I do not own Naruto. Any parts that seem like they are from the Anime or Manga probably are.

I was thinking about a Naruto/FemHaku pairing but the story seems to have had a different idea, so we'll probably end up with something different. As for a weapon, there have been so many suggestions that I'm spoilt for choice so I'll leave that until later.

- E.P - E.P -

"Natsuki is there a reason you're glaring at Naruto so much?" Kushina asked her daughter.

Team One were currently sat in Tazuna's home having returned after gathering as much information on Gatō as they could. Outside it was starting to get dark, although the moonlight reflecting of the water in the bay would keep the area bright enough to spot anyone approaching the house.

"Yeah!" She shouted, throwing her hands up as she did so, "Me and 'Sumi went of trying to find where Gatō was hiding, avoiding all his guards and gathering all the intelligence, and when we come back we find Naruto talking to some pretty Nee-chan!"

"You were gone for ten minutes!" Naruto rebutted, ignoring Tazuna's snickers.

"I never said it was difficult and- that's not the point!" Natsuki yelled, causing Inari to look up from where he was sulking in the corner, "We were the ones doing all the work whilst you were flirting with the villagers!"

"I had a perfectly good reason for talking to her," Naruto replied calmly, refusing to be baited, "I wanted to get some information from the villagers so I choose to talk to the only one who would meet my eyes."

"Seems like an odd way to pick your target," Kushina asked, although Tsunami seemed like she was trying to remember something.

"Yeah," Naruto responded, "She kind of stuck out a bit, and not just because she was pretty Natsuki!"

"Anyway," Kushina said, quickly defusing the argument, "What did you learn about Gatō?"

"He's got a walled compound a couple of hundred metres outside the south side of the village," Natsumi replied, cutting of her sister, "As for guards, we could only see mercenaries and no more than a hundred of them."

"Gatō's unlikely to have any more missing-Nin," Kushina said, only to be interrupted by Natsuki, "Eh, Why not?"

"Missing-Nin tend not to work well with each other, unless they deserted as a group like Zabuza's did," Kushina continued, "The only Missing-Nin he might be able to recruit are former members of Kiri, but the higher ranking ones are composed almost entirely of the Seven Swordsmen, and their most recent generation was notorious for having each member want nothing to do with the others."

"Oh," Natsumi said, looking rather thoughtful, while Natsuki just grimaced.

"And with Zabuza out of the picture for the time being," Kushina added, "It would be best to strike at Gatō sooner rather than lat-"

"You'll never be able to defeat Gatō!" Inari yelled, startling most of the people in the room, "He's too powerful, everyone he tried to fight him died!"

"Gatō's just a businessman," Naruto replied, turning to talk to the angry young child, "While he wields significant economic power all his military power comes from his money, money he uses to hire mercenaries."

"And if we kill him or steal all his money," Natsumi continued, picking up on Naruto's train of thought, "All those mercenaries will leave, some might even decide to kill Gatō if he reneges on their payment."

"And that's what we are planning now," Kushina finished, "We've scouted the area and Zabuza, our only similarly ranked opponent, is out of action, so we'll attack Gatō's compound tonight. Natsumi and Naruto, you'll be with me, Natsuki, you'll stay here in case Zabuza's subordinates have recovered and try to take advantage of our absence."

"Hai," Natsuki replied, her expression downcast and unwilling to go against orders, "But I was looking forward to a good fight."

"If this was a normal C-rank, I'd let you handle it yourselves and stay here myself," Kushina replied, giving her daughter a comforting hug, "But it's not and I don't want to risk you guys getting hurt, -ttebane!"

The heart-warming moment was broken by Natsuki and Natsumi glancing at each other and trying not to laugh at their Kushina's verbal tick. They weren't particularly good at either, Kushina's eye developing a twitch and her face reddening slightly as she tightened her hug into a headlock.

"Stop laughing at me, -ttebane!" Kushina shouted, causing another wave of sniggers before she started grinding her knuckles into her Natsuki's skull.

- E.P - E.P -

Night fell fairly soon, casting the pall of darkness over the entire village. Few, if any, houses emitted light, most of the villagers too poor to afford it with Gatō cracking down on them. Natsuki had seen the rest off her team off before plunging Tazuna's house into darkness, hoping it would bring a little extra anonymity.

The rest of her team were silently moving through the trees towards Gatō's compound, each of them having changed into the darker colours they used on their night-time missions. Kushina had already told the two Genin of their parts in the plan, while she was off dealing with Gatō and the stronger guards who would be with him, the two of them would cover each other and eliminate the rest of Gatō's mercenary army.

The three of them stopped suddenly at a gesture from Kushina, only a few tree hops separating them from the walls of the compound. She watched the guards for a minute or so, then gave three quick gestures, a closed fist followed by open hand with five fingers outstretched, then a sharp forward tilt of her palm. Moments later she leapt forwards, blurring into the darkness and leaving Naruto and Natsumi waiting in the gloom of the trees.

The two of them had already agreed on a course of action, Natsumi would be following Naruto's lead as he put the bandits under a genjutsu then Natsumi would use this to guide her to her own targets. They would try to maintain stealth as long as possible, so neither would use their flashier attacks unless they were discovered, although in truth Naruto had very few flashy attacks.

Five minutes after Kushina had vanished, the two Genin crept forward and jumped onto the walls of the compound. The compound was a vague square marked by wooden walls surrounding a few buildings. One was Gatō's personal home whilst the others stored loot as well as providing living quarters for the mercenaries. The walls had a few covered sections at each corner, the only sections where there were lights, which happened to be illuminating the guards who were skimping on their patrols.

Naruto and Natsumi crept towards the first guard post, Naruto casting a genjutsu to hide them from sight as an extra precaution. A peek inside revealed a single guard, slumped against a wall, looking out into the gloom and nursing a cigarette. Naruto gestured towards Natsumi, then the guard, receiving a nod in return, then started to head to the next guard point, ignoring the choked off scream and the dull thump of a body being pitched over the wall.

The next section had a pair of guards in it, both of them casually talking to each other. Naruto moved closer to them, then flicked a pair of senbon forward, easily hitting both of the stationary targets in their necks at such close range. Moving over to their corpses, he retrieved his senbon then hoisted one of the body's up onto his shoulder and throwing it over the walls, Natsumi doing the same with the other to his left.

The next guard was actually patrolling a section of the walls, not that it did him any good, Natsumi stabbing him in the throat with a kunai and Naruto throwing his cooling corpse over the wall in one quick expression of excellent teamwork. His guard post was empty as was the last one, the sounds of revelry from one of the nearby buildings easily telling the two Genin where their last target had gone.

Making sure that his genjutsu was still covering the two of them, Naruto led Natsumi down towards the sounds of merriment and peeked through the window at the laughing mercenaries. There were several dozen of them inside, each clutching a dish, presumably full of sake, although not all of them were still upright. Gesturing towards Natsumi, the two Genin backed away from the building and into one of the deeper shadows.

"We won't be able to take that many mercenaries and maintain stealth," Naruto murmured, Natsumi nodding at his words, "Have you still got those explosive tags that Kushina-sensei gave us?"

"I have," Natsumi whispered in reply, "A couple on each wall should do it, right?"

"Yeah," Naruto responded, "You apply those, I'll check their aren't anymore in the other buildings."

Naruto stealthily walked over to the other two buildings as Natsumi moved deeper into the shadows and began sticking tags to walls. A quick check of the first building revealed it to be empty save for stacks of food and money, while the second had a few sleeping mercenaries in some of the beds with the others empty. The sleeping men quickly took a knife to the throat each and after that Naruto crept back out and met up with Natsumi, who was waiting for him at the same place he had left her.

As he approached Natsumi turned and led him back up onto the wall, into a commanding position overlooking the building full of mercenaries. Natsumi twisted her fingers into the release hand-seal and crouched down, Naruto quickly following her lead as the building exploded, cries of laughter abruptly turning into cries of pain.

With bits of debris still clattering down around them, Naruto and Natsumi leapt over the wall and onto those few mercenaries who had survived, none of them seeing the two shadows drop from the sky until it was too late. It was more a slaughter than a fight, none of the mercenaries in any condition to fight back, even if they had had the skill to oppose ninja.

When the last cry had gurgled away, the two Genin ran towards the last building, Gatō's home itself. They sprinted through the halls, past the bodies of various guards, each one with an expression of considerable surprise on their faces.

Probably at how far that face was from its body.

A few minutes later they reached what they presumed was Gatō's study. Kushina was there, perched on the edge of a desk, calmly wiping the blood from her katana with a cloth with the bodies of Gatō's personal guards collapsed in the corners. There was a painting hanging off the wall by one edge revealing a safe behind it, with the door to that ripped off.

Gatō was there as well, or at least his body was, his head appearing to have disappeared.

"Nasty little man," Kushina remarked as she saw where they were looking, "Called me a whore then tried to bribe me to save his life."

"So he's been dealt with then sensei?" Naruto asked, relaxing slightly.

"He's dead if that's what you're asking," Kushina replied, "But he put out an open contract for quite a bit of money on his killer, when he died, as a last little bit of revenge."

"But no one knows we killed him," Natsumi added, "And how's he going to pay it?"

"The cash has been lodged with the bounty hunters and their stations everywhere, so they'll put out the contract fairly quickly if they can work out who killed him," Kushina answered, sheathing her sword, "But Zabuza will already know that it had to be us that killed him, even if he isn't aware of the contract he'll want to kill us since we killed his source of cash. In fact it works out better for him, if he does find out, even if the contract on Tazuna is no longer valid as the reward for killing Gatō's killer is worth more."

"So effectively," Naruto said thoughtfully, "Nothing has actually changed."

"Nope!" Kushina replied happily, "Konoha would have had to deal with Zabuza sooner or later, we can't let Missing-Nin of his level run around and it will be a good experience for you three."

"On what?" Naruto muttered as the three of them left Gatō's study, "How to get the crap kicked out of us?"

- E.P - E.P -

The next day came fairly quickly and found Team One in the forests surrounding the village of Nami. The three Genin were still a little tired, Naruto and Natsumi from their late night excursion and Natsuki from staying up and waiting for them to return. Kushina seemed as perky as ever, even though this was only a shadow clone, the original guarding Tazuna at his bridge.

"Right," Kushina started, having led them in to a small clearing, "Seeing as Zabuza and his accomplices are still out of action, we'll be taking this chance to prepare. Natsumi, Natsuki, I want the two of you to practice your water-walking, you still can't hold it for extended periods of time during combat."

"Can't we do something more important?" Natsuki moaned, "Surely there are some jutsu you can teach us that would be useful."

"The only Jutsu I could teach you that you would be able to use are Suiton due to the water in our surroundings," Kushina replied, making a clone to watch over her daughters, "But they wouldn't be of any use against a Kiri-Nin of Zabuza's calibre and you would have to practice them for some time before you could use them in other situations."

"Alright then," Natsumi replied, pulling her sister out of the clearing after her mother's clone.

"As for you Naruto," Kushina continued, "There is little I can teach you, without starting on an entirely new subject, but I believe you have an interest in Fūinjutsu?"

"Yeah, I do," Naruto replied, a little confused, "But I didn't think you could teach me Uzumaki style Fūinjutsu?"

"I can't, not unless you marry one of my daughters," Kushina replied with a sly grin and Naruto's suddenly pale expression, "But using Fūinjutsu in combat is the same regardless of style."

"Oh?" Naruto asked, still trying to remove the horrible images from his mind.

"I don't imagine you've put much thought into it, you're more concerned with learning how to create them, right?" Kushina asked, "Anyway using Fūinjutsu in combat requires you to prepare all of your designs in advance, you won't have time to draw them during the fight and there are very few that can be created in combat, and then only by a skilled practitioner. The Five Elements Seal is a common one that I can create during combat, as well as a few others, while Minato-kun can apply dozens during combat."

"Five Elements Seal?" Naruto questioned, "What's that?"

"It's a common seal used to disrupt the targets chakra flow," Kushina answered, "I'll teach it to you later, prevents them from walking on surfaces or using jutsu that requires precise control or large volumes of chakra. Anyway, that's not the main point of this conversation. You need to learn to anticipate the actions an opponent and prepare seals to deal with them.

I have several seals prepared to deal with the larger elemental jutsus as well as one to deal with Zabuza's Kirigakure Jutsu. I always carry dozens of explosive seals of varying strength as well as storage scrolls and sealing supplies."

"How do you use sealing while anticipate an opponent's actions?" Naruto asked.

"In general, you need to cover your weaknesses," Kushina replied, pulling a small book out of a pocket, unmarked save for the symbol of Konoha, "But then that's obvious. However if you know what opponent you'll be facing before-hand, like we do here, you can attempt to neutralise their strengths. The Bingo book will contain useful information about an enemy and if we look at Zabuza's entry all it tells us is the same things we discovered during our fight with him."

"Wouldn't you want to attack an opponent's weaknesses," Naruto questioned, "Rather than their strengths?"

"That would be much better," Kushina answered, "But do we know any of Zabuza's weaknesses? We probably would have if we had fought him for longer and that applies to almost any enemy you face. No ninja will advertise their weakness, but most will depend on their particular strength and if you shut it down they'll be depending on something they can't use."

"Turning their strength into their weakness," Naruto mused thoughtfully.

"Exactly," Kushina continued, "If you were in a fight with say, Natsumi or Natsuki and you managed to apply a Five Elements Seal you would almost completely shut down their ability to use ninjutsu, save for perhaps Shadow Clones and even that would be severely weakened, to mentioned what the interplay between the seals would do."

"If the Five Elements Seal is that common and dangerous to the girls, perhaps I should learn how to remove it as well as place it?" Naruto said, idly wondering if it would be accepted during a spar.

"Probably won't be necessary," Kushina replied, "There are very few Nin capable of placing it during combat."

"I thought you said it was common?" Naruto questioned, a little confused.

"It is amongst ninja who use Fūinjutsu in combat," Kushina said, "But you are vastly overestimating how many ninja actually use Fūinjutsu at all. You've put in a lot of legwork during the academy and most aren't willing to do the same, I don't think anyone lower than Jōnin currently uses Fūinjutsu for anything other than storage scrolls, and barely half-a-dozen of them can use it during combat. It's a dying art."

"But it seems so easy," Naruto replied, "Surely more ninja would use it?"

"Oh, it seems easy at the moment," Kushina said, "But if we go back to Zabuza and his Kirigakure jutsu, we know he will use it, but how will you counter it? You could disperse the mist, or create a method to see through it, you could concentrate it and use it for another technique. If we choose to disperse it, do we increase the amount of area it should cover, or do we siphon out the chakra. We could blow it away with Futon or cause it to rise with a Katon. Each of these would need a radically different seal and Zabuza may be able to counter some of them, so you have to choose carefully."

"Which seal are you carrying then, Kushina-sensei," Naruto asked, her words ringing in his ears.

"I'm a Jōnin, Naruto," Kushina replied with a giggle, "And more than that, I'm an Uzumaki. I'm carrying all of them."

- E.P - E.P -

Kushina's Shadow Clone puffed away after that, leaving Naruto to develop his techniques in secret, as was right and proper for an aspiring ninja. Naruto had found her talk on Fūinjutsu quite helpful, although he wasn't quite sure how he was going to apply it in combat. He had come across fire suppression seals before and could see how those could be used in combat to counter fire jutsus but they were one use only and would have to be saved for the truly dangerous techniques, rather than the ones he could just avoid.

However, Naruto wasn't quite sure how he could do the same for the other elements, the fire suppression seal was developed to prevent houses from burning down, not unless there was a water suppression seal out there.

Now that he had some privacy though, Naruto was going to try out the Shadow Clone jutsu. He wouldn't use it for combat, it was just too flimsy and his fighting style couldn't accommodate making too many, but having one hidden and casting genjutsu while he engaged an opponent at close quarters might be helpful. His own personal support as were.

Carefully placing his fingers into the same cross-shaped seal he had seen the rest of his team use so many times he moulded his chakra into the same shape he used for a standard clone and envisioned were he wanted it to form.

There was a sudden, heavy pull at his chakra and then a puff of smoke, clearing after a moment to reveal an exact copy of himself standing there.

"All solid?" He wheezed out as the clone poked itself, that Jutsu had taken fully half of his chakra and he was feeling the strain.

"As far as I can tell, yes," The Clone replied, "But I don't appear to be in as bad a condition as you are."

"Rub it in why don't you," Naruto groaned, slumping to the ground and leaning against a nearby tree, "Any idea why?"

"Well, you only have half of all of your chakra right now," The clone replied after a few moments, "But that half of your chakra is all of the chakra I've ever had."

"Guess we're not completely identical, eh?" Naruto murmured, his breath slowly returning to its normal rate, "How do you reckon the twins do it so easily?"

"Practise?" The clone shrugged, "Half is still half though, so maybe their chakra regenerates quickly?"

"Speaking of practise, we might as well make a start," Naruto said, getting to his feet, his breaths evened off.

"We don't have a target for a single layered genjutsu," The clone responded, gesturing towards a nearby tree, "So an area genjutsu on that stump?"

Naruto and his clone spent the next few hours casting genjutsu, watching how they interacted and bouncing new ideas off of each other. It turned out that area layered genjutsu were not the best of idea, as Naruto's layers affected his clone and vice-versa, although hopefully that wouldn't be the case with single genjutsu.

They kept practising even as the sun went down, resorting to light sparring whilst trying to keep their opponent under an illusion. It was difficult at first, but as they got used to it, their concentration improved and Naruto felt confident enough to add a second layer, if only against opponents of his own calibre.

Eventually the clone popped from lack of chakra, stunning Naruto slightly at the small return of some of his chakra into his own system. He sat down heavily, the tiny influx a reminder to him of just how tired he actually was, having slowly been draining himself of energy the entire day.

Relaxing onto his back Naruto stared up at the night sky through the thin canopy, much less thick than that of the vast forest that Konoha was located in. He yawned once then again, and assured himself that he would head back to Tazuna's in a moment.

He'd just close his eyes for a moment first...

- E.P – E.P –

Naruto blinked his eyes open as a shadow fell across his face, blocking out the sunlight, even as a hand touched his shoulder for a moment. He was greeted by a familiar face, her long black hair brushing slightly against his face as he resisted the urge to slap her hand away from him.

"You shouldn't be sleeping out here," She said, her face suddenly gaining a smile, "You could catch a cold."

"Sorry," Naruto replied, matching her expression, glad that he was as light a sleeper as any other ninja, not feeling comfortable being asleep and vulnerable around someone he didn't know or trust, "Guess I was just tired."

"What were you doing out here to get so tired?" She asked, retreating back a few feet and glancing around the mostly untouched clearing. Naruto noted her movements, eying the gap between them, ideal for casting a jutsu and quickly got to his feet.

"Just a little exercise," Naruto replied, moving round the clearing so that the direction of Tazuna's home was at his back, even as the women circled round, keeping the gap between them the same. Naruto grimaced internally, those were the actions of another ninja, not those of a civilian, "Yourself?" He continued, "It's quite early to be out."

"Just gathering some herbs," She replied, her basket moving to a position that kept her hands free, confirming Naruto's fears.

He still wasn't entirely awake, and her features matched those of Zabuza's accomplice, someone he already knew to be stronger than himself and someone who was already aware of his preference towards genjutsu. His only response to this situation could be a quick retreat but at least he had learnt something.

If she was gathering herbs as she had said, and she was unlikely to have lied as there was little else she could be doing and he recognised a few of the herbs he had caught a glimpse of, that meant that Zabuza was still yet to recover. Naruto couldn't be certain if she had found a remedy to his poisons but he would have to assume the worst and inform the rest of his team, if he could survive to reach them.

Naruto waited until she began to take a step then quickly threw a brace of senbon towards her before turning and fleeing. He quickly jumped onto the branches and cursed the thinness of the canopy as he heard another set of footsteps heard the trees a few branches back.

A quick few hand seals cast an illusion over the next few trees, subtly shifting the positions of the branches even as two icicles thudded into the tree trunk near his ear. He sped up and headed straight through his own illusion smiling to himself as he heard the crack of branches and curses as she fell to the ground.

He wasn't in the clear though, more icicles flying past him, some sticking into the underside of the tree while others perforated the leaves around him. Naruto suddenly zigzagged as he caught a glimpse of something shining to his left, avoiding another wave of icicles as the female ninja dived out of the mirror and into another, only to appear off to his right in another. Another Genjutsu confused her for a moment and gained him a precious reprieve, bringing him ever closer to Tazuna's home and safety.

It was however, all to brief, as a salvo of icicles caught him in the back of his right leg as he made a jump, causing him to miss his landing and tumble out of the trees and onto the surface of the water. He was less than a hundred metres from Tazuna's home and he let out a loud yell, even as he dragged himself onwards, flipping over and returning fire towards the black-haired ninja who was still heading towards him.

She easily knocked a few of his senbon out of the air, dodging around the rest and continuing to head towards him. He let out another shout and started searching for a target to substitute with, anything to give his potential rescuers time to arrive and give him a little more space from the oncoming ninja.

Unable to find a target on the empty lake and now too far to find a log from the forest, Naruto ceased his water-walking, dropping through the surface of the lake even as a set of foot long icicles went straight through where he had been lying only moments before.

Naruto peered through the few feet of water separating him from the surface, waiting for the enemy ninja to enter his line of sight, the occasional bubble floating up from the surface from his mouth. He wondered how long it would take them to reach him and finish him off, no longer able to retreat any further.

Naruto's musings were cut off as a hand suddenly grasped his collar and yanked him to the surface, bringing him face to face with Kushina's rather irate expression, the black-haired kunoichi nowhere in sight.

"Where the hell have you been?" Kushina asked through gritted teeth, "And why do I come out to find you under attack?"

"I fell asleep after training," Naruto replied sheepishly, as Kushina helped him limp towards Tazuna's home.

"Looks like you've found out just how stupid and dangerous that is," Kushina said, helping him up onto the dock and into the house, "You knew Zabuza and his apprentice were in the area, you were lucky she didn't kill you as soon as she saw you."

"Noted," Naruto deadpanned, "Still, she appeared to be gathering herbs, so it will be likely he'll be healed soon."

"Especially if she felt secure enough that he could defend himself without her," Kushina murmured thoughtfully, before turning back to Naruto, "But learning that doesn't offset you idiocy. If I hadn't awoken early and heard your yells, you would have died less than a hundred meter from us and we would have even known."

"Hai, Sensei," Naruto grumbled as he sat down to the worried expressions of the twins, Tsunami also looking a little worried as she began making breakfast.

"And you're also injured," Kushina continued, taking up a lecturing position at the table, "So you'll be a liability in combat, unless you heal by the time Zabuza makes his move, which is unlikely, seeing as he'll try to take advantage of your injury just as we took advantage of his."

"Nice going, Naruto," Natsuki snarked. Naruto ignored her instead taking the time to start patching up his wounds, which luckily weren't too deep. His muscles had taken a little damage which he patched up with a medical technique, although it would take him a few days to heal completely with a bit of assistance.

"So you'll be staying to guard the house from now on with one of my clones," Kushina added, ignoring her daughters interruption, "And girls, you'll be with me at the bridge from now on."

- E.P - E.P -

Naruto woke late the next day when Tazuna and the rest of his team left for the day's work at the bridge. With Kushina's clone downstairs chatting to grateful Tsunami with Inari, having undergone a sudden change in attitude recently due to Gatō's sudden demise, happily listening in to their conversation , Naruto woke up and dressed slowly before heading down to have something to eat.

He was busy changing the bandages around his leg when Kushina's clone sat bolt upright, startling Tsunami and drawing everyone's attention.

"Zabuza and his apprentice are at the bridge," She said, quickly getting to her feet, "Naruto, join up with Tazuna and relieve the girls clones, they'll need their attention on the apprentice."

Naruto nodded in assent, swallowing the last of his food and heading out as Kushina's clone continued speaking to Tsunami, "Tsunami, you and Inari need to stick with me while we move you two to a safer area..."

Having moved out of earshot Naruto took to the trees, wincing with every jump he took. His leg hadn't completely healed, though the partly healed wounds the senbon-like icicles had left were not the most difficult to mend.

It only took a few minutes for Naruto to reach the bridge at the fastest pace he could manage, hitting the start of the bridge before entering a brief, thin mist then a clearing at the far end. He began to be able to hear the clangs of one sword on another, then the backs of Tauna and the girls came into view.

"What have I missed," Naruto asked, startling the two girls and nearly causing Natsuki to take his head off, "Careful!"

"Sorry," The clone muttered, before turning her attention back to the visible fight. Zabuza was fending off a pair of Kushinas with broad strokes of his greatsword, while the two women kept up an endless barrage of quick attacks against him, "You can see how Sensei's doing, but the apprentice is hard to pin down, he moves too quickly."

"He?" Naruto questioned, "The apprentice is a girl, the one we met in the village."

"You tried to chat up a missing-Nin?" Natsumi's clone asked surprised, then tried to keep a teasing expression off her face, "That'll be something to talk about, 'remember that time Naruto tried to date a missing-Nin?'"

"We're never going to let you live that down," Natsuki's clone giggled, "Still, thanks for relieving us, we need to help our bossettes."

"Wait, wait," Natsumi's clone injected as Naruto mouthed the word 'bossettes' to himself, "Us dispersing won't make much difference, we still won't be able to shut down her speed but you might be able to."

"Naruto's injured though," Natsuki's clone replied, before glancing at his leg, "Unless it's all healed?"

"No, it's not," Naruto answered, "But I won't be engaging in direct combat, so it should be okay."

"Be careful then," Natsumi's clone added as he ran round the three Jonins, Natsuki's clone and Tazuna nodding along with her.

Naruto drew a pair of senbon with his right hand and a kunai in his left as he headed in to the thin mist where the twins were supposed to be fighting. He knew the apprentice had a similar preference as he did for senbon and they were much easier to block with a kunai than with another senbon. She had already shown herself able to disrupt his genjutsu, so there was no reason to cast any until the twins could cover him.

He jumped back suddenly as an icy mirror formed in front of him, the image of the masked apprentice held within. He deflected a set of senbon thrown towards him, unable to dodge easily due to his slightly limited mobility. A second glint caused Naruto to dive to his right, the appearance of a second mirror and another apprentice throwing senbon at him nearly catching him out and ending the fight quickly. He spun round to face the new threat, idly pulsing his chakra in case it was a genjutsu, only to see more than a dozen mirrors form and spread around him in a dome shape.

After that it took all Naruto could do to avoid me hit by the many senbon the apprentice was throwing. He had since thrown his own senbon so he could hold another kunai, both being used to deflect any of the senbon he couldn't dodge. The apprentice's senbon, tiny icicles that they were, had melted onto the surface of the bridge causing Naruto to have to expend his chakra to maintain his balance, while his own had bounced off doing little, if any, damage.

Any attempt Naruto made to leave the dome were rebuffed by increased amounts of senbon and without any method to discern the real enemy from what he believed were after images, Naruto was unable to strike back at his opponent.

Suddenly Naruto found himself almost yanked off of his feet and enveloped in a puff of smoke. Moments later it cleared and he found himself outside the dome besides the rest of his team, both of whom appeared to be out of breath.

"I made a clone and had it substitute out with you," Natsumi said helpfully as the mirrors of the dome disappeared.

"Much appreciated," Naruto replied, "How have you been fighting her so far?"

"Her?" Natsuki interjected, "I thought she was a boy..."

"She's the girl we met..." Naruto let himself trail off, eyeing their surroundings before continuing, "Never mind."

"Anyway," Natsumi said after a moment, "Originally she trapped us in that dome technique, the same as you, but we created a clone each and substituted with them."

"Since then she's been harassing us with hit-and-run attacks," Natsuki continued, "And we've been trying to coral her to the end of the bridge so she'll have nowhere further to run. It's working, but its slow going."

"Can either of you destroy the mirrors?" Naruto asked, letting senbon fly towards a mirror that appeared off to their left and being surprised at the lack of return fire as they bounced off the mirror.

"We can, but it takes time," Natsumi replied, the two girls adding a barrage of shadow kunai to his own thrown projectiles, "In the end it just pits our amount of chakra against hers, as apparently she can repair them."

"She has to make herself vulnerable if she wants to attack as well," Natsuki added, returning to scanning their surroundings as the mirror and its image disappeared, "And she can move really quickly between mirrors."

"So that's how she was doing it..." Naruto muttered, beginning to cast genjutsus around them.

A few moments later he was rewarded by icicles thudding in the bridge a couple of metres away, even as the twins' shadow kunai forced her to retreat back into her mirror to the right. This time though the mirror didn't disappear, the far edge of the bridge that was just in sight showing she had nowhere to go, instead a second mirror formed some distance to the left.

Seconds later her image disappeared from the first mirror, becoming a blur of motion throwing icicles before reappearing in the second mirror then vanishing again. Naruto blocked those that would have hit the girls and him as they saturated the air between the two mirrors with kunai, a few smashing against the mirrors themselves. When the apprentice returned to the first mirror her clothing was marred by blood and tears in the fabric, her mask sporting a single crack running up her left cheek and across the eye slit.

"Nearly got her," Natsumi murmured, her sister grinning in anticipation.

Then was a roar of pain from behind them, the three of them long having since tuned out the sounds of swords clanging against another, and the apprentices mask shot up as she turned to the source of the cry.

"Zabuza-sama!" She cried, abandoning her mirror and quickly moving in an attempt to support him, completely ignoring her opponents.

None of the three Genin were going to let her reach him, several senbon piercing deep into her back near her spine, their deadly poisons easily reaching her bloodstream, even as dozens of shadow kunai sank into her and knocked her off her feet.

Team One slowly approached her prone body, Natsumi slipping a kunai under her body to rest against the apprentice's throat as she took her pulse. She looked up and shook her head, causing the team to turn their attention to the remainder of Kushina's battle with Zabuza.

He had a great gash across his chest, blood pouring out of it and staining his camouflage trousers. It was the most damaging wound he appeared to have, but far from the only one, many smaller wounds scattered about his body. His left leg appeared to be lamed and he was holding his bleeding chest with one hand, the Kubikiribōchō tightly held in his right as he desperately tried to fend off Kushinas' katanas.

Zabuza had since forgone the massive swings of his sword, now preferring quicker stabbing motions against the women who were quickly darting around and taking advantage of his lack of speed. A moment of error and he overextended one of his thrusts, causing himself to stumble, if only slightly.

Nevertheless one Kushina took quick advantage of his mistake, her crimson handled katana cutting easily through his wrist, severing muscles and tendons and forcing Zabuza to drop to his huge blade. He reared back and let out another cry of pain, only for it to be cut short as the second Kushina slipped her katana through the gaps between his ribs and up into his heart from behind.

A few moments later the Kushina behind Zabuza disappeared into smoke, the other stepping back as his corpse fell to the ground. The original Kushina beckoned them over, withdrawing a cloth and wiping clean the blood from her sword as they headed over to Tazuna and his cloned bodyguards. Seeing everyone was alright, the last of the clones puffed away bringing a smile to Natsuki's face.

"So Naruto," She began, turning slightly to face him, "Remember that time you tried to date a missing-Nin?"