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.

Thank you to those readers who have written a review and particular thanks to OC, disembodiedvoiceofthedying, cynaga, sadie237, moonmoore, Aflyingmonkey123, KL, Dorkchic, richon, GreenEyedCat, angelj232000 and YamanashiOchinashiIminashi who reviewed after chapter 117 was posted.

It is wonderful to hear from readers. It is feedback from readers that keeps me writing this story.

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). This chapter hints at some Naruto and Sasuke action.

Chapter one hundred and eighteen: The Picnic - Anticipation

Kiba woke at his usual time, expecting to spend a few minutes snuggling close to Choza’s large, soft, warm, sleepy body. Instead his bed was empty. He sniffed the bedclothes; Choza had been there until recently.

He pulled himself out of bed, through the shower and into some clothes. Then he followed Choza’s scent trail to the kitchen.

He was glazing pies. Except for the working areas either side of the stove and the sink, every surface was covered in food and drink. Even the children’s table had been erected for use as a basket-packing station.

Kiba walked up behind him and nuzzled the side of his neck.

“It all smells amazing,” he murmured. “Almost as good as you.”

Choza flushed. “I have work to do and you have children to see to. They are going to be so excited about the picnic.”

Kiba imagined it and found himself wanted to both sigh and smile. He gave Choza a hug, made them both a cup of tea and then sat down at the table to drink. Almost immediately Choza walked over and put a plate in front of him.

“Samples,” he explained. “Not your usual breakfast, but I don’t expect you will mind.”

Kiba reached for the first piece.

“And no gobbling,” Choza ordered. “You always tell Kazuki off but you can be just as bad.”

Shikamaru pulled himself out of bed. Iruka-sensei had told him that getting up early would become easier but he had been wrong. Perhaps it had been a kind lie.

Sumiko was already awake and up. Her closet was open and there were clothes all over the floor. As he watched, she pulled out another tunic for closer examination.

He scooped her up, tickled her tummy and sat in the rocking chair with her in his lap.

“Nii-san!” she objected. “I was deciding what to wear.”

“I can see that,” he acknowledged. “I thought we agreed that we did that together, so that the closet stayed neat and tidy.”

Sumiko surveyed the chaos. “The closet is neat and tidy. The floor is a mess.”

Shikamaru tried not to smile. “I have a suggestion.”

She cocked her head, giving him permission to proceed.

“You pick something ordinary to wear for now and we go and have breakfast. Later we come back and you decide what to wear for the picnic.”

She considered and nodded. Then she selected a tunic and leggings from those she had discarded.

Once she was washed, dressed and brushed Sumiko stood frowning at the floor.

“Ne-chan won’t like the mess,” she observed.

“No?” Shikamaru queried.

“No,” Sumiko insisted. “He might go on strike, like last time.”

“Is that so?” Shikamaru countered. Sumiko had hated it when Neji had stopped sorting her clothes and tidying her room.

“We need to pick up the clothes and put them in the basket,” she told him, pointing to where clean clothes were placed before Neji folded them exquisitely and placed them in the closet.

“We?” Shikamaru asked.

She scowled at him. “Nii-san!” she complained.

He waited.

“Please will you help me pick up the clothes, Nii-san?” she asked.

“Yes, Su-chan, I shall do that,” he replied.

Naruto woke. He stayed still and quiet, surveying his surroundings. Sasuke was beside him, sleeping. He sounded, smelled and looked right so Naruto extended his attention. He could hear the triplets asleep in their nursery. There was some unexpected movement in the shared area; Choza was in the kitchen and more people were stirring than was usual at this time.

Iruka was awake early, as always. Unusually, Kakashi was also awake. They were, as Ran would say, busy.

He focused on the big litter’s nursery. They were all asleep although Ryuu would be awake soon.

He tried moving. Despite trying to keep his promise to Rin not to overdo things, it was too easy to strain his back or exhaust his leg muscles. He had been particularly careful yesterday because today he wanted to be able to lift or run after every child who wished to be carried or chased.

Every muscle and joint felt good. He slipped smoothly and soundlessly from the bed.

It still felt so good to be whole. He wondered if he would ever again take everyday functions like walking and peeing for granted. As for fucking, he looked back at Sasuke, allowed his desire to surface and had to suppress a growl.

He turned and walked swiftly into the bathroom. He had many things to do and fucking Sasuke was not one of them. His list ran quick shower, clothes, get triplets up, check that the big litter weren’t driving Kiba crazy, breakfast, finding something that might keep them occupied until it was time to leave for the picnic, packing backpacks and setting out.

Then Sasuke joined him in the shower.

“This is a bad idea, teme,” he groaned as Sasuke’s hands travelled over his skin and played with his nipples.

“Just a quickie,” Sasuke proposed.

Naruto was determined to say no; there was too much to do and fucking risked straining his back.

“We can put your thingy in and then I’ll ride you,” Sasuke suggested. “If we use the bed your back will be just fine.”

Naruto’s cock thought that was an excellent idea; just the thought of being inside Sasuke made him hard. As always since his operation, growling-possessive-Naruto was lurking just below the surface; keen to assert himself.

If he wasn’t quick they would end up fixed together by his knot and would not even make the picnic.

He pulled away from Sasuke, grabbed a glob of lube, retrieved his thingy from its usual place, inserted it and was heading towards the bed before Sasuke had moved from the shower.

The thingy was already zapping his button; confirmation of how close growling-possessive Naruto had been to the surface.

Sasuke grabbed towels and hurried past him to spread them on the bed.

Haru woke because there was a lot of noise.

All the kits, Yuki included, were playing their version of chase in which you were out if you put a foot on the floor. Haru rubbed his eyes; even Ryuu was joining in.

Kazuki landed on the bunk above him and peered over the edge. “You’re awake.”

Haru studied the over-bright blue eyes and super-alert whiskers in the upside-down face. “Where are Kiba-san and To-chan?” he asked.

Kazuki’s ears twitched. “Kiba-san is in the kitchen with Choza-san, eating. To-chan and Papa are having special cuddles.”

Then Yuki was flying across the gap between bunks towards them and Kazuki was off.

Haru watched, intrigued. Yuki was almost as fast as Kazuki; he had not known that.

Suddenly all seven of them stopped, the game was over and the kits were rushing about removing the evidence. Haru guessed that Kazuki or Ryuu had heard Kiba-san coming and warned the others.

Kiba-san opened the door and stood on the threshold. It was obvious that he knew what had been happening. They all waited.

“I want everyone washed, dressed and in the kitchen for breakfast,” he announced with a slight edge of a warning growl. “I expect to see you all there by the time I have the triplets up and dressed.”

Konan put the last of the fruits she had picked into the basket. She looked towards her son. Nagato was in his high chair, eating his breakfast under Hana’s supervision.

He was such a happy, smiley baby. Had his father been like that as a child?

“I am going to take these up to Choza-san,” she told Hana.

Hana’s attention was immediately focused on her. “I could do that,” she offered.

“No, I want to,” Konan replied. She kissed her son’s head. “Mama will be back soon.”

Nagato was too involved with his porridge to listen. He did look at her anxiously as she left the room but Hana distracted him by popping an extra piece of strawberry into his bowl.

She walked quickly through the deserted corridors towards the stairs. One of the other apartments had been occupied briefly when the hybrid Gaara and his companion Lee had been visiting. Konan had stayed in the apartment and stopped Hana taking Nagato to the playroom; anxious that Gaara would retaliate for his kidnapping and interrogation. She had only been able to relax once they had left.

Emerging from the stairwell into the main level of the household, she steeled herself to respond appropriately to anyone she might meet. The elite fighters of old Uchiha pointedly ignored her. Konohamaru, who had loved the Ranmaru mindprinted clone, went out of his way to avoid her. A few of the youngsters followed their lead but most other crew members, Uchiha-sama included, would offer a courteous greeting. Shikamaru was always friendly. Kiba, Choza and Naruto always spoke to her. It could be much, much worse.

From the noise issuing from the kitchen as she approached, it was obvious that the ‘big litter’ were having their breakfast. She considered going away and returning later but then decided to slip inside and place the basket where Choza would find it.

She chose the door to the less used end of the kitchen; away from the huge table. Once she had crossed the threshold she stood staring. Every available surface was covered with food or drink. Her basket suddenly seemed small and insignificant.

“Konan-san,” Choza boomed from beside the stove. “Fresh berries and tomatoes. How delicious. Thank you. They are just what I needed.” He smiled at her. “Sasuke-sama is particularly fond of your cherry tomatoes and I had none left to take on the picnic.”

She placed her basket on the floor, there was nowhere else for it. “It is a pleasure to contribute, Choza-san,” she replied and began edging towards the door.

Suddenly there was a golden blur and there was one of the hybrid children in front of her, bowing. It was the one who looked almost purebred; Keizo.

“Konan-san,” he greeted her.

“Keizo-chan,” she replied. He was holding something. She realised that it was a sheet of origami paper.

“En-san says you are the best,” he explained. “He says that you can make a fox.”

His bright blue eyes were so trusting and pleading.

“I will need a chair on which to sit and a clear, flat surface on which to fold,” she told him.

Keizo handed her the sheet of paper and rushed back towards the table. She followed. Seated were Kiba, all Uchiha-sama’s children, the original Ranmaru, Konohamaru, Shikamaru and his little sister, Sumiko. Two of Asuma-san’s children, Akemi and Misora, were preparing breakfast and renewing the supplies on the table.

“Shika-san, Kiba-san, Konohamaru-san, Akemi-kun, Misora-kun, children,” she acknowledged carefully.

There were a chorus of replies. Keizo had cleared part of the table top and was holding a chair for her.

She sat down. “Thank you, Keizo-chan.”

He scrambled up onto the chair beside her and began watching intently.

“Do you want a simple fox that you could learn to do quickly?” she asked. “Or a more complicated fox?”

His eyes widened. “A complicated one, please,” he replied.

Konan worked quickly, systematically inserting each crease and fold. One by one the children stopped paying attention to their food and began watching. Within a short time a cream-coloured fox stood on the table.

“He’s beautiful,” Keizo whispered. “Thank you, Konan-san.”

“You are welcome, Keizo-san. Now I must get back to Nagato-chan and Hana-san.”

Ran watched Konan-san turn the flat, ordinary sheet of paper into a tiny sculpture of a dog with a long bushy tail.

So that was what a fox looked like.

He knew that there was something odd between him and Konan-san. He had picked up bits from here and from there. Other versions of her had known other versions of him.

He decided not to think about it. Keizo was delighted with the fox, which was nice. Ran went back to eating his breakfast.

“Here come To-chan and Papa,” Ryuu announced.

A minute or so later Naruto-san and Sasuke-sama arrived; they had the same look that Ir-chan and Kashi-san did when they had been ‘busy’.

“What are Ir-chan and Kashi-san doing?” he asked Kazuki while Naruto-san and Sasuke-sama were kissing the triplets and answering a deluge of questions about the picnic.

Kazuki pricked his ears, turned his head and listened intently. “One’s in the shower. One’s getting dressed. I think it’s Kakashi-san in the shower.”

Ran polished off his breakfast while Sasuke-sama was admiring the fox and listening to Keizo. He then gave Haru a look that meant ‘see you later’ and received a nod in return.

He slipped down from his chair, put his bowl and cup in the sink and went to find Ir-chan.

They had kept the room Ir-chan had lived in when he was growing his legs. Now it was a place in which Ran, Ir-chan and Kashi-san could spend time together. On one wall, Ir-chan put up the latest pictures that Ran had made for him or Kashi-san. It was like the display in Sasuke-sama’s office but much smaller because there was only one of Ran rather than thirteen.

Ran did not think he would like being one among thirteen. He was glad that he had picked Ir-chan as his parent. It was good that Kashi-san was his parent too, because that made Ir-chan happy.

Ir-chan came through from the room he shared with Kashi-san. Beyond, through the open door, Ran could see Kashi-san putting on his boots.

Ran went to Ir-chan and hugged him because Ir-chan liked that a lot and Ran did not mind.

“Had your breakfast?” Ir-chan asked.

Ran nodded. “With Haru and Kazuki. Konan-san made Kei-chan a fox out of paper. Everyone is excited about the picnic. Choza-san is up and the kitchen is full of food.”

“Full?” Ir-chan queried.

Ran nodded. “Full,” he confirmed. “I think Choza-san has made too much.”

“I shall have to go and look,” Ir-chan replied. “What do you want to do before we leave for the picnic?”

Ran considered. He was going to spend most of the day with other people. “Have some alone time in my room,” he decided.

By the time Ir-chan knocked on his door, most people were ready. Ran could see that Ir-chan wanted to check what he had put in his backpack but he didn’t and Ran liked that. Everyone was carrying a baby or a basket; some people had both. Haku-san was making sure that nothing and no one got left behind.

Except for Tatsuji-san. He was on duty in the control room. In-san and En-san were going to stay with him. Tatsuji, In-san and En-san would join the picnic later when Gai-san was on duty instead.

Ran thought it was sad that there would always be someone missing, but Kashi-san said that it was part of being a crew; someone had to be on watch.

Kazuki rushed over to him, followed by Haru. When they set off, he and Haru walked side by side while Kazuki did his usual trick of shooting forwards and backwards but always coming back.

They went through the part of the household they used and then part of the household they didn’t use, ending up at a pair of huge doors.

They were like the doors to the tree-place on the Oak, only bigger and much prettier. Ran could see gold and silver and blues and red and greens. There were planets and a sun and stars and moons.

Ran wondered if what was behind them could be as beautiful as the doors.

Days like today were difficult for Konohamaru. Always, inside, there was that tug; the little voice that said that Ranmaru should be beside him. He knew he wasn’t alone in that; so many of them had lost people dear to them.

Ranmaru had been clear in his message: look after the others and let them look after you; make someone else as happy as you made me.

Konohamaru tried every day to do the first. One day, perhaps, he would do the second.

As they gathered to leave for the picnic, Konohamaru put himself in a position so that he could study Ran. He saw Iruka speaking to them; the easy interaction between them. Then Kazuki and Haru ran up to him and he watched the three of them being friends together.

Ranmaru had never had that. He had been raised by a woman who saw him as a tool and manipulated him accordingly. A woman who had starved him of affection so that he would do anything for a kind word or a smile.

Konan-san; he could still remember the yearning in Ranmaru’s voice as he spoke her name.

Today at breakfast, when she was making the fox for Keizo, Konohamaru had accepted that this Konan was not the woman who had been so cruel to his Ranmaru. The thought had crept into his mind that, perhaps, that Konan clone had been as cynically manipulated as Ranmaru himself.

As they walked through the household he studied Konan with her son. Yes, it was better to decide that she was not to blame.

“Kono-chan?” a voice queried from behind him.

It was, of course, Inari.

“I am fine,” Konohamaru insisted. “This is a good day. Look at Naruto-san. And Ran. Days like this help us heal.”

Inari transferred the basket he was carrying to his other hand. Konohamaru expected a hand on his arm or a pat on the back. Instead Inari bumped shoulders with him, like they had done when they were youngsters together.

Konohamaru smiled and Inari smiled in return.

The decoration on the huge doors, like the other finishing touches, had been kept under wraps until the last few days. Konohamaru was one of the few people who had seen them, because he and Kamatari had the job of overseeing all the specialist fitters.

So instead of looking at the doors, Konohamaru studied and enjoyed everyone else’s reactions. He watched Ran taking in every aspect of the design; like Ranmaru, Ran enjoyed beautiful things.

Then Shikamaru handed Sumiko to Neji, stepped forward and faced them.

“Thank you all for making my life so amazing,” he said. “This is for all of us to share.” He went to the side of the doors, pressed his hand to the panel, looked into the camera and spoke his name.

The huge doors slid open soundlessly revealing an amazing view of the park beyond.

Kazuki shot forward, pursued by the other kits and Ryuu. Konohamaru saw Naruto raise Sasuke’s hand to his lips and then he was off after them. Hikaru and Hoshi followed.

Haru began to run after them but then turned back and caught Ran’s hand. Konohamaru saw Ran look to Iruka who gestured him forward with a smile.

As the two boys ran down the grassy slope after the others Konohamaru heard a sound that made his heart leap.

Ran was laughing.

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