Needless Gender Confusion

Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto.

Note: Because every time I read a 'Haku is secretly a girl' fic, I always wonder 'if she's hiding her gender, why in the world doesn't she actually hide it'?

"Alright kid," Momochi Zabuza decided, looking down at the young girl in front of him. "I suppose you can follow me around."

"Yay!" she cheered. "I'll be the best tool ever, Zabuza-dono!"

Zabuza winced. "Maybe you shouldn't call me that, Haku…"

Haku cocked her head, confused. "But…but you're my new master, Zabuza-dono."

"Yeah, but think of how it looks! A young girl like you trailing around after an older guy like me and calling me 'dono'…" Zabuza shook his head ruefully. "People will get ideas."

Haku blinked innocently. "What kind of ideas?"

"We are NOT having this conversation," Zabuza said firmly.

"Are you sure, Zabuza-dono?" Haku asked. "When two people are talking it is generally called a 'conversation'."

"That's not what I mean!"

"I still don't quite understand your concern, but it seems to stem from the fact that I'm a female, right?" Haku inquired.

"…Yes," Zabuza admitted finally.

"Well, I've been thinking about it and I've come to the conclusion that it would be very dangerous for me to be traveling around with you as a young girl. There are all sorts of perverts in the world, you know," Haku said sagely.

"You worry about that but you don't get why I'm hesitant to have you call me 'Master'?" Zabuza asked with no small amount of disbelief.

"Not at all," Haku assured him brightly.

Zabuza sighed heavily. "So what do you plan to do? Masquerade as a boy?"

Haku nodded firmly. "That sounds like a sound idea."

"Alright," Zabuza agreed reluctantly. "That should solve most of my image problems. Not all, God knows, but people should talk less, at least…we can go get you some boy clothes in the morning."

"Boys clothes?" Haku was puzzled. "Whatever for?"

"Well, you're planning to pretend to be a boy, right?" Zabuza checked to see if the plan had somehow changed.

"Absolutely, Zabuza-san," Haku said with a nod.

"Then wouldn't it make sense to, I don't know, attempt to look like a boy?" Zabuza asked. "Maybe cut your hair?"

Haku gasped, horrified. "Cut my hair? There are plenty of boys with long hair! Easily half of the guys I've ever met, in fact!"

"I suppose you have a point," Zabuza grudgingly admitted. "Can you at least tie it up?"

"I'll see what I can do," Haku promised somewhat patronizingly.

"Good," Zabuza sounded relieved, "because at the end of the day they can be as feminine as they like because they actually ARE guys so they're not trying to fool anyone." He paused. "Unless, of course, they're posing as a girl, but I'm not really one to judge, so…"

"With long hair, I could pose as a girl!" Haku realized.

"You are a girl," Zabuza felt the need to remind her.

"That's certainly an advantage I have, then. Because – no offense – you really couldn't pull cross-dressing convincingly off," Haku said honestly.

Zabuza snorted. "None taken, believe me."

"Always, Zabuza-dono!" Haku said enthusiastically.

"But even if you won't cut your hair, shouldn't you at least dress in guy clothing? The only guys who don't are guys pretending to be girls," Zabuza pointed out.

Haku considered that for a moment. "It could just mean that I'm secure enough in my masculinity to embrace my feminine side."

"What masculinity?" Zabuza wanted to know. "You. Are. A. Girl."

"No one has to know that…"

"So you plan to be a girl pretending to be a boy pretending to be a girl?" Zabuza said slowly, wondering how, exactly, he always managed to get himself in to these kinds of situations.

"Dressing like a girl but willing to clear up any misunderstandings about my actually being a boy should the need arise or people just outright make the assumption that I'm a girl," Haku clarified.

"If you're going to dress like a girl anyway, what in the world is the point in pretending to be a boy?" Zabuza demanded.

"It's for my own protection," Haku insisted.

"But how will you be protected if you're making no effort to hide your gender?!?!" Zabuza cried.

"Because I will be telling everyone that I'm a boy," came Haku's simple answer.

"But you'll look like a girl!" Zabuza just couldn't move past that.

"Who would believe that I'm a girl who looks like a girl and is trying to pass herself off as a boy?" Haku asked reasonably.

"Because that would just be stupid," Zabuza said dryly.

Haku beamed at him. "Exactly!"

"I suppose there is something to be said for that. But wouldn't it just be easier to, oh, I don't know, actually pretend to be a boy instead of playing all these complicated mind games?" Zabuza queried.

"It would," Haku agreed readily enough, "But there are two reasons why I'm not going to."

"I'm almost afraid to ask."

"First, if I'm going to be a shinobi now, I can't very well do things the easy way," Haku began.

"That is a point of pride, yes," Zabuza acknowledged. "Now what's the second reason?"

"I just don't want to."

Poor Zabuza almost fell over. "You…you won't put any effort into your ploy to pretend to be a boy simply because you don't want to?"

"AND because as a soon-to-be Shinobi it's practically a moral imperative," Haku added.

"And now you're talking about morals? I really had no idea what I was getting into when I agreed to raise you, did I?" Zabuza mused.

"I've heard many a parent say that, so I'm sure that's normal," Haku assured him.

"Parent?" Zabuza repeated blankly.

"I'm an impressionable child and you're a responsible adult. That makes you my surrogate parent by definition," Haku explained patiently.

"I didn't sign up to be your father, kid," Zabuza said gruffly.

"I don't remember asking," Haku said sweetly.

"Me? Responsible? You have got to be kidding me," Zabuza said bluntly.

"Not at all, Zabuza-dono. You're a lot more responsible than either of my biological parents were. My mother, for instance, stayed in an area that periodically massacred those with the misfortune to be born with a Kekkei genkai while having one herself and never mentioning it to me or testing the waters with her husband and apparently just hoped the whole thing would go away. And then there's my father. The man realized that the pacifistic love of his life and beloved little girl just happened to be able to control ice and his first reaction was something along the lines of 'burn the witch'!" Haku recounted, her eyes flashing.

"It would kind of be hard to be less responsible," Zabuza pointed out.

"See?" Haku said, cheerful again. "I'm moving up in the world in terms of guardians!"

Zabuza nodded his assent. "As sad as that is, I think you're right…And incidentally, I also see where you get your insanity from…"

"So it's settled then?" Haku questioned. "I'll go around telling people I'm a boy and you can act slightly embarrassed by my women's clothing?"

"Since I am slightly embarrassed at how paper-thin your disguise will be, that should work perfectly," Zabuza told her.

"Don't you love it when things work out this perfectly?" Haku said with a smile.

" 'Perfectly'?" Zabuza repeated, shaking his head incredulously. "You are so lucky you're a valuable tool or I swear…"

Haku sighed happily. "I know, Zabuza-dono, I know."

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