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’. 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 The Horseman of Death, richon, v, angelj232000, Prism0467, Dorkchic, Aflyingmonkey123, YamanashiOchinashiIminashi, ahmenet, unneeded, sadie237, cynaga who reviewed chapter 109.

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).

Chapter one hundred and ten: Reflections

He woke. The first thing he saw was the flashing button with ‘Push me’ written around it. He pushed it.

“Your name is Ranmaru,” a voice told him. “You are fighting to keep your memory. Go to the yellow chair. Look at the screen and follow the instructions. Do not delay.”

He frowned. He knew his name was Ranmaru; he did not need a disembodied voice to tell him.

“Do it,” the voice continued. “I am you.”

He went and sat on the yellow chair and looked at the large screen.

“Do the first set of exercises,” the voice, his voice, ordered.

He had to name colours and objects, complete sentences, match shapes and follow patterns.

He could not remember what came between seven and nine. “Eight,” the voice told him, showing him the number and that many objects. “Count from one to ten,” it ordered.

He did it; this time he included eight.

“Again,” it commanded.

Once he finished the voice suggested he visit the head before beginning the next set of exercises. Ranmaru complied; shocked that he could have forgotten ‘eight’.

When he returned he had to work through a series of physical exercises, mimicking the actions of a Ranmaru on the screen. At the end of it the Ranmaru on the screen looked straight at him and spoke.

“You can preserve the memories and skills you need. Once you have done that, you can stop worrying about remembering the past and live your own life.”

Then the screen went blank.

Ranmaru looked about his cabin. He was on a ship, he knew that. He was with Sasori. They were hunting Deidara because Deidara had killed and injured people who had been important to Ranmaru.

He could only remember some of those people. He remembered Shika-san and Haru-chan. He remembered Hana and Cook. The others had faded to mere whispers. Even Konohamaru was gone, leaving only a name and a vague regret.

Deidara had tried to kill Shika-san, Haru-chan and their family. He had killed Shika-san’s parents; Haru-chan’s grandparents.

He had tried to kill Konohamaru and, somehow, that was important.

Sasori knew Deidara from long ago. Deidara was desperate, possibly desperate enough to trust Sasori.

Trusting Sasori was foolish. Even Ranmaru did not trust Sasori. Ranmaru behaved as if he trusted him in the hope that Sasori would step up and, so far, he had.

Part of Sasori wanted to be trusted.

Ranmaru had a shower and dressed. He only had one lapse; he went to put on his shoes only finding himself staring at them. That happened when it was something he used to do automatically, without thought, and had now forgotten.

He could work it out. It wasn’t hard. Not like working out how to run had been hard. It was after Ranmaru had forgotten how to run that they had introduced the physical exercise routine.

He checked the rest of that level and then the one above. Sasori was not in his cabin or the crew room. Ranmaru climbed the ladder to the control room.

Sasori was in the command chair. He smiled and beckoned Ranmaru over. They kissed. Sasori’s affection warmed him.

“Is it a good morning?” he asked.

“I forgot how to put my shoes on,” Ranmaru admitted, “and the number eight.” And maybe many more things that he no longer remembered.

Sasori pulled him close for a hug.

“I could make breakfast,” Ranmaru suggested. He picked up Sasori’s hesitation. “I promise to use recipes if I can’t remember.”

“It isn’t that,” Sasori assured him. “I am expecting a real time communication with Deidara.”

“We are that close?” Ranmaru queried.

“Yes,” Sasori confirmed. “He’s in this system, mere light seconds away.”

Ranmaru knew he should have known that. It was new information, not old. Sometimes it was as if he had forgotten how to remember.

“You make something that will keep and I’ll join you as soon as I can,” Sasori suggested.

Ranmaru agreed. He initiated another hug, received a kiss in return and headed for the ladder.

Sasori watched him go. It was, indeed, a good morning. Bad mornings came in two types. One was when Ranmaru realised that he had lost another chunk of memory and became upset. The other, even worse, was when he forgot how to do something basic, like running or climbing a ladder, or a skill learned as a child, like reading.

It had been Ranmaru’s idea to look for techniques that had been developed for people who had been brain damaged. That had been back when Ranmaru could read. Now it was all Ranmaru could do to conserve the memories that remained.

The exercise routines appeared to be helping maintain his skills, although the correlation could be coincidence. Sasori was torn. Without hope there was only despair but hope opened him to disappointment.

Like this morning when Ranmaru did not remember about Deidara. He should remember that; it was new information, not old. Why did he remember Shikamaru and Haru but forget that?

Sasori sighed. Why was he here? Why did he care? True, Ranmaru was the sweetest of lovers but such qualities had never attracted Sasori in the past.

Maybe it was because his own life was over. The Sunagakure were gone; he had tricked Temari into destroying them. He had sacrificed every shred of goodness within him attaining that goal. He had never imagined living past that moment.

At least that was what he had thought until he met Ranmaru. Maybe there was a tiny spark of decency left. Perhaps.

An indicator on the control panel flashed. His heart jumped but it wasn’t Deidara. It was merely confirmation that everything was in place on the station.

It was astonishing how far Klennethon Darrent could reach and what he could make happen.

His stomach rumbled. Maybe he should have asked Ranmaru to bring him some breakfast.

Another flashing light; this time it was Deidara. Sasori activated the Akatsuki programmes that would decode the incoming message and scramble his reply.

After a few moments of delay Deidara’s face appeared on one of the screens. He looked tired; his hair was dull and the one eye Sasori could see was bloodshot.

Sasori discovered he was not in the least bothered about leading Deidara to his death. Deidara was like him; morally bankrupt. In some ways Deidara was worse because his bombs killed indiscriminately.

“Sasori?” Deidara queried; he had never seen Sasori’s face.

Sasori wove the complex recognition signal with both hands and watched Deidara relax. “You contacted me,” Sasori reminded him. “What do you want?”

“We have something in common,” Deidara suggested. “Uchiha wants both of us.”

It was as Sasori had assumed; Deidara did not know that he had betrayed Pein or that Uchiha had agreed to leave him alone. Maybe Orochimaru did not know, which could be interesting.

“True,” he conceded. “At the moment they are far more interested in you than me. Avoiding you would seem my best option.”

“Once they have me they will be chasing you again,” Deidara countered.

“Maybe,” Sasori lied. “I have bolt-holes from my time with the Sunagakure. I could sell you one, if the price was right.” He watched Deidara hesitate.

“No. I want identities. Personal and ship. And a shell,” Deidara insisted.

“I do not provide others with shells,” Sasori replied, which had always been true but was now merely a statement of fact; he had promised Ranmaru that there would be no more shells. “I have pods of supplies stashed across the Fringe. I’ll sell you the locations of two pods and suitable identities but we’ll need to meet face-to-face for me to record the necessary biometrics. The spacer quarter of this system’s station is ideal.”

“I’ll send you the data,” Deidara argued.

“You need the correct readers and you haven’t got them. Stop wasting time. You wouldn’t be in this system if you hadn’t accepted the need for a face-to-face. What can you offer me?”

Deidara smiled. “I have credit, courtesy of Orochimaru. Belmenth tokens.”

Sasori smiled equally falsely in return. “That will do nicely,” he replied.

Klennethon Darrent manned the scopes as his yacht sped from an ungated hole towards Tarrasade. Garner had offered to relay the output from scopes to the main cabin but Klennethon Darrent had insisted on controlling them directly.

He caught himself doing that more often lately; wanting to relive experiences from his younger days. Like manning the scopes. Like travelling in the two-man yacht with Garner rather than in the large, more luxurious craft with his servants.

Like hankering for what he could not have.

The trajectory of their approach allowed him to inspect the damage and repairs to the Uchiha section of Level 1. He shut his eyes and shuddered at how close it had been.

Shika would be safer with him; Shika’s parents would still be alive if they had been under his protection.

Shika did not want that. Shika had not trusted his parents, sister and child into his care. Instead Shika wanted to be with the strange, extended family called Uchiha, most of whom were incapable of comprehending who he was, never mind appreciating him.

He wished he had pushed harder that night in the garden on Elessen. Maybe, a small voice whispered, Shika would have been more robust than the others.

He sighed, recognising that voice for what it was; a liar born of temptation and regret. He would have crushed Shika with possessiveness, distorting him into a stranger.

“I have the call you requested,” Garner informed him over the intercom, snapping him out of his melancholy.

“Thank you, Garner,” he replied before stowing the scopes and activating the projector. “Uchiha-sama.”

“Darrent-san,” Sasuke Uchiha acknowledged. “Welcome back to Tarrasade.”

“Thank you, Uchiha-sama. There is a matter I am hoping to discuss with you.”

Sasuke Uchiha frowned. “With Uchiha.”

“About a matter of importance to Uchiha,” he confirmed. “It would be best done at a face-to-face meeting. I can provide a neutral venue if that is desirable.”

Sasuke Uchiha shook his head. “You must be our guest, Darrent-san. Will tomorrow morning be convenient? Or the morning after if that is too soon?”

“Tomorrow would be excellent, Uchiha-sama. I shall have Garner Parrad with me but would appreciate if we could meet alone, at least for a short time.”

Sasuke had slept fitfully; unexpectedly anxious about what Klennethon Darrent wanted. Each time he had woken Naruto had been motionless; slumbering deeply.

Soon it would be station’s dawn.

It felt wrong to be awake when Naruto was asleep; Naruto had always woken at the slightest suggestion that Sasuke was unsettled. Sasuke studied the familiar face in the dim glow of station’s night. It was too thin; almost haggard. Before the bombing Naruto’s energy had been unending. Now he drove himself past his limits.

Maybe an end of the nightmare was in sight. The kidney was functioning with no sign of rejection. Even Rin was suggesting that, perhaps, they should only wait two divs until the second operation instead of three.

Sasuke was disappointed in himself. He should be deeply grateful that Naruto was alive. He should be delighted that Naruto had not allowed paralysis to change his attitude to life and to those around him.

But gratitude and delight had long ago worn thin; he desperately wanted the old Naruto back.

He gave up trying to sleep and sat up. Even worrying about what Klennethon Darrent wanted was preferable to being a selfish, inconsiderate egoist.

He would take a shower and consider the crew. That was a sure way of turning his thoughts from the destructive to the useful.

Sasuke had the adult members of the crew in alphabetical order and arranged into seven batches of four and one of three. He systematically considered each person in turn.

It was the turn of the seventh; Shino, Shizune, Sumaru and Tatsuji. He always followed the same pattern. He thought about the first person as he cleaned his hair, the second as he washed his body, the third during rinsing and the fourth as he used the blowers.

First came Shino. Shino was being his usual self; taciturn, effective and always willing to do more. It looked like he and Anko would be together a long time; according to Shikamaru they were intending to have children one day. Sasuke thought they would make good parents; Shino in particular was excellent with the children.

Second was Sumaru. Sumaru was Sumaru. He did any duty assigned to him and with Naruto incapacitated, he was Sasuke’s bodyguard. Other than that he trained, he mediated and he developed his new version of The Way of The Knife.

Sasuke knew that he relied on Inari, Konohamaru and Tayuya to look out for Sumaru. It was lazy of him; Natsuhi had placed him in Sasuke’s care.

Sumaru was eighteen; he should be obsessed with fucking not re-establishing a warrior cult. Sasuke was sure Sumaru was female-only. Maybe they should encourage him to visit a suitable courtesan, like Haku and Itachi had arranged for Gai. He would talk to Iruka about it.

Shizune was next. She had been wonderful with Naruto about the paralysis. Finding the super-pants and researching buggies had been big steps towards allowing Naruto to be active. Sasuke owed her. She seemed content in her role of medico and with her friendships but if she ever came to him for something, he would do what he could to provide it.

Finally Tatsuji; Sasuke had never been sure what to think about Tatsuji, so he did not know why he was shocked that Tatsuji had taken such an immediate liking to Enerugi. Haku was delighted. Neji thought that it might work and that there was unlikely to be much fall-out if it did not. Choza had commented that it was about time Tatsuji found someone to look after rather than being so needy.

Sasuke had not realised that Tatsuji was needy and that bothered him.

Maybe thinking about each person in turn was not enough. Sasuke resolved to speak to each of them in turn; like Papa-time with the children.

He turned off the blowers. As he stepped from the shower he realised that Naruto was sitting in his buggy, watching him. Sasuke hurried over.

“You should have said something, dobe,” he complained, leaning over to kiss him.

Naruto tilted his face up to receive the kiss. “You were busy. Let me guess, you were doing that crew review thing, trying to distract yourself from thinking about Klennethon Darrent.”

Sasuke smiled; Naruto knew him so well. Naruto turned his buggy and trundled back into the bedroom, tossing something over his shoulder. Sasuke caught it by reflex.

It was the box that contained his ‘thingy’.

“I’ll distract you,” he offered, waving his left hand. In it was the activator for the prostate stimulator. “Do you want to put it in or should I?”

Sasuke realised that Naruto wasn’t going to take no for an answer.

Twenty minutes later, lying sweaty and spent on their bed, Sasuke had to admit that it had worked.

Naruto nuzzled his hair and stroked his flank. “That’s better,” he insisted. He smiled. “You had better have another shower. Even a purebred couldn’t miss that smell.”

Sasuke would prefer to be curling up for a nap. “Ten minutes,” he suggested.

“Ten minutes,” Naruto agreed.

Ten minutes became twenty and then twenty-five before Sasuke was woken by Naruto shaking him.

“Teme, you need to be up and into the shower,” he insisted.

“Five more minutes,” Sasuke murmured.

“You said that twice already,” Naruto reminded him. “If I leave you in bed you’ll be running late.”

“Two minutes,” bargained Sasuke.

Two minutes later the ‘thingy’ zapped his prostate.

“Naruto!” Sasuke complained.

“You out of bed yet?” Naruto called from the bathroom.

Sasuke was zapped again. He was definitely awake now. He scrambled out of bed. “I’m up,” he confirmed.

Naruto rolled from the bathroom, through the bedroom and out the door. “I can see that,” he observed with a leer. “Good luck with that. I’ll see you later, teme.”

Re-showered, dressed and fed, Sasuke had time to visit Iruka and review his correspondence before Klennethon Darrent arrived. He was looking through the latest reports from the allied crews when the intercom clicked.

“Fu here. Klennethon Darrent’s ship has arrived at the private dock.”

“Shikamaru here. Neji and I are on our way.”

He pressed the activator for the intercom. “Sasuke here. Acknowledged.”

He had about ten minutes, perhaps longer, before Shikamaru arrived at his office with Klennethon Darrent. Sasuke looked towards the picture, considering for a moment changing it to a landscape.

No, it would be as if he was ashamed of Naruto’s disability.

He made sure that he had everything to hand that they were likely to require and began preparing tea.

“There was a matter you wished to discuss, Darrent-san,” Sasuke acknowledged once pleasantries had been exchanged and tea poured.

Klennethon Darrent took a sip of his tea and placed his cup on the table between them. “I have Deidara,” he announced.

Sasuke was shocked. He tried to cover it.

Klennethon Darrent smiled slightly. “Think of it as a joint operation. Your crews harried him to the point that he was desperate and willing to risk contacting Sasori. Reprint Ranmaru still cares about Uchiha. He persuaded Sasori to help. Sasori contacted me, keen as always to take full advantage of any opportunity. My people set up the trap and took custody of Deidara. I will, of course, be handing him over to you, so we need to discuss when and how.”

That was an enormous relief. Sasuke had no idea what he would have said or done if Klennethon Darrent had not offered Deidara to them.

“We must compensate you for whatever Sasori demanded,” Sasuke began.

Klennethon Darrent gestured the suggestion away. “Unnecessary. I approve of what he asked for. He wants expert advice on how to help reprint Ranmaru remain functional after he has lost the printed memories. I would have probably done it without being given Deidara as a sweetener. It is a fascinating proposition.”

Sasuke was amazed it was even a possibility. As far as he knew, no one had ever managed to redeem a human raised in sensory deprivation. If it were possible it had far-reaching implications.

“The crew with Deidara is still far out. I assume that you would like to send a ship to take possession. Then you could make a show of bringing him in,” Klennethon Darrent suggested.

Sasuke had not even thought about it. “Yes, we would like to take possession,” he confirmed. He would send Kakashi. What if Kakashi did not wish to leave Iruka? Who then? Not Asuma. Perhaps Inari. “Thank you, Darrent-san.”

“It is a pleasure, Uchiha-sama.” He looked towards the picture. “How are Tsuneo-chan and the others?”

The conversation wound its way through the children before touching on Naruto’s condition and giving Sasuke the opening he needed.

“I wish to thank you for giving Shika-san the information he requested,” he began.

“Again, it was a pleasure,” Klennethon Darrent assured him. “I hope that Naruto-san’s treatment is proceeding well?”

“Slowly but promisingly,” Sasuke replied

“That is good news,” Klennethon Darrent acknowledged.

“Again, we are in your debt,” Sasuke admitted.

This time Klennethon Darrent did not respond immediately. Instead he finished his tea. Sasuke refilled his cup and waited.

“There is a matter I wish to discuss with you,” Klennethon Darrent stated.

Sasuke nodded, indicating he should proceed. His heart was beating a little faster. Uchiha owed Klennethon Darrent many times over.

“Shika,” he said, confirming Sasuke’s fears.

Sasuke made himself stay silent.

“I know you are a man of honour, Uchiha-sama,” Klennethon Darrent continued, “and if I tell you something in confidence you will keep it to yourself. My age retard is beginning to break down. I have, at most, five standards left.” He looked at Sasuke with uncharacteristic candour. “This is not the time to tell Shika.”

Sasuke understood immediately. Shikamaru was still reeling from his parents’ deaths. Suddenly, clearly, he saw Shika’s life as a succession of losses; his father, Klennethon Darrent, Naruto. For Shikamaru, who connected to so few people, it would be devastating.

“He’ll guess,” Sasuke warned him.

“No, he will work it out,” Klennethon Darrent corrected him. “I know that but I am hoping that I can keep it from him for a while, maybe a standard. As for what you owe me, I would like to see more of him. Other than Garner, he is the only person who is important to me.”

It was a horrifically stark statement. For a moment Sasuke had a glimpse of Klennethon Darrent’s loneliness.

Sasuke understood what it was like to be alone; between his mother’s death and meeting Naruto there had been no one.

“I shall not stand in his way if he wishes to see you,” he replied. “I promise that I shall look after him,” he added, resolving to make sure Shikamaru never became as isolated as the man before him.

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