Sorry this update is so late. Please forgive me TAT

The night was cold, a few stray flakes of snow swirling toward the ground. Haku was shivering beneath his thin blanket, clutching the rabbit he caught earlier. Zabuza watched him for awhile, trying not to let his pity get the best of him. There was only one other blanket. Why should he give it up?

Haku's lips were tinged a light blue, his pale face pink in the cheeks. He didn't dare ask Zabuza for something warmer. He simply suffered in silence, clutching his rabbit closer.

He stroked the bunny's soft fur, kissed its head, anything to get a bit of heat. He closed his eyes, snuggled close, and tried his best to fall asleep, curled beneath a threadbare blanket. He's so tired...he's so cold.

Then, another blanket was thrown over him, along with Zabuza's strong arm. Warmth envelops him, along with a sense of security he'd nearly forgotten.

"Better?" Zabuza asked, gruffly, tersely. Haku nodded sleepily.

"My bunny hopped away," he whined.

"You'll find it again," Zabuza lied. Haku knew it was a lie, but he didn't care. He fell asleep easily after that, safe, warm, and happy.

Zabuza grumbled to himself, wondering when he had gotten so soft. Haku was just a stupid kid, with nobody to look after him. He had looked so helpless, shivering in the snow, just waiting to die, all alone.

Why the hell did Zabuza care? He was a shinobi, a missing-nin and a member of the Seven Swordsmen of the Mist. Pity and kindness were supposed to be nothing to him. He shouldn't have cared.

He kept making excuses for himself, trying to justify it, telling himself it wasn't really pity. Some days he was better at convincing himself than others.

Unconsciously, Zabuza ran his fingers through Haku's downy hair. It used to be lonely on nights like these, now that his comrades were dead or in prison. Even Kisame, the strongest of them all, had vanished without a trace. . .Zabuza never found out what became of him.

Haku murmured in his sleep, a happy, carefree sound. And suddenly, the bitter cold that bit at his bare skin didn't seem quite so bad.

He was so innocent. So full of life, so fucking pure that it hurt.

Zabuza held Haku against his chest. He was warm, and it was very welcome on a night like this.

He didn't know jack shit about taking care of a child. He didn't know what to do if he ever got sick, or if he had a nightmare or scraped his knee. Zabuza didn't know what to do when Haku asked him difficult questions or asked him about sex.

Damn it. What the hell had he gotten himself into?

Haku was just a kid. he was weak. That made him a liability. Zabuza refused to drag the stupid kid around if he couldn't protect himself when the time came. If Haku was going to stick around, he would have to learn to hold his own.

Just like he had. Just like any Shinobi had to. The kid wasn't a Shinobi yet, but the younger he learned, the better, and it seemed like he'd gotten a late start as it was.

Zabuza forced himself to close his eyes.

He'd worry about that tomorrow.