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After the Fourth Great Shinobi World War ended, the world was experiencing a time of peace. The villages for once were able to live in relative harmony with one another as they rebuilt, and for once, all seemed to be well. The kage were able to live peaceful lives and soon began retiring, passing on the baton to the next generations. That is until an unknown virus infects the northern coast. The first to fall is the once powerful Raikage, Ay. While many thought this virus was a simple mutation of what may have well been the flu, no one would ever think of the destruction it would cause. Especially when it infected a certain Uzumaki Naruto.
With his death came the malice; with the malice came the destruction; with the destruction came the shinobi' revolt; and with the revolt came the sacrifices. The Bijuu became filled with malice that they sought to destroy the world. Shinobi sought a way to fight them and once again capture each of the Bijuu. Time passed, and a plan was devised. The Jinchuuriki would be sacrificed for the greater good of the world, and with the deaths of nine individuals, an uneasy peace began.
As time continued, the villages began to truly restructure. In a peace that would last 80 years after the downfall of the Bijuu, the world would see the creation of a great many things. Technology was beginning to take root and before long the blossoms that grew from the tree of the advanced mind would bear fruit. A many great things came to be. A railroad between the vast many nations. Mechanical limbs to replace lost ones. Radios that could reach between villages. Everything seemed to be becoming less reliant on the shinobi. Only the need for them never truly vanished. As with the growth of time, also continued the growth of malice.
Eyes watery, Shiori stepped forward and hugged the woman, clinging to her as if she were the fox's only lifeline... And came almost face-to-face with this huge bird that was under her cloak. That was a really big bird and it was kind of scary to. "Miss Suzu, why is there a birdie in your cloak?"
Yes, the genin was thoroughly distracted from the thought of leaving the village behind now. Oh, the attention span of a child.
Nayami blinked when the child stepped forward to wrap her short arms around the medic's body. Nayami's fingers itched, resisting the urge to fling the wretched creature into the bloodied corpse of the bear, and instead she rest her hand on top of the blonde head, giving an awkward pat.
"Miss Suzu, why is there a birdie in your cloak?"
A glassy eye peered out from a sideways gaze inside the cloak, beak parting to offer a breathy squawk.
“Oh, Vivvian? It's far too cold for her to be out in this weather.” The woman looked about in the storm, nudging the girl away from her. “Too cold for us, as well. Let's get out of this storm.”
Shiori made a happy noise when Suzu patted her head, deigning to release her at last. She instead peered at the birdie, fascinated despite the fact that it was kind of ugly and scary-looking. "Vivvian is a pretty name," she commented.
If the woman hadn't nudged her away, Shiori would have reached out to take her hand. Instead, she just trailed behind her, twirling around and catching snowflakes on her tongue. Maybe when they got back to the village Miss Suzu would let her pet the birdie!
“Thank you, dear,” the rogue replied to the compliment.
A lot of the time Nayami spent walking was with her eyes closed, not allowing her vision to cloud her sense of direction in the white freeze. She focused on the movements of the bird in her cloak, letting her sense of smell guide them back to the village. The girl's words told her she'd never been outside of her home, meaning she wouldn't find her way back. That made her useless. But she carried the scent of her village, and scent was something Vivvian could track. When the wind died down, the woman walked upwind towards the scent of the village, not bothering to glance for the child, as she could hear the noisy footsteps behind her. The howl of the wind woud be the only thing concealing this child's presence to an enemy; she was lucky she looked interesting enough to Nayami to not get herself killed for putting a white bear in the rogue medic's face.
When the gates of the village came into sight, the bird lowered her head, nestling beneath Nayami's bosom where the woman held both hands around the bulging belly. An expecting mother was not threatening, and as she did not carry identification, the child was her only ticket into the village without trouble. She didn't need pursuit across a frozen tundra. Slowing her step, Nayami ushered the girl in front of her.
“Children first~” *insert the “why you shouldn't trust strangers” lesson here*
Shiori was unusually quiet on the trip back home, trying to pick out identifying landmarks so if she ever got lost again, she could find her way home by herself. Unfortunately, there wasn't much around but a ton of snow, and the blizzard made it even harder to see... So she didn't exactly succeed. But it kept her occupied until they reached the village, at least.
When they reached the gates, Shiori offered Suzu her hand. She knew the woman didn't belong to Yuki, and it would be easier to get her in if they acted like they were close.
When Shiori reached for Nayami's hand, the woman hesitated. It was disgusting how trusting children could be. But, the gloveless palm encircled the girl's small fingers. It had been a very long time since the woman held a small, warm hand in her own, and it brought back memories she tried keeping locked up. Her grip tightened on Shiori's hand as she willed the thoughts of that boy away, and she nestled the vulture up closer to her belly.
When they reached closer to the gate, she could see the disapproval on the guardsmen's faces when they saw the child dragging along a stranger. Nayami offered a nervous, but friendly smile to the men.
Something in her chest fluttered when the woman accepted her hand, enveloping it with her own. She'd never really held hands with anyone, except for when she was really little, and those memories were hazy at best.
Shiori looked up at the suspicious guards, beaming brightly, tail swishing."This is my kaa-san. She came all the way from another country just to meet me! She can come in, right?"
If it weren't for her carefully masked expression, Nayami would have shot the deadliest look at the child. Mother? What right on this earth did this wretched creature have to call her mother? No one had that right. Forming a single handseal discreetly with the hand that supported underneath the bird on her belly, Nayami's hidden features changed beneath her cloak. Tapping the creature, Vivvian dug her beak and talons into the thick of Nayami's sweater as the rogue pulled down her hood, allowing tears to well in her eyes. Instead of human ears, mirror copies of Shiori's features stood on top of Nayami's head, the same color as the unbound hair. The tears fell from watery slate blue eyes.
“Please...” the pseudo-ears drooped, “I've searched for my daughter for so long... let me stay with her. Shiori's been alone for so long now... don't take this away from her.”
"Please let her in. Now that I've found her, I-I can't lose her again."
Nayami resisted the urge to step backward when the child clung to her, instead dropping and clinging to her like a lifeline. A pitiful, haggard mother worn from traveling the tundra and finally finding her prize seemed a fitting role for this position. Vivvian shifted uncomfortably at being squeezed between the two bodies.
"Kaa-san, promise me you won't ever leave me."
Nayami stroked the girl's ears and head when she cried into Nayami's cloak. Drip any unwanted fluids on me and you'll regret it, kid...
“I'll never leave you again, Shiori...”
Sad eyes looked up at the guards.
“I can pass... can't I?”
The guards were thoroughly finished and disgusted with the display, gesturing with their hands to go through already. Nayami hid the smirk behind her scarf and stood, grasping the child's hand to walk into the village, the end of a furred tail poking out from underneath the cloak.
As soon as the guards relented, Shiori pulled away from the woman's side and sniffled, rubbing her wet eyes with one small hand. The other reached for Suzu's own. Her heart soared as they entered the village.
"Do you want to go to my apartment?" she asked, looking up at the woman with her big wide eyes. She wasn't expecting the woman to stay with her, but there was no way Shiori would ever turn her away if she wanted to. "It's kinda messy... I wasn't expecting anybody." She never was, actually.
"Do you want to go to my apartment?" Dark eyes turned downward to the bright child. "It's kinda messy... I wasn't expecting anybody."
Stay with this child? Nayami aimlessly followed the fox she was tugged by the hand. That would prove irritating on a number of levels. But this child seemed dim; the rogue doubted she'd familiarized herself with the names and faces of the books. That knocked out one worry. But news in villages spread like wildfires, and the young bastard fox having a fox mother showing up would definitely mean Nayami needed to keep the ears and stick with the child. But it would save her fare for the duration of her stay... she could more freely get her business done.
Vivvian squirmed beneath the robes, and she was allowed to poke her beak out of the robe once more, taking a breath of crisp, frozen air. A little cloud of steam floated from her nostrils as she exhaled. Nayami supposed she could tolerate the child for the three days while she conducted her research. After all, if she was to abduct the curious creature, then she'd have to tolerate her for longer. Though she wouldn't have to put up with the child after her curiosity was sated. She could give herself a nice new scarf and feed her bird a nice little treat. Ah, but for now, she'd stick to niceties.
Shiori made a soft noise akin to a purr and led the woman to her home, a tiny little apartment that was the perfect size for one little foxgirl.
The genin slid the key into the lock, and the door clicked open. She flipped on the lights and stepped aside to let Suzu in, ashamed of her mess. That mess being a few empty ramen containers on the countertop, a couple books on the floor, and an unmade bed (not that she could see that yet).
"I have some food, but I don't think I have anything the birdie would want to eat..." She frowned. "I'll go shopping later. Uhm, miss Suzu-san, you can sleep in my bed," Shiori offered. She would be just fine in her sleeping bag on the floor. And she would never offer a guest anything but the best, even if her best wasn't really all that great.
The home that Nayami was brought to was... quaint. Tiny. Then again, Nayami's own home was massive, so many homes seemed small to her. When they entered, the rogue wrinkled her nose at the scent of trash and animal. It otherwise didn't look too dirty, but she felt the itch to clean it.
"I have some food, but I don't think I have anything the birdie would want to eat..."
“Vivvian eats nuggets of fresh, raw meat. Solid meat can be obtained and cut up. She prefers red meat over fowl, but I don't know the cuisine of this region.”
The child seemed mildly uncomfortable.
"I'll go shopping later. Uhm, miss Suzu-san, you can sleep in my bed."
Thank god for the offer, Nayami wouldn't want to sleep on a couch or the floor. She smiled in an appreciative manner towards the girl.
“Oh, thank you so much, Shiori-san. I haven't slept in a proper bed for some time now.”
Unclasping her cloak, the heavy bird flapped her wings and landed on the floor, stretching out long, taloned legs. She twisted her head this way and that, looking for an object that would serve as a perch, then selected the back of a chair to roost on and preen her feathers. Nayami slid off the cloak and folded it over her arm.
“Vivvian is toilet-trained, so to speak. She knows better than to leave a mess inside, so you don't have to worry about her. I can't say she won't leave feathers, though.”
There was a touch of pride in the woman's voice; the griffon vulture was incredibly intelligent. She'd flutter at the window or find something with a drain.
Shiori hurriedly made her way over to the table and disposed of the containers, the empty glass clutched in her tail, ears flat against her head as she searched for a cloth to wipe the surface down so it would smell less like three day old ramen. Normally, her apartment was immaculate, but her excitement at becoming a shinobi had pushed the urge to clean right out of her mind. The glass was safely deposited in the sink, and then the fox paused to listen to Suzu-san speak.
"I like meat too... I would keep some in the freezer, but I can't cook meat very well, so I don't spend much money on it 'cause it can be expensive if you want the good stuff," Shiori commented, making a mental note that the birdie liked red meat. It might be expensive, but the girl would make sure to pick up a good cut - nothing less for her guests.
She was awed when the bird landed on her floor. Whoa. Vivvian was a really big birdie. Hesitantly, she inched over to the chair where she had perched. "Can I pet you?" she asked the bird, figuring that she was the one of the pair to ask, being that it was her feathers the young fox wanted to touch. Then she twisted around to look at Suzu again. "What kind of bird is she? I've never seen any birds that look like Vivvian."
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