BY : Mannah_Pierce
Category: Naruto > Yaoi - Male/Male > Naruto/Sasuke
Dragon prints: 1191
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’. There is also a one-shot ‘Silver Leaf Tales: Tying the knot’.

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.

I am very grateful to those readers who have written a review and particular thanks to angelj232000, Midnight Essence, Darling425, richon, satterb, disembodiedvoiceofthedying, lonelylulaby, ss_dragon_lady, Dorkchic, v, sadi237 and cynaga who reviewed after chapter 101 was posted.

Hearing from readers keeps me motivated to continue with this story – thank you.

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 hoping for Sasuke/Naruto or Naruto/Sasuke action in every chapter.

Chapter one hundred and two: Runaway

Haru sat in the corridor waiting for Papa.

Papa was going to be cross with him. He had meant to hurt Hi-chan. He just hadn’t meant to hurt him so badly.

Haru knew he shouldn’t have done it. He remembered how bad he had felt when he found out that Te-chan and Ta-chan were special. He shouldn’t have made Hi-chan feel that way. At least he had not told Hikaru that Papa was lying about To-chan getting better; that would have been even meaner.

He hoped Ran was all right. Maybe he was just sleeping late or with Iruka-san.

Or maybe he was lying, dying, at the bottom of the shaft.

Was Shi-chan going to be in a tank forever, like To-chan?

Finally the door opened. Papa came out carrying Hikaru. Hi-chan looked happier, which was good. Papa did not even look at him until he had said good bye to Hi-chan. Only then did he turn to Haru.

“Inside,” he ordered.

Haru stood where Papa was pointing. Papa sat behind his desk. Haru felt very, very small.

“How did you find out about Teruko and Takara?” Papa asked.

Haru had imagined being told off about hurting Hi-chan. Was hacking worse?

“Did you hack into the medical files?” Papa insisted.

Haru pulled himself together enough to answer. “Yes, Papa.”

“How?” Papa continued.

Suddenly Haru saw what was going to happen. Once he told Papa about using Rin-san’s wireless connection, Papa would ask for his tablet.

He couldn’t give Papa his ‘clean’ tablet. He only had his real tablet, the one with all the extras, in his satchel.

He should have left the satchel in the playroom. He had become too careless about carrying his real tablet around.

Papa was waiting for an answer. He was looking more and more annoyed.

“I piggybacked on Rin-san’s wireless access,” Haru told him.

“And her security?” he asked.

“I broke it,” Haru admitted.

“Give me your tablet,” Papa ordered.

He couldn’t give Papa his tablet. Once Papa had the tablet he would find out about the network. Ran would get into trouble for wiring most of it. Kazu-chan would be told off for not telling Papa why they went into the void during their sleepover in Ran’s room.

Haru thought about all the other files he had hacked. Would Papa be this cross about every one of them? He had never realised that hacking was so bad. To-chan had never acted like it was that bad.

Papa would find out that Haru knew he was lying about To-chan.

“The tablet, now,” Papa repeated. “Put your satchel on the desk.”

He couldn’t give Papa the tablet. If Papa didn’t have the tablet he couldn’t blame Ran and Ka-chan.

“No,” Haru whispered.

“Haru!” Papa shouted.

It was if he had been hit. Papa and To-chan never shouted. Haru could not think straight. What was he going to do? He started to undo his satchel. How could he protect Ran and Ka-chan? His hand was on the tablet, pulling it out.

Papa stood up and reached for it.

He couldn’t give it to him. He had to give it to him.

Then, suddenly, there was a third option in his head.

He could break it. It did not matter that it was his most precious thing. Ran and Ka-chan were more important. He swung it up and brought it down on the edge of Papa’s desk.

It broke. Haru watched and heard it crack and shatter.

There was silence. Then Haru heard the scariest noise; like a snarl mixed in with a hiss. He looked up and a stranger was reaching over the desk towards him. A stranger with wild eyes and grasping hands.

The fingers just missed him. Haru had never been more frightened; not even when the killer plants had him.

Then the stranger was gone and Papa was back. He was sitting at his desk; very stiff and very still.

Only Haru now knew Papa had a stranger inside and he couldn’t forget it. Like he couldn’t forget about Te-chan and Ta-chan. Like he couldn’t forget that Papa was lying about To-chan.

“Get out of my sight,” Papa hissed at him. “Now!”

Haru ran. The doors just opened just in time; he managed to squeeze through the widening gap.

He sprinted down the corridor. He didn’t know where to go. It had to be somewhere Papa never went.

There was only one place; Ran’s room.

He swerved around a corner, across the crew room and bounced off Ran’s door, forgetting that it did not open automatically. He recovered, pushed the door ajar, slipped inside, closed it behind him and leaned against it.

Ran was sitting on the bed.

Haru slid down the door until his bottom touched the floor, pulled his knees to his chest and started crying.

Haru looked, sounded and even smelled like he was being hunted.

Ran crept closer. It was hard, because Haru was frightened, upset and sad. If he touched him, Ran would be as frightened, upset and sad as Haru.

But Haru was his friend and Haru needed a cuddle.

He did it. He sat down next to Haru, put his arms around him and squeezed. Haru leaned into the hug.

It was hard but Ran stayed where he was, at his friend’s side, rather than running away.

Haru started to talk. Only bits made sense to Ran. Naruto-san wasn’t getting better. Shika-san was also in a tank.

At least Shika-san was having a rest from Sumiko.

Sasuke-sama had lied to Haru. Ran sighed. Lying did not make someone a bad person. People lied for good reasons and bad reasons. Perhaps Haru was too little to understand that.

Ran skipped over all the bits about ge-nomes.

Next Haru talked about what had happened in his Papa’s office. His tablet had been broken. Ran felt for him. Haru’s tablet was like Ran’s room.

Haru had broken it himself; that was a shock.

“If I gave it to Papa you and Ka-chan would have got into trouble,” Haru told him with tears running down his face.

Ran hugged him again; poor Haru. Ran would have told him not to break the tablet. He would prefer to be told off. He was sure Kazuki would feel the same.

Sasuke-sama had got angry. Adults did that. He would try to explain later, when Haru stopped crying.

“I’m going to run away,” Haru told him.

That was a bad idea. It was good here. It was safe. There was food. Children were loved. You could have friends.

But telling Haru it was a bad idea was an even worse idea. He was too upset to listen.

“Hide here for now,” Ran suggested.

Haru pulled up his shirt and wiped his face. “No, Papa will check here.”

“Hide in an empty room,” Ran tried, determined to come up with something short of running away.

“Papa will use infra-red scanners, like the Akatsuki,” Haru told him.

Ran understood a bit of that; scanners. Some of the hunters had used scanners. “Do the scanners work everywhere?” he asked.

Haru was silent for a moment, thinking. “Warm places confuse them,” he admitted.

Ran thought about it. The ducts were always warm. The air from the ducts heated the rooms.

“The ducts,” he suggested.

Haru nodded. “The ducts,” he agreed.

Sasuke had checked the playroom and then the nursery. Haru was in neither. His gut was twisting as he went back to the playroom. Perhaps he would have turned up there while Sasuke was in the nursery.

Kiba was at his side almost as soon as he re-entered. One look at his face was enough to dash Sasuke’s hopes.

“Maybe the infirmary?” Kiba suggested. “Or the laboratory?”

Sasuke could see Haru’s face in his memory. Now that the rage had passed, he could recognise his terror. “I scared him,” he admitted. “He could be hiding. Is Ran here?”

“No,” Kiba acknowledged. “Maybe Ran’s room. You go speak with Iruka-san. I’ll check the infirmary and laboratory. Biwako-san has agreed to supervise here.” Kiba was off at a pace that Sasuke could not hope to match.

Sasuke hurried back to the crew room; Iruka’s doors were open. Kakashi was with him; Sasuke cringed at the thought of what Kakashi was going to say.

He stood on the threshold and braced himself. “Iruka-sensei, Kakashi-sensei,” he acknowledged.

“Sasu-kun,” Iruka replied.

“What’s wrong?” Kakashi demanded.

He would not waste time by hiding what he had done. “I lost my temper with Haru,” he admitted. “I ordered him out of my office and we can’t find him.”

“How long ago?” Kakashi asked.

Sasuke was not sure. He did not know how long it had taken him to master his temper. It had been about ten minutes since he had started looking. “I don’t know,” he replied. “Perhaps twenty minutes.”

Kakashi was studying him. “Did you hit him?”

“Kashi!” Iruka chided.

Sasuke did not evade the question. “No, but I shouted and grabbed at him before I realised I had lost it,” he confessed.

There was silence. It was more potent than any spoken criticism. Sasuke pushed on. The priority was finding Haru. “I wondered if he might be in Ran’s room.”

Kakashi snorted. “Ran would never tell you if he was.” He scowled at Sasuke. “And there is no way you or anyone else is going in to have a look.”

Sasuke scowled back. Haru’s safety was far more important than Ran’s obsession about his room.

“Get Kiba to listen at Ran’s door,” Iruka advised. “He will be able to tell you if Haru is in there. Kashi, why don’t you go look for Haru-chan while I talk to Sasu-kun?”

Sasuke riled against the suggestion. “No, I want to look for him.”

“It’s you he’s running from,” Kakashi reminded him. Sasuke flinched but did not respond. It was a terrible truth he needed to live with. There were too many of those lately.

“Sasuke, Kiba or Kamatari is much more likely to find him than any purebred,” Iruka reminded him. “Sit down. Kashi, go,” he urged.

Kakashi left and Sasuke reluctantly took the chair that he had vacated.

“What happened?” Iruka asked.

Sasuke started to explain but at least half his attention was focused beyond the open doors, hoping to catch the slightest hint that Haru had been located.

“How did Haru know that telling Hikaru about Te-chan and Ta-chan would hurt him?” Iruka asked.

The unexpected question pulled Sasuke’s attention away from the shared area of the crew room. It settled in his mind and began to grow. For the first time he thought about why Haru had behaved in such an uncharacteristic fashion. Why had he been mean to Hikaru? Once he had focused on that, the answer was obvious.

“He was hurt by it,” he whispered.

“He has probably been stewing about it for days, maybe longer,” Iruka pointed out. “Is there anything else he could have found out from the medical files?”

It was another question he should have considered. He did not like the answer. There was Tsuneo’s origin. There was Naruto’s lifespan. Perhaps worse, there were the kits’ lifespans.

Then, crystal clear, he imagined Haru opening Naruto’s current treatment file and reading its contents.

He had to know if Haru had accessed that file. He would be able to tell from Haru’s tablet. He sprang to his feet. “I have to go, Iruka-sensei. I’ll be back later,” he managed and he was off, ignoring Iruka’s protests.

He knelt on the floor of his office with Haru’s tablet in his hands. It was bent and the screen was broken but he pressed the activator button in the forlorn hope it might work.

Did Haru know about Naruto?

There wasn’t even the slightest flicker of life from the tablet. He sighed and sat with his back against a leg of the desk, looking at Naruto’s image looking at him.

“I’ve made a complete hash of it, dobe,” he whispered. He forced himself to stand up, put the tablet on the desk and headed back towards the crew room.

Kiba was there; Sasuke could see him through the open doorway. He was actually on the ground, sniffing the floor. Sasuke hung back; Kiba was always so insistent about behaving like a human rather than a dog and he did not want to embarrass him. He watched from a distance as Kiba followed the trail to Ran’s door before standing up.

“The scent trail is quite distinct,” he said and Sasuke realised that Kakashi was also in the shared area. “From Sasuke-sama’s office to here.”

“But he isn’t in Ran’s room,” Kakashi checked.

“If he was, he isn’t any more,” Kiba confirmed. “If he had calmed down, I might not be able to distinguish the new trail amongst the old. What does Ran say?”

“Haru was there but he left. That’s all I can get out of him,” Kakashi admitted. “It’s time to stop faffing about and tell everyone to start looking.”

Sasuke decided to make his presence known. He entered the crew room. “What do you want me to do?” he asked.

Two hundred minutes later Sasuke was despairing. They had run a complete scan and conducted a room by room search. Kakashi had led a search party and checked all three voids. Sasuke and Kiba had both appealed over the intercom.

Kiba was back with the children. Sasuke, Kakashi, Asuma, Shino and Neji were gathered in Iruka’s room.

“Could he have got out of the household?” Iruka asked.

There was silence. Sasuke’s heart sank. They were all considering it. Did Haru’s hacking abilities go that far?

“Perhaps he could but he hasn’t,” Shino decided. “There are five levels of security, including two passive ones that only report. Shika-san designed it. There have been no breaches and we can account for every entry and exit through the perimeter.”

“The household ducts are too small for an adult,” Kakashi pointed out, “but we know Haru and the others have used them in the past.”

There was silence. Sasuke recalled what the ducts looked like in an infra-red scan; a network of bright lines. There was no way they would detect a child against that background.

Kakashi moved towards the door. “We’ll think of something. Come on, Asuma-san, Shino-san.”

Sasuke heard the doors close. His eyes went to Iruka’s fingers; they were resting on the button Shino had installed.

“What did you think of earlier before you left?” Iruka asked him. “What did you think Haru might have found in the medical files?”

Sasuke’s gaze went to Neji. Did he want Neji to know?

“Do you wish me to leave, Sasuke-sama?” Neji asked.

He considered it. If this fourth round of regeneration did not work, they would all have to face up to a very different future. “No,” he decided. He took a deep breath. “Naruto’s regeneration has failed. Rin is having one last go but it isn’t looking good.”

Iruka gasped and all the colour drained from Neji’s face.

“You should have told us, Sasu-kun,” Iruka scolded.

Neji was on his feet. Sasuke had never seen him so agitated. “Shika knows, I am sure of it. I should have realised there was something else.”

Sasuke shut his eyes. Maybe if he wished hard enough it would all go away. “I didn't want him to know. That’s why I didn’t tell anyone.”

Iruka sighed. “Lying to people you love rarely works, Sasuke, you should know that.”

Sasuke was about to say that he had not lied, merely chosen not to tell. Then he thought of the children. He had lied to them continually. Every day he assured them that To-chan was getting better.

How long had Haru known he was lying?

He had never needed Naruto as much as he did now.

“Neji-kun, why don’t you go to the infirmary and check on Shika-kun?” Iruka suggested. “While you are there, please ask Rin-san to come and see me as soon as she can make herself available. Sasu-kun, what about going to the playroom and spending some time with the children? They are probably as worried about Haru-chan as you are.”

Sasuke walked slowly towards the playroom. He both did and did not want to see the children. He wanted to cuddle them but he did not want to explain why Haru was hiding from him.

He would have to do it; it was cowardly to even consider doing otherwise.

The children ran to him as soon as he entered. He was surrounded by small, white, anxious faces. He found himself looking at Ryuu because amber eyes were easier to face than blue.

“Have you found him?” Hikaru asked.

Sasuke shook his head. “No, but he has to be somewhere in the household.” He waded through them to a chair and sat down. They clustered close. He took a deep breath. “It is my fault Haru is hiding. I was very cross with him. I did not realise how frightened he was.”

“Ha-chan has been very sad,” Kazuki informed him. His whiskers were dropping like Naruto’s did when Sasuke had done something wrong.

“He doesn’t like it when Sumiko is mean to Shika-san,” Hoshi explained.

“Now Shika-san is sick like To-chan,” Yuki observed.

Sasuke was about to explain that Shika was only resting but he was distracted by Kuuya frowning at him. “It wasn’t Haru’s fault we went down the ladder,” Kuu-chan told him.

“Or that Hi-chan almost fell,” Ryuu added.

Sasuke was lost for a moment. Then his throat closed. Had Haru been worrying about what he had said for all this time? He made a swift count. Was it really twenty days ago?

“You told him you were disappointed,” Kazuki reminded him, “that he should know better.”

“Just being cleverer doesn’t make you know better,” Yoshimi pointed out. “Or Shika-san would know best about everything...”

“...which he doesn’t,” Yasushi finished.

Sasuke realised he was being lectured by his children and that he richly deserved it.

“I am sorry,” he admitted. “I will say sorry to Haru when I can.”

Yuki climbed onto his lap and kissed him. “We love you, Papa. We know it’s hard without To-chan.”

Sasuke hugged him close and kissed the top of his head, burying his face in the golden fur. By the Lady, how was he going to tell them about Naruto?

And where was Haru?

You need to be logged in to leave a review for this story.
Report Story