Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto. Naruto is the property of Masashi Kishimoto
Chapter 1: The Bridge of Fallen Heroes
The mist was thick and the smell of blood permeated through the air. There were two separate battles taking place. One between two elite ninjas, Zabuza Momochi, the Demon of the Mist, secure in his element and Hatake Kakashi, the copy-ninja who was bleeding profusely and at a disadvantage.
Away from those two a dome of mirrors made of ice kept two young ninja trapped and at the mercy of Zabuza's apprentice, the androgynous ice user Haku. His opponents were Uchiha Sasuke, one of the remaining members of the Uchiha clan and Uzumaki Naruto, the Hidden Leaf Village's number one maverick ninja.
He had been slowly killing his opponents by inches, using his acupuncture needles, or senbon to inflict shallow wounds that would slowly bleed out. In time his opponents would pass out from blood loss sparing him the need to go for the kill.
Alas it seemed he would have to bloody his hands as Sasuke had awakened the blood-line limit of the Uchiha, the mirror wheel eye also called the sharingan. It allowed Sasuke to better evade Haku's senbon and would force the fight to drag on, which would drain Haku's chakra that was necessary to maintain the mirrors. Thus removing Sasuke from the fight was now a priority and Haku knew just how to do that.
'He's quite amazing. A prodigy still in the fledgling stages. To find that ability within himself and force it to awaken untutored in the heat of battle.' Haku thought to himself in regards to Sasuke's skill.
"I see, you too share the legacy of a blood-line." Haku said, calling out to Sasuke. "I can't let this fight go on. My own art forces me to expend a great deal of chakra so there is a limit to how long I can go on using it."
"I'm certain the longer our duel drags on, the greater your ability to perceive my movements will become. Especially since to a certain extent, you can already see me now." Haku continued, noting he was now at a disadvantage.
'It would be foolhardy to target you directly, but if I use the other boy as bait…' He now had a plan to incapacitate Sasuke.
Haku brought his senbon to a ready, holding them between each of his fingers. "Time to bring this to an end!" He shouted as he leapt out of a mirror to attack Naruto, who was still down.
'What, he's going after Naruto? I have to get there first!' Sasuke then leapt up to save his team-mate.
Elsewhere on the bridge Zabuza and Kakashi continued their fight. Zabuza would move in and strike and Kakashi would be forced to defend as the mist would cloud his vision, then Zabuza would return to his cover.
"He's gone again!" Yelled Haruno Sakura, the kunoichi of team seven. She had been staying by Tazuna's side as his guard since she could do little else.
"Sakura, don't move an inch. I'll finish this as quickly as I can!" Called out Kakashi to his student.
"But…, oh…, okay!" Sakura replied. There was nothing else she could do in these circumstances.
"Did you hear that Zabuza? Do you truly believe, after all of the hardships I've survived in this world armed only with the sharingan?" Kakashi called out to Zabuza through the mist while unlocking a pouch on his vest.
"I too was once a member of a ninja assassin corps. I'll show you what kind of shinobi I once was. This isn't something I learned with the sharingan. Let me show you my own true art!" Continued Kakashi as he pulled out a scroll.
Back with Haku, Naruto and Sasuke, two were on the ground and one was barely standing.
"Sheesh, no matter how many times I warn you Naruto you still keep getting in my way." Said Sasuke in a state of shock. The line slipped out as if his mouth acted on it's own accord. He had intended to save Naruto once again as he thought his team-mate was still passed out and vulnerable from Haku's last assault. He had made the mistake of underestimating the most unpredictable ninja, and would not be the last to do so.
Standing, albeit barely, in front of Sasuke was Naruto, senbon sticking out from numerous points on his body and bleeding liberally. Sasuke could only continue to stare in shock as Naruto coughed up a large amount of blood onto the bridge before he could speak.
Naruto looked over his shoulder and spoke to Sasuke, though it appeared it hurt to do so. "Get that surprised look off your face, you bastard." He wasn't used to seeing him with a look other then cold indifference or smug superiority.
"Why?" Was all Sasuke could say. He couldn't understand why Naruto would risk himself like this, even though he was just about to do the same for him.
"Why, you ask me why?" Thought Naruto as he remembered his interactions with Sasuke upon joining team seven. These could be his final moments so his last words should have a great meaning to them.
"At first I hated you," began Naruto. "You had everything I ever wanted. You had a family, even though you lost them at least you have memories of them. I've always been alone so I don't know the pain of your loss but neither do I know the joy of having a family. I do know what it's like to be alone. I thought maybe we could have been friends but you didn't want any. You had every girl you ever met throwing themselves at you while they act like I don't exist. I then decided if you didn't want a friend I'd be your rival. I trained my hardest to be as good as you but no matter how hard I tried I was always last and you were the best without even trying."
"You know what?" He asked. "Despite all that you are still the closest thing to a friend I have." Naruto took a moment to think about that. 'Sure there was the old man, but he was too busy running the village. Iruka-sensei only started opening up to me since the incident the day of the graduation exam and I've only just met Konohamaru. In my early days at the academy I had some fun with Kiba, Shikamaru and Choji but that didn't last.'
Feeling the last of his strength leaving him Naruto struggled to get out his final words. "I swore I wouldn't die until I became Hokage. Then again, what kind of Hokage would I be if I can't protect my friends? One last piece of advice. Somebody recently told me that a person can become strong when they are protecting someone precious to them. Even though I'm dying I feel stronger then ever right now since I did it to save you. Find your precious person Sasuke and become a strong Hokage since I couldn't."
With that final message Uzumaki Naruto collapsed in Sasuke's arms, and was no more. As Sasuke held Naruto all he could think about was Naruto calling him his only friend. Now his closest friend lay dead in his arms.
'He died to save me. He didn't do it because I'm the last loyal Uchiha or because it was his duty. He did it because I was his friend. He's my friend and he's now dead because of me. If I had been faster I could have saved him.' Were the thoughts running through Sasuke's mind. He would have time to reflect on the rest of Naruto's final words later as the sharingan gave him a perfect memory of them. For now all he could feel was the pain of another loss and a burning in his eyes.
While Naruto's final moments played out Haku was getting back on his feet. One of his opponents was dead, as he intended and the other was vulnerable. It wouldn't take much to set him off in a fit of anger and finish what he started.
"He struck one blow at me, and without any sign of shirking, he sacrificed himself for you! He was a shinobi of the utmost respect, who in order to protect someone he cared about, threw himself headlong into what he knew was a trap." Haku began, to taunt Sasuke into making a final, foolish attack.
"Is this the first time a comrade of yours has died? Such is a ninja's path." Finished Haku, now back on his feet and ready to end the fight. He let the mirrors melt so he could conserve his chakra or use the water for other techniques.
"Shut up!" Yelled Sasuke at Haku. "I'm going to kill you!" He screamed at Haku while glaring at him, his eyes now having changed from a newly developed sharingan to a pair of spinning, six-pointed stars. Whether Sasuke was aware of the change is unknown.
Haku just looked on at Sasuke, confident he would now be unfocused. Something wasn't right though. 'His eyes are different from before. They don't look like a normal sharingan. I should be careful. I'll play it safe just in case.'
Sasuke, almost out of chakra, suffering from numerous cuts, some of which were still bleeding and even with several senbon stuck in him refused to give up. He pulled out his remaining shuriken and threw them at Haku while readying a pair of kunai and charging forward. Haku evaded the shuriken with ease and brought up his senbon to parry Sasuke's kunai.
Like the start of their fight the two were now locked together, Haku's senbon holding back Sasuke's Kunai. When one struck the other would block. Sasuke hit hard and fast, not giving Haku time to use any one handed seals. Sasuke's sharingan also gave him an advantage as he could predict Haku's moves, but his own rage at Naruto's death was making his moves sloppy.
Finally Haku started to wear out and made an opening. Sasuke took full advantage and slashed at his throat, causing a large amount of water to pour out. 'Wait, water?' Was all Sasuke could think as Haku dissolved into a puddle of water. Then there was nothing but blackness.
Haku looked down at his fallen foe. After he noticed the strange new form of Sasuke's sharingan he replaced himself with a water clone and waited for the ideal time to strike. When Sasuke became distracted by his clone's demise he struck him from behind, knocking him out. It was a crude method but effective. Haku took one last look at Naruto's body.
"You really took my words to heart. It appears we shared the same ideals. If we had met under other circumstances we could have been friends. Who knows what could have become of you if someone like Master Zabuza had found you at a young age like he found me?" Spoke Haku to Naruto's lifeless body. He didn't like killing, especially someone so much like him but it was part of the shinobi lifestyle. "Now I should see if Master Zabuza needs assistance."
Zabuza in fact did need assistance, and a lot of it fast. Kakashi had felt the battle has lasted too long and prepared a trap. Using the blood he had shed to cover Zabuza and his sword he summoned his ninja-dogs, using the scent of the blood to determine Zabuza's location, to hold him down so he could prepare for the kill.
Charging up his signature attack, the Lightning Blade, Kakashi charged forward at Zabuza, ready to end his life, only to slip as senbon pierced his legs from behind. Kakashi fell to the ground, his attack cancelled lest he accidentally hurt himself with it in his fall.
"It's about time you got here." Zabuza called out to his apprentice. "I was worried you were going soft and were taking it easy on those brats."
Kakashi, struggling to get up looked back at where the attack had come from. While he had his sharingan active he was charging straight forward and was not expecting to be attacked from behind. With his vision locked on Zabuza he was prepared for anything he might do but was not ready for this. It would mean only one thing. His students had lost. That was his last thought as Haku threw a pair of senbon that pierced his neck, putting him in a near death state.
With their summoner gone Kakashi's nin-dogs disappeared, freeing Zabuza. He stretched out, a bit sore from where the dogs bit him or held him down but otherwise fine.
"The Uchiha awakened his sharingan, and it then changed into another form. That gave him an advantage so I had to proceed carefully." Haku replied to his master. He would inform him of the rest of the fight later to learn how to improve. A tool has to be well maintained after all if it is to be of any use.
"Hmm, that's odd, but we'll worry about it later. Right now we have a job to finish," said Zabuza. He then dispelled the mist, deciding it was a waste of chakra. It turned out to be a very good idea as it revealed more then just the two groups of ninja battling on the bridge. On the incomplete end of the bridge stood Gato and a large group of mercenaries.
"Gato, what are you doing here?" Zabuza asked of his employer. "Why did you bring all of them?" He further inquired, referring to the large number of mercenaries accompanying him.
Gato just stood in front of the mercenaries, leaning on a cane and looking smugly at Zabuza and Haku. Behind the two Mist ninjas Tazuna and Sakura were looking on in shock. Kakashi, Sasuke and Naruto were all unconscious and Gato was now here with a small army of mercenaries. Things were looking bad for them.
"There's been a slight change of plans Zabuza, or at least your plans anyway." Gato said to Zabuza. "This is what I had in mind all along. You're going to die "Demon," here and now."
"What?" Was all Zabuza could say. 'Is Gato an idiot? He didn't even wait until I killed the bridge builder. I guess he'd rather do it himself to set an example and just used me to deal with the ninjas Tazuna hired. He must have thought that bunch of mercenaries would be enough to finish me off.'
"You must have guessed. I never intended to pay you." Continued Gato, oblivious to his fate. "It's such a bother hiring a skilled ninja affiliated with one of the top ninja villages. It's expensive, and they tend to have friends who object when I betray and kill them."
"It's so much simpler to hire nuke-nin, renegades like yourself. No one cares what I do to you once the job is done. All of you ninja are so eager to fight each other. Once you've each other down, common thugs can finish off the rest. it's a great business plan, efficient and inexpensive."
"My only mistake was hiring you in the first place. Calling yourself the Demon of the Hidden Mist is just plain false advertising. You're no demon, more like a baby demon, if that." He finished, confident in his victory, not knowing he had moments to live.
Zabuza just turned to Haku, who had finished pilfering Kakashi's unconscious body for some basic supplies. He passed a soldier pill to Zabuza, having already had one.
"Haku, did Kakashi have any explosive tags on him?" Zabuza asked his apprentice after swallowing the pill.
"Yes, several actually." Haku replied while handing some to Zabuza, who took one and wrapped it around the handle of a kunai. He then threw it right at Gato where it embedded itself into his neck, killing him instantly. Before his body could even fall to the ground the explosive tag detonated, blowing up Gato's corpse and knocking the mercenaries next to him on the ground.
"Well Tazuna, considering my employer is now dead and I have no way of getting paid I won't be killing you today." Zabuza called out to the bridge builder, who was with Sakura as she cried over Sasuke and Naruto's bodies, not realizing the former was only unconscious.
Tazuna merely nodded back. After seeing Gato appear with his mercenaries he panicked, but remembering the type of person Gato was Tazuna guessed his next move and took a chance that Zabuza would no longer target him.
The mercenaries did not take the death of their employer well. With Gato dead they no longer had a source of income. Neither did Zabuza or Haku but they were already planning on raiding Gato's coffers.
"You ninja killed our meal ticket!" One of the mercenaries yelled out.
"Now you're going to die!"
"The only way we can break even now…"
"Is to loot the city and every business and home!"
"Oh yeah!" Called out several more.
"It looks like they are going to be trouble," said Zabuza. At this point he wasn't interested in wasting his time on flunkies. "Haku would you mind dealing with them?" He asked his apprentice, even though Haku would have taken it as an order and done so anyway.
"Yes sir." Haku replied, performing the seals for a technique. "Thousand flying water needles of death." He called out, using the water on the bridge for his attack. The needles tore into the mercenaries, incapacitating them with ease.
Zabuza calmly observed the attack. None of the mercenaries were dead, but they were out of commission. With that dealt with he turned back to Tazuna, noticing the villagers on the other end of the bridge.
"Haku, it's time to go. The people of Wave will deal with the mercenaries, and we should clear out Gato's funds before someone beats us to it." Zabuza said to Haku. The two then disappeared to collect their payment, however they could.
It was the night of the battle on the bridge. Sasuke had awoken and after a tearful reunion with Sakura had gone to check on Naruto's body. He needed to know for certain of Naruto's fate. He didn't want it to be true but in his mind there was no doubt that his team-mate was dead.
Naruto had numerous cuts from Haku's senbon, several of which were still embedded in him. He had lost a tremendous amount of blood, had no pulse and wasn't breathing. There was one last thing that convinced Sasuke that Naruto was truly dead. He now had the kaleidoscope mirror wheel eye, or mangekyou sharingan. The only way he could have obtained it was to kill his best friend. Seeing Naruto die in front of him and blame himself for it must have been close enough to achieve it.
Kakashi at least had a faint pulse and had been treated by one of the local doctors as best as they could. They estimated he awaken in the morning, and recover completely in a week. He was resting in Tazuna's house once more.
As for Sasuke and Sakura, they had a duty as ninjas of the Hidden Leaf to perform. To keep others from learning of their secrets they had to destroy Naruto's body. At first neither wanted to go through with it but they knew what might happen if they didn't. They did not want anyone to desecrate Naruto's remains just to gain an edge over the Hidden Leaf.
To that end they had dug a grave and erected a special rig that would allow them to cremate Naruto, or at least burn him beyond recognition and render his corpse useless to those who would try to plunder it's secrets. Then his remains would be lowered into the grave which would be filled. They had a simple cross to mark the gravesite, the only thing that would indicate it's existence.
Naruto himself was lying on the hastily built rig. The grave was lined with a blanket to cover what was left of his body once the pyre had burned out. They didn't have the time or money for a coffin so that would have to do. They took away his forehead protector to return to Iruka and his equipment since he no longer needed them. With their final preparations complete, Sasuke and Sakura said a prayer for Naruto and set the pyre ablaze.
Sakura left after that, not being able to maintain herself she ran back to Tazuna's house to cry herself to sleep. Sasuke remained to finish his task, eyes once again burning as he felt the mangekyou activating. He struggled to keep it from doing so as then he would never forget the scene, not that he would ever be able to do so.
It had been a week since the battle on the bridge. Kakashi had indeed awoken the next morning, but was unable to move. The first thing he did was inquire as to the aftermath of the battle. Tazuna informed him of Gato's betrayal and death to Kakashi's relief. Even if they defeated Zabuza as long as Gato was alive he would not allow the bridge to stand. If it was completed he would just find a way to have it destroyed. With his death Wave may just be free.
Kakashi was concerned that Zabuza and Haku had disappeared. Presumably they would be clearing out Gato's funds to cover their expenses. That would also mean anyone trying to assume command of Gato's company would have little resources to do so.
He was also relieved to learn Sasuke had survived, but was very concerned over Naruto's apparent death. He had a regeneration blood-line that accelerated his healing. The wounds he suffered and blood lost should have been healed and replenished in a few days. Kakashi didn't know for sure whether Naruto inherited it from Minato or Kushina as they both seemed to heal faster then normal.
Had he simply been attended and left to rest his vitals should have returned to normal overnight and he would have woken up after a nice long rest. Kakashi, as much as it hurt hoped Naruto really was dead because if he wasn't it would mean his team-mates burned and buried him alive.
At the current moment Kakashi was in front of Naruto's grave, the freshly dug dirt and cross the only signs of it's existence. He was praying for forgiveness while adding another name to the list of people he visited at the memorial stone. Once he was finished he returned to Tazuna's home. He would never reveal his suspicion's of Naruto's survival. The stigma of knowing he might have lived and was killed by his team-mates would traumatize them.
A week later Kakashi, Sasuke and Sakura were standing on the completed end of the bridge that connected Wave to Fire Country. Tazuna, Inari and Tsunami were also there to say goodbye.
"Thanks to you our bridge has finally been completed, but at a great price." Tazuna said to the Leaf ninja. The memory of Naruto's death was still fresh in their minds.
"Thank you for your hospitality, and your condolences." Replied Kakashi as he and his remaining students began their journey home.
"We still need to dedicate the bridge." Tazuna spoke to his daughter. "There's only one name that would fit."
"What are you going to call it?" Asked Tsunami.
"The Great Naruto Bridge." Replied Tazuna. "Naruto touched Inari's heart, and Inari touched the heart of all the people in our city. Naruto built the bridge that eventually carried us all to hope and courage!"
"It's a nice name dad. I'm sure Naruto would have loved that."
"Naming it in his honour is the least we could do after what he did for us. This bridge will stand as a memorial for Naruto and become famous the world over as a symbol of perseverance in the face of adversity. Everyone will hear about it and the boy it was named after, and no one will ever forget him."
Two weeks later, a wagon stopped at the border of Fire Country and Hot Spring Country, where a check-stop was posted. The driver pulled up to the stop to address the man running the station.
"I'm a merchant here on business." The man stated.
He was wearing a straw hat that covered his hair and eyes. His lower face was concealed by a scarf. The rest of his attire was standard merchant wear for the area.
"My nieces are with me, they are my assistants." He further explained.
Behind him in the wagon were two girls keeping an eye on their goods. One had long black hair, brown eyes, creamy, pale skin, and wore a pink kimono.
The other was wearing a green kimono jacket, with a red shirt, skirt and belt. She was more tanned then her apparent sister or possible cousin. Her most unique feature was her blue eyes whose pupils, in the right light, or lack of it, appeared to look like slits.
Author's Notes: Since this is my first published story I should inform my future readers of my style.
First, I do not like using Japanese words or honorifics. I'll be keeping them to a minimum. I personally hate reading a story in English only to see hai, gomen or other words like that scattered around. Hell, I've seen full sentences of Japanese used before without any translation. As for the honourifics, it's just that since I don't speak Japanese I'd rather not use them as I would most likely be using them wrong.
Second, I will not be using bolded text, or any other kind for summons or demon speak, techniques or thinking. I find it visually distracting.
Third, I will never do a harem fanfic. I might have several boys or girls vying for the attention of the protagonist. I might have said protagonist have more then one girlfriend or boyfriend. In the end though there will only be one partner for my hero. That's not to say every story needs a pairing, but I'd like to include one to some degree as it's something the original story lacks.
Fourth, and what could be considered rather controversial, is that I have nothing against yaoi other then the large number or Sasuke/Naruto fanfics and the small number of Naruto/Haku fanfics.
I know most of the people here are split on the issue. It appears the serious writers disapprove of it and the casual readers have no problem with it. I guess it would be like Family Guy or Chunin Exam Day in a way.
Fifth, I have about a dozen story ideas I might do someday. This is just the first one I came up with and it's my favourite of them.
As for the story itself, the idea was to write one where Zabuza and Haku survive the battle on the bridge, but instead of them joining Konoha like what happens in most fics Naruto joins them. I think it would be a challenge to find a realistic way for it to happen and I hope it goes well.
The title obviously refers to the Seven Swordsman of the Mist, but is also a reference to Blake's Seven. I think I used to watch it but I don't remember anything about it.
I already have a lot of the story planned out, including a pairing for Naruto, and it's a rare one. Don't worry, it's not a yaoi pairing. There won't be any yaoi pairings in this story, but that isn't to say there won't be some jokes or hints of it.
As for Sasuke, his story will be told in Sasuke Gaiden, which I'll do when this story ends. It'll be Sasuke's side of this story and will depict what happens in Konoha. I'm going to do it later because I'd prefer to wait until Naruto's story is done before putting myself into Sasuke's mindset.
Finally, I know exactly how I want this story to end, or the last scene at least. Let's hope I make it to that point.