Win Some, Lose Some.

A/N: For those who know who I am, you might be a little surprised that I'm writing a Naruto fiction; I'm a Sonic writer most of the time. Just to reassure my usual fans that yes, I am alive and yes, I am still writing, but at the same time, I have to tell you that recently, in fact since just before the last time I updated many moons ago, I've been holding down a full-time job, a part-time job and a part-time degree; as you can imagine, this is has reduced my leisure time to zero and my writing time to less than that. Still, now it's Christmas I might be able to put more work in; I promise it'll be worth it, just bear with me for a bit and I'll come up with the good.

Until then, enjoy this little one-shot; just to make things clear:

"----" – Speech

Italics – Thoughts.

And with that, on with the show


Once more checking herself in the small mirror pinned to the side of the hostel wall Shizune gaze a last, brief look up to her hair, brushed a stray strand away from her face and nodded to herself in satisfaction; without another glance the aspiring medical sannin walked to the door and pulled it open, shoes clicking softly on the polished room flooring and Ton-Ton as always at her heels, the sound of the small pigs' trotters echoing in a softer counterpart to her owners' heavier tread. Well, this will be interesting if nothing else; the thought swirled around in the young womans' head as she ducked into the spacious bar of the travelling party's lodgings for the evening, itself a damn site finer than some of the flea-pits she'd been forced to slum in during her long, at times torturous apprenticeship to arguably the finest medical kunoichi to have ever walked the earth, the fiery slug sannin Tsunade; though believe me Naruto, nothing will stop me finding out just how you managed to pull this one off. Mastering the rasengan in three days and then using it in a life-or-death struggle I can just about understand but this; standing up and seeing a very familiar orange-clad arm waving at her from one of the tables, she let a gracious smile and friendly attitude mask her inner deliberations; this one really puts the naruto on the ramen!

"Hey Shizune nee-chan", her train of thought was jolted on the rails at the genins' voice, Naruto being as usual oblivious to her inner thoughts as he studied the menu in front of him, "I haven't seen the pervert all night, has the pin-up disappeared as well?"

"Naruto", Shizune instantly defended her sensei, though the struggle to keep the smile off her face was harder than she'd have liked it to be, "don't call Tsunade-sama a pin-up; she's a well-respected sannin and more than earnt her rank". As expected, he merely looked over the top of his menu and shrugged,

"It's either that or baa-chan", once more Shizunes' lips flickered before she could iron them straight again, though Ton-Ton proved her worth once again by jumping into the seat next to the smaller ninja and placing a trotter on his leg, immediately rewarded with a scratch just behind her ears, "hey Ton-Ton, she managed to talk ero-sennin out of cooking you for another day then?"

"Too right I did", just for once the young kunoichi's face darkened as she remembered the laughing toad-sage offered the idea up as a change from the packs of ramen Naruto had brought with him; if her scowl hadn't quashed the idea the impact of her sensei's fist to his jaw a split-second later certainly had; Tsunade had always had a soft spot for her apprentices' pet, "anyway, seen anything good on the menu, or is it ramen for you again tonight?"

"Ramen is the Kami of foods", Naruto shot back affronted before his sudden ire collapsed in on itself and he muttered mutinously, "though they don't serve it here; if I'd known that I'd have made sure I picked somewhere else to stop for the night – it would have been better food and probably cheaper into the bargain". Unable to stop herself this time Shizune simply watched the blonde ninja pout at the same time as try to get the few pieces of information she had gleaned so far stick together to form something like a picture in her mind.

In truth if was nothing to go on; she'd been as surprised as anyone when, just as Jiraiya had finished collecting firewood from the small copse near the campsite they'd decided on for the night, Naruto had suddenly stood up and declared he was sick of camping out under the stars and was going to do something about it; before anyone else could stop him there were hundreds of orange-clad bodies almost tumbling over one-another in every direction. Once this mass shadow-clone melee had dispersed Naruto had simply sat back down and resisted all attempts by both sannin to reveal what he was up to, driving both Jiraiya and Tsunade to distraction by deflecting attention to their age and questionable hobby activities respectively. Eventually, just as dusk began to fall and Shizune started to become seriously worried about both the blonde shinobi's sanity and imminent physical health (Tsunade had had that look in her eye that usually spelt murder for anyone standing between her and the nearest bottle of sake), he'd jumped into the branches of the nearest tree and said, somewhat less than politely, to keep up with him unless they wanted to spend another night in the tents listening to the toad sages' snoring and perverted dreaming giggles.

And follow him we did, right to this place; how he'd known exactly where it was the kunoichi wasn't entirely sure – something else she wanted to find out before the night was over, but it was at the inn he'd eventually led them to that he'd pulled out his biggest surprise; though whether that was from generosity or to try and ward off the killing intent those two were sending his way I'm not sure. Either way, without turning a hair he'd casually walked in and ordered two rooms; before anyone could muster a protest about how limited funds were at the moment his hand had dived into his bag and withdrawn Gama-chan; the size of the roll of notes the stuffed frog had contained was enough to make even Shizunes' eyes widen while Tsunade was virtually drooling at the sight, already translating the cash into bottles of sake and hands of cards she could play at the local gambling table. However, as with most things not related to ninjutsu the money simply hadn't mattered to Naruto; once the rooms were paid for he took his still-considerable amount of change, replaced it in Gama-chan and strolled up the stairs to his room without another word, leaving two sannin and one sannin-in-training stunned speechless in his wake.

From there it had come to this; her sensei had said nothing beyond a few muttered words that she was going out for the evening with Jiraiya and Shizune hadn't seen her since, leaving her with the proverbial hot potato in her lap. Still, she decided that a little fishing couldn't hurt and, truth be told, she was damned curious as to how the jump-suited shinobi had managed to earn himself such a respectable wad of currency, but even in the little time she'd known him she knew that going in completely open wouldn't quite work with Naruto; though it often got some results, to get the best reactions out of him, a little tact and a little time were the tools of the trade.

"Be that as it may", she opened her own menu and smiled at him, "I'm glad to be here, it looked like it would rain earlier and I hate waking up to a drizzly morning; anyway to answer your question I don't know where either of them are, though knowing the pair of them probably having a whale of a time for old times' sake". Naruto grinned,

"For old times' sake with old-timers' sake", he quipped, making his partner for the evening sputter before she could control herself, "though how they drink that stuff is beyond me, it's like trying to swallow smoke".

"You've tried?" He shrugged at the question,

"Ero-sennin gave me a sip out the corner of his saucer once, said it wouldn't do me any harm", he made a bitter face as though tasting something sour, "he was half-right, which, give him credit, is better than average for him". Shizune shook her head; he's just unstoppable when he's in the right mood – Tsunade I think you got it right tonight, by now you'd be a quivering mess of either laughter or rage;

"Maybe, maybe not, you'd be a better judge of that than I would; still", deciding that was enough of the groundwork laid, the medic-nin leant forwards slightly and gestured around the room with her eyes, "I must say I'm curious as well as grateful – how did you…?"

Even before she finished she could see from his azure eyes that he'd second-guessed the question; his grin spread even wider, becoming positively fox-like as he quirked an eyebrow towards her, stretching his arms behind his head as he smiled contentedly,

"I wondered who'd be the first to ask – have to say I put odds on it being Tsunade-baachan but, ah well, can't win them all", he suddenly chuckled at a joke Shizune presumed she wasn't privy to before finishing, "just as long as you win the important ones hey?"

"I suppose", the medical kunoichi answered after a long seconds' pause before, realising she was hooked, decided to hold her breath and take the plunge feet-first, "am I going to regret asking or can I back out now?" To her complete non-surprise, Naruto shook his head, smile now just about separating his head into two,

"No place for quitters here neechan; okay, I'll spill", he leant across the table again, lowering his voice, "just one thing though, don't tell either of the others because, well, I'm sure one would kill me and the other…" he tailed off, shuddering, "…I don' t even want to think about that".

"Okay, silence is golden", Shizune said almost without realising her lips had moved; before she could get too far ahead of herself however, Naruto had spoke again,

"Suits me; fine well, to tell this one I've got to go back a few steps; remember the bet I had with baachan about this", his hand disappeared beneath the neck of his shirt and emerged a second later with a necklace of black rock held beneath it; seeing it Shizune nodded – how could she not remember that?

"Yes, of course I do – you won when you got Jiraiya-sama to…"

"No, no, no", Naruto cut her off gently before giving a mental prod, "the other bet".

At the mere mention of this memory Shizune felt her cheeks go red and her face fall into her hands; true enough this was another memory she'd never get rid of, this one for all the wrong reasons,

"How could I forget; I've never been so embarrassed in public in all my life and this is coming from someone who's been living with Tsunade for the past Kami-alone-knows how many years; Tsunade, the world's worst gambler and second-worst drunk who occasionally pieces together someone important enough to keep the debtors off our backs for a few weeks. I was just forgetting that nightmare, why'd you have to go and dredge it up again?"

"Because", suddenly Shizune felt the skin on the back of her neck prickle; if his voice were any lower he'd be purring – what's he got up his sleeve this time?; "there was a bit more to that bet than met the eye…"


"I never thought I'd say it but looks like the ero-sennin was right", the voice cut through the smoky atmosphere of the gambling den like a thrown kunai, "you really suck at this".

"Beat it gaki", Tsunade grumbled out the corner of her mouth as she scooped her cards up, "you're throwing me off my game". Shizune, sat at the side of the sennin with an expression that spoke volumes of how often she'd been here before, saw his eyes skirt over how few chips lay on Tsunade's side of the table and mentally counted down; three, two, one…;

"What game? The let's-give-my-money-to-the-casino game – it's about the only one you can play well; your luck's worse than that BBQ in Konoha that had offered an all-you-can-eat buffet on Choji's birthday". The cards in Tsunade's hand started to crinkle from her grip as she turned her slightly bloodshot eyes towards the boy smirking just off to her left,

"I won't say it again gaki", she stated clearly, killer intent starting to leak from her body as she took in her latest antagonist, "beat it; unless you've got that air-ball mastered yet I've nothing to say to you".

Those words hit a nerve; for the first time Naruto winced and, as he drew his right hand out from behind him, so did Shizune; it was blistered and blackened, showing symptoms of chakra burn as well as heavy impact damage – it was obviously a hand that had seen some very heavy abuse during his training.

"Eh, it's coming", he remarked semi-cheerfully, obviously wanting to change the subject, "anyway, I'll just watch; Jiraiya told me to wait here while he 'did his research'", Shizune was grateful to see that his expression at those words matcher her own – obviously the super-pervert hadn't corrupted the boys' mind entirely yet – though his face brightened as he finally picked her out from the drab curtains at her back, "hey Shizune-neechan, Ton-Ton". Hearing her name, the pig pricked her ears and stood up from where she'd been laying at her owner's side, hopping off the flat cushion and trotting smartly over to where Naruto sat down; as he patted his lap the pig gratefully jumped into it, closing her eyes as she received a pleasing back-rub.

Though at first Naruto had been a little wary of Ton-Ton, wondering who in their right mind would want a pig as a pet rather than a more useful, aggressive animal like a tiger, he'd come to see her as something similar to a chubbier, hairless version of Akumaru, though with less hair and, more importantly to him, less of an odour problem, especially following rain of any kind. Anyway, true to his word he merely watched quietly as the game wore on, not making a comment or a sound no matter how often Tsunade cursed, swore and railed against the fates as she lost hand after hand and pot after pot until, finally broke, the sannin threw down her last hand a cursed foully,

"Argh, damn it all; Shizune"; oh no; the assistant kunoichi had been hoping the sake would blur her sensei's perception enough to make her forget she was there at all, but obviously there was no such luck to be had this time, "get another thousand, and a better bottle of sake; this one tasted like it came out a cow".

"But, but Tsunade-sama", it was probably a hopeless effort but she had to try anyway, "we need that money for…"; here we go then; it had been a lost cause from the outset but, seeing the way the slug-sennin's eyes suddenly flashed Shizune braced herself to prepare for the worst; however, her deliverance came from the most unlikely source imaginable,

"You don't need money baachan", Naruto said calmly, rummaging in his pocket for something, "I've got what you need right here".

As Gama-chan was brought into the air Shizune breathed a silent sigh of relief; the sight of money, especially someone else's' money, was always enough to turn Tsunades' head for a few minutes at least. However, her relief curdled into confusion a few seconds later as, rather than unclip the frog wallet, Naruto instead flipped it over and undid a tiny zip along the belly of the little green beast. A couple of fingers slipped inside and, with an exclamation of triumph a second later, Konoha's number-one knucklehead pulled something from its recesses into the light, holding his prize up for all to see,

"Behold", he demanded, the light catching off the coin in his hand, "my lucky charm".

"Lucky charm", Tsunade repeated in a dead tone of voice, taking in the grubby, slightly battered form of the silver of metal before her, "how in Kami's name has that thing ever been lucky – it's got you as an owner hasn't it?" Ignoring the barb, Naruto merely explained in his own time,

"Found it one night when I was out for my evening jog", he mentioned, casually ignoring the circumstances behind said jog, including a mob of angry, possibly drunken villagers and several heavy items landing within inches of his heels, "I can always call right with this coin, doesn't matter how often it's never wrong".


"You bet; look, dragon", he held one head of the coin towards both sensei and apprentice, letting them see the slightly faded metal face of the mythical beast staring at the from the minted surface before flipping it over, "and dragon", he explained, the two sinuous tails entwined on the rear of the coin proving him right, "it never loses". A double-headed coin, well, sort of; technically it wasn't double-headed but, going by Naruto's logic, it was hard to call it otherwise – the offer wasn't something a professional gambler like Tsunade was going to miss but it was his next words that brought her up sharp,

"How about a wager?"

Oh no; if there was one sentence in the world Shizune hated, other than 'just one more for the road', it was that one; her mentor could never turn down a challenge and she could understand that in a way – it was just the fact that she could never win them either that irked Shizune the most. As usual though, Tsunade simply suspended her common sense and let her addiction take over in her mind as she swivelled in her seat to face the other blonde,

"You're on gaki", she grated, cracking her knuckles, "what's the bet?"

"This", Naruto idly flipped the coin and caught it on the back of his hand before pointing at what, at first looked to be a very rude and, from his point of view, very unwise place to be looking, "for that necklace; don't worry baachan", he said, half-mocking and half-sincere as Tsunade's hand instinctively flexed to her neck, "I'll make a gamble even you can win". No; Shizune shook her head, absolutely convinced that this was the one wager not even Tsunade would take up, not for something that precious to her heart; not for that, not even she would…;

"I'm listening gaki – make it good", as her apprentice all put face-planted in shock the sennin gulped the rest of her sake down in one, though her eyes never left the new opponent in front of her as he stood up, dislodging Ton-Ton who jumped to the floor with an irritated snort before pacing back to his owner and jumped into her arms, "my time usually costs money, a lot of money".

"Can't think why", Naruto muttered under his breath before speaking properly, holding up his hand for all to see, "okay, you're a medic-nin, Kami help us", Tsunade growled softly but let him carry on, "so you probably know better than I do how screwed up this hand is; I can barely feel it even now. The bet's this; you remember the basic, the first thing you learn in the academy to get your hand-eye co-ordination up to speed? You can remember that far back I…"

"One more word gaki and I'll hit you so hard you're ancestors'll wince", the slug sage snarled, temper already irked by her consistent bad luck so far in the night, "but yes, I know what you're on about", with a flourish Tsunade lifted the necklace up and held it by its string, letting it sway softly, "so, you're betting you can catch this out the air while I'm swinging it with your bad hand", at his nod the sannin laughed, clapping her hands harshly, "you're on gaki; tonight my bad luck lifts forever, no way you can do it". He snorted and rolled his eyes,

"That's the idea baachan; in fact just to make sure of it I'll have my eyes shut when I'd doing it", he boasted boldly; at this Tsunade simply cackled and reached forwards eagerly, grabbing his nearest hand and seemingly unaware as her opponent nearly fainted at the sudden explosion of pain from the end of his arm,

"You're on; Shizune you're our spotter, make sure the little baka doesn't try to pull a fast one". With a resigned sigh, the younger woman stood up slowly and squeezed past her seated sensei with Ton-Ton in her arms, coming to a halt just behind where Naruto was now stood and standing with her arms folded. She stood in that position for no longer than a few moments before almost leaping through the roof in shock as a heavy hand slapped down on her shoulder,

"Sorry I'm late, hope the gaki wasn't any trouble"; Jiraiya!; it was indeed the toad sage who had startled her so, his rough voice softening as he looked past her at where his student stood facing off against his old team mate, "er, what's going on?"

"Some kind of crazy bet", Shizune sighed as Tsunade suddenly twisted her wrist and the necklace went from stationary to a propeller, blurring and humming through the air as Naruto tensed up, "the necklace against some kind of lucky coin Naruto has; he has to catch the necklace with his eyes shut in his bad hand to win". She felt rather than heard the older man snort, feeling the creasing of the fabric around him as he folded his arms,

"Hmm, a bet she might finally win at last", he said eventually, seeing the muscles in his student's back tense; the moment of the strike was merely seconds away, "what is Naruto up…" It was a sentence he never finished as, at that precise second, the blonde boy's hand whipped forwards; a second after that, a complete hush fell over the gambling den like a funeral shroud.

Shizune felt the blood drain from her face as her hands flew to her cheeks, eyes almost bulging from her head as she tried, and failed, to take in the scene before her, Ton-Ton falling to the floor with an outraged squeal. All that was running through her head were two thoughts; how on earth did this happen?; and; how am I going to put him back together when she gets through with him afterwards?

As Jiraiya was borne away to the happy place perverts go whenever they see one of their life-long fantasies acted out before their eyes on the back of an S-class nosebleed, the only thing souring his sensation of ecstatic bliss was the disappointment that it hadn't been him who had had the courage to act out his fantasies.

"Ha!" As he felt his fist snap closed over something even over the throb of agony from his injured arms Naruto felt himself flushed with triumph, "Looks like you really have the worst luck in the world baachan – you have to pay up…"

It was only then as he opened his eyes to see Tsunades' eyes inches from his own, mouth open in a perfect O of shock, that he realised something wasn't quite right with the situation; however it was only when he rolled his eyes downwards that his eyes bulged out and his mouth ran dry that he finally understood what it was that was keeping his hand so unfeasibly warm.

"Ahh!" Without thinking or releasing his grip Naruto ripped his hand back out of the proverbial danger zone; unfortunately as Tsunade, like most kunoichi, wrapped herself rather than wore anything else and Naruto had inadvertently grabbed a large handful of the aforementioned wrappings, this wrenching motion resulted in the exposure of the slug sannins' heaving bosom to the majority of the gambling den, most of the assembled men simply passing out on the spot from an unexpected pleasure overload. Naruto finally let go as Tsunade hastily fought to stuff her dignity, amongst other things, back down her blouse, face aflame and pride in tatters as she was rendered speechless by the inadvertent violation. How did that happen?; finally managing to spark some life back into her previously spinning mind the kunoichi tried to rationalise that she had just let someone barely out of his teens get hold of something that most of the men in her life had been lusting after forever; there's no way, this is just a bad dream, a genjutsu – a quick release and I'll be back in the gambling den, wasted on sake…;

"You know, I always wondered the where medic-nins kept their bandages", the beautiful illusion was shattered by the knucklehead's words, Naruto's face still as red as hers as he looked away in a belated attempt to give her some privacy, "is that why they're always nice and warm when you use them?" Shock once more blanketed her mind; nothing was present in her mind, not reason, logic or even good old-fashioned bone-breaking anger could sparkle in her mind in the face of such a blatant cheek after his earlier, unforgivable conduct. She could only watch, open-mouthed still, as with a sigh he slowly slipped his uninjured hand into his pocket and reluctantly pulled out the coin he'd shown them all earlier and, even more reluctantly, offered it forwards,

"Oh well, all good things come to an end; here", the little disk of metal winked and flashed in front of her unfocussed eyes as he waved it in front of her, obviously wanting her to take it, "you won it Tsunade-sama; hope it's as lucky for you as it was for me, you sure need it". As though in a dream, the sannin lifted one leaden hand and plucked the coin from his fingers, marvelling at the feel of the cold, rough metal between her fingertips as the gaki's words echoed in her head; you won, you won, you won;

"I won", she breathed, the message finally sinking in as she clenched the coin in her fist, "I won, this is it, the curse is broken", suddenly, madly delirious joy surged through her veins as she clutched the spoils of her victorious bet to her recently-ruffled chest, grin almost as wide as Naruto's usually was and laughter echoing raucously all around her, "I'm on a roll, nothing can stop me now; Shizune, Shizune-chan stop gawping like a landed flounder and get some more chips", with the speed of a demon and predatory gaze of a hawk she pounced on and began shuffling the deck, apparently unaware that all her former player partners were currently sprawled out unconscious with extreme blood loss from their noses and happy smiles on their faces as she slammed the cards down on the table,

"The winning streak starts here!".


Even now that image lingered in her mind, almost an unprecedented length of time for someone who's best friend in the world was legendary almost as much for her drinking and gambling as she was for her medical skills. Shizune once more fought down the blush in her cheeks as she grappled with the memory, glaring across the table at her diminutive partner as he beamed across at her as though butter wouldn't melt in his mouth.

"Why'd you have to go and dredge that old ghost up?" She demanded with a hint of irritation, though, hand on heart, she doubted she'd ever feel truly angry with Naruto for any reason; in that regard she imagined she was very much like her sensei, however much the sennin might have openly cursed the blonde shinobi's name. For his part Naruto merely reclined in his seat, smirking as he steepled his fingers on his stomach,

"Hmm, well I brought it up because, I needed to", before she could question him further, he answered her unspoken question, "ever heard the phrase 'lose some to win some' – well that's what I did that night. You know", he beckoned her over with a conspiratorial wink, "if there's one thing I've learnt travelling with Jiraiya-sama, it's that the more perverted the man, the easier he can be manipulated".

"What?" Totally bamboozled by now, Shizune could only offer a blank look that had Naruto chuckling again,

"I was watching while I waited for the game to finish and the owner of that place didn't get his eyes past Tsunade's neck-line once all night; about the only thing holding him back was the fact that death by angry baachan would be long, painful and, worst of all, excruciatingly embarrassing".

"So? What's that got to do with…?"

"Everything; all I did was make a little bet with him before playing my game with granny", the boy explained, eyes sparkling with glee and triumph, "I bet him his whole night's takings that I could cop a better feel off Tsunade than anyone else in the bar all night without getting punched halfway to Iwa in retaliation; the jokes afterwards, well", he shrugged as Shizunes' jaw dropped, "that was just fun. Do you know how much a place like that turns over in a night – enough to keep us happy as Ton-Ton in mud until we get back to Konoha".

The silence that followed that announcement was so deep it was almost profound; between the flabbergasted kunoichi and gleefully-satisfied shinobi existed a gulf of understanding so wide a cloister of monks could have meditated for years and not come even close to understanding it. It seemed to immense, so monolithic, that nothing either of them did could break it, and indeed nothing either of them did; it was only the sound of a smashing bottle from somewhere behind them that made both their heads turn.

A few tables behind them, an old woman was coming to her feet in a puddle of spilt sake and broken glass with far too much speed and agility for someone of such advanced age, and the even older man by her side, no way he was that old if he could vault over the table like that…as Naruto felt a cold, hard ball of dread solidify and drop into his stomach like one of Sakura's rice balls, there was the charismatic cloud of a dispelling henge and a sudden band of pressure constricted his knees, Jiraiya hugging him as though her were life itself as tears poured from his eyes,

"Teach me oh master", dropping his grip the toad sannin dropped prostrate to the floor, voice muffled as he spoke directly into the floorboards, "ask anything of me and it's yours; any jutsu, any money, the entire first collection of Icha Icha Paradise signed and illustrated – just tell me your secret in the ways of women…"

Luckily at that point the perverted ero-sennin's tirade came to an end courtesy of an enraged Tsunade's boot landing in his side with a painful crunch; he crashed into the doorframe at the opposite end of the room with a resounding thunk and lay still, twitching occasionally as his ungentlemanly desires ran rampant in his comatose subconscious. In the meantime Naruto was busy mentally composing his own death-poem at extremely short notice as the extremely enraged slug sage whipped her head around to him, fist clenched and murder in her eyes as what he'd said to Shizune in supposed confidence echoed in her head, the kunoichi glared down at the genin as though he were a worm on a dissection board, sizing him up as though where to make the first of a thousand deadly, painful cuts that would be his end…


At once her burning gaze travelled singed the air and flayed her apprentice alive; Shizune had one hand clamped hard to her mouth, face rapidly purpling as noises like a mouse being strangled escaped from her pinched lips. Faced with such base betrayal the sannin merely felt her rage swell to epic proportions, such a destructive force coalesced inside a single mortal being that would have made the Kyuubi no Kitsune itself back down in terror; with breath all but smoking from her lips Tsunade extended in single, deadly digit towards where Shizune flopped over sideways on the seat, still trying to choke off her laughter as best she could,

"Traitor!" The sannin ground out before transferring her attention back to Naruto, fully expecting the boy to have passed out after exposure to such a potent killing intent; instead, incredibly, his gaze was set towards the entrance of the inn, eyes huge and terrified as he pointed and gabbled desperately,

"Debt collectors, bailiffs!"

At that her anger left her for a moment, fled and run away as she jumped back, excuses already in her mind and on hr lips,

"I swear I'll pay you next month", she shouted, hands up as though pushing a foe away, "I just need a few more wee…huh?" There was no-one there; she turned back in confusion, just in time to see an orange-clad form vault over Jiraiya's prone form and run like hell for the stairs of the inn. Realising she'd been had twice in a week by the same shinobi Tsunade's wrath exploded again, this new wrath eclipsing its predecessor like a bonfire would outside a candle; without another word she charged in pursuit of the jump-suited posterior, screaming at Naruto to stand and fight like a man, not hearing as Shizune finally broke down completely, hugging her stomach as the laughter roared out of her unstoppably, her mirth only spurred on further as she heard the muted thunder of feet on the floor above her and snatched of conversation filtered down to her ears,

"You can't run forever!"

"Watch me try!"

"Stop dodging around the table, to the decent thing and receive a beating! I'll even put heal you when I've finished, you can't say fairer than that!"

"Fairer than that – man baachan, is there anything you can't lose at – yipe!"


I was worried about settling down in Konoha once; in the small part of Shizune's mind that could still think rationally instead of simply babbling with uncontrollable hysteria, the trainee medical sannin, decided that she might be able to return to her former home at last; but on this evidence, it's going to be an absolute riot.

A/N: Sorry, just a little something that popped into my head and wouldn't leave until I wrote it. I've not read much Naruto and think I might have got the blonde shinobi himself slightly OOC, so I hope you'll forgive this writer his flaws. For the Sonic fans mentioned above, I'll get back to you over Christmas; I promise it'll be worth the wait!