BY : Mannah_Pierce
Category: Naruto > Yaoi - Male/Male > Naruto/Sasuke
Dragon prints: 1691
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.

Thank you to those readers who have written a review and particular thanks to Sidoniestarr, unneeded, SunaoTsuji, angelj232000, v, TanuKyle, Tati, smauigirl, Prism0467, sadie237, Aflyingmonkey123, YamanashiOchinashiIminashi, cynaga, liby318 and satterb who reviewed after chapter 108 was posted.

Reviews, comments and other comments encourage me to keep writing this story.

cynaga asked about my favourite science fiction authors. My all-time favourite is Cordwainer Smith, followed by Orson Scott Card, particularly the early works. As a youngster, I was influenced by the great Sci-Fi authors of the 1950s, for example Heinlein and Asimov, although I do remember being very struck as a child by The Crystal Griffin by Andre Norton and I loved Hugh Walters’ series of space exploration tales. Later came Herbert and Ray Bradbury followed by authors who often strayed across the Sci-Fi and Fantasy boundary, for example Le Guin.

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.

Tales in Tarrasade, Tale 17, Wallflower is set after chapter 108 and before this chapter.

Chapter one hundred and nine: Assumptions

Udon had been both worried and excited by the invitation to visit the Uchiha household. He was worried because the invitation had come from Uchiha-sama himself but he was excited because he might get to see Moegi. He had only seen her twice since his treatment in the infirmary; both times at the medico school in Level 1.

Not that he should be thinking about Moegi. It wasn’t as if she could ever be more than a fantasy that he was occasionally lucky enough to see in the flesh. He should be concentrating on his work.

Medicos from the school in Level 1 were visiting regularly to train his care assistants. Udon had learned a lot, both about medicine and about motivating people. Some of the female Ressies were proving to be remarkably competent.

The facilities were improving as well; Udon’s rooms were developing into an actual hospice.

Not that all the problems had gone away. The older Scavengers moaned about the changes while the younger ones were showing an alarming level of initiative. Both these behaviours worried the trolley-pushers, making it more difficult for Udon to deal with them.

There was constant low-level pilfering and the occasional larger theft. Udon found the stealing less upsetting than the vandalism but he knew that it was an even greater drain on resources.

Then there were the reporters. He could cope with Yukie Fujikaze but he disliked the way the others expected him to betray everything he believed in as soon as they flashed some credit. The one called Karin was particularly persistent.

At least the tourists had stopped coming; the clubbers had seen to that.

He waited for his escort at a safe distance from the bottom of the ladder; he hoped that he would recognise them.

As soon as the person’s legs appeared Udon relaxed; it was Kisame, the sharkman. With him was Itachi, the crew member who looked like Uchiha-sama.

They climbed the ladder in silence; Udon was forming the opinion that Kisame and Itachi were heavily into silence.

That changed when they reached the elevator at Level 6. There were other people waiting but they all stood back and no one entered with them. Udon wondered if they were scared of the sharkman.

Itachi-san began speaking as soon as the doors slid closed. “Sasuke-sama has asked me to analyse the security requirements for Sublevel C. This will also form the basis of a report to Jizenkai. Could you tell me about the current situation, Udon-san?”

Udon was relieved. He now had a reason for Uchiha-sama’s invitation.

His relief only lasted until he was alone with Uchiha-sama in his office. Everything in the room was beautiful. Uchiha-sama’s desk was made of something amazing that Udon suspected was wood. The chair he was sitting in was comfortable enough to sleep in. The cup in his hand was one of the prettiest things he had ever seen.

On the wall was a picture of Uchiha-sama’s family. Naruto-san was in a chair with large wheels; Udon guessed that meant that he had not fully recovered from his injuries. In his lap were three babies, one who looked like him and two that looked like Uchiha-sama. Around the chair clustered the children he had seen last time he visited. Uchiha-sama stood behind the chair, his hand on Naruto-san’s shoulder, looking proud.

“If I invited you to join Uchiha, Udon-san, would you do so?” Uchiha-sama asked in his rich, smooth voice.

Udon almost choked on his tea. “Uchiha-sama?” he stammered.

“If you were offered the opportunity, would you leave your life in Sublevel C and join my crew?” he clarified.

The idea was attractive. Udon remembered the shower, the bed and the food. He thought about seeing Moegi every day. He imagined being part of a team; a member of a family.

He could not do it. It was not what he was meant to do. “I couldn’t, Uchiha-sama,” he admitted.

“I understand,” Uchiha-sama acknowledged. “You have a calling; a vocation. I expect people have been offering you all manner of things.”

“There have been journalists,” Udon told him, “and some other people. I am not sure what the other people wanted.”

Uchiha-sama frowned slightly. “I do not like the sound of that,” he admitted. “We shall have to work to make Sublevel C safe. It will be a challenge but Uchiha can contribute by offering expertise.”

The conversation moved on, with Uchiha-sama asking insightful questions and listening carefully as Udon provided answers. As each minute passed, Udon regretted that he could not join Uchiha and serve this man.

A soft, bell-like sound; Udon stopped talking.

“That will be Moegi-san,” Uchiha-sama told him. “I thought that you might like to spend some time together before joining us for our midmeal.” He touched a device on the low table and the doors slid open.

It was indeed Moegi. She was looking a little flustered and, when their eyes met, she blushed. Uchiha-sama was standing up. Udon jumped to his feet and then there was bowing and leave-taking before he was walking down the corridor at Moegi’s side.

“This is embarrassing,” she admitted.

Udon was confused and more than a little upset. Why was Moegi embarrassed? Had he done something wrong?

“I know Sasuke-sama means well but to invite you to talk to him like that? He could have spoken to me first,” she complained.

When he did not reply she stopped walking and studied his face. “You don’t have a clue what I am talking about, do you?” She flushed a deep red and looked up at the ceiling. “By the Lady,” she muttered, “could this get worse?”

There was the sound of another voice. “Udon-san! How pleasant.”

Udon looked and there were three people walking towards them. One, Konohamaru, was familiar. Udon recalled the names of the others; the woman was Tayuya and the man was Inari.

He bowed. “Konohamaru-san, Inari-san, Tayuya-san,” he acknowledged.

There was a flurry of responses and Tayuya looked as if she was about to say something but Inari put his arm around her shoulder and began walking away.

“We will see you at the midmeal, Udon-san,” he said. “Come on, Kono-chan.”

Konohamaru gave Udon the biggest grin before he hurried to catch up with the other two. Udon heard a sound suspiciously like a small groan from Moegi.

“Where in known space should we go?” Moegi muttered once the others had gone. I can’t take you to my room; I would never hear the last of it.”

Udon guessed that she was talking to herself because he did not have a clue how to answer her question.

“We’ll go to the kitchen,” she decided. “Choza-san won’t mind.”

Choza gave them a huge smile and gestured to the far end of the huge table. Moegi sat down and indicated that Udon should take the chair beside her.

“Do you know anything about crew rules and the spacer code, Udon-san?” she asked him.

Udon didn’t.

“A crew like ours is like a large, extended family,” she explained and then paused. She looked like she was struggling to find the right words.

“With Uchiha-sama at the head, like a trolley-pusher in a Scavenger family,” Udon suggested, trying to be helpful.

“Yes, with Sasuke-sama at the head,” she agreed.

He watched her take a deep breath. Her brows puckered slightly, which Udon found endearing.

“Traditionally, spacers find their lovers from within the family,” she explained.

Lovers? Udon had only read about lovers in poems and stories. Did he know any lovers? He remembered the picture of Uchiha-sama with his family. “Lovers like Uchiha-sama and Naruto-san?” he asked.

Moegi’s eyes widened and she blushed again. “No. Yes. Yes, Sasuke-sama and Naruto-san are lovers. Not all lovers are that...” She paused, obviously looking for the right word. “...intense.” She took a deep breath and smiled at him. It wasn’t a very convincing smile. “Anyway, if a member of the crew wants to... intimate with someone outside the crew he or she has to ask the crew’s permission.”

Udon was still lost. He decided to take the initiative; maybe then he could work out what was happening. “Uchiha-sama asked me if I would be willing to join the crew, should he ask me,” he told her.

She gawped at him. Her eyes were round and her mouth was hanging open. Then her mouth closed with a snap and she scowled at him. “You said no,” she replied. She sounded fierce. Udon thought she might be angry.

“I said I couldn’t,” he confirmed. “It’s not that I wouldn’t want to, but I have a job to do.”

She smiled at him. It like a bright berry against the gloom of Sublevel C. “You wouldn’t be who I thought you were if you had said yes,” she told him.

The smile said she was pleased with him; he smiled back.

A small tray came down between them bearing a plate piled high with small pieces of food and two full cups.

“Even love-birds have to eat,” Choza-san announced and retreated back to his stove.

Udon was thinking how silently he moved for a big man when he registered that Moegi’s face was crimson again and thought about Choza’s words; love-birds? What had birds to do with love? Udon had only ever seen a bird once. It had been in a cage in the market in Level 4.

Then, all at once, it clicked. His face felt hot and his gut squirmed. Moegi was embarrassed because her crewmates thought she was interested in him when she wasn’t.

How could she be? She was beautiful and clever, educated and skilled. He was a nobody; not even the Scavengers wanted him. He had only learned to read because an old man had refused to die.

A touch on his hand; he looked down and saw Moegi’s hand resting on his. People never touched him. He touched them, to care for them, but not the other way around.

It felt nice, but he knew she was only being kind. He pulled his hand away. “I want to go home,” he stated. It wasn’t true but he could not bear to be close to her when all he could be was an embarrassment.

“Udon-san?” she queried.

“I want to go home,” he repeated and stood up.

She also stood. “I don’t know if Kisame-san and Itachi-san are available to escort you.”

“I can go alone,” he insisted. “Please could someone show me the way out?”

“Is everything all right?” Choza asked from the other side of the room.

Moegi was standing very straight and proud. “Udon-san has to leave,” she explained. “I shall go and find someone to escort him.” She bowed. “Please excuse me, Udon-san.”

Part of him wanted to grab her hand and beg her to stay but there was no point. He would go, she would stay and she would no longer be embarrassed by his attention.

He bowed. “Moegi-san,” he acknowledged.

Within minutes he was being walked out by two men he did not know; Hamaki and Terai. He was trying to convince them, with no success, that he could complete the journey to Sublevel C without them.

They were almost at the outer doors when there was a blur of movement and Kamatari was beside them.

“Udon-san is staying,” he told Hamaki and Terai. “At least for a little while longer.”

“He is?” Hamaki asked.

“I am leaving,” Udon insisted.

“Not until you have listened to what I have to say,” Kamatari replied. He turned back to the others. “Give me five minutes.”

Terai looked at Hamaki and Hamaki shrugged. “We’ll wait in the lobby.” Terai told them.

Udon watched them walk away.

“You purebreds can be idiots,” said Kamatari. “It’s because your sense of smell is so stunted.”

Whatever he had expected to hear, it wasn’t that. Udon did not know what to say.

“She likes you,” Kamatari told him. “She’s in her room crying because she thinks you don’t like her. Only you do. You would like nothing better than to get into her pants.”

Udon was shocked. “I have the greatest respect for Moegi-san,” he insisted.

“Does that mean you aren’t going to fuck her even if you want to?” Kamatari asked.

“Yes. No. I don’t know. I embarrass her,” he admitted.

Kamatari’s brown eyes softened. “You idiot. She’s embarrassed because everyone has been teasing her about you. Sasuke-sama suddenly taking an interest has not helped. You don’t embarrass her. She looks up to you. She thinks you are amazing. And you are. You are like Naruto-san. You just do what you do, completely ignoring the bad stuff around you, creating something wonderful out of cruelty and misery and death.”

Udon could take in what Kamatari was saying. Did people see him that way? Was Kamatari really comparing him to Naruto-san?

Moegi liked him?

“She likes me?” he checked.

“She likes you,” Kamatari confirmed. He smiled. “Shall I tell Hamaki-san and Terai-san that you won’t be needing them?”

Kamatari spoke to Hamaki and Terai, who gave knowing smiles and walked away. Then he and Kamatari walked back towards the kitchen.

They settled at the table and Choza brought a third cup. Kamatari started to tell him the story of how he came to join the crew. He skipped over the sad bits and was soon describing the first time he had met Naruto-san, at the hybrid sanctuary.

Partway through the story Moegi came in and sat beside him. Udon did not know what to say. He had made her cry. He had never made anyone cry before.

Luckily he did not have to say anything because Kamatari kept talking, pretending to be each person in the story in turn and making them laugh.

This time, when her hand came to rest on his, he did not pull away.

It had taken Moegi a long time to screw up the courage to touch Udon’s hand and she had been mortified at his reaction. It had taken every scrap of her self-control to find him an escort before retreating to her room and bursting into tears.

When the knocking started she had tried to ignore it but Akemi had followed his instructions and kept at it until she answered. Then he had delivered the message from Choza; Udon was back.

She had washed her face, crept out of her room and found a position from which she could see into the kitchen. At the table had sat Udon, being entertained by Kamatari.

Then Kamatari had caught her eye and she had realised that he had gone after Udon and brought him back.

Once the midday meal was over, she walked Udon out. They stopped as they approached the door to the lobby, where she knew Kisame-san and Itachi-san were waiting.

They stood facing each other, perhaps a little closer than was customary. Moegi had no idea of what to say.

“I am sorry that I upset you, Moegi-san,” Udon admitted in a low voice.

Moegi wished that she had apologised first. “I upset you too,” she replied. “I am not good at talking about what I am thinking or feeling.”

He smiled his sweet, shy smile. “I never tried before today,” he confessed. “Please thank Kamatari-san for me.”

“I shall be thanking him for both of us,” she admitted. “I shall be in touch, Udon-san. Perhaps we can meet more regularly.”

“I would like that,” he agreed. He bowed. “Moegi-san.”

She did the same. “Udon-san.”

And he was gone.

She made her way quickly to the infirmary, intending to immerse herself in work, only to find Kamatari lying in wait for her. She could not help but smile; he knew her so well.

“Udon-san said thank you,” she told him, “and thank you from me as well.”

He twitched his nose at her. “Always willing to stop purebreds from behaving like idiots,” he assured her. “Did you kiss him?”

She felt herself flush. “No.”

He rolled his eyes. “It’s no good waiting for him to kiss you, Moe-chan. You’re the one with experience and thank the Lady you have, or the two of you would still be just holding hands when you hit forty. What’s next?”

“I said I would be in touch,” she admitted.

“That’s something,” he conceded. “You had better see Iruka-san and ask him how to go about getting permission to pursue a relationship with someone outside the crew. Can’t see there being a problem with that. Everyone likes him. Sasuke-sama approves of him.”

Moegi imagined trying to have a relationship with someone living in Sublevel C. “But...” she began only for him to cut her off.

“No buts, Moe-chan. If you don’t try you will wonder about it for the rest of your life. You will never meet anyone else like him. He’s one of a kind.”

She knew he was right but there were so many obstacles. “But...” she repeated, only to be interrupted again.

“Not ‘but’, Moe-chan. You need to ask yourself ‘how’. If I had said ‘but’ rather than asked ‘how’ I would still be hunting rats in a factory ship. Knowing Sasuke-sama and Naruto-san, they are already thinking about the ‘how’. They probably have Shika-san working on it.”

She flushed. Udon had told her that Itachi-san had been asked to do a security assessment. “I shall speak with Iruka-san tomorrow,” she decided.

Kamatari just looked at her.

“Today,” she conceded. “Before the evening meal.”

“I am going back to the crew room now,” Kamatari told her. “I shall tell him to expect you.” He began walking away. “Good luck concentrating on your work, Moe-chan. I imagine Shizune-san will be wanting every detail and Dan-san won’t be much better.”

Moegi knew that he was right. Whenever she hesitated he was always there, urging her forward. So much of what she had achieved had been because Kamatari had been at her side.

Udon was worth fighting for. There would be no buts, only how.

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