The bird flutters overhead. Naoto watches its movements, head tilted back to the dim sky, eyes slightly narrowed against the still quite bright light. The bird swoops down towards a buildings and when it comes back up, three more are following it.

Beside her, Nill's wings beat a little, her face a picture of wonder and joy. Naoto knows that the girl wants to join the birds in flight. She wonders if Nill has ever flown before.

In a quiet voice, Naoto asks her question. Nill looks at her and shakes her head, eyes now a little sad.

Naoto berates herself silently for the insensitivity. She takes Nill's hand and says, "I'm sorry. That was wrong of me. But we are human and not birds. The sky is not meant for us. The atmosphere there is said to be lighter, harder to breathe. Maybe that's why we aren't meant to fly."

Nill was shaking her head when Naoto apologizes but then nods toward the end of what she said. The girl smiles a little and Naoto feels some relief.

The pair quietly watch the bird, now with a little less than a dozen more tailing it. They dive and climb in the pale Underground skies, chirping and making a fuss together.

"Oh! So you guys are here?"

The two women look to the side and see Badou and Heine making their way towards them. Badou was smoking a cigarette and Heine was frowning his customary frown. Both of them are clean and bloodless, a sign that they had not been on any missions.

"Heya, Angel, Naoto!" Badou raises a hand in greeting, grinning without dropping the cigarette perched precariously on his lips. Heine glances once at Naoto but smiles at Nill. Naoto grinds her teeth as discreetly as she can.

"What are you two doing?" Badou seats himself on some empty crates lying about on the rooftop just behind Naoto and Nill before looking up to where the pair had gazed at before. "Birds?"

Nill nods enthusiastically, her wings fluttering. Badou and Heine look at her with some interest, their eyebrows raised and their lips curving at the corners.

"Ah! You're a bird too, Nill? You didn't tell us!" Badou pretends to be hurt and puts on a saddened face, though his eyes are still teasing. Nill becomes panicked and hurries to the long-haired man to comfort him. Badou grins up at her when she touches him. "Just kidding!"

Heine stands close by Naoto as they watch Badou being pummeled (though not harshly, never harshly) by the delicate Nill. The young girl's face is twisted into embarrassment and only slight anger as Badou attempts to calm her while laughing.

"Were you with her all this time?" Heine suddenly asks, voice low so only Naoto can hear him. The black-haired woman glances up at the albino and says, "I found her up here and joined her."

Naoto couldn't read the expression on Heine's face. Maybe it was no expression at all but when Heine let out a breath, it sounds a little frustrated. He mutters under his breath, too fast for Naoto to catch.

When she looks upward again, the birds are flying low in the sky, casting shadows upon the cement ground they are standing on. Nill's large eyes follow them as they circle in formation, shooting up into the sky like rockets.

"Look! The leader's pretty bossy, don't you think?" Badou says, pointing. They look to see the frantic chirping of the lead bird and before long, the formation straightens out into three rows of unequal numbers. More chirping and the rows become more organized.

Nill laughs silently and Naoto couldn't help but grin too at the humurous sight. Even Heine looks as if he's holding back laughter.

The foursome just watch the birds for a long while. Badou quickly finishes his smoke but lights up another. Heine moves to lean against the stacked crates. Nill stands facing the sky while Naoto sits with her legs stretched out but crossed at the ankles.

One of the birds drop to the ground, wings flapping to slow its descent. On the ground, it fold its gray wings to its body and cock its head at the group of people. Naoto couldn't help but notice how its eyes are almost as red as Heine's.

Nill's face takes on a curious but excited look. She crouches to the ground and waddles over to the bird. The gray-feathered creature takes flight, leaving Nill looking disappointed.

Before Naoto could move to comfort her, Heine has walked the few steps that separate them. He takes out his white gun and throws it into the sky.

The bird has not gone too much distance that the chain connecting Heine's gun and pants swing around it, ensnaring it before the bird falls to the ground. Naoto stares and Badou's cigarette falls from his mouth as Heine picks up his live catch.

"WHAT THE HELL DID YOU JUST DO?" Badou exclaims arms flailing as he stands up. "You could have broken the poor guy's wings and taken away its freedom!"

"It's not hurt," Heine growls, face right up to the bird's own.

"Says the man who threw a chain around it!" Badou stomps over to Heine but Naoto beats him to it. Standing between the slightly trembling Nill and Heine, she slaps the albino's hand away, catching the bird as it falls from his grasp. She unwinds the chain and Heine's gun thumps to the floor. The bird is cowering in her palms but doesn't look to be hurt.

"I told you," Heine says with satisfaction, rubbing his hand vigorously against his shirt from where Naoto touched him. She only scowled at him.

Naoto sets the bird on the floor and it takes an unsteady step to the front, then to the side. Nill creeps closer for a better look. The bird flaps its wings and takes off to land on top of the crates.

Heine growls threateningly at the animal but it is such an unusual and strange action that Naoto has to stiffle laughter. Badou notices it too and snorts. The white-haired gunslinger turns on them with a, "What?"

When Naoto turns around, there is a thoughtful look on Nill's face and she suddenly rushes away to the side of the door leading into the building downstairs. She comes back with something in her hands.

"What's that, Angel?" Badou inquires, peering over at the young girl's hands. Delightedly, Nill spreads them to reveal a packet of bread crumbs.

"Oh! You wanna try feeding it?"

When Nill nods enthusiastically, Badou's grin widens. "Alrighty, then. We should start from here so that we don't frighten it. Heine, you'd better stay back or I'll give you a good sock in the face!"

Heine only rolls his eyes at the empty threat.

Naoto watches as Badou throws some crumbs out to the front of Nill, where the bird currently stands. It gets frightened a little and flaps backwards and only after hesitating for a moment, the bird makes its way forward and pecks at the food.

Nill's face lights up and she waits for it to finish before throwing some more. The bird takes it all.

Naoto crouches next to Nill as she throws more food. She joins in when Nill offers her the bag.

Not too long later, another bird comes down, then another, then one more. Nill gazes wide-eyed at them as they float downwards, wings spread out, covering their view of the sky for a moment.

Badou laughs and he continues to throw more feed, so does Nill and Naoto. The birds peck hungrily at the ground, some even fighting over a small scrap of bread.

Then, Nill turns around and pulls Heine down so that he is crouched between her and Naoto. Heine looks discomfited as Nill guides his hand into the bag to grasp at some food before throwing it to the birds. However, he says nothing.

Naoto pauses to watch them, her three (two?) friends and the birds. From the feathery midsts, she could see the distinct white of the lead bird as it flaps around, trying to get the best feed. Badou has also paused to allow Nill free reign over the last few handfuls of crumbs. Heine is smiling softly watching her.

The blade maiden could feel a similar smile creep up her face. She feels warm inside, watching her friends and feeling peaceful, for once not even having a glaring showdown with Heine. Her smile widens.

Nill's hand hesitates on the last grab of crumbs and she looks at Naoto, then Heine, who both kindly refuses the last honor. When he is offered, Badou takes it up.

"Thanks, Angel." Badou stands then and looks out over the birds, who are finishing the last pieces of crumbs already on the ground. "Here, birdie, birdie," Badou calls, waving his hand a bit. Some pieces fall around his feet and some birds swoop in.

"Come get some FOOD!"

Badou stretches his arm out and turns his palm out over Heine's head. The crumbs fall and the birds attack.

Laughter escapes Badou's mouth as the birds fly all over Heine, who is trying to shake the crumbs off. Nill looks horrified but it doesn't last long and she too begins to giggle. Naoto turns her face away, hiding her sniggering.

"BADOU!"

Heine's roar dissuades the birds and they scatter. The albino stands and glares menacingly at his partner, who is still half-laughing but also trying to calm him down.

"H-hey! The birds didn't hurt you now, did they? You can't die anyway, so? And serves you right for trapping that bird earlier anyway!"

Before Heine could take any more steps closer to Badou, Naoto says, "It's on you."

Heine whirls around, his glare now trained on her. "What?"

Naoto purses her lips to prevent them from curling up and gestures to above his head. "The gray bird. It's made a new friend."

Sure enough, the gray bird that Heine had trapped earlier was sitting comfortably in the white locks on his head. It plumped it feathers and buries deeper into his hair.

"GET OUT OF THERE!"

But Heine's roar and frenzied movements are dull compared to the bursting laughter of the other three watching him.

XXX

A/N: Umm...frankly speaking, I honestly don't know how this came about. I think maybe it was just me imagining what Heine would look like if he had birds perched all over him. I intended to put that idea in this fic but it turned out like this instead.

This is my first DOGS fic that has these four characters together. I wanted to say 'four main characters' but I just remembered that the fourth isn't Nill, but Mihai.

Hope you liked it. R&R please! It's unedited, so forgive any mistakes.

And one more thing. When will the next chapter be released? Anyone?