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 those who review regularly.

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.

Chapter nineteen: Sanctuary

The Oak jumped into the Kaze V system ten days after Gaara’s return. Kankuro’s ship delivered Gaara’s pod and left. Rin fastened the new controllor Shikamaru had made around Gaara’s neck and transferred him to the tank she had prepared.

Lee brought the Gourd up from Kaze V. When Naruto sought him out he discovered him sitting at the side of the tank in a side ward of the infirmary, his eyes fixed on Gaara’s face.

Naruto found a chair and sat down beside him. He said nothing. He imagined how he would feel if someone had taken Sasuke and done such terrible things to him; Naruto did not know what he could do to make Lee feel better.

“It must be good to be able to see him,” he said finally.

Lee’s gaze did not move from the tank. “I failed, Naruto-san,” he whispered. “He suffered because I failed.”

Naruto pondered what to say. Lee needed something to do; sitting beside the tank brooding would only make him even more depressed. “You have made yourself into a formidable fighter, Lee-san. Now you should become an expert in security as well. That will help you protect Gaara better.”

Lee’s bushy brows were pulled into an uncharacteristic frown as he considered. Then he turned to Naruto. “Thank you, Naruto-san. Gaara cannot go back to the sanctuary without making it more secure. Do you think Gai-san would help me learn about security?”

“I am sure he would be honoured to be asked, Lee-san,” Naruto replied.

Naruto waited until he and Sasuke were alone in their room later that evening. Even though he had been thinking about it for days, he still aborted two attempts before managing to tell Sasuke what he wanted to do. He could see that Sasuke was becoming worried. He was studying Naruto intently and had a slight frown.

“I love you,” Naruto began.

Sasuke smiled. “I love you too, dobe,” he replied. Then the frown was back. “What is it, sweetheart? What’s wrong?”

“I want to visit the sanctuary, even though I know you cannot go there yet,” Naruto admitted. “The people there are upset about Gaara. They must wonder what it means for their future. I think it is important that I visit them and stand in Gaara’s place, even if it is only for a day. It would only be one day. We do not see each other for a morning or an afternoon. It would be no more than three times as long. You would be here with Kakashi. You would be safe.”

Sasuke was very quiet. Naruto scented the air, alert that he may be upset.

“I went to the store without you,” he added. “It would be like that but a bit longer.”

Sasuke hugged him. “We will talk it through with Kakashi,” he promised. Then he smiled again. “What if I wanted to go somewhere without you?”

Naruto growled. He could not help it. Leaving Sasuke in the den, protected, was one thing. Him being outside the den, exposed to danger without Naruto to protect him, was entirely different.

Sasuke stroked his hair. “Don’t worry, dobe. I wouldn’t,” he assured him.

They brought the Sakura down onto one of the pads left by the first wave of surveyors. Fu, Hamaki and Terai would stay with the ship while the others accompanied Lee to the sanctuary. The objectives of the day were to show support and to come up with a plan to make the sanctuary more secure.

They were carrying guns. Naruto was not sure about them carrying guns.

A truck and a driver from the sanctuary were there to meet them; a wolf-human hybrid judging by her looks. She was leaning on the side of the truck, chewing, but she straightened and spat out whatever was in her mouth when she saw Naruto.

“You are Naruto-san,” she acknowledged as if surprised he had actually come. “I am Tsume. Greetings, Lee-san. How is Gaara-sama?”

“Tsume-san,” Lee greeted her. “Gaara-sama is receiving treatment. These are Gai-san, Ibiki-san, Kisame-san, Itachi-san, Shino-san and Anko-san.”

Her eyes lingered on Kisame.

“They are here to look at the sanctuary and advise us on how to make it more secure so that Gaara-sama will be safer when he returns,” explained Lee.

Tsume gave a small growl. “It was his sister’s people. What would protect against that?”

Naruto thought she had a point.

“We will be more careful in the future,” Lee replied.

Naruto had rarely been in a ground vehicle and never in one travelling at high speeds along a rough track between high trees. He was not sure that he liked it.

He thought that it would be better if he were in the back, where his attention would be less focused on the oncoming obstacles, but Tsume had insisted that he and Lee sat in the cab.

Perhaps driving would be better; he would then be in control of how fast the truck was going and the way it swerved.

He clung to the door handle and hoped that Tsume did not notice.

The truck suddenly shot from the forest into more open ground. Almost immediately there was a fence. The track followed the fence to a crossroads, if what they were travelling could be called a road. Tsume turned left at the junction and a gate in the fence swung open. Someone waved and Tsume took a hand off the wheel to in acknowledgement it.

Naruto looked back. There was a dark, hairy figure in the sentry box.

The sanctuary was a collection of huts. Some were small and some were large but, essentially, they were all the same. Naruto could see a tower, which he guessed was full of water and some cables hung between poles or between poles and huts or between one hut and the next.

It did not look like much.

Tsume brought the truck to a screeching halt in front on one of the largest huts. Naruto watched as people hurried towards them. Most walked, a few ran, many limped or lurched and a few dragged themselves on trolleys. Some were being carried by others.

Gai opened the truck door. Naruto stripped off his pistol in its holster and pushed it into Gai’s hands. Gai nodded.

Naruto jumped down and pulled his jacket straight. He was glad he was wearing his uniform.

Then it was listening and being polite and trying to remember people’s names and not minding that they wanted to touch him. Perhaps it would have gone on for ever if the owner of a gentle voice had not spoken.

“What about giving Naruto-san some space? I am sure that he would like to come into the refectory and sit down.”

The crowd parted revealing a small, wrinkled person with kind violet eyes.

“Please allow me to present Yagura-san,” Lee was saying.

Naruto remembered that Yagura had been appointed as director of the sanctuary. He bowed. “Yagura-san,” he acknowledged.

They sat on benches at one of the crude wooden tables in one of the larger huts, drinking tea from tin mugs and eating what was offered because it was expected of them. Naruto was introduced to two other small, old people, this time with no hair and smooth, mottled skin: Fukasaku and Shima, the two chief administrators.

Lee and Yagura were catching up. Naruto listened in, hoping to learn about the sanctuary and how it operated. They moved from problem to problem; Naruto began to appreciate how difficult running a sanctuary actually was.

“Most of the other settlements are owned and run by big organisations,” Shima explained to him when she realised he was struggling to follow what Yagura and Lee were saying. “Gaara-sama stopped them taking advantage of us. Now that he is not here, they are back to their old tricks in the hope we will leave.”

“Polluting our water supply,” Fukasaku added. “Stopping supply trucks.”

“I will speak to Temari-sama,” Naruto promised. “She will tell them some truths.”

Yagura stopped speaking with Lee and looked at him.

“Temari-sama personally owns this planet,” Naruto told them. “They have leased the land. There are many other companies and organisations that would pay well for a lease. If they cannot behave they will be replaced.”

“It may not be as simple as that,” Yagura suggested. “The people polluting the water supply and stopping the trucks are difficult to link to one company. We need locally based planetary government and a neutral police force.”

“I shall tell her that,” Naruto assured him. He considered. “Perhaps you should write a short report that I could give her?”

“She will read it?” Fukasaku queried.

“Yes, if I ask her to,” Naruto said with confidence. He decided to ask Shikamaru to look at the problem as well. He swirled the liquid they called tea around his mug. “Are things within the sanctuary going well?” he asked.

Yagura smiled. “Very well. About one quarter of us have employment outside the sanctuary. That brings in credit. The rest of us work to improve our lives here. We make what we can so that the credit is kept for what we must buy. For example these tables and benches were made from the trees cut down to make this clearing and the huts are those used by the original surveyors, so they are widely available and cheap.”

Naruto immediately saw the tables, benches and huts differently. “You will tell me if there are things that you badly need and cannot obtain,” he suggested. “Those are the things that the HDL will try to supply.”

“We need more trucks,” Shima said immediately. “We can make fuel and maintain them but we need five more trucks and spare parts for them.”

“Write me a list, Shima-san,” Naruto told her. “Also, Uchiha will pay for the security upgrades that are required before Gaara-sama can return here. It will be a gift from us to Gaara-sama. What about your infirmary? I am anxious that you should have adequate medical care. Perhaps one or more of our medicos would visit and speak with yours.”

“That would be possible if we had a medico,” Fukasaku replied. “We did recruit one but he was purebred and only lasted a div. We have a few people who have some experience aiding medicos and scientists.”

“This will need to be addressed,” Naruto insisted. “It is important that you have medical care.”

After their welcome in the refectory, they settled down to business. Itachi and Kisame went off with Tsume to survey the periphery and investigate possible sites for a drop pad. Shino and Anko were introduced to people who could show them power and communications. Gai and Lee surveyed the hut where he and Gaara had been living.

Naruto was shown about the site by a young weasel-human hybrid called Kamatari, who was the only immature person Naruto had seen. He had white fur for hair, hazel eyes with extra large irises, a very mobile nose and whiskers. He was always moving and talked very quickly.

They stopped and spoke to many people. Naruto gave up trying to remember who everyone was and what they did. Instead he concentrated on listening carefully and asking at least one relevant question.

He hoped they would forgive him if he could not remember their names the next time. Perhaps Kamatari or Yagura or even Lee could arrange for him to have a picture of every person, their name and their role so he could study them before he returned.

By the time they left Naruto was exhausted. He no longer cared about the way the truck hurtled down the track. He fell asleep in on his acceleration couch as soon as they had lifted. Anko shook him awake when they docked.

Sasuke was waiting for him in the docking bay. Naruto held him close and inhaled his scent.

The children were already in bed; Iruka had delayed the evening meal so that the adults could eat together. Naruto let the others do the talking, too weary to form sentences yet checking whether their impressions matched his own.

Sasuke made their excuses once they had finished dessert. Iruka smiled and told them to go, telling Naruto to get a good night’s rest.

“Bath or shower, dobe?” Sasuke asked once they were in their room with the door closed.

Naruto realised that it would have to be one or the other; planets were dirty places. “Shower,” he decided, even though the thought of a bath was pleasant; he would fall asleep in the bath.

“You have a quick shower and then I could give you a massage,” Sasuke suggested. “I’ll stay here and wait for you.” He started preparing the bed, folding back the covers and spreading a large towel on the surface.

That made the thought of a shower more appealing. Naruto managed to find a burst of energy to scrub off the grime and to dry off using the blowers.

Then he was on his stomach with a naked Sasuke sitting astride him just above the backs of his knees. Sasuke’s hands moved firmly but gently across his back.

Naruto suddenly, belatedly, wanted to talk. Sasuke kept the massage light and listened as Naruto spoke about the most important lesson of his day; the realisation that it was important that the residents worked together to develop the sanctuary rather than having it improved for them.

“You should call a meeting tomorrow to draw together everything you have learnt and decide a way forward,” Sasuke advised. “Tell people at breakfast, so that they can think about what they should say.”

Naruto realised that Sasuke was not planning to be present. It brought it home that this was his responsibility, as patron of the HDL.

“Perhaps I should have it in a meeting room,” Naruto mused.

“That might be advisable, given that your office here is even messier than your office in Tarrasade,” Sasuke replied.

Despite being so relaxed, Naruto’s whiskers twitched. “It is not messy. It is the way I keep things where I can find them,” he insisted.

“If you say so,” Sasuke conceded. “If you use a meeting room you will not have to disturb your Naruto-esque filing system.”

Naruto considered. “Can I borrow Shi-chan?”

“Of course,” Sasuke answered. He leaned forward. “Now, what type of massage is this going to be?”

Sasuke’s massages came in many types, a bit like Naruto’s nests.

Naruto considered. It was difficult to make his mind up. Every time he almost decided it slipped away.

Then Sasuke was beside him rather than astride him, pulling the covers up over them both.

“Goodnight, dobe,” he whispered.

Naruto thought about replying but was already drifting away.

Naruto was pleased at how the meeting was going. Each person said what they thought was required based on what they observed on the surface and the research they had done afterwards.

Shikamaru listened carefully and made some notes on a tablet.

“We’ve got most, maybe all, of what you need in the cargo holds,” he told them after everyone had listed their proposed modifications to the sanctuary’s infrastructure.

Naruto blinked. His whiskers twitched. “We do?” he queried.

“We got caught out that first time, when we took the contract for ridding Kaze of the slavers,” Shikamaru replied. “After that, I made a list of everything I thought we would ever require and calculated the odds of needing it. Landing pads, fencing, power plants and communication systems came pretty high on the list.” He took in their stunned expressions. “This is a huge mother ship. We can carry phenomenal amounts of cargo,” he reminded them.

Naruto recovered first. “That’s good,” he acknowledged. “Now, it is important that we don’t just turn up and do things. Yagura-san says that the sanctuary is about the people in it and the contribution they make to their community. We will need to have a meeting at the sanctuary with the key people and ask them how we should go forward.”

“It would be better if we could arrange establishing the drop pad in advance of our next visit,” Itachi suggested. “Building it during the next visit would mean we could land within the sanctuary for the third and subsequent visits.”

Naruto could see the sense in that. He wanted Sasuke to be able to visit the sanctuary. “I will consult with Yagura-san,” he decided.

They had brought the Sakura down on the new drop pad and then Naruto had shown Sasuke the sanctuary with Kamatari in attendance. Naruto’s efforts to learn everyone’s name had been almost completely successful; occasionally he had looked to Kamatari for a hint.

He and Sasuke were now in Yagura-san’s office.

“We are honoured that you should visit us, Uchiha-sama,” Yagura began.

“It is an honour to visit The Sanctuary, Yagura-san,” Sasuke replied, “but I am here as Naruto’s partner rather than the leader of Uchiha.”

The old man smiled. “However, I would like to speak to you as leader of Uchiha. I have a request for you. I would like you to consider taking Kamatari as one of your trainees. I do not want you to lower your standards and, if you agree to consider him, I would prefer you not to tell him unless you feel he may make the grade.

“There are no other youngsters here and, if we are honest, the chances of us getting other hybrids of his age with his high level of mental and physical functionality are low. Also, you are used to taking youngsters and persuading them to excel. We are not. He has not connected to anyone here yet he is absolutely smitten by you, Naruto-san. He worked so hard making sure that you had each person’s image and name whilst trying to hide what he was doing.”

“I shall give your request due consideration, Yagura-san,” Sasuke promised. “I cannot, however, give you any assurances at this stage.”

“I did not know he was going to ask you that,” Naruto admitted as they walked back to the Sakura. “I know we cannot take Kamatari, not after Ranmaru.”

Sasuke was silent for a few paces. “We have to be willing to take youngsters with potential. We will speak with Kakashi and Jiraiya. Perhaps we can handle the process properly this time. What do you think of him?”

Naruto considered. “He’s quick-witted and he runs like the wind. I think he will always be small. His non-human genes are from a weasel.”

“For their size, weasels are remarkably vicious predators,” Sasuke informed him. “I liked him,” he added.

On their third drop to the new pad, after much discussion among the senior crew, Naruto spoke with Kamatari.

“We have to be careful, Kamatari-kun,” he began. “Just as Gaara-sama has enemies, Uchiha has enemies. Those enemies go to great lengths to get people within our security.”

“Like Hitokugutsu’s assistant,” Kamatari suggested.

“Yes, like Hitokugutsu’s assistant,” Naruto agreed. He took a deep breath. “Yagura-san has asked Sasuke-sama if he will consider taking you into Uchiha as a trainee.”

Kamatari’s eyes widened. He danced on the spot, unable to contain his excitement.

“It is not that easy,” Naruto said sharply and Kamatari stilled. Naruto sighed. “First we have to be absolutely sure that you are what you seem and not an agent of one of our enemies. Then we have to check that you are capable of what we would be asking of you. Finally, you have to meet more of the crew and they have to approve of you.”

“I will do anything, Naruto-san,” Kamatari promised. “You can pump me full of truth serum and hypnotise me. You can pull my claws out. I will run faster and jump higher. Yagura-san has taught me to read. I will learn to write. I will be nice. I will learn manners and how to be polite. I will forget all the bad habits I have learned from Tsume-san.”

Naruto could not help but smile. “It is good that you would be willing to do all those things, Kamatari-kun. What I need you to do first is to take this recorder. It contains a camera and a voice recorder. I want you to record yourself telling everything you can remember about where you have been and what you have done, working backwards from when you arrived here in Kaze V. Do you understand?”

Kamatari took the recorder and nodded. “Record everything, so you can check it,” he agreed. “I’ll include lots of details. I’ll start now.”

And he was gone, sprinting towards the hut where he slept.

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