Zabuza smiled weakly as he looked at Haku’s perfect, sweet face. Calm and expressionless in death, but not so different from what Zabuza had seen so many times over the years.
Although Haku’s face usually softened into a sweet smile when it was turned towards Zabuza. At least when they were alone; when clients or enemies could see Haku was expressionless and cold, if not also hidden behind his mask.
Except when he stepped in to shield Zabuza from harm, his face twisting with protective anger and his slight figure implacably determined, for all that he looked so tiny and weak beside Zabuza’s broad frame.
The pain of Zabuza’s body was easily washed away - dismissed if not actually gone - as he focused on Haku. He spared a grateful thought to Kakashi for bringing him to Haku; for allowing him to take his vengeance for his boy.
Snow fell over Zabuza and Haku, and he smiled wider, bloody fangs bared, as he struggled to bring his hand up to touch Haku one last time. Haku loved the snow, as pure and beautiful as he was.
A wash of warmth swept over his body and his vision faded, Haku’s face - a lock of his sleek, silky hair mussed and draped across his serene face - the final thing he could focus on, until eventually he lost that as well.
Heat flared around him, with the ruffling, crackling sound of flames, and his skin tingled.
Zabuza smiled fiercely as he pushed himself to his feet.
“I’m ready.” he growled, throwing his shoulders back and stretching his arms - they prickled with fading numbness and ached from the damage Kakashi had dealt, but they once more answered his commands now - as he looked around in the darkness. Gleaming fangs and glowing eyes circled him, and Zabuza snarled again, baring his own fangs, feeling a surge of new strength inside.
Zabuza was Kirigakure no Kijin, and falling into hell was only like going home. A home he had always known was awaiting him.
One of the circling demons lunged, and Zabuza met the charge with an equally eager blow. Zabuza felt no fear for this place, and he had always known it was where he would eventually fall.
His only regret was that he would never see Haku again - Haku had become a sharp, vicious creature under Zabuza’s tutelage, but he was too pure and too good-hearted to follow Zabuza here. He had enough of a heart himself to be glad of that, even if he wished to stay by Haku’s side. Haku didn’t belong here.
Zabuza took out his fury over Haku’s death and over being parted from his boy against the demons welcoming him home, blood flying - his own and theirs - and rough taunts mingling with rumbling growls. Claws formed at his fingertips, and he felt his fangs grow longer and sharper even as he fought.
Sharp tingles lanced across his shoulder and ribs on one side, and Zabuza ducked away from the mild sting instinctively. They lashed out at his opponents, and Zabuza stilled, watching the gleam of perfect ice daggers - senbon - that faded and softened into swirls of fluffy snow.
“. . .hyouton.” Zabuza said faintly, looking around.
The snow swirled thicker, closing around Zabuza, and he lowered his hands, his stance easing out of battle readiness. The cold pressed in upon him, and he shivered. A few moments later it faded away, the snow falling away from him and revealing a far softer, brighter place than he had been.
“Zabuza-san.” Haku said softly, smiling his sweet smile.
He stood before Zabuza unharmed and unbloodied, his silky hair unbound, wearing his delicate pink kimono with the deep blue ribbon - collar - around his slender throat.
“Haku.” Zabuza said, glancing down at himself. He still wore the blood and death of his final battle, as well as the fight with the demons, though his injuries had largely faded.
“I could not move without you.” Haku said simply, and Zabuza could not be surprised.
“I will never walk in heaven.” Zabuza said wryly. “That is where you belong.” He paused, cupping Haku’s cheek with one palm, as he had when dying beside the boy. His new claws were gone, and he was glad of it, not wishing to see them against Haku’s soft skin. “I am,” he paused; he hated words and he hated this, but if it was to be the last he would see of his Haku he could manage it for the boy who had given him so much, “relieved to have seen you, one last time. But you must go where you belong.”
“I belong at your side, Zabuza-san.” Haku said, tilting his cheek into Zabuza’s hand and covering it with his own. “I know you will never venture to heaven, and so neither shall I.”
Zabuza thought of Haku in the brawl of demons he had woken to and growled.
Haku gave a soft, melodic laugh, then leaned up, fingers brushing his jaw, and his lips brushed Zabuza’s mouth with a sweetly feathery kiss. Zabuza’s eyes widened at the unexpected touch and he froze.
“So we will make our own path. As we have always done.” Haku said demurely, looking up through his lashes.
Zabuza reached for him, then resisted the urge to crush Haku against himself. “Are you certain?” he asked.
“I am always certain, about you.” Haku said serenely.
Zabuza smirked. That was true. Haku had never hesitated, since the first time Zabuza had come across the starving, half-frozen child, and for whatever reason taken him along. “I believe,” Zabuza said, glancing around them, “this time it must be your path to choose.”
Haku looked briefly startled, then inclined his head, dropping his hand from Zabuza’s jaw and smoothing it down his arm before turning away. Haku glanced over his shoulder as he took a step into the cloud of snow surrounding them, offering a small, warm smile. Zabuza moved up to fall in beside him, and the snow swirled like a fall of sakura petals all around them, thick enough to hide away anything that lay beyond, then cleared to reveal a bright, open meadow.
Haku walked on towards it, and Zabuza walked at his shoulder, watching his boy and feeling . . . peaceful, to be with Haku again.