of blood down its centre. "Zabuza!" he called out into the mist. "Can you hear me? We're both busy people…" He lashed it through the air, wrapping it back up. "This might not suit your style, but let's end the fun… and finish this now!"

He caught the scroll between the index fingers of both his hands. I must finish this quickly! It sounded as if the boys are both in trouble against that other ninja!

A voice drifted out of the mist, sounding amused at the Jounín's bravado. "Sounds interesting… I'm curious to see what you can do in this situation. Come Kakashi, show me!"

Just hang on a little longer, Naruto and Sasuke…

- - -

On the other side of the bridge, Naruto whirled out the way of Haku's attack as he dropped from another mirror directly above the Kyubi holder.

How do I use this stupid Sharingan thing! Naruto wondered desperately. How does Kakashi sensei do all those cool moves with it?

The enemy ninja jumped from mirror to mirror, leaping out from odd angles to attack with punches and kicks that were fast and stinging. Though he tried to block as many as he could, Naruto knew his own taijutsu was no match for the others. I'm not fast enough! He glanced around desperately. Where next? His red eyes widened suddenly in understanding. This Sharingan! I know-

-There! Naruto yelled at himself. Haku darted out a mirror, hands outstretched with a senbon. Naruto side-stepped suddenly, twisting round, before latching onto the ninja's wrist with a vice like grip. "I've got you now!" he yelled out loud, drawing back a fist which shimmered briefly with red chakra.

Haku barely had time to be surprised before there was blinding pain as Naruto punched him repeatedly. I can't fight this energy! There was a crash and Haku felt something cold and hard shatter as a punch sent him sailing through the air and one of his ice mirrors. At the same time his control slipped, and the jutsu began to crumble. Za… Zabuza-san… he thought in a pain filled haze.

Around Naruto there was the sound of tingling glass as all the mirrors filled with snake-like lines, before shattering into slivers onto the ground. It's… It's over… he thought breathlessly. He glanced over to see the other ninja scrambling to his feet, his mask cracking. What is it with this guy? Naruto wondered. He just won't stay down! Well, I'll just have to hurry and knock him out before he recovers! Moving quickly, he raced forwards, leaping off the ground and curling his hand into a fist. The ninja just stood there, the parts of his mask slipping onto the floor and exposing the face beneath.

Whaatt!

Naruto froze, dropping down onto the floor, his fist barely an inch from the other's face. Black haired framed the pale face, while a trickle of blood escaped from the corner of pink lips set in an almost content smile. The features were oddly feminine, yet Naruto knew they belonged to a boy, the one who called himself Haku.

­Is there... someone precious to you who you want to protect?

Naruto expelled his breath noisily. "That… that guy in the woods was you?"

Haku frowned. Why has he stopped? He must finish this! "Why do you not strike?" he demanded, a frown on his face. "Did you not just vow to avenge your comrade's death by killing me? Was that vow just empty words? Perhaps he didn't mean as much to you as you pretend…?"

Naruto risked a glance over his shoulder, where Sasuke lay still and cold in death, surrounded by pools of water from the melted mirrors. His eyes flickered. Furiously, he turned back to Haku and finished the swing of his punch. Without the build up it did little besides making the other boy stagger.

Haku coughed. "If that is all the strength you can put into it you will never keep your vow…" He looked back to meet Naruto's eyes. "To allow an enemy to live- this is not compassion, but a betrayal of your life's very purpose. For what reason do you exist then? You are of no use to anyone- your life has no meaning. It is a mere existence from day to day, full of pain and emptiness."

"I don't know what you're talking about," Naruto said with a snarl.

"I talk of myself," Haku explained calmly. "This battle has shown that I am no longer any use to my master, Zabuza. I am a weak and ineffective tool."

"Zabuza…" Naruto furrowed his brow. "Why that guy anyway! Is he the only person that matters to you? That's the saddest thing I ever heard!"

Haku looked down. "There were others once… My parents…" Naruto relaxed his fighting stance slightly as Haku continued. "I was born in a snowy village in the Country of the Mist. My parents were very kind and good people. …I was happy… But then everything changed." Haku broke off to look towards the sky for a moment, lost in a memory.

"What?" Naruto asked. "What changed?"

Haku reached up with a hand to wipe the blood from his mouth. "Blood…"

"Blood?" the Kyubi holder repeated, confused.

"My father killed my mother, before he tried to kill me," Haku said simply.

"What!" Naruto gasped, shocked at the admission.

"People with bloodlines that gave them abilities like mine came to be hated in my country. We had endless civil wars, and clans were used as weapons in countless battles. As a result they were blamed for bringing misfortune and war to the country. After the war was over, the people from those clans had to hide their abilities, or they would face certain death." Haku shifted his gaze to the body of Sasuke. "That boy… He too must have experienced such hardship in his past…"

Naruto frowned, remembering the words Sasuke had spoken when he talked of his ambitions in life. To kill a certain man!

"My mother was from such a bloodline. She thought she had escaped from that to become the wife of a simple farmer… But eventually my father discovered her abilities… By the time I knew what I had done, I had killed my own father!" Haku paused, bowing his head. "Then I discovered the most painful thing."

"Most painful?"

"That in all the world, I am a person who is unwanted!"

Naruto started in surprise, his eyes widening. He is just like me!

"When Zabuza came along, he offered me a reason to live again. He needed me, he acknowledged me, just as you wish to be recognised. Like me, if someone came along who did that, would they not become the most precious person to you?" Haku asked him, and thinking back to what the blond boy had told him when they talked in the woods.

Naruto bowed his head in silent agreement. Like Iruka-sensei… My most precious person…

"Yet now," Haku said, his voice full of pain, "I am useless as Zabuza's tool! Naruto… Please…" He paused to meet the blond boy's eyes. "Kill me."

Naruto stared at him in disbelief for a moment. How can he say that so calmly? How can he want to die? He stepped back in surprise.

"Why do you hesitate?" Haku demanded, taking a step forward to close the gap again. "I thought you wanted to be a mighty warrior?"

Naruto shook his head. "How can you say that? Do you really believe that's all there is to it?" he yelled. "Fighting and killing until there's only one man left standing?" His voice softened a bit. "There's a lot more to being shinobi than that. There are more ways of showing your strength than beating someone in battle."

Haku felt his lip twitch into the start of a sad smile. "I've had this feeling ever since we met in the woods… That you and me, we're a lot alike." Our thoughts are the same. Our dreams, also. "You know what it is I'm talking about. I'm only sorry that it is you that will have to stain your hands with my unworthy blood."

Naruto gritted his teeth. "This… This is the only way…?"

"Yes!" Haku insisted.

You've lost your dreams… and ask me to kill you! Naruto bowed his head. The both of us are caught in this… as shinobi… "The weird thing is, if we'd met under different circumstances, we probably would have been friends…" Naruto said out loud, to receive a small nod of agreement from the other boy.

Pulling a kunai from the pouch on his leg, Naruto started forward towards the other, raising his arm as if for a single slash across the throat.

Haku watched him, feeling oddly content. He will become strong. Naruto, fulfil your own dreams!

The blond drew close. You think I can kill you Haku, but you don't understand! I won't kill you, not for that man! If I hit you with the flat of the kunai, I can knock you out! That should be enough! He began to swing his arm down-

"Your future is death!"

Haku's head snapped up as the words carried to him. Zabuza!

"Sorry Naruto, change of plan!" Haku yelled, catching the arm and whirling the unsuspecting boy around. "I'm not ready to die quite yet!" He quickly began forming seals with one hand. I have been foolish! How can I ask for a merciful death, when Zabuza-san still needs me? My last breath belongs to him!

There was a swirl of mist as Haku disappeared- releasing Naruto from the hold he had had on his arm. Naruto stumbled and stared dumbstruck at the spot where Haku had been seconds before. Where…!

Suddenly, he felt his body shudder. It felt as if all his energy had suddenly disappeared. What's happening? He blinked once, and when he looked around again his surroundings had lost their odd cast. Does this mean the Sharingan has gone off? Naruto wondered. Whatever, it's used up almost all my chakra! And I still have to find Haku!

To his surprise the fog was lifting. He glanced down the bridge and saw-

His breath stuck in his throat. Kakashi and Zabuza were stood staring each other down. Between them stood the blood drenched body of Haku, Kakashi-sensei's hand punched through his chest. He jumped in to save Zabuza! Naruto realised.

"I never realised what a useful thing I had picked up that time!" Zabuza was saying, while hefting his sword back.

He intends to cut through Haku and Kakashi-sensei both!

"HAKU!" Naruto screamed, watching as Zabuza's blade swept down.

At the last second, Kakashi jumped out the way, taking Haku's body with him. Dropping to his knees he laid the boy out on the floor carefully. Quickly, Naruto ran over to them both and dropped to his knees. The boy was spitting up blood, and there was a gaping hole right through his lung. "Haku…" Naruto murmured. He turned to look at his sensei, who had a sad look on his face. "Is he going to live?"

Kakashi looked away from the blond's anxious face. "Stay here Naruto. This fight is between me and Zabuza." He stood up and walked past the blond, though a hand fell on Naruto's shoulder for a second and squeezed in what was supposed to be a comforting gesture.

Naruto turned his gaze on the boy, who looked up at him with happy eyes. "Naruto…"

"Naruto!" Sakura yelled, running over with Tazuna in tow. "You're alright! I'm so glad! Is Sasuke with you?"

Naruto's face dropped and he yanked his gaze away from her eager one. "Naruto…" he heard her whisper, as if in question, or perhaps realisation. He heard her run away down the bridge.

Haku looked up at the blond, whose face was fixed on the ground. "I'm… sorry…"

Naruto turned his gaze onto the boy. "Hey, you ought to be preservin' your strength! Don't talk right now!" He grabbed one of Haku's hands.

The black haired boy smiled, even as a sudden wailing cry rose up. It sounded as if Sakura had found Sasuke. Naruto closed his eyes for a second, trying to push back the tears.

"You'll see…" Haku said, his voice barely a whisper. Naruto opened his eyes to look at him again. "Naruto-kun… Know that I died… fulfilling my purpose. It was… an… honour…" The boy trailed off.

Around Naruto things slowed to a stop; the hand he held was cold. "Haku-kun…" he murmured as the boy's eyes slid shut and his chest stopped rising.

How many corpses will I see today? he wondered distantly, even as something else began to fill his mind.

A boiling certainty.

"HAKU!" he yelled. Red fire flew over his hands, bathing Haku's body in its glow. Inside his mind there was a roar.

"You have a lot of nerve boy! Didn't I tell you not to summon me again!" the Kyubi shouted, sending the noise rattling through Naruto's mind.

"Heal him!" Naruto yelled back. "Heal him now! He didn't deserve to die for that guy!"

"What do I care for such sentimentality?" Kyubi replied furiously. "The weak die! He was weak when he should have been cold hearted and that killed him! What good would it do to bring him back to do it again? He would kill what you have left of your team! Foolish brat!"

Naruto gritted his teeth. "I don't need your help! Just your power!" The Kyubi shrieked as Naruto forcibly pulled at the power trapped within his naval. In a sudden rush, it burst out of Naruto's hands into the dead boy beneath him, and into the wound through his chest.

The body shuddered, convulsing once. Chakra threaded into the hole, and there was an odd crunching noise as things began to rebuild themselves, smoke poured out the wound. In a matter of seconds, pale skin was forming back over the wound.

"Foolish…" the Kyubi remarked from somewhere inside his mind, though he sounded a little less intimidating, almost as if his tone had softened.

Naruto reached out a hand to Haku's neck, where a steady pulse could be felt once again. He sighed in relief, sagging a little. He quickly pulled on Haku's top, covering where the wound had healed with bloody material. "I hope you wake up soon," he murmured. "Then maybe you can escape while everyone is distracted…"

- - -

Haku drifted in and out of consciousness. What?

He was alive. But… How?

He remembered Naruto, and a sudden flood of power that had filled him, before he slipped into darkness.

Something warm was placed beside him. "Thanks Kakashi," said a voice he recognised as Zabuzas.

There were footsteps as someone walked away- Kakashi he guessed.

A hand pressed against his cheek. "If I could… I'd like to go to the same place… as you…" Zabuza murmured, his voice fading towards the end.

Zabuza-san! Haku thought, and willed his eyes open.

Across from him was Zabuza, who looked at him in shock "Haku-" he said in surprise.

"Don't die yet!" Haku whispered to him. "I will get us out of here!" He sat up quickly, and was pleased to see everyone was suitably distracted, though there were a lot more people on the bridge now, townspeople from the look of it. The only person who spared them a glance was Naruto, from where he was stood with Sasuke, Sakura and their sensei. He stuck his tongue out at Haku, before turning away again.

Haku started in surprise, before realisation came over him. You healed me, and have given me this chance to leave with Zabuza. How shall I ever repay you? He quickly began forming seals that would open an ice mirror. He even replenished my chakra! Stooping down, he picked up Zabuza as best he could.

"Let's go Zabuza-san," he said.

The man chuckled. "I should have known you would do something like this. I think you prefer me as an invalid."

Together they disappeared through the mirror.

- - -

It was sometime through the self-congratulations swapped by the villagers that anyone noticed something was amiss.

Sakura was supporting Sasuke, completely against his will, while the black haired boy was trying to work out what had happened after he had been 'killed'. Naruto was being oddly elusive.

Sasuke looked the blond over critically. He's covered in blood! Look at his face! Yet I can't see a single wound! Does this mean it is all Hakus!

"Their bodies are gone!" one of the villagers remarked suddenly.

A dozen cries went up in shock as everyone turned to look. Indeed, the spot where the bodies of Haku and Zabuza had been laid was empty.

"It seems we were tricked…" Kakashi muttered, half to himself. He glanced sideways at Naruto, but to all appearances the boy seemed as surprised as any of them.

Tazuna looked a little worried. "Does this mean they will return?" he asked shakily.

Sasuke tensed, while Sakura gasped at the idea. I'm in no condition to fight! Sasuke thought. Damnit! Why did I jump in front of that hit anyway? He glanced sideways at the blond, who had his mouth open comically in surprise at the revelation. Why did I do it…?

"I doubt it," Kakashi said after a second. "He was only working with Gatou for the money. After he killed the man what would be the point in coming after you? I think you'll be perfectly safe Tazuna-san." He glanced around his team once, noticing the exhaustion on each face. Sasuke in particular was still riddled with dozens of needles. "I think we should go back to your house now. Everyone will need to be treated for their wounds and rest for a while."

Tazuna nodded in agreement, agreeing with the Jounin completely after witnessing the battle. He finally understood what it meant for these children to be shinobi.

- - -

"Well, at least our mission was successful," Kakashi said to his glum looking team two days later.

The four of them were sat round the kitchen table in Tazuna's house, called there by Kakashi who had wanted to make sure they were all okay.

Sasuke was healing well now all the needles had been removed, though he was wrapped in bandages all over. These were frequently checked by Sakura, who hadn't been injured at all, except for emotionally when she saw her idol and team mate dead.

Next to her sat Naruto, who Kakashi was having trouble trying to judge. The Kyubi had fixed all his wounds by the next day, but the orange jumpsuit had been covered in blood and there had been trails of it down his face from what had looked like his eyes. The past two days he had been quieter than normal, but seemingly fine apart from that, though the Jounin had yet to get a full sequence of events from the boy, who seemed to be avoiding him.

"We saved Tazuna from Gatou and the bridge is all but done," Kakashi continued. "Even better, the Wave Country is sure to pick up now that they don't have those goons stopping the trade."

Naruto and Sakura both looked pleased with this, while Sasuke was as impassive as ever, his chin resting on his joined hands.

"On a more personal note, I'm proud of all three of you!" Kakashi announced cheerfully. "Sakura protected Tazuna all by herself with admirable dedication-" the Kunoichi humbly accepted the praise (though inwardly she was screaming in triumph) "while Sasuke and Naruto took on a much more advanced opponent and lived to tell the tale." Sasuke glanced at Naruto at this point, as he was still troubled by how the boy had defeated Haku; Naruto determinedly looked away towards a nearby wall. "Even better, Sasuke managed to activate his Sharingan, which is great news."

At this the blond boy perked up noticeably. I need to get what information I can here… "Sensei, everyone keeps going on about this Sharingan! What's the big deal anyway! Can anyone just get this Sharingan thingy?"

"No dobe," Sasuke said a touch contemptuously. "Though I bet you wish you had it." This last was accompanied by a smirk. Naruto glared back, choosing not to comment.

"Though I didn't say so before, only members of the Uchiha clan can get the Sharingan, Naruto," Kakashi said in explanation.

"Then how did you get it sensei?" Sakura asked, warming to the subject.

And how did I? Naruto wondered.

"My Sharingan was given to me, I wasn't born with it," Kakashi said, but seemed unwilling to say more on the subject. "There are only two people in the world with natural Sharingan. One of them is Sasuke."

The black haired boy hmphed lowly and looked down at his hands.

"Sasuke-kun is so cool!" Sakura cheered, pumping a fist in the air.

"Who is the other person, huh Kakashi-sensei?" Naruto asked, ignoring the cheering fan girl sat next to him.

Across the table, Sasuke scowled and shuffled in his chair uncomfortably. I'm sure I mentioned my brother to him while we were fighting against Haku, but still… I don't want him to get involved!

Kakashi noticed the dark haired boy's discomfort. "Mah, that's an S-class secret Naruto," he said with a shrug, "so I can't tell you."

The blond frowned at the obvious avoidance of the question.

"There are lots of other bloodline limits out there, aren't there sensei?" Sakura asked curiously.

"Hai, Sakura," Kakashi agreed. "Ninja villages see the kekkei genkai as very important because they increase the strength of a village. Konoha has- had- two main Bloodlines, the Uchiha and the Hyuga, both of which use the eyes. There are other Limits of course, which you may have seen in a few of your class mates at the Academy."

"Heh, heh, brat," a voice laughed out in Naruto's mind suddenly. "It's no use asking any of those pathetic creatures! Only I know what has happened to you, as I am responsible!"

"KYUBI!" the boy yelled through his head, turning his attention to the fox, who had been unresponsive to the blond the last two days. "What have you done!"

"Done! I've done you a favour brat!" the demon roared. "You now possess a highly prized kekkei genkai!"

"But how!" Naruto demanded.

"When I was fixing your eyes, some of the Uchiha blood was present amongst yours. To fix your eye I needed to recreate the cells that had been damaged at a fast rate. In my haste, I accidentally multiplied the Uchiha's cells as well as your own, and my chakra automatically fitted the two types together," the Kyubi explained, somewhat begrudgingly as it meant he had to admit to a mistake.

"How the hell does that work!" Naruto yelled in disbelief.

"All carrion is made from the same four principal things, it is only the way that it is fitted together that makes any of you any different," the Kyubi reported, sounding bored. "The chakra altered yours accordingly, and as a result you now have the cursed eye of the Uchiha clan."

"-Hey, are you listening Naruto?" Sakura demanded, interrupted his inner conversation.

"I was just thinking about something Haku told me," Naruto said, covering his apparent distraction quickly. "He told me that the Villages used the people with Kekkei genkai in their wars to do all the killing. When the fighting was over the people with Bloodlines had to go into hiding, or they would be killed for all the things they did for their leaders."

All three genin looked to their teacher. "Hmm, that did happen," Kakashi said, scratching at his head. "Especially in the Land of Water. But then the people there were plagued by a number of civil wars, very much like the one Zabuza almost started when he attempted to kill the Kage of that time. It is a painful thing to say, but it is understandable that the people with bloodlines were hated."

"Haku's own father killed his mother, and nearly him as well," Naruto said sadly. "How could anyone of hated someone like Haku so much? He was innocent in all that…"

"Innocent!" Sakura said suddenly, startling Naruto with the loud sound. "Just what were you doing talking to that guy so much when he was killing Sasuke!" Sakura demanded.

Naruto looked away, his head dropping slightly. "I dunno… It doesn't matter…" He stood up from the table and started walking towards the front door.

"Hey! Where are you going?" Sakura asked.

"To train!" the blond announced, shutting the door behind himself with a bang.

"Huh…" the pink haired Kunoichi said. "I wonder what all that was about."

Kakashi narrowed his eye in thought. It seems that battle with Haku affected you more than I thought, Naruto. What is it you've been thinking about so hard these past few days? "Sakura," he said. The girl turned to look at him with a puzzled expression. "Be nice to Naruto for a little while. Naruto said to me after the battle that had things been different, he and Haku could easily have been friends." The Kunoichi looked shocked and even Sasuke seemed mildly intrigued. "Their childhoods were very similar, and their goals in life were also. No doubt, Naruto will be questioning his own purpose as a ninja right now."

Sakura looked down at the table and seemed to be thinking for a short while. "Hai, sensei," she said at last. "I'll apologise to Naruto when he gets back."

Sasuke meanwhile frowned. Similar childhoods? How were they the same? Surely Naruto was not feared and hated like Haku…?

- - -

Naruto walked for a long time, trying not to think. He followed a trail through the woods, and let it lead him upwards, until he found himself on a hill surrounded by trees that overlooked the town below and the country around it. The moon glimmered down from the sky, casting a silver wash over everything. He sighed loudly.

"Naruto-kun," a familiar voice called out of the darkness.

The blond turned at once to see Haku appearing from between the trees. "Haku-kun!" he said in greeting. "What are you doing here? Are you and Zabuza okay?"

Haku smiled brilliantly. "Yes… Zabuza will pull through with my care, though it will take many months…" the boy stepped forward further, next to Naruto's side to look out over the land spread below them.

The two stood in silence for a while, before Haku spoke again. "I came to say goodbye. And… I wanted to thank-you for giving me another chance," he said. "For letting me live. I know it was you that saved me… I heard your voice, and felt that chakra even as I began to fade…"

Naruto scratched the back of his head. "It was nothin'! Really! I just- It was like I said. If we'd of met any other time we would have been friends and, and so I couldn't let a friend die could I?"

"Even after thinking that I had killed your team mate," Haku said, wonderingly. "You have a very big heart Naruto. I hope nobody ever hurts it."

The blond chuckled a little. "It's okay… I'm used to it by now… The villagers…" he trailed off, uncertain what to say.

"Naruto, your Sharingan…" Haku said, changing the topic. Naruto wasn't sure whether it was an improvement or not though. "It shouldn't have been possible for you to suddenly develop it like that. It was after I threw those senbon in your eyes- the same power that healed me gave you back your sight. And you absorbed the kekkei genkai from that boy's blood, didn't you?"

Naruto hesitated. "Yeah, pretty much…"

Haku nodded. "I thought so…" he reached into a pouch on his leg and pulled something out, proffering it to Naruto. "Then I want you to have this."

Uncertainly, Naruto took it from him, to find himself holding a small vial filled with something red. "Huh? What is this?" he asked the other boy curiously.

"Blood," Haku stated calmly. Naruto pulled a shocked face. "My blood. It will come in use to you, I am sure. My abilities will also become your tool- as they did for Zabuza-san- for you have given me back my life and purpose. I hope you will accept it… tainted as it is…" the boy told him, a slight smile on his face.

Naruto's puzzled frown dissolved into a smile of his own, hiding his surprise effectively. "Thank-you, Haku-kun… Though I don't know what I'll do with it yet…"

"It is my thanks," the boy bowed lowly to the shocked blond. "And now I must be going. I must monitor Zabuza's condition carefully for the next few weeks to make sure he pulls through to be as strong as before."

"Hey…" Naruto called after the retreating figure. "If you ever get fed up with hanging around with the eyebrow-less freak, just come and find me in Konoha! I'm sure the old man will let you stay!"

Haku smiled once more, before disappearing, leaving Naruto alone again.

The blond held up the blood in the moonlight, watching it swirl as the vial moved.

"So, what will you do with it brat?" the nine-tails said suddenly. "Are you going to accept his gift?"

"I'm not sure," Naruto said.

"It will be useful for you; it will give you great power." The Kyubi seemed to be considering this carefully. "It could be done with all bloodlines! It would make you an awesomely powerful container. That way, you wouldn't need to bother me so much…"

"I would become strong," Naruto told the Kyubi "To protect my precious people, just like Haku-kun does."

The fox laughed loudly "Whatever you say brat. Just make this quick so I can go back to sleep. All this entertainment has made me tired! Put the blood on your kunai and stab it into yourself."

Naruto did as he was told, covering the blade with the blood from the vial. Most of it ran off, but enough remained for the fox's chakra to work with. Gritting his teeth, Naruto plunged the kunai through his hand, as he had at the start of the journey to the Wave Country.

Red light fizzled over the wound for a second, before the slice disappeared, leaving nothing put smooth skin once more.

"There, it is done," the Kyubi said.


Well, I hope no one minds Naruto getting another gekkei genkai so soon... But at least he's still fumbling about with the Sharingan, so not ultimate perfection. And the consequences of such thievery become apparent next chapter...

The Science
Okay... My Naruto-gets-bloodlimit theory works as follows...
The Kyubi replicates cells. Inside cells is DNA. A section of DNA that codes for a certain characteristic is called a gene. The gene that makes the Sharingan was adapted amongst Naruto's genes for eyes by super Kyubi healing and became the dominant allele (never mind...). However, gene splitting with chakra isn't very precise, and similar gene codes will also get dragged along into Naruto's system... Snicker. I'm so cruel.
Now I know my science isn't very exact, but don't hurt me! Or even mention it you biology buffs out there. Just view chakra as the ultimate DNA ligase...

Pairings!
Ah well, I'm still thinking. I'm not asking for a vote, because in the end I'll probably pick my favourite anyway (sorry anyone who hates NaruHina or NaruSasu). In this chapter I did become obssessed with a NaruHaku pairing though... Hence his survival. You can bet on his return in later chapters... Whether it's a pairing I don't know...

However, I haven't decided yet, so your input always helps! Below are the pairing votes so far...

HET-
Hinata 5
Ino 3
Temari 4

Kin 0

YAOI-
Sasuke 3
Gaara 1

Neji 0
Haku 0 (sad sniff)

NO ROMANCE 1