Loki, god of mischief and chaos, smiled as he came to stand by the bedside of one of his best servants in all the many realms – and he knew perfectly well that there were more than nine, whatever the records of Asgard might say. Just as he knew that, in this world, he was not known as Loki. But that hardly mattered.

What mattered was that this man, this blond, smiling fool who reminded Loki so much of Thor in the way he looked, was now old. And he was dying. And that would be a waste of a perfectly wonderful agent of mischief and chaos. Loki had discussed the matter with his daughter, Hel, shortly after he realised that this particular servant was going to die an old man's death, rather than the death of a warrior.

To die such a death meant he would not see Valhalla, however much he deserved it. Loki would not stand for this one to simply fade away. Hel had, mercifully, agreed with him and acquiesced to her father's request.

"Naruto Uzumaki," Loki greeted softly.

Blue eyes, still as bright as the day they first opened to the world, wearily peeked out at him now from behind very wrinkled lids.

"I am the god of mischief," Loki presented himself.

The wrinkled face contorted into a smile, all the wrinkles falling into place with the motion. They had been created by a lifetime of smiling, after all. Smiling in the face of adversity.

"How would you like to make some mischief in another world?" Loki asked softly. "You'll be young again. In body. I'm not going to tamper with your mind and rob you of your life so far. Unfortunately, I can't bring you to my own world. The king of the gods is by far too stuffy, and barely tolerates my mischief. You'd be sentenced to death for yours. I'd rather you didn't die for at least another hundred years."

The old man chuckled weakly from where he lay on his bed.

"Sure," he agreed, his voice soft and his face warm with a content smile. "I'll make myself a whole new legend."

Loki's answering grin was every bit as fox-like as Naruto's had been all his life, and he spread his hands wide, hovering them a foot above the wearied body.

"Lo there do I see my father," Loki intoned. "Lo there to I see my mother and my sisters and my brothers," he recited as the magic poured out from his hands. "Lo there do I see the line of my people, back to the beginning."

Naruto's eyes grew wide as, yes, he saw them. He saw his father, and his mother, and all of his family and ancestors who he had never met. He saw their lives, saw the techniques that they learned and created. Saw the training they took part in.

"Lo they do call to me, and bid me take my place among them, in the halls of Valhalla, where the brave shall live forever," Loki said softly, his green eyes shining with tenderness as the body that lay on the bed before him grew younger and younger, even as he knew the mind within was bombarded with the life experiences of all of his ancestors. The body was not only growing younger though. It was also changing, ever-so-slightly, because of the magic Loki performed and because of the great demon the man contained. "And I say to them: not yet!" Loki declared, finishing the spell.

Gently, Loki lay a hand on Naruto's brow, now smooth and free of wrinkles.

"You will not likely see me again, Naruto Uzumaki," Loki said gently. "Sleep," he recommended, weaving a little bit of magic into the word to encourage such an action. "Sleep, while I bring you to a new world where you may create a new legend for yourself."

Bright blue eyes drifted closed slowly, not totally aware, at that point, that this would be the last he would see of the village where he had grown up.

~The End~