Tales in Tarrasade

BY : Mannah_Pierce
Category: Naruto > Yaoi - Male/Male > Naruto/Sasuke
Dragon prints: 1720
Disclaimer: This story has some of Masashi Kishimoto's characters from Naruto in a universe of my own devising. I do not own Naruto. I do not make any money from these writings.

Thank you for the reviews. They have inspired me to continue this space saga, which began with ‘In the cold of space you find the heat of suns’.

Thanks to Small Fox for beta-ing.

Apologies if the characters have grown differently in their new environment.

This is posted in the Naruto/Sasuke section because it is part of a Naru/Sasu/Naru space saga. However, it does feature many other pairings (and a few threesomes). The main characters in this episode are Lee, Gaara and Sumaru, none of whom are paired.

You need to have read In the cold of space you find the heat of suns: to fully appreciate, or possibly even follow, this fic.

If you haven’t...
...Sasuke’s crew live in a space station called Tarrasade when they are not travelling. Lee is living with them as a guest. Gaara is a human-tanuki hybrid who is also staying with them as a guest; he has abdicated as leader of his people. Gaara and Lee have become friends. Sumaru is a lad of thirteen who is in Sasuke’s care. Gai is an elite warrior sworn to Uchiha. I do not want to tell you more because I am hoping you will read ‘In the cold of space you find the heat of suns’ and find out for yourself.

Tale Two: Knives

Five divs (half a standard year) since the birth of the babies and the kits

Lee spun, leapt, kicked, somersaulted and landed.

“Most inspiring, Lee-san,” Gai’s voice boomed across the gym. “In you I see great hope for the future. Please embark on your cooling down routine.”

The familiar moves left Lee much opportunity for thought. What future? Sasuke-sama himself had begun dropping hints that he would be welcome within Uchiha. Gai-san and Dan-san had spoken with him about the pros and cons of having an implant.

But if he swore to Uchiha it would separate him from his friend. Gaara could not swear to Uchiha; he was sworn to his sister Temari.

Gorgeous, terrifying, alien, fabulous, infuriating, heroic, needy, awesome, naive, adorable Gaara who hankered after hateful bigots because they were blond and could not understand what Kiba saw in Choza.

The lad, Sumaru, was watching him again.

“May I help you, Sumaru-kun?” Lee asked politely. He had tried this approach before. Usually the lad acted as if he had not heard but walked away soon afterwards. This time, to his surprise, the lad responded.

“You have worked hard to become as good a fighter as you can, given your physical limitations,” Sumaru informed him.

Lee blinked. He decided to take it as a compliment. “Thank you, Sumaru-kun” he replied.

“I have decided that you are worthy,” the lad told him. “You were not chosen but you are worthy. I shall tell you about what it means to be a knife.”

Lee was lost. “A knife?” he queried. He knew that Sumaru’s nickname was ‘Little Knife’ but he had never asked why.

Sumaru scowled at him. “The thief, Kabuto, gave you the greatest of gifts, even though you were not chosen. On your own you would have died, which was confirmation that you were not chosen. Rin-san saved you. I have forgiven her for that because she is sworn as a medico and not as a knife. I have forgiven you for surviving because it is human nature to cling to life.”

Lee had never heard the lad say so much. He was renowned for being taciturn. Lee reviewed what he had said. “The symbiote is the greatest of gifts?” he asked, surprised. He had only thought of it as an infection that had almost killed him.

Sumaru studied him. “I will show you. You will come to the door to the inner household one hundred and twenty minutes before ship’s dawn tomorrow. You must mention this to no one. It is between those who have been given the gift.”

Lee was not surprised to find himself at the entrance next morning; curiosity and optimism often led him places that another people avoided.

Sumaru opened the door at precisely the appointed time.

The lad led him, without words, to the large gym where the elite fighters trained. There was a small chest at one side of the room. Sumaru sat beside it. He indicated that Lee should sit opposite him. Lee complied.

“On my home planet, the very best were chosen to be elite warriors,” Sumaru began. “These elite warriors were called Knives. My father was a Knife. My mother was a Knife. It is my destiny to be a Knife. I was trained from birth to be a Knife. When I was eight standards I went to the Trials. One hundred children were there. Twelve were chosen. The others died. I was one of the twelve.

“We were given the Greatest of Gifts. Four of us survived. I was one of the four. I learnt the rituals. My training began in earnest.

“Then, when I was ten, my planet went mad. The people rose up against their masters. They used dishonourable weapons purchased off-planet. They blew up the temples and the masters’ households. They shot the Knives so they could not fight with honourable weapons or unarmed.

“My mother ran. She drugged me so that I would not argue when she took me with her. For a time I thought she was a coward. Then, slowly I realised that it was our duty to survive and to represent those who had fallen.

“They killed all of them: anyone who had survived the Trials, the priests in the temples, all the masters, even those who had served in the masters’ households. They chased anyone who escaped the planet. To my knowledge only my mother and I survived.

“She is dead now. There is only me. And you,” he concluded.

Lee stared at the lad. His heart was beating a little faster. It had been exciting to wake up on the ship of the Last Uchiha and his Beloved Companion. He felt privileged to be the friend of someone who had led his people to victory over Slavers. This was different. This was about him. He straightened his back, looked Sumaru directly in the eyes and spoke with determination.

“I am grateful for the Greatest of Gifts, even if I was not chosen. It would be an honour to be a Knife.”

Sumaru blinked. Then he seemed to make a decision. He opened the small chest and lifted out an ugly, misshapen collar with an incongruous, modern section. He stood up and walked away from Lee and the chest.

“I need to show you. Otherwise you will not understand. Sasuke-sama will be angry but you need to see. Otherwise you will not help me fight for it.”

Lee was still thinking that he should stop the lad disobeying his guardian when Sumaru had fastened the collar about his neck and Lee was plunged into a surreal dream.

The lights flashed red, sirens sounded and hatches slammed closed. The lad was moving unbelievably quickly; faster than Gaara or Naruto. Lee watched him run, jump, spin and leap.

Then it was over. The sirens stopped. Sumaru slowed to a human speed and gradually came to a halt. He sat back opposite Lee, undid the collar and returned it to the chest. They sat opposite each other in the pulsing red light.

“I will teach you one of the rituals,” Sumaru told him. “Do what I do.”

Lee copied the way that Sumaru was moving his hands and repeated the words that Sumaru spoke while they waited.

I am a Knife. A Knife must be sharp. A Knife must strike its target. A Knife must cut and pierce and slash. A Knife may bend but it must not break. A Knife is a tool in the hand of his master.

Lee moved his hands, spoke the words and imagined a future as Gaara’s Knife.

Then the light stopped flashing, the door opened and Sasuke was there with Naruto beside him. He was scowling.

“Leave the chest and go to my office, Sumaru-kun,” he ordered. “Wait there for me.”

Sumaru stood, bowed and left.

Lee decided to speak first. “I wish to know more about the symbiote, Sasuke-san,” he stated.

Sasuke sighed. “I will arrange for you to speak with Rin-san,” he agreed.

Naruto walked with him back to the guest quarters while Sasuke claimed the chest and went to deal with Sumaru.

“Sasuke is angry with Sumaru not you,” Naruto assured him. “Sumaru-kun had agreed that his collar should be removed permanently. Now he has repaired it in secret and used it.” He paused. “Using the symbiote damages him. It would damage you in the same way.”

Lee had guessed as much. “I still want to know more about it,” he insisted.

Naruto nodded. “I understand. It is inside you. How is Gaara?”

Lee considered the question. “Developing. I can touch him now without him passing out. We are planning some outings but they have to include someone who can lift and carry Gaara-san if he passes out.”

“I would offer, but Sasuke is certain I would get mobbed if I went outside the compound,” Naruto said, wistfully. He shook himself and smiled. “You must visit the kits and the babies. Bring Gaara. It would be educational for him. We have opened a new play room. Also, I think Kiba would like it. He visits Gaara but Gaara never visits him.”

Gaara was, of course, still asleep. When he woke at his usual time Lee had breakfast prepared.

He had intended to tell Gaara about what had happened but did not. He was not sure why not. Instead they talked about going to the market. Gaara decided to ask Kisame whether he would accompany them. Lee mentioned Naruto’s invitation to visit babies and the kits.

Gaara did not pick up on it. He did not ask when Lee had spoken to Naruto. Instead he insisted that he was not interested in the kits and the babies.

“Kiba is your littermate. The kits and the babies are important to him. Should you not show some interest, Gaara-san?” Lee asked.

Gaara considered. “You are correct, Lee-san,” he decided. “I have been selfish. I am often selfish. It comes from spending so much of my life alone.”

Lee could not assure Gaara that he was not selfish because he was. He offered Gaara more food.

Lee arranged to speak with Rin-san while Gaara was training with Kisame and Kiba. It took a long time to get her to speak in terms that Lee could understand but he was persistent. After thirty minutes he tried repeating back the small amount of information he had managed to absorb.

“The problem with the symbiote is that it causes a small amount of permanent damage to the host whenever it is activated,” he summarised. “Also, the way Sumaru-kun’s symbiote is activated, by radiation, is impractical. However, my symbiote is not activated in this way. You are not even sure if my symbiote can be activated.”

Rin flushed slightly. “I have been working on both problems. Initially I made more progress with the activation mechanism. The radiation causes the symbiote to produce a substance that triggers the activation. The version Kabuto put into you lacks the capacity to react to the radiation, but it should still activate if we inject the substance. The simulations were very promising.”

“We could try it,” Lee suggested.

Rin scowled. “Not while I have no solution for the damage. Sasuke will never permit it. That is why he was so angry with Sumaru.”

“You have made no progress with that side of the problem,” Lee stated.

Rin bridled. “I have pursued two approaches. One is to prevent the damage happening. The other is to mend it. When we arrived back in Tarrasade I took delivery of a cutting edge nanobot synthesiser. It was purchased so I could design and produce customised nanobots for Naruto and the kits. I have made some progress designing nanobots to prevent and mend the damage caused by the symbiote.”

“You will try the nanobots on me,” Lee declared. “I will be your test subject.” He could see that Rin-san liked the idea. He pushed further. “Although Sumaru’s mother was killed by the accumulated damage caused by her symbiote, she had activated it hundreds perhaps thousands of times. Ten or twenty times will only cause a small amount of damage. Better you experiment on me now than on Sumaru when he is old enough to take such a decision for himself. He is already carrying damage. I am not.”

He was back home before Gaara returned from training. Gaara was excited. He had arranged a time for them to go to the market with Kisame the next day and they were to visit the kits and the babies that afternoon rather than Kiba coming to the apartment.

Lee did not mention his conversation with Rin-san.

The kits were very different to babies. The babies were like babies; they sat on a fluffy blanket in the centre of the playroom with toys around them within easy reach. The kits were everywhere. They were not walking but they crawled, rolled and wriggled. One of them shuffled on his bottom at remarkable speeds. The word ‘swarm’ crept into Lee’s mind.

Lee endeavoured to put a name to each kit. Kazuki was easy to pick out because of his ears and tail. The red haired one was Kuuya. The bottom shuffler was Yasushi. The littlest other than Kazuki was Yuki. He seemed particularly sweet. He had crawled over to Lee and looked up at him with Naruto’s eyes. With Kiba’s encouragement, Lee had picked him up and Yuki was now cuddled close to his chest.

They all had Naruto’s eyes, even the babies. It was a little disconcerting.

Naruto insisted that Gaara sat in a chair and put Keizo into his lap. Like Gaara, Keizo showed little visible sign of his mixed heritage. He had no whiskers and his teeth were less pointed than those of his siblings.

Gaara stared at the kit. The kit stared back.

Lee found himself only half listening to the conversation. He was more interested in being cuddled by Yuki-chan.

The door opened and closed quickly to stop the kits closest to it escaping. It was Shikamaru. As soon as he saw him, Haru began waving his arms and making noises.

Soon Shikamaru-san was sprawled on his stomach playing some game with Haru. The other two babies watched with interest; once in a while he would include them. Kazuki was sitting on his back, playing with his hair and making occasional contributions. Two more kits were climbing over his legs.

“They like Shikamaru-san,” Lee observed.

Naruto smiled. “Yes, he doesn’t treat them like babies or kits. He treats them like adults who have limited communication skills. If you visited more often, I am sure they would like you also, Lee-san. Yu-chan already does.”

It was tempting.

Next Sasuke arrived. There was a rush of kits towards the doorway. At first Lee thought that it was a bid for freedom but they were heading for Sasuke-sama. Yuki wriggled to be put down, Keizo slid head first off Gaara’s lap with no ill-effects and Kazuki abandoned Shikamaru.

Sasuke sat on the floor close to the babies so that he could reach and hug more of them.

Then Sasuke-sama asked him how his meeting with Rin-san had gone and Lee felt Gaara’s eyes on him.

Lee was acutely aware that Gaara was listening intently as the conversation revealed his encounter with Sumaru-kun and his consultation with Rin-san. He was greatly relieved when Kiba suggested that he and Gaara leave the playroom and share tea with Choza in the kitchen.

Gaara did not mention Sumaru or Rin while they were in the kitchen. He was too busy watching Choza and trying to work out what Kiba saw in him.

Lee did not share this difficulty. Choza always went out of his way to be kind. He listened more than he spoke. He responded to people’s moods and tried to cheer them up when they were sad. He cared greatly for Kiba.

He looked cuddly. Lee imagined he was very comforting to sleep with.

Gaara waited until they were back in the apartment. He fixed Lee with unblinking turquoise eyes. “You hid something from me,” he accused.

Lee wondered if he was upset. When they had first met Gaara would have passed out if he became even mildly emotional but such a reaction had gradually become less common.

“Sumaru-kun asked me not to tell anyone,” he explained.

“You did not tell me that you were going to speak with Rin-san,” Gaara persisted. “I do not want you to be her test subject. It may endanger you.”

Lee’s heart beat a little faster. Gaara cared. He actually cared.

“What would I do if something happened to you?” Gaara complained. “Kiba and Naruto have no time to spend with me. They are caring for the kits and the babies. Naruto has Sasuke. Kiba has Choza.”

Lee’s heart fell. He stopped Gaara from becoming too bored. There was no more to it than that. Gaara would prefer Kiba’s or Naruto’s company of it were available.

“If I could use the symbiote, I would be a great fighter,” Lee told him. “It would make me outstanding. At the moment I am ordinary.”

Gaara considered. “If you must,” he conceded.

Lee found the trip to the market much more interesting than he anticipated. He had expected the market in Tarrasade to be like the one in the town he had lived in on Jewel. It turned out that there were many markets in Tarrasade and they were going to one that was renowned for handmade goods and curios rather than food or clothing.

Also he had anticipated Kisame accompanying them, not Kisame, Itachi and Haku.

Lee did not know what to think about Itachi who was no longer Uchiha. He had committed unspeakable acts but remembered none of them. He had been a psychotic killer but had now been pronounced sane. He was, like Gaara, one of those people who attracted others without effort. Lee could not decide if it was because of their charisma or because they were as lethal as they were beautiful.

As for Haku, Lee could not even begin to comprehend Haku. It did strange things to his insides when Haku gave him that knowing little smile. Lee knew, beyond doubt, that if Haku crooked his finger Lee would be on his knees, naked and begging. Luckily Haku would do no such thing because Lee was not crew.

Lee had once had a fantasy about Gaara in one of Haku’s kimonos. Afterwards, he had decided that it was a fantasy he should leave well alone.

Lee liked Kisame. Kisame-san, despite his fearsome appearance, was the type of person Lee understood; loyal, reliable, straightforward and kind.

The market, unlike some of the others, followed ship’s day. They arrived early to avoid the worst of the crowds. Some of the stallholders were still setting up.

Lee saw many things he would have liked to buy but he still had no credit. He thought he had been hiding his interest but Haku was too observant.

“It is a good price,” he commented as Lee returned the small, wooden carving of a cat to the display.

Lee shook his head and smiled.

Haku frowned slightly. “Allow me to buy it for you, Lee-san,” he suggested.

Gaara turned towards them. “Is there something you like, Lee?” he asked.

“No, it is nothing. What would I do with it?” Lee replied.

“You would look at it and touch it and enjoy it,” Haku told him. He turned his frown on Gaara. “You do pay him, don’t you?”

There was a short silence. Lee wished the floor would open up and swallow him.

“Pay him?” Gaara queried.

“For spending all his time with you,” Haku clarified. “For being your companion instead of getting a job and earning credit or joining a crew and having a share of their earnings.”

Gaara considered. “No. I do not pay him. You do not pay friends.”

Haku sniffed. “Your sister gave you the credit you live on. Does that make her less of a sister? Or does it show she cares?”

“Enough, princess,” Kisame warned. “You are embarrassing Lee-san.”

Haku’s nostrils flared slightly. “You should reconsider Sasuke’s offer for you to swear to Uchiha, Lee-san. We would ensure that you were looked after properly.”

Lee was trying to read Gaara’s reaction. “I am happy as I am, Haku-san. I am honoured by Gaara-san’s friendship.”

Gaara said nothing.

The trip had been a success. Gaara had passed out twice, which was many times fewer than Lee had feared. Each time Kisame had carried him to a quiet place where they could wait for him to recover.

The next day a small box with a ribbon appeared on the table of the sitting room in the apartment. On the tag was a single word, ‘Lee’.

For a split moment Lee thought it might be from Gaara but it was not Gaara’s writing and the silver ribbon announced it was from Haku as clearly as if he had signed it.

It was, of course, the carving of the cat.

Lee blinked back tears.

He imagined being the greatest fighter ever and Gaara falling in love with him because of that. Then he stopped the fantasy and crushed it. He was not blond. He was so odd-looking that some people thought him ugly. Gaara had never given the slightest hint that he was attracted to anyone who was not blond and beautiful.

He would become a Knife. It would be an exciting adventure; a challenge. When Gaara decided to return to Kaze, Lee would ask to go with him. He would have something to offer Temari-sama. Perhaps she would accept his service.

It was a privilege to be Gaara’s friend. He would stop hoping and dreaming for anything more.

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