Welcome, welcome, one and all! A new story, I should say. My character, Nozomi, has many flaws. XD But anyway, enjoy!

Never had there been such a gale in the Land of Waves. Never had it been so frigid and stormy that Miss Nozomi Mizuko would rather have been sitting at home, drinking tea or cocoa, than venturing to the city's local library. Thankfully, however, she had finished her business there, picking up two new romance novellas and a drawing instructional guide. She was now heading home, to get warmer, maybe play a game of Go or shogi with her brother, start on her new books. And also, it was a good thing, too, that she was young, being only sixteen years old; it allowed her to move quickly and flexibly. She could run quite fast, despite not being a ninja, and her shoes were rubber—she wouldn't easily slip on the rain.

Nozomi was having quite a fun time, hurrying home, however. She hopped and skipped over the puddles, sitting with one leg over each side of the guardrail whenever a car would go by, dancing between the raindrops as she happily made her way back to the house.

She jumped onto the city's newest addition—the Great Naruto Bridge. She didn't know the specifics, but some ninja had come into the land and broken up Gato's drug cartel; Gato was dead now, so they were all safe, and life could return to relative normality. When it was sunny, the kids in the streets would perform their own version of what had apparently happened with Gato's death. One would be dressed completely in orange, with one in a Gato costume, and some other ninja-looking kids, and the orange-clad kid would "kill" the Gato kid, and the other kids would all cheer. It was funny, she'd never seen the entire thing start to finish.

A car was coming. Nozomi hopped up on the railing, straddling the metal as she waited for the car to go by. She glanced down at the water, and was shocked to see someone's body floating there. She set the basket of books down, and leapt completely over the rail. She swam up to the surface and came over to the person's body. She pressed her head to their chest, listening. From this, she could tell three things. One, the person was still breathing. Two, their heart was still beating. And three, this person was a boy.

Nozomi carefully patted the boy's cheek. "Hey," she whispered. "Hey, wake up! Ohh… please, wake up."

The boy's eyelids parted slightly, revealing glistening hazel eyes. He coughed, a little water coming out. "W-Where am I?"

"Good, you're up." Nozomi glanced up at the rail. Shoot… it seemed like so high up now. "Okay, so… how am I gonna get back up there? I'm not a ninja… I can't do anything." She looked back at the boy. "Can you just, like, float here for a second?"

He nodded. "Yes, but hurry… I can't stay up for very long."

"Okay." Nozomi shot into the water and came up underneath the bridge. If her intel was right, there was a trapdoor somewhere under the bridge. She could use it to get the boy and herself back up. She pressed on several locations, going as quickly as she could. At last, she found it: the hollow spot. She pushed on it, and it opened. "Bingo! Now, that boy…"

She swam to the boy and, seeing that he was almost ready to pass out, hoisted him onto her back. "Just hold on—I'll have you to safety in no time, I promise!"

"Thank you," he whispered, before another coughing fit overtook him.

She hurried to the trap door, and got the boy up on the bridge first, as carefully as she was able. She then tried to pull herself up, slipping because of the water. A hand gripped hers and helped her. As she got up, she saw that the boy was breathing heavily, and it was his hand that had assisted her. "Thanks. Now, let's get you back home—you're really hurt, and this rain can't be doing any good." She got him up onto her back again, hearing him muffle a sneeze or cough into her shoulder. "Uh… bless you?"

A sound came that was definitely a cough. "Yes, that one was a sneeze."

"Okay. Come on—I better get you outta this storm before you catch a cold." Picking up the basket of books she'd left, she ran as fast as she could, trying to dodge the raindrops. She could feel the boy shivering against her, coughing and gasping for his breath. "I'm sorry I'm going so fast," she called. "But I have to hurry and get you warmed up. You're going to get hypothermia if you're not warm soon. I ain't gonna let that happen! Don't worry, though, we're almost there!"

She at last reached her house. Good, her grandpa's car wasn't here. That meant he wasn't home from work yet. But her mother was always home unless she told her children otherwise, and her brother was always home, too. So she had to sneak this kid in.

She attempted to scale the building to the window to her room on the second floor, to no avail. "Oh, darn it," she sighed, giving it another go. "I am not ninja material if I can't even climb a building!"

"H-Here," the boy said. "Let me help." He raised his arm. "Ice Release." As if by magic, a staircase of ice formed up to her room.

Nozomi gaped for a moment, then tried to look back at the boy in sheer awe. "… How did you do that?!"

"M-My Kekkei Genkai."

"You're a ninja!"

"Shh!"

"Right, right… sorry. Stealth and all that. Wow, I'd be a really bad ninja."

"You can climb up that staircase any time now."

She rolled her eyes. "Yeah… if I don't slip, fall, and break both our necks. I'll try anything once, I suppose." Fighting to keep her balance, she stepped onto each frozen stair cautiously, afraid she'd slide on the ice and kill them both. She teetered several times, but managed to make it to the window relatively unscathed. Well, save for a newly developed, ungodly fear of heights.

She lie the boy down on her bed, and sat down by his legs. "So… I guess the first thing we'd need to know is each other's names, right? I'm Nozomi Mizuko, daughter of Tsunami Mizuko and big sister to Inari Mizuko. He's my little brother. Our dad's gone, though. Well, I mean, his dad. His dad died a long time ago. I got taken in by Mom, which is what I call her. I don't call her Tsunami, that'd be weird. Anyway, our adopted dad died, too, but I didn't know him for that long. Basically, all I was around for was when he died." She retained a cheerful smile and tone as she said all this. She really didn't care; she'd come to terms with Kaiza's death, and, thankfully, so had Inari. "So, what's your name?"

"H-Haku."

"Just Haku?"

"Yes."

"Okay, let's see what I'm dealing with. Where are you hurt?"

"My… chest… I don't… I don't think I…"

"W-Wait! Don't pass out on me!"

Too late.

"… Well… it's gonna be awkward when he finally wakes up to me feeling up his bare chest…"

I enjoy constructive criticism-- please no DESTRUCTIVE criticism. That makes me feel bad and that will make Haku cry. Please, think of Haku.

Anyway, I like reviews. So make me happy! Tell me what you think! Should I continue? (I probably will, regardless.)

Ai-chan ^^