ALRIGHT CONSIDER OK so my friend had a midnight OH SHIT moment and thought of gai/zabuza because holy shit. Gai seeing zabuza as a "what if" version of Kakashi Bc the whole //I'm a tool I exist only to be used by the village// thing and the fact he's shunned for his demonic chakra and bloodthirsty nature and Kakashi is shunned for his father !!! Imagine gai being like yes ok ur my second eternal rival and determined to help zabuza out of the darkness like he did with Kakashi AND IMAGINE (1/2)
THEIR KIDS??? tenten being ecstatic because swordsman!! And pestering him for lessons and neji and haku!!! Them sparring and neji determined to find a way I beat his ice mirror jutsu and just imagine zabuza taking one look at Lee and being like oh god not a mini ok kid get over here and I’m gonna teach u how to use a sword it’s for the greater good and haku just is so amused and happy Bc gai is a ray I sunshine and it’s good ok
Zabuza is honestly still waiting for the other sandal to drop.
“And this one!” the admirably bloodthirsty little girl breathes with clear reverence, lifting a sword off the wall and turning to offer it to him.
Feeling mostly bemused, Zabuza takes it, judging the balance, and feels his eyebrows climb involuntarily. “Well now,” he says, checks the forger’s stamp on the hilt, and whistles. “Where’d a brat like you get a Toye blade?”
Rather than taking offense, Tenten beams. “I took it off a samurai in northern Ame,” she says cheerfully. “He had no idea how to use a sword. I was doing the world a favor.”
Zabuza chuckles, because this brat he can connect with. He flips the sword up, catches it, and tries a couple of thrusts, and it’s not Kubikiribōchō, but it still moves like a dream, folded steel glimmering blue like ripples of water.
Tenten watches him like a proud parent showing off her children, hands clasped in front of her as she bounces on her toes. Almost reminds him of Mei, really, though she likes sharp things more than lava. Likes sharp thing a lot, seeing as the walls of her apartment are pretty much floor-to-ceiling weapon racks, and that’s not even counting the scrolls full of more standard weapons piled high on a shelf.
If only the rest of her team were like her, honestly.
From the kitchen, there’s a loud cry of victory in two voices, and Zabuza swears he can feel his eye twitch. Tenten doesn’t even seem to notice as she takes the Toye blade from him and carefully sets it back in its stand, but Zabuza supposes it would take a lot more than a bit of noise to shake her if she’s really been on the lunatic’s team for a whole year already.
“Second rival!” said lunatic cries, skidding around the corner to present him with a beaming smile and two thumbs up. “We have successfully created a meal that will nourish your flames of Youth! Come, my friend! It is ready!”
Zabuza has encountered more exclamation points in the last two days than he had in his entire life before this, and he isn’t quite sure what to think of it. He eyes Gai for a moment, then glances past him at Haku, who is splattered liberally with what is probably batter and is frazzled but trying not to look it. The Hyuuga kid seems entirely resigned to his fate as he carefully wrings out his long hair over the sink, and Zabuza can’t see the clone thing but he can hear crashing off to the side.
How the hell were they beaten by these ridiculous people, Zabuza thinks, and resists the urge to drag his hands over his face.
“We’re not friends,” he tells Gai. “You tied me up and dragged me to this shitty village and I am going to kick your ass for it.”
Gai’s grin, if anything, grows wider. “Yosh, you are clearly full of Youthful Vigor! It warms my heart to see such spirit in my second eternal rival! Shall we have a rematch? Our intense man to man battle starts now!” He drops into one of the fighting poses Zabuza had originally mocked, but by now Zabuza knows better. This guy is terrifying. And not just because of the spandex.
“Not in my apartment, Gai-sensei,” Tenten says almost absently, like this is so common it’s become rote. “And careful where you say that. If Hatake hears he has a rival for your affections, he’ll get jealous.”
Zabuza blinks, then turns to look at Gai again. Just how popular is this bastard?
“You got dipping sauce on your jumpsuit,” Neji says blandly, on his way past with a tray of bowls.
“Ah!” Gai wails, and his hand immediately goes to the zipper of his outfit. “If I don’t get it out immediately, the stain will set!”
There’s a clatter from the kitchen, and the mini-clone skids around the corner exactly like Gai did. “Gai-sensei! I have filled the sink! I will defeat this stain and it will no longer mar the green of our Youthful and manly outfits!”
“Lee! You are going to grow into a great man! One of the Flames of Youth lighting Konoha!” Gai cries, and—Zabuza is pretty sure he’s crying. Those are tears. Backlit by a sunset.
He has no idea what’s going on here.
“You’ll get used to it,” Neji tells him, over the cries of Lee! and Gai-sensei! filling the air.
“Or go mad,” Tenten adds, more cheerfully than is really warranted, on her way past.
Haku edges out of the kitchen, takes one look at the scene, and then clearly decides that Neji is the only safe territory and beats a hasty retreat to practically hide behind him.
Zabuza snorts, though he definitely doesn’t disagree, and turns from staring judgmentally at his apprentice to glace disbelievingly at Gai. He’s just in time to see green spandex go flying, and—
Zabuza’s hardly a slouch in the muscles department—Kubikiribōchō is an iron sword as tall as he is, and it takes a hell of a lot of strength and a good bit of chakra to use it well. But Gai makes him look like a reedy little genin, and Zabuza already got his ass kicked thoroughly, knows that Gai very well could crush his head like a melon. He hadn’t seen the muscles, though, and that horrible bodysuit hides a hell of a lot.
Zabuza carefully checks that he’s not drooling, tears his eyes away from the way those boxers hug Gai’s truly awe-inspiring ass, and grabs Tenten by the arm as she passes.
The girl’s cunning enough to trip up Haku; she’s definitely his best bet here.
“Who’s this Hatake asshole?” he demands. “A boyfriend?”
Tenten blinks at him for a moment, then tilts her head thoughtfully. “His first eternal rival,” she says, studying him. “They’ve been friends since they were kids.”
Zabuza has a lot of work to do, then. He grits his teeth, then meets Tenten’s eyes. “How much would I have to pay you to run interference?”
Tenten beams, bouncing on her toes. “Swordsmanship lessons,” she says blissfully. “And three new weapons.”
He strangles a groan, but casts a look over her collection anyway. He’s going to have to try really fucking hard to find some she doesn’t already have—her hoard is impressive, especially for a genin. But—
He takes another look at Gai, who’s currently flexing for no apparent reason except fuck that is a pretty picture, Zabuza has not wanted someone to fuck him this badly ever—and then back at Tenten, who’s managing to toe the line between innocent and devilish with all the best qualities of both.
Worth it, he decides without even hesitating.
“Deal,” he says.
Tenten wiggles gleefully. “Weapons!” she says, and practically floats away to keep Lee from destroying her kitchen in his enthusiasm. Zabuza watches her go, then turns at the feel of eyes on him and looks straight into Haku’s slightly horrified and wholly judging stare.
It’s probably a bad sign that Zabuza doesn’t even feel an ounce of shame. He just shrugs helplessly, waving a hand at Gai—still flexing, still glorious—in illustration, and Haku groans and buries his face in his hands.
Zabuza chuckles. Maybe getting dragged all the way from Wave to Konoha won’t turn out to be such torture after all.