"This isn't what I meant when I said I wanted a new and exciting mission!" Naruto yelled as he barely dodged yet another of Momochi Zabuza's attacks. "This is so far above my pay grade it isn't funny!"

"The next time I hear the words 'Easy walk in the park' I'll remember to double check who's saying them, who they were raised by and who they were trained by!" Gekko Hayate choked out between coughs as he countered several blows from the sword of one of Zabuza's water clones. "No wonder everybody runs when you say 'easy money'!"

"The next time I want an adventure, I'll just satisfy myself with cleaning the undersides of the student desks!" Fueno Daikoku yelled from where he was guarding Tazuna. "The next time a former colleague asks me to fill out a team during an academic break, I'm going to tell them where they should shove their request!"

"I don't even know why I agreed to come, especially after you told me you randomly picked my name off a list!" Okei, who could easily be mistaken for an older Genin, yelled from where he was only just barely holding his own against one of Zabuza's water clones which only had 30% of Zabuza's power.

"Look, we just have to hold our own until the reinforcements arrive!" Naruto yelled as he jumped back just in time to avoid being sliced in half.

"Reinforcements?!" Hayate yelled. "What reinforcements?!"

"Weird shit always keeps happening during out of village C-Ranks!" Naruto yelled back. "So, when those two yahoos jumped out of that mud puddle, I took Izuna's, and Mizuki's, and Iruka's and that Kakashi Bastard's advice and -"


Izuna scowled as he watched the brats he called his "team" half ass the gate duty which should be restricted to high-level Chunin and above, considering the sheer amount of shit that could get slipped past Genin and inexperienced Chunin. Sure, it wasn't the main-gate, and sure, almost nobody came through this way unless they had business in the Historical district that this gate served, but it was the principle of the thing. The only reason he'd jumped on this thankless job that was made all the more worse by his team was because this was the one mission that he was reasonably certain would cause the least amount of strife amongst his students.

Every other D and Low C ranked mission he'd taken with his students in the few short weeks that he'd had the team had turned into an unmitigated disaster. Sasuke defied him at every turn, and Hibachi, who had an inordinate amount of admiration for Sasuke followed his lead while Sakura tried every method she could find in some teen magazine to catch Sasuke's attention. When he'd taken this mission, he'd made it clear to his team that messing around at the village gates and defying his authority here would be a criminal matter and that it wouldn't just be him recommending that his lovely students be brought before a tribunal if they screwed up.

If Uchiha Sasuke screwed up while guarding one of Konoha's gates, no amount of political pressure from civilians who seem to have put on rose-tinted glasses regarding the Uchiha Clan which they had once all too willingly accused of heinous crimes would save the boy's career, and he'd made sure that the boy knew it. While the boy didn't so much care for his future career, he did care about the tanked chances at revenge against Uchiha Itachi that would undoubtedly result from his being drummed out of the Shinobi Forces and relegated to being Civilian breeding stock for new Uchiha. New Uchiha who hopefully wouldn't be fuck-ups like a sizable portion of the last lot had been.

Fear of losing his chance at vengeance was the only thing keeping Sasuke in line. If only just.

"Aren't you going to tell me to have a nice day sonny?" the elderly civilian Sasuke had just waved through asked as he collected his paperwork which Sasuke had barely glanced at.

There was something off about the old man. He seemed far more amused than the situation warranted for one...

Shit! Shit! Shit!

As much as he was tempted, if he let this screw up go any further, it would be him on the dock facing charges right next to that blasted grand-nephew of his.

Jumping out of the tree where he'd been hiding while he supervised, he landed in front of the "Old Man" who was giving off very experienced ninja vibes. Whoever this guy was, bringing him down would not be easy.

"I suggest you stop right there." Izuna growled, not letting any of his nervousness at the situation in which his students would be sitting ducks at best and hostages at worse show.

"No need for that dearie" the old man said before dropping his henge, revealing himself to be none other than Hatake Kakashi whom he'd thought himself well shot of when Naruto had made Chunin. "I just wanted to see how my precious student and her students were getting along."

All three of Izuna's students mouthed "her" behind him, a look of unholy amusement entering Hibachi's eyes. A look of amusement that he would be beating right out of them again the second he got an opportunity to do so without one of those shinobi who seemed to think Genin were precious things that needed to be protected hovering over his shoulder waiting to tell on him for assaulting his students outside of training.

"And," Izuna said, hoping to move the conversation along so the Hatake bastard would leave before inflicting damage that it would take time and a number of beatings to repair.

"I could've pulled a better team out of an Advanced Syphillis Ward in Iwa at random." the Hatake replied.

"If it weren't for that whole 'Protect the Genin' lot who seem to think those brats are children, they'd be a great deal better right now or they'd be dead," Izuna said, trying to defend at least some of his reputation from the damage his students were causing it. "I wanted to train them in the old way, but the Hokage told me to go piss up a rope the first time I requested an A-ranked mission for the team."

Sakura and Hibachi looked stunned and horrified at this proclamation, and Sasuke looked about as shocked as a Uchiha could look without it seeming out of character. The fact that he was trying to maintain his mask of aloofness made Sasuke's expression of shock all the more ridiculous in Izuna's opinion.

"Well, I'll leave you to it then Izuna" Kakashi said as he started down the road.

"And, between you and me, I've never seen anything and i will never see anything." Kakashi added, gesturing to Izuna's students as he did so.

"Gee, thanks," Izuna replied. "I'll remember that when you and I are the last two people on Earth and there's no-one else left to give me a character reference."

"Goodbye," Izuna added, making it clear that it was long past time that Kakashi did the standard Shinobi disappearing act and vanished from the immediate vicinity, letting Izuna and his team get back to their jobs.

"Whew. Sorry we got your team involved in this clusterf-" Naruto started as he leaned against the wall of Tazuna's residence.

"Say no more Uzumaki-san, we all underestimated the severity of this mission." Maito Gai, who was nursing a number of injuries, said as he shot an uncharacteristically cold glare in the direction of the bridgebuilder who had hired Naruto's thrown together four man cell for a mission that clearly wasn't a C-rank.

"I'm just glad Momochi Zabuza had gotten bored waiting for us and had decided to play with us." Okei said. "We wouldn't have lasted long enough for you guys to arrive otherwise."

"Can you imagine what would've happened if a Genin team had drawn this mission?" Gekko Hayate who was nursing some injuries of his own coughed out.

"About the only way a Genin Team would've survived that would've been if they'd been the Sannin back when they were Genin and The Professor had been doing all the heavy lifting." Daikoku said, briefly flashing back to the recent battle.

"So, what are we going to do about our prisoner?" Naruto asked, gesturing to the bound, feminine looking boy who had been paralyzed by a number of surgically precise Jyuken strikes courtesy of one Hyuuga Neji.

"I'll take first watch." Daikoku, who was the least injured of the senior shinobi said.

"Thanks, I owe you." Hayate said, with all the gratitude he could muster through his exhastion. A gratitude all who had been involved in the fighting had felt.

The battle that had recently ended had been a hard fought one and had been touch and go at times, even with the great Maito Gai providing assistance. It had mainly been a war of attrition between Momochi Zabuza and the Konoha ninja, with Gai's students mainly playing support roles, staying well back of the main fighting. Eventually, the great Demon of the Mist was worn down and his energy exhausted. In his exhaustion, he began to make mistakes, began to stumble. During one particularly bad loss of balance where the Demon of the Mist had nearly fallen victim to Gekko Hayate's sword, several senbon had flown into the fight, planting themselves into the neck of the Demon of the Mist with pinpoint accuracy, bringing him down.

It had been when Gekko Hayate had decided to do the Mist Hunter-nin a favor and make sure that Momochi Zabuza had well and truly been killed that they learned that the Hunter-nin had been another enemy. The battle against the Hunter-nin who looked to be a year or two older than Gai's students was a much shorter one, and had ended practically the moment Neji had gotten into striking distance.

Now, it was all over except for the decisions regarding what if anything to do about Gato and his mercenaries, and exactly what to do to Tazuna in order to make an example that would make people think twice before even considering mis-ranking a mission in order to get out of paying the fees for a higher ranked one. While Naruto didn't want to see anyone hurt, least of all a man who was trying to save a suffering country that was under the rule of a tyrant, he understood that the harm he did now would save lives in the future. Quite possibly the life of someone he cared about.

Though the knowledge was bitter, Izuna had made sure he knew and understood these things so he didn't go and recklessly save someone who could get him killed down the line, even if through no fault of their own. While he hated it, and wished it was not so, killing innocents came part and parcel with being a shinobi.

He'd just wished that he'd had longer before he'd started. Longer to pretend that the world was different, and that he could rush in and save everybody, and that the decision to save people wouldn't ever come around and bite him.

If they let Tazuna go however, more would try to do what he did, justifying it with their fear-based "need", and unsuspecting shinobi who weren't ready or highly ranked enough for the mission would blindly walk to their doom, believing it to be a walk in the park like they had until they had run into Momochi Zabuza.