Here we are... a little earlier than planned. I'll still update again on Tuesday though.
Disclaimer: Naruto is Kishimoto's toy, I'm just playing with it.
I yawned tiredly, blinking my eyes slowly as I stared dumbly at the pages in front of me. After a hard day of training yesterday—them getting hurt and me healing them, with the occasional heal for Kakashi—we had all headed back to Tazuna's, exhausted, and collapsed in to the bed. When it became clear that I was the only one fit for guarding the next day, I was sent alone.
So there I was, with a pile of medical books beside me, as I sat on the bridge and attempted to read one. Though for whatever reason, no matter how long I stared at the page the words just simply wouldn't process in my mind. I gave a grunt of frustration before tucking the book away for later use and pulling out another one.
It was an incredibly long, immensely dull, boring day for me, guarding Tazuna. Then it just got flat out depressing when Tazuna took me shopping.
Let me tell you, it's one thing to see a town's pain and strife through anime, and another to up close and personal with it in real life.
Then there was the pervert. Now, I remember in episode 11 he wasn't actually a pervert, just a thief, but still. I felt a smidgeon pride for myself for completely kicking his ass. Then I felt a little bad about it.
Then I felt better when I realized his nose was bleeding.
You evil, evil little girl.
What? I'm not a Mary-Sue. Are you trying to tell me that if some fully grown man grabbed your ass and you kicked his ass, you wouldn't feel proud of yourself? And even some small spiteful part of you wouldn't feel a little pleased you had managed to kick his ass so thoroughly?
Then when that adorable little kid grabbed me and asked for food, I gave him food and candy before he headed off. He really was so adorable. I wanted to hug him, but I knew better. I decided I would hug Naruto the moment I got back instead.
When I returned, I was true to my decision. I rushed straight to the training ground, just in time, too. It was when Sasuke had asked Naruto for the tips I gave him and Naruto flat out rejected him.
That's when I decided to walk in. "Naruto!"
"Sakura-chan!" Naruto exclaimed, grinning hugely.
I opened my arms. "I need a hug. May I please have a hug?"
Naruto's face turned bright red and he grinned sheepishly. "S-S-Sure, S-Sakura-ch-chan."
He shot Sasuke a smug look before rushing over and giving me a hug. After a moment I pulled back and grinned. "Okay. That's better. Sorry, I had to hug something adorable after today…"
"What happened, Sakura-chan?" Naruto asked, concerned.
"I saw this really, really, cute kid who needed food…" I trailed off, explaining everything that had transpired. "Anyway, I couldn't hug the cutie, so I figured I'd hug you when I got back."
"So you immediately thought of Naruto when you wanted to hug a cute kid?" Sasuke asked, smirking.
"I also thought of you when I saw a duck's ass," I retorted. "Anyway, I overheard you asking for tips, Duck-Ass. If you want, I can give you some."
Sasuke stared at me blankly while Naruto glowered at him. "Ne, ne, Sakura-chan. There's no need to give that guy any tips. If he wanted some, he should have just asked you directly."
I shrugged. "Maybe, but we're all team mates now, right? And team mates help each other out, no matter what."
"Where did you get duck's ass and me?" Sasuke asked suddenly. Or well, maybe not so suddenly. Maybe that was the only thing he focused on when I snapped back at him. Maybe that's why he was staring so blankly, as if he couldn't figure it out for himself.
"Your hair," I said, gesturing. "It looks like a duck's ass. See? The bangs are the wings and the little tuft things at the end are the ruffled feathers of a ducks' ass. Or chicken's ass if you prefer."
Sasuke's eyes widened before narrowing into annoyed slits. Naruto gaped at me before howling with laughter, clutching his sides and falling to the ground.
I rolled my eyes at his manner. "So, do you guys want to come in and eat now? The dinner's ready and when you're done I can give you a little relief from fatigue before you guys train again."
"Dinner… would probably be best," Sasuke allowed.
Naruto was still laughing.
Sasuke scowled at him. "Oi, Dobe. Get up, we're going to dinner."
I shrugged. "Leave him. He'll stop eventually."
Sasuke smirked slightly. "True enough."
Sasuke and I then headed off to dinner. After a while, Naruto stopped laughing, glanced around and followed after us.
I'll spare you the squishy details of dinner and the sad back story for Inari and whatnot. After all that oh so fun stuff, I healed away Sasuke and Naruto's fatigue before focusing on Kakashi.
After easing Kakashi's fatigue, I decided it would probably be for the best if I crashed. So I did.
Once breakfast was finished, Kakashi and I headed off to the training ground to check on Naruto and Sasuke's progress. When we reached there, neither were in sight. Of course that was when Naruto decided to throw a kunai at our feet and thus present his location at being at the top of the tree…
He grinned. "See, Sakura-chan!"
He was standing on a lone branch, grinning from ear to ear. Suddenly he 'lost' his footing and began to fall back. Kakashi's eyes widened while I remained unimpressed.
Naruto caught himself just in time exclaiming how we had fallen for it. I just quirked an eyebrow at him. Then he lost his footing for real that time, only to be caught by Sasuke.
The two continued to train for the rest of the day while I was stuck on guard duty once again and devoted myself to more readings.
At the end of the day, dinner was given and more sob stories passed around. I just kind of zoned out. I've heard it one too many times during the actual episodes I could pretty much recite everyone's back story in this arc perfectly.
Kakashi went off to talk to Inari, Naruto and Sasuke passed out and I stayed up a little late reviewing everything I had learned.
I had gotten a bit father, just a bit. In all honestly, though, it didn''t feel like I improved at all. The only noticeable difference was my chakra doesn't flicker to green any more, it just goes straight to it from blue. It was becoming easier, I suppose.
Which, I guess, is kind of a good thing. Seeing how we'd finish the Zabuza arc tomorrow.
My assumption was correct when the four of us—Sasuke, Kakashi, Tazuna and me—stood on the bridge and stared at the unconscious bodies of the workers.
Not long after that, the fog drifted in and I scowled slightly. Slowly, we moved into position, each of us guarding each other's back.
"Sorry to keep you waiting, Kakashi," echoed the voice of Zabuza.
Once more, I felt my legs warm into that disgustingly familiar feeling of jelly. My stomach clenched and my head felt lighter. My hands shook ever so slightly as I gripped the kunai.
"And I see you're still dragging around a bunch of kids," Zabuza continued, his voice sounding eerily disturbed.
Fear overtook my body for a flash as I could have sworn I heard Zabuza right next to me. I knew I was just being paranoid, that my nerves were simply on edge from the rush of adrenaline that was pumping through me, and my overactive imagination.
"His hand still shakes, how pathetic."
Through the corner of my eye I saw Sasuke grip his kunai tighter, as if trying to prove Zabuza wrong. He probably was.
Silly Uchiha's and their egos.
At the sound of my Inner, I almost let out a cry of relief. How sad, really, that I was being comforted by the sound of my own thoughts.
But, as sad and pathetic as it was, it was the truth.
Just like before, my inner personality proved almost as a foothold to reality. It became like a deadweight, anchoring me down to the ground and keeping my head from overflowing with panic and fear. It brought back some sense into me.
Before I could muse anymore about my thoughts, Zabuza appeared in front of us, all around us.
Beside me, Sasuke smirked.
"Idiot," Sasuke said, still smirking at Zabuza. "I'm shaking with excitement."
"Go for it, Sasuke," Kakashi said from the other side of me.
All at once, Sasuke was moving around, zipping around like a fly on a sugar high. The only thing I could do was stare in mild shock as he sliced down each of the Zabuza water clones.
Then there, at the end of the bridge, stood Zabuza and Haku.
In a blink of an eye, Sasuke had launched forward at Haku. The two intercepted and met headlong into battle. Kakashi warned me to stay with Tazuna.
I jumped back and stood in front of Tazuna, pulling out a kunai and twirling it. I knew I wouldn't be of use like this—not yet. At the moment the only thing I had going for me was my medical training and that won't be of any use to anyone in the heat of battle.
Not yet anyway.
It's best if we stay out of the way now and give a hand when needed. As much as I hate to admit it… but our—sorry my—perfect self would only get in the way if we interfered now.
Perfect? Narcissist, but, you're right… and I really, really hate to admit it too. I'm really going have to find some way to hold my focus in battle.
Sasuke had just finished kicking Haku's butt for the moment.
"Looks like my speed's better," Sasuke said, a mocking tone in his voice.
"You can't make fun of our team just because we have children," Kakashi said from beside me. "Sasuke is the village of Konoha's top rookie. Sakura is the village's shrewdest child. And the other one likes to show off and is the number one in surprising people. He's the knucklehead of Konoha."
I was grinning ear to ear from Kakashi's praise.
Zabuza let out a dry chuckle. Before he could say anything else though—to me at least—I zoned out. Up next was Haku's mirror justu. Kakashi leapt into battle to attempt to save Sasuke, but was intercepted by Zabuza.
When the time came for the kunai to land at my feet, I followed the plot line. Instead of calling out Sasuke's name though, I merely spared Tazuna a glance, smirking. Tazuna nodded his head before I sprinted forward, grabbing the kunai in the process. I then jumped in the air, throwing it. Just like in episode 13, Haku reached out and grabbed it.
Giving Naruto the chance to knock him out of the mirrors, thus making his grand appearance.
He gave his cheerful speech on defeating everyone and I grinned. Kakashi scolded him and I still grinned. My grin finally dropped though when the battle started and I had to get back to being serious.
Haku went back in his mirrors and Kakashi and Zabuza had a stand-off. You know, usual stuff.
I watched with narrowed eyes, my eyes darting around as I tried to follow the needles. After the first round, Naruto jumped in the fray as well. Not without arguing with Sasuke first, of course.
I wanted to laugh at the manner, but restrained myself. Sasuke used his fireball, Haku rebutted with more needles. Naruto used his shadow clone justu, Haku jumped from mirror to mirror. Kakashi realized it was a kekkai genkai and went in to explaining what a kekkai genkai was.
Naruto got angry. Haku had a flash back then went into a monologue.
Once more I watched it all with a slightly apathetic face.
How can you watch this so apathetically and make such nonchalant comments?
Many reasons. Reason one, I know how this will end. What I do will not change the outcome of this battle. If I interfered too much anyway, Naruto and Sasuke wouldn't be able to grow on their own and that will kind of eff up the storyline.
Reason two, I'm still not that awesome in combat. Yes, I'm sure I'll get better with practice, but I'm not going to kid myself and say I could take on Haku or Zabuza at my level.
Reason three, I'm a bitch.
Reason four, none of this is directly effecting me. I'll make my move when the time is right, though I must confess I'm slightly impatient for my move to be made.
After Haku finished his monologue I cheered for Sasuke and Naruto by shouting out: DUCK-ASS! ADORABLE FLUFFY BLONDE\! KICK HAKU'S ASS!
Kakashi scolded me, telling me the situation was useless and thus finally Zabuza and Kakashi started their battle.
I ran back to Tazuna and watched the battle unfold.
I think we all knew how the battle went for both ends. Kakashi and Zabuza engaged in taijustu for the first part, while Naruto made multiple clones and brought Haku out which Sasuke then fireball'd. Zabuza faded into the fog to disappear from view for a while. Sasuke singed the bottom of Haku's pants.
Haku was drawn out again, this time he landed a needle in Sasuke's shoulder and kicked Naruto. Then he came out again, launching more and more needles into both Sasuke and Naruto. Recognizing where this was going, I twirled my kunai and tensed.
Zabuza appeared from behind Tazuna and this time I was ready.
Kakashi flickered to intercept Zabuza's blade before Zabuza could harm Tazuna, but I was way ahead of him. I jerked Tazuna behind me and to the left then the moment Kakashi was in front of me, I kicked his knees in and ducked.
Zabuza's blade swung right above us before Kakashi was right back up on his feet. I jumped back up on my feet and threw a kunai at Zabuza. He twisted his head to dodge it with ease, his eyes narrowed as he looked at me then Kakashi.
"While your Sharingan is supposedly sharp as ever, your senses in predicting your enemies movements has numbed, Kakashi," Zabuza growled. "Needing a mere child to assist you, how pathetic. Had it not been for her, you would have been dead."
Not necessary true, but nevertheless…
Kakashi's' eyes crinkled and I knew he was giving Zabuza his epically amazing death glare of super awesome doom.
"Nevertheless, I haven't had a battle this intense in quite some time, Kakashi. Please do entertain me more," Zabuza sneered. "Haku will beat those kids soon, so there's no need to worry about them. Cry and apologize to them about your lack of power in the other world."
He let out a dry chuckle before fading back into the mist.
"Kakashi-sensei, are you alright?" I asked, my eyes scanning around the mist for any signs of Zabuza.
"Yes, Sakura," Kakashi answered, his own eyes narrowed in concentration as he looked around the mist for Zabuza. "Good reaction time."
I beamed at his praise.
"Naruto and Duck-Ass better hurry up and kick Haku's ass," I muttered as my eyes strayed over to their fight.
"Mm. After all…." then began Kakashi's speech on how great Naruto and Sasuke were and I once again zoned out.
Damn, I never really realized how much dialogue is put in each episode.
Certainly a lot.
The authoress is getting annoyed at how much she's having to type.
Nothing you're tiny little brain could wrap around.
Through the fog, I could scarcely make out Naruto's lying form and Sasuke's hunched over one.
Ah! Finally, my time to shine! Kind of.
"Tazuna," I said, "come with me."
I grabbed Tazuna's hand and slowly began to walk towards the mirrors, my eyes darted about to make sure Zabuza didn't come any closer. I knew he wouldn't—too busy with Kakashi, but I couldn't be too sure.
I was getting closer and closer, just as Sasuke fell back and Naruto darted forward to catch him. I stayed still, watching with morbid curiosity as Naruto hugged Sasuke closer and Haku slowly stood up.
When Naruto set Sasuke's body down, an ominous steam of chakra flowed around him. A feeling of dread instinctively clenched in my stomach as I watched the steam slowly turn into a swirl of red chakra.
Tazuna didn't even give Naruto a second glance, too focused in on Kakashi and Zabuza's battle and the potential of anything lurching out from the fog. Not that I was complaining, I didn't feel like explaining anything to him.
Naruto grabbed Haku and released a sharp amount of unpleasant chakra on Haku. The mirrors shattered and I braced myself in front of Tazuna. Haku was pushed away with Naruto right behind him and that's when I rushed towards Sasuke.
Finally, I could put my medical training to use. Now I didn't feel completely useless.
"Tazuna, stayed beside me," I ordered. Tazuna's eyes widened, but did as he was told.
My eyes scanned over Sasuke's body, I frowned. I grabbed the first needle—lodged in Sasuke's shoulder and pulled it out slowly. Blood slowly pulled out behind it, but I placed my hand over it, pressing down.
My brow creased and I forced the warmth of my chakra towards my hand. It flickered a blue before fading into a pale green. I then began to picture melding the tissue and muscles back together. I was lucky I hadn't reached any broken bones yet—if he had any that was.
Ever so slowly, his first injury began to repair under my hand. Muscles folded back to each other, skin melded together. When his shoulder was finished I moved on to his other shoulder. I repeated the process.
It was a painstakingly long process. I wasn't a super awesome medical-nin so I had to go slowly and carefully, making sure I had everything knitted up correctly. Thankfully—and I did mean thankfully—he had no broken bones. A bruised shoulder and ribs, but nothing fractured. Thank God, or Kami, or Jashin or whoever ran this world.
Thank Pein if you must.
His stomach was probably the hardest to heal though, simply because his stomach acids kept wanting to burn through the raw tissue I created for it. After a couple more tries, I finally got the hang of it. When his stomach was all closed up and his tissues repaired, I moved on to his legs.
Sasuke had still not awoken after I finished the majority of his injuries, which didn't surprise me. He was suffering from blood loss along with fatigue, and I was kinda sure he was pretty much out of it from adrenaline rush.
Finishing up another injury on his left calf, I glanced up. My breath was starting to come out in short shallow gasps; I was reaching my chakra controlling limit. Much to my surprise it appeared Haku was finishing up his back story. It would seem I had gotten very absorbed in my healing. I glanced back down at Sasuke and sighed. My hands moved on to his next injury…
The sound of sharp, crackling electricity brought me back from my trance of rhythmic healing. I had just finished closing the last wound to look up and see Haku sacrificing himself for Zabuza. My eyes widened briefly, both at how tense the atmosphere had become and at how I had become so absorbed in my healing I missed the rest of the major fight scene.
Sasuke remained unconscious as the summoned dogs poofed away. The Chidori faded and Haku weakly gripped Kakashi's hand. Zabuza lifted his sword in the air, preparing to swing it down upon them. Kakashi grabbed Haku, kicking up into the air and flipping away from the attack.
Naruto rushed forward, but Kakashi dismissed him with a few sharp words, stating it was his own battle.
Kakashi and Zabuza rushed forward, Kakashi kicking some major ass until, finally, he was able to knock out Zabuza's sword and immobilized his arms.
It was at that moment that that Gato decided to make himself known.
"Looks like you got beaten pretty badly. I'm disappointed Zabuza," he sneered, right behind him stood a mob of nasty-looking men.
I scowled at the cliché-ness of it all.
"Gato… Why are you here?" Zabuza growled out. "And what's with those subordinates?"
Gato's sneer widened. "We had a change of plans. I'm sorry, Zabuza, but you're going to die here."
Zabuza's eyes widened briefly before narrowing into furious slits. "What?"
"If I rent official shinobi, it would cost a lot of money. So I rented an missing-nin, like you," Gato explained, his voice carrying out across the bridge. "If you shinobi had killed each other, it would have saved me the trouble and money. And you call yourself the Demon of the Mist? You're just a cute little demon to me."
Behind Gato, the group of men scoffed.
Zabuza muttered something to Kakashi, too muffled for me to hear clearly, but I could take a good guess. Gato stepped forward, walking to Haku's body. His sneer took on a more nasty side to it as he stared down at it. "Oh yes, I owe this guy a favor… for gripping my hand until it broke."
He kicked Haku's body.
Naruto erupted with rage, screeching and rushing forward. Kakashi grabbed him just in time, restraining him. My eyes narrowed into furious slits, as well.
Zabuza and Naruto exchanged a few words, Zabuza's words too muffled from the distance for me to clearly pick out, but I knew where it was going. I glanced down at Sasuke's unconscious body and finally moved my hand to his forehead to begin healing away his fatigue.
Before I began though, I peeked up through my bangs to see Zabuza rush forward, kunai in his mouth and slice through the mob. I had to say, it was just as bad-ass in real life as it was on the episode. Though from my angle, I couldn't see him clearly knock off Gato even though I heard the terrified scream of the pathetic man as he fell backwards into the water.
I watched through wide eyes as Zabuza stumbled forward towards Haku's body before he fell to the cold ground, unmoving.
I glanced away, my chest oddly tight. I swallowed once before pushing my chakra through my body and to my hand. It glowed blue before it faded to a pale green. My hand shook slightly, I knew this would be my last heal for a while.
Thankfully, it didn't take much to push back his fatigue enough to give him consciousness. The moment his eyes fluttered open, I retracted my hand and stopped my chakra flow. He let out a soft groan as he glanced up at me tiredly.
"Sakura?" he muttered. "Where the hell…? Where's Naruto? What happened…?"
"Welcome back to the living, Duck-Ass," I said, smiling. He gave me a mock glare, too tired to put any real energy in it as he slowly sat up.
"Try not to move too quickly," I said, placing my hands firmly on his shoulder.
He dismissed me with a wave of his hand, glancing down at his body. "How…?"
"I believe a 'thank you, Sakura', would do just nice," I said, smirking.
His eyes widened as he looked up at me. "You… saved my life."
I snorted. "I don't know what you're talking about. I just gave you a hand. You would have been fine."
"No, I wouldn't have," Sasuke denied, looking down at his body, twisting it this way and that. He winced when he twisted the wrong way.
"Trust me. You would have," I assured him.
He shook his head, looking down at his body still. "You actually healed me."
"Yes, Duck-Ass. That's what I do," I said dryly.
He raised an eyebrow. "But, still… I didn't think you'd actually be able to…"
I placed a hand over my chest in mock hurt. "Oh, you wound me so…"
A large shout brought both Sasuke's and my own gaze towards the mob as they charged forward. But, before they got too close, an arrow shot down from the sky and landed before them.
I think you know the rest.
The next day the four of us headed back to the village after bidding farewell to everyone. And thus, at long last, concluded the Zabuza arc.
This has made me sad. I like Haku and Zabuza, but they must die in order for Naruto and Duck-I mean, Sasuke, to undergo character development. The only way for them to have stayed alive is if Sakura somehow magically procured a large amount of battle experience and power overnight and overwhelmed them into submission. Or she snuck off and murdered Gato, but once again, she isn't quite skilled enough to slip past her ex-ANBU mentor. Pity...
R.I.P. Zabuza & Haku
Reviews are love.
Starting the Exams next chapter. Goodie.