Hey you guys! I am not dead. I have been stuck on the road of life. I hope you still read this. I know I haven't dedicated more time to this project but I promise that during the summer, all of the chapters will be edited and made into perfection (my idea of perfect). Forgive me? I did not edit this chapter but my beta left out of the country this spring break so bear with it please? I'll write one-shots that are cute as an apology. If you want me to write anything in particular, I will! Just message me! Enjoy and don't hate this chapter. I know it needs work.


Chapter 13: Un-wavered Strength

Irritation.

That was what the blonde shinobi felt as he glared at the mirrors that seemed to stand in a mocking manner to him. No matter how hard he tried to damage the mirrors with his ninjutsu, he would still have to face the blasted glass floating in front of him with no scratches. It also didn't matter if both he and Sasuke attempted to combine their ninjutsu or attacks to hit to the mirror together. Smoke would clear and the iced mirrors would stand perfectly clear.

Naruto let out a disgruntled sound as his eyes scanned his surroundings. He was finding their situation rather discouraging. The clone that he had sent to Inari house reported that Gato's thug made their way there. The job was to retrieve Tsunami and exterminate those who managed to come their way.

With the more memoires Naruto received, the more assure Naruto felt. His emotions were on a rollercoaster ride. The clone handled both men and had them tied in the woods with gags in their mouth to muffle any cries. He was relieved for that. The pressing issue was that clone lost sight of Inari who quickly made a dash down the streets, leaving a confused Naruto and Tsunami. Inari disappearing is what was giving the Namikaze anxiety along with adding a sense of doubt.

Who doesn't have his own dream? Who doesn't think for himself?

He asked himself these questions as he dodged the attacks directed to him and his teammate. Naruto quickly reached into his pouch and hurled a kunai at Haku. The missing nin cocked his head to the side and disappeared within the mirrors again, successfully avoiding the attack. Within seconds, his arms appeared and he threw back the kunai, throwing Naruto over the edge.

"Stop with the cat and mouse game!" Yelled Naruto as he glared, his words laced with malice.

Sasuke paused and looked at his fair-haired teammate for his outburst. The Uchiha heir was also annoyed at the sudden folding of events but he knew that he had to keep his emotions in check. If he didn't, he would have been yelling as well.

With some hope, Naruto reached in at his side and retrieved a scroll given from his godfather. It was a sealed fire attack that he had absorbed. He remembered absently that it was a high ranked one that could potentially melt away the iced mirrors.

He looked at Sasuke and quickly frowned. He remembered that the scroll had a special seal that needed to be released. He almost forgot that it was given for the incentive of studying seals with gusto. He has been lacking his study of seals recently, worrying his mother a bit.

He mentally cursed and made a clone. "Sasuke, distract him. I think I know a way to get rid of the mirrors. Just give me time."

Sasuke quickly glanced at the scroll in Naruto's hand and nodded, already performing the handseals for his fire jutsu.

"Katon: Hōsenka no Jutsu!" He quickly puffed out balls of fires with shurikens inside. With no second to spare, he threw several kunai with explosive tags in the mirrors Haku was hidden.

As the flames beginning to disappeared, Sasuke caught Haku's top half out of the mirrors with senbon needles aimed at Naruto. Without a second thought, he ran in front of his friend with a grunt.

To his left side, Sasuke heard the clone disappear and felt the sharp tips of the needles pierce his body. Small incisions made way to Sasuke, bringing a numbing sensation of sudden limpness with his arms. Damn it Naruto. I bought you enough time, at the cost of me. Maybe… in the afterlife…, we can resolve our problems...

"Don't let the team down Naruto." He coughed as he absentmindedly reached for needles pierced at his neck. It was a futile attempt to move his arms and he ungracefully towered over. He fell to his knee and felt his head bob to the side, heavy eyelids threatening to close for the last time.

A burning sensation began to spread through his body. His ability to breath was becoming difficult as the muscles in his throat began to contract, causing a strain. The stabbing feeling in his head rendered him speechless as he struggle to form sentences in his mind. The only coherent thought were curses directed at Haku. Within his final moments, the Uchiha caught sight of the blonde boy running toward him and felt the corner of his lips twitch to a subtle smile.

"Sasuke!" Naruto cried out, rushing to his side. "Dang it! You are not supposed to die! You were supposed to apologize you bastard! You knew you were wrong!"

He threw himself at Sasuke's side with hot tears flowing down his face. He banged his fist close to Sasuke's now corpse and hugged him tightly. "You didn't even awaken your damn sharingan." He said bitterly. He held onto Sasuke, wishing that everything were a horrible dream. The young blonde began to rock side-to-side, muttering prayers under his breath with his friend still under his clutch.

He choked on his tears and began to shake viciously. He clutched his heart with an agonizing gurgle before wiping away his tears aggressively, turning to stare at Haku who watched him intensively.

"Why do you mourn for him? Was he someone special? You must accustom yourself to this life. It's a life of a shinobi." Haku commented almost in a condescending manner.

"Shut up! It's your fault my best friend died you fucking ass hole!" He gently placed the body on the ground, stood up, and walked closer to the masked boy. "I will have no remorse when I kill you." He said in an ice-cold voice yet his body was undergoing something different to what his voice projected.

Naruto felt his body hot, his blood boiling with hatred. He clenched his fist hard to the point his nails were digging into his palm, drawing blood. His veins felt as if poison was running through them, running and racing towards his heart to fuel a maddening engine.

With eyebrows furrowed, he lunged towards Haku and landed a solid punch at his stomach before jumping back. All of Naruto's movements were hard to follow with the naked eye alarming the missing nin who was not able to dodge a uppercut to his chin that sent him to the ground.

The Namikaze glared at him and felt his vision darkened. He flexed his arm and began to feel an aura of evil and darkness looming close to him. The evil and poison was spreading through his body quickly, bringing a new feeling, a sensation foreign to him.

He bit the side of his mouth and closed his eyes for a split second to listen carefully to a soft lulling voice from the distance. He strained his ears more before being getting perched in predatory position.

Naruto Namikaze

Who is that? He thought frantically as he opened his eyes and scanned around. Haku was a safe distance away from Naruto, tenderly attending to his bruised face.

Give into the hate

Who are you! Answer me!

Who do you think?

Naruto grimaced. Kyuubi. He paused before he answered him. Why would I do that?

Don't you want to avenge your friend lying dead on the ground?

I-I He paused and sadly looked at his friend. Sasuke was covered in blood and needles. He felt his fist loosen and his arms stayed limply.

I have the power you need to kill the Yuki nin.

Why would you help me? What do you get out of it?

Some fun. Who doesn't enjoy a good killing? The Kyuubi laughed cynically.

The young Namikaze remembered his times playing with Sasuke when they were small kids. The most memorable ones were during the holidays. He remembered staying up on Christmas Eve together to hunt down Santa to only find Itachi dressed up as the jolly man. The boy's attempt to "hunt" Santa was their idea and excuse to put their ninja skills into action.

Sadly smiling, Naruto decisively answered him softly. Yes. Even if it means losing me to you, Sasuke will not die in vain…

Within seconds to his answers, a loud laugh broke out, hurting his ears. The Leaf nin fell to his knees and held his hands to his ear, blocking the sound of contemptuous laughter. Large winds began to swirl around him and his enemy dangerously. The laughter ceased and Naruto felt something off. Feeling heat surround him, he opened his eyes and saw everything with clarity. He brought his hands closer to his face and saw his fingers look more like claws.

Feed into the hate and you will be stronger human. The fox advised with a sinister sneer.

With a definite nod, Naruto lunged at Haku with deadly accuracy. He managed a deadly punch to his face, briefing enjoying the flesh to claw contact that sent Haku flying towards to mirrors slightly disfigured.

Bringing his hand down to the ground, chunks of the earth rose up in the air as if struck. Naruto gazed evilly at Haku with a demonic layer of chakra and debris coating him in his animalistic stance. He sported feline like eyes and a tail molded from chakra that waved in the air tauntingly.

He has gotten stronger! Haku panicked, seeing the disadvantage of the fight. He reached for his face and felt and smelled the blood. Zabuza-sama, how am I going to dispose him for you? His strength is almost greater than my own…or is greater…I will fight for you nevertheless. I will not be disposable just yet.

Letting out a growl, Naruto dove at him and punched him infinitely with jabs and kicks. Haku was becoming imobile with the deep scratches slowing him down significantly. The iced mirrors began cracking and falling to the ground as the destructive chakra neared it and with the weakening of Haku. Clear clinking sound filled the bridge as it clattered endlessly until it disappeared altogether.

Naruto watched the scene with a proud smirk not his own and began making his way towards Haku. I will have you dead!

Let him suffer brat! Commented the biju with glee.

"Naruto!" A woman screamed with apprehension as she ran to the battlefield. She stopped dead on her track and stared mournfully at the scene laid in front of her.

Sakura, who had silently listened to the battle raging on with Tazuna, recognized the voice instantly. How is she here and what is that evil presence? Sakura instinctively tightened her grip on her kunai and blindly searched for her teammates.

With the sudden clearing of the mist, the pink haired kunoichi made out the figures of Naruto and a body on the ground. "Naruto-kun! Sasuke-kun!" She made a dash towards her comrades but stopped at the order given to her.

"Hinata, Kiba and Shino! Go stand with Sakura and protect the man at all cost! Stay out the way!" Kushina ordered the last part for directed at Sakura. Creating a shadow clone to stay with the genin, she dashed into the chaos.

What happened Naruto? She thought sadly. She turned back and caught a glimpse of the battle Kakashi was facing. She pursed her lips and she intoned, "Kongō Fūsa!" returning her gaze back to her son.

Instantaneously, large golden chains appeared and grabbed hold of Naruto's ankles and wrists. The chains constricted and bounded him on the ground. With swiftness, the red haired ninja ran to her son's side that was resisting the bondage. The Hokage's wife muttered release allowing the chains to return into her and raised her hands before her. She muttered an incantation and her fingers began to glow with a green flame. Having the kanji letter appear at her fingertips, she placed her hand on the genin's back, stepping back as a small mist formed before quickly disappearing.

Naruto twitched and the chakra coating him slowly began to recede to the seal before disappearing. Kushina reached for her son and turned him over before holding him close. She briefly touched his face softly before anger took over. The clone of the seal master clenched her fist at the sight of her godson and her son battered at the ground. Without a word, the clone grabbed Sasuke's corpse and made her way to nervous genin. "Hinata, treat them to the best of your abilities! I know that you have some healing ointment."

The timid girl nodded her head and reached for her pack, immediately beginning her treatment. She looked up and found the watchful eye of Kushina's clone. Gulping, she shook her head and turned her attention to her classmate whose color was practically gone.

Kushina rose up and growled, turning to Haku who lay on the ground trembling in shock. "You hurt my son and I will make sure you pay." She gritted out with clenched teeth before jumping in the air. "Kaze Kuiki!"

She lifted her leg up in the air, twirling as wind manifested and formed around her like a sphere. The winds were violent and dangerous like her killer intent, cutting Haku from a distance.

I am going to be caught and cut into millions of pieces. It is a matter of time before she expands it. I need to act now!

Just as Haku was about to perform his jutsu, Kushina spread her arms apart and her jutsu expanded, grabbing hold of Haku and entangling him in the vicious winds. He whirled around with the winds with millions of blades cutting up his body. His silent cries left Kushina with a slight smirk on her lips. She summersaulted out of the sphere and position Haku to stay at the center.

Entrapped, Haku was losing hope. The pain was making his control over his body disappear. I just need a few minutes. With her distracted, I can turn the mirrors on the ground into spikes and close them in around her but this turning out to be much more difficult. Naruto did do a number on me. I can hardly move! Turning his body to his assailant, he caught sight of the look of her eyes and gasp. The vibrant violet eyes sparkled with hate and darkness that came naturally with the need to protect.

Words looming to come out got stuck in his throat. Zabuza-sama… the end is near for me. I tried to be the best tool for you but in the end, I couldn't kill them. I hope you understand why I died. I was not sharp enough or dedicated enough to fight for you. The shinobi that fought me is has someone precious to protect. Her son. I cannot defeat that. Haku thought sadly, feeling tears run down his face. A faint twitch of his lips surprised him but brought him a small hint of happiness.

Closing her fist, the sphere closed around the boy and with an unnatural snap, the body began to twist and break into several chunks. You forced this onto me. Maybe if you didn't attack my son or killed my godson, you would have been a noble shinobi who lived another day. Kushina thought distantly as she reached for her packed and brought her scroll and pen. Brushing down an intricate design, she whispered and signed "tora", throwing the scroll in the air.

A sudden white mist blew in, lifting the body remains and orbited around the scroll. The scroll expanded to envelop the body midair with the ink burning with a slight intense fire that shined blue. With a leap, the Uzumaki kunoichi caught the scroll, quickly placing it safely in her pouch.

Kushina stood there for a second before the sound of chirping birds brought her back to reality. She snapped her head up and caught sight of the finishing blow Kakashi was delivering to Zabuza.

Once the chirping ceased, there was complete silence among the nine individual. Everyone was frozen on the spot and watched as Zabuza's Kubikiribōchō fell in an agonizing speed; it fell on the ground with a loud clang.

Kakashi's eyes met Kushina with guilt. Quickly adverting his eyes, Kakashi turned his attention to where his arms went through. Grunting, the jonin removed his arm and placed the body to the ground. "You future was death Momochi Zabuza".

With a moment of silence, the team leader pulled out his own storage seal and secured the body of the missing nin into it before he walked to the group of genin where one couldn't muffle her cries anymore.

"Sasuke-kun! Naruto-kun!" Sobbed the pinked hair girl, who with trembling hands, removed the senbon needles.

"S-Sakura-chan, m-maybe I-I s-should t-take-"

"No! He is my teammate! I will do it Hinata!" Sakura yelled, turning the glare at the innocent girl.

Hinata nodded her head weakly and began to fiddle with her fingers, her gaze going to Naruto.

"Shinobi rule number twenty-five, no matter what the situation, a shinobi must keep their emotion on the inside. One must never possess a heart that never shows tears". Sakura quoted disgustedly, hugging Sasuke tightly while her salty tears fell on him. Why! She thought angrily. Sasuke-kun is dead! Naruto-kun is injured badly! What did I do? I stayed back and watched!

Sakura wiped her tears and turn to stare at her living teammate that was unconscious. She raised her hand and tenderly cupped Sasuke's cheek before reaching for his hand. With her other hand, Sakura grabbed Naruto's hand, raising both hands to her chest as her cries continued.

Hinata and her team stood at the side with long faces, not having spoken since Sakura's outburst. Kushina, who watched Sakura, smiled sadly before going to her and kneeled in front of her before enveloping her in a tight hug. With a comforting embrace, Sakura hugged Kushina tightly, crying to her flak jacket.

"It's okay Sakura. Everything will be alright". She whispered to her, rubbing her back in a reassuring manner. Sakura did not respond and her whimpers only got louder.

Still in the embrace, neither of them noticed the slight twitch of the hand coming from one of the body. "Kushina-sama!" Shino exclaimed surprised.

Kushina pulled back and saw her son's eyes flutter. "Naruto!" She cried, lifting his head onto her lap.

"Kaa-san" He mumbled softly.

"Yes Naru-chan, I'm right here." She affectionately grabbed his cheek and moved his hair away from his face. "You are going to be just fine."

Naruto, feeling a bit sored, nodded his head slightly before opening his eyes all the way. "Where's Sasuke?"

Kushina opened her mouth to answer him but stopped, her eyes misting over the cruel fact of his death. Receiving silence, Naruto lifted his head to see his female teammate with red puffy eyes. "I'm sorry Sakura-chan. If only I was able to open that scroll, maybe, just maybe-"

"Stop right there Naruto-kun. It was not your fault." Sakura squeezed his hand and looked at the raven-haired boy who she had a crush on.

"Ah, look what we have here!" A voiced called out, breaking out into laughter. "Seems like I won't need my men to handle Zabuza and that punk!" He roared. "To think I was looking forward to the death of the little brat. He did break my arm."

"Gato" Uttered a shocked Tazuna staring at the shorthaired man with an army of bandits behind him.

"I see that he was still unable to kill you Tazuna. It doesn't matter. Now that Zabuza was disposed of, I can do the same with you. My new men will not disappoint me like those stupid ninjas. At the end of the day, it was all bark and no bite".

"You will not hurt Tazuna-san! You are the reason the death of my best friend and Haku, a boy who didn't even have a life!" Naruto exclaimed, struggling to rise to his feet. With unsteady steps, he walked towards the men and glared at them with defiance.

"Naruto, can you walk?" His mother asked, rushing to his side.

"I'm fine. I'm just finding difficulties to move but I can fight." He answered assuredly.

Gato burst into laughter and so did the men behind him. "You guys are not match for my men. They easily outnumber seven kids. Just hand over the old man and you won't die".

"Bite me! Even if means killing you and those bandits, I will make sure you pay! You will not terrorize the people of this country! Kage Bunshin no Jutsu!"

Kakashi and Kushina shared a look before following Naruto's example. "Now, the battle will be in our favor" Kushina called out with a smirk, resting her hands on her hip.

"Gato! This ends today!" A familiar voice declared.

"Inari?" Naruto questioned.

"This is our battle too! Our people are not getting to let Gato rule us anymore! We will fight too!" Inari explained, with a large group of civilians cheering behind him.

"Gato, this is not what you paid us for". Voiced one of the bandits.

"Yeah! I'm getting out of here!" The others said, quickly running away from the bridge.

"Here I come" Kushina said to herself, somersaulting to Gato and delivered a blow that rendered him unconscious. "You will be handed to the official and the feudal lord will sentence you for your crimes".

"It's finally over" Tazuna sighed in relief as the Kushina tied Gato hand behind his back.

A groaned from Sasuke alarmed Sakura. "Sasuke-kun!" The Uchiha opened his eyes to the blaring light and closed. Fluttering them open, he found himself staring at his teammate who was pink from all of her crying. "Oh Sasuke-kun!" She shrieked, embracing the stoic boy.

"You are heavy Sakura," Sasuke muttered with a small smile and flinch.

"Shut up Sasuke-kun. Naruto-kun! Kushina-sama!"

The Namikaze pair quickly was at her side, staring at the young boy with tearful eyes.

"Neh Sasu-chan, you gave us a big scare," Kushina beamed, hugging her godson once Sakura released him from her clutch. "Rest, you might be sore from battle. I will carry you to where you guys were at."

"When did you come Kushina-oba?" Sasuke asked, attempting to sit up before Kushina pushed him back down slowly and lifting him off the ground. "Rest. I will tell you tomorrow."

"Alright but how's Naruto?" Sasuke asked, looking around and found his blonde haired teammate wearing a goofy grin.

"Don't worry about me! I'm fine!" Naruto expressed, giving him a thumbs up.

"Are you sure Naruto? I can create a clone and carry you too." His mother asked.

"I'm alright. I walked beside you kaa-san". He amended as Sakura tackled him and gave him a hug. "Thank you" She whispered quietly.

"Kakashi, you know what you have to do." Kushina said blankly, nodding her head to where Gato was.

"Hai Kushina-sama." With a few jumps, Kakashi reached to Gato and threw him over his shoulder. He gave the group a small wave and disappeared with leaves appearing where he stood.