A/N: I'm back? Or at least, I'm on a short SasuHina writing spree. Also I apologize in advanced if it seems like there is a sudden change in writing style. I am older than when I began writing this story, haha.
Disclaimer: I do not own anything.
Teamwork, the Answer is Teamwork!
Chapter 5: Zombies Do Exist
"Kakashi," the bridge builder started one night, while the group had their dinner. "Why did you choose to stick with me after you found out that there was an assassin on my tail? This mission could endanger your lives."
"To abandon one's duty is not courageous, and below courageous, there is nothing. Those were the First Hokage's words." Kakashi responded. The young Hyuuga girl smiled behind her bowl. She agreed with her sensei's words and found his views to be very honorable. A calm silence enveloped the table, with occasional noises of wooden chopsticks coming in contact with ceramic bowls.
As the meal ended, Hinata stood up to help Tazuna's daughter, Tsunami, clean up the table. Though she protested, the kind Hyuuga persisted. She and her team were guests, after all. Everyone was getting ready to head off to their respective nightly plans when a small voice spoke up from the dinner table. "Why are you trying so hard against Gatou?" All eyes turned to look at Inari, Tazuna's grandson.
He immediately followed with "It's pointless," not allowing for anyone to respond to his first question. The young boy's eyes grew misty and his hands moved to his face to wipe away the tears that were beginning to form. Hinata set the plates in her hands into the sink before walking over to the boy. She coaxed him into her arms in a very sisterly manner, enveloping Inari in a very caring hug.
"Shut up." The Hyuuga turned to look at her blonde teammate, his eyes looked pointedly at the young boy, though his words were sharper. "We're not like you." She frowned slightly and tried to gesture for Naruto to apologize for his words though he did not notice. Inari cried harder in her arms.
"How can someone like you, who is so carefree, possibly understand anything about me or this country?" he demanded.
"You're such a weakling! Crying so freely! An idiot like you should just keep on crying." The blonde shinobi growled out. He scoffed and turned away from the table. "I'm going to train." With that he stood up from the table and walked out.
Hinata pursed her lips in disappointment at her teammate's actions. There was no need to act that way. Thoughts fly around in her head as she tried to figure out what she is going to say to him once he's finished with this 'training'. At that moment, Inari pulled himself away from Hinata's arms and dashed out of the room, no indication to where he was headed.
"What was that about?" Kakashi asked, openly voicing the question that was on all of the shinobis' minds. Tazuna remained silent, though Tsunami answered instead.
"There was a traveling fisherman that had came by here a few years ago; his name was Kaiza. Though, he ended up settling in the village after meeting Inari." The woman smiled somberly to herself as she looked down at the hand towel that she had grabbed to wipe the table with. "You see, Inari's father died when he was still young. As a result, Inari did not know his father very well. When Kaiza showed up and saved Inari from drowning one day, he kind of filled that role for Inari.
"He became really close to our family and was accepted by the village too." Tsunami looked up at a picture frame that hung on the wall. It contained a picture of Tsunami, Tazuna, Inari and a fourth figure, but the fourth figure's head had been ripped out of the picture. Hinata assumed that the last person in that picture had been Kaiza.
There was a short silence as Tsunami wringed her hands tighter around the towel in her hand. It was not long before soft sobs shook her body. "After helping to prevent a major flood," Tazuna stepped in and continued the story for his distraught daughter. "He even became known as the hero of the city. Though our happiness was short-lived as he was accused of being a terrorist against the Gatou Corporation and was publicly executed by Gatou's men. The day that Kaiza's spirit left the world so did the spirit of this village. Though no one was as crushed by Kaiza's sudden death as Inari." Tazuna sighed, picking up his glasses and rubbing the bridge of his nose. "It was not until I had started this bridge project that the inhabitants of our little village have started getting their courage back. We only hope that we can continue to build up everyone's spirits."
Inari sat by himself near the edge of the water, his feet making ripples in the water. He liked being here; it calmed him. At the same time, the memories of Kaiza were also the strongest here. He took out a small picture from his pocket and clutched it close to him, reminiscing over all the good memories. He heard soft footsteps coming closer and he turned around to see no other than the teacher of the team of genin from Konoha, Kakashi, approaching him.
"Inari, can I talk to you?" the silver-haired ninja asks. When the young boy did not respond, Kakashi took his silence as a "yes."
"Naruto is not normally like this." He started as he leaned down and sat next to Inari. "I apologize, for his behavior tonight. I hope his words didn't hurt you much."
"It's pointless." Inari repeated.
"It's pointless to stand up to Gatou and his men." His grip tightened on the picture in his hands. "Kaiza had stood up to him and now look at where he is! He's gone!" Tears started to form at the corners of his eyes. Though he stopped and looked up at Kakashi when he felt him put his hand on his shoulder.
"You see, Naruto grew up without knowing either of his parents and without friends to." The tone of Kakashi's voice was somewhat regretful. "In fact, many of our village regarded him as a monster and were afraid to interact with him.
"Naruto is willing to risk his life in order to gain the recognition of the citizens of Konoha. He wants to be respected and treated like a real person." Kakashi sighed. "He doesn't really find any of this to be 'pointless'.
"He's probably sick and tired of crying."
"Where is he?" Sasuke asked as he stepped into the dining room the next morning. Hinata, Tazuna, and Kakashi were already seated at the table, half-eaten bowls of rice porridge in front of them. He walked over and took a seat next to Hinata. "Where is Naruto?"
"He's still asleep," said the Hyuuga heiress, spooning some of the porridge into her mouth, careful not to burn her tongue. "He came back late last nice after his training."
Che. Sasuke thought to himself. Typical.
Sensei had told them that they needed to get up early for their trip to the bridge next morning. Not surprising, the least dependable member of their squad was unable to complete this simple task.
"Tsunami-san!" Kakashi The woman walked out of the kitchen, ladle in hand. "I'm leaving Naruto in your hands. He is probably tired. He should have the day off."
"Sure," she smiled before walking back into the kitchen. With that, the sensei turned back to his students.
"Wait," started Sasuke, "but I haven't even had anything to eat yet-" before he was able to finish his sentence, his female teammate stuck a spoonful of warm rice porridge into his mouth. He ungracefully choked on the spoon before turning and glaring at the smiling heiress.
"If you get a new bowl, it'll be too hot." She stated, as if it was the most obvious thing in the world. Before the Uchiha was able to respond to her statement, she stuck another spoonful into his mouth. He grabbed the bowl from his hands and downed the rest of its contents in one gulp, ignoring the heat as it went down his throat. He wiped his mouth with the back of his hand and mumbled something about being able to feed himself as his face colored slightly.
Kakashi stood up, completely disregarding the unusual display that just transpired between his two students. "We need to get going. You sure you have everything? Kunai, shruiken, everything?" The two of them nodded in response. "I have a bad feeling about today." And with that, the four of them set out for the bridge.
"Still hurt?" came then statically, sarcastic voice from the radio. The man scowled. "I'm paying you a lot and I haven't quite gotten my money's worth."
"I don't care."
"I want you up and going or I'll-" His sentence was cut short as the small radio was crushed to pieces; it's destroyed pieces falling into the water. He looked up from the small boat under the unfinished bridge.
"Are you ready, the man asked a masked-figure. "We need to get going."
"AHH!" came a distressed cry. Naruto jumped up, ripping the covers from his body. He scrambled around the room and wildly threw things out of his pack as he tried to find the right attire and equipment. "DID I OVERSLEEP AGAIN?!" The blonde shinobi ran into the kitchen, nearly colliding into Tsunami. "Where are they?" he asked, eager to return to his team.
"Naruto, you needn't worry," she smiled. "Kakashi wants you to rest, you have been given the day off."
The blonde frowned before running back into his room. "I knew that they would ditch me." He pulled on his headband and rushed out of the door. Taking to the trees, Naruto was angered that no one had bothered to wake him up. His movements came to an abrupt halt as a distinct—and familiar—metallic scent filled the air. He looked down from the branch that he was standing on to see a dead boar on the ground, bathed in its own blood.
"What is this?" Tazuna looked around at the remains of what used to be a very orderly construction site. Dread sinked into his body like iron in water as horror and shock clouded his face. The air around them reeked of blood. Sasuke crinkled his nose and moved his hands up to cover his nose.
The workers were scattered around the unfinished bridge. Some were unmoving while others were groaning in pain; blood was everywhere.
What could've caused this?
"Inari!" Tsunami called out to her son. Her hands moved to grab the vegetables that she was prepping for dinner. "I am in need of assistance!"
"I'll be right there!" Inari stood to his feet and walked towards the kitchen.
Two figures stalked into the house through the open doors, hands placed very reassuringly on the blades strapped to their waists.
As the leaf shinobi looked around their surroundings, trying to assess the damage, a thick mist set over the bridge, decreasing visibility. Instinctively, Kakashi and his students gathered around Tazuna, kunai at the ready.
"Be careful," warned Kakashi. "Keep your eyes peeled for any suspicious activity. Remember, our mission is to protect Tazuna."
"Byakugan." Hinata brought her hands together in a very familiar hand signal. She gasped and fumbled with the kunai in her hands. "No… It couldn't be." She whispered, "He was killed!"
"How nice of you to join us, Kakashi," came the same eerie voice that they had heard days ago on their journey to the Mist. "I am eager to begin the second round of our fight. I am terribly sorry for keeping you waiting. I see you still have those brats with you." As he spoke, several water clones appeared around the group. The two genin looked towards their sensei, awaiting their signal. He nodded his head slightly and they attack. A few kunai and a flick of the wrist, the water clones are destroyed.
"Boy, you've improved, I'm impressed." Rasped Zabuza, the tone of his voice hinted at a smile. "Haku, you may have a rival now." A masked figure materialized before the group.
"Isn't he…" Tazuna trailed off, looking towards Kakashi for a confirmation.
"He obviously has his allegiances elsewhere." Sasuke scowled at Kakashi's words and grips his kunai tighter.
"I'll fight him," growled the Uchiha but before he is able to attack, the masked figure rushed towards him.
"Kaa-chan?" Inari stepped into the kitchen and immediately froze. There was two samurai, katanas strapped at their waists; his mother crouched on the floor. The two men smirked at the young boy, relishing in his fear.
"No! Inari! Run away! Get away from here!" his mother yelled, the hands over her head start signaling for him to try and get away. One of the samurai immediately hit her on the back of the head with the butt of his sword; her body fell to the ground. Inari yelled and rushed forward towards his mother, but one of the samurai grabbed his arm and held him back.
"Should we take him, too?" He asked his companion, looking down at the struggling boy. "There's really no use in struggling," he sneered at Inari, "I'm not going to let you go."
"We only need one hostage." Hostage? Inari asked himself and stopped moving. The first man just smiled down at him and drew his katana.
"Wait!" Inari's mother spoke up, earning her the attention of the two intruders. "If you kill that child, I'll bite my tongue off and kill myself!" The second samurai glared at her. "You want a hostage, right?"
The man turned and looked at Inari, debating his options before he motioned to the other samurai and they both seethe their katana. "Thank your mom, kid." Inari slumped to the ground; his shoulders hang in regret and despair. The two men tie up his mother forcefully and led her out of the house.
Kaa-chan, I'm sorry. So sorry…
I couldn't protect you.
Wet droplets fell to the ground in a small rain. Inari willed himself to stop his tears but could not. The face of Naruto came into his mind. You're such a weakling! Crying so freely! An idiot like you should just keep on crying! The image of their sensei was next. He's probably sick and tired of crying.
"I already have two advantages over you, Sasuke," came the muffled voice of the assassin as Sasuke's kunai clashed again and again with the sebon. "First, is that water on the ground. Second, I have occupied one of your hands." The figure kicked a nearby puddle and the water splashed into the air while his free hand formed a hand sign, transforming the water into needles, flying downward, aimed at Sasuke. With one hand?
Chakra, must concentrate chakra into my legs! Haku jumped out of the way as the needles come in contact with his opponent. As the smoke clears, the clearing was empty; the Uchiha was gone. He glanced around before looking up to see the raven-haired shinobi in the air. Sasuke threw shruiken after shruiken, missing his target each time as the masked figure deftly evaded them.
"You're slow," the Uchiha appeared behind Haku. "Looks like now you'll only be able to run from my attacks." Haku immediately swiveled around to block Sasuke's hand with his but, instead of the intended impact, the Uchiha threw the kunai in his hand. The masked assassin evades it by crouching close to the ground and Sasuke took the chance to kick Haku, sending him flying backwards and landing at Zabuza's feet.
He lost in speed? Zabuza thought, trying to retain a look of surprised from appearing on his face.
"Apparently, I have an upper hand now." Sasuke smirked.
"I can't have you understanding my team by calling them 'brats'," came Kakashi's voice. "Sasuke is first in his class in Konoha. Hinata is one of the brightest of the village and the heir to a powerful clan. And the other one is the loudest, number-one hyperactive ninja of the village."
Inari stood up, tears gone from his eyes. "Wait!" he shouted after the samurai, grabbing their attention. One of the samurai scowled before charging at the young boy, katana drawn. Suddenly, Inari and Tsunami's body turned into logs. The samurai turn around to see Naruto standing there, with both Inari and Tsunami in his arms. "Kawarimi no Jutsu?" One samurai stated, confused. Naruto grinned.
"Sorry for being late. I had a feeling that you'd be here." The samurai scowled and ran after the blonde shinobi, but just as they come close enough, two of Naruto's kage bushin appeared and kicked them in the head, effectively knocking them out.
"I'm sorry for calling you a weakling." Naruto said after tying the two samurai up. Unable to control himself, the young boy burst into tears again. "It's okay to cry… When you are happy!" Naruto smiled at the younger boy. "Can I count on you to take care of everything from here?" Inari nodded and wiped tears from his eyes. "Okay. Great! I need to get to the bridge!"
Sasuke narrowed his eyes. His hands tightened and chakra began to swirl around his body in a very frightening manner.
"Haku, do you realize that at this rate we will be defeated?" came the annoyed growl from across the battlefield.
"Yes." His hands come together. "Secret Jutsu: Demonic Ice Mirrors!" The bridge builder and his protectors watch, eyes wide as water rose up to the ground to form ice mirrors around Sasuke. Deftly, Haku entered a mirror and his image was instantly reflected in each of the ice mirrors. Their sensei made a move to help his student but Zabuza stepped in front of him to block his path.
"Your opponent is me."
"Against that jutsu, Sasuke is doomed."
Inside the ice mirror Haku stated, "I'll show you my real speed." He threw a sebon at Sasuke with neck-breaking speed; the Uchiha is unable to dodge it in time and the metal weapon grazed his shirt, no wound. Another sebon and then another. At this point, Sasuke is not longer able to track his opponent's movements. The Uchiha collapsed to the ground; small wounds littered his body. Just as Haku appeared out of one of his mirrors, a shruiken hits his mask and the impact causes him to fall to the ground. Haku slowly got up to his feet just as an explosion occurred within the Ice Mirrors. He turned around to see the Hyuuga there, kunai drawn and Byakugan activated.
"What are you doing Hinata?" Sasuke hissed. "You left Tazuna unguarded."
"Kage bushin. I think you need my help." Their opponent melted back into the mirrors and the barrage of sebon begin again. The Hyuuga stands over her fallen teammate and settled into her Jyuuken stance. "Hakkeshō Kaiten! (Eight Trigrams Palms Heavenly Spin)" She spins around rapidly as chakra is released from her chakra points. Though Hinata was able to block a majority of the projectiles, her technique was not yet perfected and one sebon is able to cut through her defenses and hit her shoulder. The young Hyuuga grimaced and pulled out the needle.
Sasuke slowly rose to his feet. "Katon: Gōkakyū no Jutsu! (Fire Release: Great Fireball Technique)" His hands go through familiar hand signs before a giant ball of fire is emitted from his mouth in an attempt to melt the mirrors, but failing.
In an instant, their opponent attacked. Hinata, still worn out from her last Kaiten, was unable to move, leaving both of them vulnerable to the attack. An idea pops into the Uchiha's head as he performed another Gōkakyū, but not aiming it at the mirrors. Instead, the fireball hit its intended target and wounded Haku. As Sasuke observed his opponent, he began to realize that he was able to track Haku's movements. Is he getting slower?
Sasuke was distracted; something was happening to his eyes; they were swirling into a deep, blood red. He heard a gasp from next to him and felt a body move to shield him.
Red. The color of blood forever etched into his mind. Sasuke looked at his hands, crimson blood splattered on his palms. It wasn't his blood. But it wasn't Haku's either. He looked downward and saw Hinata's unmoving figure, sebon embedded into many parts of her body; blood seeped from her fresh wounds and created a puddle of blood near his feet.
Sasuke stood unmoving before something snapped and his knees hit the floor. "Why?" His voice was at once confused but also held undertones of pain and regret. The Hyuuga heiress looked up at him; a small smile graced her lips.
"Kakashi-sensei said, 'People who don't follow the rules are trash, but people who don't take care of their friends are worse than trash.'" Instinctively, his hand reached over to hold her's. "You are my friend Sasuke-kun, there is no way I could let you die, not while your goal is a lot more important than mine…" As she trailed off, it was more than obvious to him that she had lost conciousness; her hand became limp fell out of his grasp.
It was at this moment that his third and final teammate had reached the bridge, just in time to witness the Hyuuga's sacrifice. Ignoring Kakashi and Tazuna's protests, he walked into the mirrors.
"Sasuke," Naruto looked down at his two injured teammates, his words terse and clipped. "You take Hinata to Tazuna, her clones have dispersed. I'll take care of Haku." Sasuke grimaced; just because Naruto was the only one unharmed did not give him the authority to make such demands of him.
"No, you take Hinata." Sasuke's eyes narrowed. He was concerned for Hinata's welfare but his first priority at the moment was to make that masked bastard pay for what he had done to his teammate.
"I'm obviously in a better condition than you are. Go." Sasuke bristled at his words but, seeing that there was no point left in fighting, he left the battlefield.
"That kunoichi is one that deserved respect." He heard Haku's voice trailed after him as he left.
As soon as Sasuke left with their fallen teammate, red charka started to swirl uncontrollably around the remaining blonde shinobi. Sebon rained down upon him from the mirrors; Naruto deflected them with ease. With incredible speed, the kyuubi-vessel ran towards a mirror. His fist collided with Haku, throwing his opponent out from his reflective shelter and effectively shattering the mirror.
"I can't defeat him." Whispered Haku's collapsed form. His mask fell from his face just as Naruto neared, face wild and eyes red with hate and the intent to kill his opponent. But when he saw Haku's face, he halted in his steps, unable to bring himself to kill his opponent. "Do it. I have no reason to live once you have shown me how weak I am. Kill me, please. Now that I serve no use to Zabuza, I do not wish to live. He doesn't need me. I fulfilled my part."
"Maybe if we had met under different circumstances, we could have been friends." Naruto said, the chakra around his body receding back into his body. He fell onto his knees next to his opponent. He looked down at Haku, the blank look in the fallen shinobi's eyes were haunting. "Maybe-"
But before Naruto is able to finish his sentence, Haku disappeared from his spot on the ground. He materialized between Zabuza and their sensei. Blood dripped down from his body as he received an impact meant for swordsman. The ice mirrors shattered.
The mist cleared and Naruto was able to see, clearly, what had happened. Their sensei had been battling Zabuza and, at the last moment, Haku stepped in and took a life-threating blow meant for Zabuza. Upon impact, Haku was lost. Kakashi gently laid the fallen assassin onto the ground. After the adrenaline starts to wear off, Naruto whipped his head around and ran towards his teammates.
"Sasuke, how is she doing?" The Uchiha was kneeling next to her lifeless body and doesn't answer. In the distance, Kakashi was still head-to-head with his opponent. But as time passed, Zabuza was not able to keep up any more and once again finds himself at the mercy of the Konoha jonin. As Kakashi was about to deal a fatal blow, a group of men appear. The shinobi turned and see Gatou and his men.
"Zabuza, you are… no longer needed."
"I am sorry, but our battle ends here," Zabuza told his opponent as he collapses onto the ground, chakra levels at an all time low, "I now have no reason to fight you." At that moment, Gatou stalked towards Haku and delivered a swipe kick to his lifeless body.
"You bastard!" yelled Naruto. "Stop doing that! Do you have no feel-"
"It's no use," Zabuza's voice swiftly interrupted the enraged blonde shinobi. He is already dead."
"How could you just use him like that?" Naruto demanded, enraged "He risked his life for you and you feel no remorse at all?"
"It's true that I used Haku just as Gatou used me. I only wanted Haku's abilities not him."
"I don't understand how you can act so cold. Haku sacrificed his life for you! He can't die as a tool. It's just too painful."
"I know what Haku did for me." The assassin sighed, as if years and years of regret had overtaken his body. "I thank you for being my final opponents. Now, may I borrow your kunai?" Hesitant, Naruto held out a kunai and Zabuza took the metal weapon in his teeth. Without much preamble, the assassin charged toward Gatou's group of men, whipping his head to and fro until he finally reached Gatou. "Unfortunately, I won't be joining Haku in death. Both you and I are going to HELL!" With a well aimed slash, Gatou's body fell limply onto the ground.
His body spent, Zabuza glanced at Haku's body and collapsed in the middle of Gatou's men. Let me stay by your side. Thank you for everything. I'm sorry… This is goodbye…
"What happened?" Hinata mumbled as she slowly regained consciousness. The first thing she saw was Sasuke's face hovering over her, his face relieved and grateful. Immediately she is grabbed into a hug and she winced, as her wounds are still fresh. She turned to look at Naruto, who loosened his grip and informed her about Haku's death.
Suddenly, Gatou's men interrupted the intenseness to declare that they want revenge. They rush, but are greeted by Inari and all the townsmen, who have stepped up to defend their town. Gatou's men retreat, like defeated dogs with their tails between their legs.
"Kakashi, I have a request…" all eyes turned to look at Zabuza.
"What is it?"
"I would like to see Haku's face." The silver-haired ninja complied and carried his limp body over to where Haku's body lied. "Thank you… Kakashi…" He slowly raised his arm to caress the side of Haku's face. "If I could, I'd like to go to the same place as you. Maybe, just maybe, I'll be able to see you again…"
Snow fell to the ground and Zabuza looked upward. Are you crying Haku? We've been together all this time, so it is only right that I stay with you now.
Together… You will be able to go…
May you rest in peace, Zabuza and Haku. Best wishes to you.
2 Weeks Later
Hinata looked at the two graves in front of her. Zabuza and Haku were great shinobi. She smiles wistfully and sets down a small cluster of flowers at each of the graves. Maybe if we had met under different circumstances… The Hyuuga stood back up. A lot had happened since they embarked on this mission. Though now she was just glad that they had finished in one piece. Though recovery had been difficult, she was now completely healed and able to return to training soon.
It did not take long for the bridge to be completed. To their surprise, Tazuna names the bridge after their hyperactive teammate, so that one day the bridge will be known throughout the world. With the bridge finished, their stay in the village is over. When they leave, Tazuna, Tsunami, and Inari are present to send off Team 7. There are emotions galore as both Inari and Naruto tried their best not to become overwhelmed with tears. Once all the proper goodbyes were said, the Konoha nin set off, eager to return home.
"Soooo," Kakashi started. "That was an interesting mission… Encountered an S-class missing nin, participated in a fight to the death… at least we survived! We should do this often!" He smiled as he looked down at his genin; Naruto agreed enthusiastically while Hinata smiled brightly. Even their normally brooding Uchiha gave a small smile.
End of Chapter 5
A/N: Mist Mission Arc is over! The hardest rewrite/edit, for sure. It is now only about 2 more chapters until new, unread material…When I'll get there, is a mystery.