(Follows chapter 28, 29 & 30 of the manga)
The air seemed to be filled with electricity as chakra crackled all around Naruko, it was so powerful, and the atmosphere felt thick, like it could be cut with a knife.
Haku could feel the chakra pouring out of Naruko as she lay Sasuke down gently, even if she was growling in fury.
But worse yet... Haku was beginning to tremble at the very feeling of the terrible energy, that sent waves of fear through him, and as the intensity grew, so did the power, until finally began to manifest itself, healing all the wounds, and pushing out the senbon that covered her body, which shocked Haku, how could this young girl hold such a powerful, and appalling chakra?
Not too far away from this Kakashi and Zabuza both felt this chakra, filling them both with dread, while Zabuza was confused as to who this terrible chakra belonged to, Kakashi knew.
'This chakra!' he thought as he got worried. 'It's foul... evil... and so familiar... but it can't be... N-Naruko!?'
Kakashi relaxed his mind, trying to better sense the chakra that plagued his senses, 'Has the seal begun to unravel? Is it broken?' he wondered as he continued to use his senses, 'I sense we're safe, for now. It hasn't broken through yet... but the seal has cracked a little, and the power of the nine-tails has leaked through. But I have to act quickly.'
Kakashi instantly whipped out a scroll from his jacket, and gathered some blood from his open wound, using his thumb to spread the blood across the scroll as he unraveled it, leaving a streak of read across the paper.
"Listen to me Zabuza..." he began, calling in to the fog. "We're both busy men with a lot on our plates, and it goes against the grain to even suggest this... but do you want to stop screwing around?" Kakashi tugged at the scroll and it began to wrap back up, and once it was back to normal, he held it between his fingers as he performed a hand sign. "Lets wrap this up right now, one last move... winner takes all."
"Intriguing proposition... Show me what you got..." Zabuza's voice rang out from the fog.
Back inside the mirror cage, Haku watched as the young blonde kunoichi growled another, her eyes seething in anger, until a moment later she moved, her hands and feet cracking the ground from the force of the push-off.
Haku immediately threw several senbon at her, 'She's so bloodthirsty... what happened to her?' he thought.
Naruko growled loudly, sending a Shockwave that simply knocked the senbon away from her.
Haku had taken the moment to change to a different mirror, he was surprised at what he had just seen, Naruko not even touching the senbon, and deflecting them, was this her true power, a power beyond his? a power beyond a normal humans?
But things only seemed to get worse for Haku, even with his great speed, Naruko was more than matching him.
Everytime Haku tried to attack, Naruko would dodge, and throw a punch of her own, which Haku himself barely managed to avoid. This caused him to fear her, he was already low on chakra and getting tired, but he was pushing his speed harder than ever to avoid an impact, and with the amount of chakra being used by Naruko, one hit was all she would need.
Over and over, Haku attempted to take down Naruko, but his senbon, and fists continued to leave no mark or even impact the young kunoichi, she was beginning to seem unstoppable, no matter how fast he moved or reacted, Naruko was getting faster.
And then... Haku flinched as he headed back to the safety of the mirrors again, but this time, Naruko was just that little faster, and she managed to grab a hold of Haku's arm. He was held in place.
Naruko yelled out, almost roaring like a wild animal, and her chakra shot up, sending waves of pressure that even cracked the ice mirrors. Haku grew worried, he couldn't handle the chakra that was being put out.
Naruko yelled out as her fist came whipping around, her face filled with a ferocious, and feral look as her fist hit him squarely in the face, cracking his mask as he was sent flying away, smashing through one of his own mirrors, and caused the whole mirror cage to simply crumble to pieces and melt.
Haku skidded across the ground as Naruko stepped closer, slowly step by step, on all fours, like an animal, the red chakra that surrounded her wafting in the air. It still acted like steam off a hot body, but as her chakra grew, it seemed to be forming in to a shape, although barely recognisable as anything.
Haku stood up, achingly, he knew, from the way his body felt, that this fight was over, and he knew he was finished.
As he saw Naruko charge at him, his only thoughts were to Zabuza, apologising to him for his failure, he was finished, he knew it; and as he stood, waiting for Naruko to finish him off, his mask began to crumble, just like his mirrors had, revealing his worn feminine face, with blood dripping from his mouth.
Naruko continued to move, and just as her fist was about to hit him she stopped, her body trembling, "You... you're that... person from before!" she said, her vice trembling from anger as he fist, only inches from his face trembled, as she held herself back.
"Why did you stop?" Haku asked her, "I murdered your comrade... your beloved friend, and you still spare me?!"
Naruko looked over to the body of Sasuke, and seeing it still, lifeless she cried out, and hit Haku,before leaping at him again and just hitting him wildly, but Haku could feel she was different, back to normal; and even though it was hard enough to make him cough up blood, he still turned to Naruko and asked, "What happened to all that power? You can't hope to defeat me with such a meagre blow."
Naruko frowned angrily at those words, but she could feel it within her, she was unable to take a life knowingly like this, she couldn't help but show some form of kindness, especially to someone who was kind to her.
Haku sighed as he stood up, "It's a common thing for people to think that mercy for an enemy is a kindness, but can't you see? It's an empty existence, to go on living... alone and unloved... when defeat has already cost you your dream!"
"Wh-what?!" Naruko said, not understanding.
"Master Zabuza has no use for a weak shinobi..." Haku said, looking sad but content with his fate, "You have taken away my reason for living."
Naruko's eyes went wide. Had she really? Those words struck at her like a knife, she knew how she had felt everytime her own dreams were put down and blocked, and how hard she worked so she could simply keep a grasp on to them, and she had taken that away from someone else.
She looked to Haku, "How... how can you give such devotion to him?" she had to ask, "That guy doesn't care about anyone or anything... you... you could do so much better than him." Naruko looked upset, Haku was so different from Zabuza, he wasn't a cold, heartless shinobi. "Is he really that precious to you - your 'beloved friend'?"
Haku looked down, "Yes... he was the first to truly care for me since my parents." he said.
Naruko blinked, "What...?"
"I was born to a small village in the land of mist, and my parents loved me, and I was happy, but..." Haku began as he wiped the blood from his mouth. "...just as I was getting old enough to see the world,something happened."
"S-something happened?" Naruko blinked, she could feel the pain in Haku's voice as he talked about it.
"Yes... my blood happened." Haku said.
Naruko didn't know what to make of it, what did he mean by that?
"My father killed my mother... and tried to kill me... because of our blood." Haku said.
"Wha...?!" Naruko gasped in shock.
"In my country, wars were constantly fought almost non-stop, and those families with kekkei genkai were considered symbols of those wars and loathed as abominations, seen as harbingers of doom." Haku continued to explain. "Those with these traits were forced underground, hiding their skills, knowing exposure would mean death." Haku then glanced to Sasuke, "I'm sure the boy I killed, who shared that skill must have also known the pain of which I speak. Those with bloodline limits are powerful... and we are feared." Haku looked down as he continued to explain to the stunned Naruko. "When my father learned that my mother held a bloodline, he killed her, and when he tried to kill me... I killed him." Naruko could hear pain in his voice, even though it was slight. It was a painful memory for him. "It was after that I learned the truth, and was forced to accept it... that I was alone in the world. Superfluous... unwanted... shunned."
Naruko's eyes widened again, and then looked down, saddened; Haku was describing the way she had felt for so long, and still felt.
"I can see you understand that feeling." Haku said, noticing her reaction. "But tell me... if you found someone who accepted you for who you were, who acknowledged... even cared for you... wouldn't that person become the most important, treasured, person in your life?"
Naruko instantly thought of one person... Iruka and how he accepted her even though she had a demon spirit within her.
"Master Zabuza was the one who showed me those things." Haku continued, "He saw in me what everyone else hated, and persecuted me for, and instead accepted it... no... he cherished it... needed it... needed..." Tears appeared in Haku's eyes, he looked so happy, "...me. I was so happy."
Naruko looked at him sympathetically.
"The day I left the hidden mist village with him I promised him I would be his tool, to do his bidding, and serve him as a weapon." Haku said. "But today... I have failed him... so Naruko... please... take my life."
Naruko was shocked by this request, but was more surprised by her own feelings. Kill him or not... both seemed right, merciful... yet... she would still have to him!
At the same time they were talking, Kakashi had finished preparing his attack for Zabuza, and after he had focused his chakra, he lay his hands on the ground, causing it to crack under the strain as he called out. "Earth style! Fanged vengeance technique."
But nothing seemed to happen, and Zabuza just laughed out.
"All this posturing is pointless Kakashi..." He called out. "...you can't even tell where I truly am, while I on the other hand know exactly where you are. You are completely..."
Zabuza paused when he realised something, but before he could react, the ground beneath him cracked and then before he knew it... two dogs, wearing leaf village hitai-ite and capes burst out and held him in place with their claws and there teeth gripping at his ankles.
Once secure more dogs leapt from the mist and took a old of Zabuza with their own claws and teeth digging in to him.
"When your eyes and ears have let you down, you can always follow your nose." Kakashi stated. "And this jutsu worked because its specifically designed for tracking. I let myself get cut by you, so that my blood would get on your weapons... the smell of it is all over you, and I think my pups would agree... you stink."
Zabuza was furious, he didn't expect Kakashi to pull something out like this, he truly was worthy of being called a ninja.
The fog was beginning to lift, and Kakashi could now finally see where Zabuza was.
Kakashi began to charge up his chakra again, as it began to physically manifest itself, crackling like electricity, as it moulded in to surge of energy.
"Lightening blade!" Kakashi cried, as he held it, making Zabuza concerned at what the next attack. "I'll say this one more time... your future... is death."
Back with Naruko and Haku, Naruko was still stunned by the request.
"WHAT!!??" She eventually cried out. "Just because you're used to being the strongest, used to not losing doesn't mean you should die because you lose once! Doesn't your master like you for anything else, that you feel you lost your worth?"
"In the forest... I believed we were like one in the same, so surely you should understand." Haku said. "I am sorry though... you will bloody your hands because of this."
Naruko was a little taken aback for a moment, Haku so confused her, how could he apologise when she asks for something so violent.
"Is... is that?" She frowned, "Is that the only way? No OTHER way?"
"Yes." Haku said, smiling.
Naruko tried to hide it, but in a small way, her heart was breaking, she knew Haku was lost, without his dream Haku was dying inside, and she knew that feeling, many times, when she had found something too hard to accomplish, everytime she found herself on the verge of giving up, she could see her own dreams, her own goals slipping away she fell into that same hole, that same hollow place in her heart where she knew nothing could exist, where hope could not exist and life was nothing.
Perhaps it was an act of sympathy, an act of kindness so that Haku would not spend his life in that place, but Naruko pulled out a kunai knife, and with a tear in her eye, she ran at Haku, with the full intent to kill him.
Haku smiled, "Thank you." he mumbled as he closed his eyes and awaited his fate.
But it was then he sensed something, danger... not to him, but to someone else.
He instantly grabbed Naruko's arm that had the kunai.
"Forgive me Naruko... but I can't die right now." he said before disappearing, surprising Naruko.
Kakashi was running at Zabuza, the mist had cleared enough that even Sakura and Tazuna could see the attack, as Kakashi neared his enemy with what looked like a handful of lightning.
"Sensei!!" Sakura smiled, seeing that this could be the end of Zabuza, and meant that the battle was nearly over.
But as he got close something got in the way, and several senbon pierced the scroll that Kakashi had used to summon the dogs, and now damaged, caused them to disappear from around Zabuza.
Blood splattered over Kakashi as his hand ripped through the body before him, but it wasn't Zabuza's, Haku had taken the hit himself, he had protected his master, even now, he was fulfilling his dream.
Zabuza even looked shocked, but pleased.
"It seems... once again your prediction was once again... wrong." Zabuza laughed.
To Be Continued...