The characters and places represented here are not mine. I hope enjoy it anyway.

He had never felt blood so warm. His hand was still surrounded in the deadly energy that had taken the child's life, as blood gushed over it in surreal quantities, and he was stunned into momentary stillness. Then as he found himself able to move again, wanting only to pull away, came the grip that held him with there. A death-gasp, so rasping it burned his ears, whispered the name of whom he had died for. Zabuza's careless words on Haku's hopeless sacrifice infuriated him, horrified him. He knew of this kind of relationship in the world, had seen it dozens of times—but that just seemed too cold. The sword raised, and he prepared to rush away, but for one brief moment he locked eyes with Zabuza, as the water-nin roared, and realized by the fire behind those dark pupils he had said those things only for himself. To keep focused on the task hand—for there was nothing else to do.

Kakashi laid the boy down, and under Zabuza's flaming gaze closed his cold eyes. Shinobi rule number twenty-five…he upheld it now, though he wished to do nothing more than repent for ending that boy's life through tears and wails. But the mission came first. Always. In the next moment he and Zabuza were fighting again, though the far greater battle than the clash of metal and flesh between them was of their attempts to force their emotions beneath their skin and go on with their respective tasks. Kakashi could go on smothering his emotions, but Zabuza had little time left to let himself truly feel. In a strange way Kakashi felt he owed the dark-eyed man something for killing the boy, and so pushed him, encouraged his rage, tried to break down his body so he would have no choice but to let the emotion out. He wanted Zabuza to forget the ninja way, to give that boy one decent thing—a proper mourning.

However, it was not he who unlocked that. Aid came in the unexpected shape of Gatou, and Kakashi had never been so happy to see such a wretched person. He watched Zabuza as his underling's body was disrespected, saw the minute tensing of his muscles—and heard almost too late his head-strong genin rushing towards them. Naruto might ruin everything, jumping in where he wasn't wanted, and now was not the time to let him learn a lesson by experience. Kakashi grabbed him, but could not cover his mouth in time, and winced as Naruto howled at Zabuza, and feared that all the breaking down he had done would be ruined as Naruto caused Zabuza to throw the defenses back up.

In frustration, he let Naruto continue talking; feeling there could be no further harm done…and was shocked to find true eloquence coming from the boy. Zabuza said nothing, but Kakashi felt his own chest grow tight from sorrow at the words Naruto was saying. To his shock and amazement Zabuza had felt it as well. The words he spoke made Kakashi feel all the more pained, but in the next moment Zabuza had hardened again and was ready to fight—resigned to his loss, and the fact that he would never have another battle. He could have healed his arms eventually, and Kakashi could have held back the goons while Zabuza killed Gatou—but Zabuza had no wish to live after that. Kakashi knew this, and sat back to watch Zabuza prove, with his last breaths, the whole ninja world wrong, and turn his emotions into something truly incredible. Incredible, but heart-breakingly unnecessary. If only Haku had lived, and Zabuza had merely gone away, he might have become well again, and they might have had some semblance of a future together. But then…had not Haku died Zabuza would not have ended his fight with Kakashi until one of them was dead, and Kakashi would have not yet had any reason to spare him. It was a cruel cycle, as common in their world as the changing of night to day.

After his rampage, Zabuza limped back and fell to his knees, and as he looked up his eyes shone with the vision of something wondrous. Kakashi wished he could see with his eyes for that moment, for he doubted not that it was some form of forgiveness and blessing from Haku—which he too, would have given much to gain. Zabuza fell to the ground, and Kakashi's heart fell with him.

A great cacophony of what now seemed like childish antics happened for a few moments then, and when they had been finished Kakashi gathered the will to walk over to the fallen warrior, who was not yet entirely dead. When they spoke now, there was resignation and understanding there. No regrets between them, only in Kakashi's heart towards the other of the pair. With each blade he pulled from Zabuza's back he felt more life leave him, but knew he would hold on till his request was complete, and so he went about his work gently, diligently, until he had Zabuza lifted in his arms. He realized in this moment that on some other road they might have become comrades, and wondered somewhere in the back of his mind how many others he had killed whom he might have otherwise greatly liked. Zabuza's thanks echoed that sentiment, and then Kakashi turned away, choking on sorrow.

He looked back once more, as Zabuza finally went still, and saw the wetness of snow under Haku's eyes, matching the salty trail that was un-noticed though the sweat and blood on his own face. Naruto's comment hardly reached his ears, and he felt himself crumbling all over again at the thought of the purity of the blood that had flowed so thickly over his hand, and knew that Zabuza had meant nothing he said that day, save those murmured into his beloved weapon's ear…and that if any man had earned his redemption to the place he spoke of, it was Zabuza.

"A shinobi isn't supposed to pursue his own goals." He told his told his students, when he had finally reverted himself back into his old self. But still, he knew that he would forever pursue forgiveness for what had happened that day on the bridge.

I do hope you enjoyed reading this. I could help but think about while binging on Haku amvs. I mean really, could even Kakashi live without regretting killing such a precious thing? I had a lot of help from Ceyx0991 on this. thanks for the intense revision, darling!

Please, let me know what you think! just a quick hello and a small note is fine. I just would like to know who's reading!

Much Love

Angel Lucifel