I scrambled to get her in my arms and then ran as fast as I could back to Konoha. She looked exhausted and was in a cold sweat; I could have wondered what could be wrong, but I ran faster instead. As soon as I reached Konoha, I ran for the hospital. I handed her over to doctors upon reaching the hospital and they told me that I should wait till they were done with examination and healing.
I paced in the hallway outside the door they had taken her behind.
I looked up and saw Tsunade.
"What are you doing here?" she asked.
"I, uh...I..." I stammered to try and come up with an excuse.
"Never mind; I've got to examine someone in that room behind you," she said as she walked passed me and into the room.
I sat down on a bench and let out a deep sigh. What was I going to do? Nanami was a kitsune and it would be the same as it was five years ago; they would try to kill her. I waited for what seemed like an eternity, then Tsunade came out of the room, "Shikamaru!" she yelled to get my attention. I looked up with a worried face trying to tell myself Nanami would be all right and that everything would work out. I knew thinking that way wouldn't change the outcome of the situation, but it was just a bit more calming to think about that as opposed to the actual possible outcomes for the situation.
"The doctors said you brought that girl to this hospital. Do you know what she is?" Tsunade asked in an irritated tone.
I looked down at the floor, "Yes..."
"Then you know how dangerous she is!"
"Please, Tsunade-sama, hear me out!" I said as I stood up from the bench.
"Fine! Only because she's still unconscious due the lack of treatment we provided for her."
"Her name is Nanami; she used to live here in Konoha five years ago. She had done nothing wrong and one day, Anbu just chased her out of the village. They were trying to kill her. She said goodbye to me before she fled and I hadn't seen her until just yesterday. Yesterday...she saved my life. She's not as harmful as everyone thinks she is! She just wants a normal life; because of what she is, she knows it won't be completely normal, but she still tries. Please--"
"Still, she's a kitsune and she's harboring a great and undisturbed power."
"Please let her stay..."
"Why should I endanger the village? Furthermore, why is she so important to you that you would want her to stay?"
"She saved my life; I owe her at least that simple request that she's wanted most all her life. Besides, can't you seal away her power so it will be less dangerous?"
"I can, but not without her consent; if she's as reasonable as you say she is, then tell her those are the terms if she wishes to stay. If she chooses to stay, then she's your responsibility and will reside at your house."
"What?! But, but--!!"
"If you want her to stay, those are the terms!" Tsunade yelled as she walked back into the room.
I sat back down on the bench and waited. I gave a sigh of relief knowing that I had at least opened a door for her to make a decision. I wasn't sure if she wanted to stay or not, but it seemed like she hadn't forgotten me. Even after all those years, just as I hadn't forgotten her. All I could do now, was sit and wait; wait for her to make her move. After waiting a couple of hours they brought her out and placed her in a recovery room. "What was wrong with her?" I asked curiously. "She had a minor wound, but it doesn't look like she's rested for about a week. It also doesn't look like she's eaten anything for a week and a half, but she tried to stop the wound from getting worse and at least drank water. Still, that can cause a body a good deal of damage," one of the doctors replied. "She'll be fine as long as she gets rest and eats," he added.
I looked at her as she lay there in bed. I had to wonder who could have given her that wound? She seemed so strong the other day when she killed my opponent with such ease. I pulled up a chair and sat down next to her bed. She looked different and yet the same since I had last seen her. Her hair had grown longer though and she had obviously gotten taller. Her skin was pale from her lack of rest and eating; it was almost as white as the clouds in the sky on a clear day.
I shifted my eyes to the window as I thought about presenting the opportunity for her to stay. It seemed like it might be hard for her to make her choice; on one hand, she would have to have some of her powers sealed in order to stay, but on the other hand, if she got hurt like this again she might die. So many thoughts ran through my mind the more I thought about it. I wanted her to stay; if she stayed maybe she'd be safer. Maybe I could protect her this time around if she stayed.
"Nnnnn..." I heard all of a sudden, and looked down at Nanami with her eyes open, "Shikamaru...?" she said sounding exhausted and out of breathe almost.
"Mmm? So, you're awake? How are you feeling?" I asked softly.
"Okay I suppose; where am I?"
"You're in Konoha's hospital."
I watched Nanami jolt up from her bed and rustle to leave.
"HEY!" I said trying to stop her, "Just calm down! The anbu aren't going to come after you here!!"
She settled down shortly after hearing my words and almost collapsed because she was still wasn't rested well enough. "So how long do I have to stay?" she asked grimly.
"You're welcome to stay as long as you want provided you follow a couple conditions," I said looking at the floor.
She looked shocked upon hearing this, "What conditions?" she asked suspiciously.
"We gotten a new hokage since you were here last, and she would like to have some of your powers sealed as a safety measure for the village..."
"Is that all? I thought there would be more conditions than just that; I assumed that one was obvious."
"Well...since I persuaded her to let you stay, she marked you as my responsibility if you choose to stay...and she wants you to stay at my house..." I mumbled awkwardly.
"How do I know this isn't some sort of trick? For that matter, how do I know you're even really Shikamaru?!"
I looked in her eyes; they were so fiery and at the same time sad. She had obviously been hurt and tricked many times in her life. It had only gotten worse since she had left Konoha probably; she looked as if she didn't have a soul she could trust. I wanted to let her know that she could trust me; I'm not sure why, but I did. "Do you still have that music box I gave you?" I asked not knowing any other way for her to know I was who I claimed to be.
"It helped me sleep at night many times," she replied with a slight smile. "So, how have you been these past five years?"
"I could complain, but I won't...it's too troublesome to argue with people." Nanami chuckled, "You haven't changed in personality at all," she said. "So it's really okay if I stay?"
"That's what Tsunade-sama said," I said rubbing the back of my head, "Do you need time to think this over?"
"No," she quickly replied.
I sat there waiting for her to voice her decision. Yet she sat there and didn't say a word as if she'd already told me what she was going to do. I wondered if I was just imagining the time passing as she didn't say anything. She finally turned to me and stared straight into my eyes, "I'm going to stay here this time," she said with a weak smile. I could tell she might be scared to get a portion of her powers sealed away, but I also saw she was willing to go through with it.
"Then rest up," I said, "You have to get better before you can get your powers sealed." I got up with a sigh and turned to leave.
"Hey, where are you going?" Nanami asked sounding like she didn't want to be left alone.
"I had something to take care of, but it can wait if you want me to stay here with you for a while more."
"Please..." she mumbled timidly.
I sat back down in the chair I had pulled up earlier and smiled looking at the floor.
"Hey...what's with that smile on your face?" she asked leaning closer to me.
Then I did something I hadn't expected myself to do; I hugged Nanami tight, "I'm so glad you're okay," I whispered with relief in my voice. I hadn't realized how worried I was for her that day she fled Konoha. It had been building up all this time for the past five years, and now, I could finally let it go knowing she was right here; safe and sound in my arms.
I stayed with her until she began to rest again. I watched her for a while as she slept and remembered how hard it was to get her to sleep well when she stayed at my house last. Seeing that she was resting well and peacefully put my thoughts at ease as I got up to leave. I stood in the doorway looking back at her just once more. She hadn't changed much at all I thought to myself as I gave a slight laugh and turned around shutting the door quietly behind me.