Wow, it has been a long time, time sure goes by fast. Anyway, we are sorry for not having been able to update this story for quite some time. Me and my co-writer had it a little difficult finding time to write on this one. Plus, I have started at college and my schedule isn't as open as it was before when it came to writing. But I just want all of you to be assured that I will never abandon this story or any of my stories for that matter. Sometimes it might take a while before I update a story, which in some cases are because of writer's block, not having enough inspiration to write, or in this stories case not that easy finding time to work with my co-writer.

Also, to those waiting for some of my other stories, like "A Fresh Start" I hope to be able to update it by this month, if not at the early start of January.

Also, for review responds I have decided to add those at the very end of the chapter.

Anyway, enjoy!

There was death in the air, the killing intent leaking from Zabuza was enough to make a grown man freeze in fear, that's what happened to Tazuna anyway. Even if he wished to run away, his legs refused to budge. Although he held slight hope, after seeing what these three brats could do, plus knowing their sensei is a high ranked shinobi. It seemed he might escape with his life intact after all, for his people, for his grandson, he couldn't afford to die here he had to finish the bridge.

Young Kushina stood guard in front of the old bridge builder, and looked amazed at her teammates. She had always known Itachi Uchiha to be a prodigy, although from what Itachi told her, and what she has seen him do self during the survival exercise, the goof Minato seemed to be just as skilled as the Uchiha if not even more.

The two and young talented boys, Itachi and Minato stood beside their sensei Kakahsi, ready to take on the Demon of the Mist, Zabuza. "We got your back, Kakashi-sensei." Minato declared as he readied a triple prong kunai in his right hand.

"Hn." Itachi nodded in agreement to Minato's words.

"Thank you, but make sure you both stay back a bit. He is still stronger than both of you." Kakashi warned and his sharingan eye focused on the giant sword wielding enemy.

'Those two brats might be a problem teaming up with their sensei. I need to split them…' Zabuza narrowed his gaze and formed a hand seal, creating two water clones. "These clones are stronger than the ones from before. Let's see if you brats can survive this." Zabuza chuckled darkly as the two clones charged at the young boys.

Both the boys narrowed their eyes, calculating the situation. Itachi used his sharingan to react to the attacks from the one clone dodging each swing from the executioner blade, while Minato threw the triple prong kunai and teleported using Flying Rajin, and appeared behind the one water clone kicking it in the back of the head, sending it crashing into the ground.

Itachi ducked from the executioners blade the clone swung at him, Itachi focused the chakra within his body to increase his speed to the max and his strength, and quickly spun his right leg into the clones' legs making it trip. Itachi then quickly spun his body delivering an upper kick to the clone's jaw. The water clone of Zabuza flew a little up in the air, and smirked underneath the mask of the bandages, and delivered a kick to Itachi sending him flying back a great distance.

As Itachi was flying back, he brought out two shurikens from his pouch and threw them at the water clone. Zabuza's clone however reflected the shurikens with the executioner's blade. Itachi pulled his arms back, as almost invisible strings were in his hands. Itachi's shurikens then changed direction flying over Zabuza's clone's head, and made a U-turn aiming for his back.

"Foolish." The clone uttered and formed a hand seal as a wall of water surrounded him stopping the shurikens. The clone then formed another hand seal at incredible speed.

Water Style: Liquid Bullets!

Out from the water wall surrounding the clone, shot out a barrage of water bullets towards the young Uchiha, whom at high speed formed a set of hand seals and inhaled his breath.

Fire Style: Fireball

Itachi spitted out the famous Uchiha jutsu, a gigantic fireball that flew towards the clone, and vaporized the water bullets. Zabuza's clone narrowed its eyes at the incoming blazing ball of fire and raised the executioner blade, slicing the ball of fire in half. "Persistent little runt." Zabuza grunted as Itachi was gone. "Think you can fool me." The clone swiftly turned around swinging the massive sword with him, and striking a pair of kunai knifes held in an x-formation by Itachi, whom was sent flying back from the impact. "Huh?" The clone heard a noise and looked down seeing a paper bomb tag right underneath him that was about to explode. He quickly jumped back as the tag exploded. 'Even after all that he was able to sneak up behind me, and place a paper bomb tag beneath my feet?!'

As Zabuza's clone was flying back from the explosion, he sensed a presence behind him and there was Itachi having formed a hand seal. "Oh no you don't'!" Zabuza turned his body around, and swung the blade at the Uchiha cutting him in the half, although then he vanished in a puff of smoke. 'A shadow clone?!' Zabuza then turned around again, only to see a blazing ball of fire right in front of him. "Heh, not bad kid, one of these days you would have made a high rank in the bingo book." Zabuza's clone smirked as the fireball crashed right into him and exploded in a massive blaze of fire. "Shame you won't survive the original's wrath." The clone said as he vanished in a puddle of water that got vaporized by the fire.

The real Itachi stood a few steps away from where the paper bomb tag had exploded. 'Good, he fell for the clone I made during that first fireball.' Itachi thought having made a shadow clone during the spam of time Zabuza's water clone was distracted by the first fireball. All that was left to do after that was to face him head on for a bit, with just enough time to plant a paper bomb, that would give the shadow clone enough time to get in position, and Itachi enough time to gather up the chakra for that last fireball.

Meanwhile, Minato charged at the second and last remaining water clone. Zabuza's water clone quickly reacted to the blond boy, and then quickly formed a set of hand seals.

Hidden Mist Jutsu!

A thick foggy mist then gathered around Zabuza's water clone and Minato. Minato stopped in his tracks, focusing on his senses to find where the clone was hiding, although he had a pretty good idea where he was going. "Guess it's time to confuse him." Minato smirked and formed a hand seal, and in a massive puff of smoke appeared an army of around 500 Minato's that all charged around the mist.

Zabuza's water clone, whom was closing in on Tazuna and Kushina, was suddenly attacked from behind by a small army of Minato's. "He is over here you guys! He is going after Kushina-chan and Tazuna-san!" One of Minato's shadow clones shouted as the rest of the Minato army charged out from the mist.

"We are not letting you get away that easy!" The real Minato shouted somewhere among his army of clones. 'Even though you have more skills and experience than me! You are way to predictable, it was obvious that one of those water clones was going to go after Tazuna-san!' Minato thought as the entire army of Minato's pulled their right hand back. "Now!"

'Little brat!' Zabuza's clone shouted in his own mind.

Gale Palm!

All the clones at once fired of a surge of wind blasting towards the water clone, whom formed a set of hand seals in the blink of an eye.

Water Style: Water Dragon Missile!

A giant Chinese dragon made out of water flew around the water clone, like a shield protecting him from the wind blasts. And then flew around charging at all the Minato's taking out row after row as they vanished in a puff of smoke. Zabuza's water clone then swiftly turned around throwing the executioners blade spinning towards Kushina and Tazuna.

"Get back bridge builder, dattabane!" Kushina formed a set of hand seals.

Earth Style: Mud wall!

A wall made out of the earth popped up in front of them to slow the sword down, and Kushina quickly pushed the old bridge builder down, as the executioner blade cut through the wall and flew over them. The water clone charged at them, but froze when a triple prong kunai flew past him, and in a flash the real Minato appeared with his palm pulled back, Minato landed on the ground in front of Kushina, his feet skidding back and dragging up a little of the ground. "Gentle fist style!" Minato gathered a lot of energy, then he leaped towards the clone and slammed his palm forward hitting the water clone right in the center of the chest, dissolving the water clone into a puddle of water, and the water dragon was also dissolved into a puddle of water. 'Even though I haven't awoken the byakugan, heck I don't even know if I can, it's common knowledge that the center of the chest contains a lot of chakra connections, block that and a mere clone will vanish.' Minato thought.

"Wh-What did you do?" Kushina questioned looking at Minato in awe.

"Huh? Oh? I used the gentle fist style. It's a taijutsu art of the Hyuga clan, you see my mother is originally from the Hyuga clan, she trained me to use it to some extent. Although it really is difficult to use without a byakgugan…" Minato looked into his own palm seeing it twitching slightly in pain. 'And of course, without a byakugan I can't use the art of gentle fist correctly… and suffer some damage if I'm not too careful.'

Meanwhile, Kakashi was mimicking Zabuza's every move thanks to his one sharingan. They were both making the same hand seals, and Zabuza started to look annoyed, as they both shot out a water dragon missile that collided with each other sending water raining down upon them. 'Something isn't right… He's…' Zabuza thought and widened his eyes as Kakashi was not only mimicking hand seals anymore, but all hos body movements. 'All of my movements and gestures… He sees…'

"Through them all!" Kakashi finished Zabuza's train of thought.

'What?! Is he reading my mind?!' Zabuza widened his eyes and growled forming a hand seal that Kakashi mimicked. 'Curse him! He's…'

"… Got that sickeningly evil look in his eye… Right?" Kakashi asked mockingly.

"You're a pale imitation!"

""I'm the genuine article. No mere copycat stands a chance against me!"" They both said in unison causing Zabuza to gain a look of shock as a vein grew on his forehead.

"You mimic me like a parrot! I'll shut you up for good!" Zabuza shouted and kept forming hand seals that Kakashi mimicked. Zabuza then widened his eyes as it looked like a ghostly image of himself stood beside Kakashi. 'Is this one of his illusions?' Zabuza questioned and hesitated for only a second, but that was all Kakashi needed.

Water Style: Giant Waterfall!

Kakashi managed to unleash Zabuza's jutsu first as Zabuza was too distracted, and a massive surge of water blasted into Zabuza. 'I-I can't keep up with him!' Zabuza crashed into a tree and kunai knifes stabbed into his arms and legs.

"That's that." Kakashi said as he was on the tree branch looking down on Zabuza.

"What… Can you see the future?!" Zabuza questioned.

"I foresee… your death." Kakashi declared and was about to deal the finishing blow, when suddenly two needles stabbed through Zabuza's neck.

Everyone looked towards the source from where they were thrown, and saw what looked to be a boy in a mask with long black hair tied into a bun. "Your prediction came true." The boy said in a gentle like tone. "Thank you for your help. I hope you don't mind my interfering, but I wanted the satisfaction of putting Zabuza out his misery myself." The boy gave a polite bow to Kakashi whom studied the mask the boy was wearing, and he recognized it from the symbol around the forehead area.

"That mask is familiar… correct me if I'm wrong… but aren't you a shinobi hunter from the village hidden in the Mist?" Kakashi questioned.

"Well, aren't you the smart one." The boy complimented.

"A shinobi hunter?" Minato questioned.

"I am, indeed, a member of the elite tracking unit from the village hidden in the Mist. It is our responsibility, and out art, to hunt down and deal with rogues and the outlaws." The boy replied.

'Judging by his size and the tone of his voice… he doesn't seem that much older than us…' Minato thought inspecting this mysterious boy.

'Like Minato and Itachi he is not your average kid, that's for sure.' Kakashi thought and put his forehead protector over his sharingan.

Kushina looked frustrated as she looked back and forth on the dead Zabuza and this masked boy. "Who the heck are you?! Dattebane!"

"Just relax, he's not an enemy." Kakashi assured and walked away from Zabuza's corpse having inspected it.

"That's not what I mean! He killed Zabuza, whom was able to fight against all of us! But this guy, whom is about my fricking age! Takes him out like it was nothing! Does that mean we are like weak or something?! What's up with that?! Dattebane!" Kushina shouted feeling like her dream was just way far out of reach.

"Well, Zabuza was weakened after the battle with all of us. Plus, he looked a little distracted by Kakashi-sensei." Itachi pointed out, yet Kushina still felt frustrated.

"It might be hard to accept, but this is fact. You'll just have to live with it. This won't be the last time you meet someone like him, someone who is younger than you and stronger." Kakashi said as the world was big, and he was already aware of some young people that were way too strong for their age, Minato and Itachi even falling into that category, heck Kushina wasn't that far from that category as well. "If you don't like it, then you'll just have to get stronger." Kakashi said and Kushina pouted a little, but had determination that burned like fire in her eyes.

"Your battle is over for now… and the remains must be disposed of… lest they give up secrets to our foes." The boy vanished and reappeared next to Zabuza's body, and picked him up. "Well then, I must be off." The boy and Zabuza vanished.

"Now! We still have to escort Tazuna-san the rest of the way to his home." Kakashi sighed seeming a little exhausted. "Let's put our best feet forward."

Tazuna let out a laughter now that he was safe, for now at least. "You poor kids. You must be so humiliated! But never mind. You can lick your wounds at my house." Tazuna said when suddenly Kakashi fell to the ground.

"What?! Huh?! What's happening?!" Kushina questioned as they went to their fallen sensei.

"Master Kakashi!" Minato as well went to their sensei's side. "What's going on?"

"It's because of the sharingan. Since he is a none Uchiha, his body isn't adapted to deal with the sharingan, so he must suffer some sort of side effect at the moment. He is just a little tired is all." Itachi said and went up to Kakashi's body and picked him up. "Kushina, would you mind helping me carry Kakashi-sensei? Minato you will stay on watch and look out for any other attackers." Itachi instructed and they did as he said.

They didn't run into any other attackers sent by that Gato, and managed to get to Tazuna's home, where Kakashi could rest off the side effects of the sharingan. Once they got there, they were greeted by Tazuna's daughter Tsunami, whom was a young woman in her late twenties with long black hair and eyes.

"Are you all right there, sensei?" Tsunami asked the Jonin whom was at the moment resting on a futon.

"No, but I will be in about a week." Kakashi replied.

"Still, why do you have the power of the Uchiha clan?" Kushina questioned, and Itachi seemed to wanting to know the answer.

"… It was a gift… from a friend." It was all Kakashi would say on the matter, and Itachi managed to guess that friend must have been an Uchiha, most likely someone whom died a long time ago and gave his sharingan to Kakashi, judging by the scar that was over his eye, Kakashi must have lost his real eye in combat.

"This time you took down your strongest foe yet. So, we can probably relax for a while." Tazuna said seemingly relieved figuring Zabuza must have been Gato's strongest hired muscle.

"Still, that boy in the mask worries me a little…" Minato uttered not looking like his usual goof self, he looked serious like he does during battle.

"Hmm, well like he said, he is a part of the Shinobi hunters, that mask is proof of that they all wear them. Their unit is code-named the Undertaker Squad. Because they dispose of the corpses so thoroughly, it's as though they never existed. Even after death, a shinobi's corpse still holds a lot of secrets. Exposing the secrets of the skills it had mastered, as well as retaining the aura of the chakra it was steeped in, in the ninja's native lands. Even the ingredients of any drugs or potions that body has consumed becomes an open book. If I were to die the enemy would most likely take possession of my corpse to gain any information on the village, and the secrets of my sharingan. Worst case scenario they could be able to duplicate and master that power if they gain enough information." Kakashi explained.

"So, those Shinobi Hunters hunt down any rogue ninjas like Zabuza, so that the enemy can't kill Zabuza and take any information his body may contain. That way they are able to protect the secrets of their home." Minato said.

"That's right, they dispose of the corpse silently and without a trace." Kakashi replied and Kushina looked a little creeped out at the thought.

Kakashi then laid back and thought back on Zabuza, and the boy, how Zabuza was killed by those needles and how the boy took Zabuza's body away… Wait a minute. Kakashi widened his eyes as the realization dawned on him. He sat up so quickly Minato and Kushina got spooked.

"What's wrong master Kakashi?" Kushina questioned a little dumbfounded.

"Hmmm… of course. The Shinobi hunters who manage corpse disposals are supposed to destroy the bodies of those they kill at once, right on the spot." Kakashi said and everyone just looked a little confused.

"So what?" Kushina questioned, and then Minato and Itachi widened their eyes having realized it as well.

"He took the corpse with him, he didn't dispose of it like he should have…" Itachi uttered to which Kakashi nodded.

"Not to mention the weapons he used to kill Zabuza." Kakashi said as they all thought back.

"Senbon Acupuncture needles…" Minato uttered as an image of the weapons popped into his mind. "Oh crap…" Minato realized what that could mean, and Itachi also had a look that said he figured it out, as he was sweating nervously.

"Yes, it would seem so." Kakashi confirmed the boys suspicion.

"What the heck are you talking about?" Tazuna questioned not following what they meant.

"That it's likely… Zabuza is still alive!" Kakashi revealed and both Kushina and Tazuna gaped.

"Wh-What?! But you checked him! If he was alive you should have noticed!" Kushina pointed out remembering Kakashi checking Zabuza's body.

"I made sure of it… but… A deathlike trance could have created a very convincing illusion of the real thing. Those acupuncture needle weapons that Shinobi hunter used could be deadly… if they hit the right spot. If not, the mortality rate is surprisingly low. And they were originally designed as medical tools. Shinobi hunters are meant to possess knowledge of human physiology. It would be simple for one to place a person into near-death state." Kakashi explained and they all thought back to what happened with the masked boy.

"First of all, the masked boy went to the trouble of carrying Zabuza's heavy corpse with him. Secondly he used those needles as weapons, which he could have used to inflict a non-mortal injury. These two points suggests that his goal was to put Zabuza in a state that would make it seem like he was dead. While in truth, he rescued him." Kakashi said to which everyone in the room looked a little nervous.

"Even if you are wrong, we still should consider the possibility…" Itachi agreed with Kakashi.

"Aren't you just complicating things by overthinking them? Shinobi hunters are supposed to hunt down rouge ninjas, right?" Tazuna questioned.

"True, but, what if he wasn't a member of the Shinobi hunters? What if he just somehow managed to steal that mask?" Minato said to which Kakashi narrowed his eyes and pondered on the thought, yet another possibility appeared, the boy could be working with Zabuza while being disguised as someone who would want to kill him, so that Zabuza could escape near death situations.

"Whether Zabuza is dead or alive, Gato might still have powerful enemies at his disposal, so regardless we need to be ready. I'm going to increase your training schedule." Kakashi revealed.

"Umm, Kakashi-sensei, although I do want training. Do we really have time fort that right now? I mean if Zabuza is alive wouldn't he attack us while we are training?" Kushina questioned.

"Excellent question, although I wouldn't worry about Zabuza for a while now. You see, as person who has been put to near-death state will need some time to recover before their bodies are back to full health." Kakashi said easing Kushina's worries.

"Alright! So, we'll train while we're waiting! This could be fun! Dattebane!" Kushina cheered in excitement, and Minato thought the excited look on Kushina's face was so cute that he fawned over her.

"It won't be fun for you." A little boy entered the house.

"And who are you?" Kushina narrowed her gaze at the boy.

"Inari! Where have you been?!" Tazuna greeted the boy with open arms.

"Welcome home grandpa." The boy took of his shoes and walked in.

"Inari, greet our guests properly. They're ninjas whom brought your grandfather home safe." Inari's mother Tsunami said, and the boy looked at the Genin trio.

"But mom, they are all going to die." Inari bluntly stated.

"Listen up ya little twerp!" Kushina was about to throw a tantrum but was held back by her two teammates.

"No one can beat Gato and his men, no one." The boy said, his eyes lacking hope.

"You brat!" Kushina was about to attack had it not been for Itachi and Minato holding her back.

"Calm down! Kushina-chan! He is just a child!" Minato tried to calm down Kushina, and noticed the look in the boy's eyes. "Hey kid, don't worry about this Gato guy. I'm a superhero who will take him down!" Minato tried to cheer him up.

"Hero? You're dumb! There's no such thing!" Inari boldly stated, to which Minato looked dumbfounded.

"… Not the reaction I was expecting honestly." Minato laughed nervously with a sweat drop.

"If you don't wanna die, go home, now…" Inari said and turned around and walked away.

"Where are you off to, Inari?" Tazuna asked his grandson.

"I'm going to watch the ocean from my room…" Inari replied as he left the room and went upstairs, but not before slamming the door behind him.

Tazuna let out a sigh and rubbed his temple. "Please forgive him." Tazuna said to the angry Kushina, whom finally calmed down thanks to Minato whom was stroking her hair gently while she pouted.

"There, there, calm down now Kushina-chan…" Minato said with a joyous smile.

"I am calm…" Kushina uttered still pouting, not seeming to realize what was happening and how this looked.

"Yes, that's a good Kushina." Minato said calmly as he kept stroking Kushina's hair, whom finally noticed.

"What do ya think your doin'! Databane!" Kushina punched Minato across the face.

"I have… no regrets…" Minato raised his right shaking arm up, while giving a thump up before he passed out, to which Itachi let out a sigh at his best friend's behavior.

After having recovered from Kushina's punch, Minato decided to go up and see Inari to find out what was wrong. But when he got to the door of Inari's room, he heard sobbing. 'Is he crying?' Minato listened in closely and heard Inari crying out to his father. This caused Minato to widen his eyes and feel a little sympathy for the boy, as he remembered his own father, and a certain incident when he found out he was the host of the Nine tailed fox.

Flashback 6 years ago

A very young Minato, having discovered the truth about him, after having heard all the whispering the villagers had said about him, and calling him sometimes "demon" or even "fox demon", it didn't take Minato long to put the pieces together, and this brought him even more sorrow.

A crying Minato was holding a knife directed towards the seal on his stomach, crying his eyes out. "Minato! Stop it! Put the knife down!" His mother Hinata called out with a look filled with concern and being worried over her only child.

"Dad was killed by the nine tails… if the nine tails is in me… then… then… I will kill it!" Minato raised the knife as images of the vile fox came to his mind, his eyes filled with fear, anger, hatred. Minato was about to stab himself, although Hinata managed to use gentle fist to knock the knife out from her crying boy's hand, and embraced him in a hug before he could pick the knife back up, leaving her son stunned and widen his teary eyes.

"Your father… loved you more than anything… I love you more than anything… Your father gave his life to save the village, to save you… you are not the nine tails, you are Minato, our son. Please… don't let your father's sacrifice have been in vain." Hinata cried onto the top of Minato's head, whom cried into her bosom.

"I'm sorry mom… I'm sorry…" Minato cried in a broken voice, as the anger and hatred in his eyes vanished.

"You haven't done anything wrong dear. You hear me? You haven't done anything wrong. I love you." Hinata gently stroked Minato's hair. Minato didn't remember much after that, only that he fell asleep in his mother's arms, and after that he struggled with dealing with this fact that he had the nine tails inside him. After this day, Minato never had any more thoughts on ending his life again, or hurting himself.

Because, his mother and his best friend Itachi were always there to comfort him, well, not that Itachi ever found out about that incident, he was still there to cheer Minato up whenever he needed it. Whether Itachi knew he was cheering Minato up or not. Same with Kushina, whom would bright Minato's day up every time he saw her, and her beautiful red hair, calming him down making him feel at ease, that and her amusing cute personality that always brought light to him. This was one of the main reasons he probably fell in love with Kushina.

Flashback end

Team 7 were out in the woods with Kakashi standing, well with crutches as he hasn't fully regained his strength yet, before three tall trees. "Okay, let the training begin." Kakashi declared and the trio looked excited, or in Itachi's case, ready to begin.

That's the end for now!

Once again, sorry that this update took so long! We will try and make the next update faster!

Also, in case anyone is wondering the water clones Itachi and Minato fought were stronger versions of the ones from the previous chapter.

Also, who do you think will finish the tree climbing test first? Minato? Itachi? Or Kushina?

But what did you guys think of the chapter? Let us know in the reviews!


Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

(Responds to reviews)

IIII: Here you go! Sorry for the long wait!

merendinoemiliano: Thanks! And that's good to know, although we have planned things to be different for the ending, it's still good to know we can still fall back on that option.

Tasty food: Thanks! And here you go! And hmm, maybe I will consider it.

seant5054: Hmm, I don't find that idea very interesting, sorry. Although Itachi and Samui… Maybe, we'll consider it.

Senritran19: We'll think about it.

Tsukoblue: Naruto in this story has more like a canon Minato role, that's why he wasn't the nine tails as someone would need to fight Tobi when he attacked and unleashed the nine tails. And Tsunade being a Senju and having high chakra like an Uzumaki she seemed the perfect candidate for having the nine tails. Also, I think you may be misunderstanding a thing here, although Tsunade is with Jiraiya or was in this fic, they are not Naruto's parents in this one, Tsunade was pregnant and the child died with her during the nine tails attack.

: Thanks, sorry for the long wait!

Guest: Thanks! Sorry for the long wait!