Hey everyone, I hope you all have enjoyed the holiday season. It's been a long couple of weeks, and there has been a lot going on. I am actually currently at risk of Academic Suspension which kind of sucks, but unfortunately that's just what I'm dealing with right now. I wanted to have this chapter out a while ago, but with the Ice Storm knocking out the power for a full week in December and then random power outages ever since I haven't really found as much time to write as I would like. I wanted to take a moment to thank you all for reading my story and being patient with the delays in it.
I'd also like to once again thank everyone who's been leaving me reviews. I think I got back to most people who left them, if not I'm sorry but I'll try and respond next time. Getting back on topic though I am sure many of you will be pleased (I know I am) that this chapter marks the conclusion of the Land of Waves arc. This whole arc has been tiresome, and I can now say I fully understand why a whole lot of authors don't bother with it. It's been done so many times in so many different ways that it's really challenging to try and come up with something original for it. That being said I'm rather pleased with how I wrapped it up, I haven't ever read this sort of thing happening in any of the stories I've read so hopefully it'll be something new to all of you as well.
Now as you all know with the Land of Waves arc ended the Chūnin Exams will soon begin. I am really excited by this fact since I've been planning different parts for a long while now. I won't say much about it because that would spoil the surprise, but I hope you will enjoy reading it as much as I have enjoyed coming up with all of it. Now as always I hope you enjoy the chapter and please leave a review and let me know what you think.
Also as a final warning I felt that I should let you know that there is a mention of suicide in this chapter. I am trying to spoil anything or give away any hints, because just with that it doesn't actually give anything away. I just wanted to inform everyone because I know it is a sensitive topic and I felt you should all be forewarned.
So now without any further ado, I present to you Chapter 18.
"Naruto" - Person/Summon Speaking
"Naruto"- Person Thinking
"Naruto" - Jutsu
"Naruto" - Boss Summon/Demon Speaking
"Naruto"- Boss Summon/Demon Thinking/Inner Sakura
Chapter 18 – When the Tide Settles
Haku appeared not a metre in front of Kakashi just as the man launched himself forward to impale Zabuza. Kakashi was shocked to see the boy appear before him; he couldn't avoid the boy now and if that wasn't bad enough, the boy taking the blow might give Zabuza enough time to regain control of his arms. However what happened next was something that Kakashi had never expected or even dared to fear could happen. A look of confusion appeared for a split second on the boy's face before he disappeared and was replaced by Naruto.
The next thing Kakashi knew his arm drove its way through his student. Kakashi felt his whole world crash down around him as he met his student's eyes. He didn't even know how to react to the look of humorous satisfaction in the boys eyes. It was akin to the look he would get whenever he managed to pull off some huge prank. Kakashi heard Naruto let out a strangled sounding gasp as his arm torn out of Naruto's back.
Haku just stared in shock as Naruto's sensei's arm burst through Naruto's back. It was supposed to be him. He was the one who had lost his purpose in life by failing Zabuza. He was supposed to have died so that Zabuza could live, and now here he was watching Naruto die for him. "W-why Naruto? You had a dream… I-I…" Haku could only gape at the image before him. He could see Naruto beginning to convulse with pain. He just couldn't understand why Naruto would give up his life to save him.
Naruto let out a cough, spitting up some blood with it as he stared at his sensei. He felt guilty looking into his sensei's eyes; he had not wanted to cause Kakashi pain. He knew how much his sensei valued his comrades; he had seen the man standing before the memorial stone in the mornings when he was supposed to be meeting up with them. Naruto wanted to say something to let Kakashi know it would all be ok. He just hoped the fox would be able to fix this. He couldn't remember the Kyūbi ever healing him this much before.
Zabuza watched everything that happened with shock and then satisfaction, he didn't know how, but somehow it seemed like he was coming out on top. The brat from the last fight decided to sacrifice himself to save Haku for some reason and to top it off he was regaining feeling in his arm and took Kakashi's momentary distraction as a perfect opportunity to grab for his sword. Lifting the blade and testing its weight in his still mildly numb arm he walked towards Kakashi who appeared to be in shock. Kakashi had finally gotten around to pulling his arm out of his students chest and was now just staring blankly at the boy.
"Well Kakashi, it was fun." Zabuza chuckled as he swung his blade at the defeated looking man. And then all at once his confidence disappeared as he felt pain shooting through his entire being, he barely even recognized the upset voice screaming 'No'.
Haku watched Naruto's sensei slowly place the boy on the ground; the man seemed to have forgotten everything that was happening around them. He did however see Zabuza smirk and pick up his blade. For a moment Haku felt confused, then realizing exactly what his master was doing Haku panicked. Naruto had just given his life to save him. Not fully realizing what he was doing Haku's arm shot out as he screamed, "NO!"
Huge spires of ice shot from the water covered ground beside Zabuza and speared him through his arm causing him to scream out in both pain and shock. Unable to heft the blade with his injuries it fell to the ground at his side. Haku however couldn't believe what he had just done. It had been the unthinkable. He had just attacked his precious person, and what was worse was that he knew he had done the right thing.
-Inside Naruto's Mindscape-
Naruto opened his eyes to see a dark ceiling far above him. All too soon he realized he was lying in water, and as soon as his mind recognized the water he became aware of a terrible pain running straight through his body. Struggling to lift himself to his knees Naruto's memory flashed before him, Haku had put himself between Kakashi's attack and Zabuza, and then he being the idiot he was decided he couldn't let Haku die then replaced Haku with himself taking Kakashi's attack. Thankfully he had managed to divert Kakashi's strike to it went through his shoulder, but with how difficult his breathing felt he would guess it still managed to rupture one of his lungs.
"YOU STUPID SACK OF FLESH, YOU ALMOST GOT US KILLED!"
Finally fully realizing where he was Naruto looked up and saw the Kyūbi's red slitted eyes glaring hatefully at him from behind the bars of his seal.
"IF I EVER GET OUT OF HERE I'LL KILL YOU MEATSACK!"
Naruto shivered at the voice of the fox, he had only met the beast once but he had never forgotten what he had seen, nor had he forgotten what it had told him. Naruto just stared at the demon with his jaw clenched trying his best to ignore the horrible pain that was threatening to engulf him. "Shut up Furball!"
Hearing Naruto yell the Fox glared down at him, hatred and rage pulsing. "HOW DARE YOU SPEAK TO ME LIKE THAT FLESHBAG, WITHOUT ME YOU WOULD BE DEAD! WITHOUT ME YOU WOULD HAVE DIED LONG AGO!"
"Without you I never would have been in the same danger I was in fox!" Instead of becoming more upset like Naruto had expected the fox would a rather sinister grin appeared on the foxes face.
"So you finally are growing a spine fleshbag…" Hearing this Naruto was becoming more unsettled, "Perhaps there will be hope for you yet… I will not kill you this time. However if you ever risk our lives like that again, I WILL DEVOUR EVERY PERSON YOU HAVE EVER LAID EYES ON AND RAISE YOUR PUNY VILLAGE TO THE GROUND!" Naruto bristled at the threat; he wouldn't allow the fox to ever hurt his precious people or his home.
Naruto held himself still as he felt the fox's chakra rush towards him and watched with morbid fascination as the gaping hole in his shoulder slowly healed shut. Taking a moment to stand Naruto turned his back on the bars that held the fox back, "Thanks Furball, but don't plan on getting out of here that easily…"
The Kyūbi slowly began to laugh as Naruto exited the chamber and then his mindscape, "You have no idea fleshbag…"
-Outside Naruto's Mindscape with Kakashi and Zabuza-
Kakashi was standing staring coldly at the bleeding figure of Momochi Zabuza; the man had finally managed to extract his arm from the spires of ice, and now had blood freely pouring down right side of his body. Kakashi had heard the fake hunter-nin shout out and the ice appear. Looking over at the boy he appeared to have fallen unconscious, whether due to exhaustion or shock Kakashi didn't know but he had been given the time he needed to get Naruto's body away from Zabuza. Kakashi was now standing warily next to Tazuna, looking down on the bodies of his students. He wanted to examine them, to give him some reason to hope he hadn't completely failed his promise to keep his students safe, but right now Zabuza was still a threat, and Gatō had still not arrived.
Kakashi nearly jumped when he felt the Kyūbi's chakra surge again, looking franticly at his blonde and red haired student he saw a faint red coat of chakra form around the boy. Kakashi panicked fearing the worst seeing the red chakra surround his pupil until he noticed the red chakra was far more dense around the hole in his students shoulder, and he watched in shock as the hole slowly began to knit itself back together.
Zabuza stood away from them panting heavily. His arm was useless, without a skilled medical shinobi or a surgeon he would never be able to use it again. That was if he didn't bleed out first. He was nearly out of chakra, and his fight with Kakashi had already left him injured. He stared at Haku's unconscious body feeling both rage and oddly, pride. He had always said that Haku was too soft, and here he was dying not entirely indirectly at his own apprentice's hand. The irony of the situation didn't escape him. However he was quickly distracted by an all too familiar voice calling out from behind him.
"So much for the Demon of the Mist." Turning his head he began to seethe at the sight of Gatō and his small army of thugs. "Well at least you've made it easier for me Zabuza… you all look worn out, so it'll be all the easier to have you all killed and then crush this stupid little town." Zabuza glared at the man and slowly turned fully to face him.
Gatō had been around many terrifying figures in his life, after all he had made the vast majority of his wealth as a criminal, but seeing the rage in Zabuza's eyes and his blood coated form he felt terrified. "What are you talking about Gatō?"
Zabuza glared at the little man waiting for a response when the remarkably short man let out a nervous laugh that quickly gained confidence. "All you missing-nin types are the same. You're all idiots. Did you think I'd actually pay you? It's so much easier to have you killed after you finish your job, that way I can send your body back home and claim the bounty for myself. After all Zabuza I have a rule about not paying people I don't have too."
Zabuza's working fist clenched in rage, he had been played and never even suspected it. Sure he knew what Gatō was suggesting doing wasn't out of the ordinary, it was actually how nearly 30% of missing-nin were caught, but he had never expected it to happen to him. After all he had spent years building up his notorious reputation to dissuade people from doing exactly what Gatō had suggested.
Gatō stood smirking at Zabuza when he noticed the man's apprentice lying on the ground seemingly dead, feeling the need to pay the brat back for the damage done to his arm he strolled up to the unconscious boy and kicked him in the face, muttering about it being repayment for his broken arm. Zabuza however seeing this grit his teeth. Why should he care about what was happening to his tool, after all the boy had attacked him. He deserved whatever he got. He was just a broken to- Hearing a gasp that sounded a lot like relief Zabuza quickly turned his head as well as felt the foreboding chakra from earlier. Seeing Kakashi look down with a highly relieved look on his face Zabuza could only assume that the brat who had attacked him earlier was somehow healing himself.
Looking back towards Gatō though he couldn't resist but stare at his apprentice, remembering against his will all the time he had put into the boy, training him to be strong, training him to survive. He didn't know what caused it exactly but something in him snapped seeing Gatō move the boy's face with his foot. "Keep your hands off him."
Looking up in surprise Gatō saw Zabuza look up at him with murder in his eyes. Seeing the danger for what it was he inadvertently took a few steps back, into what he thought was the safety of his armed guards. It was also conveniently then that he felt the Kyūbi's chakra being released from Naruto. The short man nearly leapt backwards, pushing his way through his guards trying to make his way back to the boat he had docked near the bridge.
Zabuza looked back at Kakashi briefly, "Well it seems as if our business has been concluded… Make sure Haku survives…" Kakashi nodded shortly seeing that the man was obviously on his last legs. It was actually surprising that Zabuza hadn't passed out from blood loss yet. The silver haired jōnin watched as Zabuza with his non-dominant arm retrieved a kunai and charged at the thugs, his eyes solely focused on Gatō.
Kakashi turned his eyes away from the carnage to quickly give Sasuke and Sakura a once over, hoping against all odds. Checking their pulses he waited for several seconds tuning out the screams caused by Zabuza's rampage. Suddenly he felt a soft pulse from both of them. Thanking Kami Kakashi allowed himself to let out a the breath he had been holding in, "It would all be alright, they all made it… and he was going to have to have a very, very serious talk with Naruto about this."
Zabuza was tearing through the group of thugs; even with only one arm they didn't stand a chance against him. He dodged, parried, stabbed and slashed at any of the fools who tried to get in his way. Gatō unfortunately wasn't moving fast enough to escape the Demon of the Mist. He was yelling for mercy, offering inordinate sums of money to whoever cut Zabuza down, he even plead to the Konoha shinobi to protect him. Needless to say it didn't do him any good. In a manner of moments Gatō burst through the large clump of thugs, only to turn and see a rather large amount of blood shoot up into the air and the two men he had just pushed his way through fall to the ground dead.
If Gatō had found Zabuza intimidating earlier it was nothing compared to what he saw now. The man was standing tall, apparently unconscious of the fact that there were more than half a dozen blades that had managed to get themselves lodged in his back. The man was panting slightly, and as obvious as it was that he was near death it was equally obvious that he wasn't quite there yet. Zabuza's eyes spelt murder, his whole appearance did. From head to toe he was covered in blood, sometime in his mad charge through the thugs the bandages wrapped over the lower half of his face had come undone and now Gatō saw a rather twisted grin make its way to the man's face. Seeing the pointed teeth work them self into a sinister smile Gatō found himself unable to retain control of his bowels.
Zabuza slowly strode towards him; the thugs that remained were now all too terrified to approach the embodiment of death that had passed through them and had all stepped away from the man. Ignoring the pain radiating through his body Zabuza cocked his head to the side and stared down at the quivering mass of a man known as Gatō, "You should have known better that to break a deal with the devil…"
Gatō continued to plead, offering anything and everything to the man standing over him, sadly for him though it was all for naught. Gatō felt a foot connect with his jaw sending him upwards into the air. Suddenly he was at eye level with Zabuza and all he could see was his own death reflected back at him. Zabuza lashed out with the kunai in his hand, putting the last of his strength into the strike. He smirked more as he saw the horror in Gatō's eyes before they went dull and the man's body fell back to the ground with his head rolling away from it.
Finally allowing himself to succumb to his exhaustion and wounds Zabuza sunk back to the ground.
Kakashi had watched the slaughter of Gatō with a small amount of satisfaction, it was brutal but at least it meant that there was one less horrible human being left on the earth. It wasn't often that he wasn't somewhat upset by death, but with all his students still alive, their mission essentially completed and one of the worst criminals alive now dead he allowed himself some grim satisfaction. Looking down he felt another burst of the Kyūbi's chakra and he saw Naruto open his eyes.
Reaching down he offered the boy, who he suspected was intentionally trying to put him into an early grave, a hand pulling him to his feet. "Naruto, we are going to have a long discussion about that later…" He saw Naruto shudder at his tone, "Good, honestly only Kushina would ever have done something like that, Minato-sensei would have killed me if I did that." On the other hand it was downright astonishing how quickly Naruto had healed the hole going through his shoulder. There was no scar, not mark suggesting that only a couple minutes ago that he boy had had someone else's arm going through him. It was odd for Kakashi to ever allow himself to be thankful to the Kyūbi for anything, but right now he was just pleased Naruto was alive.
"I… I'm sorry sensei."
Looking at Naruto he could see that Naruto was truly upset so he decided he'd wait to lecture him till later, "It's fine Naruto, thankfully everyone is alright." At this Naruto's head shot up.
"But Kakashi-sensei, Sasuke and Sakura-"
"Are only unconscious, we still have issues here though so focus." Looking beyond his sensei Naruto saw the group of Gatō's thugs seemingly arguing. He couldn't see Zabuza from where he was, but apparently all the thugs were arguing about something. After another minute or so they seemed to come to their decision.
"Get out of our way, our meal ticket just got killed and unless you want the same thing happening to you we're going to take our pay out of the town!" Hearing this both Kakashi and Naruto raised an eyebrow. Naruto cracked his knuckles and sent a glare towards the thug's spokesperson. Apparently he wasn't nearly as confident as his words had sounded because just he glare he received made him jump.
Naruto was about to take a step forward when he heard the sound of a crossbow being loosed. Spinning in surprise Naruto saw a large crowd at the other end of the bridge led by none other than Inari. Naruto had a very satisfied smile beneath his mask as Inari yelled threats at the thugs and finally turned to Kakashi silently asking him for permission. Seeing the look on his student's face Kakashi sighed and nodded. "Kage Bunshin no Jutsu!"
The thugs who were already feeling rather uncertain of what would happen now all paled at the sight of over a hundred of the young shinobi suddenly coming into existence holding kunai and glaring menacingly. Needless to say the thugs made a rather hectic retreat from the bridge, more often than not tripping over each other trying to get away from the shinobi. Watching the thugs disappear the villagers all began to cheer for the Konoha shinobi. Smiling Naruto turned to his sensei dispelling the clones, feeling exhausted all of a sudden Naruto's vision began to darken and he felt himself slump forward.
-Overlooking the Sea-
It had been two weeks since the battle on the bridge and Haku was once again standing at his master's grave. It had become a daily ritual for Haku, to stand there before Zabuza and stare out over the sea. Letting out a shaky breath Haku rested his hand on the headstone he had created out of ice for Zabuza whispering a silent prayer and asking once again for forgiveness he would never hear. "I'm sorry…"
Haku looked at over the cliff to see just how high up they were, since Zabuza's death he had attempted suicide 4 times, all of which had been thwarted by Naruto. He had initially tried to cut his wrists, only for the blonde to catch him in the act and then confiscate any and all bladed weapons from him. Next he had tried to poison himself, only for Naruto to find him while he had been convulsing and start force feeding him different medicinal herbs he had found in the surrounding area. That had left him with some hallucinations for a few days, but had somehow managed to counteract the poisons. He had also tried to find some of the remnants of Gatō's thugs to end his life for him, and after finally tracking down a few on them Naruto had burst from the underbrush opposite him and had subdued them all.
The most ridiculous attempt though was when he had tried to throw himself off the cliff before him. He had made sure he was alone, and tossed himself from the cliff, only to be snagged out of the air by Naruto climbing the cliff face as exercise. Shaking his head Haku let out another sigh. What made it worse was that Naruto didn't seem like he was intentionally interfering, he just always happened to arrive in the nick of time.
"Hey, you better not be planning on jumping off there again." Turning in surprise Haku found himself once again face to face with Naruto. Even with all the times the blonde and red haired shinobi had saved him they still had not really spoken together since the first night he had woken up.
Haku shot up looking around in confusion. It only took a few seconds but finally his eyes focused on the other figure in the room. Naruto sat staring sadly at him and he found himself remembering what he had done on the bridge, "Zabuza-sama?!"
"I'm sorry Haku…" Hearing those words Haku knew his fears had come to life, Zabuza, the man who had taken him in and given him a purpose was gone. He was alone again.
"… why Naruto?" Even with the mask covering the other boy's face Haku could tell he had a sheepish smile on his face.
"You are my friend Haku; I couldn't just let you die." Hearing that Haku let out a mirthless laugh.
"It was my place to die… I betrayed Zabuza-sama…" After that Naruto had argued with him for a long while, apparently dead seat on convincing him that he wasn't in the wrong to have survived.
Haku couldn't honestly remember all that had been said, he just knew whatever it was it didn't go the way Naruto had hoped it would have. Haku had ended that discussion by telling Naruto to get out of the room. That was when he made the first attempt on his own life. Brushing his thoughts away Haku looked up and stared back at Naruto.
"That is not what I am planning today…"
Naruto just observed Haku from a slight distance; he had had clones stationed at the bottom of the cliff since the last time Haku had tried to jump from it. He had gotten hurt bad enough keeping him alive the first time that he wasn't about to just let Haku throw it away. "It better not be the plan for tomorrow either." Naruto hadn't meant for his words to come out as harshly as they had, but he'd been walking on eggshells with Haku for nearly two weeks now and he was rather close to trying to beat sense into the older boy.
Haku smiled sadly at Zabuza's grave again before looking back at Naruto, "What should my plan be then Naruto-san? I have no purpose anymore. I am just a broken tool, I'm just like a dog that bit it's owner." Hearing this Naruto looked like he'd been physically struck.
"Shut up Haku." Upon hearing this all Haku could do was look surprised. "You're not just some tool. You're a person just like the rest of us and it's your job to live your life."
"How am I supposed to live without a purpose?"
Naruto was seething internally at how hollow Haku's words sounded. They were hopeless and lost, "Everyone has a purpose. We just don't always know what it is."
"Then how do I find what my purpose is now?"
"You live Haku; as long as you're alive you can find new dreams to go after."
At the mention of dreams Haku's expression visibly darkened. "I had a dream and a purpose; they were to help Zabuza-sama achieve his dream. Now I have nothing."
Allowing Haku's cold tone to wash over him Naruto let out a slow breath before responding. "Well then you still have your dream."
Haku's head shot up at this, "What do you mean?"
"Well if your dream was for Zabuza's dream to come true then you can still make it happen." Haku was shocked hearing this, and it showed on his face. Could he still really have a purpose? "Besides I'm pretty sure that if anyone were to make Zabuza's dream come true he'd want it to be you Haku."
"But why? Why would he want me to do that, it's my fault he's dea-"
"No it isn't Haku. Even if you both had won on the bridge Gatō would have killed you. This way you can still fight for his dreams." Naruto and Haku stood in silence for a few minutes after that, Haku thinking and Naruto watching him think. Naruto had just gotten back from another long day at the bridge, while he was under the ever watchful eye of his sensei.
Ever since the battle on the bridge Kakashi had been keeping a close eye on him, more often than once the man would follow him around giving him exceptionally specific orders. He actually had a schedule for everything he would do in the day. Really though Naruto couldn't complain, he had put himself in deliberate danger, and he knew he had really upset Kakashi so if that meant Kakashi was going to lecture him occasionally and keep a close eye on him for a while he'd accept it. Feeling one of his clones burst Naruto rubbed his brow to get rid of the mild head ache associated with the Kage Bunshin's memory transfer. "Don't be too long Haku; I've got to head back."
Waving briefly to the other boy Naruto turned and began heading back to Tazuna's house. Construction of the bridge was pretty much done. Naruto was rather proud of the work he had done on the bridge, and he had learnt a lot about construction from Tazuna as well.
Arriving back at the house he heard Kakashi address him, "Good you're back, we're leaving for Konoha tomorrow morning Naruto, so if you have anything you need to pack up take care of it. I want to leave just after breakfast."
Hearing this Naruto nodded, he was actually surprised that they had stayed as long as they had. After the battle Sasuke had taken around a week to heal, but Sakura was up again after three days of rest, and since then she'd been throwing herself into any and all the training that Kakashi would suggest. Sasuke had just thrown himself into his training with a new sense of abandon. When Sasuke had woken up and seen Haku the tension in the air could have been cut with a knife. Thankfully Haku had been lying in a bed at the time, just having been brought back from another of his attempts at his life, so seeing Haku weak had lessened Sasuke's anger.
From there it had been just a matter of Kakashi talking his anger down. Now it just left Naruto with one question, "What's going to happen to Haku?"
Kakashi looked at Naruto intently with his one visible eye, "I really don't know, seeing as Haku apparently wasn't ever a registered shinobi he isn't listed as a missing-nin, and seeing as he had just been doing his job it's not like he is being charged with something."
"So what does that mean?"
"It means Haku can decide what he is going to do, and as long as he doesn't attack us again we can't really do anything."
Naruto once again nodded to this, he was actually rather relieved that they wouldn't force Haku to come with them. The rest of the day passed without incident. It was well into the night when everyone was asleep that Naruto heard a rustling sound. Roused from his slumber he thought he caught sight of Haku leaping from the window of the room. Taking off his night cap Naruto quickly followed after Haku. After a few minutes Naruto found himself once again at Zabuza's grave. Staying quiet Naruto stood a bit back from Haku who was now kneeling before the grave speaking softly. Naruto waited for Haku to finish and realize he was there. After 5 minutes Haku finally finished speaking and slowly stood and faced Naruto. "This will be our farewell Naruto."
"You better not be planning on jumping again." At this Haku let of a soft chuckle.
"No, not this time. Thanks to you're words I have realized I still have a purpose." Haku had been speaking softly looking pensively over the water behind him.
"So what will you do then?" Haku took another few minutes just to observe the sea behind them, before staring off to the east with a contemplative look on his face.
"I'm going to go home. It's been too long since I saw the Land of Water."
"I guess I can't convince you to come back to Konoha with us?"
"As interesting as I'm sure that would be Naruto-san I still have a task to complete back home. It's time I start fighting against Yagura. This way I may be able to achieve Zabuza-sama's dream." Naruto smiled at the look on Haku's face.
"I figured you'd say something like that but I had to ask either way." Haku smiled slightly and nodded.
"Before I go I have one question though." Naruto gestured for Haku to continue, "Why did you save me Naruto-san?"
At this Naruto rubbed the back of his head, "I couldn't let my friend just throw his life away."
This surprised Haku, "You said that before, but we were foes, you thought that I had just killed your teammates, how did that make me your friend?"
"I thought that they were already gone, I couldn't lose another one." Haku could tell the topic upset the other shinobi.
"I see, then I shall just need to be careful in my quest to ensure you don't. It will be good to know I have a friend who is hoping for my success." Naruto chuckled at this.
"Yeah, but next time can we skip the whole you pretending to kill my teammates and my kicking your ass thing?" At this Haku actually laughed before nodding.
"I should be off Naruto…" Haku trailed off looking at Zabuza's grave again.
"You shouldn't leave his sword here Haku."
"You should take it with you back to Kiri; no one else has the right to use it. You were Zabuza's apprentice." Once again Haku smiled.
"Thank you Naruto, I hope we will see one another again."
"We will Haku."
With that Naruto watched Haku retrieve Zabuza's blade and place it into a storage scroll before smiling once more and walking into the woods. Naruto stood there for another hour after Haku had left just staring out at the sea. The view from up here reminded him very much of the view from the top of the Hokage monument, he was looking forward to getting back home, to sleep in his own bed. He was even looking forward to the monotony of the D-rank missions that they would surely be assigned.
After being gone for over a month Naruto found himself longing the trees surrounding his village and the view from the monument. Giving the sea one last glance Naruto got up and walked back to Tazuna's planning on getting any sleep he could before leaving in the morning. Arriving at Tazuna's house he heard a voice from above him, "So he left huh?"
Looking up he saw Sasuke standing on the roof looking down at him. "Yeah, he's gone. I have a feeling we'll see him again though."
"Good, I won't lose again." Naruto smirked a bit hearing that before nodding slightly and heading back in to sleep. Morning came quickly and after a quick but filling breakfast Team 7 found themselves on the bridge again, with the whole town behind them. Only Tazuna commented on Haku not being present. Kakashi had assumed Haku would have left, and Sakura was actually somewhat thankful. It still upset here thinking of just how easily she had been taken down.
After a brief goodbye in which Naruto consoled a crying Inari the group was off racing through the woods. Naruto had increased his weights that morning again and as such was having a slightly harder time, but the group made fast progress. Soon the familiar walls of Konoha were standing before them and they were walking through the gates. Not aware that the largest bridge in the Elemental Nations had just been named after him, Naruto let his guard drop and was now strolling into the village that was his home.
"Hatake Kakashi reporting back with Genin Team 7 from mission 79-8-20-30." After a speaking for a few minutes with The chūnin on duty at the gates Kakashi dismissed his students telling them that he would submit the mission report to the Hokage. Hearing this Naruto asked if Sasuke and Sakura wanted to head over to Ichiraku's with him. Sadly neither Sasuke or Sakura were up for it seeing as they were both rather tired after the two day marathon that had been their return journey to Konoha. Naruto was slightly put out by the rejection, but quickly got over it.
If Naruto had waited a few seconds longer he would have heard Kakashi's scream and seen the man flee in the direction of the Hokage tower, but Naruto was oblivious to his sensei's distress at the moment. Instead he had decided to find Iruka and get some food with his old sensei. After wandering the village for an hour Naruto realized that Iruka would most likely be at the academy. Cursing his own stupidity Naruto took to the rooftops intent on finding him as quickly as possible. When Naruto was nearly there he heard a lot of arguments from the Hokage tower. The buildings were right next to each other and whoever was arguing they weren't trying to keep it quiet.
Before he could figure out what they were saying though he saw a rather comically dressed man with long white hair leap from the Hokage's window, and not thirty seconds later he saw Kakashi storm out the front door of the building looking positively distraught. Unsure of the issues Naruto once again resolved to find Iruka, after all Iruka-sensei always knew what was going on around the village.
BAM, done chapter 18. I'd like to once again apologize for how long it took to get this out, but I hope you all enjoyed it. I hope you all like what I decided to do with Haku and Zabuza. I had initially wanted to keep them both alive, but I've read to many fic's with Zabuza and Haku both alive and joining Konoha and things like that and I didn't want to go there with this. I feel like Zabuza would be too set in his way's to join Konoha anyways. I toyed with the notion of Haku joining Konoha but decided against it in the end. I have plan's for Haku to make some reappearances in the future but it won't be for a while. Either way I hope you all liked it.
On another note Sakura has finally decided to kick her ass into gear. I got a lot of flack after my last chapter about Sakura still being really weak, I'm sorry that upset some people but I still had some plans left for her to motivate her to throw everything into training. Pretty soon you'll start seeing Sakura in a new light (well at least in my fic). I also wanted to address what I'm sure many people will get upset with me for. I know that some people probably won't be happy with my having made Naruto take the Chidori, but I felt it was a very Narutoish thing to do, sure he would have tried to get Haku out of the way if he could, but Naruto is the kind of character who I can see as being very self sacrificing.
Anyways, I hope you all enjoyed the chapter and as always I ask that you leave me a review to let me know what you think, also I finally introduced another important character to the story. I'm assuming most of you caught it, but if you didn't you'll just have to wait and see. Also what has got Kakashi so upset? Let me know what you think it is.