Chapter Two

Naruto still wasn't sure what he was doing here, but he was certain he had the advantage here now. Turning to Haku, he held his sword up. "You still want to fight?"

"It doesn't matter what I want. Zabuza-sama needs me to fight and I will fight for him until I am of no use anymore." The ice user answer.

"I don't want to do this." Naruto said as he turned the materialized sword.

"You are strong, but I cannot simply let you kill me as long as I have some use to Zabuza-sama." Haku said before readied herself to create another crystal ice mirror jutsu, hoping this time it could withstand his power long enough for her to find a weak spot on him.

Anticipating this, Naruto swung his sword at his enemy, not wanting to kill her but wound her and make her stop this. He knew that as a ninja he was expected to kill, but he hadn't yet done that and a large part of him was hoping to delay doing so. Mostly out of fear that it would make him the monster so many were fond of labeling him as.

The light sword missed Haku's shoulder but cut into her hair and broke the edge of her mask, nicking her left cheek a bit enough to make her bleed. The crack spread across the mask and then it broke off completely, exposing Haku's face to Naruto.

The whiskered blonde silently gasped when he saw the fake hunter nin's face and stepped back. "You... you're... you're...?"

Haku smiled gently and nodded. "Yes, I'm Haku. I'm sorry. I had hoped we could have avoided any fighting, but it wasn't meant to be."

"Why didn't you kill me when you had the perfect opportunity?" Naruto asked. "If you really were just Zabuza's tool, you would have eliminated the threat before I had a chance to do anything. But you didn't, you made a personal choice to let me live. And that proves you're not a tool, you're a person dammit and you canmake your own choices. Even here."

Haku showed no change in her expression, but internally she was affected by his worlds. She did have a choice in killing Naruto or not that day she met him in the woods. At the time she rationalized her inaction as the wiser of two choices, saying he might have reacted sooner than she could attack and his death would have alerted his team all that soon and made things difficult for Zabuza. But on some level of her mind, she had spared him because she herself didn't want him dead yet. She just didn't realize it until now.

"Even so, I don't have a choice here. I must kill you."

Naruto put down his sword. "I don't believe that. There is always a choice, and I'll prove it to you." 'I sure hope this works.' He thought as he closed his eyes and willed whatever he was doing to stop as if he was using regular chakra. In no time, the white glow faded and everything with it disappeared. Naruto was normal again.

Haku was confused. "What are you doing?"

"Giving you back the ability to choose. Attack, or don't attack. Free shot. Your choice. Not mine, not Zabuza's, yours. What will you do?" Naruto said before spreading his arms just standing there making himself a target.

Sakura could see him do this and was as astonished as Haku was. "Naruto, what in Kami-sama's name are you thinking?"

"I'm taking a leap of faith, and saving someone from themselves." He told his teammate without turning around to face her.

Haku found herself having an unexpected yet very hindering dilemma. Her initial thought was to rush forward and cut Naruto's throat, but her body refused to respond. 'This has to be a trick. No one would do this unless they were suicidal or had a trick that requires the opponent to strike first. That must be what it is.'

And yet she saw no anticipation in his eyes and his hands were kept apart to make hand signs for jutsu impossible. But as she looked closer, she saw a sense of calm in his eyes instead of anything else. 'Either he's accepted his fate with serenity, or he believes I don't have the courage to do anything to him.'

"Well are you going to kill him or not?" Sasuke shouted, and even Sakura could tell he was actually talking to Haku, not Naruto.

"Sasuke-kun how can you say that? And why aren't you helping him?"

"Keh, like I'd waste my time helping the dobe. I'm just watching to see what his power can do. If he wants to throw his life away like this, so what? It's not like anyone really wants him alive in the first place." Sasuke replied.

Sakura was disgusted to see his apathy towards their teammate, but it wasn't just his words that got to her. 'Is that how I come across about Naruto? I feel like I'm looking at myself.'

Haku ignored all the side banter, trying to make herself do something. She did start a short set of one-handed hand signs and an ice kunai formed in her hand. She then lunged at Naruto and brought up her weapon, aiming for his neck. As she moved, he did nothing. She moved fast and true, and the kunai got right next to his skin.

And then it just stopped.

Haku just stood there, her body and arm trembling as she held the weapon close but not close enough to him. All he felt was a chill, no damage or pain. He didn't back away, he didn't move her arm from him, he didn't even breathe harder or sweat hard. Haku saw this, and despite this completely free shot she'd never get again in a million years, her body refused to cooperate.

Her hand dropped the kunai which broke on the bridgestone and she collapsed on her knees, tears flooding down her cheeks. "I... I can't do it! I can't kill someone like this! I'm not a murderer! Zabuza-sama... I failed you." Her weeping overcame her voice.

Naruto knelt down and placed his hands on her shoulders. She did not reject his touch. "What's wrong with not killing someone because it doesn't feel right? What's wrong with deciding for yourself instead of just doing what you're told?"

"I can't serve Zabuza-sama anymore. I'm a disgrace, a broken tool he'll have no use for anymore. Serving him is the reason I live, and now I'm nothing more than a corpse that still breathes."

"You said he took you in and trained you right?" Naruto asked. "Why would he do that if he was just going to get rid of you first time you couldn't do a job for him? Do you really have so little faith in your sensei? And even if he is like that, is that a man you want to give your soul to?"

"You don't understand. No matter what kind of person Zabuza-sama is, he's all I have. Silver you can get is more valuable than gold you can't, and soon enough to you there's no difference between it and gold when it's all you can have. You have options, you have friends, you have a home. The one thing I have in the world is Zabuza-sama. I can't lose him."

"But you can have options too." Naruto said. "Would you truly desire death because of a failure? Would your master truly be honored if you simply threw away your life without a fight?"

"How can you look at me and tell me how to live? You don't know me, you don't know what I've been thru."

Seeing that no fighting was going on and that Naruto wasn't using his strange new power anymore, Sasuke approached and hit the side of his head hard, making Naruto fall onto his side. "Enough with this crap! I always knew you were pathetic but I never knew you were this pathetic!"

Haku was shocked. "How could you just attack your friend like that?"

"Friend? That worthless waste of flesh? I have no friends, I have no family, I have no loved one. I am an avenger, and battle is all I live for. And you will be my first kill. Feel honored you died at the hand of your superior." Sasuke said pulling out a kunai ready to drive it into her neck or eyes or where he could as long as it was lethal.

Haku felt anger at this Konoha nin, and briefly remembered her father, acting similar to Sasuke saying he could kill her and her mother because they were worthless compared to himself. In her anger her survival instinct overloaded her depression and she pulled out some metal senbon.

Sasuke drove the kunai down and Haku blocked it with her needles, even using them like chopsticks to pin the kunai in place. Sasuke tried to compensate for this by pushing down harder, and even though the result wasn't immediate, it was clear Haku couldn't hold him back for long.

Luckily she didn't have to, for Sasuke was tackled from the side by Sakura. Caught completely by surprise, the Uchiha was taken down by the pinkette. Naruto had recovered and seen this, and he was even more surprised than Haku was.

"Sasuke-kun! What on earth were you thinking?" Sakura shouted, not entirely certain what shocked her more, the fact he attacked Naruto so thoughtlessly or the fact he talked like being killed by him was a privilege.

Uninjured except for his pride and a slight sting he felt on his side, Sasuke glared at his kunoichi teammate. "Who the hell do you think you are?" He then swung his kunai at her, and she reacted back jumping back but unfortunately not fast enough and the end of the kunai drove itself into her left shoulder, though that may not have been what Sasuke had been hoping to strike.

Sakura screamed in pain, loud enough that even both Kakashi and Zabuza briefly paused when they heard it. Zabuza worried it was Haku screaming, but couldn't confirm with the hidden mist jutsu in the way. The wind had dissipated most of it, but some still remained. Also both were getting worn out fighting the other and knew trying to leave the fight to check would make them vulnerable to any sneak attack from the other.

Naruto was free and rushed to help his teammate. He pulled Sakura away from Sasuke, kicked Sasuke in a stomping manner to keep him down, and held Sakura close. "Sakura-chan?" He saw the wound with the kunai still in it. "Hold on." He ripped off his right sleeve then pulled out the kunai. Sakura yelled, not as loud this time, and blood began pouring out. Naruto quickly wrapped his sleeve around the wound and started to apply pressure. "Keep your hands on the wound. This should hold until we get you better help."

"Naruto... thank you." Sakura quietly said, for once not minding his closeness in the least.

Kakashi and Zabuza had to stop fighting for a moment, both seeing their current strategies weren't working. Zabuza couldn't land a serious hit on Kakashi, and Kakashi couldn't land a serious hit on Zabuza. Only one thing could turn the battle in Kakashi's favor, and he was now ready to use it, although he was fairly certain he would only have one shot at it.

"You're a worthy opponent Zabuza-san, but I'm afraid this cannot continue." The cycloptic jounin stated, starting up a set of quick hand signs before gathering chakra around his right hand and forearm. Zabuza was stunned by it, swearing he saw actual chakra itself being used here, when in reality it was just standard lightning element manipulation. "Behold, Raikiri."

Kakashi then darted forward, hoping this jutsu strong enough to cut a lightning bolt in half would penetrate Zabuza's sword and if he was really lucky hit the missing nin too. Relying on all his experience, Zabuza darted forward with Kubikiribocho ready to cleave Kakashi in half during this brief time he was exposed. They both knew one way or another one of them would fall right after this last clash.

Haku, who had been watching Naruto treat Sakura, saw her master possibly about to die and got up to go help him. Naruto saw this and knew exactly what she had planned. "So you have no faith in your master at all do you?"

The ice user froze (metaphorically but good word use if I do say so myself) and looked at the whiskered blonde. "What?"

"You know Zabuza's strength better than anyone I'm assuming. Is he so weak that the only way he can get out of a battle is for you to bail him out?" Naruto asked.

Haku didn't reply immediately, but she didn't have to. In this time, Kakashi's raikiri was reaimed from Zabuza to his sword and hit it at the base of the blade. The lightning blade was sharp enough and forceful enough to pierce thru the metal blade while Kakashi briefly used the sword as leverage to deliver a spin kick to Zabuza's head. The former Kiri nin wasn't as agile as the former Konoha anbu captain and took the hit hard, resulting in him nearly falling off the bridge and his sword broke in half in the process.

Not to say Kakashi got away without a scratch. Moving that way broke his wrist and he knew from this point on using more jutsu would be likely to kill him. And the end of Zabuza's sword did manage to cut into his left side deep enough to draw blood. Kubikiribocho had already tried using that blood to repair the damage it got from the raikiri, but it didn't happen fast enough. Anyway, Kakashi was on his knees panting and clutching his left side while Zabuza was flat on the ground with his right arm broken from the impact.

"Zabuza-sama!" Haku shouted then dashed towards him. 'I should have moved sooner, then maybe he wouldn't be hurt. That boy distracted me, like he knew what I would have done.' She knelt down beside him. "Zabuza-sama?"

He laughed snidely and coughed up blood at the same time. "Calm down Haku, I've lived thru worse."

"I should have been faster. I should have taken the hit for you." Haku wept, but stopped when she felt a light hit on top of her head. Not a painful one, just a tap to get her attention.

"And here I thought you got over those suicidal tendencies. I keep telling you you're no good to me dead."

"You can live without me. I can't live without you." Haku countered.

Before Zabuza could reply, a sinister laugh could be heard. "How disappointing, and here I thought you were supposed to be a demon." Zabuza immediately recognized the voice, and with the mist now gone could clearly see Gato standing at the end of the uncompleted bridge, with several armed goons behind him.

"Gato? Why are you here?" Zabuza asked, not liking the look of this.

"You failed Zabuza, so change of plans." The short businessman answered. "Actually, that's not exactly accurate. I never did intend on paying you for your work; I just now have a legitimate excuse for it. Hiring ninja is expensive and they may turn against their employer, especially fugitive ones, so I only hire the ones I can dispose of. Smart and cost-effective wouldn't you say?"

All three members of Team Seven were surprised to hear this. Up until now, the idea that the employer could be an enemy too had never crossed any of their minds. 'Who is this monster?' Naruto asked himself.

Zabuza made himself stand up with his one good arm. "Kakashi, now that I have no reason to attack the old man I have no reason to fight you anymore." Tazuna heard this and immediately breathed a sigh of relief.

Kakashi struggled back to his feet too. "You're right. So what do we do now?"

"Isn't it obvious? Get rid of the midget!" Naruto shouted.

"Midget?" Gato repeated, infuriated.

"Yeah, midget. I mean, people call me short but I'm still young. So what's your excuse?" Naruto yelled at the corrupt tycoon.

"GET HIM!" Gato ordered ad his men charged.

Zabuza immediately grabbed what remained of Kubikiribocho with his left hand and stood in front of the goons, making them pause. "Kids got the right idea, and I don't know about the others, but I intend to turn the guy who tried to stiff me into a stiff."

"With what? That broken knife?" A random goon asked.

"A broken blade can still cut, especially when it's my blade." Zabuza warned before charging forward. Haku could only stand back and watch, knowing she was not suited to taking on a crowd this size.

The Konoha nin watched in stunned awe as Zabuza moved with the speed and reflexes that could only come from experience, savagery, and fearlessness. His broken Kubikiribocho made excellent use of the blood it drew, using the iron in the blood to rebuild itself little by little from the base of the blade. And while the Konoha nin couldn't understand how the sword was doing it, they did see the fact it was repairing itself the more it was used.

In less than a minute, all of Gato's goons were dead, some still on the bridge and some fallen off it, and only Zabuza was still standing. He had broken weapons sticking out of him in random spots and he looked exhausted just standing under his own power, but he was still alive and glaring at Gato.

At that moment, the citizens of Wave lead by Inari showed up with whatever they could find as a weapon. They were shocked by the bloodbath remains they encountered, but seeing Gato made them too angry to focus on anything else. "Gato! Leave our country at once and never return!" Several citizens shouted out, no longer sounding afraid of him.

Instead, Gato was the one who was quivering. "Can't we work something out?"

"Yes, you die and we don't. Sound fair?" Zabuza said, coughing up more blood. By now his facial bandages were torn off so he wouldn't risk choking on his own blood.

Seeing only one way out, Gato tried to run. Unfortunately Zabuza was the better runner of the two and caught up to him. Swinging his executioner sword, he decapitated the shorter man with ease. The momentum of everything made both the head and body of Gato fall into the sea, never to be seen again.

Out of energy and taxed by combat, Zabuza finally let himself collapse and rest. Haku rushed towards him, seeing he was far from fine. "Zabuza-sama? Don't move. I'll get you somewhere where you can heal."

The missing nin smirked. "Haku, we both know moving me would only make me lose more blood."

Haku looked at the crowd, who were cheering that Gato was finally gone. She even thought she heard a chorus of 'Ding dong the witch is dead' start up. "Is anyone here a doctor?" She shouted, hoping someone better at treating wounds than her was here. Unfortunately, no one could hear her. No one except the Konoha ninja.

Team Seven stepped forward, with Kakashi being supported by Naruto after covering his sharingan again. "Is he okay?" Sakura asked, still using her hands to apply pressure to her own wound.

"Please, I know we were enemies not more than five minutes ago, but I beg of you, help me save Zabuza-sama." Haku pleaded on hands and knees.

Being the most mobile and hands-free ninja at the moment, Sasuke stepped forward, but instead of pulling out his personal first aid supplies, he pulled out a kunai and jabbed it into Zabuza's chest, cutting into his heart. Everyone gasped at seeing this, even Kakashi.

"Sasuke, why did you do that?" Naruto shouted.

"Now I can say I killed a rogue nin and with witnesses no one can ever say I didn't." The dark-haired avenger calmly answered, sounding like he did something to be proud of.

Haku saw red and reacted by punching Sasuke in the jaw so hard it reminded Naruto of the times Sakura hit him. In fact everyone could hear his jawbone breaking from the hit. But before she could do more, Kakashi hit a pressure point on her that made her pass out.

Naruto looked at Zabuza, who was still alive albeit barely. "You know Haku practically worships you. If you die what's he going to do now?"

Zabuza looked right at Naruto. "Kid, whatever happens, please give Haku a reason to live. I don't want to see her join me in the afterlife for a good long time. If she dies soon, I will come back and kill you."

Naruto looked nervous but nodded. "I swear Zabuza Momochi, that Haku will not die for a long time."

Zabuza smiled and closed his eyes. "Thanks kid."

Then he breathed no more.

Everyone looked at him and gave him a moment of silent respect. The moment ended quickly thanks to Naruto.

"Wait, did he say Haku was a girl?"