Chapter Six: Zabuza Returns, Haku Appears
"Tree Climbing?!" Naruto and Sakura ask in shocking tones.
"Yeah." Kakashi replies back.
"What kind of training is that?" Sakura asks.
"It sounds boring." Naruto adds.
"This isn't normal tree climbing." Kakashi explains to them. "You'll be climbing without using your hands."
"Sounds like fun!" Naruto exclaims in an excited tone.
"How?" Sakura asks as Sasuke looks at the Jounin with the same questioning look on his face.
"Watch." Kakashi says as he walks towards a tree. I watched as he gathers his chakra and places a foot on the tree’s trunk. He was soon walking up the trunk of the tree and was walking upside down on a nearby branch. "Understand now?"
"How did he…" Sakura starts to ask.
"He gathered chakra to the base of his feet. That's how he's doing it." I clarify, causing everyone to look at me. "Right, Kakashi sensei?"
"Right, Kazumi." Kakashi answers.
"Kazumi!" Naruto and Sakura yells. Naruto quickly rushes towards me and skids to a stop once he was standing right in front of me.
"Kazumi-chan! Are you all right?" he asks.
"Don't worry, Naruto. I'm fine. Thanks for asking though." I assure him as I send him a smile.
"Wait a minute!" Sakura yells, causing everyone to look at her. "How is learning how to climb a tree going to make us stronger?"
"To teach us proper chakra control and to increase our stamina." I answer once more. "It helps us learn how to channel chakra to a specific point. Plus, the bottom of your feet is the hardest point to properly channel and gather your chakra."
"Correct again. Now enough lecturing about it. This is something that you'll have to learn with your bodies." Kakashi says as he throws four kunai knives at our feet. "Use the kunai to mark how high you make it up and try to beat that until you have reached the top of the tree. Also gathering momentum can help. So a running start should do the trick."
"Right." we all state together.
Walking forward, we all take a hold of a kunai and directed our attention on a tree. After glancing at each other, we all take off, running towards the trees. I managed to get a good ways up before I lost my footing. I quickly made a mark, pushed myself off the trunk and landed safely on the ground. I glanced over and saw that I got a slight bit higher than Sasuke, who in turn beat Naruto. But when I glanced around, I didn't see Sakura.
"Hey! This is too easy."
We all looked up to see Sakura sitting on a branch at the top of the tree. I should have known that she would make it up to the top. After all, she is the smartest of the group. Or so she thought. I quickly got back up and ran forward. There was no way I was going to let her out do me. Especially not in chakra control. For the rest of the day, Naruto, Sasuke and I continued to train. Well, we actually went in early to eat but came right back out to train more.
Six hours later…
"Phew, I think I'll call it a night for now." Naruto says as he wipes some sweat off his cheek. "Kazumi-chan, are you coming in?"
"Yeah, I'll be in soon, Naruto." I tell him. “You go on ahead.”
With a nod of his head, Naruto turns and begins to head towards the house. I watched in silence as Naruto and Sasuke enter the house, closing the door quietly behind them. I just sat underneath a tree and stared at the crescent moon that glowed in the dark night sky above. I was thinking about calling it a night and start back tomorrow morning with Naruto and Sasuke. I knew I shouldn't strain myself, especially not in my injured state. That was definitely a bad idea.
"Hmm? Kazumi, you're still up?" I quickly look up to see Kakashi. He slowly walked over and took a seat next to me. I was wondering why he was still up. "I figured you would be asleep by now."
"Yeah, I know. I was about to call it a night anyway." I tell him. "So, how are you feeling?" I ask as I glanced his way.
"I'm getting there." he says with a soft chuckle. "There's nothing to worry about, all right, Imouto."
"Yeah, right. That's easy for you to say, Onii-chan." I tell him. "By the way, once you're fully healed, I owe you one good strike to that head of yours."
"Hmm? Why is that?" he asks.
"Your mission isn't to prove how brave you are! It's to save the bridge builder. Stay on mission." I tell him, repeating exactly what he told us earlier today. "Tell me how the heck we were to stay on mission with you in trouble? After all, you're the one who taught us about leaving a comrade behind is worse than trash."
"Yeah, that's right. I did." He says as he scratched the back of his head sheepishly.
"And to be honest, I rather be trash than to leave you behind." I mumble in a serious tone. As I looked at him, my expression softened. "Besides, I could ever leave you behind like that. You're my brother after all."
"I know you wouldn't. Because there's no way I would leave you behind." He replies back. "But I'll admit; I'm glad that you and the others stood up to fight. You worked together and we were able to survive that encounter."
"Yeah, you're right. And I'm glad to hear that." I declare as I carefully jumped back to my feet. "Now then, we should turn in. We both need rest, you especially. I know for a fact that you're not back to full strength yet."
"Yeah, I know." He admits.
Turning to face him, I grab a hold of his arm, and by using all of my weight and strength, I managed to pull him back to his feet. We quietly enter the house and made our way to out separate rooms. Kakashi shared with Naruto and Sasuke while I shared with Sakura. Within minutes, I was out of it.
One week later…
Sakura, Sasuke, Kakashi and I ate breakfast and went to the building site with Tazuna. Naruto didn't join us. He was still fast asleep, obviously tired from training himself to the point of extreme exhaustion. While we stood there, keeping an eye out for any threats, the area suddenly changes as dense fog suddenly appears around the bridge. To make things worse, it began to thicken.
"Something's wrong. There is something seriously wrong here.” I mutter quietly. “Where did this fog come from all of a sudden?"
"I'm not sure, but someone has to be behind this." Sasuke states in a matter-of-factly tone.
"Yeah you're right and I have a feeling I know who's responsible for this. But the question is; where are they?" I tell him.
We stood there in silence as the mist continued to thicken. Sasuke, Sakura and I quickly got into formation to protect Tazuna. Before long, we were all surrounded by clones of Zabuza. Sasuke and I were both shaking as we stared at our opponents.
"Look at that. The boy and the young girl are both shaking again. How pathetic." Zabuza states.
"We aren't shaking because we're frightened." I tell him.
"We're shaking from excitement." Sasuke finishes.
"Sasuke, Kazumi, go for it." Kakashi sensei instructs.
Without any trouble, Sasuke and I were able to successfully defeat all the water clones. We landed right back in our spots and quickly all of the clones transformed back into small pools of water around us. While we stood there, the real Zabuza finally appeared, and he wasn't alone. With him was the same kid from before. He was still wearing that ANBU mask.
"Zabuza" I growl.
"But, I thought he was dead." Sakura states in disbelief.
"Apparently that wasn't the case. That ANBU officer lied to us." Sasuke informs us.
"Well, well, well, look at what we have here. It's nice to see you all again. Are you ready to die?" Zabuza asks. "Haku, why don't you go and keep the brats busy while the grown-ups play." Zabuza tells him.
"Yes, of course, Zabuza." He answers.
Haku quickly disappears and comes right after us. Sasuke and I quickly respond by going on the offensive as well. Meanwhile, Sakura stayed back to protect Tazuna. We went back and forth, as we were both able to block Haku's attacks. But suddenly Haku began using his hand signs. Before we knew it, we were both surrounded by ice mirrors.
"What the heck?” I mutter as I glance strangely at the sight before us. They’re… They’re mirrors. Mirrors made of ice?"
"Ugh, what is he up to?" Sasuke asks, sounding pretty annoyed.
"I don't know, but keep your guard up." I tell him as I continue to look around.
"This attack will be the end of the both of you." Haku says. "Now, I will show you my true speed and power. You won't be able to stop me."
"Sasuke! Kazumi!" Kakashi yell as he attempts to head over to where we were.
"I don't think so Kakashi. Remember, I am your opponent." Zabuza announces as he rushes to stand before him, keeping him from moving.
"Zabuza." Kakashi growls.
"Heh, your brats are dead. That technique Haku is using will kill them and there is nothing you can do to help them." Zabuza explains to him.
"Get out of my way Zabuza, right now." Kakashi orders.
"Heh, I think not." He replies back.
As Sasuke and I stood inside the ice mirror arena, we kept a close eye on Haku as he entered the ice. We were both standing ready for what he had in store for us. We could see Haku moving slightly as he held needles in between his fingers. Before we knew it, we were being bombarded with multiple needles as they flew pass us. Because the ambush was coming from every single direction, we were forced to crouch low to the ground. As we tried to protect ourselves as best as we could, I peeped to my right to see Sasuke struggling to protect himself.
"I have to do something and fast." I thought.
Forcing myself to stand up, I quickly rush over to Sasuke and pushed him closer to the ground while I stood over him. By doing so, I was giving him a little more protection, but at the same time, I was more vulnerable to Haku’s attacks then he was. As the needles continued to fly, I slowly brought my hands down from my face and quickly began performing a few quick hand signs. The task was more difficult than usual since I had to make sure that none of Haku’s needles struck a vital point that could kill me instantly. It took longer than I thought but I was able to perform the hand signs correctly.
"Wind Style, Wind Barrier Jutsu!" I yell.
Within seconds, a whirlwind of wind surrounds Sasuke and I, blocking and knocking away the senbon needles that were aimed right for us. Haku soon stopped the attack, seeing that he wasn't going to be able to pierce through the strong barrier of wind. As soon as he did, a shuriken suddenly flies into the arena and strikes Haku’s mask, causing him to fall out the mirror he was leaning out of. Our eyes widen as a large cloud of smoke appears beside Haku's mirror technique. Sasuke and I quickly realized that there was only one person crazy enough to use so much smoke at one time.
"That idiot…" Sasuke mumbles.
Noticing that the barrage of senbon had ceased, I stop my wind attack, causing the vortex to disperse. Once the barrier was down, I fell down to one knee as I tried to catch my breath. Lifting my head, I spot Naruto had finally appeared. I allowed a small smirk to form the moment I saw my teammate.
"About time, Naruto." I say quietly. Taking advantage of the enemy's distraction, Sasuke quickly takes out a kunai and throws it at the unaware ninja. To our surprise, the boy simply inclines his head backwards, avoiding the weapon. Sasuke curse under his breath.
"I didn't forget about you two." Haku says as he looks at us. "I would have liked for you to just lie there quietly, but I guess I can't expect that. Very well. I'll finish the match with you first." Haku then turns away from Naruto and walked towards the mirrors.
"H-Hey!" Naruto complains, not wanting to be ignored.
"Naruto-kun, I'll deal with you later." And with that, Haku reenters the ice mirror. Sasuke and I were soon surrounded by several images Haku that appeared on the surface of the mirrors.
"We might have a chance if we attack from inside and Naruto from the outside." Sasuke whispers to me. I just nod in agreement.
"Hey, I came to help you!" Naruto declares after appearing in front of us. Sasuke and I stared at Naruto with 'please-tell-me-he-really-didn't-just-jump-in-here -with-us' looks.
"Hey, you two all right? What's with the faces?" Naruto asks.
Sasuke just growls in frustration, "You idiot! If you're a ninja you should be more careful!"
"What's with that attitude? I came to help you!" Naruto justifies.
"If you come into the mirrors as well- Damn it. Forget it." Sasuke snaps.
"Idiot? What do you mean by that?" Naruto asks.
Now that Naruto was inside, he was trapped inside with us. So the inside/outside attack was thrown out the window. But now a new question caught my attention. Was there any way for us to destroy these ice mirrors?
"We… We have to get rid of those mirrors." I tell them.
"I know, but what can we do?" Sasuke asks.
"I have an idea." Naruto yells.
All of a sudden, Naruto rushes towards Haku, attempting to smash one of the ice mirrors. Just as he was about to attack, Haku jumps out of one of the mirrors and goes straight for Naruto. I spotted five needles were heading towards him, so I quickly rushed over and got Naruto out of the way. Even though I was able to save him in time, Haku was able to strike me twice in the leg. Shifting my weight slightly, I managed to land in a safe way that didn’t injury Naruto or myself.
"Damn it Naruto, what were you thinking?" Sasuke yells as he rushes over to where Naruto and I were. "Kazumi, are you all right?"
"Yeah, I'm fine. He just got me in the leg." I tell him as I pulled the needles from my leg.
"Hmm, even though I was able to hit her, she still moved at an incredible speed." Haku thought.
"Hey, look out!" I quickly warn them.
Several needles were flying towards us, but luckily, we were able to avoid them in time. But as the speed of the needles increased, Haku manage to hit all three of us at once. As we slowly got up, Haku rushes towards us once more but this time he struck Naruto, sending him farther back from us.
"Naruto!" Sasuke and I yell.
"Now's my chance." Haku whispers.
Haku quickly exits his mirror and pushes his attack on Naruto. However, Sasuke was able to make it to Naruto in time. He took the hit and was able to throw Haku towards me. I was able to injure Haku with a strong side kick, sending him colliding into one of his mirrors. Haku quickly went back into the mirror once he got back to his feet. I then turned my attention back onto Sasuke and Naruto.
"Sa….Sasuke?" Naruto utters in a low tone.
"You always have to get in the way Naruto. You, you are such a loser." Sasuke tells him.
"But why, why did you protect me?" Naruto asks.
"I don't know why. My body just moved on its own." He replies back.
I just sat where I was and saw how Sasuke was standing in front of Naruto in a protective manner. As I looked at him, I noticed Sasuke starting to fall. Naruto quickly sat up fast enough and was able to catch him before he could hit the ground. I quickly got up and rushed over towards them both.
"Sasuke!" I yell.
"Ha, not so fast." Haku yells at me.
Before I could get any closer to either Sasuke or Naruto, I had to stop dead in my tracks and jump back to avoid the needles that were coming towards me. I knew I had to continue this fight and I had to protect both of my teammates. I quickly turned back around and resumed my battle with Haku. While I was continuing the fight, Naruto was still holding Sasuke. I dodged and avoided his needles but I was able to steal a glance at the two. Sasuke had yet to move and I knew that Haku would soon target Naruto. I had to do something or else we were finished.