Me: Hey Zazu-kun? Would you do the disclaimer for me pleeeeease?

Zabuza: Why the hell should I do it?

Me: Because I'm writing a story about YOU.

Zabuza: What about Haku? Doesn't he show up in here somewhere?

Me: Darling, you know I'm not allowed to divulge that. *pulls out a megaphone and yells Ty Pennington style* NOW GET MOVING!

Zabuza: *sigh* FINE. Just FINE. Okay, um... let's see, what doesn't Ai-chan own? A lot of things. She doesn't own a pair of pajamas, she doesn't own a pair of not-stupid-lookin' earrings, she doesn't own custody of the TV remote...

Haku: *from the living room* Channel 59 is out again!


Haku: *is now running for dear life*

Zabuza: Okay. ^^ Well, Ai-chan does NOT own Naruto, or the Mist Village, or, uh... Extreme Makeover Home Edition. She doesn't own me or Haku or even Kimimaro. If she did... well, our world would be SCREWED OVER. The list of things she DOES own is much shorter: she owns Mizuhi Ichigo, Megumi Sensei, and anybody you have never ever heard of in your life. ENJOY THE STORY WEAKLINGS! AHAHAHA! *runs off with his sword to go have a fight with Kenpachi from Bleach*

"Mizuhi Ichigo."

The young girl perked up as her name was called, her eyes widening. She pointed to herself, as if saying, Who, me?

The sensei gave an audible sigh at the girl's naïvèté, but waved her forward nonetheless, an amused smile on the older's face. "Come on, then."

The aforementioned Mizuhi stood from her place on the floor. Unlike the other girls' hair, hers didn't do much of anything when she walked. It didn't bounce or sway, because it was too short for any of that. It didn't even reach her shoulders; saying it went to maybe the middle of her neck was even exaggerating a bit. It was a sort of blonde-red color, leaning more towards the blonde side of the spectrum though.

Her light green eyes focused on her new sensei as she accepted the paper from the woman. A few blinks, several seconds of staring at each other, and Mizuhi returned to her spot on the floor.

There really was no such thing as organized education in the country of Kirigakure. Not even the shinobi-in-training of the small village got this privilege. Still, an effort was made, thanks mostly to this certain sensei. At least the children had a building to train in, not just training outside. Outside it was usually at least freezing, so the kids were grateful for the wood that kept them somewhat sheltered from the elements.

Mizuhi just sat there on the cold dirt floor, staring at the paper in her hand that bore the name of her new partner. Zabuza Momochi, she read, over and over in her mind. Was that a boy's name or a girl's name? She wasn't sure. Momochi sounded like a girl, but that was this person's family name. Zabuza sounded like it could be a name for either sex. It sounded like a good name anyway, so she hoped her partner didn't mind her. She hoped he/she would do all the talking and she wouldn't have to say anything. Probably opposite of what everyone else was praying for, she hoped she got a motormouth for a partner.

She had nearly fallen asleep when finally their sensei, who'd earlier introduced herself as Megumi, called out. The last slip of paper had been given, and the randomly assigned teams were now set. The kunoichi rose from her own seat, brushed off the dirt from her backside from where she'd been sitting, and put her hands on her hips in a no-nonsense manner. Mizuhi could tell this woman wouldn't take any crap from her students, so she'd better not act up. "Alright, kiddies!" the elder barked out. "I want you to now find your partners. I won't give you any assistance, as this is meant to test your basic information-gatherin' skills. Got it? Now go! Once everyone is together - which lookin' at this group might take a while - I'll explain everythin' further. Get goin'."

Mizuhi let out a breath as she pushed herself up into a standing position. Copying her sensei's movements she brushed off her rear end, and then surveyed the room. Everyone had begun talking and shouting, trying to find out who their partners were. Despite that she wanted a chatterbox for a teammate, the noise was nearly deafening. Covering her already sensitive ears she squeezed one eye shut as she waited for it to die down to a low roar.

When it didn't, she shook her head and lowered her hands, looking around for who might possibly be her partner. She walked through the crowd, slightly twisting her body, and approached a dark-haired girl with the palest skin she'd ever seen; it was almost white. "Are you Zabuza Momochi?"

The girl blinked at her, then shook her head. "No. I'm Misa."

"Okay. Nice to meet you, sorry." She continued to press and push through the throng of new Academy Students, trying to locate her partner.

Out of nowhere that boy who had been standing in the corner the entire time, hadn't talked to anybody but had just given everyone a collective glare, pushed off the wall and walked over to her. He had tanned brown-ish skin and dark brown-black hair, and he was wearing a sleeveless black top and gray shorts. "Hey."

She glanced over and blinked a few times. "Hi."

"... You... Mizuhi?"

"Yeah." Mentally she slapped herself. Great. Was he her partner? Perfect, he was just as silent as she was... "Are you Zabuza Momochi?"

"Yup. Guess we're partners."

"Guess so." She bit her lip. "So, um... how old are you?"

"Eight. You?"

"I'll be six soon."

"Cool, cool..."

"You're a lot older than me."

"Don't think about it, okay? All it means is that I'm a little stronger."

"Okay..." She rubbed her arm. "So maybe we ought to, like... sit together so Megumi Sensei knows we've found each other?"

"Whatever. Doesn't matter to me." He went to the corner he'd previously been standing in, and slid down against the wall so he was sitting. "You coming or what?"

Mizuhi smiled just a little, allowing herself a small show of emotion, and hurried over to sit by her new partner.

Zabuza hadn't been entirely thrilled with the idea that they had to work in groups. He'd often been told that he wasn't good with other people. It had something to do with sharing and taking turns and not being mad or holding grudges when someone else could do something better than he could... or if he was better than them and thought they had no skill.

Point was, he wasn't really a people person and, naturally, detested having to work with others. He certainly hadn't been looking forward to working with another person, ever since Megumi Sensei had announced they'd have partners.

He hadn't really had a hard time finding his own partner. Her name was Mizuhi, which alluded to fire. A name like that hinted to a fair or red hair color. Her last name, Ichigo, also pointed to a reddish hue for hair - or anything, really. And there was only one girl in here with strawberry blonde hair. It probably could have been a boy's name, but it was easier to start with the girls for a name that ended in an "i".

And his suspicions were confirmed when he asked the blonde girl her name. She was, in fact, Mizuhi Ichigo. Her green eyes didn't truly look at him as she spoke, instead opting to look at the ground as if there was something fascinating between her feet.

She wasn't that bad, he decided, even though she was a girl. She was fairly quiet, and only spoke a little. Finally when she suggested that they should sit together - so everyone knew they'd been the first to find their partners and were therefore better than the others - he relented a little, from his foul demeanor he'd shown when first approaching her. So he'd gone and sat down where he had been before, and shot her an annoyed look when she didn't follow him. "You coming or what?"

There had been a small smile painted on her face, and in the light (or rather, lack thereof), he thought she looked like a china doll. With her pale hair against her pale skin, she looked ready to please, like she could break any second if he even touched her. He imagined how easily she might bruise. And she rushed over, immediately taking her place beside him.

Good, she knew where she belonged. He'd never have to worry about her getting lost.


Don't kill me for this please? I was inspired by "Breathe Again" which is authored by the amazingness that is Renea. GO READ IT. Like now. XD

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Hope you enjoy! ^^