Actions

Work Header

The Craftiest Trickery

Chapter Text

The first time he opens his eyes he wakes with a start.

His eyes are staring directly at the dark sky above him, reflecting the twinkling stars above him. He gasps and feels an intense pain moving through his body as he tries to incorporate.

As the pain makes him weak and dizzy he decides is not the best of ideas at the moment so he tries to relax and not give his body any more reasons to protest. His mind is starting to clear, trying to isolate anything that it isn't his thoughts.

His memories are not better than the physical pain however. And just as he is remembering Odin's disappointed stare Loki, Son of Odin, falls back into unconsciousness.

The second time he wakes up is with nightmares in his mind.

He doesn't know where do they come from, he doesn't understand why he is having them and, the worst of all, he doesn't remember a single thing.

Only pain, loneliness, fear and anger.

He is not happy and his body screams out in protest when he tries to move once again. It is then that he realizes the fall has done some serious damage to his body, tossing him into an unknown realm at the mercy of whoever may come his way.

He doesn't care, though.

Whatever physical pain he is feeling is better than the thoughts trying to invade his mind. Whatever his body is feeling is better than the memory of Odin's disappointed stare, Frigga's pleas for her youngest son to stop and Thor's broken-hearted eyes.

Whatever is better than the bitter feeling trying to spread out on his chest and, thus Loki falls unconscious for the second time.

The third and final time he wakes up is to a rapidly clearing sky, night giving way to the day.

Blinking briefly he tries to move, once again, because really? He doesn't like the feeling of helplessness he is getting from his current situation. He doesn't like the tingling sensation he is getting from his surroundings, much less the lack of contact he is having with his magic.

However, his idea about moving seems to be a pretty stupid one. His body hasn't healed yet and his magic seems to be static to do it on his own. The sharp pain he feels moving from his neck down his spine to his limbs is a blinding one. He bites his lower lip because, Bifrost or no Bifrost, he knows the Gatekeeper is watching and he doesn't want to give him the pleasure of seeing Loki weak.

With a glare direct to the sky, Loki takes deep, slow breathes one after the other. His mind is ordering his magic to start moving, to start healing him but, after a few moments, all seems in vain.

Loki frowns because he can feel the warm and tingling sensation of magic all through his body but, it's not as strong as it uses to be. His magic is failing him and for a brief instant Loki debates himself between laughing or crying. In the end, he decides laugh is the best solution. A deep, almost maniac laugh as he embraces the pain in his body.

He can't use magic to heal himself.

"Was this the punishment you wanted for me, Father?" He speaks for the first time and his voice, once deep and luring, becomes a soft painful whisper.

"Do you even care?"

Loki gulps tilting his head to his left side mainly because he really whishes there can be an answer. Another part of him, the one who is still insistent of the treason of the way Loki has been overlooked and tossed aside, just wishes that Heimdall or the Allfather can 't hear him.

The night finally allows morning to touch with its warm light the lying form of the God of Mischief. Loki isn't sure as to what he should do, moving can be a painful process but something he can do nevertheless. As the fresh air of the morning, the sounds of the nature around him and the warm sensation of the light coming from the sun Loki decides he needs to know where the hell he is.

Even as he bites his tongue holding the groans of pain inside him, even as he staggers forward trying to point something familiar in the panorama, his mind is trying to escape his thoughts, his memories.

Because, Loki Odinson, younger son of Odin Allfather doesn't want to think of the misery and regret, of the anger and loneliness he is feeling at the moment.

It hasn't been easy task to move his body. After all, Loki has fallen from who-knows-how far and who-knows at what speed. He has left a sizable print of his fall on the ground. A hill hidden in between a forest and a mountain chain.

He feels blood pouring from his wounds, he can feel the broken bones and the discomfort is enough to make him stop and rest for a while. He tries to access his magic once again, because, really? His magic is one of the things he needs to get out of this realm and to actually heal quickly. Without magic Loki feels lost…even more so without Thor and the others beside him.

Loki clenches his jaw hating the fact his weakened state makes him betray himself. He has cut ties with his family and his no-really-his friends.

He feels pathetic. And he blames it on the fall and the wounds that resulted from it.

He feels weak. And, again, he blames the fall, and his fight with Thor and the fact traveling down the space, down a non-existent path was painful in itself.

And yet, he walks. Because, really? He wants to know where he is and what he can take from this place.

*****

Loki soon learns the realm he has fallen over is familiar yet different at the same time.

He can compare it with Midgard but there is something no Midgard-ish about it. The scenery, for one, seems cleaner than Earth. The atmosphere is charge with something akin to magic and, while Midgard has had its own charge of something Loki knows it isn't magic.

This place, however…

There is sweat and dirt all over him, he purses his lips when he sees his reflection on a small river near the place where he had fallen. He takes a little on his mouth and the cold water feels like fresh beer after a celebratory feast in the halls of Asgard.

As soon as the images appear Loki drowns them down, a heavy bubble forming on his chest before he stands up and giving his back to the river. He doesn't need any reminders, he doesn't want them. The only thing he wants is…

"Damn." He whispers because he knows he doesn't want to look deeply into what he really wants.

Night is quickly to fall and the God of Mischief sits heavily on top of a small trunk. He sighs, trembling hand moving carefully to his side where he can feel the broken ribs and blood pouring from the wound. He thinks he has been walking for the better part of the morning and part of the afternoon. No food and only one stop to drink some water. There hasn't been any sign of civilization nearby, and the god is starting to get restless, annoyed and weak.

He doesn't like the idea of another night out in the open; he doesn't like the idea of his body being weak. He tries, once again, to produce some kind of magic but his body only answers with a faint green light. Nothing he can do with it unless it was to illuminate the darkness of the night.

Loki scowls, he has been in situations such as this one countless of times. Loki can get out of this one with his pride, his dignity and his power intact. With some determination he turns around and decides to keep going, he doesn't need the rest or the food or the water. He just needs answers and by the Allfather he is going to obtain them.

But, apparently, the universe isn't done with Loki's punishment. And just as he is stepping forward he doesn't realized of the dangers to his left side. He is too distracted by the sound of waves hitting rock, by the sudden smell of salt in the air. He is staggering again because his legs are about to give in exhaustion, that's when he slips and without enough speed to grab onto something, anything, Loki falls.

*****

He wakes up at the sound of voices around him.

This is the first time in whatever time he has spent in this forsaken world that he has some contact with something alive. He can very well call them intelligent because the ability to communicate through words doesn't mean these creatures are intelligent. His brother was a living proof of that. Thor isn't the most subtle or accomplish of communicators after all.

"Shinji, I'm telling you this is gold." Loki decides to stay still and pretend he is still unconscious. His ears twitch as he hears the creatures beside him. The language is an unknown one, a language Loki actually doesn't know too well. He can place some of the words spoken but some of the meaning escapes his mind.

Loki doesn't like not knowing what is being said. So, he readies himself, weaken or not, there is no way these creatures are enough to face a god.

"What the hell is he wearing anyway?" By now Loki has recognized two different male voices.

They are talking about him, obviously, and by the way they are touching his armor he is suspecting it has something to do with the metal it has been forged. It was gold of course, but a kind of gold Midgardians can't really appreciate much less put a price on.

But, is he really in Midgard?

"Look at these daggers…" The first male says and his hand goes directly to Loki's dagger holster, the one Frigga had given to him when he was still a teen. It is all it takes for Loki to spring into action.

Loki grabs the hand of the unknown male catching him by surprise. Loki can help the smirk drawing on his face as he pushes back while stopping a thrusting punch straight to his head. He knows he is being slow, has he been at full power these mortals would be dead. But, as it is, he just had enough time to push them back, take a once over and throw his daggers directly to their hearts.

It seems easy enough. But there is a problem. The moment one of his daggers hits the target the man goes 'puff' in a show of white smoke. For a single moment Loki looks surprise because he is sure as hell that Midgardians can't do this sort of sorcery.

Loki ducks another attack, a kick coming from behind him and the god has enough time to stand up and capture his attacker by the neck. The man's eyes are wide, holding tightly onto Loki's forearms, he is mumbling something that Loki doesn't really bother to understand. In a situation like this one it's quite obvious what the mortal is saying.

The second attack comes silently, is as if Loki is being surrounded, stalk and then…a flash of fire. He uses the other man as a shield and the screams of pain are an inter-realm language Loki understands.

He drops the man and, once again, launches two different daggers, the first one goes straight to the nearest tree. The second one hits its target straight to the head. This time there isn't any 'puff' or white smoke; there is only the smell of burn flesh and blood.

Loki looks at the two dead men, his mind already looking on the different places he knows. These creatures have the appearance of Midgardians yet they aren't. This planet has some familiar aspects to Midgard but it is only coincidences. If Loki isn't in Midgard then, where the hell is him?

It takes him a few minutes to recover but when he does he finally looks around. There is a smile forming on his face when he realizes there is a fire nearby along with something that looks like food. He turns his green eyes to the bodies and notices the full pockets, the rucksacks and the weapons.

"It seems as if I just got myself something to eat." Loki turns around and goes over what the men would probably eat if he hadn't killed them.

Later on, Loki would discover an aid kit, and some other instruments he intends to find out how they work.

 

*****

He decides to just wait.

He already knows there are people with human appearance in this world. Now, the only thing he has to do is to wait patiently before looking for what he need. His mind is still a whirlpool of thoughts, some of them are pretty define some others evade him. He knows among those thoughts are his memories, the recent events that led him to this place. He knows, what he needs is probably not what he wants and the decisions he must take he must take them carefully.

So he waits. Eats the food, drinks the water and drinks the strange beverage these men had with them. It is kinda sweet, and it is soft to the contact but when Loki feels it settle in his stomach he also feels the well-known effect of alcohol. He looks at the bottle thinking this is way better than he expect from an alcoholic drink from another realm.

His hand work quickly on the pockets and the bags he can see. Some of the instruments are starts, fighting stars, sharp and pointy. There are some kind of knives, long, sharp and pointy. He also discovers scrolls. Several of them with some strange writing on them. He wonders about its uses and decides to take them with him anyway.

He looks at the bodies, they're starting to reek and for a moment Loki turns his back ready to go. He hesitates, however.

They were warriors. And Loki, traitor or not, it's still an Asgardian if not by conviction at least in the darkest part of his mind and heart. He can't leave them there, to the scavengers.

A few minutes later there are to pyres burning and Loki is nowhere to be seen.

As the days pass by, Loki starts feeling better.

His wounds are closing, his muscles aren't aching anymore. He can feel the magic in him starting to tingle, to actually pulsate. There is still something that bothers Loki.

Even if he can feel his magic he isn't sure why isn't all of its power there. He is well-aware that something or someone (he remembers what Odin did to Thor and wonders briefly if maybe the Allfather had done something to him) is tampering with his magic.

He can't have full access to it, which explains the slow recovery. The physical effort he has to make to keep moving.

But, his thoughts are interrupted by the sight in front of him.

A town. People. Civilization.

Well, as far as this ancient architecture can be called civilization. The buildings seem to be made of wood and rock. The people looks…dull. There is no other word to explain how they hold themselves while walking to their different destinations. There isn't either a way to explain the lack of interest into doing something different that the task at hand.

Loki wonders if this is common from all the mortals living in this realm. There is something else Loki notices.

Once in a while he would come across some of the warriors he had encountered a long time ago. The dressing seems to be different in some occasions but the way they carry themselves is the unmistakable stance of someone who knows fighting.

He also realizes these warriors are pretty good in the art of lying.

As Loki makes his way through the main street of the town he catches some of the lies, he sees some of the deceitfulness behind their smiles, their appearance, their words.

His footsteps take him to the busiest part fo the city, he frowns seen his clothes, his face and his body in general. Dirty, thirsty and hungry. He also needs a place to stay the night so he starts looking around, not sure how to ask for a place to stay or where exactly he can find an Inn. The answer to his predicament comes in the form of a smiling stranger.

"Young man, are you looking for a place to stay?" Loki raises an eyebrow, there is an old man smiling at him, there is eagerness in his tone and posture, his hands open in invitation. He has his head tilt to one side pointing at decent looking building, there is pendant with a drawing of a horse, the same calligraphy from the scrolls he has.

For a moment Loki contemplates the place, he looks around and sees some people are looking at him and Loki smirks. Of course they are looking at him, he stands up in the middle of these people. His hair, his eyes, his body and his clothes are remarkably different to what the others are dressing. He knows he is different and he tries to like it because this time around he would make sure his uniqueness is appreciated.

This is what he is looking for. A place where he can hide for a while, where he can recollect information…where he can run away from his thoughts.

At least for a while.

He glances back to the old man, "A place?"

The old man narrows his eyes, he can't place the abruptness of the accent. The young man speaks as if he doesn't know exactly how to say it. The old man gives the god a once-over before shaking his head, lips quirking up in amusement.

"You're not from around here, are you?" For a quick test, the old man spreads his arms showing the surrounding area. "Not from here, right?"

Loki's smirk grows showing some teeth and for a moment his smile is a mixture of amusement and madness. So Loki does what he thinks is the most logical step. He shakes his head and bows his head in acknowledgement to the old man.

The old man glances once again at him, shaking his head while lifting his chin. "You don't look well. And you don't look like a ninja either. I'm Hiraku Tora."

The old man points at himself before giving an expectant look to the black-haired god. For a moment Loki hesitates, not sure if he should give his real name or not. In the end he shrugs, it doesn't really matter.

"Loki Odison." The old man blinks, confused, before shrugging and leading the way inside the Inn.

And thus, Loki takes the first step that would lead him to…chaos or order.

 

*****

~ A year later ~

He is running fast.

As fast as his little legs would take him down darkened, dirty alleys, full with different obstacles that he can't evade properly because he isn't yet at the Ninja Academy.

He can feel the tears rolling down his cheeks and he knows he is sweating. His sensitive ears can grasp the sounds of his pursuers, the screams of words he doesn't understand the meaning of. He knows, since he starts getting aware of his surrounding that he isn't liked by the people of the village.

Apparently he did something and people is always mad at him. For a long time he cared about it, because the pain he feels on his chest is too much to wear without having some explanation about everything. Why he doesn't have a mummy or a daddy? Why people look at him as if he is bad?

Demon. Monster. Freak.

Uzumaki Naruto puts his little hands on his ears trying to silence the screams in his mind but in doing so he distracts himself and the next thing he knows his face is colliding against the hard road surface.

Usually Naruto ignores the screams, the whisper words, the hateful glares. He can pretend nothing is going on. He can pretend the kids don't play with him because he is way too cool to play with them. He likes to pretend he doesn't need anyone.

That's why; even if he is whipping, scare look in his deep blue eyes he doesn't scream or ask for help. He doesn't give his captures the satisfaction because, even at his five years of living, he has learnt how the world works.

Deception is, after all, the best weapon a ninja can have to his favor.

Never let them close enough to hurt you. Never let them see you are hurt.

So, Naruto stands up, he is still a child so he doesn't know, exactly, how to guard his feelings. He is trying though, but his eyes are gleaming with terror when the two men circle him.

There are laughs, there is some mocking…there is a man lowering his pants while the other hits him in the face. Naruto whimpers but as soon as he does he bites his lip. The men laugh and laugh, they say to him things he doesn't think their mums taught them when they were kids.

Brat, idiot, joke.

Everyone hates you.

No one cares.

He has no one. Not a warm bed, not a warm home, and not even a warm meal. The only one who cares to show some kind of interest is too busy ruling the village to come to his help.

Naruto knows something terrible is about to happen, he feels it behind the punches. He feels it when his clothes are ripped from him.

Naruto feels something inside him stir. It moves violently, it starts burning from deep inside almost hurting but not quite doing it. His blue eyes tinge with red, his whiskers marks more pronounced.

Then…a sound of two heavy bodies falling on the ground.

Pretty slowly, as if he isn't sure he wants to see what happen, as if he isn't sure he wants to know who is there, he raises his head.

There, in front of him, is a man. The coldness behind the green eyes sends a shiver down Naruto's back. There are no visible emotions on his face and he is cleaning the strange staff he has in his hand. It's filled with blood and Naruto gulps as his eyes move to the now dead men then back to his savior.

They look into each other's eyes. Blue and green eyes staring for what seem a long time, and the man standing to his full height can't help but think of his brother. If he didn't know better he would say this kid was Thor's son.

Naruto for his part is trying to decide what to do. His little mind is only going over the most immediate and obvious answers. He can't think about scaping because this guy has just killed two big men. Bad men who were about to do something nasty to him.

So Naruto does what comes naturally to him.

He deceives.

The smile is big, showing most of his teeth, but it never reaches his eyes. The smile may be convincing for some but for Loki it's just a clear sign of a lie.

There is too much happiness behind the intended smile to be anything but a trick.

"Thank you, Sir." The boy lifts his head and Loki sees a strange gleam in his blue eyes. "I'm Uzumaki Naruto. And you?"

Loki lifts an eyebrow, he bows forward to Naruto's height. Tthe God of Mischief and Lies can't hide the sudden, predatory smirk that appears on his face as he places a soothing hand on Naruto's shoulder.

"I am Loki." And then, there is a flash of green and Naruto and Loki are nowhere to be seen.

Chapter Text

Chapter 2

Loki and Naruto

It is the hair.

That is the first thing he remembers noticing the first time he lays eyes on the boy. Spiky, blond hair falling wildly on his little head, moving at will as the young boy acts boisterously raising his arms in a sign of victory with a huge smile adorning his face. It was these first impressions what make Loki think of Thor. The only thing this scenery needs is Mjölnir.

As always, Loki has different feeling about this. He feels longing because he remembers the time when Thor and he were children. He also feels anger because Thor has broken his promise to take care of his little brother and never let anything happen between them.

That and of course the fact Loki is now at the outskirts of one of the nine realms.

As Loki takes another sip from his tea he notices the loud nature of the boy, he is screaming at the top of his lungs, proclaiming to the world he will, one day, become the Hokage of this village.

He will rule, he won't be forgotten.

Loki smirks snorting while taking a long sip from his tea.

After the petulant and loud declaration the boy shoots a huge smile to all the presents. Loki raises an eyebrow as he allows his green eyes a closer inspection of the villagers. The darkened corner he is in lets him observe without being noticed.

He sees hate, anger, fear, indifference…and the boy seems to be at the receiving end of those stares. Again, Loki snorts and his mind is already thinking of the possibilities, of what hides behind the round, sparkly façade of the blond because hate such as this don't exist without a heavy reason behind it.

It is then that Loki notices another thing. The God of Mischief and Trickery is hardly surprise by anything in this world or another. He has learnt to cope and accept what lies before him. Today, however…

His green eyes find themselves looking into deep, darkened blue eyes.

There isn't anything alive behind those eyes. It was a void fill with hopelessness, sadness and loneliness. Then, as soon as Loki sees inside those eyes, as soon as he notices the familiarity in that stare it disappears. The boy is smiling brightly and his eyes hide away behind a shining stare of life and purpose.

He shows the world what they want to see. Or, rather yet, he shows the world, his world what they don't want to see. It is obvious the happiness and well-being of the boy isn't their main concern but the boy is having none of it.

He pretends he is okay, he pretends to be happy. The blond knows and understands, even at such a young age, that his acting makes the villagers uneasy, makes them debate between hate and fear. It makes them understand no one can mess with him.

Whatever reason they hate him for, the blond is making sure they wonder every night if it is wise to piss him off.

Loki chuckles ignoring the sudden clench in his chest, he tries to fight the longing and the memory. He decides this mortal is interesting enough and his mission in this forsaken village can wait. His interest has been picked but it was more out of curiosity than anything else.

The boy was, after all, five years old. What is this boy or what he has done to earn such stares? What is the harm into knowing more about the boy who looks like Thor and has eyes like Loki's?

He remembers blaming Odin and Frigga. It is their teachings about empathy and kindness what makes his heart weak and full of emotions.

Everything is a lot easier when someone is to blame.

He unravels the secret behind the blond. He discovers his name is Uzumaki Naruto (where has he heard the name Uzumaki before?) and his secret makes the Trickster curse his adoptive father.

Loki is watching the boy closely while his mind is cursing Odin, Thor, Frigga and Laufey. He can't contain himself and as soon as he finishes his research the building is left with some serious damage. Loki watches half amused half angry as the ninja of the village run around in alarm.

He leaves with his mind still on the information about the boy. He can already feel his mind working with understanding and sympathy.

Then, as soon as he sees the boy again, as soon as he notices the hateful glares, the hush whispers he laughs. He laughs loud enough for everyone to hear. His laugh is just a little evil and maniac and has some people around him scare. But he doesn't mind. He is too busy thinking about the irony of the situation because, really? This is priceless.

Once Loki though his fate in this world was a coincidence. An accident. Now, he shakes his head thinking how stupid he had been. Frigga has said so herself what seems a life-time ago.

The All-Father doesn't do anything without a purpose.

 

*****

 

For Naruto waking up was a new experience that morning.

He feels the warm coming from the window and the single ray of light from the sun. He pouts, putting his bed sheets above his head but the urgent need to go to the bathroom stops him from sleeping any further.

He blinks owlishly kicking his bed sheets one, two, three, four times before they are at the feet of his bed and he lays there glaring at the ceiling. Then, he remembers why he has woken up and stands up rather quickly dancing around while running towards his bathroom.

He doesn't notice anything unusual at first. His mind is still groggy and full of sleep and thoughts of pee and bathroom for the boy to take in the appearance of his usually disheveled home.

Once he breathes a sigh of relief and leaves the bathroom he stops dead on his tracks. His blue eyes opening in a comic fashion as he takes in the newest appearance of his apartment.

He doesn't remember having silver walls, nor does he remember having…is that gold on his floor? More afraid than he cares to admit, wary and gulping, Naruto starts walking slowly looking around. He doesn't miss a single detail of the decoration. There are figures carve on the walls, some of them are the weirdest thing the blond has seen. Some others are figures of people. Two boys and a couple. A family.

For a moment Naruto allows his fingers, though with some hesitation, approach the figure. It feels solid, cold under his touch and the details are pretty good. He caresses the figures before a sound coming from what he thinks it's his kitchen calls his attention.

Remembering that his home doesn't normally look like this Naruto clenches his little fist and takes a step forward. Whatever was in his kitchen Naruto is going to face it with bravery.

Naruto can only gasp when his eyes finally take in the person inside his kitchen. It is at that moment when his mind decides to bring the memories of the night before. The bad men and his savior.

"Y-you!" He exclaims pointing an accusing finger to Loki. Green eyes twinkle with amusement; the man's lips have a curve form that doesn't quite give away a smile merely the hint of one.

"Ah, you're awake. How are you doing this morning, Naruto?" The tone is affable, invitingly as the man points a chair (Whoa, Naruto doesn't remember that chair.) settle just beside a table full of food.

"Please, I imagined you be hungry since you went to bed without eating dinner."

Naruto frowns, his eyes narrowing to small slits while his body tenses up. He isn't used to people showing interest or kindness. The only ones Naruto knows and trusts are the Sandaime Hokage and Teuchi-jiji. But that's because the man makes a good ramen and someone who can cook that good can't be mean or evil.

"What are you doing here?" And Naruto is trying to show the bravery he doesn't feel he is trying to show this man that he doesn't understand what exactly is happening.

Loki only smiles. He has expected something different. A more loud and brat-ish response to his presence inside the boy's home but, this was even better. How much of the real Naruto is behind this façade?

"Well? Answer me!" Loki's hand stops mid-way, he shifts on his chair at those words. They sound eerily familiar. Arching one single eyebrow Loki shakes his thoughts away straighten himself up while grabbing his warm cup of tea.

"I made breakfast. I thought that was pretty obvious." Loki signals once again the table and Naruto is still wary but his stomach is grunting loudly. With a soft blush and a huff Naruto decides to accept the offering chair.

"See? That wasn't so difficult. You should eat as the food is still warm."

Naruto sniffs his food while eying Loki with curiosity. It smells heavenly and Naruto's stomach is protesting and fighting against Naruto's survival instinct because hungry is a feeling Naruto is way too familiar with. It's been three days since he had something aside form ramen and this food is looking so tempting.

Loki watches as Naruto sniffs and pokes the food. It's obvious the boy has had some kind of experience before, something that makes him careful to what it's present to him.

"There is no poison in there, nor is it rotten." Naruto feels his cheeks warm in embarrassment while he decides to take a bite out of his eggs.

His eyes are shining brightly while his expression softens. A few minutes later he is taking one bite here and there, drinking some juice, some water, and some tea before going to the miso soup. He takes a bite from the eggs, from the steamed rice and the bread.

Loki is taking sip from his second cup of tea while the boys flashes him the brightest (and pretty genuine) smile he can manage with food still on his mouth. Loki winces in disgust when he sees the food being processed in the blond's mouth and, as if that isn't enough, the kid decides to speak.

"Thank you, sir." Of course that's what Loki thinks the boy says because there are pieces of food being spitted as he says it.

"Please, do refrain yourself from speaking with your mouth full." Naruto smiles sheepishly while Loki rolls his eyes. "It is not only disgusting but disrespectful with those accompanying you to the table."

Naruto shrugs swallowing his food before speaking again, "I always eat alone."

"I see." Loki takes a bite from the nearest piece of bread before addressing Naruto with a firm tone. "Then, from now on, you will do good to remember the little piece of advice I just give you."

Naruto blinks, and blinks. He opens his mouth and then closes again, the frown is back but instead of being one of suspicion is one of confusion. Naruto takes a long sip from his juice and in no time he has finished his breakfast.

"Why?" The blond tilts his head blue eyes inquiring sitting back to focus his attention on the black-haired man in front of him.

There is suspicion in those eyes, curiosity but what makes Loki smile, really smile, is the glint of intelligence behind them.

"I have been watching you for quite some time, Uzumaki Naruto." Loki states voice melodic, invitingly with just a hint of honesty behind it. "Last night was the first time I decided to intervene. It is, after all, the first time I noticed a more physical reaction to your presence."

Naruto nods his head as if he understands what Loki is saying. In truth he is barely getting the intentions behind the actions. He doubts because the act of kindness is so strange in his world Naruto isn't sure if he should embrace it or fear it. So he decides to play it safe, he crosses his arms and eyes the Trickster with narrow eyes.

"Are you a bad ninja?" Naruto asks with just a slightly hint of demand in his voice. Loki smirks shaking his head.

"No, I'm not a ninja."

"But…you're bad?" Loki feels his amusement break the barrier of seriousness before breaking into chuckles. "Hey! Is not funny! Are you bad or not?"

Naruto crosses his arms and glares in what he thinks is a menacing way, but in reality ends up looking like a petulant pout.

"My apologizes, Naruto. Your question does…it is a valid one." Loki is careful with his words; he does need Naruto's approval for his future plans to work. "I'm not used to people inquiring it in such a direct manner."

"You speak funny." Mumbles Naruto while still eying the man in front of him. Loki smirks nodding his head.

"I suppose I do." Loki takes the scepter from the table as he stands up with a wave of his hand the table is clean once again. Naruto gasp, startle he jumps falling from his chair.

"H-how…I-it …How did you do that?"

"In the very same way I make your home look like this." Loki spreads his arms showing Naruto the wholesome that was his home now. The place that has been small, in decadence, dirty and broken in so many ways is looking like a palace. A really strange kinda of edification Naruto has never seen before.

Bewildered Naruto stands up, his heart is beating fast and he wonders where is the Anbu who is supposed to take care of him.

"How…How did you do this? You have to be a ninja!" Naruto exclaims with conviction, his voice is louder with the right pitch of fear in it.

This is something he has never seen before. He hasn't even heard of it when he sneaks inside some bars to hear ninja stories. The man smirks and something in Loki's smile makes Naruto take a step backwards.

"I am not a ninja, boy." Loki takes a step forward, his hand outstretch nearing the blond's head. Naruto winces fear evident in his eyes, and Loki stops he eyes Naruto and feels the painful clench of his heart at the rejection.

Loki looks aside all expression leaving his face while he approaches the blonde once again. He takes a decision right there and there, he doesn't completely understand the repercussions mainly because a part of him still thinks these mortals are inferior, the other part of him knows that, as soon as he is over with this place, he would be gone.

So, he takes another step closer to Naruto and places his hand on top of the blond's head. It is not forceful, but merely an attempt to reassure the boy. He lowers himself so his face is closer to Naruto.

"I'm not here to harm you. I am here because you need help and I am offering it to you." He speaks with what he thinks is a soothing tone. Naruto is hesitant, his body is tense but a part of him is giving in the silent invitation. "You have piqued my curiosity and sympathy."

It takes a whole minute of looking inside Loki's green eyes that Naruto decides the man in front of him is not a bad man. But, he also decides, the man is different and not in a ninja kinda way.

"I like your eyes." He mumbles and Loki looks taken aback by the sudden change of topic. Naruto smiles, the full-teeth grin he is used to give people outside his world. "Your eyes look like mine, only they're green."

Then after a moment of silence, the blond narrows his eyes quivering his lips, "What are you up to?"

Loki feels his lips quirk upwards and for a moment he gives the blond a small, sincere smile.

"I think Naruto, you and me are going to get along pretty well."

 

*****

 

Sarutobi Hiruzen sits in front of his desk, worry lines noticeable as the man places his hands under his chin, elbows on the desk. The news of a homicide happening in the village under the noses of thousands of ninjas (okay, he is exaggerating there aren't actually thousands but still Ninjas) is something to worry about.

He has some of the Chuunin captains working on the case, since the ones who died aren't (weren't) from Konoha. So far the only thing they can tell Hiruzen is about the wounds. They were killed with a kind of knife, there isn't any chakra involved but whoever did it knew exactly where he was pointing.

Danzo eyes Sarutobi then to the rest of his former teammates, pursing his lips the man moves towards the window eying Mount Hokage before speaking.

"What shall we do, Hiruzen? This can stay unpunished." Danzo turns around making sure his sole eye is focused on the Sandaime Hokage. "What about the other reports, the ones you hear about the Jinchuuriki being involved?"

Sarutobi straightens up; glaring with a fire the man has only seen Sarutobi wear in battle.

"Don't you dare to bring Naruto-kun into this!" Sarutobi slaps his hand on top of the desk. "We don't know anything except what some people who doesn't like Naruto told us! There are no proofs…"

"But, there is." Interrupts Homura raising a single eyebrow when Sarutobi directs his glare to him.

"I'm not saying the boy is the actual perpetrator of this crime, Hiruzen. But maybe he saw something. The guard you put in charged off his protection did tell us about the moment he saw the men following Naruto before losing sighting of them."

"This brings another serious matter to discussion." Replies Danzo. "Those guards aren't overly concern about Naruto. At least Yugao, Kakashi and Tenzo make a decent job but when they aren't…"

"Very well, Hiruzen…we're here to discuss the crime, not Naruto's personal guard." Danzo holds himself from rolling his eyes before nodding in agreement. Every time this subject is brought to discussion Sarutobi turns into a stubborn grandfather.

"What do we know about the men who were killed?" Koharu asks while eying the rest of the presents.

"They're not from here but from a village to the north. They were staying at some in mid-town. No families."

Sarutobi stands up brushing the top of his desk while moving towards his office door, "This is rather worrisome, but I think I'm going to put Anko in charge of this."

"Anko? Do you think…?" Sarutobi lowers his head shaking it.

"It is a possibility. Orochimaru has been known to do things in an unexpected way."

"It is worth a try and, in the meantime, it would be better if you check on Naruto." Sarutobi nods his head. Somehow, the news about Naruto being near the men who were murder has leaked to some of the villagers.

It would be good for the blond to be told to stay indoors for the day.

 

*****

 

Naruto glances at Loki, he is still tense and his jaw is set in hardness unusual in the face of a little kid. He is looking perplex if a little suspicious when he notices the scepter in Loki's hand. When he notices the clothes the man has on and then, of course, there is the illusion. What is it called? Bentuso? Tenjutso? Naruto knows there is 'utso' around it.

"You say you're not a ninja, right?" Loki nods his head, "Then how could you do this? Why did you kill the men last night?"

Loki waves his hand standing at his fullest while admiring his own work. He starts pacing, giving Naruto space while his voice carries inside the room. Naruto follows slowly, careful but with the eagerness and curiosity that his age allows in him.

"This is an illusion, yes. But it wasn't done through your ninja arts." Loki grabs the scepter with his hand, his knuckles white as the pressure increases. "While the power this…world has in it it's something I have never seen before it is not, I am afraid, the source of my own power."

Loki is looking outside the window, his mind wandering to the places where he has worked his magic before. To places where his magic was marvelous and more powerful than the pitiful sample he has in store right about now. Even after recovering completely from the fall, his magic wasn't even half of what it was, he has been limited to uses such as illusion, teleportation and some shape shifting.

Tilting his head Loki continues, "My power goes beyond what you call Ninjutsu, Taijutsu and Genjutsu. Although I learned a thing or two about those ninja arts."

'Genjutsu! That's how it's called!'

When Loki is finished he turns around to see Naruto is perplexed. The God of Mischief turns around rolling his eyes while he tries to explain the situation. Maybe a little demonstration…

"For example," Loki twirls his wrist and in a second a bowl of warm ramen appears on his hand. Naruto's eyes go wide and his mouth waters at the sight. Then, as soon as it has appeared it's gone.

Loki's eyes are twinkling with amusement when he watches the disappointment in the blond's face. Suddenly, the blond crosses his arms and settles on a stubborn expression.

"Why did you do that? How did you do it?" Naruto tilts his head. "Are you—like a super-ninja? Can you teach me? Can I make ramen appeared like that?"

This is going to be more difficult than Loki expects, the boy is still a boy and the education in this world is nothing short of idiotic. They teach things to the kids that most certainly won't work if they found themselves with an unpredictable danger.

"I am not…" Loki goes silent; he lifts his head muscles tensing up.

"Sir? Ow, sir?" Loki places a hand on Naruto's mouth, silencing the boy for a few seconds before flicking his fingers. Just like the ramen, the illusion holding Naruto's place like something brought from some place Naruto doesn't know, it disappears leaving behind Naruto's old, ugly and cold apartment.

"Be silent, child." Loki is whispering looking intently at Naruto. "When I save your life you acquire a life debt to me."

"What? Why?" Naruto feels anger and a little fear at those words. What does it mean? What is this guy talking about? Loki narrows his eyes before explaining briefly. "It means I save your life and in return you have to do anything I say until your debt has been paid."

"What?" Naruto exclaims loudly only to have Loki's hand back on his mouth. After rising an eyebrow in warning Naruto nods his head. He doesn't understand why the secrecy but decides to speak in a whisper. Rush and angry because, really? He doesn't have to do anything he doesn't want to do.

"Why? You're lying!" Loki is not looking impressed by the declaration and Naruto keeps trying. "I think you're lying I never heard of that before!"

"Oh, where I come from this is a huge deal." Replies Loki in just the same whisper, his face trying to show he is serious and means business. Naruto is a little skeptically but at the same time he fears what this man has said may be the true. Still…

"Where do you come from? Are you from Konoha?"

Loki blinks before answering, "No, I'm not."

"Then I don't have to do nothing! And I don't owe you anything because in Konoha we don't do this!" Naruto's tone has a finality in it; he crosses his arms settling on a firm stance. As if his words and reasoning are final.

Loki holds back a smile leaning closer to Naruto, "Ah, but my little man, this laws go beyond your pathetically small village. This is something you, as a mortal, don't understand the implications of if the debt is left unpaid."

"What?" Once again, Naruto is confused, this guy uses way too many words and he speaks funny Naruto can barely follow everything he is saying. Much less if he is speaking in low tones and with a certain rush.

There are footsteps outside Naruto's apartment, the blond perks up and finally understands why the man seems in a hurry. He turns to Loki and, slowly, a grin forms on his face. Loki can't help but to squint his eyes at the kid dreading, for some reason, the mischievousness forming there.

"You don't want Ojiji to find you here, do you?" Naruto giggles with glee when, with reluctance, Loki shakes his head. "Then I won't say anything if you take that life dety thing."

"Debt, life-debt and it doesn't work like that." Naruto's face falls before another thought occurs to him.

"Then you teach me how to do that," Naruto moves his hand trying to imitate Loki's early movements with his hand. "To call ramen so I can eat it whenever I want."

Loki can't believe he is being blackmailed by a five year old. He can believe, however, there is an actually spark of mischief in those blue eyes staring directly at him. There is no time as Loki hears the old man call for Naruto. Growling loudly Loki nods his head and with a flicker of his hand disappears.

"Don't say anything about me." It's the last thing Naruto hears before running towards the door and opening it wide.

"Ojiji!" Naruto throws himself at the old man giving him a huge hug before letting him in. The man smiles at Naruto but the smile never reaches his eyes.

Loki is not gone yet, of course.

He is watching, after all, he needs to know if Naruto is going to remain silent or if he is going to say something about last night. Besides, the boy has just turned out to be more interesting than Loki first thought he would be.

Sarutobi eyes Naruto a little confused, "Naruto-kun, how are you?"

"I…I'm okay." There is hesitation in his voice, he evades the Hokage's stare and takes a step backwards. Sarutobi notices this and he knows Naruto knows something.

"Really? You don't look okay to me." Naruto stiffens and the Hokage places a hand on his shoulder. "Naruto? Is everything okay? I heard about last night, I heard two men were following…"

Sarutobi trails off the moment he notices the glistening in Naruto's eyes. There are unshed tears there, and Naruto's face is one of sorrow and regret. He wraps his arms around the Hokage once again, behind them Kakashi turns to the side, unable to watch the scene longer than need.

"I…I was scare." Mumbles Naruto through sobs. "Th-they…they s-s-ay horri- horrible things."

"Oh, Naruto." The Hokage places a comforting hand on top of Naruto's shoulder while trying desperately to solve this.

"Why do they hate me?" This time Naruto speaks with a small voice. "Am I really a monster?"

"What…what did you say?" The Hokage kneels as soon as he pulls Naruto from him. Once he is eye-level with the boy he tries again. "What did you say Naruto?"

Naruto is wiping his nose with his hand, his eyes full of tears, "They-they call me monster. Demon."

Naruto shrinks slightly under the Hokage's furious glare, "Am I…Am I bad? A-A monster? That's why…that's why no one would play with me? Why no one…likes me?"

Sarutobi cocks his head and Kakashi understands the silent command. How do two foreign people know about Naruto? Why kill them? What they were really after?

The Sandaime Hokage turns his attention to the wiping boy before deciding those questions can be answer later. Right now he needs to make sure Naruto won't leave the security of his apartment.

"Naruto, listen to me." The Sandaime lifts Naruto's face to make sure the boy is looking at him. "You're not a monster. Whatever those men said to you were all lies and an attempt to hurt you. Do you understand?"

Naruto nods his head still wiping and cleaning his face with his hand. Sarutobi smiles kindly at him before continuing.

"Now, I need you to tell me what happened? Did they hurt you?"

Naruto shakes his head shrugging, "They…they were after me but I was fast." This last part is said with a little proud smile that Sarutobi can help but reciprocate. "And then, they scream at me but I ran and ran and then I heard another scream and came here because I know Anbu-san is outside and I thought I was safe to go to sleep because I was tired."

Sarutobi nods in understanding placing a hand on Naruto's head and ruffling the kid's hair. This makes Naruto smile softly.

"Thank you, Naruto. I'm glad you're okay and I'm so sorry we…I couldn't do anything about it before."

Naruto shrugs, "It's okay, Ojiji. You have to take care of the village so I can take over your position in the future."

Sarutobi laughs nodding his head standing up, "That's right. Before I go, Naruto. I need you to do something for me."

"Yeah, sure. Like a mission?" Naruto's eager tone breaks Sarutobi's heart but the man nods either way.

"Yes, like a mission."

"What is?"

"I need you to stay inside today. Not going out to the park or any walks." Naruto looks crestfallen at this, he lifts his blue eyes to Sarutobi trying to understand why.

"But today…today is the Winter Festival and…" Naruto trails off when Sarutobi lifts a hand shaking his head.

"I know, Naruto and I'm so sorry. But, until we know who was following you last night there is nothing I can do."

Naruto feels this time fresh, genuine tears rolling down his cheeks. He takes a step backwards when the Hokage tries to touch him. The man winces before leaving, knowing all the decisions he is taking he is taking them for the well-being of Naruto. To make sure the son of Minato and Kushina survives and can, one day, become the best ninja and Hokage the world has ever seen.

With time Naruto will to understand.

Naruto stays behind with tears still in his eyes. He tries to hide his anger and his disappointment but is unable to do so the moment he feels another hand touch his shoulder. It has been all an act but then...then he realizes he is alone once again and he won't be able to go outside and enjoy the day. He caught Loki by surprised when he launches himself against the god and starts crying.

Loki doesn't know what to do or how to react. This close physical contact is foreign to him; and, the consoling thing? Well, let's just say Thor was the one who always do the consoling. Awkwardly and with a sense of inadequacy Loki pats, if a little roughly, Naruto's back. He winces when he realizes at how stupid he looks and that it only worsens the situation for the boy is holding him tightly now.

"If I make sure you enjoy this so called Winter Festival at another place, would you remove yourself from me?"

This calls the blond's attention. He removes himself from Loki and the Trickster can't get far enough and fast enough before Naruto decides to go back to crying and hugging. Naruto watches Loki forgetting the fact he thought Loki has left long ago.

"What do you mean?" Loki rolls his eyes, he turns around and with a loud click from his scepter hitting the ground he provokes a small light. Naruto can't ask anything because as soon as he notices it he is in another place.

Blue eyes stare the yellowish landscape; the sudden heat he feels makes him squirm a little just as he notices people and kids running around. Some of them sending them curious stare, some others are smiling.

"Where are we?" Naruto stares wide eyes taking a tentative step forward. Loki holds back his smile as he watches the boy walk around still astonish to question anything else.

He does seem to have the attention span of Thor.

The boy is certainly a contradiction. Sometimes he would be a kid, an innocent five-year-old kid that would find fulfillment in simple things. Some others he would act beyond his age, he would make the situation turn into something he can manage or at least in which he would be seen innocent (As he has shown with the old leader of his village. And, shouldn't Loki give him a prize or something for a well-done job?). Sometimes he seems mature beyond his age, some others he acts the kid he is supposed to be.

The thought of the circumstances that have led to Naruto's situation makes Loki's chest clench tightly. He pursues his lips while trying to focus on the task at hand not letting his feelings get involve. This is about his plans, about the uses he has for the boy; it isn't because, suddenly, he decides to have a heart that feels sympathetic for the boy.

Loki tries to ignore all kind of emotions even as the boy turns around and smiles a genuine smile to him. Even after Loki remembers Thor smiling in such a carefree way after Loki has done something particularly nice for his brother.

But, most importantly, Loki tries to forget Naruto isn't so much different than he is. The only difference is that, even with the knowledge of his true parentage, Loki has always been loved by those he calls family.

Chapter Text

 

 

 

Loki has to cover Naruto's mouth before the child can scream to the world.

The blue eyes are rolling and wandering to take into the new individual kneeling in front of him. Naruto only recognizes Loki because of his green eyes. The rest of him has change from the black-haired guy to a blond one. His face was a little fuller, stronger features with long hair and broad shoulders. If Naruto squints a little he can see the familiarity there.

"Let me share with you a little secret, young man." Loki takes his hand away from Naruto's mouth and makes sure the boy is listening to him. "My real form has not been share with any other mortal but you."

"Uh?" Loki sighs finding confusion in Naruto's face.

"I can take many forms that allow me to hide from prying eyes." Naruto scrunches up his nose but there is understanding gleaming in his eyes. "Today I'm taking this form so we can wander around and enjoy this Winter Festival you seem so fond of."

Naruto brightens up again and his thoughts drift to the sound of laughter, conversation and music. He nods his head to Loki as a way to tell the man he understands. Maybe he isn't completely aware of what is really happening but, he understands.

Besides, in the end, Naruto just doesn't really care because Loki is weird but nice and he looks a little bit like Naruto. And Naruto can pretend, right?

And then, they're in the Festival.

Naruto has never seen so many games in a Winter Festival.

Sure, he has been to those back in Konoha but usually people never make him feel welcome and, in the end, Naruto would just shrug and move onto the next game. Never quite having the opportunity to play or win any prices.

This time, however, is different and by the end of the day he will have on a plushy with the form of an octopus, a kunai meant to use for practice and a set of daggers. He is moving around and never notices or even care for his own home, he is not even missing the festival back in Konoha because this one is more fun full of colors, laughter and warm.

Loki is watching from afar but, once he is sure young Naruto won't cause much trouble, he focuses his attention to the surroundings. This is a place he had visited before, if briefly. It was a ninja village of great power military as well as economic. It is said by the darker part of the shinobi world this land possess two individuals carrying two legendary creatures.

To Loki it all translates into power. If the tales about the beasts are true, then…

"Is he your son?" Loki's thoughts are interrupted by a voice beside him. Disgruntled, his eyes fall on the young man standing beside him. He has dark skin, with eyes hidden behind oval sunglasses; there is a forehead protector in him. One signaling his status as a ninja.

Loki turns in the direction the young man is pointing at and Loki snorts at the sight of the blond waving at him with a huge grin on his face. The God of Mischief notices something on the blond's hand, beside him a blond girl is glaring while speaking. Naruto doesn't seem to notice or simply is ignoring the girl.

"Yes, he is my son." And the words rolls out of Loki's mouth before he can stop them. There is a slight movement on his forehead, as if he has been about to frown but stop just in time.

The young man tilts his head, there is a purse of his lips and his posture indicates Loki he is evaluating the true behind Loki's words. Not only that, he was assessing Loki: is this man a threat or not?

But Loki is more amused than worried so he allows the examination, a part of him it's beaming at someone learning in detail how this form looks. Loki's green eyes drift upwards to glance at the sky. There is a bubble of satisfaction and enjoyment at the knowledge Heimdall is probably watching and cursing the fact Loki is able to use his shape shifting abilities.

If he is honest with himself, Loki doesn't like this form. Changing into Thro brings a whole set of longing, hatred, anger and regret he doesn't need nor he cares to feel at the moment.

"He looks familiar. And, so do you." The young man finally says bringing Loki back from his musings. The boy smiles with a shrug of his shoulders he stretches out a hand. "I'm B, you?"

And just because he can, because it would be funny and he would give everything to see the faces of Thor, Odin and Heimdall, he introduces himself.

"I'm Thor." Loki glances at the offering hand from the mortal and take it in his, his lips curling up as he squeezes gently.

Oh, the irony…

B blinks, "Strange name."

"For an even strange foreigner, I assure you."

B is a little confused, the man is strange and there is something about him that doesn't match. But, the kid is waving again and calling out to the man and the tenderness gleaming in those eyes makes any reluctance or warning alarms go off.

By now Naruto and the girl have reached them, Naruto has this blinding smile on his attention to Loki.

"Look what I got! This girl over here let me try with the catching fishes thing and I won and I won this." And Loki along with B wonder how the boy could speak without taking a breath in between words.

Naruto presents a forehead protector made of plastic, the symbol of Kumogakure no Sato visible in there. Lifting his arms he fixes it on his forehead and, once he is done, he beams proudly at Loki.

"How do I look?"

And suddenly all eyes are on him, the blue is gleaming with hope and something else Loki finds familiar. The blond is looking for acceptance, for a word that would provide him the hope that someone may care.

Then Loki remembers what Odin had done the first time Loki has showed his ability with magic. There was a soft, barely-there smile his hand lifting to be placed on top of the blond curls.

"You look like a ninja." Son but Loki doesn't say the last part because the boy may have some kind of stroke if he does. Besides, it would be pushing too far, too soon. He isn't looking for this, he is just recruiting potential allies and weapons he can use in the near future.

Yes, with the vengeance and the whole jealousy thing and the…vengeance again. He really needs to leave, after all this time watching the boy and finally interacting with him is making the God of Chaos soft.

"Really? Really? I do? See! I told you so!" Says Naruto gleaming before turning his attention to the girl.

"Oh, please obviously your dad would say that!" said the girl crossing her arms. "But you're not from here so you're no ninja!"

"Yugito! You don't need to be so rude." B says but the boy is smiling all the same which may make the scolding infective. The girl sticks her tongue out at B, mischief dancing in her eyes.

Loki is actually smiling by now; there has always been something marvelous at the way kids can cause so much trouble without a hint of malice behind their actions. For the Trickster has always been fascinating to see just how far some kids would take things.

Their interaction is interrupted by the sound of excited chattering, there is a big man with arms wide spread announcing some kind of event.

"Oh! It's a demonstration! Come Naruto!" Yugito grabs Naruto by the hand the blond doesn't move, he lifts his head as his hand grabs Loki's one.

"Come! You have to see this!" And just like that, Loki finds himself watching some ninja demonstration.

 

*****

 

Apparently Naruto has found a friend in the young girl.

The youngest son of Odin has never understood the inner working of the female population, much less how a friendship is supposed to work. Sif has been a strong warrior, outspoken and rather direct with what she believes and wants. And the few times Loki tried to deepen the friendship, to make it beyond the lines of brothers in arms the woman had been suspicious of him.

It was probably because of what he had done with her hair; but it could also be the fact she has never warmed up to him. No the way she does Thor.

Watching Naruto bicker, laugh and blush besides the girl is just disconcerting.

"So, you…you're no from here, are you?" B bites his rice cake leaning casually against the wall. He has one arm hanging freely from the chair, his left foot place comfortably on the chair beside him.

Loki frowns at the position but doesn't comment on it; instead he takes a bite of his onw rice cake contemplating how to answer the question.

"No, we're travelers." He explains looking out of the corner of his eyes at Naruto. "We left Kirigakure after the situation turn for the worst. Right now my main concern is to provide Naruto with a home."

B nods as if understanding what the man means, "And you decide to establish here in Kumo?"

"No precisely here." By raises an eyebrow but doesn't interrupt Loki. "Naruto wanted to see a Winter Festival and we were near the city. That's how we ended up here."

"Oh, well…he seems to have made friends with Yugito. Perhaps, you should consider."

Loki stares at B sensing something else behind his tone but deciding there is no immediate danger, he bows his head and mumbles, "Perhaps."

 

*****

 

Danzo has his one eye fixated on one of his men.

He feels great satisfaction when he notices the slightly shiver shaking both of his Root soldiers. They are kneeling unable to meet his stare but feeling the full power of it on their heads. Serves them right, they failed Danzo and as such they must be punished, but first the leader of Root needs answers.

"I want to know how this well-thought plan came crashing down on us?" Danzo hits the floor with his cane a signal for his men to lift their heads. "I want you to explain to me your failure."

It is the one wearing the mask of a hawk who answers, his voice is low and melodic almost feminine but not quite there.

"It was going according to plan, Danzo-sama." Danzo doesn't look impressed because if that is true then the Kyuubi Jinchuuriki would be under his supervision by now. But seeing as the boy is sitting at home playing with a worn out kunai…it is obvious the plan hasn't worked.

"We distract the ANBU in charge of him. We lead the men to Naruto just giving them enough info about the boy." Hawk guy says, "They were chasing him, the boy was scared. We were ready to intervene if things get too far."

Danzo hears the story with his sharp mind working out the possibilities, reading between lines to see if maybe his soldiers have grown a heart and save the boy before anything happened.

"He was being cornered the men were saying what we told them to." Hawk mask guy continues, "By then the boy has hear the word demon, monster enough times to make him think…He only needed that last push when suddenly…"

"Everything went blurry." Danzo turns to the other Root member. This one has a deep, loud voice. He sounds serious as if he doesn't know how to sound normal; his face is hidden behind a bear mask.

"What do you mean blurry?" And Danzo narrows his eye fixating a glare on bear mask.

"It was…strange. Everything went blurry and when we moved and tried to dispel the Genjutsu it didn't work."

"Then as soon as it had come it was gone and there they were." Hawk mask guy tilts his head as if remembering what had happened. "The men were dead, the Kyuubi boy wasn't there and the ANBU was running towards the place."

Danzo lets his stare fixated on each of his men long enough to make them uneasy before speaking.

"A Genjutsu you say…so, you think someone put a Genjutsu on you?" The both of them nod their agreement and Danzo is even more furious than before. "Two of my best men who can dispel even those Genjutsu used by the Uchiha clan were tricked by one Genjutsu?"

The words are said with low, threatening tones the sole eye narrowing with a dangerous gleam in the corner. Both Root members flinch lowering the heads in apology.

"Sir, whatever that Genjutsu was…it was no ordinary one." Replies bear mask. "It felt different. It was as if time has stopped and when we were back to our senses we realized what had happened."

Danzo hits the floor with strength and as soon as he does it five more Root Anbu appear surrounding the ones kneeling on the floor.

"I don't like excuses that put my planning in jeopardy." Danzo nods his head and Hawk and Bear are surrounded. "Enjoy your time in punishment and think carefully to what you're going to do once you're out. Because you two are going to find this person and make sure he or she either join us or dies. Do I make myself clear?"

Both Root soldiers nod briefly before they are taken away. Danzo dismisses the rest of his men and sits heavily on his chair. He is tired and thoughtful. This turn on his plans is making him think other possibilities to have Uzumaki under his command. It is rather simple, the moment the kid realizes he has been lied about his life, about what he has sealed inside he would turn to the nearest source of honesty and acceptance.

Danzo snorts because now he needs to do things the hard way. Now he needs to create the need in Naruto, he needs to make the boy realize he can't trust Sarutobi but he can trust Danzo. The man nods already forming a new course of action, he tilts his head and the man hidden inside his room appears ready to obey orders.

"Bring Sai and Shin."

*****

 

By the end of the day Naruto is exhausted and it seems he forgot all about Konoha and the incident the day before. If anything, it seems as if he really has been doing this his whole life. He looks up at Loki with a sleepy smile on his face while Yugito is talking endlessly about the good and the bad of living in Kumogakure.

Loki doesn't say anything and Naruto seems to follow his example as he keeps the illusion of them being travelers looking for a home.

"And…and you can like totally become a Genin by the age of ten! Ten! That's better than other villages."

Yugito closes the deal with a huge smile and her arm wrap around Naruto's shoulder. The kid yawns, nodding his head turning to Loki for help. Yugito follows his eyes and she smiles at Loki and put on her best puppy-dog's eyes. But, Loki has experience with those and he has yet to meet the mortal or god who can outdo Thor.

"So are you going to stay?" B is shaking his head tired of trying to make Yugito understand is late and they need to keep going because his brother is going to be pissed at them if they miss dinner.

"I thank you kindly for giving Naruto a good time, Yugito-san." Loki is careful with his words, the girl doesn't appreciate it as she scrunches her nose. "Maybe we can talk about our staying here later, for now, I'm afraid Naruto is about to fall asleep on his feet."

"No 'm not." Naruto is rubbing his eye while pouting. He really doesn't want to go, he feels warm, calm and happy, is a feeling he doesn't want to go away. "Can we stay?"

And Loki knows what he is asking but he also knows he can't comply; while he is stronger than all the mortals in this world he hasn't recovered his magic in the way he would have wanted it to. He was supposed to win Naruto's trust and he has done so but it was still too early to take the boy. Besides, Naruto would be more useful in his village than in any other place. Naruto feels the weight of a hand on his shoulder knowing Loki is the one squeezing lightly.

"Say good bye, Naruto."

Naruto pouts, Yugito crosses her arms and pouts, B raises an eyebrow and shrugs at Loki, and Loki merely stares face devoid of any expression. Once he knows he is far away from any prying eyes Loki takes Naruto in his arms and disappears.

The journey doesn't take too long but, by the time they arrive to Naruto's home, the blond is fast asleep cuddling closer to Loki. By then, Loki has recovered his actual form and is happy to just let go of the deception. It was fun while it last but he really doesn't want to wear Thor's appearance unless it was a need (like air, and water and food.)

The god stares down at the boy with a frown forming on his face; he places the kid on his bed. Loki then places the different artifacts Naruto won at the Festival and then proceed to cover the boy.

Night is already there, there isn't any light inside Naruto's apartment but he knows there is illusions making others believe Naruto is playing around in his living room.

Green eyes gleam in the darkness of the room. Loki approaches slowly, long lean fingers wrapping themselves at the hem of Naruto's shirt pulling it up just to uncover the abdomen.

He has been waiting for this moment since he met the boy. Loki glances at the sleepy face of Naruto, his fingertips are glowing with a green light and suddenly there is black ink on Naruto's abdomen. In a slow motion the black ink starts surging drawing on the boy's abdomen a spiral pattern. Loki raises an eyebrow; he can feel the power coming from the strange tattoo. So far his investigation of this world has led him to the control of ninjutsu. Fire, earth, air, water, wood and all the other elements these people seem to manipulate with their inner strength they call chakra.

But this…the art of sealing was so different in Asgard. They usually use spells to apply certain seals as Odin showed with Mjölnir. It is even stranger, and special, when they use runes on the seal. It is, of course, more effective than the simple spell but it is also pretty dangerous to do so.

Loki doesn't touch the seal, merely lets his fingertips trace the patterns of the seal without touching it, his magic making contact with the energy coming from the seal.

Now he has a new objective. He can't go there without knowing exactly what is inside and how to get it out. Loki dedicates a long stare to Naruto and wonders how this kid could affect him so much. It has been but a day since he met him officially. What is it about him that warms Loki's heart?

The kid turns around mumbling something as his hand grabs the bed sheets and he curls up. The Trickster is so tempt to leave without a good-bye or anything at all but…

He growls watching his hand move around picking up a piece of paper, a pen and writing down a small message. As he does it he tries to convince himself is for the better, this way the kid is going to thrust him even more and he would create the exact amount of need he needs the boy to feel for him.

With a last glance Loki disappears into the night, the illusion vanishing with him.

 

*****

 

Killer B may be a lot of things but he isn't an idiot.

He is also one of the few Jinchuuriki capable of controlling and working with his own Bijuu at such a young age. Which is a huge accomplishment because as far as he knows the others had been too old or weren't capable of holding their demon inside for too long.

As he enters his brother's private chambers he takes off his glasses as a sign to the Raikage the business he is to speak with him is a serious matter. The Raikage notices this the moment B is inside the room, Darui looks up and he glances back at C who merely nods and the both of them leave the room.

"What's the matter? Are you alright?" The Raikage stands up looking over his younger brother, his eyes scanning for injuries or anything that may point at the seriousness of the situation.

B can't hide a smile, he certainly is lucky for having someone to care, not many Jinchuuriki can say they have someone like A or Yugito.

"I'm…I should probably have come to you early with my concerns." The Raikage frowns and sits on the sofa waving for B to do the same.

"What do you mean? What did you do?" This time the Raikage narrows his eyes because he knows how troublesome B can get. B shrugs silently thinking how he can say what he wants to say.

"I met someone today. At first it was strange, you know? As if I knew the guy…"B trails off thinking about the familiar face of the boy, the familiar feeling he got from him. "And then…Hachibi told me."

"What did he told you?"

"I met the Jinchuuriki of the Kyuubi no Kitsune." A open his yes big in surprise, his mind already going over the squad he would organize to capture the boy. Another part of his mind reminding him the boy was probably in Konoha and not in Kumo.

"How are you so certain?"

"Hachibi doesn't lie, brother. It was the Kyuubi the one sealed inside the boy." B shakes his head confused. "Blond, blue eyes, like five years old. And Hachibi felt it."

A rubs his chin leaning forward, "He wasn't alone, was he? Where is he now?"

"That's the thing. He was with a guy that seems to be his father and, as to where they are, well….I think they left the village."

But B has lost the Raikage after mentioning the word dad. It isn't possible of course, the Raikage's Intel and for that matter the Intel from all the five great nations aren't that bad. Besides, the tales of the battle between the Kyuubi and the Fourth Hokage has been legendary. A knows that Minato is dead along with his wife and their off-spring is a Jinchuuriki but…

A looks over at B trying to decipher any kind of deception in there but finding none.

"Are you certain? Are you certain the boy is the Jinchuuriki of the Kyuubi and he was accompanied by his father?"

B nods his head frowning lightly, "Yes, Hachibi doesn't make any mistakes. The kid told us he was Naruto."

"And what about the father's name? Last name?"

"Uh, it was something strange, funny even." B looks thoughtful for a moment before exclaiming. "Thor, he said his name was Thor. He was blond as well, big, with a goatee and green eyes."

A narrows his eyes because the man sound's nothing like Minato and, if what B is saying is true then, someone has kidnapped Minato's son.

"Very well, B I need you to call Darui and C back." A stands up rubbing the back of his neck. "And don't say anything to anyone."

If A can get a hold on another Jinchuuriki the possibilities would be limitless. Darui and C enter the place and as soon as they are there the Raikage tells them what he wants them to do.

*****

~ Two Months later ~

He only comes near this place when he needs to think and organized his thoughts. It is not because he feels emotionally attached to the crater, no. It is because in this place he can remember what has happened to him. In this place he makes sure his decisions are the best ones.

His green eyes sweep the place where he had fallen a year ago, while his mind reminds him he can lie to the others but not to himself. It has never worked before and it won't work right now.

For Loki this place represents all he has lost. It represents all he is trying to obtain again.

As he watches the hole he had opened on the ground, Loki remembers himself falling on the wormhole. At first, the first weeks after he has arrived to this realm, Loki's memories of his fall were blurry but filled with feelings.

The things he remember about his falling makes him shiver. He remembers nothingness, a void deep enough to envelop him while applying pressure made of fear and desperation. There is a place in the infinite universe, in the numerous branches of Yggdrasil that lead to a world of darkness Loki is certain he doesn't want to know. Ever.

He also knows something, someone, push him away from it. A part of him wants to believe is the watchful eye off his Father. Another brings to his mind the image of a disappointed Odin; it also brings the memories of their last conversation before the All-Father went into the Odinsleep. Loki looks down at his hands as a feeling of anger and regret tries to overwhelm him.

"You have chosen a particular place to meet me, Lie-Smith-san." Loki turns around, this time he is looking like Fandral but with certain particularities he is pretty sure the man wouldn't appreciate.

Loki smirks knowing if the Warriors Three and Lady Sif along with Thor ever come to this realm they would be in for an uncomfortable surprise. Loki almost wishes Heimdall would stop watching and tell his father all the mischief he is causing in this place. Let them come and let them be the victims of these people.

"It is far away from prying eyes," Loki eyes the man in front of him before adding. "Besides, if I kill you no one is going to interrupt or be alerted by the sound."

He smirks dangerously, his eyes gleaming with satisfaction as his informant fidgets uncomfortably. Taking a step closer to the young man he extends his hand raising an eyebrow expectant.

"I do hope you brought with you what I require." The young man nods, his eyebrows knit together.

"I did, I still don't understand why you want it so much. It's just old folklore." The man presents Loki with a box. "The real story you can hear it from anyone who has seen or has been in contact with a Bijuu or Jinchuuriki."

"What can I say?" Loki takes the box and eyes it suspiciously. "I prefer mythology than real facts. Believe me, myths are not always what they appear to be."

The young man shrugs, his hand raises to push his glasses up the bridge of his nose. "I guess you know what you want."

"I surely hope, for your sake, these are real." Loki opens the box taking one by one the scrolls. He lifts his eyes to stare at the young man who shivers once again. "I don't take kindly to trickery and lies when direct to me, as ironic as that may sound to some."

The young man blinks sharing a nervous chuckle, "I promise you, those are real. I…I stole them from a collector. Those are the last real records from the Bijuu Age. Collect by the First Hokage and the Elder from the former Uzumaki Clan. They were kept collecting dust on the Library in Iron Country."

Loki tenses the Uzumaki last them already familiar to him. His mind brings to memory the contagious grin from the boy with blond hair and a familiarity Loki was still reluctant to admit or even acknowledge.

There is a tense silence and Loki knows the young man's eyes are glued to the big scroll protect by Loki's shadow. The man may think he is smart but the God of Mischief and Lies knows he isn't alone; however, he doesn't react instead he pretends to just be the mercenary Lie-Smith.

"I hope you brought with you what we agreed on…"

"Do no worry yourself, Kabuto-san." Loki lifts his face a half-smirk drawing on his face. "I brought the scroll."

Loki stands up presenting the scroll behind him, the young man Kabuto raises an eyebrow impress taking a step forward eying Loki before kneeling down to pick up the scroll. He opens it and his eyes gleam with excitement.

"I have to wonder how a mercenary like yourself got hold of one of the best guard scrolls in Konoha." Kabuto's eyes are sweeping the words written in the scroll, there is a spark of triumph as he attests the veracity of the scroll.

Loki doesn't move or says anything; he pretends to be in his own world examining his own documents. All seems to be in order, no Genjutsu, no Ninjutsu if anything the seal with the coat of arms from the House of Senju and Uzumaki make the documents authentic.

It is then he feels the treason, but instead of feeling cornered or slightly intimidated he smiles. The smile doesn't reach his eyes, and there is a coldness coming from him as the figures approach slowly but surely towards him.

"You have proven to be a great assess, Lie-Smith-san. And as such, you understand what we're about to do."

Kabuto smirks placing the scroll safely behind his back while three ninja make an appearance from behind Loki. With careful practice, the god stands up with his expression conceal eyes the only ones reveling the sudden fear and insecurity he doesn't actually feel.

"So, after I've done you a favor in exchange from one, you decide to betray me?" Loki is well verse in faking unsecure faces on Fandral's body. He is proud to say he has been the one behind many of them, over all, when he would train with the Warriors Three and the three of them realize Loki isn't what they first thought.

"Don't take it personal." The young ninja from his right says, a predatory smirk drawing on his face. "But, Orochimaru-sama doesn't appreciate your insistence on being a freelance."

"You could do more if you decide to join him, though." This time the one to talk is a red-hair girl, some kind of wooden stick on her hand. "But, feel free to say no, it's been a while since I kill a shithead like you."

Loki takes a step back while the three ninja close in on him. Weapons at the ready as they lean in what they thought a menacing manner. Loki has to give them some credit and he admits if he was another person he would think on a way to escape. But, just as the girl has put it so eloquently, he hadn't killed 'shitheads' like them in a long time.

Feeling the rush of the coming battle Loki lowers his head, raising his eyes eying his enemies with an unpleasant smirk. His green eyes gleam and for a second Kabuto is tempted to take a step backwards.

"I told you, I don't like to be tricked. You will pay with your life."

"Oh, please, do try."

It is the last time Yakushi Kabuto would say such mocking words.

In less than a second he finds himself victim of the same man he saw seconds ago at a safe distance. The man's smirk is cold and cruel; his eyes have taken in a red tinge, and it is all Kabuto can see before the heavy contact of metal hits him square on the chest and sends him flying far away from the main ground of the battle.

Tayuya, Kimimaro and Kidomaru spring into action.

Loki has disconnected his mind from the thoughts that had been tormenting him until now and decides this is the exercise he needs. The ninja are good, the girl and the younger man move with precision and deadly strikes, but Loki has learnt how to deal with this people and the ones he is fighting are mere children in comparison to other ninja the Trickster has had the misfortune (or honor depends on your point of view) to meet.

He grabs the girls wrist twitching it upwards enjoying the sound of cracking bones, while the girls makes her displeasure know with a few curse words here and there. Loki lowers his head evading a kick while taking a step back barely missing the white spear the white-haired man just put from his…wrist.

That catches Loki's attention.

His eyes slightly open in surprise; Loki examines carefully the weapon until it meets the pink colored skin of the young man. The weapon comes from inside his skin and Loki has never seen anyone do this trick before.

"What is that?" The question is out of his mouth before he can control it. The young man raises an eyebrow and launches an attack. Loki has lost interest in Tayuya and such the girl is thrown aside in favor of this new discovery.

The first hit is something Loki could have predicted, actually. He needs to know what this weapon is and the best way to do so is through experience. So he allows the fist to collide with his head and as soon as that happens he regrets it.

It is like being hit by Thor but without the full bloody-lip-swollen-wound that results from their sparring sessions. Sure, there is going pain and probably a big bruise the next day which makes Loki wonder how a mortal can have such a power behind his fist.

Kimimaru looks please but it is only shown in the way his eyes sparkle and the expression on his face relax.

"It is an ability I was born with." The young man comments while still controlling the fight. "My bones are stronger than that of normal people and I can use them as weapons."

So, that explains it. Curious ability but then again some people in this realm can change the color and form of their eyes, some others can create shadows and others can even put lava from their mouths. But, that's all the information Loki needs.

There is the nasty smirk of his, his hands holding two silver blades he cherishes with his life. He lifts a hand and send it flying with speed and strength, Loki knows the young man is fast and, as predict, Kimimaru moves before the blade can get too close. But, what Kimimaru doesn't know is that Loki can create an illusion to change the perception of the blade.

"W-what…?" Kimimaru is blinking in confusion because he knows he evaded the blade, he knows the other one is in the blond's hand. Then…why is it deep inside his forearm?

Loki hasn't forgotten about the other two ninja who, so far, had been silent. It is a surprise to him when they seem to change their appearance, the girl no longer seems to have a broken wrist and the guy…well, he is no longer frozen like an idiot. The glasses wearing one though…there is a strange green-ish gleam coming from his hands while his eyes move wildly to follow the fight.

These ninja are annoying. Loki has to give them some credit though, because they are fast, cunning and pretty much prepare to face (almost) anything. Which makes them annoying fleas in battle, the God of Mischief doesn't remember meeting opponents such as this. But, in the end, they are mortals and Loki has watched enough of their attacks to decide he is bored.

He decides to fight in a different manner. The advantage of having Fandral's form was his physique; Loki is allowed to hit with full strength while evade attack after attack in a synchronized way. He observes and defends himself touching the opponent when necessary and using his beloved daggers when it suits him.

His eyes gleam as they noticed the wound on Kimimaru's arms is bleeding profusely and the young man is trying to stop the bleeding. Loki smirks but Kimimaru narrows his eyes at him works his arms in a strange position and suddenly the young man has bones coming from his arms. Sharp pointy bones, harder than steel ready to pierce the god.

Loki chuckles kick Kidomaru straight on his face making the ninja wince and moan in pain. Tayuya tries to catch Loki but the man evades and grabs her wrist once again, she bites her lip refusing to scream from pain and instead falls to the floor kneeling in front of Loki.

Kimimaru glares at him, staggering left and right then…disappears.

Loki waits, and waits, and waits…then Kimimaru is behind him left arm fold in a position of attack. Loki lowers his head, turning on his heel and lifting his right leg. Kimimaru stops the attack thrusting his right arm forward where Loki's head is located.

Kimimaru almost smiles in triumph but all color is drained from his face when all he hits is an illusion. It is too late for him to notice the man is behind him and the solid fist smashing his face is like nothing he had ever felt before.

Loki stands up at the center of the disorganized circle. The red-head girl is standing up a look of pure hatred drawn on her face, there is a wooden stick and suddenly she starts playing. Loki raises an eyebrow unable to wipe away the smile from his face. The other guy, the one who has grown several arms is spitting, hands moving in different fashion manipulating what Loki thinks are thin threads. Then there is the bone guy, Kimimaru. He looks furious and the bones come out of him in the form of swords.

There is an almost invisible, thin line surrounding him trying to corner him while the girl, who has grown horns by now, starts playing some kind of melody. The white-haired mortal is putting from his wrist two long, pointy spears. Loki staggers backwards when he realizes Kidomaru is closing in, numerous arms manipulating the thin thread as the world around him starts to blurry and three different beings appear right behind the girl.

It is Kimimaru, however, the first one to attack.

And, it is Kidomaru the first one to feel the frostbite slid through his body like a snake's venom.

"How interesting. This illusion, it feels different than the others." Loki is behind Kidomaru, the skin from his hand turning a deep shade of blue and his eyes, which had been green moments ago, were now a deep shade of red.

"What the fuck?" Tayuya stops playing her eyes wide open in shock and fear as she sees Kidomaru breathing hard, his skin turning slightly blue while he struggles to get free from the hold the man has on him.

He doesn't need to because Loki puts his arm away from him and lets him fall. Tilting his head Loki shrugs directing his red eyes to Tayuya who is looking at Loki with eyes that reflect fear and hate. Loki smiles but his smile doesn't reach his eyes.

Kimimaru turns following Loki only to be stop by the man's foot on his abdomen. Again, is a pain Kimimaru doesn't think it's possible for someone like him. His Kekkei Genkai has always protect him from such things but it seems this man is capable of make him feel the pain with a single strike.

"Down, Boy. I am not interested in you anymore." Says Loki approaching Tayuya who is back on her flute playing a demoniac melody trying to get her Genjutsu to work.

Loki feels it again, the atmosphere changing subtly at the sound of the melody coming from the flute. He stretches out his hands and his feet falter when his eyes focused on the sight. He seems just as surprise as Tayuya has been the first time. If he was honest with himself he hadn't noticed the change. Always mindful of having any of his…peculiarities at bay; how did he not notice this?

His hand is blue, the same shade of blue it was after that Jötunn touched him back in Jötunheim. The same shade of blue he had when he touched the Casket.

He stops swallowing as his heart beat accelerates, he didn't notice before. Lifting his head he notices the creatures coming from the illusion ready to attack him. He snarls anger filling his whole being as he stretches his hand and ice and snow come from it. Tayuya doesn't have any chance and soon enough she is on the ground with her eyes close and half of her body frozen.

Loki lowers his eyes taking control of his breathing, of his thoughts and the beat of his heart. He isn't a monster. He isn't one of them…It is all he can thinks as the blue disappears from him slowly, pretty slowly.

Do the Frost Giants still exist? Loki remembers his younger self asking this question to his father. He swallows again hating the painful clench on his chest.

In the aftermath of the battle I went into the temple and I found a baby. Small for a Giant's offspring, abandoned, suffering, left to die. Laufey's son. Loki walks his heart hardening as he approaches the last of his enemies, his mind fill with memories he thought he had forgotten.

The reason everything went wrong after Thor's banishment, the reason why his plan had turned out to be a complete mess. Loki rarely lost control of the mischief he causes but…

So I am no more than another stolen relic, locked up here until you might have use of me?

…He is hurt as he finally understands the truth of who he is.

You're my son... I wanted only to protect you from the truth...

Kabuto is watching the man approach him and, as he does, he notices the changes in Loki's clothing. Everything is transforming slightly from the cargo pants, leather boots and jounin vest to something Kabuto hasn't seen before. Now he is wearing strange trousers made of black leather, the boots are of the same material carefully covered with silver metal. There is a strange kind of kimono, like a tunic, black, leather, golden straps of metal. Then there is a cloak, an emerald green cloak falling to his feet. Kabuto feels power; he has learnt to recognize it for his own sake. This man, whoever he is, is power.

"H-how did you…?" Starts Kabuto with a dumfound expression. Loki smirks looking down at Kabuto.

"Magic."

Kabuto blinks confuse tasting the word on his lips but being unable to identify its meaning. Then he feels the heavy impact of a boot made of metal and leather hit his chest and Kabuto finds himself thrown away, once again. The scroll of seals from Konoha he has gotten his hands moments ago disappears behind a group of withered flowers.

Loki focuses his magic in the illusion, he knows his appearance has change and as such he wants to make sure the man before him doesn't remember how he looks. He wants, however, that Kabuto remembers what he has to say.

"Tell your master I do not appreciate what he had done today." Kabuto can hardly breath, the wound on his chest is still deep, bleeding as he tries to heal it. "I do not take treason lightly so…It would be good for him to hide because I am coming after him."

"Y-you…you don't understand." And Kabuto doesn't understand either because this man is making him feel something he isn't familiar with. At least, he hasn't feel like this since he woke up without memory in the orphanage.

He feels fear.

"Orochimaru-sama is not going to like this and your life is the one that's going to be in danger. He will destroy you." Loki smirks leans forward and whisper in a cold, dangerous voice.

"Oh, I can't wait to see your master try it. Until we meet again, Kabuto-san." Then in a swirl of green the man disappears leaving a pretty agitated Kabuto behind.

 

*****

 

Loki enters his place with a fit of fury. The first thing he does is hit the side wall forging a huge hole and several cracks. His green eyes gleam dangerously as the focus on his hands. Hands that moments ago had revealed a part of him he better left buried in oblivion.

The room is circular, walls decorate with silver and green forming patterns that end up with a black ceiling fill with stars. Golden, red and blue decorate what seems to be a constellation. The youngest son of Odin denies the decoration is out of melancholy and homesickness; instead he blames it all to the fact the constellations in this realm are different than the ones he used to watch.

Loki waves his hand and the clothes and his appearance is back to what they used to be. He walks to the closest chair and sits there putting the box he has just acquired and opens it again.

His eyes gleam with a strange light as he passes his fingers on the scrolls. They are the real ones. The fools really thought they could do some damage and recover the scrolls.

Loki smirks satisfied as he watches the scrolls one by one. Trying to find the story of this realm has proven to be a worthy challenge. Most of their stories are filled with myths and exaggerations of real events. The people around here would believe anything others said as long as it's between their own limited minds.

But Loki knows better, back in Midgard he is the main protagonist of some of those myths. And, while some of them are real the others are just lies, well-though and fabricated lies.

The only thing Loki knows for certain is the existence of a man (or god, he is still trying to decide) known as the Rikudou Sennin. He is in all the stories regarding the origins of the magic these people use. He is the main protagonist of the stories regarding the Tailed Beats.

But, he is also the character that has left the world with nothing more than two off-springs and the ability to use the magic through hand-seals and blood-line abilities.

Loki watches the scroll slowly then…something calls his attention. A number nine with black characters on top of a crimson scroll.

The Kyuubi no Kitsune.

It has the sealed and the coat of arms of the Uzumaki Clan. Loki can't help but think of the little boy he has been observing for more than six months. The boy that has woken something in him, something Loki isn't ready to accept just yet but happily would call curiosity.

Long, delicate fingers brushes against the scroll Loki caress the surface and draw the number nine. Lips twitching involuntary as his hand close around it taking it out of the box and opening it in front of him. He needs to know what he was getting into before he decides how wise would it be to collect the power of the nine Bijuu.

 

*****

 

Naruto is watching carefully at the target.

He narrows his eyes and throws the knife straight to the tree, only to have it fall on the ground without so much of a fly from its part. He sighs frustrate pouting just a little while kicking the knives. It shouldn't be difficult. The knives were pointy enough, Naruto has already taste that the hard way (he still has the bandage covering the wound).

But, Uzumaki Naruto isn't known for giving up. Well, he isn't known yet for anything but the pranks he pulls around but that's going to change once he becomes the GREATEST of all the great ninja in the world. Yep, that's going to be awesome.

So, he picks the knife off the ground and launches it again….and fails. "AHHHHHH."

"You're doing it wrong." The voice is deep and playful; Naruto turns around to see someone he has never seen before. The man is smiling at him; he is resting against the nearest tree with his arms cross and the rest of his face hiding behind the shadows.

"Uh? Who are you?" Naruto's tone is filled with curiosity as he watches the man, he takes a few steps back and picks up the knife he has just thrown. Carefully, he cleans it but his blue eyes are very attentive to the man.

"I am hurt." The man pushes himself from the tree, uncrossing his arms and taking slow steps out of the shadows. Naruto narrows his eyes, feet separate and hand grabbing strongly the dagger.

"I wasn't gone for too long, Naruto." Naruto tilts his head as he takes into the man's form, then everything starts changing and Naruto's eyes open really wide in recognition.

"I thought you will at least have the courtesy of remembered me after I make sure you spent a nice Winter Festival."

Then, something unexpected happen. Loki found himself hug, tightly, by Naruto. He looks down to see Naruto grinning, a genuine smile, to him.

"Loki! I thought you forgot about me! You left and then I wait but you didn't come!" He says giving the man one last squeeze before jumping away. "Look! Look! I've been trying to use the daggers you got me but...well, I can't use them well. It's hard to do it. But…where have you been?"

Loki doesn't know what to do with himself. The kid is acting as if he is a lost friend, as if seeing Loki again is what he has been waiting for. He looks aside feeling a familiar warm spread on his chest; but his mind betrays him. A few hours ago he has been bent over destroying the lives of those who dare to think they could harm him.A few hours ago he had transformed into the very thing kids in Asgard had nightmares about.

I... I... I am the monster parents tell their children about at night?

The God of Mischief and Chaos shakes his head when Naruto takes his hand dragging him to the target practice he has been using all day. And Loki feels a heavy pressure on his chest and something tugging at his heart.

Come, brother. Come with me, no one can challenge me the way you do in a combat.

"Come, Loki! Come! I show you!" And Naruto proceed to show Loki, he narrows his eyes, biting his tongue while grabbing the dagger from the hilt. Taking a deep breath he throws it only to fail, once again.

Naruto's face fall evading Loki's eyes while kneeling to pick up the dagger. Loki shakes his thoughts away and places a hand on top of Naruto's shoulder.

"You are doing it wrong." Naruto flinches and Loki remembers himself to be more kind. Naruto is a kid after all. "Here let me teach you."

"Really? Really, really?" Naruto's eyes lit up as he turns hopeful blue eyes to Loki. "But…but you say you're no ninja."

"That doesn't mean I do not know how to fight." Loki grabs the dagger and proceeds to teach Naruto how to throw it. "As a matter of fact, I was the best in all Asg…back home to hit all the targets."

"Cool! So, you teach me?" Naruto looks eager and really excited at the prospect. Loki glances at him feeling the corner of his lips twitch.

"Of course, I can't let you be untrained if you are to pay your life debt to me." Naruto stops his antics turning to Loki as he tries to determine the intentions of the man. There isn't any malice on Loki's voice or expression, actually he seems content. Calm.

Naruto crosses his arms looking aside, "You don't have to teach me if you don't want. You don't have to make excuses."

Loki is taken aback by the comment he looks aside the same way Naruto does thinking over what he had just said. Clearing his throat uncomfortably, he isn't used to this kind of thing but…

"I apologize if you misinterpreted me." Naruto frowns narrowing his eyes at Loki. "I would help you with your technique regardless of the debt. I was just trying to…be affable in our conversation."

"What's affable?" Naruto scrunches his nose thinking about the word, rolling it on his lips while shooting a lost look to Loki.

Loki raises an eyebrow wondering what they teach kids around here only to remember Naruto doesn't go to any Academy or has any parents to teach him at home.

"It means amiable." Naruto blinks and Loki raises his other eyebrow. "No?"

Naruto shakes his head Loki merely sighs, "Amicable? Courteous? Friendly?"

At the last two words Naruto's eyes lit up, "Oh, I get it."

Loki rolls his eyes while Naruto merely shoots him a strange glance, "You speak weird. Why didn't you say so at first?"

"Do you really want me to teach you how to throw these daggers?" Loki narrows his eyes and Naruto nods eagerly.

"Good, then let us practice and after a quick dinner I'm going to teach you how to speak."

"But...I already know how to speak!"

*****

 

Naruto is walking down the street with his shoulders firm thrown back, his chin lift and a brilliant smile on his face. If anyone had bothered before to notice the blond's smiles, they would know this one was a real one.

But, as it is, no one takes notice and Loki is partly grateful for this. He is walking behind the boy, the sun is about to set giving space to the night. The streets are full of people walking around to the market, to the bar, to their homes.

Naruto grabs the dagger on his hand he feels proud. He has done it! Has hit the mark several times! And Loki had said it was impressive!

With this he can convince the Hokage to allow him in the Ninja Academy the next semester! He wouldn't have to wait to be seven to enter the Academy.

Naruto is so distracted he never notices the shadowy figure approaching until he collides with him. The blond yelps in surprise raising his head to say something, when his eyes meet black ones.

"Itachi-nii!" Uchiha Itachi gives Naruto half a smile, bowing his head lightly while re-arranging the box he is carrying with him.

"Naruto-kun, it is nice seeing you today looking so vibrant." The black-haired teen smile gently at Naruto, Loki observes with genuine curiosity as he has never seen anyone show this kind of affection to Naruto.

"I was training today." Naruto makes some invisible movements mimicking his throwing abilities. "It was good and I had some help. Ne! Itachi-nii! I missed you, where were you?"

Itachi chuckles at the pout forming on Naruto's face and as he is about to answer he lifts his eyes to pin the man behind Naruto. It is for only a few seconds, those young black eyes are boring into Loki's green ones. There is nothing betraying what Itachi may be thinking and this intrigues Loki who can't help it and gives Itachi a half, wicked smile.

The spark those black eyes have when they were watching Naruto is gone the moment they focus on Loki. The smile, the shade of green, the posture…Uchiha Itachi knows there is something off about this man.

"I was away on a mission, Naruto." Barely tasking his eyes from the man Itachi continues talking. "I'm glad you are back on your training."

There is a pause in which Naruto glances with curiosity the sudden smirk that appears on Itachi's face. The black-haired man leans forward and talks solely to Naruto.

"I also heard about someone putting a set of traps in the park." Naruto opens his eyes, glee illuminating his face as he takes his hands to his mouth to cover the chuckles. "Sasuke is still trying to take the blue from his skin."

Naruto covers his chuckles while Itachi merely shakes his head, Loki is standing a few steps behind but he hears everything clearly. He is intrigue and his eyes turn from Naruto to Itachi. The Uchiha lifts his eyes, there isn't anything nice or kind behind them when he glances at Loki but the god merely cocks his head in defiance.

"I heard it was Kiba-teme." Says Naruto nodding his head taking on an innocent appearance, it is his eyes the ones who betray him. "I told him not to pull the rope and be a nice little puppy but he went all mad and pulled the rope."

"Of course, of course…" Itachi looks directly into Naruto's eyes and the blond feels uncomfortable. "They didn't let you play, did they?"

Naruto shrugs, "I didn't want to play with them."

The lie is pretty obvious; it's behind every word, every gesture and the intense, crystalline stare coming from Naruto. Itachi doesn't say anything he just stares at Naruto before turning his attention to Loki. They stare at each other for a long time until Naruto notices and fidgets excitedly.

"Oh, but I don't care because then I went to train and I learnt a lot of things."

"Really? I remembered you said you have some help."

This time Itachi does look at Naruto who is nodding solemnly, "Yep, here…"

Itachi raises an eyebrow and there is a frown on his face while Naruto turns to signal the man the Uchiha has been looking before.

"This is…Thor." And Loki almost, almost, flinches because this time around he is wearing his real form and the name with his face doesn't fit in Loki's mind. It is then he looks at Naruto and the boy's eyes are gleaming with a knowing light there.

You don't want them to know me. No completely.

Interesting.

"A pleasure." Loki straightens up offering his hand to young Itachi, it takes a second but when Itachi takes the offering hand he squeezes. Hard.

"I don't think I've seen you before. But the name does sound familiar." Itachi squeezes one last time before standing beside Naruto.

"Oh, I don't think I have seen you before either. I didn't even know you're friends with Naruto." Loki tilts his head his eyes dancing around with a gleam of mischief in them.

"It was a rather unfortunate episode what brought us together." Itachi comments feeling the muscles on his back and legs tense, ready for action. "But now, Naruto is a person I appreciate."

"Oh, I bet." Naruto is glancing from one man to the other, he feels the tension but doesn't understand it completely.

"Come on, Thor!" This time Loki does flinch and turns his green eyes to Naruto. The young man is crossing his arms with a pout in place. "I'm hungry and you promise!"

"Of course, Naruto." Loki turns to Itachi bowing his head. "It was interesting meeting you, Itachi-san. It would be even more interesting if we talk again, another time perhaps?"

Itachi stares at Loki with narrowed eyes, "That would be wonderful. It is nice meeting you as well, Thor-san. Naruto, we will talk again when the both of us have more time."

"Okay! See you, Itachi-nii! Take care."

Itachi waves at Naruto watching the both of them. Loki feels a piercing feeling at the back of his neck, he feels observed and threatened. He stops turning around to see blood-red eyes glaring intently at him. Loki raises an eyebrow, his lips curling up in a smirk then he turns around leaving Uchiha Itachi there.

Why did you hide this place from Thor and me, Father? Loki thinks as he sorts the happenings of the day in his head. This place would have been so much fun if I have been here before…

*****

That night Loki finds himself carrying Naruto back home.

The boy took him to his favorite restaurant. It end up being a ramen stand and the only place in the whole village that wouldn't change the prices or try to make Naruto unwelcome. Loki sits warily as the owner, an old man, and his daughter glare at him with suspicion.

But then, Naruto does something unpredictable and shocking. He tells the people of the ramen stand Loki saved Naruto and now is teaching him how to be adept at throwing kunai.

He is my friend.

And, apparently it is all the man and the girl need for the moment. However, Loki finds himself amazed by this little mortal whose mind seems to work at a different level than these people do. In a word, Naruto is unpredictable and, to put it simple, he does what he wants.

Which brings a subtle smile to Loki's face.

The man quickly wipes it away when he notices the old man watching him. He knows why the man is suspicious. Naruto isn't liked in the village; he is lonely and doesn't have anything or anyone to get back home. So, when someone shows Naruto real affection or sympathy the blond receives it like water in the middle of the desert. He becomes attach and overly loyal to the ones who extend their help to him.

Yes, Loki understands the suspicion behind the man's eyes because anyone can take advantage of it and use Naruto as they please.

Loki ignores the sudden heaviness settling on his chest and transports Naruto to his room.

The room is dark. The place is a complete mess. Loki glances at Naruto then at the apartment and sighs. It's like going to Thor's room all over again; the only difference is the lack of axes, swords and the broken wall.

How does Naruto keep falling asleep anywhere near Loki? The boy is a bundle of energy; surely he can wait to get home to rest in peace.

Once he puts Naruto on his bed Loki waves his hand, the illusion he had place the first time around is back on making Naruto's place look like a copy of the west wing of the Palace in Asgard. Loki looks at his hands, his fingers and fingertips. There is some hesitation but not about what he is about to do, the hesitation comes with the weight of the consequences.

Raising an eyebrow Loki shakes his head, sitting beside Naruto he lifts the boy's shirt and places his fingertips on Naruto's abdomen. He concentrates until his mind grasps the ropes of magic, green light is coming from his fingertips and the seal appears on Naruto's abdomen. Black, burning under Loki's touch then…

…He is standing on a darken room.

There isn't any sound, or any light, there is only space but Loki can feel the moist in the atmosphere, can sense the pulsating magic calling to him. So, with decision, he takes a step forward.

Once he starts moving echo reverberates the walls of the inner world. This is what Naruto's inner soul looks, at least the part in which the fox has been sealed. As Loki advances he finally sees a light, it is dimmer, moving faintly to project a golden and red light. Once he crosses the threshold he finds himself in front of a magnificent room. It is enormous with maroon walls and, in front of him, there is a cage. A huge cage that goes from the ground to the ceiling of the room.

Loki takes a step towards the cage when a voice, deep and guttural speaks to him.

"You are far from home, Asgardian."

Chapter Text

There is a moment of complete surprise.

Loki halts his advances, green eyes narrowing searching for the owner of the voice. The only thing he can see in the darken cage is a pair of yellowish eyes gleaming with amusement as they observe him attentively.

"You know about me." Loki states tilting his head while resuming his walking. He is careful with every step he takes, his hands behind his back while his cape billows calmly behind him.

The creature growls, the sound of heavy fidgeting announces the movement coming from inside the cage. The creature leans in and the light touching him shows red fur and sharp, dangerous fangs.

"Of course I do. You reek of Asgardian blood…Not only that…"The creature growls once again, "Tell me, young god, what is the House of Odin doing in my domains?"

"I am not from the House of Odin." Loki turns his face to the side affronted by the comment. This time the Kyuubi saunters slowly his face and body fully visible now.

"Touch a nerve…did I?" The fox smiles his eyes gleaming as he lowers his head to watch Loki more closely. "But, it doesn't matter how much you denied it, young god. You reek of the All-Fathers essence…"

Loki doesn't look impressed, merely annoyed at the amusement gleaming in those yellowish eyes. The fox tilts his head chuckling darkly. He is watching closely the god's reaction and is starting to enjoy this conversation.

Loki growls lowly hating the moment of weakness that show the fox he has, in fact, hit a nerve. Loki stares at the creature strolling to stand right in front of the cage, he looks up and there is a smirk on him.

"You don't seem to be that much of a Lord or even a threat trapped inside a little boy." Loki leers as he gives the fox a long stare. "The words of an incarcerated beast are meaningless to me"

"Watch your words, Silvertongue. Daddy isn't here to safe you if I decide to teach you manners."

Loki laughs, he really does because it is somewhat funny the idle threat behind the words of this creature. He laughs because the fox just reveal to him he knows more than he lets on at first. Loki decides to forgo the 'daddy' comment. For now.

"So, you have heard of me. Even in this distant world, and in this well-plan cage you have heard of me."

The Kyuubi snorts raising an eyebrow, his ears twitching with anticipation as the god moves in front of the seal of his cage.

"Who hasn't heard of the famous Loki Silvertongue and his older brother the Mighty Thor?"

Loki clenches his fist never losing the cold smirk as he glances at the Kyuubi, "Careful there, you wouldn't want to find out what a son of Odin can do to you, Kurama."

This time the fox freezes his eyes betraying the shock he is feeling as he glances at Loki. The god smirks caressing the metal bars of the cage as his voice drips with innocence and amusement.

"Touch a nerve, didn't I?" Loki raises an eyebrow letting his words echo in the room.

Kurama is watching the god in front of him, analyzing before lifting his chin snickering a little. The surge of magic is potent, Loki doesn't think twice as he prepares for an assault, hands on his daggers but it isn't necessary for him to fight.

The fox merely bows his head, standing his full height as the magic around him starts to react. In less than a minute Loki watches as the creature shrinks changing his appearance.

There, in front of him, is a middle-age looking man. Dark red hair, broad shoulders, naked chest with only a black kilt on him. His eyes are the same shade of yellow Loki has seen before, the fangs are still there. The man leans forward smirking.

"Tell me, little god…What do you really know about this world? What do you really know about me?"

Loki thinks he has mastered the art of evil laugh. But hearing this creature transform into a more humanoid form and laugh, he realizes he was sorely mistaken. The demon's eyes gleam with mirth as he stretches out a hand in an attempt to grab Loki. Loki is far enough from his reach but the intent isn't to grab Loki but to show the god…

"I have to admit I don't know much." Loki starts a slow pacing in front of the cage, aware of those amber orbs following his every move. "I can only tell you what Senju Hashirama and Uzumaki Kurouzu wrote about you."

Kurama arches an eyebrow, his features looking handsomely with the gentleness that takes over them. Loki notices he is familiar with the names and, better yet, the creature seems to hold certain affection towards the mortals.

"I see, then your information about me is not misguided." Kurama sits on the ground, Indian style, placing his hands on his knees. "If there are any mortals in this forsaken realm that I hold any respect for are the leaders of the Senju and Uzumaki Clan."

"Really? What about Rikudou Sennin?" There is a slight tense of the muscles, a twitching eyebrow and impassive eyes. "What? Don't tell me I touch a nerve again…"

Loki gives Kurama a half smirk as the fox sends a glare his way, "You should really learn to hold that tongue of yours…it may bring your demise in the near future."

There is a long silence following the demon's words, Loki stops facing the right wall feeling Kurama's curious stare on him. Loki takes with him his scepter, magic emanating from it as he turns around to face the Kyuubi.

"My tongue should be the last of your worries, Kurama." The fox's eyes take in the scepter narrowing as he feels the power coming from it. He feels intent behind the god, there is something else, something chaotic fighting an invisible battle inside him.

"I read all about you and your siblings." Loki concentrates on the scepter in his hand; Kurama is looking at him with a hint of worry in his eyes. "I heard the stories as well…and, I discover something…something curious that I'm about to test with you."

This only makes Kurama curious, rising to his feet Kurama takes in his natural form leaning until his muzzle is pressed tightly against the cage. Loki doesn't move, merely observes guard and curious at the same time.

"Desist now that you have the time."

"Why would I, when the stories talk about your great power?" Loki chuckles hitting the floor with the staff and feeling as the energy coming from the fox starts feeding it.

"You don't know what you're dealing with, even after reading the stories…" Kurama starts lowering his gaze before growling out. "Is this the protection the All-Father promises us? Is this how he repays us after all this time?"

Those words make Loki stop what he is doing. Kurama's face remains impassive his gaze focuses solely on Loki. The God of Mischief doesn't know what to say or what to think, this is the third time the fox has mentioned his father. But, what is the relationship between them? The stories don't specify anything beyond this world.

"Let me give you a word of advice, little god." Kurama cocks his head glancing at some point on the wall before returning his attention to Loki. "Do not let ignorance and greed manipulate your actions, or else, those around you will suffer more than chaos and mischief."

Loki snorts looking down at the scepter the red light twinkling for a moment before settling down returning the staff to its original color.

"You intrigue me." Loki's voice is soft with curiosity. "And the power I just acquire will suffice until I can come back here again and find a way out of this realm."

Loki hides the scepter again sending a disdainful glare to the Kyuubi. "I am not interested in your dealings with Odin and you will well to remember this next time I pay you a visit. Who knows? Maybe by then, I will have the key to put you out of this prison without scarifying your powers to favor the boy."

"You really don't know what you're doing. " The Kyuubi chuckles snorting with amusement as his eyes follow Loki to the entrance of the room. "Did you know, little god, that what happens to me happens to Naruto?"

This stops Loki, he glances at the fox and there is coldness inside his green orbs.

"Oh, yes…" The Kyuubi can't or won't hide the glee in his voice as he analyses the reaction. "If I die, he dies. If I live, he lives…If I'm gone…he won't survive…"

"Is it hard, isn't it?" Loki doesn't turn and the Kyuubi merely keeps on talking. "To be near the boy and not feel something for him. To be near him and not want to protect him."

There is deafening silence and Loki purses his lips closing his fist tight. "Hear me well, Loki Odinson, I may be trapped inside the boy and the circumstances leading to this imprisonment may not be ideal but…as a promise I will keep, the boy is under my protection."

Loki tilts his head to the side, curious as to what exactly Kurama mean by that.

"If anything happens to him, you will feel the wrath of the Lord of the Immortals."

It is the last thing Loki hears before feeling a pressure rejecting him. It isn't necessary as he leaves the place willingly. He had obtained what he is looking for he doesn't need to overstay his visit.

But, there is no rest for the wicked and soon Loki finds himself under the pressure of a sharp blade against his neck. The god smirks without moving a single muscle, his green eyes glancing out of the corner of his eyes. There he can see a figure no taller than him, Loki doesn't need to guess who is it because those blood-red eyes are a nice give-away.

"I was wondering how long would it take for you to act." This time Loki does turn his head to face his attacker, the blade dangerously close to his jugular. "I'm impressed, Uchiha Itachi. There aren't many people in this world who can sneak on me the way you just did."

Itachi doesn't answer, instead he takes a step forward with a blank expression eyes twirling dangerously.

"Now, Thor-san, without waking Naruto-kun I would like to have a few words with you."


Orochimaru isn't known for his patience regarding stupidity.

He isn't too fond either of failure.

His eyes, narrow to slits, focus on the young man he thought of using as a shell a long time ago. Way before he found out it was a useless casket.

Even with his sickness, though, Kimimaru was a strong fighter and nothing or anyone had been able to break him. Until now. The Sannin looks over the young man who lays broken on the bed, moaning in pain holding onto his side as his life slips away.

To the other side Kabuto isn't any better and Orochimaru has to ask himself: just who is this Lie-Smith that has put four of his best men in such a pitiful state? Kidomaru was dead, Tayuya has lost her right arm, Kimimaru is useless and Kabuto…Kabuto is still trying to process everything.

Orochimaru grits his teeth before leaving the room, he has heard enough about this person's abilities. He has heard enough about the changes and the power the man holds. Now he needs information about what is that Lie-Smith calls magic and those strange abilities.

If they prove worthy then Orochimaru could make a better use of the man's body.


Itachi is slightly startled when he feels a strange pressure surrounding him. The next moment he stands in the middle of the desert with the man grabbing his katana and hitting him on the abdomen.

"Watch your mouth, petty mortal."

Itachi is shocked at what just happen, this man has taken him to a desert. A desert! The closest one is in Sunagakure which means they travel kilometers away from Konoha in the blink of an eye. Itachi activates his sharingan making a quick succession of hand-signs spitting fire from his mouth.

"Katon: Goukakyuu no Jutsu!"

The fight is like nothing Itachi has experienced so far. The man, Thor, was skilled, he moves with the ability of a snake and fieriness of a lion. It takes a few moments but in the end Itachi realizes with a pang of wariness the man is playing with him. The game, however, doesn't last long and sooner than expected Itachi finds himself on the sand a foot pressing tightly against his neck.

"This is your rightful place, mortal." Itachi narrows his eyes because, if anything else, he would never give the enemy the satisfaction of his subjugation.

"Who are you?"

"I am beyond your mind…I'm known as Loki, God of Mischief and Chaos." There is shock gleaming in Itachi's eyes, there is also disbelief along with a suspicion born of facing an opponent stronger than you.

"I've heard the name of the gods…" Itachi grasps holding the ankle as he applies some pressure. "You…your name has never been there…"

Loki snorts taking his foot away and stretching out his hand, a signal to help Itachi stand up to his feet. It is disconcerting; Itachi doesn't know what to make of such a gesture but glance at the offering hand uncertain of what he should do. Attack or accept it.

Loki takes the decision away from him, "You better chose my hand, Mortal. I do not want Naruto to seek retribution from me after I decide to pummel one of the few people who actually regard him with affection."

Itachi takes the hand, red eyes meet green ones and soon Itachi has a kunai pointing at Loki's throat. The Trickster smirks, raising an eyebrow at Itachi's hesitance.

"If I do this, it is possible Naruto would hate me for it." Snarls Itachi glaring with his sharingan at Loki.

"Yes, probably." Loki spreads his arms and presses his neck towards the kunai. "But, by all means, try it and you will discover that I lie you not about my status as a god."

"My gods don't have your looks or your powers…"

"Then, you haven't met a real god."

Doubt flickers inside the sharingan red eyes, Itachi glances at the man (or god) in front of him and doubts because he feels it. The power he holds, he can feel it…and yet, there is something else…

"Why show mercy?" And the question holds so much more behind it. It isn't only about the mercy; it is about the intentions behind said mercy. Why now? Why him? Why Naruto?

"You are different, for a mortal. Your eyes…"Loki glances at the eyes as he speaks. "They're different. Sharp, intelligent…I haven't met anyone with such eyes…"

And with those words Loki answers Itachi's question: he is useful. Whatever this man is planning Itachi was useful for his purpose. Loki sees the emotions flickering in the red eyes; he knows the young man went to Naruto's place ready to interrogate an individual that represents a threat. He never thought he would be surprise and caught, but he was and is now contemplating his options.

Then, just like the fox had done with him, Loki decides to push Itachi in the right direction.

"You seek Naruto's well-being, do you not?" There it is the emotions Loki has been looking for; he doesn't stop but rather push as far as he can. "Do you not despise the way he is treated in a place he calls home?"

Itachi grits his teeth looking defiantly at Loki while pressing the kunai, "I offer Naruto protection. I'm offering him a shoulder to cry, someone who won't look at him as a monster…isn't that what you want as well, Uchiha Itachi?"


Dawn is close, there is a cold wind accompanying it. Loki sits facing the window, his hands closing around a cup of warm tea. In the end, Itachi took the right decision. He doesn't trust Loki which is okay because he doesn't trust the young Uchiha. But, the young man is a great assess, he means it when he says no one on this realm has been able to sneak out on him. No one but Itachi.

And the love he profess Naruto is all Loki needs. Itachi bended to his wishes

Loki grits his teeth clenching his right fist while he presses against his mouth. His mind hasn't been so fill with thoughts since he first hear the news of the coming coronation of Thor. There is conflict inside of him but Loki denies the possibility of going over those thoughts. He has already done the planning; some of the pieces were falling in place…that's all that matters. With that in mind, Loki stands up and with a twitch of his hand he disappears.

Up there in a faraway distance, Heimdall narrows his eyes but not in a suspicious manner. It is more one of perplexity than anything else. He had never like Loki too much, but he knew behind the lies and the mischief Loki had been good once upon a time; he had care and he had love but something had changed it all.

Now…now he was starting to see the old Loki with some new improvements. As always the wisdom of the All-Father prove to be impeccable.


The following day finds an eager Naruto with dirt and sweat all over his face and chest. He is only wearing pants breathing hard while he tries the trick all over again.

There is a gleam in his blue eyes; the concentration is something Uchiha Itachi has never seen before. And the heir of the Uchiha clan has seen a lot of Naruto, ever since the first day he saved the boy from what seems to be an 'accident'. He doesn't know if this is the best option, he doesn't know if this is right. But he does it anyway because Loki is right. He cares for Naruto and he prefers to be here supervising than letting Naruto alone.

Itachi still remembers the fight, still remembers the difference in power and he has to wonder…

"No, you are doing it wrong again." The calm voice of Loki reaches his ears, he turns narrowing his eyes while he follows the man's every move.

Naruto is exclaiming while pointing at the blades, Loki is listening while holding back a roll of his eyes. Then the man lifts a hand to silence, effectively, Naruto before proceeding to teach him how to do it.

And, as Itachi watches, he notices the mannerism behind the man's movements, the firmness of his hand and the effectiveness of his launches. He presents Naruto with a technique to throw the daggers, to make effective the impact. His words are soothing, almost enthralling but they held something else, his words aren't usually found on the vocabulary of ninja or villagers. God or not, Loki is part of a noble family.

Naruto is attracted to the man like a magnet to metal. He looks up at him with affection, and the way he forces himself to do the very best is what a child does to impress his father. How long had they known each other? Two months? Was Naruto that hungry for affection, for attention he would receive it from anyone?

Itachi clenches his fist lowering his eyes. He, all of Konoha, has failed the Forth Hokage, they fail Kushina. And Itachi feels, deep inside his heart the remorse of his failure, because he has known them. It was the Forth Hokage the one to give him his first Hitai-ate; it was Kushina the first one to give him his first mission as a Chuunin.

Naruto is now giving it his all, the blades on his hand are held clumsily but as he keeps trying his technique starts improving. Soon he is watching the blond with Loki standing beside him, the man is a mask of unreadable thoughts and Itachi doesn't take the silence too well.

"Why are you helping Naruto?" It is the question that has been burning Itachi since he fell on the hands of this god. There is a slightly tense of the shoulders, reluctance in the movements before the voice, soft and hypnotizing starts talking.

"Do you believe him a Monster, Itachi?" Loki tilts his head his green eyes are sparkling as he speaks. "Do you believe the demon seal inside him would unleash its fury upon your people when the time is right?"

Itachi gasps at the mention of the Kyuubi, a knowledge not many have but he shouldn't be surprise, should he? He had seen the man with a hand on Naruto's seal, even if he doesn't know what happen that day…

"Do you think, given the time, the fox and Naruto would become one? They would become the monster everyone in this village fear?"

This time Loki turns around and confronts Itachi with his mere presence, Itachi can't look away as he feels the weight of those questions inside his mind and heart. The people of Konoha, even though Itachi loves his village, are all fools. They blame the kid for something he doesn't have control over nor is he aware of. Itachi can see there is something else, there is more hidden behind the words this man/god speaks but, for the first time in his live, he can't figure out what it is.

"Naruto is no monster, he is a hero." Loki smiles a bitter smile.

"Indeed. Let us train. I want to see your real abilities, Itachi. Please do not hold back because I won't."


Later that day Itachi arrives home with sore muscles, several wounds and half of his mind believing the god's theory. Because no one could spend half a day training and doing everything they did without breaking a sweat.

Sasuke frowns approaching his brother as Itachi takes off his sandals and his shirt while holding back a gasp. The young Uchiha is watching with apprehension and worry the wounds on his brother.

"Nii-san, are you okay?" Itachi turns around smiling gently at his little brother.

"Of course I am," He sees the worry written on Sasuke's face and shakes his head. "Don't worry, I was out training."

"Oh, I was wondering…"Sasuke bites his lower lip and looks away shyly before gathering the courage he needs to speak with his brother.

"What is it, Sasuke?"

"Well, I…father taught me these neat moves and I was wondering if you could help me."

Itachi almost winces because he loves Sasuke but really, after today he just needs the rest, besides tomorrow he would be need back at the Hokage's tower for a mission. He stands up, looking at Sasuke while lifting his arm, his index and middle finger hold up together to pock Sasuke on his forehead.

"Forgive me, Sasuke. Maybe another time."

Sasuke watches his brother leave with a hurt look in his eyes.


Time passes again.

Soon, the whispers of different names become outspoken in bars or meeting points for different shinobi. Orochimaru has been, to a point, one of the most renowned. The man was a sociopath with some ill-suited tastes for young flesh. And while he is still one of the most wanted criminals he isn't the reason shinobi are whispering around.

There are two different threats. The ones wearing dark cloaks with red clouds and the man who calls himself Lie-Smith; the threat resides behind the fact no one knows what do they look like nor do they know their real intentions.

It is Jiraiya of the Sannin the first one to get a hold of those rumors and, as always, he is the first one to actually do something. He has heard from some important people what you have to do to get into contact with Lie-Smith.

Pray to him as if you were praying for your life.

At first, Jiraiya thinks it's a joke. He isn't about to pray to some maniac as if he actually answers prayers. So, as he keeps digging for information he starts believing this whole praying thing. Mainly because everyone seems to agree at that point.

Just pray, Jiraiya-sama. Go to a temple and put your prayer on the board. He would find you and you won't regret whatever you ask of him.

Jiraiya feels stupid doing this because he hasn't been in a temple since the last war and the last time he…well; let's just say he doesn't think the gods would be happy with him if he puts a foot inside their temple.

Nevertheless, he does.

And waits.

His prayer is answered two days later.

He sees a distinguished-looking man moving his way. Broad shoulders accompanied by shoulder length blond hair, a short beard adorning his strong features. Deep blue eyes narrowing as they focus on him, movements steady and confident that spoke of class and power. He is wearing expensive clothes, made of black leather, silver and gold metal and green additions, on his hand it's a scepter, a curious staff that can be used as a help to walk and a deathly weapon.

Jiraiya feels it. It is not ordinary metal what covers neither the clothing nor the staff Lie-Smith has in his possession. And Jiraiya understands the power the man is displaying it is reinforced by the special metal in which the flow of chakra can be infused.

"In all my traveling's I never expect for Jiraiya of the Sannin to ask for my services." The man's voice is thunderous, deep and commanding sending a shiver of warning through Jiraiya's spine.

"Do tell me, Jiraiya-sama, what can I do for you?" The smile the man gives him makes him regret he ever follow those fools advices.

"Lie-Smith, I suppose." The man nods his head and sits down, his back to the door of the bar, hand on top of the table. Jiraiya just stares at him for a long time lowering his gaze to the bottle of sake resting patiently at his side.

"I thought the rumors were a lie, or maybe something someone invented."

"Understandable, but I assure you they're not. So please, don't spoil this meeting trying to assess my abilities." Jiraiya shoots the stranger a suspicious stare. "Be intelligent and test me in a manner we won't destroy any private property."

Jiraiya contemplates the man in front of him, there is something he doesn't get, something off about him. But the Sannin can't argue with the logic, he is quite fond of this bar so he wouldn't want it gone because he engages himself in a fight.

"I require information."

"Of course, anything you want for a reasonable price." Jiraiya snorts and the man chuckles.

"Define reasonable." There is a spark inside those blue eyes Jiraiya doesn't like much. The smile is soon turned into a wicked smirk.

"Money is not the only mean of payment." Loki leans backwards full aware of the coldness behind Jiraiya's eyes. "How about, a favor for a favor?"

"Favor? What kind of favor would you want?" Jiraiya leans forward placing his hand firmly on the table. "You should know I won't betray my village or any other kind of secret…"

Jiraiya trails off when he hears the laugh, the dismissing hand coming from the man.

"No, nothing of that…I won't require that kind of favors." Loki smirks as he leans forwards as well. "Just a favor, I won't require it immediately but I would let you know when it is time for me to collect my part of this bargain."

The man is dangerous, pretty dangerous indeed. Jiraiya has half of his mind made to just strike the guy and capture him. The other half is just asking him to be prudent and test the man. He needs more information, besides; the man may as well be bluffing.

"What if I don't think your price matches the results I need?" Loki shrugs his shoulders.

"That won't happen, but if it does…then you owe me nothing." Then the atmosphere around Jiraiya changes, it is cold and chilling, the man's blue eyes transform into deep, green ones.

"But know this, Jiraiya of the Sannin; I don't take kindly to betrayal." Then a half smirk is directed his way. "As you may have heard from your former teammate Orochimaru."

Jiraiya's eyes grow wide because he has heard the story, he has heard some of Orochimaru's minions had been killed and gravely injured by the very same man sitting in front of him.

"Don't worry; I'm not like the idiot of Orochimaru so…you can at least count on me to carry out my part of the bargain." Jiraiya shrugs as he takes a sip from the bottle beside him. "Of course, as long as the info I require is good enough."

"Of course, so…shall we seal the deal?" Asks Loki offering his hand to Jiraiya.

Jiraiya takes the offering hand in his after a moment of hesitation, he glances and the green eyes had disappeared behind blue ones.

"Tell me, then, what do you need?"

Jiraiya observes intently at the man for a few seconds, then, "I need to know everything about a new group…I need you to tell me everything you can about Akatsuki."


Naruto is bored.

That's why he is at the tallest building of Konoha with a water bomb on his hand, tongue sneaking out as he waits. And waits. And waits…

"WHA…WHAT? WHO THE FU…?"

Naruto laughs hiding away before anyone can see his small figure. He can hear the man screaming down, totally wet and looking for the culprit. There are sounds of others laughing, and the man screaming promises of bodily harm as he asks to be allowed inside the building.

Naruto stands up and goes directly to the stairs, running fast down them moving directly to a hotel room. He hears as, moments later, the staff of the hotel and the man are walking rapidly to see if they can catch the 'little shit' who wet the man with a balloon fill with water and pink dye.

He waits until he is satisfied no one is around to exit the room and run down the stairs. He is wearing a huge grin escaping the 'watchful' eye of the guard and the rest of the hotel staff to the busy streets of Konoha.

He has been bored without Loki or Itachi around.

But today, is a happy day. He looks up at the Mount Hokage and presents the faces carved on the stone his thumb-up. He promises he would do the very best and become the best Hokage ever; he wouldn't allow people to ignore him anymore. He wouldn't allow them to call him names or question his intelligence or abilities.

He walks around the village aware of the stares he is receiving, of the whispers behind his back. He doesn't understand it but it had, long ago, stopped to be an issue for him. For, even if these people don't like him, Naruto has people who do.

The welcoming ceremony is nothing like what Naruto imagine. He is asked by the ANBU with the dog mask to situate himself on the front row. He looks around curiously and there is a pang of longing and envy in his heart. He sees kids his age with their parents, all of them smiling, mothers fixing their children clothes, fathers ruffling their kid's hair. All wearing proud stares, all wearing happiness.

Naruto tries not to care, but it is evident some of them don't want him here. He watches out of the corner of his eyes as a kid with lavender eyes staring at him with an obvious look of disgust and annoyance in his face. He passes Naruto just as the woman holding his shoulder mumbles something in his ear.

Naruto lowers his head. He is the only kid alone in the middle of the ceremony. There isn't any father giving him a proud smile, there isn't a teary mother proclaiming how big his little boy is.

As he hears the Hokage speak Naruto has never felt alone in his whole live.

He had been happy when the Hokage told him, after so much begging, he could apply to the Ninja Academy. He was one step ahead of his dream but…there is a knot on his throat and Naruto feels his eyes burn with unshed tears.

Once the ceremony is over all the kids go to their parents while Naruto stands there.

"Naruto-kun, I'm really proud you make it." Naruto takes a deep breath and lifts his face, grinning widely at the Hokage who is smiling down at him.

"Thank you, Ojiji!" There is a young man behind Sarutobi, a scar covering his nose, his black eyes narrowing.

"Hokage-sama, boy. It may take…" The young man trails off when the Hokage lifts a hand sending a warning stare to him.

"It's okay, Iruka. Naruto-kun it's allowed to call me that." Naruto sticks his tongue out before turning his attention back to the Hokage.

"I'm glad I could get in! Finally I'm gonna be a ninja!" Says Naruto with enthusiasm, people around him shoot him annoyed glares, some of them look even worried.

The Hokage laughs ruffling Naruto's hair, "You still need to graduate so I expect you to be the best student in here."

"You got it, Old Man!" The young man, Iruka, scowls but says nothing. The Hokage bids Naruto farewell and leaves with Iruka close behind.

Naruto is left alone once again; he looks up trying to decide what to do next when he hears it.

"Did you hear? That…boy is entering the Academy."

"Yes, apparently Hokage-sama wants the boy on a tight leash."

"Humph, as if…probably used one of his tricks…the little monster…"

"Ssshh, shut up! Do you want to be punished?"

"Oh, please! Everyone is thinking the same, I'm just the only one voicing it…how can Hokage-sama allow that…that thing in the Academy? With our children?"

"I'm going to warn my son."

"Yes, better not let innocent children around him…we don't want them to be corrupted."

When Naruto turns around he sees the two women who had been speaking, they notice him watching them. In a moment of silence, the women send disgust looks to Naruto before presenting their backs to him.

Swallowing hard, Naruto holds onto the tears forming in his eyes. He clenches his fists and takes off running as fast as his little legs would allow him.


Loki rolls his eyes.

The room has silver daggers and kunai all around the walls. And the walls, of course, have red spots all around them. Each red spot has a single dagger or kunai, this is the way Naruto shows he can hit the target flawlessly.

It makes look his apartment like a pincushion; Loki sweeps the place with his eyes and notices not only Naruto's handiwork but also the empty boxes of ramen. The Trickster sighs deciding Naruto needs to eat something else for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Maybe he can take Naruto to Sunagakure, the boy has liked the meat they have to offer and he had made friends with a red-head brat who wouldn't speak mainly because Naruto spoke enough for the two of them. Well, friends would be pushing too far. They were merely…acquaintances. Or maybe he can take Naruto back to Kumogakure…that would be better, yes…

The door of the apartment opens and Loki turns around ready to speak when he is assault by an overly emotional blond. His arms are tightly wrapped around him; the boy buries his face on Loki's hip, when Loki looks down he notices the movement in Naruto's shoulders. The soft whimpering sound coming from him.

"Naruto, what happen?" He is not worried. He is curious. And if Loki repeats that several times he may believe them and probably, at the same time, Heimdall may come and declared his undying love for him.

Denial is a marvelous thing.

Yes, the God of Mischief tries to hold the roll of his eyes because Naruto is looking up at him with tears in his eyes and face. This isn't the time to think about anything else but the misery reflected in those blue eyes.

"C-Can you…tell me…can you tell me a story?"

It's a strange request.

Loki isn't sure how to comply.

He doesn't know why he does what he does…really, he doesn't.

But this boy…

He leans over picking him up in his arms; Naruto buries his face on the crook of his neck holding tightly.

He sits on the unmade bed, not without sending a reluctant look to the bed. Making a great effort he sits and fixes Naruto on it. He doesn't know what to do exactly; it is not as if he doesn't know this kind of routine because he does. This is what he did with Fenrir and Hel when they had nightmares.

There is a difference, though. Fenrir and Hel are his children, his beloved son and daughter. Naruto isn't his son…

Loki swallows as he remembers Frigga putting his head on her lap, caressing his hair and telling him stories. And he remembers Odin taking him and Thor out, narrating some of his adventures.

But Odin isn't my father…and Naruto isn't my son…

He looks down at Naruto who has silent tears in his eyes, then with a flicker of his hand he makes the room dark.

"Let me tell you the story of the Mighty Thor, his younger brother the God of Mischief and their companions, the Warriors Three and Lady Sif."

Naruto furrows his brows; he cuddles closer to Loki and listens attentively.


"AAAHHHH! Myeuh-muh!"

Naruto likes Thor.

Of course he likes him, everyone loves Thor. And Loki isn't hiding behind the shadows, arms cross a petulant grimace (pout) on his face as he watches Naruto play out the story he told him last night.

"It's Mjölnir." He mumbles not really caring too much in correcting Naruto.

Naruto of course doesn't listen; he is too busy running around all excited while narrating his own version of the adventures. He is making battle screams and jumping up and down the tress, and then he puts his daggers and engages himself in battle against a tree.

Loki huffs and this is how Itachi finds him, the Uchiha is curious but at the same time amused.

"Good morning, Loki-san." Loki grumbles Itachi arches an eyebrow then turns to look at Naruto. "What's…Naruto-kun doing?"

"Playing." And Loki spats the words as if it was poison, Itachi rolls his eyes because this isn't the first time he witnesses something like this. But, it is the first time he catches a tone of hurt in the man/god's voice.

"Itachi-nii!" And then Naruto jumps in front of them, grinning widely with sweat falling down his forehead and dirt on his nose.

"Naruto-kun, you're energetic this morning." Naruto nods turning his blue eyes, with a spark in them, to Loki.

"Yep! I…I'm going into the Ninja Academy! And Last night, da…"Naruto trials off suddenly, his eyes looking down before he continues. "Loki told me an awesome story."

Itachi hears understanding the almost mishap there, Loki doesn't seem to have noticed but then again Itachi may be wrong. The man is still a mystery. Itachi kneels down ruffling Naruto's hair with a soft smile.

"I'm pretty proud of you, Naruto-kun. That's why I brought a gift." Naruto's eyes go wide and impossible bright as he watches in disbelief at Itachi.

"A gift? Why?"

Itachi furrows his brows, Loki leans forward looking curiously, "Why? Because entering the Ninja Academy means you're a big boy now, Naruto. Big boys can't go around dressing like little kids but like ninja."

And Itachi pulls a package form behind him handing it to Naruto who is still watching with disbelief mix with happiness. Then Naruto wraps his arms around a surprise Itachi.

"Thank you." He mumbles, because he has never gotten any gifts. Not one such as this.

"It's my pleasure, Naruto-kun. I know you'll do well in the Academy."

Later, after Naruto had narrated to Itachi his first day at the Academy they are making their way back to the village. Loki is walking beside Itachi a few steps away from Naruto.

"Is it true?" Itachi turns to Loki who has a thoughtful expression.

"What is it?"

"That, when you enter this…Academy, you are considered an adult? That you should be given a gift of some sorts?"

Itachi halts black eyes glancing with curiosity to Loki who is still thoughtful and a little confused.

"Yes, usually if the family is a shinobi one, they would give their kid their first ninja gear." Itachi turns to Naruto. "If you're part of a civilian family they usually gift you with something else, like weapons or a vest…"

"Naruto doesn't have any family."

"Yes, he does." Loki turns to Itachi whose eyes are still on Naruto. "He has me and…he has you, Loki-san. Please, don't spoil this or I will hunt you down and rip you apart. God or not god."

Loki is startled; this was the second individual threatening if any harm comes to Naruto. Loki is curious because none of these individuals have any actual blood ties with the blond. Why are they so worried about him?

The answer is pocking him with images of what Loki himself had done for Naruto. The trips, the training, the stories…

"Do not concern yourself, Uchiha Itachi. I do not intend for any harm to befall Naruto. Not from my hand or the hands of others."

Itachi nods once turning his back to Loki and catching up to Naruto, the God of Mischief is left behind to his own thoughts. He can't believe this puny mortal would threaten him, would even suggest bodily harm to him. And Loki can't believe he believes the young man is capable of doing so. Snorting with amusement Loki leaves in the hopes to find a suitable gift for Naruto.


Naruto fixes the shirt as well as the vest. He is looking at himself on the mirror with a critic eye. So far, his clothes include a rather large supply of hand-me-down articles; usually tear at some parts or with permanent stains.

It wasn't a problem, since Naruto spends most of his day running around the village, pranking people and hiding when older kids decide to play punching-bag with him. So, usually his clothes end up dirty and torn.

He watches his reflection again, feeling a warm inside his chest. The black cargo pants are perfectly comfortable. With enough pockets for Naruto to hide away his daggers and other curiosities; the vest has the same design as those used for the Chuunin and Jounin, only his is dark, orange with a red, whirlpool design on the back. His t-shirt is black as well and the design form of the whirlpool is embroidered with careful patterns in the middle of his chest.

"You look presentable." Naruto turns to Loki with eyes narrow.

"Really?"

"Yes, it is fitting of your new position." Loki tilts his head his eyes dancing around while his left hand moves inside his pocket. "This is something for you, a gift for the next step towards your adulthood."

Naruto blinks torn between happiness and confusion; he looks eagerly as Loki opens the small box he has on his hand. Inside there it's a pendant. But not any kind of pendant, it has a curious form Naruto has never seen before. Then his eyes lit up with mirth as he realizes what the pendant resembles.

"It's Myeuh-muh.!" This time Loki does chuckle shaking his head.

"Mjölnir." He corrects Naruto scrunches up his nose trying to get the right pronunciation.

"Mmyol'-neer." Naruto stretches his hand his fingertips brushing the cold surface of the silver metal. While the color in general is dark silver it is inlay with green and black as well.

"I know you like the story, and you like the weapon as well." Loki presents the necklace to Naruto who starts putting in on himself. "I thought you may like it."

"I do. Thank you."

Loki doesn't say anything; he is conflicted to even return the sudden embrace. Before he knows it, Naruto is gone and Loki is left alone in the apartment. He contemplates for a second leaving the place and probably not coming back. Ever. But, he has work to do so he decides to stay and see how Naruto's day goes.

 


Naruto arrives early which gives him the advantage of choosing where he is going to sit. He decides to go to the furthest chair in the room, in the right corner on the last row. He sits and waits, soon after kids start arriving, there is the boy with lavender eyes, long, dark brown hair and pale skin he met the day of the welcoming ceremony. Just like he had done that day, the boy sends Naruto a look of disgust accompanied by a sneer. He lifts his chin and sits on the first row. Naruto rolls his eyes, crossing his arms. He knows he is the younger in the group, they usually start the Academy at age seven and Naruto is soon to be six it is almost expected for all of them to look Naruto like a nuisance.

Naruto merely shrugs and leans against his chair waiting for the teacher to show. It takes more minutes and more kids entering the room. Naruto's eyes turn to fuzzy brows, an exuberant kid which is always enthusiastic and quite kind with Naruto. The blond likes him because it's one of the few kids who actually speaks to him as if Naruto is an equal no some kind of insect.

"You must be, Uzumaki Naruto, right?"

Naruto tilts his head turning to the source of the voice. To his left there are two kids who he doesn't remember meeting before. The one who spoke to him has grey, short hair; his eyes are a light shade of black he has a round face and a kind smile in place. Behind him there is another kid, this one with dark, short hair and equally dark black eyes. His skin is pale contrasting with the black of his hair and eyes.

The blond eyes them with curiosity, so far aside from Lee; these two are the only ones to address him amicably. This is why Naruto after a little while narrows his eyes lifting a single eyebrow.

"And what if I am?"

"I'm Shin, this is my brother Sai." Says the grey-haired boy, he offers his hand to Naruto. "I only want to meet the youngest student allow in the Ninja Academy since the Third Shinobi War."

Naruto's eyebrow shoot upwards at those words, he eyes the offering hand for a moment before taking it in his giving a smug grin to Shin and Sai.

"Really? I am the youngest? Ojiji never say anything…A pleasure to meet you, Shin and Sai. I'm Naruto."

Shin takes a seat beside Naruto and Sai takes his beside his brother, Naruto eyes the both of them while wanting for Shin to tell him more about Naruto's status as the youngest member of the Ninja Academy.

"So, how do you know I'm the youngest?"

Shin sends him a half smile while speaking, "Our guardian explain to us that after the war they decide to put a law so only when we turned seven we would be able to enter the Academy. It was so we weren't made to go to missions and stuff so young…since there isn't any war…"

"Wow, I didn't know that…" This time Naruto's smile is off Shin notices the sudden gleam in those blue eyes. "Well, then I would make sure everyone remembers that when I graduated!"

"That's the spirit!" Shin shares a laugh with Naruto while Sai seems completely at lost.

Then, Umino Iruka arrives and their laughs are cut short as the class starts.

Chapter Text

When they were kids, it was Loki the one who always got them out of trouble.

He would speak while Sif, the Warriors Three and Thor would put on miserable expression on their faces. Frigga would smiled subtly, Odin would look impassive; the ones who had been at the end of their pranks would be screaming, red in the face looking for punishment.

Loki always had good excuses, perfect words, even at his young age he would confounded their accusers which, in the end, would make Odin forwent any punishment and free the kids to their games.

It's what earned him the name Silvertongue. Some of the courtesans gave him more nicknames, none as well-intentioned as the one Thor and the others had given him.

But Loki didn't care.

This was something he was good at, something that make Sif and the Warriors Three held a moderate amount of respect for him. It made him a part of their group, of their adventures.

All of Asgard trembled when they heard the two children of Odin laughed with mirth. Their friends close behind making Asgard trembled under their footsteps. This usually meant they were up to not good.

Thor smiles wishfully.

Morning is approaching fast; Thor has his back against the wall watching the sky from the balcony. His blue eyes are focused on some point while his mind wanders around the realms, thinking and longing for Jane, for Loki…for an answer.

"I've seen, my prince, you spent a lot of time in my Father's quarters." Thor gives a start turning around to see the form of a young man standing at the door.

Thor looks pleasantly surprise, taking in the slender form of the young man who is approaching slowly, almost methodically. The young man has a half smirk on him, showing off sharp fangs. His eyes are adorned with a hint of green and black, always gleaming with mischief and desire; he has dark hair, as dark as the night, with fangs falling on his eyes giving him a curious yet dangerous appearance. His clothing is composed by simple trousers and a tunic of grey and red. There is also a golden and silver collar around his neck with a single gemstone twinkling blue.

"I see you have adopted the same manners as my brother, nephew." The smile the young man has only grows as he finally stands beside the God of Thunder. "You have improved with age, Fenrir. My brother has been the only one capable of such a feature without me realizing it."

Fenrir feels the heavy hand from Thor on his shoulder, squeezing lightly while the blond god gives him a gently smile. Thor is the only one always please to see him, the only one who would offer a smile and extend an invitation to train or to eat. Frigga and Loki are the ones who always invited him over for a talk, or long walks…Fenrir lowers his eyes feeling the longing in his chest. He misses his father's stories. He misses the warm at seeing his two favorite people beside him.

"Are you well, Fenrir? You look sorrowful."

"Aren't we all?" Fenrir shrugs Thor's hand away taking a few steps to rest his chest against the rail. "Aren't we mourning my Father's dead? Isn't that why you're always here, Uncle?"

There is pain reflecting on Thor's blue eyes, he turns around watching the state his brother's room is in. They haven't changed anything. Thor and Frigga make sure no one would dare to change things inside the room; if his brother was to come back, he would be most displeased at seeing the alteration of his room.

"Loki still lives." And Thor's voice is filled with conviction, it is filled with hope. "Of that I am certain."

Fenrir sighs tilting his head to hide away the doubt in his eyes, he turns to see Thor watching inside Loki's room. The young man knows Thor misses Loki as much as he does, but still a part of him can't help but blame the firstborn son of Odin for everything that went wrong.

"If he does, why isn't he back? Why doesn't he ask to be brought back?" Fenrir goes to his uncle's side, scowling openly as he continues. "Maybe Father is wise to keep away from Asgard. Why would he be in a place where he isn't appreciated?"

"What are you saying?" Thor is matching the scowl Fenrir has; he is eying the black-haired boy. "Loki did some wicked things but he is still my brother! He is still a Prince of Asgard! And he is loved and missed! If he hasn't come is because he can't!"

Fenrir lifts his head to watch Thor. He contemplates the man wondering how someone as powerful as he is can be so naïve. Why does he have so much faith when it is evident there isn't any?

"It is curious, my Prince, how you realized that after my Father uncovered his plans and he isn't here for you to say those things."

Thor clenches his fist but Fenrir isn't over yet, "My Father loves you very much, Uncle. But…He has always been a shadow. The Trickster. The Lie-Smith. The Shape Shifter."

Fenrir takes a step inside the room his hand resting on the only thing Loki never took with him on his fall. His helmet. The young man is brushing his fingertips against the material with affection and regret.

"Father only wants acceptance. He wants to be looked as your equal. To make the All-Father proud…but the only thing he got was dead…loneliness and mistrust."

"Brother is well-known for his tricks and his way with words…" Thor trails off the moment Fenrir's eyes meet his.

"I know you meant well, Uncle. Perhaps you didn't know how to do it before…but now that you know how…" Fenrir shrugs and Thor feels the weight of those words ripping away his heart. "Now that you know how to make Father understand he is love and need…he isn't here. He is gone and whether he is alive or not there is nothing you can do."

Fenrir tenses up as Thor approaches him, there isn't anything on his face to betray his intentions but Fenrir has been at the end of Thor's infamous hammer so…he doesn't trust completely. Suddenly, something unexpected happens. There are two big hands on each of his shoulders and there is warm inside Thor's blue eyes.

"My brother taught you well, Fenrir." Thor shares a genuine smile with his nephew wrapping his left arm around his shoulders. "You speak like him…although you still need practice."

Fenrir feels a bubble of pride inside of him, he chuckles looking to the helmet. "Well, someone has to fill the void Father left behind."

"At least, until he is back." Replies Thor and Fenrir feels sympathy for the conviction in Thor's voice. "For now, let us train. Today I feel like honoring brother in a training session with you."

"I don't think I could handle it at all, Uncle." Thor laughs shaking his head while dragging at his reluctant nephew down to the training grounds.


Odin stands beside Heimdall, his eyes to the horizon watching the darkened sky filled with stars and constellations, the many worlds spreading out in front of him.

"What can you see, Heimdall?" It is the first thing Odin always says when standing beside the Gatekeeper.

The man is used to this and usually finds it strange to share with the King the happenings in the small realm where Loki is learning his lesson. Odin straightens up, his own eye trying to glance inside the realm he hasn't had any contact with since he first became king. Heimdall knows what the King is asking, what is his real interested, without taking his eyes from the sky he answers.

"Prince Loki hasn't hid away from me in a long time." There is something in Heimdall's tone, something that brings to the surface Odin's curiosity. "If anything, he enjoys showing me his dealings in this world."

To Odin it almost sounds as if Heimdall himself enjoys the visions his son is allowing the Gatekeeper to see. Odin feels strange, is a mixture of dread and pride it is all mixed with the hope that his younger son would soon understand the same way Thor did.

"I also see shadows." Odin turns to Heimdall with a frown. "Shadows darker than anything I've seen before."

The rumors of shadows in this realm worry Odin. Lesson or not lesson, Odin doesn't want to jeopardize his younger son's life or his resistance to power and more mischief doing. This world can be quite the temptation for anyone who understands it.

Loki has always been the most intelligent of his children.

"What is it then, Heimdall? What do you think is hiding in these shadows?"

And, the concern is there, behind the King's tone. It is subtle, almost imperceptible; it is no wonder Loki never picked it up when it was directed to him.

"That I cannot tell, My King. These are shadows I am not used to see or decipher." Heimdall furrows his brow concentrating in his eyesight. "But, the young prince is always near it. He approaches it with suspicion but ignorant of the dangers hidden behind them."

Odin turns his body to the edge of the bridge, his sole eye narrowing to observe in the distance.

There is conflict inside Odin's heart. Trust is not easily given but it is easily broken. He loves his son dearly, it doesn't matter what Loki thinks or believes, Odin's feelings have always been of love for his son. Odin feels for him the same kind of love the All-Father has for Thor. And, while trust may have been shattered, Odin wants to believe in Loki once more. He wants to believe (the way Frigga and Thor do) Loki is capable of doing the right thing in the end.

The All-Father had meant it when he said, a long time ago; both his sons were born to be kings. He had raised them to take upon the mantle when the time was right. Even if only one of them could ascend to the throne, the both of them were just as capable.

Odin knows, if he so wants it, he can take care of this the all-fashioned way. Send the Destroyer or even send some of his men to take care of Loki, to bring him back home away from temptation.

But, how would he be a fair father and a fair king if he only teaches Thor a lesson for his arrogance; but doesn't teach Loki a lesson because of his jealousy and pranks?

"Tell me, great Heimdall," Heimdall glances at Odin as the All-Father speaks, "Does my son nears this shadows with a poisoned heart and ill intentions?"

"No, I would be the first one to admit Loki's mischievous ways." Heimdall trails off and Odin's notices a slightly, almost imperceptible twitch off his lips. "I can say with certainty ill intentions and a poisoned heart are not part of Loki at the moment."

There is something else, something Heimdall isn't sharing with the All-Father but, for the moment, Odin is happy to know his son is well, that his heart isn't harboring wicked intentions. He decides then the situation can wait, this would be the chance Loki needs to show Odin he can be the son Odin knew he was.

It is like this, Odin decides to give his younger son, his second born, the last straw of the All-Father's trust.

Before he leaves, Odin asks his last question, "Do you think, Heimdall, this darkness is overly dangerous?"

"It is too early to say, My King. But, Prince Loki is known for his ability to get out of difficult situations; if given the chance I think these shadows would soon disperse and your son would deal with them."

There it was again, the tone of voice Odin doesn't know how to place or define. He looks at Heimdall his mind isn't sure even Loki's ability to lie and trick are going to be enough to deal with the darkness. There are so many secrets that Odin thinks better to keep hidden unless circumstances oblige him to do so otherwise. After all, Thor and Frigga ignore Loki's fate; they are still ignorant of his whereabouts or even of his well-being. Odin turns his back to the Gatekeeper, his voice reaching Heimdall's ears as Odin walks away.

"Neither Thor, nor my wife, are to know about this, Heimdall. Not unless something was to happen and they are the only option left."

"Yes, My King."


Balder smirks showing off his white, shinning teeth as he grabs the back of Fenrir's neck pushing the young man to the ground. There is a general sound of approval, cheers and giggling, from the young maidens that are out watching the training sessions.

Fenrir growls showing off his own version of a smirk. On him it looks menacing, more dangerous as he shows white, pointy fangs. Thor is scowling, his blue eyes taking in the scene in front of him sensing the oncoming trouble. Sif has on her an expressionless face, this isn't the first time Balder does something that places his intentions and his honor under suspicion from the Lady Sif. Loki may have been the Trickster but Balder…Balder tends to be too charming to actually be truthful.

"Come on, Nephew! I know there is more spirit for this fight than this!" Balder spreads his arms, presenting himself to Fenrir with a trace of mockery in his blue eyes. "Or, could it be possible, you are like your father? Better with tricks and knives instead of fighting like a true warrior?"

Balder's eyes are gleaming with the same mockery as before. Sif actually looks horrified while the Warriors Three look uncomfortable. Some of the maidens laugh openly, and Thor is cracking his knuckles. But, even as he stands proudly and defiant, Balder is incapable of prevent the strike direct to his always shining face and teeth.

"Don't you dare to mock the name of my Father, Balder." Fenrir growls his fist still close to his side, he takes a few steps forward only to be stopped by a hand on his shoulder. He doesn't need to turn to know who is stopping him from creating more trouble.

"It was but an innocent comment, there wasn't any ill-meaning behind my words. Fenrir." Sif narrows her eyes while Hogun tenses up, there is something off here, even if Balder looks genuinely apologetic.

"I apologize if I have offended you." Balder bows his head; Fenrir grits his teeth even if he feels a silent satisfaction when he sees the brown-haired man wipe away the blood from his nose and mouth.

"I do not believe your words hold no malice. It is a well-known fact you don't like Father." Fenrir spats out with as much venom as he can muster.

"Your words have offended and wound us deeply, Balder." The man winces as he heard Thor for the first time. The blond-haired god isn't happy and he is hovering near Balder as he speaks. "You, who mourn the loss of our brother the same way me and Fenrir did should know those words are unfit coming from a family member."

"I know, Brother Thor. I know." Balder, again, bows his head. "I apologize, I feel sorry…I …I don't understand what happen to me."

"Be sure it doesn't happen again, Balder, or next time you're going to wipe blood from the slash I'll place on your throat."

"Fenrir…" The young man frees himself from his uncle's grasp; he evades Thor's eyes giving his back to the man.

"I am very sorry, My Prince. I thank you for the invitation but, as of now, I feel undisposed."

Balder follows with his eyes the retreating form of Fenrir; once he turns his stare to Thor he realizes the Warriors Three and Sif are looking at him. It is an uncomfortable moment, he realizes, even after a year, it is too early to play with the Loki problem. It would take time but, in the end, all of them would forget all about the Trickster. He holds onto his feelings, being careful to reveal anything that may betray what he is thinking or feeling.

He straightens up, smiling tentatively while offering the arena to Fandral and Thor, urging them to show off his fighting skills. With some reluctance both men take upon Balder's words and start their own fight. In less than a few minutes they are engaged in the training, laughing and taunting the other.

Balder turns, flashing Sif a blinding grin; but this grin soon falters under the scrutiny of her grey eyes.

"Is it something the matter, Lady Sif?"

Sif glances one more time before turning around, "No, nothing you should concern about."

Sif never notices the shadow crossing Balder's blue eyes, not the sudden coldness in his face.


~ Elemental World – Fire Country, Konoha ~

Naruto is watching bored as Iruka and Mizuki explain the mechanics behind the form of the kunai and the correct way to throw them. That day is target shooting day and all of his classmates are excited.

So far, Naruto has discovered the Ninja Academy isn't what he dreams it would be. Half of their classes are theory. They study history, how the world he lives in came to be. He learns about the Bijuu and the different clans, he learns about the blood-line limits and the sealing techniques. He learns about the Kage, the Jounin, the Chuunin and the Genin.

The Academy turns into a never-ending six months until, one day, their teachers decide they are ready. Finally they were to learn Ninjutsu, Taijutsu and Genjutsu. Hence, the target shooting.

Naruto yawns, Shin chuckles, Sai shakes his head and Iruka has a nervous tick on his left eyebrow.

"Now that I taught you what you should do why don't you try it." Iruka eyes the class before settling his eyes in Neji. "How about you, Neji? Want to try?"

Neji looks as if the mere question is offensive, as if the exercise is a useless piece of teaching material. Naruto has to agree; he can throw straight to the target without even looking at the target. Not that Iruka or Mizuki know this, they look at Naruto as if Naruto is a fly entering forbidden territory.

The only ones who seem to enjoy Naruto's presence are Shin and Lee. Naruto hasn't decided what Sai feels because the boy is a complete lunatic when social activities are involved.

There are three targets; the idea of the exercise is to score a bull's eye. Even if Neji is considered a prodigy it is not highly probable he would get them all. So, Naruto watches with his arms cross and a skeptical expression on his face.

Neji raises an eyebrow and proceed with the exercise. Shin notices the satisfied smile on Naruto's face when Neji only gets one bull's eye and the rest are close but not quite there.

Still, it is way better than most of them can ever hope to do.

"Excellent, Neji! You did pretty well." Iruka looks impress while taking the kunai off.

"Can I try it, Iruka-sensei?" Iruka turns to the blond who has a secret smile in place, his blue eyes are gleaming but, otherwise, the young boy looks completely innocent. Iruka has learnt, the hard way, when Naruto looks like this it means trouble.

Still, this may prove interesting.

"Do you think you can do it, Naruto?" It is a question mean to hurt and to discourage. The smile on the blond never falters and he merely nods his head.

"Very well, then go ahead." Then, because it would be more interesting, Mizuki speaks up. "If you get this correct, Naruto, you won't have to present the written exam in history."

"Wow, really?" Mizuki nods his head smiling, most of the kids are whispering, mocking Naruto. Iruka looks conflicted but says nothing. "You promise, right?"

"Yes, I do. But, you have to do all the targets." Naruto smirks grabbing the tenth kunai on his hand while watching the targets.

It is pure poetry. He moves with ease and determination, each launch is perfect hitting the intent target with force. Never faltering until the kunai disappear from Naruto's hand; silence fills the training grounds. No one is speaking, no one is breathing because no one can believes what just happened.

"N-No way!" It is Lee the first one to react. "Naruto-kun! Y-You did it! You…The fire in you burns like a thousand suns!"

Naruto feels proud of himself, he just showed his classmates, and his teachers he can do it. That he isn't to be ignored in favor of Neji. But, when Naruto turns to Mizuki and Iruka there isn't surprise or even acceptance…there is only darkness and a silent anger.

Mizuki turns pinning Naruto with a dark glare, "What did you do? No one your age is capable of such a feature."

There is something wrong in the whole thing; his teachers should be more receptive of this accomplishment. They shouldn't be scare or angry; but they are and Naruto doesn't know what to do or say.

"I…I'm just good with my aim. I've been training since I was five."

"The only one capable of this at your age was Uchiha Itachi and that was only because he had already awakened his sharingan." Iruka speaks still looking at Naruto with strange eyes. "What did you use?"

Naruto blinks, half the class does because they don't understand completely the implication of such a question. Naruto frowns crossing his arms and pursing his lips.

"I use my eyes, and my hands. It's not difficult to hit the bull's eye once you know how to throw a kunai."

The class is suddenly dismissed and Naruto is walking away angry. Shin is following close behind him, he has a small frown and Sai seems occupied with some of his drawings.

"I don't get it." Naruto sits on the stool in the Ramen stand. Shin and Sai follow his example. "I did it perfectly. All of them hit straight in the target, Why is Iruka and Mizuki angry with me?"

"Maybe they were expecting Hyuuga-san to be the perfect one." Sai thanks Teuchi while taking a small bite of his food. "They seem to prefer him over the rest of the class."

"It isn't fair! Mizuki said I wouldn't present the history exam!" Naruto dives in hungry and angry.

"Well, if you need help, we can always study together." Proposes Shin to which Naruto flashes a huge grin.

"Really?" Shin smiles back nodding.

"Of course. It would be fun and you can also teach us that technique of yours with the kunai." Naruto beams nodding his head.

"Of course, of course…"


It is almost nine months when Naruto sees Loki again. The man has a nasty cut on his cheek, his clothes are turn at some places and his face is a mask of tiredness. Naruto's seventh birthday is approaching and the blond knows Loki, wherever he was, just make it in time for it. He tries to organize his home, to have a spot for Loki to rest while Naruto prepares his favorite tea. Loki watches with a mixture of warm and amusement while Naruto babbles away about his adventures in the Academy. He speaks of the history he has learnt, he speaks of the Taijutsu and the Ninjutsu, of what he can and cannot do.

Loki has learnt to read in between lines. He knows there is more about the story than Naruto lets on. But Loki also knows Naruto would reveal his thoughts with time.

"Ne, Loki, what happened to you?" Naruto sits eying the god with curiosity. "You look as if you didn't see where you were going and fall down a hill."

Loki rolls his eyes, "Yes, that's exactly what happen. How would you know one can look like this when falling from a hill?"

Naruto smiles sheepishly, Loki rolls his eyes once again. "I am to assume I don't want to know."

"Nope, probably no."

Loki takes a sip from his cup; he glances at Naruto for a long time. He tilts his head and places his hand on top of his jacket where he can feel the weight of the scroll hidden inside.

"Do you have any plans for this weekend, Naruto?" Naruto blinks, jumping startle at the sudden question.

"Eh, no…Shin and Sai are leaving with their guardian and Lee is …going to run around the village." Naruto answers dryly, Loki raises a single eyebrow but doesn't question any further. He has heard about the peculiarities of some of Naruto's friends.

"And, Ojiji is going away to Suna."

Loki nods his head without saying anything else; he knows Saturday is going to be Naruto's seventh birthday. He also knows this would be the second birthday he shares with Loki but the first one he shares alone with him. It is the perfect opportunity to take Naruto away to some of his missions.

"I think I would need some help." Loki eyes Naruto out of the corner of his eye, the boy tenses up in anticipation.

"R-really?"

"Yes, some of my…missions may require some assistance." Loki is careful with his words, gauging the blond's reaction. "Would you be interested in accompanying me?"

By now, Loki has gotten used to Naruto's sporadic hugs. The blond exudes happiness and excitement, he is running around babbling about what he would need, how he would help in anything he can. How he can pretend this is one of the quests The Warriors Three, Lady Sif, the God of Mischief and the Mighty Thor have on occasions.

Loki holds back any retort, any snarky comment he may have regarding his idiotic brother, his three geese and Lady Sif. Naruto then proceeds to sit down and look up at Loki with admiration and a hint of eagerness.

"Are we going now?"

"No, tomorrow, after your classes." Says Loki who is mildly amused but the disappointed look that crosses Naruto's face.

"Why?" Naruto whines pouting a little. "Tomorrow there is going to be more history lessons and we're going to study bunshin and some Henge which I suck at!"

"With more reason we should stay." Replies Loki ruffling Naruto's hair. "You're of not use to me if you don't know your ninja tricks."

"I can make you tea. You like my tea!" Loki smirks leaning in.

"And when you can defeat an enemy with your tea skills you will be prepared." Then he leans back looking directly into Naruto's eyes. "You're going to that Academy of yours tomorrow and then we will leave."

"Okay…" Naruto mumbles defeat; then his blue eyes gleam and he sends Loki his best version of the puppy dog stare. "Ne, Loki, can you tell me a story?"


Loki frowns upon the way these mortals teach.

Their methods are completely useless and it is obvious most of them are meant for the ones they deem worthy. Naruto is being ignored in favor of others; this has Loki's blood boiling. He sees in the eyes of Naruto's instructors the same look he witnessed in the eyes of the Aesir when the Jötunn were mentioned.

Monsters.

Loki is leaning against a tree, hiding himself from the curious eye. He knows part of Naruto's treatment is because of what he holds inside. He knows these instructors are twisting their teachings so Naruto can't be successful.

The only moment Naruto seems to be at an advantage is when he is doing targeting practice. Loki smiles with pride because the boy never misses one single target, once he is finished he smirks at his teachers cockily and returns to his spot.

But, something must be done if Naruto is to be the best of the best.

It is time for Loki to ask for a favor to a pretty old client.


"Where are we?" Naruto is looking around with curious eyes; his hand is caressing some of the wooden plaques adorning the wall of the temple. He tries to read some of them, but it is difficult to do so in some cases.

"Who is Lie-Smith?" Loki lifts his eyes from one of the plaques he has in his hand. He looks at Naruto before returning his eyes to the task at hand.

"It is one of my names." Naruto blinks taking the wooden plaque from the rope it is hanging and proceeds to read it.

He frowns reading the contents again, "This one says you can help him kill a rival merchant."

Loki raises his eyes again nodding, "Yes, I can. But, no I won't."

Naruto frowns looking confused and conflicted, out of the corner of his eyes Loki watches the blond. It takes a moment before Naruto drops the plaque on his hand and goes to another one.

"This one says he needs you to damage the harvest from his neighbor because he needs more money."

Loki keeps the first plaque he is reading placing it in his pocket. He stands his full height as Naruto goes through several of the prayers asking for favors. Some of them bring a scrunch nose and indignant huffs of air from the blond. Some others don't make any sense to him and there are others that make him laugh.

"Why are all of these people putting this in here?" Asks Naruto once his curiosity is sated, he scrunches his nose eying Loki. "It's as if they think you're a god."

Loki smirks, wide and open, leaning towards Naruto who knows that expression too well.

"And why they shouldn't?" Naruto snorts shaking his head.

"You're no god! You're Loki!"

Loki blinks, stares at Naruto and then laughs. Naruto is confused and gets just a little annoyed because he doesn't like to be left out of the joke. He pokes at Loki glancing up at him.

"Don't laugh! I'm serious!"

"I know you are that's what makes everything funnier." Loki turns around and walks towards the stairs leading to the main street away from the temple.

Naruto is silent for a long time, following Loki with a contemplative stare. He watches as Loki moves with easy, evades certain people and makes sure some others look him. He then grabs Loki's hand startling the god as he feels the warm of Naruto's hand around his cold one.

"You never explain to me why those people ask you to do those stupid things."

"Ah, right." Loki looks ahead of himself moving with ease to his destiny. "You see, my work here is…free of any attachments to any village. You may say I'm a freelance."

Naruto frowns tasting the word, "Uh, you mean, like a ninja who works for anyone or everyone?"

"Yes, that's exactly what I mean." Naruto opens his mouth but Loki continues. "I do not take all the jobs, only those that amused me or interested me."

"So…have you…have you killed?" Loki doesn't stop, but he feels the tensing coming from Naruto. Suddenly, Loki feels the need to be agreeable to Naruto, for Naruto to no…hate him.

Loki doesn't glance at Naruto, he readies himself for the worst, "Yes, I have killed. Countless of times."

"Oh." Naruto gulps squeezing Loki's hand tightly. "I…is it…hard?"

The question is so innocent Loki has to stop himself, turn around and kneel in front of Naruto. There is curiosity in those blue eyes, but there is also determination and acceptance.

"Yes, it is always hard." Because, really? Loki can't lie with this. It is hard, it never gets easy but he does it and sometimes enjoys it. That's the true behind someone who was raised in a place that loves war. Someone who loves fighting as much as he enjoys his magic and his books.

Naruto grins shyly at Loki, "I just…I want to be as brave as Thor, Sif, Volstagg, Fandral, Hogun…and you Loki. I know it's gonna be difficult, but…but I wanna be like you guys!"

Naruto let's go of Loki's hand and takes off running laughing happily while Loki stays down, totally shocked at the unexpected revelation. He turns to see Naruto standing in front of an ice-cream stand completely unaware he left a dumbstruck Loki behind.

In all his years…Loki narrows his eyes, his lips quirking upwards. Naruto is certainly someone special, unpredictable and has with him a sharp mind. Loki is very tempted to ask when Naruto discover Loki is part of those stories they share at night; but decides against it as they arrive to their destination.

"This is a bar." Says Naruto taking a long lick from his ice-cream.

"Yes, it is."

"I can't enter a bar." Loki rolls his eyes, waving his hand in front of Naruto to change his appearance. Naruto gasps looking at himself, an exact copy of Loki, only much younger with black hair and blue eyes.

"See? You can enter now."

Naruto follows Loki inside; the young man has changed his appearance once again. This time he is looking like Thor, holding on his right hand a scepter while moving swiftly through the numerous tables. Naruto is close behind looking around with big, shocked eyes at the men drinking, the woman and the men kissing. Among other things. He turns an interesting shade of red when his eyes fell upon a pairing doing things Naruto never thought possible.

He covers his eyes almost crashing against Loki. The god turns to see Naruto and he has to bite back a chuckle, maybe this isn't one of his best ideas but he really needs to contact the man. He wraps an arm around Naruto and leads him inside a room.

"Took you long enough, I was hoping you changed your mind." Naruto's eyes fall upon the form of an old man. He has long, white hair, some strange marks on his face. The man is smiling while signaling Loki and Naruto to sit down.

"I didn't know you were coming accompanied."

"Yes, well...it seems it is time for you to repay my favor." Jiraiya tenses, his eyes narrow with suspicion.

"I see." Jiraiya takes a sip from the bottle beside him, he eyes Loki then at Naruto in disguise; he knows he can't deny Loki anything. The information he had given to Jiraiya had been useful. More than the Sannin thought so at first.

"To show you my intentions are…pure." At this, Jiraiya snorts, Loki smirks while putting two scrolls from his jacket. "I brought more information about your …interests."

"Jiraiya glances at the man then at the scroll, he grabs them with anxiety looking first one then the other. There is a frown upon his features; there is a tightening of his jaw and coldness behind his eyes. Whatever Loki has brought it seems to affect the old man greatly.

"Well? What do you say?"

"You're information has proven to be accurate." Jiraiya sighs. "Scarily accurate, I'm afraid. This means, I won't deny you almost anything."

"Excellent, because I know you're one of the best ninja there is in these lands." Loki waves his hand and the illusion around Naruto disappears slowly. "And I need you to train him in those ninja arts."

Jiraiya feels as if a bucket of cold water is dropped on top of his head. He feels as if a thousand nails are digging deep inside his skin. He feels the trembling all around his body, and the sweat on his hands. The Toad Sannin opens his mouth, and then closes again…finally…

"Naruto?"

Chapter Text

"I HATE HIM!"

Hela arches her eyebrow, sitting confortably on her throne while her eyes follow the young form of her brother. Fenrir speaks with anger, gesturing with his hands while voicing his thoughts. The woman waits for she knows whenever Fenrir gets like this it's better to let him rant for a little while.

After all, she doesn't need to ask who Fenrir hates. It is not a secret, at least for her.

"My lady…" Hela raises her hand to stop one of her servant's words. With another gesture she indicates the man to proceed with her request. It is not every day she receives a visit from the Realm Eternal and, when she does get those visits it usually is (was) her father bringing with him another form of mischief.

There is a tug at her heart, the memory of her father and his falling is still too fresh to even think of it as a joke.

"Would you like some wine, Brother?"

"But as if the training session wasn't enough, as if the lack of support from our dearest uncle isn't enough; Balder the Cretin keeps on talking about Father behind my back!"

Hela rolls her eyes taking a long sip from her wineglass while Fenrir keep his ranting. By now, the young man has half the staff on their nerves, all of them feeling the sudden heaviness in the atmosphere as Fenrir's eyes gleam a dangerous green.

"Are you quite done, Brother?" This time the goddess voice fills the hall and stops Fenrir. "There is a warm meal awaiting you and this fine wine would delight your palate if you give it the chance."

"Food?" Hela smirks, if there is something that would hold Fenrir's attention long enough is food. The young man approaches the table and his eyes lit up as he sees all his favorite meals there.

"Thank you, my lovely Lady." He sits down bowing gracefully to Hela before taking the first bite of the boar in front of him.

Hela watches with some nostalgia the soft smile drawing on Fenrir's face as he tastes the different dishes in front of him. His eyes, so much like his father's ones, dancing around while enjoying the meal. With a glance to the closest servant, she signals for their glasses to be filled with wine.

She watches as the wine is served, she observes as Fenrir sniffs the glass and then nods in approval. She notices, as she always does, the gleam out of the corner of his eyes. That glint that indicates he is still mourning, he still feels pain and whatever happens the last few days with Balder the Cretin and Thor has just re-opened the wound in Fenrir's heart.

Hela knows she can speak and end the sadness and uncertainty. She knows she can tell Fenrir Loki lives. But, what good would that do? The young man is reckless and his first option would be to use the portals their father had showed them to travel around the realms. It would call upon Odin's wrath and unwanted attention.

No, it is better to keep up with the lie for the time being.

"Let us toast, Brother." Hela lifts her glass at the same time that Fenrir does. Both of them look into each other's eyes, and then Hela declares with a firm voice. "To our Father, Loki Odinson, Second Son of Asgard."

"To Father." Mumbles Fenrir before emptying the glass in a single drink.

It isn't until later that Hela allows herself a time alone. She knows her brother is fast asleep, her palace is silent and she isn't alone. Not anymore. She feels her whole body tense up as the presence moves behind her taking steady steps towards her. She doesn't turn around she doesn't need to as her voice resonates in the empty room.

"I thought Father was the only one who knew about the secret paths, All-Father." Odin tilts his head taking those final steps to stand beside Hela, just like her, he directs his eye to the realm of Niffleheim.

"Loki, as smart and cunning as he was, never thought I may be the one allowing him passage through some of them." Hela snorts her eyes sparkling with obvious animosity Odin decides to ignore.

"Why have you come to my domains, All-Father?"

"How is Fenrir doing?" Hela turns around narrowing her eyes while setting her lips in a snarl.

"Leave my brother out of this, Odin. Tell me the purpose of your visit and then leave."

Odin can almost grab his forehead in a tired gesture but holds himself tall and proud. His blue eyes take in Hela's form before answering the question.

"Why haven't you told him anything? About Loki." Hela looks slightly surprise but her expression soon changes to one of complete defiance. A smirk draws on her face leaning forwards to make sure she is close to Odin.

"Oh, is that it then. You are worried I may let out your dirty, little secret about my Father being alive?" Hela shakes her head backing away while placing a finger to her chin. "My, what would Fenrir, Thor and Lady Frigga think if they only knew…"

Odin frowns but remains silent for a long time, it isn't until Hela is fidgeting a little that he speaks again.

"Regardless of what he or you may think, I love Loki." Odin turns around giving his back to Hela.

"So, you want me to keep your secret until my Father learns this? Until you have showed all of your so-called love to him?"

There is indignation in Hela's voice, but there is also resignation. Odin allows himself a small smile because he knows Hela won't say anything. He cocks his head his eye locking with hers.

"Yes, that's exactly what I want." Then Odin is gone and Hela is left with anger and a feeling of being a small child all over again. Stupid Odin has always made her feel that way.

 

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Jiraiya is known for being straightforward, for acting before thinking, for following his heart to protect what he loves the most. He has always sacrificed himself for the well-being of others; he has sacrificed a lot for the peace in the shinobi world. That is why, seeing Naruto there in the arms of a dangerous man, ignite something inside Jiraiya. Anger and protectiveness are evident as he sees Minato and Kushina in the form of their son.

Jiraiya does, at that moment, what he knows best.

He stands up ready to fight. His muscles get ready tensing up, his brain sending adrenaline through his body as a tingling sensation spread through his it; Chakra gathering on his feet and hands while his dark eyes lift to glance at Loki. He has a hand ready for a hand-sign; the other one is trying to reach for Naruto all in one single movement.

Jiraiya makes sure the man sees the warning in his eyes, he makes sure this Lie-Smith knows Jiraiya is dangerous and ready to do whatever it takes to have Naruto back (and, anyway, how the hell does this guy have access to Naruto?).

Uzumaki Naruto, for his part, looks utterly confused about the whole situation. He usually does when Loki takes him in an unexpected travel to meet weird people. The only ones he has liked a lot had been Yugito, B and Gaara (even if the red-head was the weirdest one he has known so far). But right now, the old man is behaving rather hostile. He recognizes the killer intent the white-haired man is emitting, even if he can't place the reasons behind it.

To Naruto's right side Loki is smirking. He has on this huge, toothy grin that in Thor's face looks as a mixture of childish and petulant which makes Jiraiya falter for a second. Of all the reactions, this one isn't something he considers before. But, Jiraiya's hesitance disappears soon enough as he finds between himself the strength to oppose this Lie-Smith. To safe and rescue the son of his beloved student.

There is enough tension in the air for the rest of the patrons in the bar to notice something is about to happen. The intelligent ones stand up, pay and leave before anything really bad happen. The curious and sometimes stupid ones stay and turn their attention to where Jiraiya is still standing.

Loki doesn't make a move, he just stays there smiling. He has his right arm to his side, his hand wrap tightly around the scepter, his left arm wrap protectively around Naruto's shoulders. Then, Loki speaks and his voice is so unlike his and much like Thor's when he means business. Deep and thunderous sending a cold shiver through Jiraiya's spine.

"No, no, no, no…Jiraiya, we were doing just fine. Why do you have to damage this working relationship we have?" There is a mixture of warning and mocking in Loki's voice; Jiraiya grits his teeth glaring at Loki while his arm is still trying to reach for Naruto.

Jiraiya leans forward, growling, spitting with anger his next words, "Let Naruto go, or else…"

Jiraiya trails off almost choking on his words, eyes growing wide with a mixture of horror and disbelief. They are focused on the scepter Loki has in his right hand. It is gleaming a familiar blood-red color. It is not only the color however, what makes him react in such a way. It is also the feeling he is getting from the scepter; Jiraiya is familiar with the overwhelming feeling of destruction and dead coming from that chakra.

Jiraiya remembers the Kyuubi no Kitsune's chakra as if it had been yesterday the fox attacked the village. And, while lifting his head to glance at this Lie Smith, whatever the man calls himself,Jiraiya realizes this man is more dangerous than he anticipated.

Jiraiya knows he can't lose any more time, whatever that scepter is it has some of the Kyuubi's chakra which means Naruto…just as he is about to reach for the blond his eyes finally catch the gleaming metal the boy is holding. He has in his power a strange dagger and, even though his hand is trembling, Naruto is wearing the same confident smirk as Loki. But, whereas Loki is looking confident, defiant and arrogant; Naruto is glaring openly at Jiraiya, there is anger there, a little fear but also defiance.

Loki signals the seat Jiraiya has occupied moments ago, Naruto is still grabbing the dagger his blue eyes following every movement Jiraiya does.

"Please, Jiraiya, sit. There is no need for us to do something foolish." The voice is deep but mocking, Loki doesn't hide the fact he is enjoying the situation enormously. Jiraiya doesn't know what to do; he is still shocked at Naruto's reaction.

Just, what is the relationship between Naruto and Lie-Smith? Jiraiya is about to speak but Loki interrupts him again.

"Now, Jiraiya, we wouldn't want a free…show of what happened to Orochimaru's minions, do we? Better speak of these matters like civilized people."

Jiraiya growls clenching his jaw, he glares and wants to speak and scream he wants to attack this man. But, he can't. Not while Naruto is there, in the middle as a shield. Loki's smirk grows and just because he can, he hits the floor with the scepter. The staff glows for a moment, the red is projecting a red-ish light on Loki's pale features before disappearing.

"What do you say, Naruto?" Naruto turns to see Loki, he sees the grin and the gleaming in those green eyes and, even if Loki isn't wearing his real form, Naruto knows that grin too well.

He shakes his head returning the smile just as Loki continues, "We really don't want any kind of trouble, do we? We just want to talk. It is your birthday after all; this man should at least give you that."

Naruto turns to Loki, he stares at him for a long time then he turns around mimicking the smirk on Loki's face.

"Yep, I agree. Today is my seventh birthday, Old Man." Jiraiya pales full aware of those green eyes on him, the infuriating smile still on. Naruto grins widely pointing his dagger to Jiraiya. "You should stay calm, Old Man. Because we don't want any trouble."

Loki laughs because Naruto says it with the confidence of a warrior; it is something Loki is starting to see more and more in the blond. Jiraiya is still standing hesitant and confused. Loki points the seat again, this time his expression is cold and dangerous.

"Sit. We have much to discuss and little time to do so." It is an order; one Jiraiya follows with reluctance and anger. He hasn't felt this helpless since the Kyuubi attacked the village. However, Jiraiya has decided he needs to be smart because so far Lie-Smith has all the cards in the game.

For one, he has Naruto. (How is it possible? Doesn't Sarutobi-sensei have any special guard around Naruto?) Jiraiya decides to play for a little, to see just how far he can push.

"I'm not doing anything until you give Naruto back." There is a moment in which Naruto is left confused, Loki snorts at the request rolling his eyes in the process. Jiraiya sits at the edge of the seat still centering his attention on Loki.

"Stop talking about me as if you know me, Old Man." Naruto breaks the silence with his voice; he doesn't look very pleased to be address as if he is a mere object or something that needs to be dealt with.

"Oh, but you see, Naruto." Loki grins his green eyes twinkling madly as he speaks. "Jiraiya does know you and, I dare say he knows you very well."

"He does?" Naruto frowns. "How? I don't remember seeing him before."

Jiraiya is gobsmacked there is no other way to describe the look on his face; Naruto turns curious blue eyes to the white-haired man narrowing them as he tries to place the man sitting in front of him. Meanwhile, Jiraiya is trying to process everything has happened to him in the last hour. How is it that his plan to be as far away from the reminder of Kushina's and Minato's dead is falling apart in front of his eyes?

How is it possible this…this Lie-Smith knows anything about…? No, impossible, he doesn't know anything…

"Of course I know, Jiraiya." The Sannin gasp startle, affronted by the interruption. When Jiraiya turns his attention back to Loki he notices the gleeful expression on the man's face. It is pretty obvious he is enjoying every minute of this conversation.

"You didn't think I would take your prayer and met you without looking you up first, did you?"

Jiraiya clenches his fist; he has never felt this way before. He has never felt at the mercy of someone in such a way. It is usually him the one holding the information, holding the answers others are looking for.

"What do you want? What are you planning to do with this situation?" Then Jiraiya's eyes drift briefly to Naruto then to the scepter. "What are you planning to do with it?"

Loki raises his eyebrows slightly surprised, he is surprised by those questions he contemplates the meaning with a hint of understanding flashing on his face. He shakes his head while making sure his voice drips with disappointment as he speaks.

"You are mistaken, Jiraiya." Loki has the audacity of looking disappointed and almost hurt by the insinuation. Jiraiya growls but waits for the answer. "I'm not interested in it, as you put it so eloquently. However, I didn't call you here to discuss my interests."

Loki leans back with his arm still wrap around Naruto, the man cocks his head and those green eyes pin Jiraiya to the seat. Naruto is bouncing back and forth getting bored with the lack of action or actual conversation he can understand better.

"Then…why am I here? Why is…why did you bring Naruto here? You must have done a great deal of damage if you got Naruto out of Konoha. " Jiraiya asks demanding answers, Loki snorts looking aside to hold in check his feelings.

"I didn't need to do anything. This isn't the first time Naruto and I go around without anyone in your pathetic village knowing it." Loki looks openly disgusted he leans forward making sure Jiraiya can't look away from him. "But again, I didn't bring you here to talk about your village's lack of interest in Naruto."

Loki places his left arm on top of the table; his right arm brings forward the scepter that is, once again, gleaming a dangerous red.

"I brought you here because I want you to take care of Naruto's education." Loki leans back presenting Naruto with a flourish of his hand. "This is the payment I am going to ask of you. I am going to gift you to Naruto so you can train him in your ninja arts. As you can see, I am a very generous man."

Loki smirks showing his white teeth, green eyes twinkling with mischief at the awestruck expression on Jiraiya's face. It is a sudden change in the conversation. Loki drifts his attention to the blond who, until now, has remained attentive to the conversation. With a last glance at Jiraiya, the blond lifts his head and finds himself looking into green eyes.

"You're giving me an Old Man?" Naruto scoffs crossing his arms while eying Jiraiya. "He doesn't look like much."

"Wait, what?" Jiraiya waves his hands away his mind is trying to grasp some kind of logic in the whole situation. It is trying to hold a sense of sanity from this conversation. Jiraiya points an accusing finger to Loki who is staring innocently at the man.

"I am not an object for you to give away! That's not…is that the favor you were going to ask of me? Really?" Then, Jiraiya turns to Naruto pointing the same finger. "And you? Stop calling me Old Man, I'm the Great Toad Sage, Jiraiya of the Sannin!"

Naruto blinks not quite believing what he is seeing, then he turns to Loki with disbelief written all over his face. He points at Jiraiya with his thumb.

"Seriously? This guy?" Jiraiya feels an eyebrow twitch at the lack of respect and recognition from Naruto.

Loki sighs shrugging, "It seems pretty common for good ninjas to have certain peculiarities. You should be thankful I didn't make a deal with the one who has an unhealthy preference for younger, masculine company or the other one who seems busier playing games and losing money."

Jiraiya's reply is cut short by those words, the man stays still for a few seconds then, "You…you have seen Tsunade?"

Because, really? Who else goes around losing money while playing games? Besides, Jiraiya has a feeling Lie-Smith is talking about the Sannin as a whole; who else has an unhealthy taste for younger, masculine company? Orochimaru has always been peculiar about it.

Loki ignores Jiraiya as he engages in a conversation with Naruto, "But, I don't get it. Why are you giving me this man?"

"Again, I'm not an object…"

Loki interrupts Jiraiya and the man goes silent his eyes narrowing as he listens and pays close attention to Loki.

"He is a ninja of Konoha. After what I witness with your so called Academy, I decided you need more competent education." Loki waves a hand to stop any protests from Naruto.

"You need to be better than your classmates. You are meant to be greater than that." Naruto is awestruck, his eyes are wide open and he is gulping at the conviction behind Loki's words.

"B-but I don't need…" Naruto lowers his head not knowing how to say what he wants Loki to know.

"He is not a bad option, Naruto. Even with his peculiarities you can learn a lot from him." Loki points at Jiraiya using his words and knowledge of the man to convinced Naruto. "He was also the student of your current Hokage and he was the teacher of the former Forth Hokage…Namikaze Minato."

Whatever kind of reply Jiraiya may have worked is haltered by those words. The man looks over at Loki who hasn't wiped the smile off of his face. His green eyes are gleaming entirely glue to Jiraiya. There is something there, something Loki is openly showing Jiraiya and the Sannin can't help but feel manipulate.

Naruto from his part is watching with amazement (and a little disbelief) the old man in front of him. He knows the Fourth Hokage is the best Hokage ever. He is the killer of the Kyuubi no Kitsune and he is awesome. So, if this Jiraiya had been the teacher of the Forth Hokage, he must be good.

"You really were the Fourth's teacher?" Naruto isn't shy to show his skepticism about the subject. Jiraiya takes his eyes from Loki to look at Naruto.

There is something in the blond's expression, a likeness to both his parents Jiraiya can't help but feel sympathetic to. It makes him regret his decisions about leaving the boy.

"Yes, I was."

"Really? Because you look too old and…you don't look like a ninja." Then Naruto crosses his arms looking unconvinced. "Besides, I don't want him to train me. I want you to train me."

If he is honest with himself, Loki doesn't expect this. He expects for Naruto to be happy with the arrangement, to accept the help from Jiraiya. He doesn't expect blue eyes looking pleadingly to him as Naruto admits he wants Loki teaching him.

"I bet you can kick this guy's ass with your eyes close! So why don't you train me?"

Loki can't hide his smile but it is soon wipe away when he gives his answer to Naruto. For some reason, Jiraiya has stopped fighting against the urge he has to take Naruto away from Lie-Smith; instead he is watching with interest the interaction between the both blonds.

"This is not the time and it is not the place to discuss these matters." Naruto crosses his arms stubbornly pouting in the process. Loki rolls his eyes exasperate but he also knows there is no way he would escape without a satisfactory explanation.

Loki looks at Jiraiya out of the corner of his eyes before giving in, "I will train you; however, I will take care of the more physical aspect of your training. That is hand to hand combat and weapons training. Jiraiya here seems more adept into teaching you ninjutsu. He knows what you require to become an excellent warrior."

Naruto is giving in slowly; the tensing of his shoulders has decreased he seems to be considering the advantages of the deal. He eyes Jiraiya because he is still unconvinced but he doesn't have any doubts about Loki's proficiency with hand to hand combat or weapons training, Naruto has seen Loki fight before.

"But…you know, you…you can do that thing." Jiraiya is perplexed, he doesn't miss the meaningful glance Naruto gives Loki; Jiraiya doesn't miss either the roll of Loki's eyes or the resigned sigh coming from the man.

"That thing can't be taught to you in your current state." Loki leans in giving Jiraiya a warning glare before placing his mouth on Naruto's ear to whisper only to the blond. "When you are ready, Naruto, I will teach you my arts. Until then…"

"Until then I have to take the Old Man." Naruto looks contemplative for a second then he turns his blue eyes to Loki. "Okay, then I'll do my best so you won't regret this."

Loki stares a Naruto for a long time, there is an unreadable expression on his face it takes a moment but there is a small, genuine smile on Loki's face.

"Then, I guess this matter is settled." Loki turns to Jiraiya. "Whenever you are ready, Jiraiya. We can leave this place and head for a more suitable place for the first day of Naruto's training."

"Wait, you want me to start the training now? More importantly, you expected me to train him? Listen here, I told you I would pay my part of the bargain…" Loki blinks for a moment before standing up with Naruto following him, Jiraiya is left there with his words dying slowly as Loki and Naruto turn their backs to him.

"Exactly, you will pay your part of the bargain, Jiraiya." Replays Loki looking back at the Sannin. "Besides, if you want Naruto back, it would be better for you to just follow us…"

Jiraiya sits there watching with incredulity as Naruto and Loki leave the bar. It takes a few seconds but finally the Sannin stands up and goes after them.

As Jiraiya follows them outside he has three things clear in his mind: the first one is he needs to give the alarm to Konoha, secondly he can't allow Lie-Smith and Naruto out of his sight, and thirdly he needs to know exactly what the hell is going on.

 

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Rain is falling slowly but constantly, there is a cold wind accompanying with a strength that makes it whistle in the middle of the silent streets. There isn't anyone outside but two lonely shadows, both of them walking in slow, steady footsteps. Black cloaks billow gracefully as they approached a hidden door in the back of one of the tallest buildings in the village. It doesn't take them too long and when they arrive the only thing they do is mumble some words, seconds later they disappear from view.

Once inside the building, whatever sound coming from the wind or the water hitting the streets or the roofs of the buildings is suddenly silenced. Now, the only sounds that can be heard are those of footsteps moving through the empty halls to the closest room.

"You're late." The door opens to reveal a young man with spiky, orange hair his eyes had a strange ripple-like pattern on his them; beside him there is a young woman with blue hair that falls to her shoulders with a single rose made of paper as a decoration.

"Yeah, well shitty-head over here decide he needs the bounty of the man scouting the group." Hidan replies glaring at Kakuzu.

"It was worth more than your butter knife. I wasn't about to pass the opportunity." Hidan feels an eyebrow twitch, his hand grabbing the scythe as he nears it to Kakuzu's smirking face.

"My...My butter knife? Let me teach you what Jashin-sama does to unbelieving fuckers like yourself."

Konan rolls her eyes quite use to the duo's antics, the discussion goes for a few minutes until Yahiko raises a hand. Hidan is mumbling while Kakuzu decides to remain silent, Yahiko tilts his head raising a single eyebrow.

"Well? Did you get it?" Kakuzu takes his hand inside his black cloak and very slowly puts a single scroll from it.

"It was worth every single ryo." Hidan snorts just as Kakuzu gives Yahiko the scroll.

Yahiko wraps his fingers around it, feeling the weight of the scroll on his hands. His eyes are examining it with a hint of interest in them. He is aware of the hidden shadow behind the wall leading to another section of the room. He is also aware of the curious stare coming from Kakuzu, but he doesn't pay any attention to it, his mind is focused on the scroll.

Kakuzu tilts his head frowning lightly, "I suddenly feel cheat…as if I'm not gaining enough out of this deal. To be honest the first time I read that shit I didn't get anything in there."

Yahiko narrows his eyes, whispering dangerously, "You read it?"

"Of course! I have to see if this was its weight in gold." Hidan glances at Kakuzu smirking at his challenging tone. "But that thing is written in a language I'm pretty sure you don't speak."

"Now, that's something you will have to wonder, wouldn't you?" Asks Yahiko softly, dangerously. "Tell me something, you really thought I would pay for this information I ordered you to bring to me? Or, that you could sell and trick me afterwards?"

Very slowly, measuring his movements, Yahiko lifts his face to stare at Kakuzu. Silence fills the room and Hidan raises his eyebrows impress by the challenge behind his partner's words. Konan is scowling but decides to step aside and watch the situation play off safely.

"Have you done it you wouldn't be alive, Kakuzu. It doesn't matter if you have one or five hearts." Yahiko stands up moving past Kakuzu. "You wouldn't even feel it when I end your life. For today, I'll forgive your words. Rest assured I won't do it again."

Yahiko leaves the two men behind and enter the adjacent room with Konan following close behind. Once he is inside a solid wall made of concrete raises out of nowhere and closes the threshold from where Yahiko and Konan just enter. They make their way to the very end of the room and enter into another one. It is there where they find the person they have been looking for.

Sitting in the middle of the room with a hand on his face is a strange man. Short, spiky, dark hair is the only visible feature from his head, his face is covered by the hand but, as soon as the man hears Yahiko and Konan he stands up. The hand is replaced by a mask with a single hole at the right eye position.

"Oh, they found it." Yahiko nods his head presenting the scroll to the man.

"Right where you say it was." Yahiko hands the scroll moving past the masked man. "Which makes me wonder why you didn't get it in the first place."

The man shrugs opening the scroll not caring if Yahiko or Konan can look at its contents.

"It is rather complicated it, as you know, Yahiko." The man touches a spot on his left wrist before continuing. "Besides, if we have people who can do the work for ourselves then…why don't use them?"

"This scroll…is this the one about the gauntlet you speak of?" Yahiko stares out of the only window in the room. "The one powerful enough to reunite the Bijuu in it?"

Inside the mask the man smirks the only visible eye gleams a dark red, "Yes, this is the scroll that will lead as to the gauntlet capable of holding the power of these demons."

 

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

In retrospective, he didn't think the price would be this high.

He remembers, not without fear, the void spreading out in front of his eyes. His mind never fails to bring back to memory the coldness, the emptiness, the darkness his world had become after his fall. It is a sensation he hates to rememorize because it shows how weak he had become, because it reminds him of his current path. He is no longer a great ninja, he is no longer the head of a proud, powerful clan; he is merely a tool.

Despite his pride, his power and his intelligence Uchiha Madara can't escape his savior and his captor. And Madara hates the power this man/creature/monster has on him.

Madara's thoughts are leading him to dangerous paths when he feels it. The coldness burying deep inside the marrow of his bones, the sudden desperation as darkness and emptiness fill the room. He knows what it is to come; he is the only one capable of summoning him like this.

"I hope you have news…good news for me, my pet." The voice is like a roar in the middle of the emptiness, it is both dangerous and luring.

"I…I do. My men found the scroll you spoke of." The laugh is even worse; it makes you feel as if thousands of needles are piercing through your skin.

"Good, good…"Madara shifts uncomfortably which the presence doesn't miss. "What is it? Tell me."

"We…We weren't the only ones looking for this, but we were the first one to find it. I also know this…this person holds the rest of the scrolls." Madara feels the pressure in the air as he speaks. "I'm afraid this new character is not from this…realm."

A deep powerful growl can be heard and Madara almost flinches, "Yes…I've seen him. The little god that fell from the Realm Eternal…"

"He calls himself, Lie-Smith, but we have heard the name of Thor, Fandral, Sif…" Then the presence laughs again and this time Madara can't hide his disgust at the sound.

"Yes! Yes…the second-born…the forgotten son…Odin has never been more stupid to lend me his wound son." Madara freezes when he feels the caress of an invisible hand against his face and he feels a presence just behind him. "Look for him, my pet. Look for him and make sure he joins our cause. Promise him what his heart desires…revenge on his brother and his father. Revenge on the realm that forgot all about him."

"What…what if he…doesn't join?"

"Well, I thought the answer was pretty obvious…" Madara feels a sudden burning feeling move through his body he bites down the scream threatening to escape his mouth. "Now that you have the power… If he refuses to join me, you will destroy him in my name."

 

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

He tries. He really does.

The beginning of a new week is approaching and this whole time he has been trying to get to Naruto without any success. Every time he approaches the young blond the shadow of Lie-Smith appears out of nowhere taking the kid away or leading them to a different location. Even when Jiraiya doesn't think Lie-Smith is near and he has alone time with Naruto the blond looks warily at him refusing any ill word direct to the blond man.

Now, it is really late in the afternoon and Jiraiya is watching as Loki and Naruto train together. The Toad Sannin has to admit Lie-Smith is corrected in his assumption that Konoha hasn't been doing a good job with Naruto's education. The blond doesn't even know how to gather his chakra to perform a decent Shadow Clone or a Henge. Jiraiya had to explain Naruto from the very beginning how the chakra works and how to use it to be able to perform ninjutsu.

It is apparent to Jiraiya Naruto isn't a learner through the theory but rather through practice. The whole weekend has been divided between Loki and him teaching Naruto how to become a ninja. Of course, it is an arduous task that would take more than two days but, by now, Jiraiya can see the potential hidden behind Naruto. Just like his parents.

There is a sudden moan follow by the sound of something heavy hitting the ground. "That's not fair! You're cheating!"

"Of course I'm cheating!" Naruto pouts and Loki rolls his eyes. "What kind of ninja would I be if I didn't cheat?"

"But…you're not a ninja!" Replies Naruto with an accusing finger to Loki, Loki raises an eyebrow daring Naruto to say anything else.

"And still, I can beat you to the ground easily. You are not paying attention." Loki helps Naruto stand up. "Let's start all over again."

Jiraiya massages the bridge of his nose while trying to process what is happening; this isn't the first time he witnesses something like this. Jiraiya tries to convince himself this whole situation is going to fix itself; he is going to grab Naruto hit Lie-Smith and run away. The Sannin tries to convince himself he is going through this absurdity to rescue Naruto.

Never mind the fact Naruto, obviously, doesn't want to be saved. Never mind the fact the man seems to be an adept teacher. Because, as Jiraiya test Naruto to see what he has to teach him he realizes whatever they are teaching in the Ninja Academy it is not the same Jiraiya or even Minato learnt when they were younger.

"No, you are dropping your guard again." Loki seems pretty strict, he is serious and there isn't a single hint of a smile as he grabs Naruto's arms and positions them in the desire form. "You have to be firm and quick. The idea of this sequence is to dispose of your opponent without giving him or her the chance to attack you back."

Jiraiya observes with his fingers twitching at his side, it would be too easy to summon a toad and ask for help. To send a message to Konoha and tell Sarutobi where Naruto is; that's it…if Konoha even knows Naruto isn't there, a traitorous voice whispers inside his head. Jiraiya frowns, it is not possible. Sarutobi had assured Jiraiya Naruto is in good hands. Jiraiya has been in contact with the Third Hokage for over seven years asking for Naruto's well-being every year. The Hokage has never hinted to something being strange or amiss, he has never hinted to Naruto being gone a month ago.

"Excellent! You're grasping the main principles of hand-to-hand combat." This time Loki smiles and Naruto is returning the smile with a hint of warm and pride. Jiraiya yelps and runs towards them when Loki suddenly hits Naruto in the face.

"What the hell are yo…" Jiraiya trails off as he sees Naruto stand up moving at a speed Jiraiya doesn't think possible for someone his age. Naruto doesn't show any signs of the punch, but he does look gleefully as he tries to hit Loki back.

The both of them are fighting now, Loki plays with Naruto evading ad blocking, flipping and throwing to the ground. In return, Naruto is kicking, hitting, running around fast attacking sharply in swift movements. It is sloppy, it doesn't have a complete form but Naruto is a fast learner.

Loki grabs Naruto's wrist turns him around and makes him bend over, the blond gasp in surprise and, little by little, starts gasping in pain.

"Do you give up?" Jiraiya is close and seeing the sweat roll down Naruto's face, seeing the pain flashing on his eyes the Sannin approaches them both.

"N-no!" Naruto gasps out stubbornly, Loki smirks while Jiraiya frowns he is about to grab Loki when a glint catches his eye. It is a blade, sharp and dangerous sliding out of Naruto's sleeve and making its way to Loki's thigh.

Naruto hesitates, however, and Loki is fast in taking it away from Naruto and letting the blond drop to the ground. Jiraiya sees the sudden movement from Loki and he grabs the man's arm but it is shocked at seeing the genuine smile on his face; then, as one, Naruto and Loki start laughing.

"Y-your face!" Naruto points at Jiraiya and holds his abdomen as he keeps on laughing. Loki smirks glancing at Jiraiya's hand which the man realizes is still holding Loki's arm.

"Oh, you're face, Old Man!" Naruto chuckles trying to calm himself.

"What do you mean?" Jiraiya is certainly puzzle as to why both blonds are laughing at him, why they seem to find the situation hilarious when moments ago there was a tension leading to a certain dead.

"You have such a funny face! You really thought..." Here Naruto laughs some more sitting up while glancing at Jiraiya with a huge grin. "You really thought Loki was going to hurt me and I was going to hurt him! You were like this…"

Naruto then goes to demonstrate the expression Jiraiya has been wearing when nearing the two blonds. Loki snorts in agreement glancing at Jiraiya with the same hint of mischievousness Naruto is wearing.

"You did have quite a peculiar reaction, Jiraiya." Loki nods to Naruto who is still making faces.

"Well, you can't blame me, can you?" Jiraiya growls out crossing his arms while looking aside. He feels like a fool and with reasons to feel so. "And just…how many names you have?"

Loki drops his smile shrugging, "Too many for you to care at the moment."

Jiraiya narrows his eyes he is starting to get use to the different answers this Lie-Smith uses to evade a straight, truthful answer. Loki gives Naruto back his dagger and places a gentle hand on top of his shoulder.

"You did well today, Naruto." Naruto grins sheepishly glancing at Loki then at Jiraiya.

"Thanks! But it's only because you and the Old Man are teaching me." Jiraiya feels his eyebrow twitch at the Old Man reference; he has been trying to say Naruto to stop the nickname without any success.

"And, since we couldn't celebrate it as we should, how about a dinner in your honor." Loki turns to Jiraiya then to an excite Naruto. "You turned seven years old after all. You're becoming in quite the warrior."

"Oh! Oh! Can we have ramen? And natto? I want a lot of natto!"

Naruto starts walking without waiting for the adults; Loki shakes his head as his thoughts are reminded of another individual who, as soon as he was done with the training, would be thinking about food. It isn't until he feels the hand of Jiraiya wrap itself around his arm that Loki decides to address the problem at hand.

"Yes? Is it something the matter, Jiraiya?" The old man scowls hating the nonchalant tone and the innocent stare coming from Loki. It is obvious to Jiraiya whoever train this man did an excellent job in teaching him how to conceal and to lie.

"I'm not leaving Naruto with you. Even if I have to fight you I will take him back to where he belongs." And to prove his point Jiraiya tightens his hold on Loki's arm.

The God of Mischief grins lowering his head slightly while his green eyes gleam in the afternoon light. Jiraiya swallows feeling the sudden coldness on his hand.

"Whatever makes you think Naruto belongs to Konoha? Have you actually cared for the boy's well-being, Jiraiya?"

"As if you do?" Jiraiya leans closer. "You show me yourself, don't you? The power from your staff…I don't know how you get the Kyuubi's chakra there but I won't let you use Naruto…"

"Again, you have a misconception about my desires, about what I am doing or what I want." Loki grabs Jiraiya's arm and squeezes hard making the old man let go of his hold and wince in pain.

"Even though you have been named his guardian, his godfather, you haven't been quite the protector. You have failed to do your duty." Loki is snarling making sure Jiraiya is the only one hearing him even if Naruto has long ago left their sight.

"You don't understand…" Starts Jiraiya but Loki cuts him by pushing him away.

"Naruto is mine to protect, to care for…to make sure he has…"Then Loki trails off his face shows a tension that isn't there moments ago. His eyes turn glassy; Loki swallows as his mind starts catching up with something it is best left forgotten.

You are my son…You were an innocent child…

Loki purses his lips shaking his head to scare away those thoughts, those memories of Odin's words. He lifts his head and sees Jiraiya watching him with his brows knit and a curious gleam in his eyes.

"I am going to be a better guardian that you would ever be to him. Be thankful I allow you to teach him, to give to him what is rightfully his."

"You're the one who is mistaken! I'm not going to let you take Naruto away. One way or another I'll save him from you." Jiraiya is now raising his voice, showing his anger and his intention to the man in front of him. It is true Lie-Smith is someone he doesn't know well, his fighting style is still a mystery to Jiraiya; but Jiraiya is a Sannin, and he never backs down from a challenge.

"Do mind you words, pitiful mortal." Loki turns Jiraiya's hand making the man wince. "Do not threaten me or try to intimidate me because I can obliterate your existence if I so wish to do."

Then Loki let's go of Jiraiya and pushes him away from him, "You owe me, Jiraiya of the Sannin. Do not forget because I will not and you won't like me if I am displease with your lack of cooperation."

"Why? Why are you doing this? Why are you so interested in Naruto if you're not after the Kyuubi?" Jiraiya needs to know, he would never admit but the look Loki just gives him is scary, it feels as if he was facing a giant while he is merely a flea.

Nevertheless, Jiraiya needs to know, he needs to gather as much information as he can to retrieve Naruto safely.

"My reasons are my own." Loki turns around and leaves in the same direction Naruto has gone without giving Jiraiya any other word of explanation.

Loki feels a clench in his chest; his body is shivering at the intensity behind his words, behind his thoughts and behind his memories. It is in the middle of nowhere with this stranger he has come to this realization.

"Uh? Loki? Are you okay?" Loki turns to Naruto who shows his concern with a serious face, and then he proceeds to grab Loki's hand and drag him to the main road. "Come! There is a village there and then you and the old man can celebrate my birthday."

Loki glances at Naruto and feels a tug at his lips, a soft genuine smile forms on his face as he allows the blond to drag him away. Loki knows Jiraiya is behind them, he is pretty close but Loki doesn't care; with a strange feeling invading his chest and mind Loki follows Naruto.

 

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Jiraiya is running fast.

He doesn't have any time to do the summoning to warn Konoha but he does have the time to send them in different directions to people he knows. By the time he gets to Konoha his summoning would be there, hopefully with news of Naruto's and Lie-Smith's whereabouts.

Jiraiya of the Sannin curses out loud for what seems to be the hundredth time. He doesn't get it. He makes sure to spend every single minute beside Naruto and Lie-Smith, he makes sure to have them under his watchful eye, and then…puff! They're gone! Gone!

How? Well, Jiraiya is still trying to figure that one out. He feels his muscles protests silently as he speeds up having been running for over three hours. Jiraiya is starting to feel the tiredness getting to him but he needs to keep going. He can't allow the son of Minato and Kushina to be abducted and be taught who knows what by who knows who.

The problem is, Jiraiya doesn't really understand any of it. It doesn't make any sense. Why would Lie-Smith bring Naruto to him if he knows who Jiraiya is? What was Lie-smith's goal when he chose Jiraiya to teach Naruto? And then, why disappear?

It takes Jiraiya another two hours before he makes it to the village. The gatekeepers are not just shocked; they are flabbergasted to see the Toad Sannin breathing heavily, sweat rolling down his face and urgency gleaming in his eyes.

"Where is the Hokage?" Izumo and Kotetsu point at the Hokage Tower and Jiraiya doesn't miss a beat as he leaves towards the building.

Sarutobi Hiruzen is putting the Hokage hat aside. It is late into the night, his trip to Suna had been a half success if he says so himself. There are still some tensions due to the recent income Konoha have gain from the Daimyo of Wind Country. The Kazekage isn't please but at least he seems more open and slightly reassured that Konoha would make of Suna not only an ally but also a business partner. Of course, as far as the business can be manage by two shinobi nations.

Sarutobi kneels down under his desk looking for the bottle of sake he has hidden behind a secret compartment his former teacher, the Nidaime Hokage, implemented to the desk after an incident that is best left unmentioned.

The Third Hokage smirks as he finds it and proceeds to put the bottle of sake out when something/someone barges into the room startling the old man who hits his head against the desk. He curses and is massaging his head when he comes out of under the desk.

"What the hell?"

"Naruto has been kidnapped!"

Just as both old men speak a dozen ANBU appear from out of nowhere at the first sign of trouble. They stop dead in their tracks when it is obvious the Hokage is not in any immediate danger; but they don't leave because Jiraiya looks as if someone has just died.

"Jiraiya? What are you…?" The Sandaime Hokage is silence by Jiraiya's voice.

"Naruto! He has been kidnapped." Sarutobi forgets the growing bump on his head while his face turns into a mask of concern and worry.

"What? What is the meaning of this?" Sarutobi's question is direct to the ANBU in his office, while he is out the duty of taking care of Naruto falls in the hands of the ANBU and some select Jounin.

It is dog who speaks first, "I don't know. Naruto has been in his apartment all weekend. It is his birthday so letting him out would be a bad idea."

Jiraiya shakes his head hitting the desk, "NO! He has been with me and the man known as Lie-Smith all weekend! They just disappeared right under my nose six hours ago!"

"Lie-Smith? You mean the man who supposedly took half of Orochimaru's men?" Asks one of the ANBU, Sarutobi is getting pale by the minute his mind is already thinking of the possibilities, he is thinking of his failure as a protector of the boy. He is thinking about what Kushina or Minato would say.

"Not half just four of his best men. But, yes." Jiraiya turns to Sarutobi with urgency. "We need to do something, god only knows what this man may do with Naruto."

"Are you certain? I saw Naruto with my own eyes. He's been inside his apartment." Says dog with conviction. Jiraiya growls annoyed, they are wasting precious time. He turns around looking to see if maybe Ma or Pa appeared with news about Naruto but so far none of the toads have come with any news.

"Look, Kakashi, I know you think yourself a nice watch dog for Naruto but he isn't there. He has been kidnapped…"

"That's enough." Sarutobi places the Hokage hat over his head and directs stern glares to his men and Jiraiya. "I want you four to give notice to the different entrances around the village. Ask if they remember anything going amiss or anything strange."

Jiraiya is about to speak but Sarutobi silences him, "You and the rest of my ANBU are going to Naruto's building. Let's see what happen."

The Sannin is about to scream, he doesn't know how to make Sarutobi understand there is not going to be anyone in that place. Naruto is god knows where and they are wasting time. Sarutobi doesn't leave any room for argument, his word is final and with speed and efficiency all of them move to their destinations.

They barge in without an invitation. They break windows and the main door, they scream and make a lot of noise. Jiraiya stands aside rolling his eyes angrily because he knows Naruto isn't there.

"Hey! What the hell are you doing in my home?" Jiraiya feels as if a bucket of cold water has fallen on top of him. Again. He has his eyes wide open and is completely frozen.

There in the middle of the room is a still sleepy Naruto, rubbing his eyes, frowning and pouting as his blue eyes move from one disaster to the next one. His hair is disheveled, he is wearing a white t-shirt and blue shorts. It is pretty obvious the boy has been asleep.

"What did you do to my home?" He is sounding more awake now and he is clearly displeased.

"Naruto?" Jiraiya takes a few steps forward but Naruto doesn't look as if he recognizes Jiraiya. The blond stares at Sarutobi and then takes a step back.

"Ojiji, what happen?" Sarutobi stands in front of Jiraiya and kneels down.

"Naruto, are you okay? Where were you?" Naruto blinks confusedly, his tilts his head pursing his lips a little.

"I've been asleep until you enter my home like a bunch of rabid dogs." He crosses his arms and pouts. Sarutobi frowns lightly mainly because 'rabid dogs' doesn't seem as something Naruto would say.

"I am very sorry, Naruto. We heard you've been kidnapped."

Naruto scrunches up his nose pulling funny face, "Kidnapped? Why?"

"Naruto, how did you get here? Where is he? What…" Starts Jiraiya grabbing Naruto by his shoulder, the blond frowns and steps away glancing up and down at Jiraiya before speaking.

"Who are you?" Jiraiya opens his mouth gaping at the boy.

"Who...Who am I? I'm Jiraiya! We've been all weekend together! Now, where is he?"

Sarutobi watches carefully, Naruto may be good at fooling some people but Sarutobi likes to think he is capable of catching the boy. From the knit eyebrows, to the purse of his lips and the look in his eyes Sarutobi knows Naruto isn't lying. The boy doesn't know Jiraiya and the Sannin seems to be scaring Naruto. This isn't how Sarutobi plans to introduce the both of them. So, before things get worse he stands up placing a hand on Jiraiya.

"I'm sorry, Naruto. Obviously there's been a misunderstanding." Naruto pouts glaring at the ANBU, then at Jiraiya and finally at the old Hokage. The old man can't help the smile as he remembers the same look on Kushina.

"Yes, well, your misunderstanding owes me a few windows and a new door." Sarutobi chuckles, ANBU dog snorts and Jiraiya looks like a fish opening and closing his mouth.

"Jiraiya." Sarutobi's voice is filled with warning, the white-haired man is standing there watching Naruto but the blond doesn't seem to know him. Naruto looks oblivious, he still has a pout on his face and he still looks sleepy. When his blue eyes turn to Jiraiya there isn't even a hint of recognition there.

"I'm coming. I'm sorry we disturb your dream, Naruto." Naruto narrows his eyes but shrugs.

"I will send someone in the morning to fix this, Naruto." Says Sarutobi with an apologetic smile to Naruto. "I'll leave some of the ANBU here if you want…"

"No, no need to worry, Ojiji. It'll be fine." Says Naruto waving his hand, Sarutobi narrows his eyes.

"Are you sure?" Naruto nods and Sarutobi nods back. Even if the blond is sure he decides to leave someone nearby to watch over Naruto.

The blond fixes the door a little before he moves back to his room. He walks around picking some of his clothing and fixing his bed before going back in. He waits, pretending to be asleep. Twenty minutes later he smiles, then starts chuckling and finally ends up laughing really hard.

Jiraiya of the Sannin makes the most amusing faces Naruto has ever seen. It seems as if the man always falls for Loki's and his pranks.

Loki is watching from outside. He smirks as he sees the look on Jiraiya's face, it had been quite amusing to see the so called ANBU enter Naruto's place and act as if the blond is in an imminent danger, only to discover there hasn't been any danger at all.

Loki wishes he can do something about the door and the windows in Naruto's place but, to keep with the façade, he has to leave it like that. Tomorrow would be another day and then he would ask Naruto what exactly had happened with Jiraiya. For now, Loki is going to wait before teaching Jiraiya why Loki Lie-Smith doesn't like to be threatened or play for a fool.

 

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The next morning Naruto has some difficulty waking up. He has spent half the night laughing at Jiraiya's faces and thinking the man is a fool. He shouldn't have broken his promise to Loki about not saying anything.

Naruto waves happily as he approaches Shin and Sai, both kids are smiling back at Naruto but it is Shin the one waving back. They had a middle side box on their bench and Naruto's eyes drift to it for a moment before he turns to Shin.

"Hey! How was your weekend?" Naruto grins widely and Shin can't help but do the same.

"It was okay. But, how was yours? Happy birthday by the way." Sai grabs the box and handles it to Naruto with the same impassive smile the blond has seen on him since the very beginning

Naruto feels his cheeks warm up, he lowers his eyes to the box then to Shin and Sai. Sai is the one to speak as he presses the box against Naruto's hands.

"Here, this is a gift from us to you. Happy birthday, Naruto."

"A…A gift? For me? Really?"

"Of course! Our guardian made sure we brought you something useful." Shin replies nudging Naruto so he opens the box. Naruto turns the box on his hands; his eyes are taking in the form before measuring how heavy it is.

Finally, Naruto opens the box and finds inside a deluxe kit of kunai and shuriken. The set is made of black metal and Naruto is half listening to the explanation Sai is giving while he observes the set.

"Our guardian heard your aim is the best in the Academy. We told him you can hit a target without trying for it twice." Shin is smiling excitedly as Naruto grabs the kunai and the shuriken weighting them in his hand.

"This is awesome! Thank you guys!"

"We're glad you like it, Naruto." Comments Sai while approaching the blond. "Because, Danzo-sama would like to meet you. He told us to invite you to dinner this Friday."

Naruto is slightly surprise, this is the first time he has friends. This is also the first time his friends invite him over to their homes and it is certainly the first time a grown-up invites him. He is reluctant mainly because his experiences with grown-ups have not been quite nice. But, Shin and Sai are waiting for his answer, and they bring a gift for him.

"Sure! I would love to!"

Shin is about to speak when he notices a black-haired boy glaring daggers at Naruto, the blond tilts his head and follows Shin's stare to find himself watching the boy. He narrows his eyes for a moment until he finally recognizes him. He is Itachi's younger brother.

The boy watches for a few seconds and then starts making his way towards Naruto and his friends. Naruto is trying to remember what the name of the kid is, because he doesn't remember. He does remember that time he turned his skin blue, but that has been ages ago! And Naruto has find people who cares since then, he doesn't have the time for those who humiliate him.

The black-haired boy is now in front of him, scowling with his eyes showing his clear animosity towards Naruto. Those black eyes roll from the box, Naruto and then to Shin and Sai to finally settle on Naruto. The boy sneers eying Naruto up and down.

"I know who you are." Naruto snorts raising an eyebrow, by now all the kids who are waiting for classes to start are watching with curiosity. The black-haired boy has a group of girls making moon-eyes at him all of them waiting patiently to see what is about to happen.

"Good for you! I'm sorry to say but, I don't know who you are." Naruto grins, Shin snickers, Sai keeps on smiling, some kids from Naruto's year laugh while the ones from the black-haired boy gasp.

The boy's scowl deepens, hips quirk up in a half grimace, "You're the nobody that thought it was funny to paint my skin blue! The orphan nobody likes."

Naruto feels Shin stepping forward to his side the smile on his face is totally wipe away and he now looks completely serious. Sai's own smile has deepened and it looks strange in the face of an eight year old. Out of the corner of his eye he sees Lee, Neji and Tenten approach along with some other boys from Naruto's class.

"Okay." Naruto purses his lips shifting them from left to right. He eyes the boy shaking his head in the end. "So, what do you want me to do? To paint it blue again?"

Some kids laugh, the girls are mumbling furiously while glaring at Naruto. The boy just takes another step towards Naruto.

"No, I'm here to make you beg me for your forgiveness." Uchiha Sasuke has never forgotten about that day, he has been humiliate I front of his brother and his father. His father had watched the whole incident; Sasuke knows his father has been disappointed in his younger son since.

Sasuke clenches his fist as he glares at Naruto. The young Uchiha still remembers the look in his father's eyes, the disappointment on his face and the lack of interest in the young Uchiha after it. Sasuke also remembers Itachi's face; he also remembers his older brother's words. Itachi has spoken marvelous things about the Uzumaki kid. How intelligent he was to use the trees to hold the permanent dye. How this Uzumaki brat seems to be really cunning, a real ninja in the making

Sasuke has planned it all out; he would humiliate the blond to demonstrate his father and Itachi he is better than him. He would show his father he wouldn't fall from such a stupid prank never again. He would show Itachi, Sasuke is grown enough and stronger so he can spend more time with him and spend less time talking with/about the stupid Uzumaki Naruto.

"Uh, well, considering this happen like a year ago and I don't feel like it…" Naruto shrugs winking at Sasuke. "Besides, it was a prank! You should like…enjoy life because life is short."

Shin chuckles again and Neji has to admit Naruto is being an amusing smart ass. Naruto smiles brilliantly at Sasuke and turns around. Sasuke doesn't take the comment lightly, his eyes darken and he readies his fist to crash against Naruto's skull when someone stops him dead on his tracks.

"Sasuke, what are you doing?"

"Brother!"

"Itachi-nii!" Sasuke turns his black eyes to Naruto and glare at him for even daring to call Itachi like that. Itachi frowns looking down at his little brother before turning to Naruto, there is an almost imperceptible smile there, Itachi bows his head to Naruto.

"Hello, Naruto-kun." Then as an afterthought. "Happy belated birthday, by the way. How did you spend your birthday?"

"Oh, you now, here and there and doing everything I can." Naruto's grin is blindly happy and Itachi has to hold back a chuckle. Then the older Uchiha turns to his brother and raises an eyebrow at him.

"What you were about to do, Sasuke, was a cowards way out. You never attack a comrade in such a traitorous manner. You should apologize to Naruto."

Sasuke gaps at his brother before recovering some of his dignity and crossing his arms. He shakes his head making sure his anger is not visible on his face.

"No! He is the one that has to apologize to me for what he did! And, I'm training to be a ninja! Father says attacking an adversary when he turns his back at you is the best way to deal with them!"

Itachi opens his mouth to reply when Naruto's hand on his free arm stops him, the blond shrugs and shakes his head. Before he can say anything Sasuke is pushing him hard away from Itachi. Naruto staggers back quite surprise by the sudden attack.

"Let go of my brother!"

"Sasuke!"

Sasuke lifts his head to watch Itachi, there is a moment in which the two brothers have an staring contest. Moments later Sasuke pulls his arm from Itachi's hold and turns around.

"Hn, I don't care." Is all he says while making his way inside the building of the Academy.

Itachi is left there watching after the retreating form of his brother. A part of him feels guilty, this last two years his attention has been dived between his shinobi duties, his duties as the heir of the Uchiha Clan, and his care for young Naruto. While he has spent some time with Sasuke, he knows it has been reduced to an hour or two every three or five days. Itachi knows the only one who pays enough attention to Sasuke is him, his father has only eyes for Itachi and his plans to start the civil war in Konoha.

Itachi sighs, maybe after the day at the Academy is over he should come by and take Sasuke on a two-day trip to the Uchiha special training grounds.

"Ne, Itachi-nii, are you okay?" Itachi turns to see the concern on Naruto's face. He smiles a little, putting his hand inside the kunai holster.

"Yes, don't worry. My little brother is just upset because I haven't been able to fulfill my promise to him." Itachi handles Naruto a small box. "Here, happy birthday, Naruto."

"Thanks. And don't forget to spend more time with him." Comments Naruto. "Maybe he stops being…you know…"

Itachi rolls his eyes chuckling lightly, "Don't worry, I bet if you give him the chance you will know Sasuke isn't always like this."

Naruto doubts it, the boy seem angry enough and rather arrogant to clash against Naruto worse than Neji does. But Naruto nods politely because he remembers Loki's advice: If you have nothing good to say, better don't say anything at all.

Just before Itachi retreats his black eyes fall on the boys behind Naruto, the ones Naruto calls friends. Shin and Sai. Itachi frowns but decides to not say anything to Naruto; this is something Loki would know how to deal with.

 

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Sarutobi Hiruzen watches through his crystal ball as Naruto is back to his friends, goes to class and falls asleep in the middle of one of the lessons. Jiraiya sits restless in front of him; the man is drumming his fingers impatiently as he tries to hold his tongue. The Toad Sannin has tried to explain to Sarutobi the events that came to pass during the weekend. The Third Hokage is still doubtful, he has reports of the ANBU in charge of Naruto's protection telling him the boy spend the whole weekend on his apartment and occasionally on top of the Mount Hokage. Nothing out of the ordinary had happened.

But Jiraiya is too convinced of his own truth, he is too insistence for this not be a scheme of some sorts from an unknown individual. Well, not so unknown; even Sarutobi has heard about the mysterious Lie-Smith.

"This information you were looking for so desperately," Starts Sarutobi after a moment of silence. "Was it necessary for you to contact this Lie-Smith? You are, after all, the best source of Intel we have."

"Yes, I need it. So far trying to get any useful information about Akatsuki has been almost impossible." Jiraiya grunts looking aside. "The only one who gave me information, valid, useful information was Lie-Smith."

Sarutobi looks down at the folder on his desk; he has read some of it but not all of it. And he knows; by now. how dangerous this group of mercenaries is. At first, he as well as the other Kage thought the group could work as a means to create more income to their villages; but now…the plans the group has been creating seem to have change. They look darker, dangerous and, above all, impossible to predict.

"He gave me names, locations and most importantly, he confirmed to me this group is going after the Bijuu."

"So, you make a deal with him and now…he is making you pay that debt by teaching Naruto ninjutsu?" Jiraiya glares at Sarutobi who looks apologetically at him. It isn't his intention to make Jiraiya's theory absurd or make him look like an idiot.

"Look, I know how it sounds, sensei. But that's how it happened." Jiraiya sits back fidgeting before speaking again. "He knows about Naruto."

Sarutobi leans back bringing his hands together, "Explain exactly what does this man know about Naruto."

"He knows about the Kyuubi. He knows about Minato. He knows about me being Naruto's guardian."

Sarutobi almost falls of his chair because there are a limited number of people who knows of Naruto's origins. This is quite alarming, if someone like Lie-Smith, known to be a person who sells information and does any kind of job, can do a lot of damage to Naruto and Konoha.

"This is worrisome."

"I know, that's what I've been trying to say to you since yesterday night." Sarutobi leans forward resting his elbows on the desk.

"You have to understand that Naruto has been spending all his time in Konoha, in his home." Jiraiya does a face when Sarutobi mentions the word 'home' but decides not to comment about it.

"Could it be, perhaps, this man used some kind of Genjutsu on you? Some kind of illusion we're not aware of?"

Jiraiya wants to scream in frustration, if he were Orochimaru, Sarutobi would never doubt him. But, since this is Jiraiya talking…Jiraiya quiets down his dark thoughts; it wouldn't do anyone any good if he allows them to cloud its judgment. Besides, Sarutobi's idea may not be that far away from what is really happening.

Genjutsu? Perhaps. But he is thinking more about a Henge, he is thinking this Lie-Smith changes his appearance.

"It is possible, yes." Jiraiya massages the back of his neck sighing. "I think I should look into this, but I can't do it alone. It would be too dangerous to do so."

"I agree. What do you need?"

Jiraiya thinks for a moment, he needs to know if Naruto knows something but he doesn't want to risk everything by maybe intimidating the boy. He needs to approach Naruto kindly; he needs to make the blond to trust him before he can ask for information. Then, he would look for Lie-Smith and have some words with him.

"Among your lap dogs, who is the one who knows Naruto the best?" Sarutobi arches an eyebrow and holds himself before rolling his eyes. He waves around and an ANBU with a dog's mask appears behind Jiraiya.

"Oh, right." Says Jiraiya watching behind him. "Of course it has to be you."

"I thought it was appropriate. At least until they make me take on a Genin team." Hatake Kakashi takes his mask off; Jiraiya can't help but lean forward with curious eyes only to be disappointed. The man has on his usual half mas covering from his chin to his nose.

"So, any ideas as to what do you want to do, Jiraiya-sama?" Jiraiya turns his eyes to Kakashi then to Sarutobi.

"Yes, actually, I do."

 

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Three days later Jiraiya is watching Naruto from the other side of the street. His eyes narrow as a big man, with red hair and a big bear sits beside him. The man places a hand on Naruto's shoulder and gives the blond a wink and a half smirk.

"Who's that?" The man seems pretty amiable, he is letting Naruto do the talk and, moments later, two kids about Naruto's age join them. The man on the ramen stand serves another set of ramen and the group starts eating and talking.

Kakashi glances from his book to the stand, he takes in the group before returning his attention to the book. "That's a guy call Volsan, Vontag …something like that. A merchant from Wave Country."

"And, why is he eating with Naruto?" Kakashi turns the page of his book as people pass around them. Jiraiya has not taken his eyes from the stand watching carefully at the group.

"A year ago the man came looking for something to eat. Naruto found him and took him the best 'ramen you will ever eat'" Kakashi lowers his book to stare at Jiraiya. "Naruto made a friend out of him after that, every time he comes by he looks for Naruto and pays for his dinner or lunch."

"Just like that? No questions asked? Without asking nothing in return?"

Kakashi lets out a sad sigh as he puts the book down making sure it is safely guard inside his back holster. He leans back against the wall and let's his only eye travel down the road to the ramen stand.

"He is clean. He has a genuine job, one that brings to Konoha some supplies for the very same ramen Naruto likes to eat." Kakashi tilts his head as Naruto laughs openly ignoring the passing glares and scoffs. "He invites Naruto to dinner because Naruto reminds him of his only son who died while trying for a post in the Ninja Academy in Kirigakure."

Jiraiya hasn't stopped frowning but he seems less tense, Kakashi seems slightly surprise by the Sannin's reaction. His own eye is watching Naruto then decides the silence is too uncomfortable to still deal with it.

"You're really worried, aren't you? About this guy and what you say he did or does to Naruto?"

Jiraiya doesn't answer mainly because he doesn't know what to say. A part of him is worried of course, but then there is another part of him, a much hidden almost secretive part of him that wants to believe the man is really helping Naruto. There is a lot of regret in Jiraiya's heart, Naruto has had a hard life and maybe, just maybe this Lie-Smith has given to him but Konoha has denied him.

"I'm worried because out there may be someone who can offer Naruto what Konoha, Sarutobi-sensei, you and I have deny him for so long." Jiraiya turns to make sure Kakashi is looking at him.

"And what is that?"

"Love, understanding." Jiraiya watches as Naruto's smile softens at the sudden ruffle of his hair from the big man. "A family."

 

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

It is that very same day Jiraiya decides to intercept this ´merchant´. There is something off about the man, about his relationship with Naruto, about the story of his appearances.

Kakashi is slightly confused but he trust Jiraiya's judgment, they form a team of five jounin all ready to capture the man if need. They wait, because they know the road turning to the right just a kilometer away from Konoha is the right path towards Wave Country.

They wait an hour. Two hours. Three hours.

There is nothing.

Jiraiya is worried. The man left Konoha four hours ago; it is time for him to appear at this side of the path. Maybe, he discovered them? Maybe Jiraiya's suspicions about the man are correct.

There is a sound coming from the earpiece he has with him. It's Kakashi.

"What do we do? Apparently he took another road." Jiraiya scoffs because he can't believe Kakashi is so reluctant and so skeptical about the whole issue.

"We have two men covering that side of the road, Kakashi. No, I think something went wrong or he knows we are here."

Jiraiya can hear the heavy sigh coming from Kakashi. "Okay, let me go back to the village and ask if maybe he return or something."

"Very well, in the meantime send the others to survey the forest." There is hesitance from the other side, then Jiraiya hears a grunt of agreement and soon enough Jiraiya is left alone on his spot in the dark forest.

The night is cold but not overly cold, there is no moon and Jiraiya has to wait until either Kakashi or another member of the team communicates with him.

Soon enough, Jiraiya is bored and it's thinking maybe he is paranoid. But, they can't blame him! He knows when that feeling at the pit of the stomach making his mind dizzy and his heart beat just a tad bit faster isn't love, or arousal or anything of the sorts. He knows, this kind of feeling, is of dread and something that it's about to happen.

He just wants to make sure the son of Minato and Kushina is okay. And this man just…Jiraiya growls in annoyance, stupid man for messing with his head.

Jiraiya starts hearing interference on his earpiece, there is static and for a moment the man knits his eyebrows together in confusion until the sound becomes unbearable. Jiraiya takes the artifact from his ear moaning in pain while massaging his ear. He looks down at the earpiece that it's still making those sounds.

"Technology in this realm is so…strange." Jiraiya freezes at the sound of the voice. "It is so unreliable…just like people."

Jiraiya turns ready for an attack when a heavy, huge form appears out of nowhere. It is the man they've been waiting for. His red hair looks like a mane, with his hand caressing his bear. The man has deep, green eyes twinkling with amusement as they approach Jiraiya. Then, it appears on his right hand. A familiar staff. It is gleaming red and green and slowly, pretty slowly the big form transform into a slender one. This time there is black hair, the green eyes are still there but everything else shows a young man, tall and slim looking out of place and time with the clothes he is wearing.

The Sannin doesn't know what to say or how to react; the man smiles and Jiraiya can see the familiarity behind the arrogant smirk.

"Y-you…you are…" Jiraiya feels his throat dry, his heart is beating fast and now he wishes the artifact in his hand is still working so the rest of the jounin can hear him.

"Please, call me Loki." Says Loki approaching the man. Jiraiya takes a fighting stance recovering quite quickly from the shock; this only makes Loki stop and his grin grow.

"Loki? Or, maybe, Lie-Smith?" Loki chuckles shaking his head amused by the man's reaction.

"Oh, you caught me, Big guy, you really did."

"I think you have spent too much time in the bars down in Iron Country." Says another voice from above Jiraiya and just then Jiraiya wonders how these two individuals can sneak out on him. He is a freaking Sannin! They shouldn't be able to surprise him like this.

"There is not such a thing as 'much time'. The people down Iron Country are the most interesting ones I've met in this pathetic realm."

The voice above Jiraiya jumps down and there, in front of him wearing his ANBU gear and his weasel mask to the side is Uchiha Itachi.

"What the hell is going on here? What are you doing here?" And Jiraiya feels like a ten year old again when Orochimaru, Tsunade and he were still a team. He feels like a kid who is missing the big picture because his mind is still too young to process it all.

"I'm sorry, Jiraiya-sama, but this situation could have been avoid if you have done as Loki-san told you."

The Toad Sannin knows when he is trapped, he knows he can fight and maybe get out of this situation on time to have some back up. He knows all of this, however, there is something preventing him from moving. There is something making him feel weak on the knees and unable to react properly. He turns to Loki and the man nods his head.

"Don't worry, once this is over you will be able to move freely once again." Loki chuckles, Itachi frowns. "Well, maybe freely is not completely accurate."

"What do you mean? What did you do to me?" Loki considers the questions for a few moments before advancing.

"Very well, I'm going to tell you what you desire mainly because Itachi here has asked me to." Itachi is looking at Jiraiya and the man can see the sharingan activate. "I told you I don't like being tricked. I told you I don't like when people think of me as a fool. And I told you Naruto is mine to protect to make of him the best he can be."

"Loki-san really means well. Naruto adores him, Jiraiya-sama. The only thing Naruto needs is people who can teach him how to be a ninja and that can offer him a family." Interrupts Itachi ignoring the glare coming from Loki. "Loki-san is the father Naruto lost a long time ago."

This time not only Jiraiya is left speechless but Loki as well. The god doesn't know how to react or how to respond to that, for a brief moment the red eyes meet with the green ones. Loki understands what is not being said and, even if he doesn't want to admit it, he is grateful by the vote of confidence from Itachi.

"The problem relays in your insistence to interfere."

"And I will continue to do so. You're a criminal. You…you shouldn't be trusted. Someone that changes his form is up to not good." This time Jiraiya turns to Itachi. "You should know this, Itachi! You are a Konoha ninja! You can't allow him to take Naruto or keep taking him away."

"Konoha is not what it used to be, Jiraiya-sama. You should know this." Itachi looks sorrowful; he lowers his eyes evading the Sannin's glare.

"Oh? So what, you decided to join your clan in his little quest for civil war?"

Itachi snaps his head fast with the black dots spiraling wildly and his face showing his discontent towards the comment. He clenches his fist and Jiraiya looks almost smug, he still feels weak but decides it's time to fight. Sarutobi needs to know this.

"How do you know?" Itachi's voice is cold; Loki glances at the young man for the first time seeing the cold anger coming from him.

"Humph, as if Fukasaku can keep something this big a secret. You're old man has always been a show off. Danzo, Sarutobi and the rest of the elders know of this."

Itachi takes a step forward but the hand of Loki stops him, Itachi turns to Loki and realizes he is going to give some explanations later. For now, Loki only desires to act as quickly as possible.

"I didn't want to have to do this. I thought maybe you held enough love for Naruto to do this quietly and with an open mind." Loki shakes his head disappointment evidently on his expression. "It is truly sad to have to take your mind away."

"What?"

"Don't worry, Jiraiya-sama. You would be able to function normally until Loki-san calls upon you." Says Itachi who is looking into Jiraiya's eyes. "Please, try to not resist too much because I'm still new at this …Tsukuyomi."

Chapter Text

"But, he was not afraid. Even if the shadows were closing in, the Mighty Thor raised his hammer and slammed it against the ground making the surface tremble and his enemies fall down like domino pieces!"

Naruto is acting out what he is telling, he jumps with his arm raise to the sky mimicking the hold of a hammer before letting himself fall on the ground and make a sound of a heavy hit and a splash of stone. The kids are all wide eye leaning in as Naruto keeps telling the story; Shin and Sai have heard the story before so they help Naruto out whenever the blond requires it. Outside the scene, almost hidden away, is Iruka who can't help the soft smile adorning his face as he, too, hears the story. Out of the corner of his eye Naruto can see Neji who is torn between ignoring Naruto and paying attention.

"Then, what happen?" It is Lee the one who ask as Naruto stops in the middle of the climax of the story. The blond stands up; his face is unreadable as he looks solemnly at his classmates.

"Then, the army of Frost Giants came in and Thor, his brother Ikol, The Warriors Three and Lady Sif were trapped without no one but themselves to save them for a definite dead."

"Okay, all inside time for the last lesson of the day!" The kids all jump startle turning around to Mizuki's smiling face approaching from the Academy building. The smile on the Chuunin instructor soon disappears at the amount of glares he is receiving.

"What? No!" They all say as one.

"I want to hear what happens!" Another one whines, crossing his arms and settling himself stubbornly.

"Can we just wait for a moment?" This time it is Tenten the one who speaks, she is as close to Naruto as Lee is, both of them have been listening attentive to the story.

Mizuki frowns his eyes glaring at the blond before turning to Iruka who is now advancing towards them.

"I'm sorry kids, but we need to go inside. Maybe Naruto can continue his story after classes?" Naruto smiles shyly nodding his head. The rest of the class all stand up whining while moving with heavy footsteps to the Academy.

Iruka is smiling still watching the kids ignoring the shadows crossing Mizuki's face as the man glare with all the anger and hatred he feels inside his heart at Naruto. In a darkened corner, Loki is watching. He feels proud at how adept Naruto is with his storytelling. He is still amazed how the blond can include him in the tales without reveling completely Loki's real name. But, those green eyes catch Mizuki's stare and there is a warning ring inside his head. He would need to watch the man more closely from now on.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

It is Friday and it is late in the afternoon.

Shin, Sai and Naruto are walking down the streets of the west side of the village. It is silent as most of the buildings around this place are big houses or compounds. Naruto is looking around with curiosity sparkling in his eyes as Sai speaks about his newest masterpiece, the boy is sounding unsure a little nervous while glancing at Naruto then at Shin.

"I bet it looks awesome." Replies Naruto patting Sai on the back. "You draw really well. I try it once and they look as if my brush was dying a horrible dead and I was the cause of it."

Sai smiles, a genuine smile, at Naruto. "I bet you were killing the brush slowly."

"Hey!" The three of them laugh as they arrive to their destination. It is a middle size house, with a main entrance and a small hall directing the newcomers to the living room.

There are some guards, none of them have on a friendly expression but Sai and Shin assure Naruto those guys are ninja who once belong to a secret organization between the walls of Konoha.

"Now they're here for protection and decoration." Says Sai, "Danzo-sama has retired, he is no longer a ninja but has many enemies."

The three of them enter the living room and move to an adjacent door to the left. They keep on walking until they reach another door, this one, leading to a backyard. The place has been organized for eating outside. There is a big circular table near a pond with koi fishes in it; Naruto turns his blue eyes to the only person sitting around the table. It is an old man with bandages around his head covering one eye while his right arm seems to be immobilized against his chest.

The man eyes Naruto with an expressionless face, there is a moment of hesitance from Naruto who can only smile nervously at the man while Shin introduces him. The man is assessing Naruto; he is making the boy fidget before he decides manners would be something very well appreciated.

"Nice to meet you, Mister Danzo." And then he bows awkwardly, Naruto glances up and sees a quirk of the man's lips. The ghost of a smile as Danzo too, bows back.

"The pleasure, I assure you, is all mine, Uzumaki Naruto."

They sit and Danzo makes his servants bring the food to the table. He reminds silent as the three kids start talking about what happen that day. The man's eye would drift towards Naruto once in a while and the blond is well-aware of this; but he says nothing and instead enjoys the food and the drinks. Two hours later the backyard is light with different torches all around the place, it gives the garden a rather mystifying appearance, one Naruto can't help but feel enchanted by it.

"So, tell me young Uzumaki, how are you fairing in the Academy?" Naruto turns to the voice realizing Danzo is now openly looking at him waiting for an answer.

"I'm doing well, sir." He feels really proud because so far he has made everything Loki told him to. Not to be rude or speak out of time, to be respectful and answer only what he thinks would be wise to say. Never give more information than is necessary.

Danzo tilts his head his eye narrowing lightly, "Shin here tells me you are an excellent marksman."

This time Naruto's eyes lit up, nodding his head he starts talking, "Yep! I'm the best! Even better than Neji. But, I'm still having trouble with the rest."

The man leans back, his free hand on top of the table as he takes in Naruto's face before continuing the conversation.

"I remembered, a long time ago, when your mother would humiliate the Hyuuga heir while in their training sessions." It is slow but very noticeable when Naruto's eyelids move upwards, the bond's eyes are gleaming with surprise and curiosity.

"My-My mother…you…you knew her, sir?"

Danzo arches his eyebrow, his lips are twitching in what Naruto can interpret as amusement; or maybe it is disapproval? Naruto doesn't notice the small glance Shin and Sai give each other before returning their attention to Naruto and Danzo.

"Yes, I knew her." He replies his voice is calm, he knows he is playing with fire on this one. The fact Sarutobi is foolish enough to not say anything to young Naruto is going to play perfectly in his plans.

"She was quite the ninja. Cunning, fast, a great strategist and pretty dangerous." Danzo signals for one of his men to fill his glass. "She was what every ninja should be, but of course she also had her flaws. A very temperamental kunoichi, there weren't many who would dare to cross her when angered."

Naruto lowers his head a frown appearing on his features while he pursues his lips, "Ojiji said he didn't know much about them. About my mum. He said they were killed the night of the Kyuubi's attack."

Naruto doesn't say Sarutobi also told him his parents were villagers. Simple and nothing-out-of-the-ordinary villagers.

This is where Danzo's planning should go perfectly. He can't give Naruto too much information, he needs for the boy to need more and look up for Danzo for the answers Sarutobi will not give to him.

"I'm sure whatever reasons Hiruzen has to keep this a secret are his own." Danzo lowers his head glancing at Naruto. "I hope this can remain between ourselves. I would hate to have Hiruzen angry at me for my imprudence."

"Sure, no problem. As long as I can get some more information about my mum." Danzo looks taken a back. He doesn't expect Naruto to be this forward, nor does he expect for the boy to be cunning enough to ask something in return. But, then again, Uzumaki Naruto is called 'the most unexpected person' by Shin and Sai for a reason.

Naruto smiles sheepishly while he watches out of the corner of his eye at Shin and Sai facepalmed. "I mean, sir?"

Danzo smirks nodding his head, "Of course. It wouldn't fair of me to ask something of you without giving something back."

Naruto smiles satisfied at having deal with the situation gaining something in return; he stares at Danzo his hand moving automatically to the pendant Itachi had given him for his seventh birthday.

"So, what else can you tell me about her, sir?"

However, before Danzo can answer Naruto his sole eye focus on the pendant Naruto is playing with; the man frowns because he knows the symbol the pendant represents and he also knows Uzumaki doesn't have enough money to buy something so expensive looking.

"That pendant, where did you get it?" Naruto blinks looking down then up again.

"Oh, this?" Says Naruto presenting his necklace. "It was a gift from Itachi-nii. He said I would appreciate it with time."

"Uchiha Itachi, how smart of him." Naruto is getting use to the tone the man uses, there is an insinuation of knowledge behind the man's voice, a knowledge Danzo is sharing bits by bits with Naruto.

"What do you mean?"

"The symbol you're carrying is the same one of your Clan. The Uzumaki Clan." Naruto looks taken aback.

"I have a clan?"

"Indeed, a most powerful one if memory serves me right." Danzo smiles leaning over the table. "And believe me, it does. Unfortunately, they have all but disappeared…I think I have some books relating this shameful event, I can get it for you if you want?"

"Wow, sure...I mean, yes, sir that would be cool."

Naruto chuckles and Danzo accompanies him with a short, quiet snigger. Danzo re-arrange his position on the chair even more intrigue by the blond sitting just across the table and his relationship with Uchiha Itachi. Is it the heir of the Uchiha Clan who has taught young Uzumaki the art of speaking? Because, this Naruto, isn't the same idiot, klutz and distracted one Sarutobi describes some times.

"So, Uchiha Itachi gave it to you? He must have you in high regards to get hold of that necklace."

And from that point on Naruto starts telling Danzo about his unusual friendship with the heir of the Uchiha Clan while Danzo would share some pieces of information about Naruto's mother and his clan.

It is late at night when Naruto decides to go back home. He enters his apartment to find Loki reading some strange scroll but he is too tired to share any of the conversations he held that day. Naruto feels warm and safe the moment Loki takes him quietly to his bed and tuck him in. Tomorrow he would tell Loki all he had learnt from the man called Danzo.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

And so, time passes.

Days turn to weeks, weeks turn to months; by the time Naruto is nearing his eighth birthday he has been getting used to the routine that involves, what he calls in his mind, his family.

Loki has always been, and always will be, the father figure, the one who is there for everything Naruto needs. The man can be mysterious sometimes, there is an undercurrent of anger and sorrow there, something Naruto notices but decides the best way to put a smile on Loki's face is to do the best he can. And Naruto does, and Loki smiles.

Then, there is Itachi. Itachi is capable of taking several roles but Naruto likes to think he is the big brother he doesn't have. He can't help but feel jealous of that bastard Sasuke for having such a cool brother. He can't help but feel jealous of Loki for having a big brother (of course, Naruto doesn't mention this after that one time he did and everything, out of nowhere, turned to ice.). Itachi loves Naruto and treats him like a ninja; he respects him and believes in him. For that, he has Naruto's loyalty (friendship, brotherhood and love) through and through.

And finally, and pretty much least because Naruto still can't decide how convenient this is it. There is Jiraiya. Now, Jiraiya is many things to Naruto. He is a teacher and he is, surprisingly, a pretty good one. He is a funny old man who always knows the best stories involving the Fourth Hokage and his wife. He is also a kind of…uncle. He brings gifts Loki sometimes approves and some others burn before Naruto can see them. And then…well, Jiraiya is a pervert. There is no other way to describe him/this. And he decides, since Naruto is his student, is a growing male and has a bright future ahead of him that Naruto needs to know everything there is to know about courtship and women. Naruto finds his efforts amusing, he doesn't understand most of the things Jiraiya says; but just like with Itachi, Naruto has learnt to respect and even love Jiraiya.

The three of them are the only one genuinely interested in Naruto.

Nevertheless, Naruto loves them all. His heart feels lighter, his mind is clearer and his determination to become the best is stronger when he thinks of them. They are his family; whether it is a borrowed one it doesn't concern Naruto.

Loki smirks greeting Jiraiya who merely bows his head and then proceeds to greet Naruto. Ever since the day Itachi help the god of mischief to…expand Jiraiya's mind, the Sannin has been a great asset to Loki's little group. He finds both, concerning and gratifying, the fact Naruto seems to warm up to the man. It is nice to have someone, outside from Loki and Itachi teaching Naruto while, at the same time, trying to protect him from the shadowy threat on the horizon.

"Welcome, Jiraiya." Loki greets him in a formal way, Naruto waves at him flashing a huge grin.

"Hey! Old Man, ready for this week's training?!"

Jiraiya feels his right eyebrow twitch; he also feels a nagging weight at the back of his head. It is always like this when he meets with Loki and Naruto. As if somethingis out of place, as if something isn't the way is supposed to be. But, as soon as those thoughts appear they are discharged and Jiraiya is ready to accomplish Loki's main wish. To train Naruto. To make him the best warrior this world has ever seen.

"Of course! Let's see if you remember what I taught you last time."

"You're in, Old Man!"

"Stop calling me that!"

Loki watches from afar, his back is resting against a tree and he doesn't even bother to hide his real appearance. He knows this place is far away from the usual spots tourist visit during their stay in the island. The god observes for a few minutes before his attention is dragged to the scroll on his hand.

He has been readying this same scroll over and over again, each time he discovers new things, some others he just gathers more questions than answers. Still, it is something he uses when his mind urges him to make decisions regarding Naruto.

He sighs shaking his head and opens the scroll: "The Legend of Kurama, the Lord of the Ninth Gem."

Four hours later and Naruto is still attempting to climb the tree with his feet. He hasn't given up yet, this is the first time he is trying to control his chakra and getting it to work as he so wishes. Jiraiya observes complementing Naruto or making some mocking comment which in turn would make Naruto more stubborn to get the exercise done.

Since the first time, Loki discovers Naruto loves training. If given the chance, Loki knows Naruto would make a fine Aesir. Not only because of his looks but because of his determination to be the best warrior he can be. He can forgo his meals if that means more time on the training grounds.

Being like this, outside watching the blond train…Loki feels a knot on his throat and longing in his heart. He gazes down because he isn't allowed to feel regret or to miss Thor, his parents…or Asgard.

Loki puts the scroll away standing up while leaving the two of them alone. He doesn't need to fear Jiraiya's intentions for his will is tied completely to Loki's one. He doesn't need to worry about Naruto because he knows Naruto can take care of himself. Instead, Loki moves silently away taking the path towards the closest village to acquire some food and beverages.

Two hours later Loki is back to find the place empty.

There are no signs of Jiraiya or Naruto. He frowns, because the both of them know they shouldn't wander around without him there. They are supposed to be training no wandering around the island, which Loki thinks is what the both of them are doing.

Loki strolls down a small path he notices out of the corner of his eye. His eyes, that are used to follow the clues left behind by a prey, are locating the branches the two of them had snap or the leaves they had crushed. It doesn't take him too long to find them and, when he does, he feels this sudden urge to smash Jiraiya's face against the ground.

The man is hiding behind a tree, his eyes glue to the scene in front of them while there is a breathless, unashamed giggle escaping his lips. Naruto is furrowing his brow turning his eyes from the scene back to Jiraiya, Loki clears his throat making Naruto turn his confused eyes to him.

"I told you this Ero-sennin was strange." He mumbles. "He's a pervert!"

"Hey! I'm not a pervert! I'm a pretty respectable writer of adult fiction and this is part of an extensive research!" The man turns to Loki wiggling his eyebrows at him. "Surely you can appreciate…"

"I do not and I would prefer if you keep Naruto away from…this." Loki cocks his head his green eyes have observed enough of the group of women bathing in the river.

Jiraiya looks taken a back, narrowing one eye he glances at Naruto and then at Loki, "You can't tell me you haven't appreciated…"

Loki growls containing any physical reaction to the memories those words trig, "Even if I have, that is none of your business, I've brought you here to teach Naruto ninja arts not your depraved arts."

Jiraiya huffs indignantly he opens his mouth to protest but a glare from both, Naruto and Loki stops him. The man knows when a battle is lost but he smirks on the inside. The war is still on and, if Naruto is anything like Minato, the boy would give him enough material for the next volumes of his Icha Icha series.

They return to the waterfall, once there they sit and share a warm meal while Naruto speaks. Even with the mind-controlling Jiraiya can still appreciate the relationship Loki and Naruto share. The man is patient and listens to Naruto as if he is telling stories about the beginning of times, there is no faking interested in what the blond is saying. Loki takes everything with the right reaction. He smiles when he has to, lifting his eyebrows or even commenting once in a while.

Right now, Naruto is finally telling and re-telling his first meeting with Danzo to Jiraiya and Loki.

"…then, he told me Itachi-nii was pretty smart because this pendant is the symbol of my clan."

Loki takes a sip from his cup watching Naruto with an intense stare, "It's been a few months since then, Naruto. Why are you asking me until now?"

Jiraiya frowns because he doesn't remember Naruto asking anything; the blond evades Loki stare biting his lower lip.

"I thought I could find out on my own. I…I've been going to Shin and Sai's home for the last few months."

Loki nods resting his back against the tree, his eyes glancing upwards, "Interesting, did you gather any information?"

"Mm, kind of, the guy is really good with secrets." Naruto frowns grasping the pendant in his hand. "But, I did what you told me about catching people off guard to see what they can tell me without saying nothing."

"And, what happen?" Naruto crosses his arms glancing at Jiraiya then at Loki.

"I can only trust you, Itachi-nii and the Old Man here."

"Even if Danzo is telling you things he isn't supposed to say to you?" Asks Jiraiya who can't keep silent any longer.

"Of course! The guy is really creepy and at first I was eager for what he could tell me but then I realized something." He turns his blue eyes to Loki who is watching him closely.

"What is it?"

"That Loki already knows everything and if he hasn't said anything to me is for a good reason." Naruto shrugs, Loki feels something tugging at his heart at the blind trust Naruto is showing him. "I know in time Loki would tell me everything and, if there was something really important I should know he would have told me a long time ago."

There is conviction in Naruto's voice, those eyes gleam with trust and affection direct to the only father figure he has had in his short life. Loki remains impassive well-aware of Jiraiya's stare on him, after a moment he turns and he knows Jiraiya is thinking the same as him.

What would happen when Naruto finds out about the Kyuubi and that Loki has been keeping it a secret for him? What would happen if Naruto finds out Loki's first interest was the monster inside of him instead of the boy now sitting in front of him?

He kept the truth from you, so that you would never feel different. You are our son, Loki. And we your family.

How ironic it is now, two years after what went down in Asgard the Loki comes to understand what his mother meant by those words. He looks at Naruto and knows he can't postpone the revelations about Naruto's status as a Jinchuuriki but…How do you take away from a child the sense of normality by reveling to him the reason everyone back home hates him is because he is the representation of the monster they all fear?

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Naruto loves Loki dearly. He trusts the man blindly he really does. Still, there are times he just…doesn't think Loki is as wise as he thinks he is.

For example, Loki should know better than to leave Naruto and Jiraiya in a town where Onsen are the main attraction, much less in a place where Jiraiya has enough material to work with.

Of course, there is also the fact Jiraiya should know better than to try and get Naruto to do something for him free.

Naruto does nothing for free. Much less to Jiraiya.

"But…But, I'm your teacher and I command it!" Jiraiya is really close to begging. He narrows his eyes when he notices a glint in those blue eyes, the twitching of lips drawing a mischievous smirk on the young face of Uzumaki Naruto.

"Nope, I'm not doing it again!" Naruto crosses his arms and closes his eyes; he turns to the side ignoring the faces Jiraiya is making.

Jiraiya's eyes roll to the nearest Onsen then back at Naruto. He loves the boy, really, and he knows Loki would skin him alive if something bad happens to him; but sometimes the little brat make him sweat like right now.

"Fine, fine…"Naruto opens one eyes staring winningly at Jiraiya. "You win, I'll teach you how to summon toads."

"Yes!" Naruto raises a fist to the air excited at the prospect of using those toads to prank people around the village.

"Let's go then, you can…Oh, no, I know that look." Jiraiya narrows his eyes, "What else do you want?"

Naruto beams at Jiraiya before placing his hand around his chin, thinking carefully about what he is going to ask in return. Jiraiya is counting how much money he has if he is going to spend it on Naruto's eating habits.

"Oh, I know!" And there it is the same twinkling he has only seen on Loki, Jiraiya smiles nervously because he decides he is going to do whatever Naruto asks; if for the sake of the information he can gather. For the sake of his research and his books.

"I want to learn that thing you use the other day! With those bandits!" Jiraiya blinks for a moment trying to remember what Naruto is talking about. "You say that was one of the Fourth's techniques. How cool would it be if I know how to do it?"

"Oh, you want to learn the Rasengan." Jiraiya leans his head back in realization, Naruto nods and Jiraiya contemplates Naruto for a moment. Then he smiles, but this time Naruto notices something different in the pattern of the smile; it is softer and wishful.

Naruto knits his brow the moment Jiraiya ruffles his hair and leans in, "Okay, I'll teach it to you."

"Really?" Naruto glows with happiness and excitement at hearing this, and then he smirks widely and looks back at Jiraiya.

"So, what do you say, Ero-sennin?" Jiraiya sighs knowing he has been defeated by a seventh-year –old brat. Oh, the things he does in the name of research and good material.

"Stop calling me that!" Mumbles Jiraiya as he closes the deal with a hand-shake.

Five minute later Naruto is sneaking inside the place, he is looking around his expression is that of a lost child who doesn't know where exactly is he. He bites his lower lip; his eyes are getting watery while he massages his left arm with his right hand.

"Hey! What are you doing here?" Naruto turns to see a beautiful woman, he looks so astonished he doesn't care his cheeks are burning. He looks away shyly taking his hands to his eyes.

The woman is slender and busty; she has green eyes and ankle—length, auburn hair all put up in a ponytail. Even though a towel is covering most of her body, Naruto can help but feel aware of her presence when she kneels down and takes his chin in her hand.

"You're not supposed to be here, little man." The woman says in a gently tone, Naruto is cursing Jiraiya for having him agree with this.

"I…I got lost." He whispers and the woman chuckles standing up while placing a hand on his head.

"Well, that's too bad. I'm Mei, what's your name, little guy?"

Naruto gulps glancing up at the woman, his mind working hard while thinking about a name. "I'm…Balder."

The woman arches her right eyebrow, "Balder? That's a nice name."

"Thank you." Naruto mumbles and the boy almost winces care at the squeal coming from three young women coming their way.

"Oh, look at him! How cute!" They were three young women, companions of Mei, each one of them commenting on how cute Naruto look, how adorable are those whisker marks, how sad he is lost.

"Well, Balder, we were about to take a bath. How about you come with us and later we will look for your parents." Naruto feels a sudden, tight knot on his throat and he decides he is going to make Jiraiya-sensei pay much more after this is over.

"I…I'm not supposed to be here, Lady Mei." Naruto says in a rather respectful manner, "This is a girls bath and I'm a boy."

And the young women squeal again while Mei is looking merely amused, there is something strange about the sudden appearance of the little kid. There is also a sudden awareness in Mei, something that makes her feel watched. She decides the boy does have a point so he reassures him (and herself) no one is going to show anything but they all are going to go inside the water with their towels still on.

After fifteen minutes, Mei decides the little kid is not secretly a little pervert. If anything the little kid is an amusing, rather clever person who enjoys hearing their tales about their travels and telling them his own tales.

Jiraiya is outside, writing like crazy with one of the summons beside him. Jiraiya giggles when one of the girls talks about her boyfriend and they seem beyond their mind when Naruto says he doesn't understand.

Oh, this kid is a mine of gold!

"You shouldn't be doing this." Jiraiya glances at the toad then goes back to his writing.

"I make a deal with him! Besides, if Loki doesn't know…" Jiraiya grins again, "I haven't had this much to write ever since Minato stopped doing this for me."

"Humph, you mean ever since Tsunade-sama and Kushina-sama found out and almost kill you for it?"

Jiraiya cringes, he still have the scars of that day. "That was entirely different. I'm still doing what Loki ordered me to."

"Which is?"

"Teaching Naruto how to be a ninja." The toad looks skeptically at Jiraiya, it turns to the closest window and watches as Naruto chuckles while the rest of the women laugh openly. The boy looks comfortable around them, a little kid among four strong female who can pummel him to dead if they find out they are actually being observed.

"How exactly are you accomplishing that?"

Jiraiya looks offend by the tone the toad is using, he huffs indignantly while pointing at Naruto and the woman sitting beside him.

"You see that lady there? That's Terumi Mei, she is a ninja from Kirigakure and one of the leaders of the rebellion against the Third Mizukage. I'm teaching Naruto how to gather information about…"

"About how she would like to be courted." The tone is cold and it sends shivers down Jiraiya's back. The Sannin gulps while putting on a tentative smile as he turns around.

There behind him is Loki.

Green eyes flaming with a familiar coldness, his jaw set in a tight grip and a single, elegant eyebrow raise demanding answers. "Care to tell me, Jiraiya, what is Naruto doing inside this place asking inappropriate questions to the maidens surrounding him?"

"Well, I wouldn't say inappropriate…" Starts Jiraiya laughing nervously, the toad rolls his eyes but stays, interested in what Jiraiya is going to say next.

It is two hours later, and long explanations to Loki that both, the god of mischief and the Toad Sannin watch as Naruto shares a table with the group of women. Naruto sits at the edge of the chair taking bites from the dango in front of him, one of the women is telling them about her first love.

"But, he was just a kid and after that…" Suddenly the tone of the story changes, there is a shadow crossing the group when a memory hit their minds. Naruto glances curiously, his legs swinging playfully while he considers what to say.

"I…I like a girl." He says suddenly and the females turn to him with a glint of interest in their eyes.

"Really, now. Do tell us, Balder-san, so far you have enjoyed our stories of love and missions and even heard about Kirigakure but we know nothing about you." Replies Mei placing her chin on the back of her hand while her elbow rests on the table, her eyes are twinkly while taking in Naruto's embarrassed expression.

"Well, she is…not from my village. I met her on another village a year ago. We write letters to each other that my father takes to her sometimes." Naruto speaks without thinking, he is being honest and he forgets the women aren't the only one watching.

"Aw, how cute! But long distance relationships usually don't work." One of the young woman say, Mei turns to her with a full-angered glare that makes the woman squirm on her chair.

"What do you mean they don't work? You mean to tell me if I find a man from another village and we fall in love we won't be together? That I may never get a man if he doesn't live on that forsaken village of ours?"

The group look nervously at each other, all them gulp and shake their heads, "N-no...N-no, of course no, Mei-sama…I just meant…that…"

The girl glances at her companions asking for help but all of them know how Mei gets every time a love talk takes place and it hits too close to her own experiences. It is Naruto the one who saves them from an angered Mei.

"I think what she means is that maybe it is difficult because maybe she can meet someone and I can meet someone and then we will just pretty good friends instead of…of…you know."

Naruto blushes at the huge grin Mei sends his way, "You're right. But, I bet that girl is waiting anxiously for your letters so…you better don't disappoint her."

The last part is said as a threat and Naruto can't help but sweat-dropped, this woman is crazy even by Naruto's standards.

"Your father sounds like such a nice guy, does he travel a lot?" Naruto nods smiling softly.

"Yeah, he does. Sometimes he takes me with him because he wants me to learn the things he knows, some others I wait for him back home." Naruto grins and the women are all grinning back at him. "Father is the best! He is a good merchant and can make deals like no one! He even knows how to fight because the roads are filled with bandits."

"Oh? Really? Is he a ninja or something?" Asks Mei interested about the man, Naruto scrunches his nose shaking his head.

"Of course not! Father isn't a ninja, he is way better than any ninja." The woman laugh all finding adorable Naruto's loyalty to his father, it is obvious to all of them the boy adores the man and thinks, as all little children do, their father are the best there is in the world.

They don't say it but they think if the little kid's looks are anything to go by, then his father is quite the good looking man.

Mei leans in, the robe she put on after they all have taken a nice warm bath at the hot springs moving tightly against her chest. Naruto feels his cheeks warm again and he rolls his eyes to the side. Mei chuckles enjoying the timid child's reaction in front of her.

"Do tell me, Balder-san, it's been over two hours since we met…"Naruto lifts his head, his face expressionless but his eyes gleaming with uncertainty. "Where are your parents? Or, are you here all on your own?"

Mei has had the suspicion ever since she first met Naruto that the boy may be alone. Maybe, he is an orphan? Or maybe someone hire the boy to distract them. Mei doesn't believe in coincidences and the boy has been asking some odd questions to them that, so far, they have answered with only a tinge of lies in between.

Naruto stares a Mei without so much of a twitch; he knows his eyes are probably the only ones giving the woman some of the answers to her questions. But he remains calm, taking deep breaths but just as he is about to answer…

"You, young man, owe me an explanation." There at the door is standing a young man. Mei turns her attention to him and both her eyebrows shoot upwards at the sight.

The man is tall and slender with an elegant posture, his eyes are a deep shade of green adorning strong features, and he has long, black hair falling up under his ears. The man steps forward and Mei can't help but feel impressed at how handsome the man is. Naruto smiles sheepishly at the man waving his right hand at him.

"I'm sorry, Father." The man falters on his footsteps, his green eyes search for Naruto's blue ones. They stare at each other and Loki is showing the hesitance he feels at Naruto's way of addressing him. While Naruto has spoken of at him as a 'father' Loki never thought the blond would say it out loud in front of him.

Loki has allowed, once more, dark thoughts invade his mind, hesitance at Naruto's willingness to call him that out of his heart and not out of necessity.

It seems Loki is wrong.

The women in the room are silent; their eyes are glued to the striking form of the newcomer. They seem to develop a soft red coloring on their cheeks that it isn't a side effect of being inside a room near the hot springs. It is Mei, the leader of the group, the first one to react.

"So, you're Balder's father." The name and the tittle giving to him catches Loki by surprised. He conceals his wonderment behind an enticing smile and a bow of his head.

"That I am, my Lady." He speaks and, once again, the women seem charmed by the voice, the soft texture of the voice. Loki turns his stare to Naruto and the god can see the mischief gleaming in those blue eyes.

"I am Hogun." He presents himself to Mei. "And, I sincerely hope my son, Balder, didn't cause any trouble to you or your companions."

"Oh, no, he was rather adorable and entertaining. Weren't you, Balder-kun?" Mei turns to Naruto, blinking at the blushing boy who can only nod his head. Loki is so tempted to roll his eyes, but he contains himself. They have to keep this charade so he can take Naruto with him and then get his revenge on Jiraiya.

The nerve of the man…you send him to train the boy and, what does he do? Send him to a dangerous quest only to gather information for his so-called books. The glint in Naruto, if it is possible, has grown. It is now a matching to one of Loki's beast gleams of mischief. There is something at the pit of Loki's stomach, something he isn't familiar with. Dread as to what the blond has planned out; this only urges Loki to try and take Naruto with him. Right now.

"I thank you for watching over Balder." Loki is containing himself from making any faces. Balder has never been a favorite of his and trying to relate the name with Naruto is proving to be difficult. "But, I think it is time for me and my son…"

"Oh, no, no, no, no…" Interrupts Mei waving her hand while hooking her other one with Loki's right arm. The woman is leaning dangerously close to Loki and the god can't help but remember the time Amora and those harpies she called friends tried to lure Thor into a rather inappropriate party. He feels trapped and without any options.

This is new for Loki. He has never been prone to female's attention; it is Thor and Balder the ones who deal with women fawning over them and trying to lure and trapped them. Loki has always been…Loki. A part of him feels bitter by this; there is a part of him that remembers the woman owner of his attention and how said woman merely ignores, and even despites, his existence.

"Come on, Hogun-san, join us and share at least a cup of tea." Mei smiles charmingly at Loki while trying to take him to the table, and then she drops her smile and looks conflictive from Naruto to Loki. "Unless, of course, your wife is waiting for you and Balder?"

"I don't have a wife."

"Mother is no longer with us."

The both of them, Loki and Naruto, answer at the same time. They look at each other then at Mei and the rest of her companions but the group of women is glancing at the floor rather uncomfortable. Once again, it is Mei the first to speak and address Loki and Naruto.

"I'm sorry to hear it…I apologize for my comment."

Loki waves away her apology smiling charmingly at her, his green eyes move from his arm to Mei's one and the woman feels her cheeks warm at the realization she is still clinging to Loki. She lets go of him slowly.

"There was no way for you to know about it." Comments Loki smoothly.

"Then, with more reason you have to accept my invitation to share a drink." Says Mei indicating the table, there is Naruto patting the chair beside him and winking at Loki. "So, I can apology more properly…or else, I don't think I can't rest in peace tonight."

"Come on, Father. It would be fun." Says Naruto grinning widely, Loki narrows his eyes at him. "I've been telling father he should go out more often…"

Naruto comments all business-like and the young women around him giggle. Loki snorts arching a single eyebrow only now catching up with Naruto's intention. He nods his head and proceeds to accept Mei's invitation.

Once they are all seated and the food and beverages are brought. Mei places her elbow on the table and rest her chin on the back of her hand, her eyes twinkling as they glance at Loki.

"So, tell us, Hogun-san, how come you and little Balder-kun end up in this part of the world?" Asks Mei with a winning smile and a flirting glint in her eyes.

Loki is looking confused while Naruto sniggers quietly. This conversation looks promising.

Outside, on the side window, Jiraiya can't believe his luck. What is happening is amazing! It is such a good material for his next book. Who wouldn't love this kind of love-sex story in the Icha Icha series? A single father meeting the woman who rescues his child, only to find out this woman is a princess. Jiraiya giggles perversely. Oh, the possibilities!

Jiraiya realizes as Loki and Naruto keep talking with the group, he is where he is supposed to be. Following Naruto and Loki around, teaching Naruto the paths of the ninja and, at the same time, getting advantage of Loki's and Naruto's unexplainable charm with women.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Once back in Konoha both, Loki and Naruto, are unusually silent.

Loki sits close to the window glancing up to the sky where he can distinguish the few stars adorning the black firmament. He is thinking, his thoughts are direct to what happened during his weekend with Naruto. Cocking his head Loki can see Naruto out of the corner of his eye pouring milk on a glass and drinking it in one sip. The boy wipes his mouth, yawns and hesitates; he stands there for a few seconds then lifts his head and those blue eyes focus on Loki.

"Good night…" And then, Naruto hesitates again sighs and turns around only to be stopped by Loki's voice.

"Today, with Lady Mei and her companions…why did you refer to me as 'Father'?"

Some would say Loki is a fool, how can he ask that to the boy who obviously adores him? Some others would say Loki is a fool, he really expects someone like Naruto to love a monster like Loki? Some others would say Loki just needs to understand.

"I'm sorry, I just…" And Naruto trails off; he takes a few steps towards Loki and smiles tensely at Loki. "You're the closest thing to a father I have."

It is rather emotional. They both know this is the kind of relationship they have formed, but neither of them was ready to admit it out loud.

Naruto has never met someone like Loki, he has never felt so safe and love the way he feel near Loki. He remembers when he was at the orphanage, how all the kids would get adopted but him. How all the grown-ups wouldn't even give him a glance when they had already chosen another.

Loki, with all his coolness and power, with all his godhood and presence, chose Naruto.

"I…"Loki frowns lightly then makes sure Naruto is looking at him. "I would feel honored to be called your father, Naruto."

Up in the stars, beyond the galaxies and the different universes at the edge of the Asbru Bridge there are two figures. Odin All-Father watches his youngest son and he feels oddly happy.

His son is growing up; much like Thor did when he was first banished. But, while Thor needed a lesson in humility and empathy; Loki is in need of a lesson of understanding. Odin hopes Loki, unlike him, makes the right decision regarding the little boy.

Heimdall's lips quirk, the ghost of a smile adorning his stony features while his eyes watch the scene from afar. The All-Father smiles as well, shaking his head happy that his son is finally understanding.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

"Ero-sennin!"

Jiraiya of the Sannin twitches, Anko and Kurenai glare at the man while Sarutobi chuckles openly at the nickname. Ever since they barge in Naruto's room all those months ago, Jiraiya has come to the village more often. One of his excuses is the undergoing investigation regarding the man called Lie-Smith. The two real reasons, the ones Sarutobi knows well, are the fact Jiraiya can visit Naruto and start building a friendship with him and the beautiful women he can spy on for his 'research'.

"Brat! Stop calling me that!" Naruto laughs and shakes his head.

"Are you gonna stop pepping at women back in the Onsen?" Jiraiya opens his eyes rather alarmed when he feels the killer intent coming from Kurenai and Anko.

"I'm not gonna buy you ramen." Jiraiya shoots back, Naruto looks crestfallen for a second then he turns a puppy-dog stare at him and Jiraiya cringes. "Okay, okay…I'm kidding, I guess buying some ramen is good for your health."

Sarutobi watches as Naruto and Jiraiya leave, both of them bickering back and forth. There is, however, affection and a growing respect from Naruto's part towards Jiraiya. Maybe, their introduction wasn't ideal; Sarutobi knows Naruto is still touchy about the day the broke his door. But, things seem better. Sarutobi can almost see Minato, when he was Naruto's age, bounding the same way with Jiraiya.

However, the Third Hokage is worried. There is something about Jiraiya, the investigation he is leading that has Hiruzen concern about his student. The man hasn't allowed many people involved in the search of Lie-Smith. Kakashi has been the first one to point out the fact; he has also shared Hiruzen's concerns about it.

"Hokage-sama, you have a letter." The Sandaime Hokage turns to see Kakashi standing behind him, he nods and Kakashi handles him the letter.

"Thank you, Kakashi." The Hokage opens the letter and starts reading, Kakashi is still in the room so Sarutobi glances at him before returning his attention to the letter.

"I just saw Naruto and Jiraiya-sama. I see he is back on the village." Kakashi crosses his arms. "Did he say something about the search?"

"Um, no…he told me there haven't been any more sightings since the one on Iwa." Hiruzen folds the letter, a satisfied look on his face. "But, he has most of his resources at play, ready to alert him of any other sighting. One we can actually do something about without starting a war."

Kakashi snorts agreeing completely, "By the way, I see Naruto is more…welcoming to Jiraiya's efforts."

"Yes, he is." Sarutobi smiles softly. "I'm glad about it. I thought it would be more difficult for Naruto to accept Jiraiya; more so when Jiraiya tried to introduce him to the world of Icha Icha and Naruto scream 'pervert' near the hot springs."

Kakashi chuckles remembering the episode in which Jiraiya had to hide for a few hours. Nevertheless, after that Naruto has been friendlier towards Jiraiya even accepting the man's advice regarding his on-existent love life.

"Do me a favor," Sarutobi speaks staring at Kakashi. "Tell Jiraiya, after he is done with Naruto, I need to speak with him."

The smell of warm meal reaches Jiraiya's nose. Naruto is already greeting the owner of the ramen stand and his daughter, the young woman pinching Naruto's cheeks while giving him a kiss on his forehead.

"AH, Jiraiya-sama! It is good to see you again!" The old man greets Jiraiya as Jiraiya sits beside Naruto.

"Thank you, Teuchi. How are things around here?" The old man shrugs, there is a smile on his face but Jiraiya can see the tense lines around his eyes, the strain smile while the old man's eyes focus on Naruto then on Jiraiya.

"They couldn't be better, actually." Teuchi brings two big bowls of ramen and place them on the counter in front of Jiraiya and Naruto. "Naruto is still my favorite client and the business is going smoothly."

"I bet this brings old memories to you." Is all Jiraiya says as he starts eating. Teuchi chuckles shaking his head because this does bring memories about a time where Uzumaki Kushina would drag Namikaze Minato to this stand to eat.

Naruto eats happily munching on his food while glancing at Jiraiya, the old man eats slowly contemplative. After a few moments he notices Naruto's eyes on him, he turns and Naruto grins.

"So, you came here to teach me what you promise, right?" Naruto looks around making sure no one is hearing to their conversation. "You told me you got a good material out of my ingenious plan."

"You know? Being a little modest about it wouldn't make you any harm." Jiraiya replies teasingly. Then Jiraiya leans in his face closer to Naruto's one. "But yes, I came here for that, unfortunately I think Sarutobi-sensei won't leave me alone this time so…I left some scrolls in your apartment."

"Scrolls? About what?" Naruto scrunches his nose confusedly.

"I need you to read them, study them and try to do the exercises. Next time we see each other you should have a good hold of the theory so I can start on the practical part." Jiraiya claps happily. "What do you say?"

"I guess it's okay." Says Naruto reluctantly, Jiraiya ruffles his hair smiling conspiratorial at him.

"Don't worry. I'll keep my promise, but you can't be any good or even attempt at doing the Rasengan without learning the basics first." Then Jiraiya says as an afterthought. "I know Loki would want me to teach you this first."

"Okay, then I'll read it and when we see each other I'll have it all mastered!" Naruto is a mask of confidence and the sight makes Jiraiya smile.

"Good, then let's finish this and then I'll drop you home on the way back to Sarutobi-sensei."

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Kakashi tells Jiraiya he needs to leave. Apparently, something happen and he is needed in Tanzaku Quarters. Jiraiya knows there is something more behind Kakashi's message; but he nods his head and leaves. Of course, he doesn't leave before sending a message to Loki, sending a messenger toad with Jiraiya's future location and information about what he left Naruto.

Once he is sure Loki is going to receive the right news and that the toad wouldn't stop until he has located the god of mischief, Jiraiya leaves.

Tanzaku Quarters is a town remotely close to Konoha. It is built in a circular fashion with walls surrounding the city. The buildings are a mixture of gambling rooms, Inns, hot springs, and other adult entertainment facilities. It is called the 'Sin City' for a reason and, once inside, it is highly improbable you find any innocent kids between its walls.

It is in this place Jiraiya finds the person he is supposed to meet. He has learnt, ever since Loki has expanded his mind, how to play with life's surprises. He knows how to conceal those feelings that would put him or Loki in danger. It is something handled to him by Loki, something he is grateful for at the moment.

He is surprise, he opens his eyes to show it; but then his features soften and there is a slowly leer forming on his face when Jiraiya takes in all of Senju Tsunade's body.

"Looking good there, Tsunade." The woman is scowling openly at the leer coming from the man.

"I don't think I can say the same of you." Then Tsunade smirks and nods her head to the chair in front of her. Jiraiya sits with the same goofy smile Tsunade has come to both, love and hate, since they were kids.

Jiraiya starts shaking the bottle of sake on the table, one by one, to see which one of them is the fullest. "So, Kakashi said something about a 'situation' down here and that my presence was required. I take it you're the situation."

"You could say that." Tsunade watches Jiraiya while the man drinks from the bottle. "Tell me, what the hell did you do that Sarutobi has to look me out?"

"Oh, Tsunade, you make me sound like a naughty boy." Tsunade snorts and turns away from the grinning Jiraiya.

"You make another comment like that and I gonna pummel you to the ground."

"Hey, peace, peace...I was just teasing." Jiraiya says waving his hands in a placating manner. "Gee, you haven't lost your temper, have you? It's been three years since we last saw each other, Tsunade. Try to relax a bit."

Tsunade snorts sprawling on the chair she is sitting at, her eyes roam around the establishment sipping sake from the saucer on her hand. Jiraiya narrows his eyes there is something strange about this meeting and suddenly it all fits.

Tsunade doesn't turn and Jiraiya leans over the table. "Why are you here? Last time you spoke with him you tell him in a rather colorful language where he should go and what he should do with the scroll he…"

Tsunade flinches waving her hand, sending a warning glare to Jiraiya who soon enough shut his mouth. The gesture doesn't stop the smug smile on the white-haired man's face.

"He told me about this, Lie-Smith." Tsunade is trying so hard to not sound interested, she is really trying to get away of the life of a ninja and, more importantly, she is trying to get away of the life of a Konoha ninja.

There are some things, however, that you cannot change. Tsunade was born a ninja, whether she like it or not.

"Seems like a neat character, we should invite him to a nice, warming reunion along with Orochimaru and maybe the Tsuchikage. Now those are the meeting I miss."

"Glad to know you still have your humor intact." Replies Jiraiya dryly.

They go silent for a few minutes hearing the people around them, the drunk-chatter from the table to their right. The heating argument from the couple behind them.

"We all hear the rumors, Jiraiya. But for this guy to actually make you and Orochimaru freak out. Orochimaru send some of his pets to look for me so I could help heal one of his other pets. And you, this guy sent you running back to the village…well," Tsunade shrugs.

"Wait a sec, Orochimaru tried to contact you?" Asks Jiraiya, Tsunade nods with a frown and a purse of her lips.

"Damn right he did. The idiot. I almost killed the rat he sent as a messenger." Tsunade smirks. "I haven't heard from him since then. But, you Jiraiya…you, who usually are stupid and fearless enough to continue with these things…"

Tsunade shakes her head and glances at Jiraiya, "Sensei just wants me to ask you if you sure you're okay and you're not being all…fool and trying to be a hero or things like that. So?"

"Meh, not really. The guy did surprise me though. It was the best Genjutsu I have ever seen." Jiraiya takes a long drink from the bottle before continuing. "He is also…good with changing his appearance."

This time Tsunade does look pretty interested, she arches her brow staring at Jiraiya.

"How do you know?"

"Well, I thought he was this merchant, I guess you hear about that."

Tsunade nods her lips quirking upwards at the memory of what she heard. Apparently, Jiraiya thought a poor merchant from Wave Country to be this Lie-Smith. He and a group of ninja waited for the man but they guy never showed up. When Jiraiya sent Kakashi to look for the man, it turned out the man had returned to the village because he forgot his wallet.

"Okay, I started digging and found out the guy who attacked Orochimaru's minions was just as blond as the guy I know and he also had deep, green eyes but the similarities end there." Jiraiya shrugs. "I think the guy uses Genjutsu and Henge to hide away."

Tsunade is contemplative; there is something about what Jiraiya says that keeps nagging her. It is not important, just curious, a little detail. Green eyes. The guy is adept in both Genjutsu and Henge. It is strange actually the fact her mind decides to bring to her memory the woman she met a few months ago. If Tsunade was to be honest it was the green eyes what triggered the memory. But, the woman has black hair with strong features; and is a contradiction of character; aside for the fact the woman tricked the men they were playing poker with there was nothing strange about her.

"Then I would send a note to sensei to stop worrying about you." Says Tsunade although her voice still shows her concern and doubts about the situation. Jiraiya raises the bottle to Tsunade who just rolls her eyes.

"Thank you, anyway, he sent me to keep investigating but to not engage this Lie-Smith anymore. I'm not that stupid as to try and go for the man myself."

"I wouldn't be so sure." Tsunade whispers drinking the last remnants of sake from her cup.

The woman is about to ask for more sake when a toad appears on top of the table, she glares at the toad then at Jiraiya huffing with indignation when the creature nods at Jiraiya ignoring her completely. Jiraiya is frowning he knows this toad, there is only one person in the whole world who has this one.

"Well, it was nice seeing you again, Tsunade." Tsunade frowns her eyes narrowing to glare at the toad and then at Jiraiya. The man smiles sheepishly standing up and getting ready to leave.

"Wait, what is it? What happen?" She sounds suspicious as Jiraiya waves away her questions but Tsunade has been with Jiraiya long enough to know something happen.

"Don't worry, just a lead I can't let go of."

"Right now? It can't wait?" Jiraiya shakes his head, Tsunade hesitates for a moment. She can extract answers from him if she so wishes, but that would imply she is back to the ninja game and she has an image to uphold.

There is something bothering her though; but soon enough she buries her worries away.

"You owe me a drink"

"Okay, next time then. Make sure it doesn't take other four years for it to happen." Tsunade smirks.

"Three years."

"Two and half." Both of them smile easily at each other and, just like that, Jiraiya is gone.

Once Jiraiya is out of the bar and sure no one is around he turns his eyes to the toad on his shoulder, "Did the boss tell you where we are meeting this time?"

"The outskirts of Kumogakure."

Jiraiya is confused but his eyes have a glassy look on them erasing any doubt he may have. He gives a short nod and soon enough he is traveling inside one of his summoning's.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Loki knows something is wrong the moment he arrives to the outskirts of the place he is staying in. He has just arrived from a small mission down in Kumogakure with Jiraiya and, even though he is tired, he readies himself for a new fight.

Snow Country is usually quiet, lonely and had three different villages. One of them, is partially a ninja village and it is the biggest one. The other two are small hidden away between the mountains and far away from the troubles of the outside world. Loki enjoys what he has been doing with the last two villages; presenting himself as a merchant he has been able to contribute with supplies and some other utensils in exchange for the population to keep quiet about the sole cabin in the middle of the woods way past the frozen lake.

The cabin is small and it is seclude and hidden away from the main roads. It is surrounded by a chain of mountains from one side, a frozen lake and only the brave or the really stupid dare to come to this part of the woods due to the starving wolves, the deathly weather and the hostile landscape. So, the deal Loki has with the villagers is perfect because, while normal people can't have easy access to his home, well-trained ninja can cross the dangers easily. Or at least with a high probability of survival; this is why the moment Loki arrives he feels an empty sensation in his stomach.

There is light coming from one of the windows and smoke floating away from the chimney. He approaches carefully; he won't kill the intruder right away instead he is going to ask him how he got there and why he is there before killing him.

It seems surprises aren't over as soon as Loki is inside he is greeted by an unusual image. Uchiha Itachi is there, sitting near the chimney his eyes glancing at the wild flames his hand grabbing a cup of steaming beverage. The young man cocks his head, the ghost of a smile adorning his features.

"Welcome back, Loki-san. How was your weekend with Naruto-kun and Jiraiya-sama?"

Loki is rarely startled he likes to think there are few things in the Nine Realms that can shock him to the point of silence. Arriving to this world has showed him how little he knew about the little worlds shaping the branches of Yggdrasil. Apart from Naruto it is Uchiha Itachi the one who can shock him the way he is right now.

"How do you know about this place? I don't recall having telling you about it."

Itachi shrugs, "No, you didn't but it wasn't that difficult to find out once I make sure to follow your footsteps. I haven't had the need to look you out to this place until now."

The wind is blowing outside brushing against Loki's neck, the god turns around closing the door behind him while placing his cloak and the scepter on top of the nearest table. He doesn't know what to think about this, but Itachi is not a threat, there aren't any signs of hostility on him. What Loki can see in the heir of the Uchiha Clan is sorrow and desperation.

"Do you happen to have more of the beverage you are drinking? I wouldn't mind a cup of something warm right about now."

Fifteen minutes later and Loki feels restless. The young man has been playing with the cup on his hand and hasn't said anything yet. This is strange, Loki is used to loud people; all his life he has been surrounded by those who speak even after their mouths have been covered. He is not used to the silence even if he does appreciate it from time to time.

It is when he decides to break the silence Itachi decides to speak.

"They ask me to kill my family."

The flames of the fireplace are dancing around, making sparkling sound from time to time. Yellow, red and orange fill the darkening room while the only window has been closed previously, the god of mischief doesn't need to look outside to know it is getting dark. The fact the place feels colder even with them near the flames of the fire is an obvious give-away.

Itachi doesn't show any emotion, his black eyes reflect the flames while his mouth twist. Loki has never seen a look such as the one Itachi is wearing. It is the look of defeat, of hopelessness. There is a single will of fight in Itachi, and Loki looks away not knowing what to do. Again, he is accustomed to the ones around him ready to fight whether the odds are in favor or against them.

Again, Loki is about to speak to ask for explanations but Itachi interrupts him. He turns his dead eyes to Loki and the god of mischief stops dead on his tracks. It is the first time he realizes he considers the young man in front of him a friend. His first real close friend.

"I need your help. I need your help to kill my Clan, Loki-san."

Chapter Text

Loki doesn't say anything he just stares at Itachi who has lost any expression from his face; his eyes are now gleaming red showing the spiraling sharingan. Loki leans back on his chair, both hands resting on each armrest. He cocks his head to the side contemplating Itachi for a long moment. He lifts his chin and his eyes turn cold and emotionless, there is nothing human or warm in the god of mischief's face. The request has awoken some forgotten feelings Loki ignored since he arrived to the Shinobi World.

"Why?" It is but a simple question but it holds everything Loki wants/needs to know.

Itachi suddenly sees the power.

It is different than the first time he told Itachi he is a god. There is a history behind every gesture, behind the deepest of the stare Loki is dedicating the heir of the Uchiha Clan. There is something in his posture, the way he is holding himself and just staring at Itachi as if he isn't more than a subject, a beggar asking for a favor.

Which, if Itachi is honest with himself, he is.

"You have power. I can see it every time I see you." Itachi turns to Loki. "I can see it gleaming in your eyes, in the way you move..."

"So, it is my power what you are looking for." Itachi isn't sure but he believes he sees some disappointment in those green eyes.

"It is what I can do what makes you come to me." Loki doesn't know why, doesn't want to know why this revelation hurts. Loki is used to being alone to not having friends. This never stops him from thinking maybe in this realm he could…

"It is not only the power. Although, it is a great motivator." Itachi smiles at this unaware of Loki's thoughts. "I've seen you and I know you're the only one I can trust. You're the only real friend I have."

Loki is startled there is a slightly opening of his eyes and an intake of breath Itachi doesn't notice. The god of mischief feels stranger than before and his only reaction is to blink and frown. Itachi then puts his elbows on his knees holding his face on his hands while letting his sharingan twirl wildly.

"And, you're the only one who…who I think would understand and who cares about Naruto enough to do something."

Itachi clenches his fists, lowering his eyes while he mumbles, "Something must be done…And, I cannot…I cannot let them live…"

The fire cracks and suddenly the wood of the house trembles under the pressure of the wind interrupting Itachi's speech. There is a storm out there hitting with its full force the small cabin in the woods. A window snaps open calling Loki's attention, the cold of the weather enters the cabin making Itachi shiver. Loki stands up slowly; methodically he approaches the window, a few snowflakes brushes against his skin. He watches while his mind reminds him why he isn't shivering under the cold, why he feels confortable under it.

"Tell me, Itachi, why should I help you? Why do you sound eager to kill your kin, your family?"

Loki closes the window while still facing the outside. The storm is making it difficult to watch anything beyond the smallest tree growing right in front of his window. The trickster hears someone move behind him, he feels eyes on him and then a voice that starts talking.

"My Clan has great ambitions. My father, the leader, has been planning a coup d'état; he plans on destroying Konoha reformed it and then transforming it into something suitable for the great Uchiha Clan." The last part is said with irony and disgust, Itachi is not inclined to hide his real feelings towards the matter.

Loki remains silent; he is listening while his mind is processing everything he knows about the Uchiha. Their techniques, why they are called a clan, what is their specialty, what does he know about their history. And what is their relation with Naruto, or more correctly, with the Kyuubi.

"They have joined forces with some of Konoha's enemies, they have great plans for the rest of the Clans in the village and…" Then, Itachi trails off and his mouth draws a bittersweet smirk. "…and, they have great plans for Naruto."

Loki tenses his head tilts back looking out of the corner of his eye to the figure of Itachi who is focusing his attention on the fire from the fireplace.

"I was raised to be one of my father's weapons." Itachi smirks glancing wryly at Loki. "My eyes have always been special. Sharper, stronger than others in our Clan. My father has the belief I can obtain the ultimate power of the Sharingan; that I can obtain the power of Uchiha Madara's eyes."

The fire crackles and the shadows project by the movements of the flames creates a mysterious atmosphere. Loki fixates his eyes on the Sharingan, and he watches as Itachi changes from his normal Sharingan to the one called Mangekyo Sharingan.

"Of course his attempts were a total failure. He read an ancient text but his eyes would get him so far, he would need more than a simple sharingan to see the rest. But, he didn't know this."

Loki frowns because Itachi has this strange smile on his face, as if there is a secret he knows but his father and Loki ignored.

"I met someone. Or, more correctly, someone met me a few days after my father tried to make me obtain the Mangekyo by his own means."

Itachi looks out of the corner of his eyes, he can notice there is some confusion in Loki's expression and Itachi knows he is the only one (at least in Konoha) that has been contacted by this strange man.

"Who are you talking about?"

"A man, wearing a Sharingan wearing a Mangekyo Sharingan." Itachi shakes his head as he keeps explaining. "It was strange, I didn't trust him at first and to be completely honest with you, I still don't trust him. He wears a mask and his right eye is the only visible one."

"Our meeting was planned by him and he made sure to tell me things about my Clan I already knew and some others I ignored." Itachi waves his hand. "But, the important part is…He told me how to obtain the ultimate power of my eyes and he made me an offer."

Loki grabs his chin his eyes gleaming with understanding but at the same time with the same amount of confusion he showed to Itachi.

"An offer? Just who is this man?"

"He claimed to be Uchiha Madara himself." Loki raises his eyebrow and Itachi smirks. "Yes, I know. I'm not sure his claims are real but, either way, the important part about that meeting was his offer." The Mangekyo Sharingan on Itachi's eyes turn to Loki, swirling slowly as the young man continues his speech.

"He told me soon enough the village would ask of me the ultimate proof of loyalty." Itachi's smile drops and here he looks actually sad. "He told me when the time was right he would help me and then, the two of us, could make the world free of war and hatred we dream of. This time with an Uchiha Clan looking for peace and order and not war and chaos."

"What about your father? Does he know you have the Ultimate eye technique?" Asks Loki interested in Itachi's answer.

"Father never understood the real power or the real means to obtain this power." Itachi lowers his head, his lips drawing a sad smile. "His mind was only in the ultimate end in what the power of the Mangekyo could give him. He doesn't care about me, or Sasuke. He doesn't care about the village or even the clan. He only wants power and I am the mean to hold that power."

Itachi clenches his jaw stopping for a moment before continuing. "He believes I am his tool to use and get hold of the most powerful weapon Konoha can dream of."

"The Kyuubi. Naruto." Mumbles Loki to which Itachi nods.

"Yes, he knows the eyes of Uchiha Madara are capable of controlling the creature. Now, imagine you gain this control not only over the creature but of the human form holding it inside." Itachi shakes his head. "Some people are ready to kill Naruto if we give them the chance, but there are others that wouldn't harm him. He is a kid and many now he is the son of the Fourth Hokage. Either way, Father wins and Konoha loses."

"You decided you cannot take any risk, so you will destroy your clan?" Asks Loki when Itachi falls silent. "You will destroy your clan for only one man?"

"It wasn't me. It turned out this man, this Madara, was right." Itachi exhales with resignation while speaking. "The Hokage and the elders of the village decided my clan should be exterminated before they start an unnecessary war."

"Besides, you and I both know I would kill my father on my own if he was the only problem here." Itachi stares at Loki. "Many in my Clan are already planning, they are ready to strike the moment father tells them to. Why do you think I'm part of the ANBU Coprs? Because I'm suppose to be their spy! No, this year is going to be blood and it is up to me to decide if it's going to be the innocent blood of the villagers or the blood of my clan."

Loki observes Itachi knowing the young man is right. If Itachi's father was the only problem here, Itachi would have no problems dealing with him. One way or another. He has come to realize Itachi is practical and hates the unnecessary sacrifices pointless missions leave behind. Loki notices Itachi shivering but he knows it's not because of the cold. The place is warm enough. Suddenly, the mischief god glances down at his hand. He always thought the lack of cold was because of his heritage as an Aesir…there is an ironic smile on his lips. Now he knows what kind of heritage allows him to be out in the cold without being affected.

A monster. What's this the reason Itachi has come to him?

"I came to you because if there is anyone who can help me it's you." Loki turns confused and suddenly he realized he has spoken out loud.

"I don't know where you came from or why you're here." This time Itachi stands up and approaches Loki. "But I do know that you have powers beyond my reasoning and if I want to save those who are innocent then…you're my last hope."

Loki tilts his head watching Itachi with old, wise eyes. There is time inside those green orbs, there is a story behind them that speak of pain and rejection, of war and lost. Loki is now wide open to the prying eyes of Itachi and then Itachi sees the god behind those eyes.

"I came because I know you have the power to help me, Loki. I didn't come here for you to use you as a weapon; I came here because you're…my friend."

Loki doesn't know what to say, he doesn't know how to react. This is the second time Itachi says this and the God of Mischief doesn't know how to answer to that. He feels dumbstruck and confused; he turns around and goes directly to the small kitchenette still trying to conceal any emotion that may have come to the surface.

"Would you like some tea?" Itachi is caught off guard, he is expecting an answer instead it comes a tea invitation. He shrugs. It's cold outside, he still feels cold and his mind is a war zone.

"Yes, that would be nice."

It is after a short meal with a heavy silence hanging over their heads that they resume they conversation. Loki has had enough time to think what to answer. He has enough time to consider all the options and their consequences; finally he looks up and shakes his head.

"You came here claiming I'm your friend and acknowledging my powers." Itachi stares at Loki intently. "You are correct in your assumption that I could help you in destroying your clan without so much of an effort from my part but, you're mistaken if you think your reasons are enough for me to destroy a whole clan."

After a moment of silence Loki merely shakes his head, "That's not me. Not anymore, anyway."

Itachi doesn't ask about the 'not anymore' comment, he knows there must be a pretty interesting story behind it but for now he is more interested in Loki's answer. Then Loki turns to Itachi and shrugs.

"I guess you lost your time coming here."

"Not really." Itachi smiles and there is something strange about his smile making Loki wary of something. "I'm glad I could count on you. I told you you're the only one who can help me save those who are innocent."

"You are quite the character, Uchiha Itachi. For some reason I feel…played."

"Not all please." Itachi waves comfortingly, smiling easily. "You say you won't help me kill my whole clan and I'm…glad by it. Then help me save them. At least those who deserve to be save and get ride of those who only want to see the shinobi world burn."

Loki arches an eyebrow but waits for Itachi to continue, "Because, maybe if you don't want to help me kill them….maybe you would help me save some of them."

This time Loki feels his eyes narrow, intrigue he leans forward and let's his eyes pierce Itachi. "Very well, you have my attention now. Speak and tell me what you should have the moment I came here."


- Three weeks later –

When Loki goes back to Konoha he discovers something he thought impossible. Naruto is sick. Apparently the boy has been out playing with Sai and Shin all weekend, even though there has been rain and a high amount of training from Naruto's part. But, by the expression Jiraiya is wearing, Loki knows something else must have happened for Naruto to be on his bed with a high fever and a terrible cough. The boy is happy to see Loki, as he always is and Loki returns Naruto's smile with a tense one.

"What happened to you, Naruto?" The curious thing about Naruto's reaction is the way his eyes decide to evade Loki's.

"I…It was cold and I spent all night outside playing with Shin and Sai." Naruto's voice is dry, it sounds raspy and the blonde winces with the pain he feels on his throat while speaking.

"Really? Are you sure you don't want to tell me anything else?" Loki raises an eyebrow but Naruto clenches his lips and shakes his head hidden under the covers, soon after he is fast asleep.

Jiraiya approaches Loki from behind shaking his head while making sure there is only one window ajar. Loki turns to the man dropping the illusion and putting the scepter out of thin air. It comes as a surprise to the Sannin when he sees Loki in full battle gear.

"Going somewhere?" He asks to which Loki only stares at him for a long moment until Jiraiya fidgets nervously.

"No, I was just wondering how someone like Naruto could get this sick." Tilting his head to the side Loki arches an eyebrow at Jiraiya. "Care to explain this to me, Jiraiya?"

The Sannin winces because he doesn't want to say anything. It is something Naruto made him promise and he doesn't feel comfortable with breaking his promise to the boy.

"It's slightly complicated." Loki makes a sound of impatience and Jiraiya hurries to explain. "You see, what Naruto said it's true. He was out with those Root boys and was playing until he came home all wet and cold."

Jiraiya explains how the boys decide to just go out and train and play under the rain, then to go and swim because it was the most logical thing to do.

"But, after that, well Naruto had been training with me. He is doing this special training he made me promised not to say anything about it."

"Not even me?" There is a dangerous edge on Loki's voice, Jiraiya chuckles scratching the back of his head.

"No, especially you." Loki frowns and allows Jiraiya to continue. "You see? What he's been doing is to show you what he can do. It's complicated but he ended up more exhausted than he thought he would be."

Suddenly, Naruto wakes up breathing hard there is cold sweat rolling down his forehead and back. His whole body is arching, hurting and trembling as the night wind hits his warm arms and face. Suddenly he feels something cold but refreshing against his forehead, lifting his eyes he finds himself staring into deep, green eyes. Loki smiles softly while pressing Naruto gently towards the bed.

"That's okay, Naruto. Sleep." Loki's voice is soothing, comforting. Naruto opens his eyes, barely seeing the form of Loki beside him.

"I have a nightmare." It hurts to speak he coughs and winces in pain.

"It's just the fever. Go back to sleep."

Naruto mumbles something intelligible and then goes back to seep. Jiraiya appears from behind Loki wearing a worry frown. Loki places another wet cloth on top of Naruto's forehead and starts singing in a language Jiraiya does not know.

"He has been pushing himself to hard lately." Mumbles Loki turning to look at Jiraiya. "He has been trying the summoning again, am I correct? What else has he been trying to learn?."

Jiraiya stays still, he confronts Loki's stare but says nothing. Loki arches an eyebrow looking slightly annoyed while standing up. He approaches Jiraiya and the Sannin feels like a prey ready for slaughter.

"For your own good, Jiraiya, I hope Naruto isn't trying anything dangerous." Jiraiya gulps shaking his head, a nervous smile drawing on his face.

"Not at all. He…He is just pushing himself too far." Jiraiya chuckles and takes a step back. "But, don't worry, I'll make sure he doesn't do it again so he doesn't end up with a cold again."

"I will hold you to that."

Loki turns to Naruto. The boy has a red nose his face is wearing a soft tinge of red due to the fever. He is shivering and mumbling in his sleep. Sometimes he would sneeze or cough some others he would curl up and shiver. Loki has never seen Naruto sick and it makes him feel useless to not have something to calm the illness in Naruto.

There is movement outside of Naruto's window, there on top of another building is a lone figure. It is standing on top of the ceiling, kneeling slightly with the light of the moon right behind it. Loki's green eyes focus on the figure and he knows it is time.

Loki thinks about what's about to happen. He knows things won't be the same, he is about to reveal his real face in all his glory, no shape-shifting and not wearing other's faces. For this to happen, Loki is going to be Loki. He waves his hand and suddenly, without any warning, Jiraiya drops to the floor deeply asleep.

"Are you sure you have to do this?" Itachi is beside Loki in the blink of an eye, he has worry marks on his face while his red-eyes focus on Naruto.

"Believe it or not, Itachi, my strength is not what it used to be. Something is tampering with my power." At this Loki closes his mouth and sits beside Naruto placing his hand on the boy's stomach. "This won't take long and when this is over we both can go and take care of your clan."

Itachi nods and steps aside watching with certain fascination as those green eyes gleam in the darkened room and the seal on Naruto's stomach is now visible to the Uchiha's eyes.

Loki soon finds himself in a familiar setting.

The sewer hasn't changed one bit, it is as it was all those months ago. He takes a few steps forward, hearing the echoes of his footsteps as he moves closer to the entrance. It doesn't take long and the sight that greets him is something that brings a half smirk to his face.

"Well, well, well…look at this…a mighty creature defeat by a simple cold." The god of mischief approaches the cage with amusement written all over his face. The creature lifts his head and growls annoyed but do nothing else.

"Go away, little god." The voice sounds strange, there is a slightly raspy tone in it and it looks painful for the Kyuubi to even talk or try to remain as annoyed as he seems to be.

"Oh, and miss the chance to see this extraordinary scene? Never." The Kyuubi opens his mouth to growl and reply when a loud sneeze escapes him. He looks mortified whereas Loki looks amused.

"I would rip you to pieces…" Kurama sneezes again lowering his head conforming himself to glare at Loki. "But, I am not in the mood."

Loki snorts then proceeds to lean against the cage, raising an eyebrow and watching the pitiful sight in front of his eyes. Kurama's amber eyes move slowly to the scepter Loki is grabbing on his right hand, the blue gem is gleaming dangerously and the Kyuubi's eyes open slightly in comprehension.

"No, you certainly aren't." Loki plays with the scepter observing carefully while speaking. "I didn't know Bijuu could get sick."

"We don't!" The Kyuubi winces and lowers his head narrowing his eyes at Loki. "This idiotic child has more…influence on me. It's embarrassing to have such a pitiful mortal affecting my being in such a way."

Kurama growls but rest his head in a comfortable position to keep watching Loki and stop the pulsating headache. The god of mischief doesn't say anything but merely ponders about the Kyuubi's words. The seal, he knows it, works to feed Naruto the Kyuubi's chakra but, if this creature is affected, could it be possible for Naruto to affect him as well? What other things can be possible? He will need to see the complete notes of Naruto's father after this is over.

Tired of the silence Kurama speaks again, this time showing in his voice the tiredness he feels.

"What has brought you here, Son of Odin? You have not come since you stole from me a minimal part of my power."

Then, as an afterthought, "I hope you haven't come here to ask me to cure the boy for I cannot fight against this mortal sickness. Besides, the boy just needs time to recover, it won't kill him."

Loki shakes his head placing the scepter on the ground, the Kyuubi's amber eyes follow the form of the object and suddenly he feels it. The small, invisible connection between the power of the god and his power; the Bijuu smirks knowing exactly why Loki is there.

"No, I'm not here for that. I know Naruto will recover, he is just not used to this kind of affliction." Loki places his hand on top of the blue gem of the staff. "No one can die from a cold."

"Well, you never know. I've heard some stories…"

"How can you hear stories lock up here?" Asks Loki genuinely confused, Kurama growls but doesn't answer.

"Tell me quickly what you want and be over with it. I'm tired and want to sleep."

"Fair enough." Loki looks directly into Kurama's eyes and starts speaking. "There's been some development. I need some of the power you can provide me."

"What, no stealing this time around?"

"No, this time I thought more politely to ask first before doing so by force. If necessary." Loki speaks calmly with an undertone of warning on his voice.

Kurama chuckles swinging his tails back and forth, "I see Odin has failed to teach you any manners…But, then again, the old man was just as impetus and arrogant in his youth."

"I'm not here to speak about the All-Father's youth or his actions." Loki replies with a strange look on his face. "I'm here to take from you something I need."

Kurama watches and sees there is something different in Loki. The first time he merely took it without so much as a long conversation. Now, now he seems doubtful, as if he is still thinking what he is about to do. Kyuubi knows of the affection Naruto has for this god. He knows the boy is ready to do anything for him and, whether he likes it or not, Kyuubi feels Naruto's feelings deep inside himself as well.

Without a warning one of the tails moves to place itself on top of Loki's hand and suddenly the god of mischief feels a surge of power going through his hand to the scepter.

"I have a feeling this going to turn out interesting." The Kyuubi smirks as Loki's eyes change from green to red. "Let's see what you can do with some of my power, Loki Odinson."


Uchiha Sasuke is a normal boy with a very complicated life.

In all his short live he has only wanted to please the most important people in it. His big brother, Uchiha Itachi and his father Uchiha Fugaku. In Sasuke's eyes those two are the most powerful and amazing shinobi Konoha has the privileged to have.

On many occasions, and with the company of his mother, Sasuke wonders why his father isn't a Hokage. Why their clan seems to be only in charge of the police force and not something like the ANBU corps or some of the special jounin. The Uchiha Clan is born to be great, to be the best, or so his father has been telling him all these years. His mother would only shrug and tell him it could be because Konoha isn't ready for the Uchiha to be the ones to rule them.

Sasuke thinks this is stupid because the Uchiha is The Best clan in the village. He has heard his father speak numerous times with his friends and his uncles and the rest of the family about this. Sasuke knows his father has great plans and that it is just a matter of time for them to take good care of Konoha and lead it to greatness.

But, for now, the only job Sasuke seems so keen to accomplish is to make Itachi and Fugaku proud. For that he has been training like crazy, even more so since his father taught him the fire jutsu and Itachi has been joining him all afternoons in special training sessions for the last few months.

Of course, Sasuke seems rather upset by the idiot's participation. The one called Uzumaki Naruto, the boy is a disgrace to the ninja world but Itachi, for some unknown and crazy reason, seems to be attached to the boy. Well, not for too long, as soon as Sasuke shows them he is the better fighter Itachi would, once more, return his complete attention to him.

It is a cold and quiet night. Sasuke walks late at night towards his district after an afternoon of training and spending some time of his own at the other side of the village. He doesn't notice is late until he hears his stomach growls. Sasuke is half worried and half happy. Worried because his mom is going to scold him for being so late, happy because he finally got a handle of the fire jutsu and the next day he is going to show it to his father and his big brother.

That's why he never notices.

The lack of sound, the lack of light or life the moment he crosses the threshold of the compound. Sasuke doesn't notice the shadows project by the lonely buildings or the one following him close behind.

It isn't until he is crossing the main street leading to his house that Sasuke finally noticed something is wrong.

Usually the front door belonging to his home is adorned with two lanterns. One with the symbol of the clan and another one with the symbol of a Sharingan pattern, they are always lit by the time the sun has disappeared. But, not today. Today they aren't lit and the door is completely broken.

Sasuke lets his backpack fall to the ground and he runs towards his home. He enters and soon enough his screams can be heard all through the Uchiha compound.

"DAD! MOM! ITACHI-NII!"

He enters discovering the house is a mess. There are marks of burning left and right, there are some strains of blood and his father's favorite table is broken in a half. As he runs through the rooms, Sasuke discovers something blurring his sight. He believes at first it probably is some kind of Genjutsu, but soon enough finds out it's his own tears rolling down his cheeks.

"DAD!"

His voice is weak and he is trembling when he reaches the last room. He barges in stopping dead on his tracks. There in the middle of a room is a man, but not any kind of man Sasuke remembers seeing before.

It is huge. Taller than his father who he is holding by his throat; the man is wearing the strangest helmet with golden surface and two curve horns. He has on some kind of armor, gold, silver, black and green seem to be the main colors dominating this strange clothing. There is also a staff with a gleaming blue gem at the top and those eyes…those green eyes are staring back at Sasuke.

The young boy, even with his little training as a ninja, is not ready to see this, to face danger and dead so early. He is trembling, tears rolling down when he discovers the dead form of his mother on the floor and the agonizing one of his father's on the man's hand.

"Dad?" He suddenly mumbles and it's surprised to hear his own voice. So weak and fearful.

"S-Sa-Sasuke…" Fugaku grabs Loki's forearm pushing and pulling without success.

Sasuke takes a step backwards swallowing before speaking in the same weak fearful tone, "L-Let…Let him go! M-My bro-brother will-will stop you!"

"Your brother?" Loki smirks taking a step forward, Fugaku groans in pain Sasuke clenches his fists and tries to move forward but the fear has him paralyzed. "Whatever makes you think I haven't killed him already, boy?"

Hearing this breaks something inside Sasuke; it is a sudden awakening, something that clicks inside the young Uchiha's head. Sasuke screams in pain and anger and launches himself against Loki. The God of Mischief erases any kind of expression from his face and tosses the body of Fugaku against Sasuke. The boy trips and falls down with his father to his left.

Sasuke is lying defenseless watching with big, black eyes the figure of Loki approaching him. Nearing with each footstep. Fugaku chuckles and throws something at Loki but Loki grabs it with his hand and tosses to the other side.

"One last trick before saying good-bye, Uchiha-san?" Loki shakes his head.

"Y-You…-yo-You bastard." Fugaku grimaces and coughs blood.

"You won't be a problem anymore, Uchiha-san. Be grateful I think your son still has a chance to be redeemed."

Loki spares Sasuke one last glance and leaves.

Sasuke is there, trembling, crying, feeling useless until a hand grabs his. Turning around he sees the dying form of his father. The man is smiling weakly, there is blood everywhere and Sasuke sits down and leans over his father's body. The man grabs Sasuke's hand as hard as he can.

"D-Don't failed me…Make me...Proud, Sasuke."

"Dad! Dad, please!" Sasuke cries as Fugaku closes his eyes breathing weakly as the time passes. "Dad! Wake up! I…I'll bring the doctors and you'll be okay I…"

"N-no…no time…" Fugaku coughs again and moan in deep pain, his breathing is getting heavier, slower. "Just…remember…"

Those are the last words of Uchiha Fugaku to his youngest son. Sasuke feels as the hand becomes colder and motionless in his. He sees the light leaving the black eyes of his father and the chest stops moving.

There is silence for a moment then Sasuke lets out a soft whining sound. And falls on his father's chest crying uncontrollably. His hand is trying to embrace the dead figure of his father when suddenly grasp something. His katana. Sasuke grabs it, lifts it and with his features twisted in pain and decision he stands up and runs towards the door.

"It is done." The voice of Loki is cold and hard like steel. Itachi nods but doesn't ask or say anything else. They're about to turn around when someone comes running at them.

Loki lifts the scepter and stops the sudden attack. He can see the rage and hatred in that childish face, the tears and the blood that isn't his but that it's making he feel more alive than anything. Itachi sees as his little brother tries to harm Loki with his sloppy but decisive strikes.

"Die! DIE!" Loki blocks, turns and takes the katana from Sasuke's hand. He pushes the boy with the end of the staff making him fall to the ground. Before Sasuke can stand up the God of Mischief presses the scepter against the chest of Sasuke holding him down but unable to stop the struggling from the boy.

"I will forgive your life for three reasons: the first one, I understand the pain. You just lost someone dear to you and you think me the one to blame." Sasuke spits and screams but Loki's voice is loud enough for the boy and Itachi to hear. "Second, because someone asked me to spare you as you're still young and the corruption hasn't touched you entirely. And thirdly, because I don't kill kids."

Sasuke stays still and just when Loki stops the pressure and turns to leave the young Uchiha screams and throws himself forward, raising his fist to hit Loki. The man merely sidesteps and Sasuke falls on his face. When he lifts his face, he sees another figure right in front of him. Hope returns to his heart but it's soon forgotten when he notices the look in those blood-red eyes.

"Itachi?"

"That's enough, Sasuke." The voice, deep and menacing sends shivers down Sasuke's back. He stands up, but can barely hold himself as he takes a step back and his back hits against Loki's form.

He turns around and jumps looking from one man to the other, confused and terrified. Itachi lowers his eyes and Loki can see the conflict in them. He raises his staff and points it at Sasuke.

"Do you want me to take care of him?" Sasuke lifts his head fast and hard, his eyes growing big. Itachi shakes his head and Loki turns around and leaves.

"Wh-What? I-Itachi? What's going on? Itachi! Dad is…"

"Dead, I know." Itachi's sharingan suddenly change and Sasuke can't look away from the form of the tomoes. "You should have stay in the training grounds, Sasuke."

"What's happening, Itachi? " Tears are blurring Sasuke's eyes he feels a heavy headache on his head, something making him dizzy and weak on the knees.

"Someday you'll understand, Sasuke." Itachi grabs Sasuke and makes him look directly into his eyes. "Tsukuyomi."

Loki shakes his head hearing the sudden scream coming from the little boy. He takes another step forward and places his scepter on one of the women Itachi left unconscious, the staff gleams with intensity before it extinguishes and the woman is not there anymore.


The next day the villagers wake up to turmoil. They see ninja left and right all of them running with an urgency they haven't seen since the Kyuubi's attack; it is then when the smell of burning wood, stone, grass and cloth fill their nostrils and their heads turn to a huge fire right in the middle of the Uchiha District.

The Hokage watches as young Uchiha Sasuke rests on a bed in the hospital sustaining some minor burns, high fever and hallucinations. The old man lowers his head a sad expression crossing the aged façade while his hand closes tightly around the piece of paper left behind by one Uchiha Itachi.

It is done. For the village, for my little brother. Remember your promise, Hokage-sama, for I shall not forget mine.

Chapter Text

PART 2

Chapter 9

The growing darkness

The aftermath of the massacre was something no one expected; however, one could say the most surprised of them all were the elders of Konoha.

It was pretty obvious what had happened to the Uchiha Clan could not be ignored and couldn't be treated as a simple threat. This was a war declaration made to the village and its power, whoever had done this was trying to send a message: that they could do this whenever they wanted.

Danzo was the first one jumping in trying to gather the most reliable source of information about the night in particular. The problem was, when he was ready to label Uchiha Itachi as the perpetrator the few witnesses they could gather say something unexpected.

"He was strange. He had this huge helmet with horns, all gold and green."

"He just looked at me and suddenly I was unconscious…I don't …I don't know…"

"I've never seen the guy before but…I've heard of him…"

"Lie-Smith…"

But the only one who could actually give some light to this matter was Sasuke and even his answer was confusing and worrisome for Sarutobi and the rest of the elders. The boy was confused, tired but most of all frantic and slightly demented when he spoke with Sarutobi and the others.

"My brother didn't do it! I think…I think he was being controlled! Yes! That's it! That man, he killed my family…he…he took my brother away…"

After these declarations it was obvious Konoha couldn't label Itachi as a Missing-nin without taking into account what Sasuke had said about him. It would be too risky to just mark him when there was more than one eye witness coinciding with the same details of the attacker. Konoha decided then to put a picture of the man they all recognized as the murderer of the Uchiha Clan and the possible kidnapper of the eldest son. But, of course, Itachi was also wanted if only for an interrogation that would proof his innocence.

The turmoil wouldn't pass any time soon. Other ninja countries would try their luck and test Konoha's strength, some others would just analyze and watch from afar.

Besides, there were more forces in the world at play, forces lurking in the dark and growing in strength waiting…

…And the time for them to act was coming closer…

~ Four years Later ~

Naruto looked himself in the mirror.

His face was expressionless as he took in the baby fat still decorating the edges of his face. Those blue eyes sparkling as they looked back at him, his mouth twitched in a half smirk while his hair, longer than it should be, fell on top of his eyes.

He had grown up, indeed, from the little boy who Loki had found so many years ago. Now, he was becoming a teenager and soon he would be a full-fleshed shinobi.

The blond fixed his vest and tied his Hitai-ate around his neck making sure everything was in place (his kunai holster, his daggers, and the vambraces Loki had given to him for his birthday). Once again, Naruto took his hand to his forehead protector. Should he wear it on his forehead or let it around his neck?

"Ugh, would stop trying that out? You've been playing with your Hitai-ate since it was given to you! Juts put the damn thing on a visible part of your body and let's go! We're gonna be late!"

"Again." Pointed out Sai from the corner he had been reading, Shin was looking ready to drag Naruto by force, if necessary.

Naruto turned around flashing them a half smirk as he tapped the silver plate with his thumb as he, once again, changed it to place it around his forehead.

"Hey! I've to look good! Today we're officially shinobi. I'm a step ahead to become a Hunter-nin and then Hokage."

"You're a step ahead to stop being an idiot and probably become smarter than the average slug." Naruto glared at Sai who dedicated him his best smile. Shin could only roll his eyes for this was an old argument between them.

"No cool, Sai. No cool." Naruto shook his head while heading to the door; he placed his hand on the doorknob stopping for just a moment.

This new step he was about to give was filled with a meaning neither Sai nor Shin understood. Today, just as Loki had pointed it out, he was becoming an adult. He was reaching the portals of adulthood, in which case, Loki would give him two things: answers and training.

Something he has been demanding since he found out Loki was behind the Uchiha Massacre.

"Naruto?"

Shin asked quietly not being used to this sudden change in his friend. For Naruto was his friend, after all these years the young man could feel it in his heart. Naruto had become someone important, someone he was ready to protect and follow. Shin looked out of the corner of his eye as Sai frowned focusing his attention on the blond as well.

'What are we gonna do, Sai? What shall we tell Danzo-sama? How can we tell Naruto the truth without hurting him?'

"Sorry." Naruto tilted his head grinning foolishly at his friends. "Is just, after we crossed this door we're officially Genin…I'm just excited."

"Well, if you continue this contemplation we are not going to be anything…It's already past nine…"

Naruto and Shin turned to Sai both wearing stunned expression whereas Sai smiled calmly at them.

"What?!"

"Why didn't you say so?!" The both of them exclaimed to which Sai shrugged.

"You didn't ask."

Naruto was the first one out of the door with Shin closed behind and Sai shaking his head.

The morning in Konoha was suddenly interrupted by the trio running down the roads passing through the streets and top of the buildings. Some people would move almost immediately fearing another prank from the three boys. Some others would look at them with anger and resentment in their faces; they were either victims of some of their pranks or victims of the Kyuubi. Then, there were others who would smile and wave at them. For some, Naruto and company were terrorist lead by the demon boy, for others they were mere pranksters, the best Konoha has seen since the Nidaime Hokage.

"Naruto! Shin! Sai! You're late!" Umino Iruka glared at the boys indicating with his hand the three empty chairs at the end of the classroom. Many people would look at them, murmuring while some of the girls would either smile or blush whenever Shin or Naruto would turn to them

Neji narrowed his eyes the moment Naruto turned to look at him. The blond raised a hand and with two fingers he pointed first his eyes then to Neji as a sign to show Naruto was watching him. The Hyuuga frowned snorting and returning his attention to Iruka.

"That Naruto…" Mumbled Tenten with an amuse smile on his face.

"He is an idiot." Was the only reply Neji had to which Tenten merely snorted. If she were to guess, and she would never say it out loud, Neji considered Naruto his best friend forever. His only friend, actually. Naruto was the only mad/cool enough to be near Neji and not being offended half the time by whatever Neji had to say.

There was excited chatter all around the classroom, for a moment Iruka waited for Naruto and company to sit before continuing with his speech.

"As I was saying before I was interrupted," Iruka focused his attention on the class who went silent and turned their attention to their teacher. "Today it is your last day as Academy students. I am really proud of all of you and I hope everything goes well for each one of you."

Soon enough the whole class was back to being distracted. They started talking excitedly about the missions, about their teams, who would be their instructors or how many dangerous missions would they get. Iruka could already feel the growing headache which didn't improve one bit when he noticed Mizuki was sulking on his chair. Whatever had happened to the man? He really seemed worried and pissed at the same time. Iruka shrugged, it wasn't his problem after all.

"Shut up!" The whole class went silent again and to make sure his words were understood Iruka turned his dark eyes to each one of his students. When has was sure there would be no more interruptions he cleared his throat and continued speaking.

"Okay, now, let's start with your Genin teams." Iruka took a piece of paper from the desk, for a brief moment he noticed the strange look in Mizuki's eyes. A slightly gleam of blue and black, Iruka stopped for a moment, blinking to make sure he didn't see wrong but then Mizuki's eyes were back to normal.

Iruka shook his head frowning, "Well, let's start!"

For over twenty minutes Naruto spent his time watching carefully the gift Loki had given to him for his birthday. His fingertips touched reverently the soft surface of the blade while following the patterns of the unknown runes. Unknown to some, of course, for Loki had made sure Naruto would recognize them. He still feels butterflies on his stomach every time he read the words.

Naruto Lokison.

Naruto couldn't help the smile appearing on his face. The dagger was so masterly crafted and the young boy could sense the magic humming through the blade and the hilt. However, and if Naruto were to be honest, the value of the dagger wasn't in the material or its own power. The real value lied on the person who gave it to him. Loki had told Naruto the dagger was a customary gift, something a father gives a son the moment he passed from childhood to adulthood.

The young Uzumaki had a lot of fun making Loki squirm and tried to explain exactly what he meant by 'father' and how that involved him and Loki himself; Naruto also took way too much pleasure in the fact he was looking and behaving like Loki with each passing day.

And the dagger, more than a ritual of adulthood and parenthood was a symbol. A promise, a chance of a new family. Something Naruto took without thinking twice, even after all the terrible things he heard people whispering about Loki. Even after Loki himself told him some of those things were true.

"Team 10 Hyuuga Neji, Rock Lee and Tenten. Your Jounin instructor is Maito Guy."

That brought Naruto back to the situation at hand; he turned around only to see the strange, sympathetic smile Iruka directed the newly formed Team 10. It seemed as if Neji and Tenten also noticed it for them were glancing back at the other with dread in their eyes.

Shin snickered while Sai snorted, Naruto turned to them frowning slightly. He was about to ask about this reactions when he felt Iruka's eyes on him. Turning around, the blond gave his teacher his most charming and innocent smile to which Iruka merely rolled his eyes.

"Finally, Team 11 is composed by Uzumaki Naruto, Shimura Sai and Shimura Shin. Your Jounin instructor is Uzuki Yugao."

No sooner had Iruka stopped talking than the room started its exited humming again. Iruka opened his mouth but in the end decided against it. Every single one of them joined their respective teammates talking animatedly about their oncoming meeting with their Jounin instructors.

"It is such a shame, Naruto-kun! I was really looking forward to working with you!" Naruto smiled at Lee shrugging.

"I know, Lee. I know. It would have been awesome the two of us becoming legends." Naruto wrapped his arm around Lee's shoulder, his free hand drawing an arch as he spoke. "Lee and Naruto, the awesomest team in Konoha."

"I don't think 'awesomest' is even a word, Uzumaki." Naruto turned to glare at Neji who was looking at him with a condescending stare. "Then again, your vocabulary is so limited I'm not even surprised about it."

"Humph, you're just mad I beat you in the taijutsu exam. Don't worry, Neji-hime, you'll get better as you grow up." Neji twitched but soon enough he looked horrified as Naruto winked at him blowing Neji a kiss.

Tenten rolled her eyes; Lee was torn between being fascinated and confused. Shin laughed and Sai preferred to not get involve. Neji, apparently, didn't take lightly the comment and stood up, grabbing Naruto by his jacket and bringing the boy closer to his face. Naruto for his part smirked, still amused, and this only made Neji angrier.

"Oh Neji, here? In front of everyone? But…so soon…" Naruto taunted Neji felt his anger grow as he narrowed his eyes. There was something about Uzumaki that seemed to always thick him the wrong way.

"I'm going to fix that face of yours, Uzumaki."

By now, the rest of the class was pretty much paying attention to the discussion. For them, Neji and Naruto were the source of the most epic battles…well, Neji and Naruto and Naruto and the last of the Uchiha. Perhaps, the only difference relied in the fact that whereas Neji and Naruto didn't have a fan club the Uchiha boy seemed to have a bunch of rabid girls following him everywhere. This usually made those fights slightly annoying for some.

"Oh, what a youthful group of Genin you have here, Iruka!" The loud voice coming from a newcomer made the whole class turned around. There, dress in a horrible green jumpsuit, was this man smiling brightly at the students while the rest of the jounin teachers eyed him with amused smiles.

"Now, tell me Iruka, which ones are going to become my dear students?"

Iruka smiled sympathetically at the group and Neji had a sinking feeling that today wasn't just going to be his day. Iruka waved to his students and stared directly at Neji, Tenten and Lee.

"Here is Team 10, Hyuuga Neji, Rock Lee and Tenten."

Tenten watched horrified the scene, Lee had tears in his eyes, watching in admiration and Neji had this darkened expression when Maito Guy decided to introduce himself as…

"…AND I'M KONOHA'S SUBLIME GREEN BEAST OF PREY!"

Naruto winced placing his hand on Neji's shoulder, "I'm so sorry, man. I really am."

"You'll pay for this later, Uzumaki." was all Neji mumbled because he could see Naruto wasn't sorry at all and the blond was enjoying this way too much.

Just like that the rest of the teachers took their respective teams and Naruto was watching with some anxiety the door. Anytime now, their teacher was going to appear and then his life as a real ninja would start.

The door opened but Naruto didn't even lift his head until he felt Sai elbowing him. He yelped narrowing his blue eyes until he saw the nod coming from his friend. Turning around Naruto's expression changed from a mildly annoying one to one of interest.

His eyes found those of the woman standing at the door. The woman had long, purple hair, with a sharp face and hardened expression. She had on ANBU gear with a long katana hanging from her back. For a moment she lifted her right eyebrow looking unimpressed before turning to Iruka.

"That's them?"

"Yes." Iruka responded behind him Mizuki leant forward focusing his attention on the woman who just spoke. His eyes suddenly narrowed snorting before resuming his sulking position.

There was an awkward moment in which the woman turned to them staring with boredom at Team 11. Naruto tilted his head taking in the sudden change of the woman's expression. The hardened corners of her eyes, the coldness reflecting from those eyes; Naruto was already familiar with them. Eyes that spoke of thousand deaths, of harsh missions, of things young Uzumaki has yet to live. She had the same, old, eyes Itachi had.

The woman was experienced and her stare, whether she knew it or not, was reveling this to Naruto. The woman frowned looking from Naruto to Sai and then Shin.

"Very well, follow me!"

Her voice was pure command she left the room soon after leaving Naruto and Shin blinking repeatedly for a couple of seconds. The three of them looked at each other with excitement and wonder in their expressions. Shrugging Naruto stood up placing his dagger back on the holster inside his sleeve and moving to catch up with Yugao.

Soon enough the trio found themselves in front of a heavy, metallic door, marked with black bold letters that read: TRAINING GROUNDS 72.

The young woman stood up in front of the door, her eyes examining the three young men in front of her. Naruto stared back at her, he felt anxious and curious. The woman didn't say anything and this only serve to make Naruto slightly uncomfortable. He knew from past experience than when someone looked at him this way their intentions were far from pure. There was a slightly jerk of the woman's head and suddenly her stare was on Naruto's friends. Naruto took a step forward when he noticed the sudden gleam of suspicion in Yugao's eyes. Naruto couldn't care less if the woman didn't like him, he didn't care if she was like some of the villagers. What really bothered him was anyone messing with his friends.

"So, are you gonna talk or what?" Shin face-palmed just as Sai shook his head. They counted to ten, so they should give Naruto some credit for waiting so long. Sai turned around and step away from Naruto; if the blond was about to get hit for his insolence Sai would prefer to not be in the near vicinity. He still remembered what happen last time he didn't move.

Instead of answering with some form of violence, Yugao smirked with her eyes gleaming dangerously.

Yugao discovered, in the little time she had known her future team, Uzumaki Naruto was pretty much like his mother. Outspoken, confident, a little rude, not afraid to voice what was on his mind and with little patience. Still, there was also much of his father in him. The looks were a sure give-away but there was also that something he kept hidden in his mind. If it weren't for the way his eyes gave him away, Yugao would be sure the blond was naïve and a fool…but there was intelligence and slyness in there.

In few words, Naruto was unpredictable. Uzumaki Naruto does what he wants and this little fact made him both, dangerous and a great ninja.

"Impatient, I see." Yugao's smirk grew Naruto narrowed his eyes unsure as to how to deal with her. "Let's start then. My name is Uzuki Yugao; I was a former ANBU Captain but decided to give education of the younger generation a try. See if I can turn a bunch of punks in real ninja."

"Why would you do that?" Shin seemed utterly confused at the revelation, Yugao shrugged.

"Why not? You'll be the first Team I ever trained and I'm gonna make sure you're the best of the Genin's teams out there." Yugao then pointed behind her. "Of course, first, you have to pass the test and prove to me you deserve to be a Genin."

"What do you mean? We're already Genin, Lady." Naruto replied pointing at his headband. "See?"

"That doesn't proof anything. To become a real ninja you have to pass a personal test from your Jounin instructor first."

Naruto frowned crossing his arms, "Are you sure this isn't a scheme of some kind?"

"I'm pretty sure." Yugao smiled at the looks on the three boys faces. "But cheer up, even if you don't pass there is always next year."

"THE HELL IT IS!" Naruto jerked his arms forward and out of his sleeves appeared two different daggers. He made a rolling and turning of them on his hands and set them in an attack position. "What do we have to do then, ANBU-san?"

Yugao didn't look impressed, the Sandaime Hokage and Jiraiya had warned her about his. Naruto usually had mood changes; sometimes he seemed pretty conscious about them, some others it seemed as if the boy hardly thought what he was doing. And yet…Yugao wasn't sure which was this time around, for she was starting to get a real headache trying to guess what Naruto was about to do and how to get a nice control of the situation.

The moment Naruto prepared for an attack Sai and Shin moved slightly, both of them in the background at each side of the blond ready for whatever Yugao may do.

Yugao arched an eyebrow impressed. They already knew how to work as a team.

Good, one thing less to teach them; let's see if they can apply it in a combat situation.

"First, you'll have to trap me. And I mean trap me not giving me an option but to surrender." Yugao pointed behind her once more. "This is a dangerous training ground and you'll have three days to catch me. In there you'll find things to eat and drink and you'll have to demonstrate you're capable of more than classroom activities."

Naruto smirked along with Shin, Sai seemed mildly interested. Yugao decided there and then there was no more time to lose so, before either of the boys could say or do anything she started her attack.

They didn't see her coming; Naruto only felt the heavy contact of a fist against his cheek. Sai felt a sudden pain on his abdomen and Shin lost his balance when a knee hit his chest. The three of them fell to the ground and, by the time they recovered, Yugao was gone.

Naruto stood up massaging his face; his eyes wide open in surprise. "Did you see that?"

"No." Sai incorporated as well grabbing his abdomen while eying suspiciously the training grounds in front of him.

"Well, she is an ANBU Captain; you don't really expect us to best her." Replied Shin who eyed Sai out of the corner of his eye. Naruto raised his fist with a feral smile on his face and a strange gleam in his eyes.

"Then, my dear friends, let's show this lady what the three of us can do!" Naruto turned around flashing his enthusiastic expression to both, Sai and Shin, the boys could only reply with shakes of their heads. "To victory!"

Naruto was gone in the blink of an eye Sai and Shin watched him disappear inside the training grounds before turning to look at each other.

"Does he even understand what we have to do first?"

"I don't think so. Naruto is usually doing things first, and then thinking them over." Shin shrugged jumping up standing on top of the railing. "Let's go before Naruto gets lost…"

"Or he gets kill…"

This wasn't what he had in mind for his life.

He always thought the All-Father would forgive Thor the way he always did. He never expected for anything to go the way it did. He never expected to fall from the Bifrost and land in a world like this one. But, he did and now…Now he was spending his energy making this illusion possible.

Loki felt the cold wetness of the drop of water hit his forehead, once he looked up the water started falling as the storm soon caught up with him.

He lowered his green eyes to the ground were the blood of the two ninja sent to assassinated him lied still. Out of the corner of his eyes, Loki saw the dark shadow of a person approaching him. There was a mask of a weasel covering the man's identity, but for Loki it wasn't that difficult to know who it was.

"You seem to be getting more and more attempts on your life." The shadow shook his head finally standing right behind him. "It seems whoever is behind this is getting better shinobi for the job."

"No one is better than me." Loki turned around facing the shadow that under the light coming from the lightning reveal dark, ninja gear and a black cloak, red eyes were staring back at Loki from behind the mask.

"And ant has no quarrel with a boot. These assassins are nothing more than a joke."

"Then, why do you sound so nervous?"

Uchiha Itachi hid the smile behind his mask but his eyes reveal how much he enjoyed the irritation Loki felt at the comment. Loki let out a snort pushing past Itachi and walking away well-aware of the older Uchiha following him close behind.

"I'm not nervous, as you said. However, I cannot deny I feel uneasy."

"Why?"

Loki put the hood of his own cloak up on top of his head stopping enough for Itachi to stand beside him. The rain was by now a storm, the wind was blowing with force removing anything in its path. The thunder and the lightning would illuminate the valley they were in.

"A second one was taken away." Loki clenched his fists a spark of green coming from it. "They're getting closer and I'm still wondering who may be behind all of this. Who is taking the Jinchuuriki and who knows about me…"

"And, when is going to be Naruto's turn?" Loki gave a nod Itachi sighed moving to stand beside Loki.

"Madara wants the Kyuubi to be the last one we captured." Itachi spoke softly while his eyes search on the horizon for a sign of the sun.

"What else have you found out about this sculpture you spoke of?"

Itachi tensed, suddenly remembering the screams of pain coming from the two Jinchuuriki they captured months ago. He still remembered the vivid colors of green and purple coming from them as the Bijuu was extracted, then the lifeless bodies of the two men after the demons were taken away. He could see Naruto there, suffering the same fate. Then, there was the sculpture. The huge form of two arms wearing rings, the two purple and green gems glistening with might giving life to those dead eyes of the sculpture. Whatever this article was, Itachi could feel the power Loki called magic.

"Nothing beyond what I already told you. However, I call you here because there is something you must know." Loki nodded his head indicating Itachi he was still paying attention. "The next target is Naruto's girlfriend."

"She is not his girlfriend." Loki replied slowly repeating Naruto's words every time Jiraiya or Loki referred to Yugito as Naruto's girlfriend. "When it is happening?"

"In two weeks. They're going to hire Kumogakure for a mission in which Nii Yugito would have to be present." Itachi then stood in front of Loki. "Yahiko is going to capture her personally. Mainly because they're expecting the Hachibi Jinchuuriki to be present."

"So, they want to capture the both of them?" Itachi shook his head Loki frowned.

"No, Bee-san knows how to control the powers of his Bijuu, it would be highly dangerous to capture him and place its power on the statute before having the others in our possession."

"They still don't know which gem the Hachibi has inside."

"Exactly."

There was a moment of silence in which Loki contemplated his options. He knew he would need to visit Naruto soon and arranged a meeting with Killer Bee. Loki felt a hand on his shoulder, when he turned around he saw Itachi had taken his mask off and was looking at Loki with his sharingan de-activated.

"Are you okay with this? Are you sure we should…"

"Yes, I am. You should stop asking me the same thing over and over." Loki smiled and Itachi found it hard to return it. "Are you okay? You seem tired."

"I am but…I'm okay." Once again Itachi put the mask on. "Take care of them for me."

Loki nodded his head, "I will. I'll see you soon."

Itachi waited until the illusion finally fell and he was back in the forest, there was no rain and not storm. His conversation with Loki had gone just the way he expected it. There was movement out of the corner of his eyes but Itachi didn't need to turn to know who it was.

"So, tell me Itachi, did he believe you?"

"Yes, he did." When Itachi turned around he found himself face to face with a masked man. One he was pretty familiar with by now.

"That's amazing! You do have the skills of a real liar, Itachi. I've heard there aren't enough people in the Nine Realms capable of tricking the God of Mischief." The man moved forward placing a hand on Itachi's shoulder, he squeezed lightly and Itachi could see the glee in his red, sharingan eye.

"Soon, Itachi, our dreams would come true and we will finally have a world without wars, hatred and unnecessary sacrifices."

Not for the first time, Itachi wondered who hid behind the mask and the name of Uchiha Madara. Who was really the man who has been planning the changed of the Shinobi World for over fifteen years? Whatever the answer for that question was, Itachi knew he needed to be prepared to face this man. Itachi knew if there was anything standing in the way this Uchiha Madara would do anything to take the world with him, of that, Uchiha Itachi was completely sure.

"Let's go then. We need to prepare everything before we go against our next target."

"I thought you say you were a good tracker?" Naruto didn't look up keeping his stare on the ground while ignoring Sai's words.

"I never said I was a good tracker. I only said I was learning how to be a good tracker." Shin snorted and Sai looked genuinely concern.

"So, you mean to tell me you're not as good as you claim to be and we may be lost?"

Naruto revised one last time the ground before lifting his head and looking directly into Sai's eyes. He was pretty serious with a thoughtful expression that suddenly transformed into one of lack of concern.

"Yeah, pretty much." Naruto shrugged Shin chuckled while Sai let himself fall on the ground shaking his head.

"I knew it."

"Oh, come on! It's not that bad!"

A few meters away, in the highest tree was Yugao resting her back against the trunk while listening to the trio. She smiled hearing the conversation between the three friends while thinking of her next step. So far the boys had shown her they knew what they were doing. Naruto, apparently, wasn't lying about his abilities as a tracker, something that didn't surprise Yugao that much, over all, if she took into account Naruto's dream was to become a Hunter-nin.

Sai and Shin were actually the most difficult to figure out. There was no doubt in the woman's mind those two had been trained by Danzo prior and during their Academy time. Their eyes were sharper than Naruto's and they seemed more aware of everything than the blond. Apparently, Hokage-sama was right, those kids were up to something and that something involved Uzumaki Naruto.

Yugao stopped paying attention to the boys, her eyes lifted to look at the darkening sky. Tomorrow was the last day of the hunt, she better have a good night sleep before facing them the next day.

The morning came faster that she would have liked. Feeling the soft breeze of the morning brush her face, Yugao opened her eyes to stare at the tree in front of her. Something in the tree, something in the way the wind kept on caressing her face told Yugao there was something wrong that morning. Yugao stood up rather quickly wondering just what had happened with her even noticing.

She took a few steps ahead only to feel a pair of eyes on her. The heavy glare made the airs of her neck stand up and her body tensed ready for action. Yugao smirked impressed by how fast they had found her and trapped her.

There were many things on her mind as she walked carefully, her hand at the ready near her kunai holster. The first thing he thought was about the ability of them to place a Genjutsu. There was no denying the Academy taught such techniques but none of them were this…advanced. Yugao couldn't even feel something was wrong.

The second thing that made her think was, how and when did they find her? She made sure the three of them were fast asleep before leaving them and going to rest as well. She made sure they were a few kilometers away from each other. And yet…Jiraiya-sama was right. These kids were good and Yugao would do well in not underestimated them.

Yugao stood up resting her hand on a trunk and leaning to the side. She watched the empty road to the left, her eyes sweeping over the place before she jumped in and climbed up the tree looking for some kind of exit, for some kind of response.

Yugao could almost laugh as, as soon as he jumped, Naruto and Shin appeared from both her sides.

Sai must be the one doing the Genjutsu. Good, he can't fight then.

Yugao put a kunai from her holster at an incredible speed, stopping just in time the weapon Shin had on his hand. She impulse herself against Naruto's chest and put her weight on her arm pushing Shin backwards and making him landed on the ground.

Yugao smirked standing on the trunk, but her smile soon disappeared as she saw three different Narutos coming at her.

Bunshin? No…They're look too solid to be Bunshin but…impossible!

Yugao didn't stay to find out if a mere Genin was capable of using Kage Bunshin. She evaded the knee aimed to her head and moved down to try and pin Shin to the ground. Shin wasn't there, however, and the woman soon found herself surrounded by at least 20 Narutos.

"I've got you!" Yugao lifted her head in surprise just as the blond boy fell on her. The moment Naruto wrapped his arms around the woman she went off with a puff and white smoke. Naruto growled laugh reaching his ear from his left side.

"Good, very good…but, it's not enough. I'm still free."

Yugao smiled cockily at the blond but her smile disappeared when another blond appeared to her side, then another and another and another. The smile turned into a smirk, shaking her head Yugao went to disperse the Kage bunshin with her sword but the sword moved past them. The Naruto clone smiled grabbing the woman's and; Yugao opened her eyes stunned never seen this before and clearly shocked as to what just happened.

The Naruto clone grabbing her hand smiled with an approaching fist towards her head. Yugao evaded the fist and hit the boy on his stomach but then the other one, the one he thought was a mere bunshin grabbed her by the ankle.

Impossible! Where did he learn that? You…you can't do a solid clone a minute and then an illusion the next…how…?

Shin didn't make himself wait; throwing a couple of shuriken he caught Yugao's attention engaging her in a close range fight. Now, Yugao was fighting Naruto and Shin at the same time.

The woman was really impressed. She had read about them, of course, she knew everything she needed to know about Shin, Sai and Naruto. But, it was apparent the boys hid some tricks under their sleeves from their teachers. She never read the part explaining Naruto's ability to use the Kage Bunshin, or the fact they could use Genjutsu or just how skill was Naruto and Shin in a close range fight.

Those movements were not Academy standard ones. There was experience and hard training behind every punch, every kick, and every evasion.

"You guys are good…but you have to do better than this." With a quick set of movements Yugao sent Shin flying away only for him to crash against a tree, she grabbed one of the Narutos and sent him down to the ground while dispatching some kunai to the ones who remain.

Yugao land on the ground just as another three Naruto came to her. Suddenly, they stopped and smile. "You're trapped."

And then, she understood.

She tried to move her feet but they now were covered by what looked like the dirty ground climbing up his legs.

Everything was a trick. And she fell for it.

Yugao felt the trees around melted slowly, taking the form of oil ink and giving way to the real trees hidden behind the illusion. She watched as Sai appeared from behind one of it, brush and a scroll on his hand. Shin came at them limping with a satisfied smile on his face and Yugao could see several copies of Naruto still surrounding the scene.

The woman shook her head, partially amused partially wondering just how it turned out like this. She knew there was something strange, she sensed something going on but, if she were honest, she never imagined something like this. She never thought whatever Genjutsu these kids used would be this strange.

"So, did we pass?" Yugao laughed nodding her head. But even as she did so her eyes, sharp and cold were focused on Naruto.

"With flying colors."

Looking in retrospective, Yugao should have said no when she was asked to train a group of Genin. She should have screamed NO when she was asked to look after Sai, Shin and Naruto.

Yugao looked around the room at the three men looking at her, waiting for her word on the boys and her judgment of their abilities.

Perhaps, later in the solitude of her room Yugao would think about Naruto. About the smile, the way he held himself, how easily the words fell from his mouth convincing even when those words seemed to be a deception. Yugao believed him; she believed when he told her it was all Shin's idea, she believed him when he told her Sai was the one who came up with the idea of colored ink for his illusions, she believed him when he told her Jiraiya of the Sannin was the one who taught him the Kage Bunshin no jutsu.

Yugao merely believed him, even after her instinct told her not to.

And now, now she has to say what she thought of them. Of the son and heir of the Fourth Hokage to the very same people who love him as if he was family.

"So, what can you tell us about them?" Yugao shifted startled by the interruption, she was so deep in thought she almost forgot she had been summoned to the Hokage's office. She lifted her eyes to find herself looking directly into the Sandaime's ones.

The young woman was well aware of the others occupying the room. She knew the black eye of Kakashi was focused only on her and she was aware of the unnerving stare coming from Jiraiya; all of them waiting for her final verdict.

"Are these kids dangerous for Naruto? How far has Danzo gotten to them?" Yugao remained silent thinking over the question. Were Shin and Sai dangerous? Yes, they were. Pretty advanced for people their age, it was pretty obvious Danzo had bothered into teaching them some of his tricks.

Were they dangerous for Naruto? No. They were blindingly loyal to the blond. If anything, Naruto was the most dangerous of them all. Yugao knew, sort of less, what to expect from Shin and Sai; but she was confused and lost when trying to figure Naruto out.

"They're good. There is no doubt in my mind Danzo trained them well." The Hokage shoot Jiraiya a worried glance, but Yugao noticed the lack of reaction from the Sannin.

"What about Naruto?" Asked the man leaning in, Yugao shifted again thinking carefully as to what she should say.

"He is good. No one told me he knew how to perform the Kage Bunshin, so that gave him a clear advantage in the test."

"Wait, he knows the Kage Bunshin?" This time the question came from Kakashi who seemed just as confused as the Sandaime. Yugao turned her eyes to Jiraiya but the man was showing no reaction.

"Yes, and I said he knows how to use it pretty well." Yugao shook her head. "Why didn't you say anything, Jiraiya-sama?"

"Jiraiya! You taught him that jutsu?!" Jiraiya shrugged.

"The kid has enough chakra to do so without any harm. Besides, he couldn't do a normal bunshin even if his life depends on it." Then, the Sannin turned to Yugao and the woman saw a glint of amusement there. "Tell me, on a scale of 1 to 10 how shocked were you at his proficiency with the technique?"

Yugao snorted, not liking to be taken for a fool or a newbie, "The kid is good but not that much. He stills needs a lot to learn."

"Oh, yes, I agree." Jiraiya smirked making Yugao glared at the old man. "So, I take it you were really impressed."

"I thought we were here to discuss if those kids from Root were a threat to Naruto." Kakashi intervened advancing towards the Hokage's desk. "Personally, I don't like the fact Naruto is in the same Genin Team as them. I still think you should have given me the opportunity to take him as my student."

"No, that wouldn't be any good. You were chosen to try and help with Uchiha Sasuke's training as soon as he graduates the Academy, Kakashi." The Hokage turned to stare at Kakashi as he spoke, his voice grave with command. "Naruto's grades weren't spectacular but were enough for him to graduate, I couldn't postpone this and you know it."

Kakashi lowered his head frustrated, clenching his fist as he controlled his temper. This has always been a sensitive subject for them. In Kakashi's eyes he had the right to take the only son of his former teacher as his student. It was only right and the best way to return to Minato some of the things he gave Kakashi.

"If it is any consolation, Kakashi-senpai." Started Yugao making the former ANBU captain lifted his head to look at her. "I think Naruto is going to be okay. He is…not what you expected him to be."

"What do you mean?" Asked Jiraiya letting his eyelids droop a little. Yugao stared into the Sannin's eyes and suddenly she saw a glint of warning there. Yugao then turned her head wondering just what the hell was really happening before answering.

"Naruto is smart and I dare to say he is the best fighter of the three of them." This caught the Hokage and Kakashi by surprised but not Jiraiya who's lips curved upwards with the hint of a smirk. "Besides, like I said, Shin and Sai had developed a sort of blind loyalty to Naruto. Whatever Danzo is planning is not going to work. Or at least, it would be more troublesome than he realizes."

Yugao sighed relief once she left the Hokage building. Her eyes lifted to the sky to see the approaching afternoon, she took a step forward when a voice reached her from behind.

"What did you hide from Sarutobi-sensei and Kakashi, Yugao?" The woman turned around to see Jiraiya right behind her. The woman glanced at the Sannin, feeling uneasy for a moment.

"Whatever you mean, Jiraiya-sama. I told you guys everything."

Jiraiya raised an eyebrow at the informal talk; he turned his head left and right and then nodded towards Yugao.

"Follow me."

The former ANBU hesitated for a moment but, in the end, her curiosity won and she followed the man. The soon found themselves on top of the Hokage monument overseeing the village.

"No one is going to hear us here so, you can speak freely."

Yugao wasn't sure what to think. Her heart was beating fast, she felt observed as if there was someone else there but she realized it was probably the deep, penetrating stare Jiraiya was giving her.

"So? I know you were dying to say more but I wasn't sure if you wanted to share it with sensei, Kakashi or me." Jiraiya spread his arms. "I'm here, so…go ahead."

Yugao frowned deep inside her she knew there was something amiss in here. But, then again, Jiraiya was the one in charge of Naruto. He took it upon himself to look after the blond and has been doing a decent job recently.

"I don't know what else can I say that I haven't already said." Started Yugao she turned to look at the village as she spoke. "Maybe, what is bothering me is the fact Naruto seems so advance for his age. How good he really is when his grades and the general information I got of him told me something completely different."

"What do you mean?" Yugao rolled her eyes.

"Undisciplined, rebel, average to low grades, goo taijutsu, totally inexistent Genjutsu abilities, average ninjutsu, not pretty good with critic thinking or with a fast mind to formulate strategies." Numbered Yugao lifting one finger each time she mentioned one. "Only good for close range attacks and to be on the front as an attack force, not behind the action, planning and leading."

"I don't understand, where do you wanna go with this?"

"Jiraiya-sama, today Naruto was behind everything. He was the one who planned everything, who put Sai and Shin in the right place, who gave them the strategy who…"

"Do you have a proof of what are you saying?" Yugao stopped talking gaping at Jiraiya who was looking seriously at her.

"Pro...wait, what?" Yugao said confused.

"Proof, proof that Naruto seems so adept and different as to how the reports from Iruka and Mizuki described him."

Yugao tilted her head and blinked several times, "No…No I don't."

"Then, why is it bothering you so much? Why even think about it?"

Yugao felt sick. She shook her head opened her mouth but then closed it again. She looked over at Jiraiya and the man, suddenly, smiled gently at her.

"Naruto is a good boy. He is smart and strong, as you said." Jiraiya turned around and waved to Yugao leaving his last words in the air for Yugao to think deeply in the meaning behind them. "But, Naruto is also a ninja. Don't you ever forget it, Yugao."

Jiraiya was very far away when a shadow appeared from behind him, "What do you think about this, Yugao? Is she any good?"

Jiraiya smirked tilting his head so he could see Loki out of the corner of his eye. "Yes, she is already figuring Naruto out. Don't worry, Naruto is in good hands."

"Where are you? Why do you hide?"

He ran with his heart beating fast inside his chest, sweat rolling down his forehead. He saw the path ahead of him, a path he didn't recognize but his mind seemed to think it was familiar. The voice, raspy and deep, filled with malice and laughter, followed him everywhere he went.

"Why do you run? Why do you hide? There is no escape…you will be mine…" There was a cold laughter sending shivers down his spine, he stopped and was facing a huge shadow in front of him, red eyes gleaming deeply and a smirk, a cold evil smirk…

"I would take back what is mine and you and that little god of yours will bow before me or perish in a bath of blood…"

He felt the cold contact of a claw, his head being imprisoned in a tight grasp and a jolt of electricity and ice pressed his head, making him scream into the darkness.

Naruto woke with a start.

He felt a sudden headache, cold sweat falling down his forehead while his shirt seemed drenched in the very same sweat. He was breathing hard feeling suddenly cold and tired, as if he had been running, like in the dream. Naruto lowered his head trying to recall something about the dream. The face of his pursuer where exactly was him…but the only thing he could remember was the sound of thunder and the coldness of the hand around his head.

This was the seventh time he had the same dream in a month. Each time there was a different detail, a different setting, different people but the voice was always the same; cold and deep, filled with power and soulless. Naruto frowned standing up and making his way to the kitchen. He poured some water on a glass and drank all of it in one gulp.

"You look awful, did you sleep well?" Naruto turned around with a mixture of surprise and happiness on his face. Behind him was Loki examining him carefully before placing his hand on the blonde's forehead. "You don't have a fever…"

"I'm pretty well, actually. Today we finished our 25th D-rank mission." Loki nodded approvingly his eyes still on Naruto, worry attached to his face. "Don't worry, Father of mine. I'm okay; just…it was a bad dream."

Loki tensed, as he usually did when Naruto called him that. He was not used to hearing the word 'father' or 'dad' coming from Naruto. It still felt strange and pleasant; however, it also brought to Loki's mind the memory of his children the ones he left in Asgard.

"What are you doing here, anyway? I thought you were going to be out doing…whatever it is you do." Naruto waved his hands in the air while looking at Loki.

"You don't have to sound so please to see me, Naruto."

"Oh, I am! Just surprise that's all."

Loki nodded his head while taking a sit on the closest chair, "I came here to see how it had gone with your new position. Did you receive my gifts?"

"I did. Those daggers are awesome! I'm dying to try them out in a real mission. Not those D-rank…" Naruto shivered at first then he looked genuinely excited; he smiled widely as he sat in front of Loki. The concern moments ago had plagued his face was no longer there and Loki had to wonder just what exactly had happened before he arrived. It wasn't like Naruto not to share whatever was on his mind.

"Don't worry, soon enough you will be able to show everyone around this place just how good you really are."

Loki made sure his displeasure for Konoha filled the tone in which he uttered every word. Naruto usually felt half amused and confused at Loki's animosity against the village. Sure, Naruto himself sometimes felt Konoha wasn't the ideal place to be. People around him were bigots who only saw money, power and heritage. They didn't take into account the ones who made an effort, who work hard to obtain what they want or what they need. The real meaning of a person was always behind the last name or the deeds he or she did for the village.

"There is another reason I have come earlier than promised." Naruto raised a curious eyebrow, his blue orbs following the movements from Loki's hand. Soon enough, there was an enveloped coming from the inside of Loki's coat; the god of mischief handled it to Naruto who took it with a mixture of apprehension and excitement.

"I met with a young woman who asked me, promising a painful dead if I failed so, to give you this letter." Said Loki dryly while remembering the dead threat coming from Yugito.

Naruto chuckled while putting away the letter; Loki smirked when he noticed the sudden blush on Naruto's cheeks. There was a moment of confortable silence between them, Loki observed and wondered just how long would it take for him to tell Naruto the whole truth.

"You should sleep, Naruto. You really look tired." Loki placed his hand on Naruto's shoulder making sure the blond was looking directly into his emerald green eyes. "Are you sure you're okay?"

Naruto hesitated for a moment; he thought briefly that perhaps telling Loki about his dreams would be a good idea. Maybe, he could help him figure them out…but, something stopped him.

"Nah, just overly motivate with my missions." Naruto shrugged evading Loki's inquisitive stare. "It's nothing to worry about…dad."

Loki held back his smile, nodded solemnly his head and turned around to make his way to his own room. Naruto stood there for a long time before he too went to sleep.

Inside his room, Loki sighed sitting on the bed with his elbows on his knees holding his face down.

"Did you tell him?" The voice of Itachi reached Loki's ears; he kept his face down, his green eyes glaring at the floor.

"Did it sound as if I told him anything?" Itachi took off his mask and sat on the floor, Loki rolled his eyes sighing shaking his head. "No, I didn't. I couldn't."

"You have to tell him. Soon, they will come for him and he needs to know…" Itachi trailed off the moment Loki turned to him. He felt suddenly cold, pinned to his spot as a green light involved him.

"Do not dare to tell me what I should do with my own son, Itachi." Loki's voice changed at that moment, there was pain and anger there and Itachi understood by the slip of Loki's tongue just how much this meant to the god. "I'll deal with this when the time is right. For now, be ready. We must save Naruto's girlfriend before he finds out about the oncoming attack."

"Whatever happened to 'she is not Naruto's girlfriend'?" Loki stood up rolling his eyes. The moment had passed but neither of them forgot what had just happened.

"Do you really believe there isn't any kind of sentiment there between them?"

"No, both seemed smitten enough with each other for the girlfriend reference to work."

The god of mischief placed a note on top of his bed before going over Itachi. Loki grabbed Itachi and soon enough the both of them disappeared from Naruto's home.

Uchiha Sasuke glared at the trio sitting on the ramen stand. His black eyes gleaming with a mixture of anger and resentment, all of it directed to one person only. Uzumaki Naruto. The young blond who was smiling and joking, flashing around the Hitai-ate on his forehead while enjoying his meal. The moron who dared to have a peaceful life, to not think of anything beyond having fun…the moron who knew his brother.

Sasuke huffed turning around to set his glare on the plate of food in front of him. Suddenly he didn't feel as hungry anymore.

It had been four years.

Four years since he was left alone, since he watched his family being slaughtered by the man with the strange clothes. The man he had heard many referred to as the Lie-Smith. After he woke up he was interrogated, over and over ANBU and the elders of Konoha asked him stupid questions about what had happened. Sasuke told them over and over, the idiots even thought it had been Itachi the one behind the attacks but Sasuke knew better.

The chopsticks he had on his hand broke as Sasuke tightened his hold on them. Putting some money from his pocket, Sasuke threw it on the table and left the restaurant. He heard the voice of Naruto and the black-haired boy couldn't help but feel his resentment grow inside of him.

He tried so hard to speak with the blond after what happened. He tried to make him understand he needed to know whatever his brother may have tell him. Because, of something Sasuke was completely sure, Uzumaki Naruto knew something. Itachi spent most of his time with him so, Uzumaki knew something. He had to! And Sasuke would always look for that one chance to make him speak.

"You look upset." Sasuke stopped suddenly, startled by the sudden interruption, he turned to face the voice and found himself face to face with one of his Academy teachers. Mizuki.

The man smiled at Sasuke, lifting his face towards the direction Sasuke had come from. "You don't seem so found of young Naruto."

Sasuke observed carefully at the man in front of him, frowning he tilted his head not giving an answer for the moment. Mizuki smiled gently at Sasuke, a smile that didn't reach his eyes.

"I get it. You know? I don't like him myself." Sasuke lifted an eyebrow, mildly interested in what Mizuki was saying. The man was still staring ahead of him, frowning.

"Naruto is…the kind of person that signifies a menace to everyone around him." Mizuki then shook his head and returned his attention to Sasuke. "But the boy is pretty good, given time he would become a powerful ninja."

"I don't care." Sasuke narrowed his eyes. "Why are you telling me all this?"

Mizuki made sure no one was around; he leaned in and whispered in Sasuke's ear.

"Because, if you want to find your brother or the man behind the slaughter of your clan you will have to go after Uzumaki Naruto…"

Naruto turned around confused, he could swear someone was looking at him but once he turned there was no one there.

"What is it?" Shin turned as well looking around before focusing on Naruto.

"I don't know." The blond went back to their former conversation. It had been two weeks since they became official members of the Shinobi corps of Konoha and they were already bored out of their minds with the D missions which was the reason why Yugao got them a C-rank one.

"Anyway, I'm just glad we got a chance to leave the village." Naruto took another sip from his bowl. "Do you know where are they sending us?"

"Nope, not a clue. But, since is a C-rank mission probably some place that has dealings with us. Nothing too dangerous or far away."

"Not too far, indeed." Yugao appeared from behind her students smiling as she sat down beside Sai.

"Yugao-sensei! Are you going to tell us?" Naruto blinked battling his eyelashes to which Yugao merely shook her head amused.

"They're sending us to Sunagakure on an escorting mission." Naruto's eyes opened wide, gleaming with happiness.

"Really? Who are we escorting? A princess? Some important Lord? Who?"

"A scroll." Replied Yugao stealing food from her student's bowls. Naruto looked confused; Shin and Sai narrowed their eyes.

"A scroll?" Repeated Shin.

"You mean, they're sending us on a mailing mission? We're going to be postmen?" Sai commented with his voice low and filled with confusion.

Yugao winked at her students and nodded, "That's right! But, cheer up! If it serves as any consolation…the Hokage wrote the official letter and needs us to take it to Sunagakure promptly."

"But…but…"Started Naruto Yugao raised an eyebrow at him, challenging him to speak back at her.

"Unless you want to keep chasing after Tora the cat…"

"NO!" The three of them answer at the same time. Yugao smirked and ruffled each one of their heads.

"That's the attitude. Go home, rest and be ready at four am on the eastern gate."

Yugao left leaving her students wondering for a moment, then after a prolonged silence Sai spoke first. "Wait, Suna is to the other side…"

"This is so going to be a long walk."

Chapter Text

Chapter 10

The Monsters our parents warned us about

 

 

Fate had a strange way to play its cards.

It not always happened the way we expected it to play, it never played the game in a fair fashion. We usually fell for its tricks and our lives end up in turmoil of emotions and circumstances that we needed to overcome. Sometimes this situations are fair, some others they’re not.

This was one of such times.

The mission to Suna had been a success; Yugao didn’t have to worry much when she took her team inside the foreign city. Strange as it may be, Naruto and the others behaved according to their rank and enjoyed the exotic scenery that was Sunagakure with a curious and open mind. The only thing worth mentioning was the strange meeting between Naruto and the youngest son of the Kazekage, Gaara. Yugao knew, because of the reports, that the red-head was the carrier of one of the Bijuu; this worried her as she didn’t know how an encounter between Bijuu would bring. She found herself quite relief when Naruto didn’t react in any alarming way. Still, the red-head observed Naruto in a strange almost puzzling way; a familiar glint that had put Yugao nervous and made her moved the blond out of the young boy’s sight.

As far as anyone knew, Naruto knew nothing about the Kyuubi and it being sealed inside of him.

Once outside the city of sand, Yugao felt even more relief and allowed her students to roam freely ahead of her. If she had known something would happen she would have never chosen the long way back to Konoha nor let them get away from her sight.

It happened on the second day of them returning home.

The sky was grey, threatening with storm and lightning. The wind was not blowing, which in itself was strange but Yugao was slightly distracted by the sound of Naruto’s laugh, she felt her lips quirked upwards, already used to her student’s antics.  She never felt not even sense the sudden explosion that sent her and the Genin flying away, all of them hit square on their sides by the blast.

It was a complete surprise for all the presents. As soon as the explosion reached them, Yugao felt the presence of powerful ninja around them. The fight was ferocious and the young woman tried to stand up to see what was happening.

Naruto didn’t know what happen. One minute he was joking and talking with Sai and Shin and the next he felt an unexplained pain on his side, the deafening sound of an explosion on his ears right after he hit his back against a tree. He moaned in pain opening his eyes to see something impossible.

He could recognize Yugito wherever he went. He recognized her purple hair, her slender body, the length of her hair, the blue and silver of her clothes and there she was…Resting her weight on one leg, breathing hard with blood rolling down her forehead and her left arm hanging in a strange position. But, there was something different, something he didn’t recognize on her. It was a purple-ish cloak, a kind of strange energy covering her completely with two tails forming behind her back.

“Yu-Yugito?” He said incorporating, her name escaped his lips and at that moment the young girl turned around in complete and sincere surprise.

“Naruto?!”

It was a brief moment in which their eyes joined and then Yugito’s stare changed from one of surprised to one of pain.

“You should never take your eyes off of an opponent, Yugito-san.” The young kunoichi turned around to see her opponent, the one that had identified himself as Pain, right in front of her a sword going through her abdomen blood pouring from her wound as the power she had been using started vanishing.

It was out of instinct. He never heard the voices calling for him to stop; he never even paid attention to the other two figures approaching him fast. Naruto merely moved fast trying to grab Yugito who had fallen on the tree branch, her hand holding her bleeding abdomen. Yugito lifted her face and saw Naruto, the whisker marks on his face pronounced, his eyes changing slightly from the deep blue to a malicious gold.

“Yugito-chan.” He said and the girl opened her eyes in warning.

Naruto had enough time to turn around, his daggers on his hand trying to fight off his opponent. He was feeling rage; his mind wrapped around the fact Yugito had been hurt. The man who attacked him had a ripple-like pattern on his eyes, piercings on his face, orange hair and a black cloak with red clouds. There was no emotion on his face, his movements were fast and forceful, and all Naruto could feel at that moment was a blind rage.

“Naruto!” The blond heard the desperation in Yugito’s voice; he turned around to see a man he had never noticed grabbed her when suddenly another one reached him from the left.

Naruto saw as Yugito was hit on the head leaving her unconscious, she was bleeding, defenseless and then the blond realized his friends, his jounin sensei and a man he hadn’t noticed until then, Killer Bee, all of them were in danger.

That was enough for him to snap.

Inside the blond, in the well hidden cage, yellow eyes gleamed with mirth. The Kyuubi smirked, his tails swinging around as he felt the consciousness leaving Naruto and his own chakra being overtaking by that of the Kyuubi’s.

Yugao was breathing hard, parrying a kunai directed to her heart. She turned around lifting her leg and hitting his opponent on the chest. She shivered feeling the sudden changed in the atmosphere. She knew that feeling, she had been but a teen when she first felt it and could never forget it.

“Naruto!” the name of the blond left her lips as she turned around and saw, with growing horror how Naruto was being taken by a red cloak of chakra and two tails started growing behind his back.

 



 

Loki wasn’t expecting this.

Not so soon.

He moved quickly, running along with Jiraiya as they approached the growing heaviness in the atmosphere. He was ready to save Yugito, if not for himself for Naruto. But he never thought Naruto would cross the same path Akatsuki, Yugito and Bee would be facing each other. It was a miscalculation Loki regretted deeply and one he would correct with blood, if necessary.  He felt it before he saw it, the growing anger and desperation just as red flames reached his eyes.

Jiraiya cursed lowly as he proceeded to put a scroll from under his robes, “Naruto is in danger. This…I remember this feeling.”

“The Kyuubi.” Answered Loki to which Jiraiya nodded gravely.

“The seal is weakening; we must hurry before the damage to Naruto’s body is irremediable.”

As Jiraiya spoke Loki let his armor wear itself on him, the scepter gleaming blue and green on his right hand and his emerald eyes growing cold as they approached the fight. Wearing Thor’s face, Loki took upon himself his brother’s ferocious battle expression. It didn’t take them long, as soon as they arrived they saw the complete messed this situation was.

Whereas Naruto was fighting off two of his attackers, Yugao, Shin and Sai were fighting another member of the Akatsuki. Killer Bee was far away from them; his control over the Bijuu was extraordinary as he fend off two more members of the strange group.

Loki’s eyes narrowed when he saw another man, one who was holding an unconscious and wounded Yugito in his arms. With a single nod of his head, Jiraiya understood his part in the situation while Loki moved to rescue the young girl.

The man, who had short hair, not expression whatsoever on his face, was holding Yugito with one arms and making his way to the forest. Like appeared in front of him, tilting his head and lifting a single eyebrow. The expression in Thor’s face looked careless, almost defiant.

“I’m afraid this is as long as you will go.” He said holding the scepter in his hand, making the instrument take the form of Mjölnir. The ninja tilted his head stretching his hand to his opponent, Loki frowned feeling the suction of the technique.

“Mortals and the petty attempts.” He said shaking his head and approaching the young man, this time around pain’s expression did change to one of confusion. Loki smirked twirling his imitation of Mjölnir on his left hand.

With a speed Pain was not used to he found himself the victim of a hammer blow that sent him backwards. Loki grabbed Yugito carefully, holding the girl in his arms with gentleness. His eyes turned colder as he placed her on the ground, his hand above her body assessing the damage to her body. He didn’t even lift his head when the man he was fighting stood up moving fast towards him. Loki lifted his hand and a green light gleam out of his hand stopping the man.

“I don’t have time to do this.” He said and suddenly his hand changed of color, it went from a clear skin to one of the deepest blue Pain has ever seen. Then everything went cold and he knew no more.



 

“Damn.” Mumbled Bee as he evaded another attack with his katana, he moved to the side and found himself face to face with a Konoha kunoichi, the woman sent him a stern glare and Bee understood. Soon enough the both of them were defending against attacks when a cry of surprised startled all the presents.

Shin couldn’t hide his surprised when he saw him. A man in a golden armor with green and black, a scepter on his hand and a helmet with horns. It was the same armor everyone had heard about and, when looking closer, Yugao could make out the noticeable features of the man that had been described as the Lie-Smith.

Killer Bee then smirk, he let out a sigh of relief when he saw Yugito had been put out of harm’s way. More relaxed he turned to his opponent and blasted him with one of Hachibi’s tentacles. Yugao frowned, she didn’t know what to do, confused she watched as the man helped the girl and then proceed to dispatch his enemy in a strange way. Then she saw something else, Naruto had grown another two tails but there, approaching him with two toads on his shoulders was Jiraiya.

‘Just, what the hell is going on?’

Yugao had not time to answer her own question for her attention was brought back to the fight in front of her.



 

“What is it, Jiraiya-chan?” Jiraiya didn’t have to answer for Naruto’s form fell right in front of them the tails swinging back and forth and then….then all of them saw it: whatever those tails touched it went rotten, dying right before their eyes.

Jiraiya put his scroll out, biting his lip he put some blood on it, making fast hand signs the ink with the seal moving towards his fingertips. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Loki moving fast towards him, his helmet off and determination on his eyes.

Naruto was still on a rampaged, he was growling, losing himself little by little while fighting off his opponents. One of his tails sneaked around grabbing one of the pains, the man screamed out in agony as he started rotting right in front of everyone’s eyes.

Loki frowned, his hand outstretched sending a green light straight to the other enemy, sending him backwards while Loki centered his attention on Naruto.

His emerald eyes fell on Naruto who was, little by little, being consumed by the red energy. He watched as that energy consumed whatever it touched, and Loki knew what he was feeling was magic. Ancient and forgotten magic.

Konan groaned as the holder of the Hachibi hit her straight on the chest, the man had more control over the beast inside him that they had expected. Of course, they hadn’t been worried since their target was the Jinchuuriki of the Two-Tails, however, this they didn’t expected. A berserk Jinchuuriki of the Kyuubi, a Sannin, two jounin and that man; the one that called himself Lie-Smith. Konan stood up ready to start her attack when a hand stopped her; she turned around to see Yahiko besides her shaking his head.

“Let’s go.” Konan frowned confused.

“But…” Yahiko pointed with his head and Konan turned around to see one of the pains vanished in a rictus of pain covered with green flames. Konan opened her eyes in surprised. “That…That’s not possible.”

“And yet, here it is. Come, we will need a new plan.”



 

Naruto was completely lost.

He couldn’t move, but he knew there was something wrong.

He looked around and realized he was no longer in the forest, that he could no longer see his friends and the guys attacking Yugito. He was in what seemed to be a sewer. Naruto watched as a red light made contact with his feet, hands and abdomen; he frowned moving his hands right in front of his eyes, watching with curious eyes that strange essence. 

“Hello?” He may have been young, and some people may believe him stupid; but Naruto had been raised by the God of Mischief, he was everything but a fool and he knew, whatever was happening, he would need to think this out before acting. So, he asked again.

“Hello?” He took a step forward and then another, as he moved he started feeling warmer and overwhelmed by a sudden presence, something connected with the strange red light.

“Well, well, well…look what the fates had brought to my doorstep…” Naruto shivered as he crossed a threshold to a big room with a cage at the other side. He stopped any movement, his hand moving fast to his kunai holster, blue eyes narrowing with a glint of intelligence very few had seen on the twelfth year old.

“My jailor has finally come to see its prisoner.” The voice was strange; it felt inviting and yet it held a deep, guttural tone that sent shivers of warning down Naruto’s back. There was something old behind the voice, something that spoke of unknown ages.

“Jailor? Who are you? Come out from the shadows!” The creature chuckled and Naruto heard the heavy body moving until finally the blond saw him.

It was a huge, red fox, his yellow-ish eyes gleaming with amusement and something else. Naruto gasped when he saw the huge form of the fox, out of curiosity he moved forward, his dagger and his kunai on each one of his hands. He took in the form of the fox and then on the cage, his eyes falling on top of the seal at the cage’s door. Naruto then locked eyes with the fox, tilting his head to the side.

“Who are you? Where are we?”

The fox pressed his face against the cage his eyes gleaming maliciously, one of his tails wagging back and forth, his energy coming slowly and engulfing at a still distracted Naruto.

“Oh, do not tell me the son of Odin has not told you yet.” Naruto changed his expression; it turned from one of curiosity to one of coldness and uncertainty.

“How do you know about father? What do you mean by that?” Naruto fixated his dagger moving into a fighting position. “Speak Fox!”

Kurama laughed loudly, his laugh echoing in the room. Naruto looked confused but didn’t waver as he took in every detail his eyes could catch in the room. The fox stopped laughing making his tail slid right outside the cage and nearing Naruto. The blond made his dagger and kunai gleamed with his chakra, a warning for the fox to stop his advances. Kurama did so, amused at the valiant yet futile attempt from Naruto’s part to stop and intimidate him.

“Oh, no boy, I’m not going to tell you anything…this…this is something I’m going to enjoy your father telling you.” Kurama tilted his head and with a swing of his tail the red energy covered Naruto. “Do ask Loki of Asgard to tell you about the monster parents tell children about in Konoha! Ask him about the Kyuubi no Kitsune and his Jinchuuriki, Uzumaki Naruto! ”

Kurama chuckled again at the shocked expression on Naruto’s face, “here, let me show you why people in your pathetic village is afraid of you.”

Naruto didn’t have the time to react as he suddenly felt at unbelievable pain in his body, he screamed, and screamed right after he lost consciousness.

*****

Loki felt the slash moving right beside him, he frown feeling the magic brushing his armor. There was something strange about this, something he had never felt before. His green eyes lifted to see Naruto engulfed in the red energy, his eyes devoid of any sign of intelligence or understanding. Right now, he was mindless being dominated by his emotions.

“Naruto! Naruto listen to me.”

Loki step forward, he tilted his head and realized the attention of the blond was on him. Loki could observe the changed in the blond, there was not a single sign that Naruto recognized him. Loki felt a lump on his throat, and for a second he felt lost. This was the first time Naruto watched him without any emotions in his eyes. He didn’t wear the happiness or fondness he used to wear every time he saw the God of Mischief. And this fact hurt Loki in ways he never thought possible.

“Naruto, listen to me. I need you to hear my voice, concentrate. Do not let this thing dominate you.”

The crimson Naruto growled and launched himself forward, Loki narrowed his eyes evading the attack, barely missing another brush from the red magic. The green eyes drifted for a moment and observe as Jiraiya got ready. It was brief, but the movement of the head didn’t go unnoticed by Loki who understood it was time. He stretched his hand and his own magic hit Naruto on the chest. The blond screamed out in pain, turning wildly ready to attack again, Loki opened up his hand green light forming ropes that tied around Naruto’s limbs. The blond growled loudly trying to free his hands, struggling against the bonds.

“Jiraiya!” Loki called out to the Sannin who jumped to join Loki, passing to him a piece of paper with strange markings on it.

“Okay, on three. One. Two. Three!” Both, Loki and Jiraiya ran towards Naruto, Loki step on the trunk jumping behind the blond and placing the seal on his back on the same spot Jiraiya was placing his fingertips of the seal on Naruto’s abdomen.

Naruto screamed out, Loki jumped backwards watching his hand with a frown still on his features. He had gone inside Naruto before, he had seen what lied inside him; but never before had he felt this kind of power. This magic was different, as if…as if something had activated a different trigger. Loki observed with worried eyes the screaming boy who, little by little let go of the red magic and started recovering his own colors and his own form. Naruto gasped his eyes closing falling down. Loki grabbed him gently touching his forehead and mumbling soft words in a language Jiraiya didn’t know.

Loki placed Naruto on the ground, his lips curling up the moment he felt the cold still of a sword against his neck. Jiraiya glanced at the person behind Loki, Naruto’s teammates had come forward, each one of them surrounding Loki but eying Jiraiya with suspicion. Bee had Yugito in his arms, the young girl sleeping, paled and still hurt after the attack.

Everything was a complete chaos. Loki chuckled. Chaos was his specialty.

“Yugao, put that katana down.” Said Jiraiya scowling at the young woman.

“You have to be kidding me, Jiraiya-sama. Do you know who this guy is?”

“The one who just save all your lives?” Replied Jiraiya signaling Naruto and then Yugito and Bee.

“No, he is the man that murdered the Uchiha Clan.” Bee raised an eyebrow approaching the Konoha group. His eyes, covered by the black glasses drifted from Naruto then to Loki; the man smiled shaking his head.

“Thor-san, I don’t know what happen or how did you find out but...thank you.” Said Bee ignoring the Konoha ninja and placing Yugito down near where Naruto lied unconscious.

Loki shrugged, “It’s a long story, but I couldn’t allow Akatsuki to take Yugito-san. Naruto would never forgive me.”

Yugao gasped when the man in front of her disappeared only to appear behind her, she was shocked when it was her the one feeling the cold blade against her neck. Shin and Sai feinted forward but a twirl of Loki’s hand made them sit on the ground, both of them startled, try to stand up only to obtain the same result.

“Please, Yugito-san, my intentions are…well, let’s just say I have come here to prevent some programmed deaths and not to execute them.” Yugao looked out of the corner of her eye the mocking smile on adorning the face of the Asgardian.

“You are a murderer.” She spat then turned her eyes to Jiraiya. “And you are an accomplice!”

“I didn’t know about the massacre until right after it happened.” Replied Jiraiya who kneeled down and started examining Naruto. “If I had known something, well…there was nothing I could have done actually.”

Yugao went to speak when the blade pressed harder against her skin, “Please Yugao-san everything has an explanation. However, right now my priority is Naruto’s and Yugito’s well-being. If you insist on being a problem then I will feel incline to deal with you accordingly.”

Yugao was a seasoned fighter. She had started her career as a ninja at a very young age; she had made her way up the different positions with determination and ability. She was good. She was excellent at what she did. She wasn’t part of the ANBU for nothing and she hadn’t been a Hunter-Nin just for nothing either. She had faced many enemies; death had been right in front of her on several occasions. But this was the first time she felt a primal fear inside her.

It wasn’t the fact she had a knife on her throat, or the man behind her. It was his voice. There was something different in his voice. And suddenly, Yugao felt herself agreeing; she gulped humiliate. She turned around and her eyes locked with those belonging to the man Jiraiya seemed to know pretty well. His emerald eyes were cold, sharp with a strange intelligence in them.

“Who are you?” She asked to which Loki merely gave her a half smirk.

The man then turned around and his whole demeanor changed, he became soft and warm. His hands maneuvered swiftly, there was a green light coming from his fingertips with his hands mapping out Naruto’s body. Loki started whispering the enchantments he had learnt from Eir back when he was but a teen eager to please and to make his father proud. Loki buried his thoughts, focusing his energy in trying to find everything was normal in Naruto.

“He is okay but tired. He feels weak so he would probably sleep until tomorrow.” Jiraiya shrugged eyeing Yugao.

“We don’t have to hurry. We can explain sensei I found you guys and we got delay.” He said shrugging, Shin and Sai eyed each other. Sai was frowning, wondering just what exactly was happening.

“Jiraiya-sama…”

“Look, Yugao,” Jiraiya silenced her. “The truth is, after what you have witness well…you and your team would have to promise to be quieted about everything.”

“You…you are asking us to commit treason?” Asked Sai puzzled.

“Treason? No, I’m asking you to be good friends and teachers and don’t tell anything for Naruto’s sake.”

Loki ignored the conversation focusing his attention on Yugito, Bee stood beside them with his arms crossed.

“So, you’re the infamous Lie-Smith? The one who murder the whole Uchiha Clan?” Loki snorted with his hands drifting around Yugito’s body.

“You could say that.”

“But, you’re also Thor, Naruto’s father?” Loki tensed up; taking a deep breath hearing those words made his blood boil.

“As a matter of speaking, yes, I am.” Bee nodded shrugging.

“How is she?”  Loki frowned centering his attention on the wound made by the sword.

“She is badly wounded. Not only did they pierce her with a blade, but whatever they were trying to do affect her body. She is tired and would need a long rest.”

Bee sat down letting out a heavy sigh, “we’ve heard about them. Akatsuki, We never thought they would dare to approach me or Yugito since we seemed to be the only Jinchuuriki capable of manipulating the Bijuu.”

“Akatsuki thought she would be vulnerable. They sent their best people to try and capture her.” Said Loki finishing his healing on the young woman, he lifted his face to look at Bee. “They will attack again and next time they may be successful. Losing Yugito would destroy Naruto.”

“I didn’t know Naruto was a Jinchuuriki.” Loki snorted.

“Yes, you knew it. If not because someone told you then because your own demon must have told you about it.” Bee tilted his head trying to read Loki but incapable to do so. In the end he shrugged and nodded.

“You’re right.”

Yugao watched Loki then turned to Jiraiya, the Sannin shrugged before speaking.

“If you doubt him it’s okay. But don’t question his loyalty and affection towards Naruto.”

Loki turned around sitting on the ground, “Jiraiya is quite right, Yugao-san. Naruto is the only one holding me back from either erasing your memories or just killing you. Why don’t we set a fire and prepare for the night? This two won’t move until tomorrow morning.”

Yugao clenched her fists glaring daggers at the black-haired man; Jiraiya shook his head before asking Shin and Sai to help him out. Bee merely watched, this was something his brother would be pretty interested in knowing about.



 

Naruto woke up to a peculiar scene; he was sweating with the images of the past still fresh in his mind. He could feel the pain and sorrow coming from the villagers, from the ninja that had fallen the day the Kyuubi had attacked. His hand went right towards his abdomen, the place where the Fourth Hokage had placed the seal. His eyes stung with unshed tears. The voice filled with hatred coming from some villagers, the comments he had overhead, the rejection and the looks…everything made sense now.

 “Naruto?” Yugito approached him with an uncertain look on her face, her eyes took in the blond falling on the headband he was wearing on his forehead.

Naruto stared at her giving the girl a weak smile, “Yugito-chan, you’re okay.”

He stood up Yugito returned the smile nodding, “Your father healed me.”

Naruto tensed up; lifting his blue eyes he found those of Loki looking back at him. He clenched his jaw realizing Loki was there in front of his teammates and Yugao, as well as Yugito and Bee. The god of mischief felt his lips quirked up in half smile, a smile that didn’t reach his eyes.

Naruto took a step forward watching as Shin evaded his stare, as Sai looked at him intently. He realized Yugao had a worried semblance, and Yugito along with Bee were looking at him knowingly. The blond shook his head and stood in front of Loki, clenching his teeth, turning his head to the side.

“Why didn’t you tell me?”

“Naruto…” Yugao took a step forward but Naruto lifted his head with tears in his eyes and anger written all over his face.

“WHY DIDN’T YOU TELL ME?!”

Loki flinched, a flashback of him screaming at Odin in Asgard the moment he found out about his origins. Why didn’t he say anything about the Kyuubi to Naruto? What had happened for Naruto to be this angry? Naruto was looking at him with pain and disappointment, he looked so betrayed it made Loki regret some of his decisions.

The atmosphere around them was tense; Shin and Sai looked at each other never before having seen Naruto in such a state. Yugao couldn’t even wrap her mind around what was happening. She needed answers, because this situation was turning out to be more complicated that she cared to admit. Only Jiraiya and Bee seemed to actually know and understand the tension between Loki and Naruto. Yugito for her part stood behind Naruto with a sad look of realization on her face.

“Why…why didn’t you tell me I was a monster?” Naruto gulped shaking his head. “Why didn’t you tell me the reason people on my village hate me was because I house a monster inside me? That…That I could lose control? That this power was here?”

Loki opened his mouth frowning when he realized he didn’t have any words to explain to Naruto. He didn’t have any answers. Naruto felt his tears rolling down and he wiped them furiously taking a step away from Loki.

“What am I? What the hell am I?!”

And Loki felt déjà vu all over again. He remembered the question, he remembered the circumstances and then suddenly a part of him, the intelligent more analytic part of him understood.

“You are my son.” He replied in a soft voice. “And you are a Jinchuuriki. You’re not a monster Naruto, but the power inside you may lead you to become one.”

Loki had the sudden uncontrollable need to run, he found himself trapped in a situation he was not familiar with. Loki was familiar with mischief and lies; he was familiar with deception and planning. But, he was not familiar with this kind of situations. He didn’t know how to approach Naruto, he never did with Fenrir and he regretted it to this day. He only knew the love of his mother, the words of the woman who would guide him in the moments he felt left aside. Ignored.

Was this how Odin had felt when Loki found out about his true origins? Was Odin so lost to deal with Loki the way Loki was feeling about Naruto right now?

The God of Mischief watched with morbid fascination as Naruto pointed an accusing finger at him. The boy was trembling, sweating as if trying to grasp whatever was on his mind, trying to understand what Loki had just said. Naruto looked betrayed, he lifted his blue eyes and with a broken voice he spoke to Loki.

“I hate you.” Those words left innocent lips, filled with hurt and disappointment. Naruto heard himself, he opened his eyes in realization and was ready to run away when Loki stopped him. His hands closed gently around his shoulders as he leaned forward making sure Naruto was looking at him.

Loki knew for experience his face (Thor’s face) would be open, filled with emotions in other circumstances the god of mischief would never show. He opened his mouth and closed it thinking over what to say to the child that had come to mean so much in so little time. Loki remembered himself, he remembered his brother and finally…finally he remembered his father and his mother.

“You are no longer a child, Naruto.”

No one of the presents seemed overly eager to interrupt the sudden intimate moment. Yugao watched with fascination the resemblance from one blond to the other, how much Naruto was trying to hide but was incapable to do so. She watched the man they had identified as Lie-Smith, the murderer of a whole clan. This was not something she was ready to face. Naruto for his part could not help but look Loki back, to try and hold his tears, to stop those memories, those thoughts the Kyuubi had put on him and try to listen to the man he had come to love as a father.

“And yet, I can’t help but to treat you like one. To make sure you can live what little of your childhood you have left.” Loki sighed, his eyes turning to his right as memories of his own invaded his mind. “I can’t help but see the boy I saved once, innocent and corrupt at the same time. The look in your eyes was a familiar one, something no child should wear so early in his life.”

Naruto sobbed looking down with shame, “I saw them. I could hear them. He…he made me see and feel everything. I’m a monster.”

“You are not a monster.” The force behind the words and the sudden coldness in his voice was what made Naruto look up. Loki was staring back at Naruto with something strange gleaming in his eyes. “You are not a monster, Naruto. What happened with Kurama is not your fault. He isn’t you and you are not him.”

“I thought I still have time.” Said Loki straightened himself up glancing back at Jiraiya. “But, apparently, this Akatsuki is already on the move and you…you just meet with the Bijuu inside you.”

“If I’m not him then why…” Started Naruto but he went silent nodding around him. The destruction was still evident, there were still two bodies of the strange men he had been fighting. “How could I…”

“It’s the seal. It’s supposed to work in a way the chakra from the Kyuubi starts leaking into your own chakra system.” Replied Jiraiya. “However, too much of the Kyuubi’s chakra could make you lose your consciousness, over all if you are being guide by strong emotions. Bijuu’s are intelligent beings, if you give them the chance to take over they would take it.”

Naruto nodded before turning to Loki, “You lie to me.”

“I did.”

“You use me.” The last sentence was said with a hint of a question in it. Loki hesitated, tilting his head he answered.

“Yes and No.” Loki pursed his lips before continuing, “What I did may have started as a lie and manipulation but it ended up with one single truth and that was you became blood of my blood. My Kin.”

Naruto felt relief wash over him, he gave a short nod, “I’m still angry with you.”

Loki felt his lips quirk upwards, his eyes gleaming with warm and relief. “I know.”

Naruto simply shrugged and for the first time he took in his surroundings, finally his mind catching up with the people around them. As he allowed his blue eyes swept around the scene he couldn’t shake the memories the Kyuubi had provided to him while unconscious, he couldn’t help but remember every detail, every dead, every look of hatred and fear. And, Naruto couldn’t forget the Kyuubi’s words.

In the end, young Naruto, your life force and mine would join together and then…then you will become the monster everyone is afraid of. Then, you will finally understand the joy of blood and fear.

He didn’t want to. That wasn’t what he was looking for. He had forged some real friendships, he had tried really hard to make people noticed him to perhaps love him. Naruto didn’t want to become a monster; he didn’t want any kind of power that may take his chance of being accepted.

A weapon. A powerful weapon the Asgardian would know how to use.

Naruto shook his head and smiled weakly at his teammates and Yugao, he knew something else was at stake here. He knew there were some truths left aside for the sake of the current events. For now, he would believe Loki: he wasn’t a monster. And, at the end of the day he would reign over the Kyuubi and his power would be Naruto’s and he would not allow Kurama to take over and cause any harm.

“So, what exactly happen?” He asked smiling sheepishly at Yugao who merely narrowed her eyes at him and the man behind Naruto.

“That is an excellent question I would like answer right away.” Naruto looked over at Yugao, Sai and Shin, then back at Loki and Jiraiya; he pleaded with his eyes for a reasonable explanation. Loki rolled his eyes and tilted his head in approval; this was going to be a long talk.

All of them were getting ready to go back, Naruto didn’t dare to look back to his team. He sighed knowing Yugao was still doubtful, that Sai and Shin would have questions of their own; but Naruto was anxious to know if even after all of this they would still want him.

The blond turned startled when a hand closed around his elbow, Yugito smiled at him lowering her head and moving closer.

“So, Konoha, eh? I mean, we did suspect but I was hoping you still could join Kirigakure.”

“Yeah, sorry I never say anything.” Naruto grinned at the young girl in front of him. “But, well, at least I can’t stop talking in so much riddles. How is your arm?”

Yugito looked at her bandaged arm shrugging, “Healing. Niibi would make sure I’m completely healed by the time we get home.”

Naruto nodded still trying to process the fact he and Yugito were Jinchuuriki; trying to process everything that had happened. He tilted his head looking at Yugito.

“I think I’m going to be watched pretty closely from now on so…”

“We will see each other sooner than you think, Naruto.” Said the girl shyly. “Don’t worry, I think it’s better if you fix whatever mess you seem to be in.”

“What do you mean we will see each other sooner?” Yugao opened her eyes surprised.

“Well, in eight months is going to be the Chuunin exam, in Konoha, actually. Aren’t you participating?”

“It was supposed to be a secret.” Mumbled Yugao irritated, she eyed the girl suspiciously. “They didn’t need to know that yet so I can consider their participation.”

“Wait, what? The Chuunin exams? We’re participating in the Chuunin exams?” Naruto seemed excited at the prospect; it had been almost a year since they became Genin, to make the exam would speed up their formation.

“I said I was considering it, Naruto. I’m still not sure yet. Not after this last days.” Yugao sound severed, she lifted an eyebrow when the blond seemed ready to argue but Naruto thought better of it. “Say good- bye and be ready, we’re leaving.”

Naruto looked downcast, knowing he would have some serious talking to do once he was back in Konoha. He lifted his eyes and found looking into Yugito’s ones; the girl smile shyly at him before leaning in and kissing him on the cheek.

“Don’t worry, I know you will come up with something to convince her.” Naruto gave a goofy smile at the young woman nodding his head.

“Then we will see each other in eight months.”

“And then I’ll kick your ass to show you just how good I gotten.” Naruto chuckled crossing his arms.

“We’ll see. Until next time, Yugito-chan!”

“Until next time, Naruto-kun.!

Loki watched from afar with a tiny smiled decorating his features, he then turned his green eyes to the Konoha group feeling wary. They had spoken, explained some basic things; they hadn’t convinced Yugao but at least the woman had agreed to remain silent. For now. Loki knew this wouldn’t last, not with the imminent threat coming from Akatsuki. The god of mischief knew he had to think something up and soon, because he had a really bad feeling about what was happening next.