Hello there and welcome to another chapter of Meshii. Yes, I know, it's frustrating to read the same introduction every time I post a new chapter, but please don't think ill of me because of it.
I'd like to take this opportunity and express my concern over a practical joke – if it isn't true, and then please let me know – that was recently published in the internet, regarding Shonen Jump's argument with Kishimoto. I've read in some websites that due to a decrease in Naruto's popularity, they would be ending the series prematurely. Some say that it was just realized as a joke for April fools. I just wanted to see if it is indeed a practical joke or the rumor is real.
Now, is the second and last part of the Wave Arc, as I stated last chapter.
Chapter 10 – Demon vs. Demon Part II
A week has passed since the teams began their training in order to better prepare for the fight ahead. The discovery that Zabuza was alive brought chills to some of the genins. The man alone was a menace already and to believe that the hunter-nin who first appeared to be after Zabuza, was actually helping him was quite troubling. Now, not only did Kakashi and Kurenai have to worry about the Demon of the Hidden Mist, but also the hunter-nin who must be at the same level as him if not better. Both jounins tried their best in preparing the genins to face the hunter-nin, seeing as they would be after Zabuza and wouldn't be able to assist.
From the two teams, three genins were considered by the jounins, their best assets. Sasuke, Shino and Naruto managed to pass their expectations, much to both jounin's delight upon seeing what the new generation could accomplish in the future, if they survived this fight, that is. Shino had full control of his bugs and managed to learn both tree and water walking in no time, meaning his chakra control was excellent. He even managed to learn a few genjutsu techniques from Kurenai, seeing as with his low chakra capacity, it wouldn't be a good idea to focus much on ninjutsu techniques. Most of his chakra was sucked by the kikaichuu, leaving him with the minimum necessary to fight.
Sasuke and Naruto were by far the ones who progressed furthest, since each one used the other to improve their skills. It took a day and a half for Naruto to awaken his lightning affinity. And after that, he practiced the only technique Kakashi taught him with great vigor as expected from a member of the Sarutobi Clan. The blond even managed to incorporate the technique into his taijutsu style, which greatly appeased Kakashi and Sasuke, the latter wanting, desperately, to learn it as well. Their level of rivalry increased so much that one day Sasuke managed to awaken the second stage of his Sharingan eyes when he engaged in a free fight against the blind member of the Sarutobi Clan three days ago.
Seeing that both Naruto and Sasuke were improving their skills, both Kakashi and Kurenai figured that pairing them against one another would increase their skills in a fight. Both of them were the jounin's bet against the hunter-nin, so it was only logical to train them to exhaustion. Shino was to be paired with Kiba and Hinata was against Sakura. Even if the rest weren't as prepared as the two geniuses, they would be of great assistance in protecting the client.
The first fight was Sasuke and Naruto as one stood in front of the other.
Sasuke immediately activated his doujutsu as he knew that Naruto wouldn't be as easy as Kiba. So far, though, Naruto only proved adapt in ninjutsu skills, so Sasuke didn't know if his perception would be altered because of the lack of sight. The Uchiha remembered, though, that Naruto moved to snare the Demon Brothers before he could blink, meaning that somehow, being blind didn't affect his physical skills. Focusing chakra on his feet, Sasuke started testing Naruto's taijutsu skills with a frontal assault. He swung his right arm, aiming a direct punch to the left side of his face, only for the blond to grab his wrist and throw Sasuke away, before throwing a couple of kunais at the Uchiha. Because of the Sharingan, Sasuke saw the projectiles coming and deflected them with his own kunai. As soon as he landed on the ground, Naruto was right in front of him, as he flipped his body, aiming a reverse kick on Sasuke's side stomach. The Uchiha for his part blocked the incoming kick, before turning the tables with a kick of his own, which was blocked by Naruto.
The Uchiha, then, backed away from Naruto, but the blond didn't let him, charging once more. Naruto's speed was impressive and Sasuke almost couldn't follow. He received a strong punch on his face, but managed to grab Naruto's arms, before pulling him closer. He had free access to Naruto's stomach, as he landed a frontal kick at the Sarutobi.
Naruto wasn't fazed much as he flipped in mid-air and charged once more against the Uchiha. Sasuke was ready and blocked Naruto's sequence of punches, before flipping his body and aiming his elbow on Naruto's face. Using the palm of his hand, Naruto stopped Sasuke's movements. He grabbed Sasuke's arm, which left him open for a nice punch on his stomach. The lack of air gave Naruto the advantage he needed to connect another even stronger strike, which sent Sasuke flying. While flying, Sasuke could see that Naruto came after him, hoping to end the fight.
While in mid-air, he went through a few hand seals, as he gathered enough air inside his lungs.
Katon Goukakyuu no Jutsu (Fire Release: Grand Fireball Technique)
Naruto stopped immediately as he sensed the increase in temperature and the image of the attack through his chakra no Myaku technique. Quickly going through hand seals, he slammed both hands on the ground, as he molded the necessary chakra for his technique. This was the first time he ever attempted to use his bloodline for defensive purposes and Naruto admitted that he didn't know for sure that the technique would be able to stop the fire technique. He supposed it would only serve to stop its advance for a while, before he could adjust his strategy.
Meiton Kuro Shouheki (Dark Release: Dark Barrier Technique)
Immediately, a dark wall appeared from underground, blocking the fireball somewhat. Everyone present could see that the defense wasn't strong enough to hold the Uchiha's attack, but only Kakashi managed to see that it served Naruto's purpose just fine, seeing as he was no longer behind the barrier. He approved said strategies as a very crafty skill for a ninja to possess. Using defensive barriers to at the same time, block the attack and not allow the enemy to see his movements. It was because of this that he didn't intervene, when the barrier didn't hold the technique.
Sasuke looked around with his Sharingan as he knew that Naruto wouldn't use something he knew wouldn't work. He turned quickly to his right, seeing as his Sharingan caught Naruto's chakra trail, however he was ill equipped to stop Naruto from slamming his lightning infused palm on his chest, as Naruto sent a considerable shock to Sasuke's system, paralyzing him instantly. The fact that Sasuke also had a lightning affinity diminished the effects, hence why Naruto immediately jumped to the air and landed a fierce kick on Sasuke's face, sending him flying. Sasuke spat out blood as he looked at Naruto, with even more determination than before. His Uchiha Blood was boiling, but he was unaware of the fact that a new tome was added to his eyes.
Kakashi noticed and congratulated himself on thinking that Naruto was better suited to become Sasuke's rival than Kiba. He stopped the fight immediately, because he knew that Sasuke wouldn't stop until he was unconscious. At first, the Uchiha protested, saying that he wanted to fight more, but after being told that he evolved his Sharingan to the second stage, he smiled and looked at Naruto. It was right there that he knew that if someone was to help him kill Itachi, it would be Naruto.
Since that day, Naruto and Sasuke battled constantly and because of Sasuke's new Sharingan eyes, his speed increased, allowing him to beat Naruto a couple of times in a fight. It didn't mean that he had supremacy over the blind shinobi, since on occasions; Naruto would somehow anticipate Sasuke's movements before he even moved, just like the Sharingan would. Unknown to the Uchiha, though, Naruto's increase in speed is more related to his better awareness of the opponent's muscles. His acute hearing focused not only on the sound of heartbeats, but also the peculiar sound of muscles being constricted.
He supposed he should thank Sasuke for this.
Their constant spars proved to Naruto that he had much to learn and improve. Nowadays, he was focusing more periods of time in improving his acute hearing and his awareness of the environment through his other senses. Regarding his ninjutsu, Kakashi taught him and Sasuke the Lightning Strike Technique that basically consisted on focusing large amounts of lightning chakra into one specific limb, being either arm or leg. By landing the strike, Naruto would send a strong current of electricity inside the opponent's body, causing great internal damage.
"Okay everyone, gather up" Kakashi shouted as all six genins appeared in front of him and Kurenai. "Today we'll be dealing with adversities that could occur on the battlefield, rather disadvantages in numbers. Usually, the enemy outnumbers us and it's up to the shinobi to adapt. Naruto and Sasuke will be paired this time against the other four. This time, no dangerous techniques are allowed, which means that no fire techniques Sasuke and definitely not meiton techniques, Naruto" He smiled upon hearing grumbles from both, but continued. "It's vital that you guys learn to adapt to out of the ordinary situations. Now, the exercise will end once I believe one party is victorious. Until then, none of you is to stop, am I clear? Everyone nodded, before Sasuke and Naruto remained, while the other four vanished.
"So, how do you want to do this?" Sasuke asked, as he used his Sharingan to spot their location. Naruto was also using his technique to spot his teammates' location. He was more worried with a few selected individuals, that being Shino and Hinata. The other two were either terrible at stealth – Sakura – or really in need of a bath – Kiba.
"Let's focus on the ones that are most threatening, namely Shino and Hinata. Their skills are rather tricky to avoid and both of us would be useless if our tenketsus were closed. Regarding the others, we can adapt, like Kakashi-sensei said"
Sasuke smiled since he also thought little of his team. "Kiba is too brash for his own good, so his attack will come a mile away. Sakura doesn't have offensive techniques, so she will attack from a distance with kunais and shurikens. They are rather predictable that way, indeed. Now, I'll take Shino and you take Hinata on, sound good?" Naruto immediately nodded just as a bunch of shurikens appeared, ready to pierce the two. However, both evaded the projectiles, before seeing two drills flying at them, hoping to catch them in mid-air.
Both Naruto and Sasuke used kawarimi and appeared right behind the flabbergasted Kiba and Akamaru turned Kiba, before landing a fierce kick on their stomach. Normally, Kiba wouldn't be affected much, but seeing as the kick was molded with lightning chakra it paralyzed both him and his canine, counting as the first casualty. Shino and Hinata appeared from behind their backs with plain taijutsu moves, but Sasuke and Naruto managed to stop them before it connected. Naruto could see that Hinata managed to use her jyuuken and let go of her arm, before the chakra attack connected. Sasuke's Sharingan caught projectiles coming from an unknown presence as he used his kunai to deflect. He smiled realizing Sakura's position. He needed to stop Shino, though, who was quite adapt at taijutsu to pose a challenge. He was slowly winning, though, when Hinata appeared behind his back, aiming at his tenketsus. She was unable to, however, when Naruto came and punched her directly on the stomach. Shino released his bugs in order to protect Hinata, forcing Sasuke and Naruto to create some distance.
"I know where Sakura is. Think you can handle both for a while?" Sasuke asked which Naruto nodded. The Uchiha smirked and vanished using a shunshin. Shino and Hinata tried to go after him, but immediately stopped when the blond threw kunais at their path. Seeing that they couldn't dodge in time, Hinata started spinning while creating a dome of chakra.
Hakkeishou Kaiten (Heavenly Spin)
Naruto decided to test the girl's skills, thus he used a technique he recently learned from his grandfather. After a few hand seals, the projectiles multiplied and were now bombarding the still spinning Hinata. The Kaiten was an excellent defense, but no Hyuuga could maintain for long periods of time. The girl almost allowed one projectile to pass, but Shino managed to catch it. By this time, though, Naruto and Sasuke's plan proved fruitful as Sasuke appeared next to Naruto, carrying Sakura on his shoulder. Shino did a few hand seals, before he invaded both Sasuke and Naruto's chakra with altering image genjutsu. Although it took only a couple seconds to dispel the genjutsu, it allowed Hinata to appear and land a hit on Naruto's arm, before he used the other arm in reflex and landed a punch on the back of her neck, sending her to unconsciousness.
Kakashi appeared by their side, stopping the match as the advantage in number was no longer present, meaning that Sasuke and Naruto were victorious. However, Shino and Hinata's strategy proved fruitful. Hinata could easily deliver a killing blow with the jyuuken, but instead opted to ruin Naruto's arm. This exercise was considered effective to let Sasuke and Naruto know that despite their increase in skills, a larger group can still beat them. He decided that today was enough of training and took everyone back to the house, where Tazuna and Tsunami were waiting for dinner.
===At Tazuna's house===
As soon as everyone arrived, dinner was already served. Because of the amount of effort, the genins pretty much forgot their manners on the table and were eating like there was no tomorrow. Hinata, Kiba and Sakura were already awake and Hinata managed to open Naruto's closed tenketsus, allowing the flow of chakra to pass there once more. Kakashi and Kurenai figured that they were as ready as they'd ever be, hence why the teams would rest for two days. One team would accompany Tazuna and the other would stay at the house in case Gatou tried to use Tsunami or Inari. None really complained, seeing as all of them had a nice set of training and their confidence was boosted, because of it.
After dinner, each ninja went to their own affairs.
Kakashi, as usual, took his favorite book and started reading with a perverted giggle here and there, causing both Kurenai and Tsunami to glare at him venomously. Like in Konoha, he ignored the women's ire and kept on reading. Hinata, Shino and Kiba were busy talking amongst themselves regarding their clans and its respective skills. Sakura decided to join, seeing as she became curious about the conversation. Naruto was busy passing his fingers throughout the braille written scroll containing the kenjutsu style he was supposed to learn. Sasuke, with nothing better to do, appeared next to the blond and, surprisingly to himself, decided to start a conversation with Naruto. It was somewhat unnerving to believe that Naruto could fight on equal speeds as Sasuke with his Sharingan, but when it came to reading, he was just a blind person.
"I thought that you used chakra to overcome your lack of sight, Naruto" The genin didn't stop passing his finger throughout the text as he was looking at Sasuke, sort of. It wasn't actually looking, but he turned his face to look like he was.
"I do. But I can't use it to read texts like I do with fighting. With this technique, my brain is able to process the necessary outline of a person's image as well as the scenery around us. At the academy, I focused on the sound of Iruka-sensei's chalk and how he moved his hand in order to determine what he was writing on the board" After Naruto explained, Sasuke nodded. Indeed, Sarutobi Naruto was strange, but he couldn't deny that Naruto was skilled and the fact that he not only managed to overcome the lack of sight, was nothing short of impressive. Sasuke couldn't help but imagine what his life would be like if he lost his eyes. Would he able to continue his life as a shinobi? Like Naruto did, would he manage to overcome such a handicap? He knew the answers to all his questions and that only increased his respect for the blond as someone to whom he could call his rival.
The thought alone made Sasuke smile. Both would drive each other into perfection and Sasuke would use it to become powerful enough to defeat his brother and cleanse the Uchiha Clan's reputation.
After the conversation, albeit a brief one, Naruto went back to his scroll as he grabbed the sword handle and took it out of the scabbard. He focused every bit of chakra and turned to administer the sword in its every detail. The scroll said that a kenjutsu specialist needed to familiarize him or herself with the weapon. It was his obligation, as a future blind swordsman, to transform the sword into a mere extension of his limbs. Immediately, the image of his father practicing with the bo-staff like every Sarutobi before him appeared inside his mind. The Sarutobi Clan members were experts in fighting with weapons. The Hokage, for instance, achieved a level of skill that none yet managed to top and the man has more than sixty years old. If Naruto wanted to be better, he needed to practice…he needed experience.
If Naruto wanted to be the best, he needed to surpass the best. It was with this exact resolve that he went to sleep seeing as everyone did the same.
The next day, Kakashi's team went together with Tazuna towards the unfinished bridge. Meanwhile, Kurenai Shino and Hinata maintained a heavy scout around the house so as to stop any of Gatou's thugs from hurting either Inari or Tsunami. The only one not focused on the mission right now was Naruto. He placed the sword in front of him as he kneeled on the ground. His face was staring at the wide ocean, but it wouldn't make much of a difference, seeing as he couldn't see the majestic sight of the sunlight's reflection on the water. He needn't close his eyes, for as it wouldn't make any difference as well. Instead, Naruto focused his chakra on his most important and most used sense, his hearing. He could hear, like it was right in front of him, the waves crashing on the beach…the calm smoothing sound of the water.
He found it relaxing in ways that he never thought he would before.
Such a state of mind was imperative for him to understand the fundamentals of fighting with weapons such as the one in front of him. Surprisingly enough, the scroll explained in detail that a weapon user needs to learn how to behave like the water. Kenjutsu, like the bo-staff, requires an open mind, a calm spirit. By acting rashly, you're just signing your death warrant. Therefore, before he even began his practice, Naruto believed it was best to grasp the basics of sword fighting before actually practicing with it. Thus, he just stood there as he mentally prepared himself. While this was happening, the rest of his team watched him in stunned silence. To Shino and Hinata, Naruto was nothing but a mystery. At first, his Meiton techniques managed to scare even Shino on occasions. Now, the boy looked as peaceful as he could ever be. It was quite strange to the genins. Kurenai, though, understood the meaning behind his actions and smiled at her student. Kenjutsu practice required a level mind, after all.
She remembered how she used to loath the kid, not only because of the fox but rather the incidents that used to involve him. She, later, found out that indeed not one of the incidents was caused by Naruto, but rather he was provoked.
Since then, she managed to overcome her initial feeling of him and managed to be a jounin-sensei to the kid, teaching him the arts of genjutsu, her area of expertise. She discovered that the blond had an aptitude for the art. He had great control, which she already expected since the Hokage must have drilled the importance of nice chakra control since birth. He grasped the theory easily as well and the techniques he used with his bloodline managed to produce some nasty illusions that even she was impressed when he showed the last one he created. Now, by the looks of things, he was attempting a new art, kenjutsu. Kurenai just smiled and crossed her arms just below her chest area. Naruto could be considered a genius in the likes of Kakashi and even Uchiha Itachi, save from the fact that the latter killed his entire clan.
Unfortunately, she couldn't help him with it, seeing as the closest thing she used, even resembling a blade, was located inside her kunai holster. However, she knew that the blond had enough guidance from his clan and the Hokage.
Back to Naruto, he now got up from the ground and grabbed the sword, before releasing it from the scabbard. Anyone else would be blinded by the sun's reflection on the blade, but that ship had sailed a long time ago. Slowly, he passed his free hand all over his new companion, administering the sword's length. It wasn't long, but it wasn't short either. A kodashi, he reasoned, meant for shinobis seeing as its movements are faster than the samurai katana. Also, with the right technique, it could carry the same strength. Of course, the blond needed to practice, first. After feeling the blade, the blond started moving the weapon, slowly, following the katas he memorized from the scroll. He had the drive and the patience to master anything he set his mind to. Within ten minutes, Naruto decided to step the pace up and began to slice the air multiple times like he was pounding his enemy. Of course, if he had a regular sword, he would be slicing the enemy, but with the reversed blade kodashi, all he could do was to break some bones.
He supposed it would suffice, though.
The blond was so engrossed in his practice that he hadn't register the fact that the sun was almost down and Kakashi's team appeared right in front of him with Tazuna.
"I wasn't aware you were into kenjutsu, Naruto?" Kakashi smiled as the team went inside with Tazuna. Naruto didn't stop his movements, however, and continued to run the katas.
"Every Sarutobi chooses a weapon. The bo-staff…just wasn't right for me." Despite the blond's fatigue from training for hours, he managed to explain his reason to Kakashi, who maintained his smile at the boy and went inside the house. Soon, the moon was up but he didn't stop practicing the movements. Such stamina and dedication were some of the traits of the Sarutobi Clan, Kakashi reasoned as he watched the blond from a window inside the house. Naruto managed to withstand the fatigue for thirty minutes more, before he succumbed and fainted, like everyone expected and even placed bets on how much longer he would practice (Kiba, Kakashi and even Sakura).
The next day, the warmth of sunlight alerted Naruto that he overslept. He remembered training until exhaustion hit him yesterday. Since he wasn't focusing chakra, he relied on other senses to aid him in figuring out where he was and what was happening around him. He slept outside Tazuna's house as he felt the touch of grass on his back. Also, his sense of smell indicated that he wasn't alone. This presence near him was new, he reasoned. Therefore, he focused chakra and expanded it, before the images appeared inside his brain. He could see that it was barely morning outside, so no one would be up yet. The person kneeling in front of him had long hair (he can't distinguish color) and wore a simple blue kimono. She was looking at him, as if wondering if the blond was asleep or not. For some reason, Haku (yes, Haku is a girl) looked at Naruto's eyes and couldn't ascertain if he was in fact asleep or just staring at her for a long time.
The blond let out a grumpy waking up noise as he got up from the ground.
"Who are you?" Naruto asked, feeling a strange sense of familiarity, like he had sensed her before.
"Oh I'm sorry for disturbing you. I thought you were asleep. It's quite chilly here at night, you could catch a serious cold" The blond fount laughable the idea of him catching a cold. One of the perks of having a giant tailed beast inside your gut was that he never had to worry about getting sick. Even deadly bruises didn't take that long to heal in his case. Normally, his body right now would be rigid from the extreme workout from yesterday. However, being who he was, there was no aching muscles or trouble moving his limbs at all.
"That would be a first. Since I was born, I don't remember ever being sick. What's your name and what are you going to do with the hand basket?"
"Sorry about that, I forgot to introduce myself. My name is Haku and right now I'm gathering medicinal herbs to treat a dear friend of mine. He got injured last week and these herbs will certainly heal him. What's your name?" The blond took a moment to study the girl's actions and her heart beat. There was something wrong and he knew it, somehow. By the looks of things, this Haku person was nothing more than a civilian person with knowledge of medicinal herbs. But Naruto could pick even the most subtle behavior out of people. Her heart beat wasn't steady, but it wasn't beating like crazy either. He would have to be cautious around her. Right now, they had a mission to perform and she could very well be working for the enemy. The fact that she glanced at his headband indicated that she knew of his status as a Konoha Shinobi.
"The name is Naruto." He had a hunch about this girl, but he needed more time with her. "If you need any help collecting the herbs, I could be of assistance."
The girl smiled at his offer and nodded in appreciation as they distanced themselves from the house and went further into the woods, looking for the herbs. As the two walked, Naruto studied this Haku's actions. The way she walked, the way she posed gave him tons of indication that she wasn't a mere civilian. He could tell she was focused on her surroundings, just like he was. His technique couldn't detect any hidden weaponry inside that simple kimono of hers, but it didn't mean he wasn't wary of her intentions. If she was working for the enemy, then why didn't she kill him when he was on the ground, unconscious? This question entered his mind and he instantly berated himself for even allowing the opportunity.
He supposed it was just luck.
"So Naruto-san, are you a shinobi?" Haku asked as she found some of the herbs and collected them, earning a simple nod from Naruto.
"So, you saw the headband, huh. Yes, I'm a shinobi from Konohagakure" Simple answers to simple questions, thus avoiding the possibility of giving information to the enemy. He could hear her heartbeat increase, further increasing his suspicions.
"Guilty as charged, Naruto-san. I guess you must be strong, then." First trap question, Naruto assumed. Haku could disguise her actions well to someone that didn't rely on his hearing as much as Naruto did. He learned that when people asked him questions, the heart usually skipped a beat, meaning he or she was rather anxious to get something out of him. He would play ignorant and say nothing.
"I have just now graduated from the academy. I'm still a bit inexperienced at things" Naruto knew how to pose in front of others. One part of being a human lie detector is that he could feel when people didn't believe him as well. Still, if the woman was a ninja as well, she couldn't just take his words for granted. After all, actions spoke louder than mere words.
Naruto found more herbs and placed them in Haku's hand basket.
"Say Naruto, do you have anyone you want to protect?" Now that was an interesting question. "It's said that people are strong when they have someone to protect. Do you have anyone in Konoha that you want to protect?" Thinking for a moment, Naruto could pick only a few people he wanted to protect; his family, no doubt and his team. Tonbo-sensei as well, but Naruto doubted the man needed protection. Naruto had a lot to thank him for and he supposed it would be nice to visit him after this mission was over.
"You could say I have. Do you have someone, Haku?" Immediately after asking, the blond felt weak for no apparent reason. He could feel his chakra capacity decreasing as Haku smiled thinking of the one she wanted to defend. Naruto proceeded to reach for his kunai holster, to see if he had enough weaponry to survive an eventual assault. For some reason, he couldn't use his chakra.
"I guess I do too. He needs my attention right now. I appreciate your help Naruto-san. I have enough herbs" Naruto nodded and saw Haku turning her back and walking away. He guessed now it would be a good time to see a reaction from the girl. He had a hunch and he would try it.
"You're welcome Haku-san. I hope that Zabuza gets better" He smirked upon hearing the woman's heart beat increase exponentially. So, it was true; she was the enemy. He saw that Haku abandoned all sorts of restraints and grabbed a good deal of senbons with both her hands. She threw them fast at Naruto, who grabbed two kunais and deflected them, before any reached his body. He focused on deflecting the senbons, so Haku had the time to escape. He looked around the premises and found no trace of her position. Still, he could analyze the brief fight and deduce who exactly Haku was. He remembered that Zabuza was hit with Senbons in his neck. The senbons belonged to that hunter-nin, who claimed she was working for Kirigakure and was searching for Zabuza a long time. Haku was the hunter-nin. He had to tell Kakashi and Kurenai-sensei.
"You should be wary of her even more brat" Kyuubi's voice echoed inside his head, which at first caused the blond to look around for the enemy. The last time Kyuubi spoke to him was when he taught the black dragon projectile technique. Despite everything, he kept the conversation down to the bare necessity.
'Why is that?'
"Do you not remember the time when you felt weak all of a sudden? She is your opposite."
"She possesses Hiton (light release). I don't believe she is aware of it, yet. But the fact remains that when she activates it, your chakra is severely reduced, I dare say, to a bare minimal. I suppose it's good that you figured it out right away. When you feel your chakra capacity diminishing, it's because she is using light chakra."
'Then, my techniques would be ineffective against her. I have to focus on my lightning techniques. I suppose it would happen eventually. This way, I can be better prepared in the future. Now, I have to report my findings.'
He stopped talking to the fox as soon as he sensed two familiar presences approaching his position. Kakashi and Sasuke approached his position, because when everyone woke up, Naruto was nowhere to be seen. They saw the blond deep inside the woods next to Tazuna's house and wondered what happened to him. As soon as they met, the blond reported everything to Kakashi, including his suspicions of her using light chakra. Kakashi scowled himself, because the enemy was near Tazuna's house and he didn't even sense danger. Naruto was strong, but he was still a genin under the jounin's responsibility.
"If what you say is true Naruto, then we must focus on expanding your other skills. Sasuke here asked for me to teach another technique, anyway. I guess I'll teach both of you and talk to Kurenai about following Tazuna today. This time it's an offensive technique I copied from a Kumo chunnin a long time ago. It's called Raiton Denkou no Ookami (Lightning Release: Lightning Wolf Technique). It's a B-ranked technique, so it's considered chunnin level or even jounin. Now, I don't expect either of you two to master the technique in time for the fight, but at least it will give both of you a further understanding of lightning manipulation." The blond nodded, before the three went to Tazuna's house so that the blond could eat something. Once inside, the blond suffered the ire of Kurenai, who was pissed that the blond would be in such dangerous situation, without alerting either her of Kakashi.
===Four days later===
After Naruto's encounter with Haku, Kakashi trained both he and Sasuke like never before, in order to better prepare them against the fake Hunter-nin. Their training involved not only increasing their lightning manipulation, but also fights against the sensei. Even though neither touched Kakashi, the jounin saw that both managed to fight together well. He figured that they could beat a mid-level chunnin, which he assumed was the hunter-nin's level.
As far as the new lightning technique went, Sasuke was the one who mastered it first, seeing as he used his Sharingan to copy Kakashi. It didn't mean that he didn't practice the technique until exhaustion and eventually managed to do it without wasting too much of his chakra capacity. Naruto, though, had the toughest time learning it, because he didn't have Sasuke's eyes. He trained hard, though. Instead of the Sharingan, Naruto could tap an unlimited source of chakra supply, which gave him more time to practice the technique.
However, when Naruto decided to give in to his dark chakra, things didn't happen as Kakashi expected.
Two days ago, Naruto was struggling with the technique that Kakashi taught him and Sasuke. He was a bit unnerved that Sasuke mastered in less than a day, but the Uchiha had an advantage when it came to genjutsu and ninjutsu. He could copy it with his Sharingan, he couldn't. He was getting frustrated that he just couldn't find the amount of chakra necessary to control the wolf and send it towards a specific direction. And his frustration was slowly turning into anger.
With anger, his dark chakra arose.
He snarled and made the hand seals once more, before molding the necessary chakra for the technique. What happened next surprised Kakashi in ways that he never thought possible. Well, everything about Naruto until now seemed impossible, but this time, the blond managed something that he'd never seen before and probably wouldn't ever see. The wolf that came out of Naruto's hand was indeed lightning oriented. But instead of his and Sasuke's, Naruto's wolf was a dark shade, just like his meiton techniques. Kakashi knew his Meiton to be a dormant bloodline, but to mix said bloodline with elemental ninjutsu was unheard of. Kakashi was familiar with shinobi combining two elements and combining them to form a new one, but he'd never before seen someone mixing a bloodline element with a regular element. The blond, afterward, kept practicing the technique all day, not even taking time to rest.
As a result of his training, the blond just didn't have the stamina to follow the team and Tazuna towards the bridge. Seeing as the construction was almost done, both Kakashi and Kurenai figured that Gatou would be more desperate to kill the man before the bridge's completion; hence why now both teams decided to follow the man. Kakashi was pretty sure Naruto would wake up soon, so he told Tsunami to inform him of the plan and meet them at the bridge.
===At the Bridge===
No sooner had the team arrived, then there was a very thick fog hiding the bridge's humongous length, allowing Tazuna and the others to see bodies sprawled on top of the bridge. Kakashi and Kurenai were immediately on alert for Zabuza, while some of the genins remembered that time on top of the lake. The killing intent that time was huge and most of them admitted not wanting to face Zabuza once more. Sasuke was the only one feeling anxious to fight. Tazuna immediately ran to the closest man and woke him up. To his relief, the worker wasn't killed and looked at Tazuna with fear in his eyes.
"Shinji-san, what happened here?" Anger was evident in Tazuna's voice, but Kakashi and Kurenai could detect fear as well.
"It was horrible, Ta…zuna, three demons most likely. They came in here, butchering everyone. I don't even understand why they spared me" The information shocked the Konoha shinobi, since they were expecting only two.
"Ahh….Sharingan no Kakashi, we meet again" Just like last time, Zabuza's voice came from within the heavy fog. After speaking, he cleared the visibility a bit to reveal his partners. The hunter-nin was standing on his right and a new man, unknown identity, to his left. Kakashi looked at his features, trying to see if he remembered him from the bingo book. The man was taller than Zabuza and had multiple scars on his face. That alone wouldn't mean much to the scarecrow jounin. But the face was so familiar to him. The enemy was smiling at Kakashi specifically and that in itself was a bad thing.
Kakashi fought a great number of powerful opponents in his prime and he didn't want any of them to appear here. When he saw the two katanas strapped on his back, realization punched him like a ton of bricks and now he felt like switching places with Naruto and staying indoors sleeping. Gatou was really desperate, he reasoned, hiring not one but two A-ranked criminals to do his dirty work. The fact remained, though, that his team was in big trouble. It took both him and Kurenai to deal with Zabuza alone. Now, he'd have to pair her against one of them.
The only question was who?
Both Zabuza and Kyoushu were considered equals in skills as A-ranked missing-nin. Zabuza was one of the Seven Swordsmen of the Mist and Kyoushu not only was a master of kenjutsu but also rumored to be one of the best lightning users in Kumogakure. Looking to Kurenai from the corner of his eyes, he realized that if Kurenai wanted to get out of this alive, she would need to use her big guns. He would have to focus on her battle as well. He would fight Zabuza, since Kyoushu was ignorant to her abilities. He also thought about the hunter-nin and who would face her. Naruto still wasn't here and no one aside from Sasuke was prepared to face her. He supposed that Shino could use his bugs to assist Sasuke until help arrived.
It took ten seconds to relay his plan to his peers, until Zabuza interrupted him.
"Huh, it seems one of your genins is quite frightened to see me. He's shaking. Let's scare him a little bit" Zabuza said, as he summoned some mizu bunshins right in front of Uchiha Sasuke. The genin only smirked, before grabbing a kunai.
"I'm shaking alright, but it's from excitement, not fear" The Uchiha vanished from his position and appeared in front of the bunshins as he stared at the enemy. The bunshins were all reduced to water. Zabuza was impressed.
"Huh, sounds like you found a rival in speed Haku. Why don't you take care of the genins? I thought that there would be another one, where's the blond one?" As soon as he asked, the person in question appeared behind Sasuke as if he materialized out of nowhere. Everyone was surprised at the fact that no one sensed him coming. The point was that while they were talking, no one bothered to pay much attention elsewhere.
"Sorry I was late Kakashi-sensei. It's just that I had to get rid of a couple of samurai before coming here" The smirk on his face told everyone that the blond enjoyed every minute of the whole 'getting rid of them' part. They probably had the same fate as the Demon Brothers.
"Naruto, you'll pair up with Sasuke against Haku. Shino and Kiba will be your backup. Hinata and Sakura, you'll protect the client. Hinata keep your byakugan active in case one of the enemies manages to pass by us. That way, you'll have more time to escape with Tazuna. Everyone, this mission escalated to 'A' probably S-ranked mission. So, use everything you have against them, don't hold back" Everyone nodded, before looking at their opponents, sizing them up as much as possible. Hinata and Sakura already took positions in front of Tazuna; Kiba and Shino lined up right in front of them as they calmly observed the fight. At first, Kiba was against the idea of sitting back and watching others fight. However, he saw reason once Shino convinced him that Naruto and Sasuke were the strongest of the group right now.
Naruto and Sasuke stared as the hunter-nin appeared in front of them.
"Is that you Haku?" Naruto asked, earning a nod from the masked kunoichi, before she took it off. It was after all pointless to use a mask once the enemy knows your identity. He, then, turned to Sasuke and wondered why his Sharingan wasn't active yet. Sasuke hoped to catch Haku by surprise later, but what would happen if he was killed before. Naruto was faster than him, without the all-seeing eye and Haku was perhaps faster than Naruto. Suddenly, the hunter-nin charged at both genins with three senbons in each hand. The blond was already positioned before Sasuke could detect any movement. Naruto managed to parry her attack with a pair of kunais, before using force to take her balance away. Sasuke used the opportunity to appear to her right and deliver a solid blow to her stomach, forcing the woman to jump. Almost foreseeing the movement, Naruto jumped one second before her, surprising Haku. He flipped and landed a fierce kick on her chest, sending her flying. Sasuke once more took the opportunity and started some hand seals, before gathering some air inside his lungs.
Katon Goukakyuu no Jutsu (Fire Release: Grand Fireball Technique)
The gigantic fireball roared towards Haku, who upon seeing the attack, used hand seals to lift a water barrier in front of her, surprising both Sasuke and Naruto. The blond didn't wait for the water barrier to dispel, before he threw a great load of shurikens at the hunter-nin. When she stopped focusing chakra to the water jutsu, the girl was surprised with the sudden shurikens. She was about to use her speed to dodge them, when she saw Sasuke going through hand seals as well.
Katon Housenka no Jutsu (Fire Release: Mythical Phoenix Fire Technique)
Haku dodged all the projectiles – regular and elemental – before throwing senbons at frightening speeds towards the genins. Naruto managed to deflect them using his kunais, but Sasuke wasn't so fortunate, receiving a great deal on his arms. The pain was excruciating, but otherwise he was fine. Naruto charged with his kunai, but Haku parried with one senbon. They were struggling for dominance for a while, before Naruto began to take advantage, using brute force. Haku, though, used, much to the blond's surprise, one handed seals.
Hyoton Sensatsu Suishou (Ice Release: Death by a Thousand Flying Water Needles Technique)
Suddenly, water rose from the ocean below them and formed lots and lots of water needles all but ready to turn Naruto into a pincushion. Naruto immediately punched Haku with his free arm, hitting her square on the face, breaking her nose. He saw the needles appear, before he got out of there using a simple kawarimi, replacing himself with a piece of wood that would be used in the bridge's construction. Even with the broken nose, Haku was adamant in defeating them, hence why she focused chakra throughout her feet, increasing her speed exponentially. Naruto couldn't focus on chakra induced limbs, so his senses didn't help him. She managed to land a powerful kick right on his chest, before blocking Sasuke's sequence of punches. She managed to hit a couple senbons on his other arm as well, before going through her ultimate technique.
Hyoton Makyou Hyoushou (Ice Release: Demonic Ice Mirrors Technique)
As soon as the two got up, they saw that they were surrounded by the dome. Naruto immediately went to one of the mirrors, inspecting the technique. He figured at first that it was some sort of water technique, but he was surprised upon feeling how cold the mirrors were.
"It's my bloodline Naruto-kun. By mixing water and wind jutsu, I can form Ice Release techniques. Both of you fought well up to this point, but no one ever escaped this technique alive. I don't enjoy killing, but for Zabuza-sama, I have to. For what it's worth, I'm sorry for both of you" As soon as she entered inside one of the mirrors, her image was instantly reflected on all of them. Naruto and Sasuke looked at each other and nodded.
As soon as Haku attacked Naruto and Sasuke, it gave a signal for the other fights to commence. Hyoushou immediately sent a B-ranked lightning beam at Kurenai, who managed to dodge effortlessly. She, afterward, used one of her illusions, but the man wasn't fazed by a simple nightmare viewing technique and he dispelled it instantly. He took one of his katanas and attacked Kurenai. The swords were laced with lightning chakra, forcing her to remain on the defensive, until Kakashi came and managed to kick the man in the face, before using a kunai to block Zabuza's sword.
Kurenai, then, used a B-ranked genjutsu at Zabuza, altering his perception of the environment, before throwing kunais at him.
Even though his left was his right now, his instincts aided him and he positioned his sword to block the projectiles. Kyoushu made some hand seals, before opening his mouth.
Raiton Gian (Lightning Release: False Darkness Technique)
The assault on Zabuza was put on hold as the jounins used plain agility to escape, before Kakashi threw two shurikens at the Kumo missing-nin. He instantly made some hand signs, multiplying the shurikens to at least twenty, forcing Kyoushu to use one of his defensive techniques called Raiton Seiteki Shouheki (Lighting Release: Static Barrier Technique). The shurikens all stopped in front of him as the man maintained his smirk towards Kakashi. Seeing that Kurenai was attacking Zabuza, he went for a stronger ninjutsu against the Kumo missing-nin. Going through hand seals, he gathered as much air inside his lungs as possible, as he molded the chakra.
Katon Karyuu Endan (Fire Release: Fire Dragon Missile Projectile Technique)
Upon seeing the incendiary technique, Zabuza kicked Kurenai, sending her away before going to his partner's aide. The man was by no means fond of another missing-nin, but if he was dead, then Konoha would win and he couldn't have that. Using his legs for propulsion, Zabuza stopped right in front of the technique as he focused on four hand seals sequence ninjutsu.
Suiton Suijinheki (Water Release: Water Barrier Technique)
Kakashi cursed Zabuza for his speed. His technique was stopped by the column of water that rose in front of the swordsmen. Zabuza, for his part, smirked upon seeing Haku's technique materializing in front of him. He was quite proud of that technique, since the girl was quite efficient inside those mirrors. Not even he managed to get out of it unscathed and he was a jounin level shinobi. Those brats maybe good for their age, but they are nothing against Haku.
"Say goodbye to your boys, Sharingan Kakashi" Zabuza said, startling the two Konoha jounins as they looked towards the dome of ice formed behind them. "That technique is Haku's masterpiece. They can't escape. It doesn't matter, though. Both of you will soon join them in the afterlife. Ninpou Kirigakure no Jutsu"The fog right now was much more dense than before and neither Kurenai nor Kakashi could see a thing, even with the man's Sharingan. "What's the matter Kakashi? Can't you use your eyes?" Zabuza laughed at the jounin's misfortune so much that he ignored Kyoushu complaining that he couldn't see as well.
===Sasuke and Naruto===
No sooner than Haku entered inside the mirrors; Sasuke and Naruto were bombarded with senbons from all over the place. Sasuke activated his Sharingan and thus managed to respond to the senbons assault, dodging the majority of them or at least the ones aimed to his vital points. Naruto focused every bit of chakra throughout his ears in order to hear the weapon travelling towards his location. At the beginning, Haku was quite confident that she would be able to neutralize both of them with the technique. However, now she wasn't so convinced. She realized that before, they weren't going all out against her and it kind of pissed her off. As soon as she increased the speed of the projectiles, Sasuke approached Naruto's position, while the blond was busy doing hand seals.
Meiton Kuro Shouheki (Dark Release: Dark Barrier Technique)
The rain of senbons was immediately stopped by the barrier lifted by Naruto. He maintained the wall, seeing as they were in a bit of a disadvantage. Sure, no senbons reached a vital area so far, but Haku had the vantage point and their room for maneuvers was severely limited. An edge was needed.
"We have to turn the tables here Sasuke. This is getting us nowhere, plus I'm sure keeping your Sharingan active consumes a lot of chakra" Sasuke nodded as he deactivated for a bit, seeing as he was protected from Haku's senbon onslaught.
"I'm able to follow her movements with the Sharingan, but when I move to intercept her, she throws her senbons, it's quite annoying." Naruto looked at Sasuke and wondered how powerful the Sharingan was, seeing as he could follow Haku's speed between mirrors. He knew that Sasuke's eyes weren't fully evolved yet and that fact worried him. If Sasuke managed to keep up with him with an incomplete Sharingan, then once it was complete, he would have lots of trouble keeping up. But that was a thought for another time. He had an idea now.
"Ok then, I'll cover you then. Just focus on following her movements and use a quick Katon technique. Like she said, she has water and wind affinities, which mean that your fire attacks cause more damage" Sasuke nodded before activating his Sharingan just as Naruto deactivated his barrier. The blond immediately focused on more hand seals, before summoning two skeleton bunshins to cover for Sasuke while he focused on Haku's movements. Haku, for her part, continued bombarding them, even though she now remembered who was responsible for the skeleton bunshin that protected the female jounin from Zabuza's attack two weeks ago.
Naruto decided to increase Sasuke's chances by slowing her down somewhat. Molding on the necessary hand seals, he managed to invade her chakra system.
Mei Gen'ei Meshii no Jutsu (Dark Illusion: Blindness Technique)
Haku was literally shocked upon suddenly seeing nothing but black, thus she wasn't aware of her direction. It took two seconds for her to realize that someone casted a genjutsu on her. She dispelled it right away, before widening her eyes as an immense fireball was right in front of her face. With little time, she managed to position one of the mirrors in front of her, which managed to save her life. However, she couldn't protect her legs as well. She suffered second degree burns, which hindered her movements. With that, Sasuke managed to grab her legs and throw her towards Naruto, who was going through hand seals in a fast pace.
Meiton Kuroi Shokushu (Dark Release: Black Tentacles Technique)
Naruto managed to grab Haku's limbs, holding her in place. She tried freeing herself using force, but that resulted in her being squeezed even harder. Naruto and Sasuke smirked upon defeating the hunter-nin just as the mirrors disappeared around them. As soon as that happened, everyone saw the scene and were surprised, Zabuza of all people, since he assumed that Haku wouldn't be stopped by mere genins, especially with that technique of hers. Nevertheless, he just couldn't stop focusing on his fight. He maneuvered within the heavy fog and appeared in front of Kurenai, before swinging his gigantic sword at her. The woman wasn't fast enough to evade, thus she received a deep wound on the stomach, resulting in a loud scream of agony. Kakashi was alerted immediately and took some scrolls from his jounin vest. He had to save Kurenai and deal with Zabuza. Once he opened the scrolls, he used a kunai to open a small wound on his finger and sprawled some blood on the scroll, before going through hand seals.
Doton Kuchiyose Tsuiga no Jutsu (Earth Summoning Release: Tracking Fang Technique)
He slammed the scrolls on the ground as the kanjis were dispersed around him. Zabuza saw everything from his position, while laughing at Kakashi's stupid attempts of overcoming the mist. The man was shocked when a great load of dogs appeared behind him and trapped him in place. Kakashi looked at the direction of his dogs and saw Zabuza trapped there. Going through hand seals one more time, he started focusing on his supreme assassination technique Raikiri. Zabuza saw the amount of chakra focused on Kakashi's hand and became afraid that his life would end here. Kyoushu was nowhere to be seen because of the heavy mist as Kakashi charged at the man who by now resigned his fate.
A few meters away from their position, Haku had just admitted defeat and asked both Naruto and Sasuke to kill her. She already stopped fighting, because she knew it would only make it worse. Naruto smirked at the girl, before taking his kunai to end the girl's misery. He stopped cold, though, when that old feeling returned. His chakra had decreased instantly and he felt weak all of a sudden. Dammit, she awoke Hiton Bloodline…this is no good. Sasuke, already knowing this, moved for the kill but Haku managed to escape the bindings and teleported away from there, using one of her mirrors. She appeared right in front of Zabuza, before widening her eyes in shock as Kakashi's hand pierced her heart all the way to the other side using his technique. Both Kakashi and Zabuza were shocked at this, but Zabuza smirked and escaped the dog's bindings, before swinging his sword at the still shocked Kakashi.
Kakashi was saved by a wounded Kurenai, who threw a kunai straight at Zabuza's shoulder, stopping his movement immediately. Kakashi used the opportunity and focused once more his Raikiri to, then, pierce Zabuza's heart with his technique. The swordsman felt immeasurable pain for no more than a second, then his eyes lost its color. The heavy mist dissipated and Kyoushu looked around to see where everyone went, before seeing his partner getting killed by Sharingan Kakashi. He looked to the left and saw that the other jounin, despite being deeply hurt, getting up and looking at him. One of the aspects of being a missing-nin, was that one had to take care of his own ass first in order to stay alive. There was no way he was about to face two jounins and six genins all by himself. He already received Gatou's money anyway. The man vanished without a second thought, using a rai shunshin as soon as Gatou and his men appeared on the bridge. He was livid because of Kyoushu's betrayal. Also the fact that Zabuza was killed as well complicated things. Kakashi, while tending Kurenai's wound, saw Gatou's group and turned to the genins.
"Oi Shino, Kiba, please take care of them for us, please. I know you guys were in need of some action" Kakashi smirked as Gatou and his samurai were assaulted by Kiba, Akamaru and Shino's bugs. While this was happening, Kakashi grabbed Kurenai and went back to his group as he saw Naruto and Sasuke talking with each other. "Nice job, you two. Let's go back to Tazuna's house. Our mission is over!" The boys nodded, seeing as Kiba and Shino were taking good care of the enemies that still stood.
And here's the end of the Wave Arc.
What you all think? This little twist served to show how good Naruto and Sasuke's teamwork can be as well as to increase the level of competition between the two.
I guess that some will not enjoy the fact that Naruto's opposite died so soon, but my intention was merely to show him that he wasn't alone in the world. Now, who's to say that others won't be able to awaken Hiton (Light Release)?
Please, I want to hear your opinions. Please review!