A/N: Last time, Gohan escorts Tazuna to Wave. This time, he deals with Gato.
(Heads up, Haku's female in this fic. Why? Just cause.)
Gohan followed the bridge builder into his home, the man calling out to his loved ones.
A young black-haired woman rushed into the living room, her clothes homely and simple. She hugged the old man tightly.
Gohan and Ko could quickly tell she was his daughter.
The woman quickly passed the Hyuga and the Son boy a bow, "Thank you both so much for bringing my dad back home!"
"Psh, Gohan here was the one who did all the work!" Tazuna corrected, Ko's face falling as the demi-saiyan gave a small laugh.
"It was no big deal, miss. Me and Ko were happy to have helped." the boy said as he rubbed the back of his head bashfully.
"My name's Tsunami, not 'miss'." the woman said with a smile, "And that one over there, spying on us, is my son, Inari." she nodded to a little boy peering in on the group from behind a corner.
"Inari!" Tazuna called out to his grandson, "Come give your grandfather a hug!"
The child happily ran from behind the corner and into his grandfather's arms.
Tsunami looked at the two, before turning to Gohan and Ko, "You two have to be hungry after such a long journey. Why don't you get settled in the dining room, I'll get dinner started!"
"Oh, it's okay, miss." Gohan started, his eyes glancing around at the near-empty house, "You don't have to-"
"Nonsense!" Tazuna interrupted the boy, "You're gonna eat something. I won't have a hero go hungry, not in this house!"
Gohan's head lowered in defeat of this fight. Inari and Tazuna quickly stepped out of the room and into the kitchen, leaving Gohan and Ko alone. It was then Gohan and Ko noticed the child, Inari, glaring daggers at them.
Clearing his throat, Ko turned to Gohan, trying his best to avoid eye contact with the boy who tried to make it obvious they weren't welcome, "So, Gohan, we've successfully brought Tazuna back to his home. Perhaps we should get a quick rest before making our way back to the Leaf?"
"No no, we can go back to the leaf after Gato is taken care of." Gohan corrected, "Besides, if we bring Tazuna back just for him to get killed by Gato later, wouldn't this whole trip have just been a big waste of time?"
Sighing, Ko gave a half hearted nod, "I suppose."
Within' few minutes; Gohan and Ko sat quietly at the dining room table of the humble home. Tazuna walked into the dining room, Inari by his side as they too took seats at the table.
Ko took a sip from a cup of water, the Hyuga having taken quiet glances around the house. It was easy to tell this family was destitute, or close to it, "I must say, thank you for the hospitality, Tazuna-san."
The old man waved off the Hyuga, "Uh huh sure." he immediately turned to Gohan, "So Gohan, what do you like to do when you aren't out sticking up for the little guys?"
Gohan scratched the back of his head at the compliment, "Well, I like to train, study academia, eat" his father then came to mind, his mood dropping but the boy did his best to hide it, "go fishing…"
"Oh, fishing!" Tazuna asked excitedly, "That's something you and Inari have in common!" he clapped his hand down on his grandson's shoulder, Inari's expression growing more sour. This was something that wasn't lost on Gohan or Ko.
Tsunami walked into the dining room carrying a dish full of tasty-smelling food, the woman having overheard the conversation through the other room added, "That's definitely one of Inari's favorite hobbies," Tsunami set down the dish, she herself taking a seat, "Neither me nor my father can take him out for it much these days, mostly because Inari's not the best swimmer."
Gohan took a small portion of the rice and beef, trying his hardest not to make eye contact with the kid across from him glaring disdainfully at him.
"You swim at all, Gohan?" Tazuna asked him.
Smiling, Gohan answered, "Yeah! A lot! I actually prefer catching my fish by hand, so you could say swimming is a favored hobby of mine also!" he looked to Inari, hoping to ease the tension, "I could teach ya' how to swim, if ya want!"
Tsunami turned to her son, "Would you like that, Inari?"
The boy huffed and looked off to the side, "No thanks, I'll pass."
Tazuna and Tsunami looked to each other in defeat. It was obvious they were trying to get Inari to make a friend in Gohan. Looks like that wasn't meant to be.
Tsunami still wore a smile to not break the mood, the woman turning back to the demi-saiyan at the table, "I'm really surprised to hear that you accomplished so much on your own, Gohan. I mean, how could you be so strong and fearless with no ninja training?"
At this, Ko was paying much attention.
This, Gohan could answer, "Heh, well, my father was always a naturally gifted fighter. He'd come from a long line of warriors, so I guess that's where he got it from. By the time he was my age, he'd already defeated armies, saved countless villages, and fought off several monsters." Gohan said, the boy taking in mouthfuls of food, "And, my mother was raised as a warrior princess by my grandfather, who trained under the same sensei as my father. My mom may not have had the same passion for fighting like my dad did, but when she wanted to, she could lay a smackdown with the best of them."
'So it could be genetics?' Ko thought to himself, the man taking note of everything Gohan said, 'This raises the question of just how powerful his father could have been. This is something to take note of.'
"And, I had a great sensei in the form of one of my father's rivals. He took me under his wing when a dangerous pair threatened my home." Gohan scratched the back of his head, "I'd been involved in battle's since I was four years old… so, it's hard for anything to rattle me anymore."
"Oh my…" Tsunami breathed. She looked to her Inari and couldn't imagine him ever being in a fight at his age, and to imagine someone half his age being forced to fight to the death… her heart went out to Gohan's mother.
Tazuna leaned forward at the table, eyes serious, "Tell me, how are you gonna do it? Deal with Gato, that is."
Gohan, sure of himself, simply said, "Well, first, I'm gonna ask him nicely to leave your village alone. When he says no, that's when I'll take a physical approach."
"Just how physical we talking?" Tazuna asked, his expression one of worry and uncertainty, "I don't think nice words are gonna work on a man like Gato."
"They probably won't." Gohan admitted, "But I have to try a nonviolent approach where I can. I may be a decent fighter, but that doesn't mean I like hurting anyone. How physical I get with Gato depends on him."
Tazuna nodded as he leaned back at the table, a satisfied smile now back on his face. He looked back at Tsunami and Inari, "This boy," he pointed at Gohan, "he's gonna make a difference. He alone will save this land."
Tsunami smiled at Gohan, the woman adopting this same sense of hope in the boy at her table. Gohan blushed bashfully and looked down at his plate. A grunt came from Inari, all eyes going to the young boy as he angrily got out of his seat and stormed toward the door.
"Inari?" Tsunami called out to her son. The boy stopped at the door, angrily turning to Gohan.
"Just who do you think you are?" Inari asked, Gohan raising an eyebrow in confusion, "You think because you walk around wearing a cape and a fearless attitude that makes you a hero? Get real! You're better off going back where you came from, that way when you die people didn't get their hope's up for nothing!"
He slammed the door as he left.
Gohan and Ko looked to Tazuna and Tsunami, their expressions one of sadness.
"What was all of that about?" Ko asked.
"I'm sorry about that." Tsunami said, "He still never got over him."
"Over who?" Gohan asked.
"Kaiza, my husband and Inari's step-father." Tsunami said.
"A great man. An incredible one." Tazuna said, "He came to us from, well, from out of nowhere really. He saved Inari from drowning one day, and quickly proved to be a figure that not only Inari could look up to, idolize, but the entire village as well. He alone saved this town on numerous occasions, putting his own life on the line for the good of us all."
Gohan knew men like that. Aside from the obvious example of his father, he could think of the rest of the Z-fighters as well; Krillin, Piccolo, Tien, Yamcha, and to a much lesser but still relevant extent, Vegeta. All but one of those people he looked up to more than anything. If anyone ever asked him, Gohan would say they were the real heroes of his life. He was simply the baby of their group; inexperienced and in need of their guidance when things got rough.
"It was one thing he always wanted to instill in Inari," Tsunami continued for her father, "To protect the lives of those he cares about with his own two arms."
"What happened to him?" Gohan asked, knowing he wouldn't like the answer.
Tazuna looked at the boy. He wouldn't spare the child any of the gruesome details. Gohan needed to know just who he was dealing with, "Gato happened. When that monster came into the picture; he'd pushed drugs through the town that destroyed families, forced young girls into human trafficking, and racketeered local businesses. Kaiza was the only one willing to stand against him. Gato, made sure to shut that down." his eyes went to the table, "He took Kaiza's arms from him. Dismantled the man brutally in front of the entire village, in front of Inari to set an example. He cut the man down and spilled his blood in front of us all, and ever since, my grandson hasn't been the same."
"Goodness, I'm… so sorry to hear that." Ko said.
Images that Gohan wished dearly to forget cycled through his mind; images like Yamcha, Tien, Chiaotzu, and Piccolo's deaths at the hands of Nappa and Vegeta; images like Dende and Krillin's deaths at the hands of Frieza, and Android 16's death at the foot of Cell.
The list of people Gohan loathed was short, but Gato earned himself a nice spot on that list.
"Inari's light was stolen from him that day." Tsunami said.
Gohan stared at his now empty bowl. Finally, he asked, "Um, may I be excused?"
A light laugh came from Tsunami, "We aren't your parent's, Gohan, you can do as you please."
The demi-saiyan smiled and stood up from the table, giving a bow of thanks, before leaving the dining room.
As Gohan traversed the house, he followed the sounds of sniffles before he traced the source behind a bedroom door. He gave a knock on the door, the sniffles coming to an abrupt stop.
The door to the room opened, Inari's eyes red and slightly wet, an obvious sign that he'd been crying. His face was twisted in a scowl, one that he aimed directly at Gohan.
"Er, is it okay if I come in?" Gohan asked awkwardly.
Inari wordlessly walked away from the door and away from Gohan, the boy sitting on his bed and looking out the window to the lake outside his home.
Gohan took a seat next to him. The demi-saiyan scratched his temple, as he too looked out the window, "I'm sorry about your dad."
Inari shrugged, "You and everyone else who hears the story…" he glared at Gohan, "and pretends to be so you don't look like assholes."
"You don't have to believe me," Gohan added, "But I know what it's like." he closed his eyes, "I lost my own father to evil not long ago." Though, Gohan knew his words were hollow. His father died before when he was four, and came back to life. His father died again, and he was certain he'd be wished back if he wasn't already. Poor Inari, wouldn't get to receive that same blessing. "The big difference between you and me, is that my father's death was my fault." It was this that caught Inari's attention, "I could have stopped a monster from killing him when I had the chance, but my arrogance gave that monster the opportunity to take my father's life." he shook his head, "It's a mistake I've vowed not to let happen again."
Inari looked to Gohan sympathetically yet judgingly, "If you screwed up that badly, then why even bother trying?"
"Because giving up is the one thing my dad wouldn't tolerate." Gohan said, "Even in the face of death, even when you're the last man standing, you have an obligation to fight when no one else will. You don't let the suffering of even one person go unaccounted for." Gohan looked out over the ocean, "I never met Kaiza, but I'd think that's something he'd agree with. What do you think?"
Inari couldn't disagree, but he wouldn't answer either.
"Your dad sounded pretty cool." Inari mumbled.
"So did yours." Gohan said, satisfied at the small smile he saw on the kids face.
The preteen looked out over the ocean, "So, I hear you aren't the best swimmer." Gohan said, figuring they could take advantage of the daylight, "Wanna fix that?"
Inari's eyes brightened.
The next morning, Gohan awoke from his bed in the guest room. Having slept in just his boxers, he got back dressed in his navy blue robes before he walked into the dining room. He stopped to see Ko at the dining room table, sipping from a tea cup. He was writing in a scroll he had laid out in front of him, unknown to Gohan, notes of information that Ko gathered on the boy so far.
"You're up early." Gohan said to the man who took a sip from his tea cup.
"I could say the same to you." Ko said, casually rolling up the scroll as to not look suspicious, "Tsunami's up too, though I do believe she went out to the market already." He casually tu
"That's fine." Gohan said as he dug his finger in his ear, trying his best to get the seawater still stuck in it out. He grabbed his cape still laying on the floor, throwing it on over his shoulders.
"What do you plan on doing?" Ko asked the boy.
"Zabuza's still alive, and I doubt he's too happy with me." Gohan admitted, "It's best I stay up and alert in case he makes a move on Tazuna in his home. Knowing Gato has other henchmen means I need to be extra careful, for his family's sake."
Ko shook his head, "I know you don't like killing, Gohan-san, but these types of situations are the reason that eliminating an enemy is ideal."
Gohan didn't respond to that. "I'm heading outside to get a workout in. Do you mind staying here? If anything comes up, I swear I'll be back in a flash."
Ko nodded, "Don't worry Gohan-san. Things will be just fine here under my watch." Although he would mainly be keeping an eye on the boy from afar with his byakugan. He was more than certain Gohan would keep within a 20 kilometer range.
Ample opportunity to gather more info.
Gohan trained deep in the forest's outside of the home, the demi-saiyan sparring with his multi-form clone. To a spectator's eye, Gohan and his clone were black streaks clashing against each other, the impacts causing craters that split the ground and cracked the bark of trees.
The Gohan clone took a brutal punch to the jaw that sent it skidding across the ground, before it faded away.
Gohan levitated in the air with a slight pant, before he settled back down to the ground.
He looked to his surroundings, feeling a bit of guilt over the damage to nature he caused, but he knew he had to stay limber. Ultimately, nothing he did to the environment would harm any of the wildlife, so he'd take a sliver of satisfaction in that.
After he calmed himself, taking a deep breath and allowing his adrenaline rush to settle, he noticed a faint energy source. It wasn't hostile, or even evil for that matter… yet, it was also familiar.
He followed this energy until he traced it to a small clearing within the forest. A young woman, a few years older than Gohan, was turned, back to him. She was dressed in a simple pink kimono, picking herbs from the bushes.
The Son boy continued to look at her, somewhat in awe at her pure nature. A small bird landed on her shoulder, a bird she happily smiled at as she continued her harvesting.
"I think your sneaking skills could use some work." the teen said out loud, not even turning to Gohan.
Gohan smiled as he approached, "Actually, I wasn't sneaking. I'm just a bit shy sometimes, is all. Uh, what are you doing way out here?"
She held her basket to him, "I'm picking medicinal herbs. Do you wish to help?"
Gohan eagerly nodded and got to picking next to her.
"What's your name?" the teen asked after a few short seconds of silence.
"Son Gohan. You?" Gohan asked.
"My name is Haku."
"Nice to meet you, Haku." Gohan said, taking a quick glance at her.
"It's nice to meet you too, Gohan." Haku said with a smile.
"Any reason you're picking these herbs all by yourself?" Gohan asked, "I mean, before I joined." he blushed.
"Hmmm, I'm picking them for someone important. Someone I find more precious than anything else in this world." Haku said.
"That's really nice." Gohan said, receiving a nod from Haku, "Having people in your life that you care about is what makes life worth living."
"What about you?" Haku asked, "Are there people in your life that you find precious?"
"Absolutely." Gohan said as he pulled another herb. He wouldn't mention who, but he thought of his mother, his father, Piccolo, Krillin, and the rest of the Z-Warriors.
"You wouldn't happen to be the cause of all the commotion I was hearing earlier, would you?" Haku asked.
Gohan chuckled, "Yeah, I was. Sorry about that, I get a bit loud when I'm training."
"You're a fighter?" Haku asked, to which she received a nod from Gohan, "What do you fight for, Gohan? What are your ideals?"
"The weak. I fight for the weak." Gohan replied, a bit of steel behind his onyx eyes, "Those who can't fight for themselves." he picked the last notable herb, "All I want is peace; for me, for my family, for everyone." he glanced down at the grass beneath his sandal, "Unfortunately, come to think of it, it's never been something I'm allowed long term..."
Haku picked her last herb, "I like that. But, who is to say peace is meant to be long term?" Gohan looked to her questionably, prompting her to continue, "Wouldn't everything precious; things such as peace, freedom, justice, need to be maintained? Otherwise, wouldn't they lack value? Maybe fate simply chooses warriors to fight for these values so that they may continue to mean something."
"Yeah." Gohan sighed, "This life definitely chose me."
"Do you wish to know what I fight for?" with a nod from Gohan, she continued, "The person most precious to me. I fight so that they will not have to. So that they may live and so they may have peace… someday."
"That's very noble." Gohan nodded, "I can tell you're a really good person… which is why me and you really shouldn't be enemies."
Gohan shrugged. "I can sense ki. Yours feels the same as that woman that knocked out Zabuza the other day. Am I wrong?"
"...No. You are not." Haku said finally.
"I don't want to fight you." Gohan said, "I don't want to hurt you. There has to be another way."
Haku stood up, hand firmly gripping the basket, "Shinobi are tools. Because you are not among us, you may never understand." she walked away from the Son boy, "You serve as an obstacle to master Zabuza's plans, and as such, I will serve as his blade against you." she disappeared into the forest, but her voice still rang out clearly to the son of Goku, "We'll see each other on the battlefield."
Gohan walked the streets of Wave, the boy hoping to dig up some dirt on this 'Gato' character. As he strolled through the market area, cape drifting gently behind him, his heart sank.
He could see just how much damage Gato was doing to this land.
Shops were rundown and barely hanging on by threads. People both young and old were out in the streets begging for loose change. He saw three kids younger than him, dirty and dressed in rags, run out of a store with hands full of food. An angry shop owner chased after them with curses.
Something then appeared in Gohan's sight that immediately pissed him off.
A teenage girl no more than a few years older than him was getting manhandled by a much older man.
"Where's the money Maaya!" the man screamed at her, his hand around her neck.
The teen cried out, her scanty clothes dirty and ruined, "That's all I could make, I promise! I can't help it if no one buys!"
"Should've worked harder!" As the thug reared his hand back, a knee slammed into his left side, snapping his lowest rib in half. He immediately released the girl as he dropped to his knees, all air emptied from his lungs.
A foreign hand grabbed his palm tightly, slowly applying an uncomfortable amount of pressure.
"Where's Gato?" Gohan asked, voice dangerous.
"Wh-What's it to you, kid?" the man wheezed out, intimidated by this boy that put him on the ground like he was nothing.
"I have my reasons." Gohan said, "Now where is he?"
The man struggled, but relented when he found Gohan's hold unbreakable, "H-He's in the tallest tower, by the docks! J-Just let go!"
Gohan looked to the frightened girl, saw her bruises, and turned back to the man, "Leave town. If I see you back here, I'll break your other one."
"Break my other wha-?"
The thug cried out in pain, grabbing his broken hand and curling up on the ground.
The half-saiyan took a deep breath, standing still as he got his ever building rage under control, "Are you okay?" he asked the harlot.
She nodded vigorously.
"You should really get home. Less chances of bumping into creeps like this one." the demi-saiyan said, nodding to the wounded man behind him.
"R-Right. Thank you!" she bowed, before taking off.
"Little bitch, breaking my arm!" A short man dressed in a suit scratched at the cast on his left forearm. He wore small round shades and had shaggy matted brown hair on his head. Somehow, this heightened his ratty demeanor. He sat at his office desk, unable to do his work due to his very recent injury. "And what the hell am I paying you jackasses for! When I pay protection money, I expect some fucking protection!"
"We're sorry boss." One of the man's goons said.
"That's not coming out of our pay, is it?"
"You're damn right-" the businessman and his goons suddenly went quiet as the sound of punches and shouts came from outside the office door.
Suddenly the double-door to the office was kicked in, each slab of wood skidding across the floor.
The kingpin and his goons were on high alert, expecting a group of hired guns from a rival "benefactor" to be at the entranceway. Gato's two goons drew their swords as a lone figure stepped inside.
When they got a good look at who it was, an almost visible question mark appeared over their heads.
"The hell is this?" Gato asked, eyeing the intruder, "We ain't interested in girl scout cookies."
"So you're Gato?" Gohan asked as he got a good look at the man, "No offense, but your stench is about as foul as I'd imagined."
A disgusting smirk crossed the short man's face, "You… you, came looking for me?" he chuckled as he got out of his seat to get a better look at the kid, walking up to him, "Well, you sure as shit found me little girl. Now what do you want?"
"Simple request." Gohan started, "Leave. Go. Get out of Wave."
At this Gato and his thugs laughed out loud, "Ain't that just precious, kid dresses up like his favorite superhero and now he thinks he is one." Gato raised an eyebrow as he grinned at Gohan, "Kid, you've got a lot to learn about this world… but too bad you won't get the chance." he turned away from Gohan, walking away from him as he walked back to his desk, "Kill him. Keep the cape for me. Don't make too much of a mess." he said as he passed his guards, making a gesture with his good hand.
The men pulled their katanas, and charged straight for the boy who stood his ground.
They swung their swords, Gohan simply raising his forearms to meet the blades. On impact, the swords broke and clattered to the floor.
Before the ronin could even realize what was happening, Gohan kicked the legs from under one of them before grabbing him by his arm, swinging him into his partner and sending them both through the wall and out of the tower.
"Th-The hell?!" Gato sputtered in shock, "No way some runt could-!"
"I'm sure those two would beg to differ." Gohan said, interrupting Gato as he nodded to the hole he'd just made, "As well as your guards outside your door," he jabbed a finger behind him, Gato just now seeing the beaten and unconscious men in the hall outside the room, "As well as the guards on your boats."
"What?!" the kingpin shouted as he ran to the window, to his horror several boats were smoking, their cargo burned to ash. One boat was completely ripped in half and sunk into the moist sand and the occupants dealt with.
"A lot of the things on there looked important." Gohan smirked confidently, "But I couldn't be too sure. So why not trash all of them?"
The man's face twisted into an angry snarl, his hate filled eyes burning right through his shades, "So what do you think's gonna happen, kid. I'm gonna save face and cut town with my tail between my legs? All over a couple of busted up boats?"
"Yeah." Gohan said simply, "Or it won't be your henchmen and your precious cargo I'm smashing up next time." he walked out of the room, "You have by tomorrow."
"Now just wait a minute, kid." Gato said, stopping Gohan at the door, "Obviously you got some talent. I don't know who's paying you, but I can double it, triple it even. Come work for me, I'll get you and your family set for life. Heh, you can buy all the toys and candy you want!"
Gohan gave the man a side glance, "No thanks. I actually prefer a modest lifestyle." he said before continuing on.
"Hmph, punk." Gato scoffed as Gohan left.
(One week later)
Inari breached the surface of the water, the kid taking a deep breath as he adeptly waded the waters his house sat on. He smiled up at his mother on the pier. "Mom, check this out!" he held up a decently sized fish that struggled and flapped in his grasp.
Tsunami smiled back to her son as she walked to the edge of the pier, aiming to get a closer look, "Nice catch Inari! But I don't plan on cooking that, so you should really let it go now."
Gohan lounged comfortably on the house's roof, overwatching the scene, "She's right! Never catch something you don't wanna eat!"
Inari looked over to Gohan, nodding in understanding as he let the fish go free. He took another deep breath, before diving back under the water's surface.
Gohan hopped off the roof and landed on the pier, Tsunami approaching him, "I can't thank you enough for what you've done, Gohan."
The half-saiyan gave her a slight bow, "You don't have to thank me, Tsunami." he scratched the back of his head, "To be honest, helping people is the only way I can stay productive these days."
"Well, whether you like helping people or not, we're blessed to have you around." Tsunami said, "And not just me and my family, but the rest of the land as well." she and Gohan watched as Inari swam, "The extra hands you gave on the bridge upped its progress by several weeks worth!" Tsunami wasn't there to see it, and she almost couldn't believe it when she heard it, but word quickly spread around the land about how Gohan single handedly moved the multi-ton steel beams and concrete blocks to the bridge all by himself,
(Five Days Ago)
Tazuna stood with a group of construction workers, the four of them looking over the blueprints to the progressing bridge. Gohan hung from the metal tower frame that hung over the bridge, watching over the construction work taking place.
Removing his helmet to scratch his head, Tazuna continued instructing his workers, "I want those floor beams placed by tonight. If we can get that handled, we can lay the foundations for the rest of the deck."
One of the workers shook their head, "That won't happen Tazuna, our only crane is on the fritz, has been all morning. Finally gave out a few hours ago."
"Damn it!" Tazuna cursed, "And there's no telling when we'll have it back working?"
"Could be a few more days at best." Another worker said, "It's a set back, but there's nothing we can do."
The sound of shifting metal was heard, the workers turning their heads to something the source. Their eyes widened in wonder when they saw the kid from earlier casually holding one of the massive steel beams above his head.
"May I be of assistance?" Gohan asked casually.
"And what's more, no one in town has seen any of Gato's thugs in several days!" Tsunami raised an eyebrow at Gohan, smirking, "Just what did you do to get him to scurry off?"
"I showed him that as long as he stayed in Wave, his business would keep suffering from... breakage. I'll assume he took the hint." Gohan laughed.
"Let's hope so. When this land is saved, we'll have you to thank."
Gohan vigorously shook his head, "All I am is an extra set of hands, miss. No one owes me anything."
"So modest." Tsunami said, "Oh, I wish I could meet your mother. She raised an angel!"
Gohan blushed even further, the boy holding his head down, before his head snapped up, an act that startled Tsunami.
"Is everything okay, Gohan?" she asked.
Ko stood on the bridge with Tazuna, guarding over the bridge building operation. The humidity in the air made him regret wearing his Hyuga robes, the man sweating heavily from the heat. The sounds of drilling concrete, machinery, and workers calling orders unfortunately drowned out the sounds of the massive lake below, the only thing that could've helped bring the man some sense of relaxation.
He really wished he could have just stayed back at the house, as Gohan was doing. Gohan was actually adamant about guarding the bridge while Ko stayed back to guard Tsunami and Inari, but Tazuna, valuing the lives of his family more than the bridge and his own life, insisted that the more blatantly powerful person guard his family in case Zabuza or any hired ninja showed back up.
Made sense to him.
In all honesty though, this bridge builder was no one to him. Whether he lived or not didn't too much matter to Ko a personal level… but he definitely wouldn't want to face Son Gohan's wrath if anything happened to the elderly man.
Ko formed a handsign, activating his Byakugan to scan the area. It was then he saw them, standing high above the bridge on an inactive crane.
"Tazuna!" Ko called out, immediately pulling a kunai, "To me!"
The old man immediately ran to the Hyuga, the rest of the construction crew looking on in confusion, "All of you go! Run! Get home!" Tazuna ordered his crew, the men running as a heavy mist filled the area. It was he who these attackers were after; if he ran, he'd be at risk. It was best to stay near this Hyuga for protection.
"Looks like you're all alone, Hyuga." a voice called out from the mist, the haze growing so thick Tazuna couldn't see his own hands right in front of him. Although the voice came from all directions, Ko could see Zabuza clearly through the mist with help of his dojutsu. "Been some years since I've killed one of you." Zabuza's toothy grin spread out even through his bandages, "This day just keeps getting better."
Tsunami gasped in fear and shock as she looked up at the roof of her house, seeing two thugs with bow and arrow aimed right at her and Gohan.
The Son boy paid them no mind as far as his own safety went, though he did of course keep in mind they were a threat to Tazuna's family. His eyes were more focused on the six thugs that approached from either side of the home, all wielding various pointy weapons.
"Stay behind me." Gohan told Tsunami. She obliged, still calling out for Inari.
The boy surfaced, his look of confusion quickly turning to fear as he gasped at the men.
Tsunami kept an eye on the hired thugs, her voice stern when ordering her son to get out of the water. Inari quickly did so, running up the pier to stand right behind his mother.
"Lemme guess." Gohan started, fists balling tight, "Gato sent you here?"
One of the bandits, a scrawny yet tall man holding a scythe, sneered at the half-saiyan, "Well would you look at this, a little pooch with some heart."
Another bandit chuckled, "You know how small dogs get." he pulled his sword, "They don't know how small they are til they pick a fight with something that tears em to shreds."
"Why don't you cut the tough guy act, little man." A bandit snickered, "We're just here for the woman. You make this complicated, we'll just kill you, her son, and take her by force."
"And seeing how pretty she is, and how lonely a few of us are... heh, you really wouldn't wanna sour any of the gang's mood before we take her, would you?"
Everything happened faster than Inari and Tsunami could react. An angry shout cried from Gohan's throat as his left hand shot up, a kiai wave slamming into the thugs on the right side of the home with bone shattering force. A half-second after, and both of Gohan's arms snatched the arrows fired from the archers on the rooftop.
Now perfectly willing to hurt every single one of these men, Gohan's gaze focused on the archers on the roof. The men scrambled to pull more arrows into their bows, before Gohan suddenly appeared on the roof in front of them. The teen could hear the men down on the pier making a move for Inari and Tsunami, a cue to handle these men quickly.
With a swift kick to the knee, shattering the limb, and an uppercut to the jaw, Gohan neutralized one of the men. He saw the remaining archer load his arrow and fire, not even bothering to dodge as the bolt hit him square in the face.
The eyes of the archer who fired widened as the arrow broke on impact, "Wh-what the hell-!" he was silenced by a gut punch by Gohan, the force of the punch immediately rendering the man unconscious. Out of his peripherals, Gohan could see the thugs quickly advancing on Tazuna's family.
Inari saw the sword wielding men running for him and his mother, the boy shaking with fear. He gulped before he stood in front of his mother as a shield.
"Inari!" Tsunami gasped.
The thug leading the charge, a burly man holding an axe, grinned eagerly as he reared back his weapon. He was fully intent on cleaving the boy and his mother in half to complete his task.
The impact and crack of bone on bone filled Tsunami and Inari's ears, the two witnessing the burly man's face get slammed into the dock hard enough to shatter the wood to splinters, courtesy of Gohan's knee to the back of his head. The remaining five thugs shouted in horror as Gohan stood before them.
"I don't think so." Gohan growled dangerously as he viciously engaged the remaining thugs.
Seconds later, Tsunami and Inari looked at Gohan with relief, the demi-saiyan dusting his hands and standing over a pile of beaten and comatosed thugs.
"Are you both okay?" he asked the mom and son, to which he received nods in return.
"There's no way men could have only been sent here." Tsunami said, "You have to hurry and get to the bridge! My father will need you!"
"Absolutely." Gohan nodded, though before he could jet off, Inari called out,
"Wait!" he looked around at all of the bodies on the pier, a bit apprehensive, "Wh-what abou-"
"Trust me, none of these guys are gonna wake up for several months at least." Gohan promised, "Still, I do hate to leave you with them."
"Don't worry," Tsunami said, "We'll handle them. Just get to my father."
Gohan instantly shot off.
Ko's knees wobbled, the Hyuga barely holding up his defense against Zabuza. This fight would already be a challenge if it were only his own life on the line, but to hold off Zabuza and his apprentice while also defending Tazuna was hellish.
It was only because of his Byakugan and his careful use of the rotation technique that he'd been able to keep the two nin at bay.
Now, his chakra was running out. He didn't know if Gohan would show up at all, but he had to keep praying.
Zabuza's chuckle echoed through the mist, the voice coming in from all angles from Ko's perspective "Your getting tired, I can tell. Wonder how many spins you have left in ya'?"
Tazuna, while nervous and scared for his life, wouldn't crumble in the face of despair. He closed his eyes and prayed, "Where are you Gohan?"
Tazuna's eyes opened, the mist ninja on high alert to the boy who stood before them.
With a slight grunt, Gohan's aura flared, blowing away the mist and leaving the enemy ninja in open view.
Zabuza and Haku stood side by side; nervous, but calm. They'd hoped that the overwhelming numbers that were thrown at him earlier would keep the boy occupied enough to off this Hyuga and kill the bridge builder.
As it would appear, that wasn't enough.
"Bout time you showed up, pipsqueak." Zabuza scoffed.
Gohan's smile never waned, "You're one to talk, I stuck around the village this whole time waiting for you." He folded his arms, "Given our last encounter, you should know you can't win. Why don't you just turn back now and leave?"
"Tsk, I'll admit, you got a one-up on me." Zabuza nodded, "But this time, I have an ace in the hole. Haku!"
The kunoichi immediately launched at Gohan, the demi-saiyan grabbing her wrist, senbon needle just centimeters from his eye. Gohan immediately retaliated by throwing her, sending the kunoichi to the opposite end of the bridge.
He pursued her as Zabuza moved in on Tazuna, Ko quickly stepping back in between them.
"No mist, no partner..." Ko said, "Still feeling confident?"
"Hmph." Zabuza scoffed before lunging at Ko.
Haku skidded back along the unfinished bridge, the heels of her sandals grinding along the cement.
Two needles were held tightly in the grips of her palms, her masked face leveled at the saiyan slowly walking towards her.
"I really don't enjoy this." Gohan said, "And from the feel of things, you don't either. So why don't we just end this, right here and now? This is pointless on both our ends."
"And you're right." Haku said, the teen dropping the senbon in her left hand and forming hand signs with just that hand. Gohan saw what she was doing, but paid it no mind. He could either stop her physically, thus adding fuel to this fire, or try to talk her down, hopefully dowsing the fire completely, "But this goes beyond what I enjoy. My purpose is to serve Zabuza-san. I have already explained to you that my purpose is to act as his sword."
The water around Gohan gently lifted up, shaping into ice-formed mirrors that surrounded the boy. Haku stepped into one of the mirrors, her form appearing all around the demi-saiyan.
"And as such, I will fight for him until my death." her voice rang all around Gohan.
"Fine." Gohan said as his hands immediately snatched the senbon thrown at him. He caught two, but about a dozen others bounced off him harmlessly. He watched as Haku leaped from one panel into another with each attack. To an untrained eye, she'd be untraceable, to someone who'd been trained in high speed combat, Gohan could see her clearly and even grab her mid-motion. "Maybe I can't stop you from acting as his tool, I'm sure that's just who you are. But you're the closest person to him, which means you have a responsibility to him that goes beyond being his sword and shield." At this, Haku stopped, a sign that she was listening. Her image hung in the mirror-like panels, "You can still help guide him down a better path. Trust me, I get people like him, I've spent most of my life around people just like him and worse. I know there's some good in Zabuza, I felt it. It's why I let him go after our first encounter. The path that you two are on, will only lead to his death. Maybe not now, but somewhere down the line. And if not death, then he'll never see his true potential." his voice was calm as he spoke, "If you truly care about Zabuza, why not help him do more."
With this, Haku was speechless.
Gohan smiled, content that he'd managed to settle Haku. He held up a non-lethal amount of ki in his palm, before swinging his hand at the ice panels, the blast destroying all of the mirrors and sending Haku back harmlessly to the ground, though slightly dazed.
She looked to see the son of Goku giving her a hand, "Come on. We both have people we need to stay alive to protect. Let's end this."
Haku smiled and took his hand.
Ko breathed heavily, the man dropping to a knee. He had a vicious cut to his left side, having taken a cut from Zabuza's sword. The nuke-nin stood before him with two clones at his sides, Zabuza resting the kubikiribocho on his shoulder. Ko managed to get in and nail him a few times with his juuken, but Ko's already heavily depleted amount of chakra was a big enough handicap for Zabuza to claim victory.
"You had a good run, Hyuga." Zabuza grinned through his bandaged face, "Maybe next time the leaf shouldn't send untrained kids to do grown up jobs, eh."
His murderous eyes went to Tazuna who hid behind a crate a fair distance away.
"Now, if you'll excuse me, I'll be collecting my payday!"
Zabuza's clone charged for the bridge builder, Tazuna gasping in horror at the impending danger.
When the bunshin reached halfway to Tazuna, a yellow light shot into the clone and blasted it to mist. Zabuza's eyes widened in surprise, another ki blast striking the head of his second clone, dropping the remains into a puddle of water.
The instant Zabuza turned, his wrist holding his sword was snatched in a vice grip, the pressure dropping Zabuza to his knees.
"I don't think so." Gohan said calmly.
Zabuza growled angrily at the kid, "You again? Always a fucking thorn in my side."
"I have a knack for that." Gohan replied as he released Zabuza's wrist.
The missing-nin looked to Haku, the kunoichi removing her mask, "Guess you couldn't handle this kid either."
Haku shook her head, "I'm sorry, Zabuza-san."
The man shook his head, "Fuckin figures." he growled.
"Language." Gohan said.
Ko pulled his kunai, an attempt to stick it into Zabuza's back from behind. A pointed glance from Gohan told him not to. The Hyuga, while reluctant, obliged and dropped the blade.
"Look, you aren't killing Tazuna." Gohan said with a steel to his voice, "You don't seem like the dense type, so I think you've figured that out by now."
Zabuza huffed, "I already told you, kid, I have nothing against this old man. It's all business. Turning my back on a job is bad for the reputation."
Gohan shrugged and folded his arms, "Well then, why don't we go to your employer. Maybe we can tell him to tear up your contract."
"You won't have to go far."
The taps of a cane could be heard behind them, all eyes turning to see a short man with a dark business suit and shades with a cast on his arm. He had a small army behind him.
"Gato…" Tazuna growled, voice filled with hate.
"The hell are you doing here, fat boy?" Zabuza asked, voice filled with an equal amount of hate.
The kingpin jabbed a thumb behind him, "What do you think? Heh, you think I planned on paying a sorry excuse for an assassin like you? You're a fucking joke! You can't even kill one kid in desperate need of a haircut." his sinister smirk widened, "By my calculations, ninja or not I can save a few bucks by wiping you all out with numbers while you're tired from battle."
Zabuza shook his head, "Fuckin' figures." He looked to Gohan, "Guess I won't be needing to ice that bridge builder after all."
Tazuna sighed in relief.
"Well that's great!" Gohan said, the boy eyeing the brigade across from them, "So, you guys still have the energy to handle them? I guess Gato couldn't calculate how little this actually took out of me."
Zabuza shrugged, "Yeah. Smacking your escort around didn't take much." he looked to Haku, "What about you, you up for this?" he received a smile and nod from his ward.
Gohan put his hand to Ko's back, giving the man a bit of his ki to get him back on his feet. The demi-saiyan looked to Gato's marauders and cracked his neck in challenge.
Gato hurriedly ran through his hired blades, the man using them to put as much distance as he could between the warriors and himself, "Don't just stand there goddammit, get them!"
One of the thugs in the front rolled his eyes, "Yeah yeah, we'll get-" his eyes suddenly widened when the four fighters suddenly charged at them, the four of them barrelling right into the marauders, immediately dismantling the mercenaries however they knew how.
Zabuza and Haku sliced their way through the ranks, Haku's speed taking her through the bandits before they could react while Zabuza's massive sword cleaved right through the enemy. A single tap from Ko would drop his targets while Gohan's speed and strength would drop his targets in one blow.
Gato broke out into a heavy sweat as he heard the pained shouts from his hired help. He took a few steps back, but gasped in shock as Haku leaped up high, senbon in her hands.
An explosion of sharp pain lit up Gato's knees, the business mogul dropping to the ground in pain from the senbon jetting out of his kneecaps.
Gohan's hands thrust forward, the boy sending forth a shockwave of energy that sent the remaining goons into the air and over the bridge and down into the waters below.
Gato's eyes widened in fear and horror when he saw Zabuza before him, the man approaching like a hungry wolf and he a wounded deer.
Gato looked to Gohan, "H-Hey, kid, you just gonna stand there and let this happen?!"
Gohan looked to Gato, sensing out his life force. Unlike Zabuza, there wasn't an iota of goodness within' him. And, coupled with that, the amount of power this man had meant that he would never truly leave Wave alone. Ultimately, there was nothing else that could be done.
"You know," Gohan said to the kingpin as Zabuza closed the distance, "I wouldn't kill you… but, I don't think I have to save you either…"
Gato's life flashed before his eyes as Zabuza raised his massive sword above him, "W-Wait, Zabuza, hold-"
Gohan looked away as Zabuza's sword slammed down into Gato, a wet splash and the sound of dripping filling his ears.
He looked back to Zabuza, over half the man's blade dripping in crimson.
"And that's that." Zabuza grinned.
Gohan grunted, not exactly approving of the outcome, but not exactly willing to criticize the man or his method.
"So, what now?" Tazuna asked, the old man now comfortable enough to approach the four warriors.
"Hm, well now that I won't be needing your head, I think I'll be searching for my next bag." Zabuza said, Gohan immediately shooting Haku a hopeful glance. It was then the young kunoichi looked to Zabuza, as if silently asking for permission to speak, "What?" he asked her when he saw her looking to him.
"If I may… make a request, Zabuza-sensei." Haku asked, receiving a nod from Zabuza, "I'd hope we could consider a more... bona fide area of work."
Zabuza raised an eyebrow, "You do remember what our long term goal is, right?"
"Yes." Haku nodded, "I'd just hope that we can receive funds through more authentic practices, that is all."
"Hm." Zabuza chuckled, "Where is this coming from all of a sudden?" his eyes glanced over to the Son boy standing by Tazuna.
Haku couldn't answer him.
"You know," Zabuza started, "you've never asked me for anything." he looked up, "The fact you're asking me for this, of all things, tells me this is important to you. Am I right?"
Haku nodded eagerly.
"Well then, if it means that much to you… I'll… consider it." Zabuza said as he began walking.
Haku turned back to Gohan, passing him a smile and a bow, one he returned.
Zabuza stopped walking, giving the Son boy a side glance, "Never caught your name, kid."
"Gohan, Son Gohan." the demi-saiyan said.
"Son Gohan..." Zabuza said, as if getting a feel for the name. He continued walking, Haku following after, 'Young, utterly powerful, and extremely merciful… where does someone like him come from?'
"Until we meet again." Haku said as she and Zabuza left the bridge.
"Well then," Tazuna said, feeling as if the weight of the world has been lifted off of his shoulders, "What's the plan now, gentlemen?"
"You still have a bridge to complete." Gohan said, "I'm thinking I can still stick around and speed up the process a bit."
Tazuna clapped the demi-saiyan's shoulder, "You're golden, lets get this done."
(Six Days Later)
Gohan and Ko stood at the end of the fully constructed bridge to Wave. The half-saiyan and the Hyuga exchanged handshakes with Tazuna and bows to Tsunami.
"You've been an absolute joy to have, Gohan!" Tsunami said, "Please, be sure to come through for a visit sometime!"
"You're always welcome in these parts, Gohan, remember that." Tazuna said, "If ever you need a roof over your head, there's a spot in the Tazuna household!"
"Thank you guys! You're great!" Gohan said, "If you guys ever need a hand with anything, you know where to find me!"
Inari held back tears, but kept up a smile, "See ya' Gohan, thanks for everything. You will come and hang out sometime, right?"
"You bet!" Gohan said, "I'm about a five minute flight, so I'll drop in from time to time!" he gave the family a thumbs up, "Until that time comes though…" he walked with Ko, the Tazuna family wishing them off as they went.
"So… Gohan-san, did you enjoy this little adventure?" Ko asked the boy as they walked across the bridge.
"You bet!" Gohan said with a smile, "This all kinda makes me wonder what else I can get into!"
And before long, they exited the bridge to wave, a bridge with an entrance sign that read,
'THE GREAT GOHAN BRIDGE! Dedicated to the lone hero of Wave!'
By sunset, the two made it back to the Leaf, Gohan heading straight for the Hyuga complex while Ko went for the Hokage's office.
The demi-saiyan went for the kitchen, the boy both famished and heading towards the only sounds of noise in the house.
He entered the kitchen to see Hinata and Hanabi, the two girls getting snacks for themselves before bed. They immediately turned to the sound of him entering the room,
"Gohan!" they said in unison.
"Where have you been all this time?" Hinata asked him.
Shrugging, Gohan answered, "Adventuring. What have you both been up to?"
A small smile and a blush crossed Hinata's face, "W-Well, I have been training. My father says that he notices a lot of improvement."
The demi-saiyan smiled proudly at her, "That's great Hinata!" he looked to Hanabi, "What about you, Hanabi, what have you been up to?"
Hanabi smiled mischievously, the young girl walking up to a cabinet that was much too high for her, "Nothing really…" she said as she levitated off the floor to reach the cabinet, Gohan's eyes widening as large as dinner plates as Hinata's head hung low.
"Hanabi… how did…"
"I watched big sister do it!" Hanabi said, Gohan looking to Hinata questionably, "It was easy!"
"H-Hanabi spied on me while I trained." Hinata said with her head still low, "Sorry Gohan-kun."
The son of Goku watched Hanabi levitate around the kitchen with ease, 'I guess since she's younger than Hinata and hasn't used chakra too much, she's green enough to take on ki as well.' Gohan deduced. His head leaned back, as he groaned up at the ceiling, "Go figure."
A/N: And that's that, people. Not much to say that hasn't been mentioned in story. With Gohan's involvement in the Wave arc, there's not much he could change lore-wise outside of keeping Zabuza and Haku alive. I tried to compensate by putting more of a focus on interactions and dialogue this chapter; you know, the little things. Hope you all enjoyed, if not please tell me!
Hope you all stay safe in these uncertain times.
Until next time!