BY : Mannah_Pierce
Category: Naruto > Yaoi - Male/Male > Naruto/Sasuke
Dragon prints: 952
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.

Iteration’ is part of the space saga that began with ‘In the cold of space you find the heat of suns’ and continues in ‘Tales in Tarrasade’.

Thanks to Small Fox for being my beta. For this story he has also been my muse, suggesting a number of the ideas that have evolved to create this arc.

Thank you to those readers who have left a review – they are very much appreciated. Particular thanks to those who came up with ideas for hybrids – more about that when I have thought it all through.

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). Apologies to those who are expecting Naruto/Sasuke or Sasuke/Naruto every chapter.

Chapter ten: Alarm

The Dart was prepped. The crew had been chosen, briefed and would leave on Sasuke’s order. Shikamaru knew they would wait the full ten days; it was typical of Sasuke to set himself a deadline and then refuse to budge from it.

He glanced again at the alarm he had hooked on the waistband of his pants. It that stayed stubbornly silent; no word from the Silver Leaf.

Four days before, Neji had physically pulled Shikamaru out of the data stream and lectured him for continually checking for the data from their missing crew. Shikamaru knew Neji was correct; it achieved nothing and bordered on masochistic. Now a programme checked and would send a signal to the alarm.

He was early to the midday meal. It was completely unlike him and he did not know why he was there. He stood in the middle of the kitchen with his hands thrust into his pockets.

Iruka-sensei was pinning up the plans for having a good-sized kitchen at the other end of each of the three crew rooms; a first step towards cutting down the number of communal meals.

“Do you mind a lot?” Shikamaru found himself asking.

Iruka added the final pin and came over. Shikamaru found himself hugged.

“No, Shika-kun,” Iruka answered. “You were correct to raise it. There are too many of us and some of us need the option of quieter and less crowded meal times.” Iruka drew him over to the table, sat him down and took the chair next to him. “What’s wrong?”

Shikamaru bit his lip. “If something has happened to them it will be the first crew we’ve lost,” he admitted. Losing a crew was something all spacers dreaded but losing this crew, with all four youngsters, would be devastating.

Iruka frowned at him. “It is far too early to be thinking like that,” he chided. “The Dart will find them. What did Neji say about coming to our meetings?” he asked; a blatant change of subject.

Shikamaru felt slightly embarrassed for not passing on Neji’s message. “He said that you or I would know when he was needed and should invite him to those specific meetings.”

“And are things well between you and Neji?” Iruka queried.

“Yes,” Shikamaru answered automatically but, inside, he wondered. Naruto and Sasuke’s relationship grew ever deeper and richer while he and Neji continued as before. Even their fucking had settled into a pattern.

And sometime, occasionally, he wondered if Haru had come between them.

Iruka-sensei was studying him. Shikamaru was bracing himself for a more in-depth interrogation when a squawking noise emanated from the alarm.

It was wonderful to be the one telling Sasuke that there was word from the Silver Leaf; Sasuke’s face lit up. It connected to something deep within Shikamaru that he only vaguely understood.

Perhaps Asuma was correct and they were like brothers.

When they entered the kitchen almost everyone was there; news had spread that Shikamaru’s alarm had sounded.

“They are safe,” Sasuke announced. “The drive was hit by space junk but Inari has mended it and they are under way. There is no need to send the Dart and we will be rescheduling their rendezvous with the Oak.” He walked over to Haku and sat down beside him. “There are personal messages for you from Itachi and Kisame,” he said quietly. “Do you want them now or after the meal?”

Shikamaru could see that Haku’s hand was shaking as he replaced his fork on his plate. “After the meal will be fine,” he decided. “As long as I know they are safe.”

They talked through the new schedule at the next strategy meeting. Sasuke wanted Ranmaru interviewed on the Oak so that he could make a smooth transition to the household when he arrived in Tarrasade. Kakashi, Neji and Shikamaru would be jointly responsible for the interrogation and would keep Sasuke informed via a chain of minigates.

Naruto brought Haru onto the Oak to say goodbye. He dashed about the crew room, comparing it to the one in the household, before finally climbing up on the bed in Shikamaru’s room. Shikamaru sat beside him.

“I’ll be gone eight days,” he reminded him.

Haru held up four fingers on each hand and then all the other combinations of fingers that added up to eight, including some with fingers bent to indicate halves. He then smiled. “Haku-san is going with you.”

Shikamaru frowned at him. “No running rings around Kiba-san and To-chan because Haku-san isn’t there.” He wished he had spoken with Sasuke and brought that to his attention. He would send him a message.

He did not try to extract a promise from Haru that he would be good. It was pointless; Haru’s concept of good was too fluid.

“Haku-san is going to have a baby,” Haru told him.

Shikamaru wondered who had told him; perhaps Haku himself. “Yes,” he confirmed.

Haru made a face. “Poor baby.”

Shikamaru knew he could not let that pass. “I am sure Haku-san will love Mai-chan very much.”

“Kisame-san can’t have purebred babies, like To-chan can’t,” Haru announced.

Shikamaru’s stomach fell. “Who told you that, Haru-chan?” he asked.

Haru ignored the question. “Kisame-san is like To-chan and Haku-san is like Papa. Does that mean Itachi-san is like you? Will he be Ita-chan to Mai? Does that make Mai and me cousins? ‘Cos Itachi-san and Papa are brothers like me and Hikaru, even though everyone pretends it isn’t like that.” Then he frowned. “Why don’t Hi-chan and Ho-chan have a Shi-chan or an Ita-chan?”

Shikamaru lifted Haru onto his knee. “Those are very good questions, Ha-chan, but they are questions that need long answers.”

“Like what zero is?” Haru asked. He still was not entirely happy with Shikamaru’s explanation.

“More like why we need air and food to live and not just air or just food,” Shikamaru suggested, remembering the hundreds of supplementary questions he had been bombarded with; it had been days before Haru had been satisfied.

Haru up looked at him and then nodded, accepting that Shikamaru could not answer his questions now.

“Ask your Papa,” Shikamaru suggested. “He is the best person to ask when I am not here.” He could not resist asking one question of his own. He told himself he was gathering information for the message he was going to send Sasuke. “You did not ask about Kazuki,” he observed.

Haru frowned at him. “Ka-chan is a hybrid. Hybrids are made or cloned. I think Ka-chan was cloned from To-chan. That makes him extra special.”

There was only one explanation, Haru had got hold of a console and worked out how to use it. So much for their decision to restrict his access to information.

Shikamaru kissed him. “All children are extra special, Haru-chan. Never forget that.” He looked up and saw Naruto and Neji in the doorway. From the looks on their faces they had heard at least some of what Haru had said.

He hugged Haru close and stood up. Naruto stepped forward and Haru reached for him with a happy smile, all questions forgotten for the time being.

“He’s only three standards,” Neji observed once Naruto and the waving Haru were out of earshot. “Were you like that?”

“My language skills were less developed and he thinks in straighter lines than I do,” Shikamaru replied. “He’ll learn to hide it soon enough,” he added. “He already doesn’t talk like that with anyone other than me.” He was suddenly overwhelmed with memories of his childhood, of the looks that people had given him.

“I don’t regret his conception,” he insisted. “I know I did when he was born but I don’t now.”

Three steps and Neji was beside him, holding him. “Shika,” he whispered soothingly. “He’s a wonderful little boy. We all love him. We may not understand him, but we love him, just like we love you.”

Shikamaru stopped himself twisting away but he dropped his head so Neji would not see the tears in his eyes. “I know he cuts into our time together,” he admitted.

Neji pushed him down to sit on the bed and sat beside him.

“How long can you and I expect to live?” Neji asked him.

Shikamaru was intrigued. “A hundred and twenty standards, give or take,” he replied.

“So of the hundred standards we could be together, Haru will be aged three for one of them,” Neji pointed out.

Shikamaru had not thought of it that way.

“Every moment of his whole childhood would fit into fourteen percent of the time we have available to spend together,” Neji continued. “Given that we don’t care for him full time, it can’t be more than, at most, five percent. I gift you with one twentieth of our time together to spend sharing Haru’s childhood.” He smiled. “It is a very selfish gift because I enjoy watching you with him as much as you enjoy being with him.”

“You do?” Shikamaru asked.

“I do. Shika, he’s adorable. He looks like Sasuke, has Naruto’s eyes and talks like you. How could I not love that?”

Once the Oak was underway, they divided their time between helping Kakashi finish installing the new high security suite and keeping each other and Haku company. Discussing the implications of a new cat was, as would be expected, the most frequented topic of conversation. They were still talking about it the day before they were due to rendezvous with the Silver Leaf.

“Kisame says that Kono-kun is head over heels in love with him,” Haku told them.

Shikamaru winced. Inari had been a little more circumspect and he had hoped Konohamaru had held back at least a little.

“The three of you are here to interrogate him?” Haku checked. “That is why we are laying a chain of mini-gates behind us and why Kakashi is rushing the installation of the high security suite here on the Oak?”

“It is the new standard procedure,” Neji answered. “We don’t have any reason to think we are going to find something amiss, do we Shika?”

Nothing but an itch in a place Shikamaru could not scratch. “No, everything seems to fit together,” he agreed. He decided to change the subject. “Has your idea of trapping Kisame and Itachi together in a small cabin worked, Haku-kun?”

Haku sniffed. “Apparently they are sharing a bunk for sleeping, which is something,” he replied. “However, I confess, one out of five is not a satisfying result.”

Shikamaru decided not to ask for details of the other four objectives. “Have you thought of role-play? It worked for us.” He considered. Avoiding all the things that were likely to trigger bad memories for Itachi would be a challenge.

“Sexy dancing,” Neji suggested. “Itachi on a stage, which puts him up high, and giving a show. Kisame is the audience. He can’t touch the dancers. Maybe, as it develops, you can introduce a bit of competition between you and Itachi. Maybe you both being dancers, seeing who can be sexier.”

Shikamaru shifted to try and hide his immediate reaction.

“Someone likes it,” Haku observed. He leaned forward. Shikamaru leaned back, which left his predicament more obvious. “How would you like Neji to dance for you, Shikamaru-san?”

“Haku!” Neji complained.

Haku turned to him. “I have enough with me to deck you out as a pretty convincing dancer.” He smiled at Shikamaru. “I have the little bell earrings.”

Shikamaru could not stop himself reacting to the thought of it. Haku smiled in triumph and fastened Neji with a look.

Given it was Haku, Shikamaru was not surprised to find a low table arranged as a stage and single chair placed three paces away from it when he entered his room that evening.

Neji’s twist on the scenario was that Shikamaru could not touch himself, which was agonising given how turned on he was.

Haku had dressed Neji as a sweetly demure geisha but as the dance progressed and garments were shed Shikamaru began glimpsing a leather thong, net stockings and a mesh undershirt that had every part of him weeping with need.

Shikamaru almost came when he realised that Neji was going to ride him, which would have been a tragedy given that he had waited five standards and almost given up hope of being allowed to give rather than receive.

He managed to last until he was sheathed in Neji’s gloriously tight embrace but climaxed as soon as Neji started to move. Shikamaru knew that was fine because Neji was not going to come with Shikamaru inside him; not this time. He took Neji to bed, kissed him, stroked him to a climax and then cuddled close.

Haku did not deny his role when Shikamaru thanked him the next morning. Instead he leaned forward and whispered, “I remembered how much you enjoyed it.”

The comment reminded Shikamaru of the first day Haku had been their cat, when Iruka had caught the two of them fucking in the closet. He was still thinking about it as the Silver Leaf docked and he and Neji settled into the control room of the new security suite.

They watched via the camera as the crew disembarked. Kisame swept Haku off his feet. Haku kissed Itachi, who looked surprised but hugged him. Kakashi rested a hand on Inari’s shoulder and Inari flushed with pleasure at whatever Kakashi said to him.

Then there was the terrified-looking youngster sheltering under Konohamaru’s arm. He looked so vulnerable that it clawed at Shikamaru’s heart.

Neji leaned forward and pressed the button for the microphone linked to Kakashi’s earpiece.

“Don’t try to separate him from Kono-kun,” he advised. “Let Konohamaru accompany him into the suite.”

It helped. Ranmaru relaxed slightly and Konohamaru’s body language was less defensive.

Kakashi and the young lovers walked through the newly-constructed corridor toward the secure rooms.

What looked like a corridor to those walking through it was actually a tube through a room loaded with scanners. None of the alarms were tripped but there was an amber light. Shikamaru investigated further and then activated the microphone.

“Definitely no explosives, Kakashi-san. We’re not getting a completely clean signal. The analysis suggested that there is a minor abnormality in his brain but it could easily be congenital, or the result of a medical procedure.” He pulled up Ranmaru’s records from the orphanage. “Apparently he was transferred between orphanages at the age of eleven because there was an incident that had resulted in a head injury. It could be that.” He took a deep breath. “I recommend we proceed.”

Kakashi moved one of his hands in a signal that confirmed that he agreed with Shikamaru’s decision.

They began with Kakashi asking questions and Konohamaru present. Shikamaru could see nothing amiss other than Ranmaru being shy and an little hesitant. Neji, however, kept asking Kakashi to keep going.

“Kakashi-san, I need to come in there,” he announced finally. He stood up and replaced his headset with a small earpiece. “Shika, make sure you get as much data as possible when I enter the room.

“Neji?” he queried.

“His responses are delayed,” Neji admitted. “He is thinking too much.” He paused. Shikamaru could see him deciding whether to share his suspicions. “If he looked different, I would think he was a Hyuga. Do you have his genetic code? Could you run one of your special analyses on it?”

Shikamaru was about to say he did not have the code when he realised that might not be true. He linked to the Silver Leaf and through to the dia-doc. It was there; Inari had not sent it over the light speed link because of the sheer volume of data.

“Can do,” he agreed. “Are you worried?” he added.

Neji considered. “No. Intrigued.”

Shikamaru managed to monitor and optimise the data coming from the room while selecting the analysis programme he wanted and connecting it to Ranmaru’s genetic code.

To Shikamaru’s amateur eyes, Ranmaru did not react particularly strongly to Neji’s appearance, suggesting that he was unfamiliar with Hyugas and their abilities.

He watched Neji conversing with the youngster rather than questioning him. Ranmaru appeared to be relaxing.

His search programme pinged. Shikamaru pulled up the report. He had to scan it three times before he managed to grasp the implications. He activated the microphone.

“Conference required,” he announced. “No immediate risk but urgently require conference.”

He watched Neji and Kakashi excuse themselves and picked up on Neji’s suggestions of refreshments by contacting Haku and asking him to arrange a tray. Listing the names allowed him to confer with Neji over who should bring it and he was surprised when he chose Tayuya.

“What’s wrong?” Neji asked with his eyes fixed on the camera feed that was showing Tayuya entering the room with the tray. “He is much more comfortable with Tayuya than with us. We need to check whether it is because she is familiar or because she is female.”

“Neji suggested I shift through his genetic code,” Shikamaru explained to Kakashi. “He’s got an interesting double recessive.”

He immediately had Kakashi and Neji’s full attention.

Shikamaru took a deep breath. “There is a Centralite study that suggests that this double recessive allows the bearer to function as an empathic receiver.”

He could see Neji’s mind racing. “That makes sense,” he decided. “The delay is because he is thinking about what the other person’s emotions are telling him. He is, in a way, like a Hyuga only we read people’s behaviour while he is judging their emotions. Does the study give any indication of range or limitations?”

“Yes, but I need more time to read it,” Shikamaru admitted. “From my first scan he has to be skin to skin with someone to really connect but he gets some information at a distance. Also people emote differently, so that counts.”

Kakashi’s eyes went to the camera feed. “Konohamaru does not know,” he stated.

“Ranmaru might not know he does it,” Neji suggested. “He grew up with the ability, it may seem normal to him, like Naruto’s sense of smell or that ability to detect ultrasound that Kimimaro had.”

“Kimimaro knew he could do that,” Kakashi argued, “but he tried to hide it. Even Naruto doesn’t remind us how much he can smell. More likely Ranmaru knows what he can do but hides it.”

Shikamaru understood that. He concealed much of what he could do in order not to alienate others. He found himself studying Neji, remembering that Neji had hidden what he was for over ten standards.

“We should tell him that we know,” Neji insisted, “but not in front of Konohamaru. Judging his response will give us more information and it leaves him the option of telling Konohamaru himself.”

Shikamaru had not thought of that. How would he had felt if he had not known that Neji could read his behaviour and Neji had not told him?

“People in love can be remarkably forgiving,” Kakashi suggested.

Which was certainly true in Kakashi’s experience, Shikamaru mused, but Iruka had a particularly forgiving nature.

“Who tells him we know?” Shikamaru asked.

Kakashi considered. “You and Shika-kun, Neji-san,” he decided. “You are lovers and he will know that. You both have relevant experiences to offer. I think he will take it better from you.” He studied Shikamaru. “Perhaps you should let Neji do the talking, Shika-kun.”

Ranmaru seemed to shrink when Konohamaru left him. He suddenly looked more like twelve than fourteen. His eyes were huge; his eyelashes surpassed Haku’s and rivalled Sasuke’s.

“This is Shikamaru,” Neji began. “He is Sasuke-sama’s other advisor alongside Kakashi-san and me. Shikamaru’s speciality is collecting and interpreting data.”

Shikamaru suddenly realised that Neji was expecting him to explain, despite Kakashi suggesting that he stay silent.

“The dia-doc read your genetic code,” he began and stopped, because the terror on Ranmaru’s face told them that he knew what he was going to say.

“It is fine, Ranmaru-kun,” Neji said gently. “Many of us have genetic differences that give us specific abilities. My people were Hyuga. Hyugas are genetically predisposed to be able to observe tiny differences in people’s behaviour. Shikamaru here is so clever that it is hard for us to understand most of what he says. Naruto-san has fox genes that mean he moves superhumanly fast and you have met Kisame-san, whose shark genes make him immensely strong.

“Then some of us who weren’t born with something that makes us different have been made so. Kakashi-san has an implant in his eye socket that makes him capable of moving like Naruto-san for short periods of time and you probably know by now that Sumaru-kun has a symbiote that has a similar effect.

“Being different is fine, Ranmaru-kun. We celebrate people’s differences in Uchiha.”

“You know?” Ranmaru whispered, as if he had not listened to anything Neji had said.

“You are an empathic receiver,” Shikamaru confirmed. “You can feel other people’s emotions.”

Ranmaru fainted; he collapsed bonelessly off his chair and onto the floor.

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