That battle was bloody. There would be no other way to describe it. Haku felt terrible for wounding the young Uchiha, but he had to. He had to keep them distracted for Zabuza-san. He made sure to avoid spots on the younger boys body that would cause any real harm. He felt his chest swell with pride as he watched the raven-haired boy protect Naruto from his senbon. He could tell he cared for the blonde. It made him smile softly behind his mask. And it was also painfully obvious how much Naruto appreciated his friend doing that for him. It sent a painful earthquake through Haku's heart. He wished Zabuza-san appreciated him. It seemed as though everything he did for the older man, he did in vain. Slowly, he melted back into one of his ice mirrors.
He had no choice. It was live for Zabuza-san, or not live at all. That was his reality, as sad as it may seem.
"It is so good to see you protect your teammate, Uchiha-sama. But you hold a vast amount of hate in your heart. That will be your ultimate downfall." Haku's silken voice pierced the silence that hung over the younger boys. They were trying to formulate an escape…there would be none. Haku knew for certain that his technique was impenetrable. Once you were in, there was no getting out unless Haku allowed it. Zabuza-san made sure of it.
"God damn it Haku!" Came Zabuza's angry voice. He grabbed the boy by his collar, pulling him up to eye level. Haku knew enough not to meet his eyes. If he did, the older man would see it as an act of defiance…and those had consequences. Haku had scars on his back to prove it.
"I-I'm sorry, Zabuza-san. You are just…s-so fast!" He explained nervously, keeping his expressive chocolate eyes trained on the ground. Zabuza shook him roughly.
"There are ninja's out there who are faster than me, you ungrateful little brat!" He hissed. Haku squeezed his eyes shut and shook his head violently.
"No! I'm very grateful!" He pleaded, wrapping his small hands around Zabuza's wrist. Zabuza scoffed at this, dropping the boy unceremoniously into the dirt.
"What use do I have for a broken fuckin' tool. I should just leave you here to die!"
"No! No please! Zabuza-san!"
It always happened in that way. Zabuza-san would insult him, and then Haku would be left to beg and plead to be able to stay, just to endure more abuse. More mental and emotional trauma. And yet he desired to stay. He needed to feel wanted.
He turned his gaze back to the young boys. Naruto was looking up at him, a peculiar look shining in his blue eyes. It almost looked like…pity.
"Haku…Sis…you don't need to do this! You don't have to stay with him anymore. He doesn't respect you!" The blonde boy was the one pleading now. Haku stayed calm under his mask. He kept very still inside his mirror.
"I don't seek Zabuza-san's respect. I don't expect him to respect me. I just want to serve him, the way a proper tool should. I'm only that. A tool. And Naruto-san…why do you still call me Sis? You know that I'm a boy." Haku's voice was smooth and calm. A small smile crept across the younger boys face.
"Because…we made a bond that day in the woods. You said…that when a person has someone to protect, that makes them strong. Zabuza has no one to protect, so he must be weak. He doesn't want to protect you. He wouldn't care if you died. I would! And Sasuke would too! Wouldn't you Sasuke?" Naruto turned to his partner, who begrudgingly nodded his head, wincing his pain at the senbon that were littered across his body.
"Yeah…I know you're not hitting any major muscles on purpose. I know what it's like to feel useless…Sis. I've felt useless every day of my life since I was eight years old. I know what it can do to a person. But you can't lose yourself." Sasuke was surprisingly insightful. Haku had pegged him for the arrogant type. It seemed as though he would do anything for Naruto. Haku smiled again, under his mask.
"But Zabuza-san has given me a reason. I know that as long as I am useful to him, he will keep my by his side forever." He was so sure of it. He raised his arm again, ready to throw more senbon at the boys. He needed them to be quiet now…they weren't allowed to speak of Zabuza-san this way. Just as he was about to launch them, he caught Zabuza-san's voice on the wind. He sounded very angry.
"I don't give a fuck what you think about it, Hatake. He's mine to do with as I please. He thinks he's some kind of perfect fuckin' weapon to me. He's just a convenience for me. The more people he kills, the less I have to deal with. I love watching his crack after each of his kills…I love watching his sanity slip away. Soon he'll be completely dead inside. Not that it matters. He does whatever I tell him to anyway. It's like having an obedient dog. At least he has the kekkei genkai. That's the only reason I picked him up. If he did have it, I probably would have just broken his knees that night and laughed as though stray dogs made a meal of him. He's fucking useless if he can't kill."
Haku couldn't breathe. One of his mirrors cracked lengthwise, and he felt his heart do the same. Were those words true? Would Zabuza-san really have done that to him?
"See? See, Sis? He doesn't care about you at all! We would never think of doing something horrible like that to you! You have to believe us! Just stop this, and come with us!" Naruto pleaded, cautiously approaching the mirror that Haku was hiding in.
"No. I will never go with you. Zabuza-san needs me!" He sounded pathetic, but he didn't want to hear those words…especially because he knew how true they really were. It finally sunk in, in that moment, just how useless he was. But that wasn't Zabuza-san's fault. He was only speaking the truth. Haku had to prove himself to Zabuza. He needed to prove that he was still a useful tool! That he would always be a useful tool! And he knew exactly how he would do it.
Haku would kill that copy-cat ninja! He would kill him, and prove to Zabuza-san that he was a worthy tool! That would be the answer to all of this anguish. If he could only prove his worth to his Master, he wouldn't need to worry about being left all alone again. He would still have a purpose. With one last look at Naruto and his partner, Haku squeezed his eyes shut tight.
"I'm sorry for what I am about to do, Naruto-kun. I know how much you love your Sensei. But I must do this. To ensure my future. Forgive me." He said darkly to the younger boys, as he released his Ice Mirror jutsu. With his incredible speed, he shot across the bridge to where the older men stood. Within seconds, he was on top of Kakashi, a senbon pressed against the silver-haired man's throat. The porcelain mask had fallen from his face, and the frightened, disgusted expression that he had been trying to hide behind it was out in the open for Kakashi to see. Haku's deep brown eyes were wild with fear. He didn't want to kill Kakashi. Haku hated killing! But he had to…he had to kill him. He needed to be of worth to Zabuza-san.
"I'm so sorry, Hatake-san. I don't want to d-do this." Came the young man's tortured voice. Kakashi's eyes, which were now both exposed, were filled with a quiet sympathy.
"Then don't. You don't have to do these things, Haku. He doesn't define you. He's not the one who gives you worth." The older man reached up slowly, wrapping his hand around Haku's slender wrist.
"Don't fuckin' listen to him, Brat. I'm the one who plucked you of the street. If it wasn't for me, you'd be fucking dead by now!" Zabuza hollered from a few feet away. He took Haku's attack as on opportunity to retreat and rest. He was under the impression, though, that Haku had finished the blonde kid and his partner off. But he was wrong. Sasuke and Naruto were approaching slowling from behind, both readying kunai in their hands.
"Haku." Kakashi's voice was so much kinder compared to Zabuza's. "Please don't listen to him. I'm not only saying this because I fear for my life, Haku. I want you to realize…you have to leave him. You can't go on living like this, hanging off of his every word. What if something happens to you? What if you get sick? He won't take care of you…he won't even let you have a chance to take care of yourself! He would just throw you aside. You don't have to live with that. You have a place with us…with Konoha. Come back with us."
For a few long moments, Haku stared down at Kakashi. He still had that frenzied look in his eyes. The copy ninja thought maybe…just maybe the young man was considering his offer. That was, until, he whispered softly.
"Thank you for your kind offer, Hatake-san. But if I am of no use to Zabuza-san…I do not deserve my life."
But before he could strike, jamming his senbon deep into Kakashi's jugular, there was an inhuman scream that pierced the fog that covered the bridge. The pitch was deep, but strangled. The wet sound of gurgling followed it, and the loud clambering of metal on cement.
Sasuke and Naruto had struck first, both of them slitting Zabuza Momochi's throat on either side. He fell to the ground, his sword falling just a few inches from his body. Both boys looked very pleased with themselves as the wiped their knives off on Naruto's pant leg. He was already covered in blood to begin with.
Haku knew that scream anywhere. He's heard it many times before, whenever he was dressing a particularly nasty wound on his Master.
"No!" It came out a tangled sob, and Haku dropped his senbon and whipped around so quick, neither Kakashi of the boys saw it happen. In the blink of an eye, Haku was laying over the fallen ninja, sobbing deeply at the loss of his Master.
"H-How could you!" He screamed so loud it caused Sasuke to cringe. "NO I HAVE NO PURPOSE! HE WAS THE ONLY PERSON IN THIS SICK, DISGUSTING WORLD WHO CARED ABOUT ME! WITHOUT HIM, I HAVE NOTHING! I AM WORTH NOTHING!"
Naruto dropped to his knees, pulling Haku off of Zabuza's body and into his arms. He motioned for Kakashi to dispose of the body, as he pulled the frantic and sobbing Haku off to the side of the bridge. Said boy, being too weak now to fight back, simply collapsed against the blonde boys chest.
"Haku…Sis…Come on. He didn't care about you! You heard it with your own ears. He was just using you! As soon as you couldn't help him anymore, he was going to leave you to die. He only wanted you for your ability. He didn't care about you at all! But I do! And Konoha will too! Come back with us!" He pulled away and Haku straightened up, forcing Naruto to look up at him. The blonde did so with a huge smile on his face. "You can live with me…I've been on my own since I was five! With no Mom, and no Big Sister to take care of me!"
Haku sniffled, looking down at Naruto with his big, shining brown eyes. "You've never had a mother?" He whispered, disbelieving. "You p-poor thing!"
"My clan was…massacred when I was eight…I've been on my own since then, too. I…miss having a mother." Sasuke had walked up from behind Haku, and was now kneeling next to Naruto. He had a soft look on his otherwise stoic face. "We could use someone to take care of us…"
Naruto nodded, reaching out to grab one of Haku's hands. Sasuke followed suit, taking Haku's other hand in his.
"What do you say, Haku? Will you come back with us? Will you be our big sister?" Naruto asked, looking up at the older boy with an innocent, pleading look on his face. Sasuke was glaring off to the side, a frustrated blush dusting his cheeks. He hated asking for anything.
Haku was frozen. These boys…they needed him? But Zabuza…all he had ever been was a tool. A young boy forced to be a Shinobi, forced to kill so many people in his short fifteen years, that he had lost count. Did he know how to care for people? He'd cared for Zabuza all of his life, it seemed. But he was different. He never…he never really did appreciated anything Haku did. He always found something to complain about. Nothing Haku did was ever good enough for the mist demon. No matter how hard he tried, he was never good enough.
But these boys…they would appreciate it. They needed someone in their lives to guide them…to cook for them, to be a soft place for them to land. To make them feel safe at night, to be there when they woke up. They needed him to be that smiling face, that encouraging voice. They needed him.
He was wanted. He had…a purpose.
"Y-Yes." It came out as a soft whisper, but both boys heard it. Naruto lunged forward, embracing Haku tightly around his neck. Sasuke leaned in, much slower than the blonde, but he also wrapped his arms around Haku.
Haku smiled as that warm, pleasant feeling he'd thought he'd lost forever seeped back into his chest.