AN: Another chapter. Well, we're approaching some dark times in the future and this chapter is a prelude to that. Same warnings about the language apply.

I want to thank you all guys for your comments and the favorites on the story. I'm glad you are liking the story so far and that even if there are grammar mistakes you're still here with me and the story.


Chapter 7

The decisions we make, the people we meet, the paths we take

"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."


AN: What do you think? Questions? Critics? Requests? I would love to hear from you. This is it for now, hope you enjoy the reading and don't forget to comment.