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 Gingitsune, kanazerosukenaru, disembodiedvoiceofthedying, Prism0467, meow-ku, v, and lonelylulaby who reviewed chapter 42.

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 who are expecting Naruto/Sasuke or Sasuke/Naruto every chapter.

Chapter forty-three: Inwards

Luckily Sasuke had not thought it odd that Naruto wanted to check on how Haven was progressing, so it was added to their route back to Tarrasade. As long as they did not delay, they should still be back in Tarrasade in time for Mai’s birth. Not that Haku was worried by the idea of Mai being decanted on the Oak.

Building a small but functional space station had gone surprisingly smoothly; Shikamaru had been correct about the quality and ease of the modular construction. The spacers and the hybrids appeared to be cooperating well but Naruto decided that Uchiha making an appearance was, on balance, wise; there was a big difference between knowing that Uchiha was an investor and having their flagship in your dock.

It was good to check in with Yugito and Roshi. They took him on a tour of the station. Everywhere people greeted him and wanted to talk to him about their new lives. Dotted around the place there were small, illuminated alcoves. In them were images of him, either alone or with Sasuke, or pictures of Inoichi. On the walls around the images were symbols and phrases.

“It began happening as soon as we arrived,” Roshi said through Yugito.

Naruto thought Roshi looked apologetic and pretended it did not disturb him. It did; first the medallions and now this. The alcoves were worryingly like shrines.

Next Naruto visited the feral children. Tonton had used the Uchiha crew room as a template for their living arrangements. They had ten units of varying sizes opening off a central area with communal facilities. Each feral group had a unit and others were occupied by Sickler, by Ebisu and by Tonton with the babies and Isaribi. Isaribi told him, shyly, that the tenth unit was for visitors; for Haku-san, or Kisame-san or for Naruto-san himself. Naruto bowed, thanked her and explained that he would not be able to stay this time.

He listened carefully to Tonton’s report of their progress. It was more hopeful than he had expected. Denka was emphasising that an alpha male had to provide for his group. On the wall of the communal kitchen were running totals of the weekly expenditure required to support Chamu’s large five-part group and Five’s small one. Next to each was the credit that Chamu and Five were currently earning. While Five was managing to bring in over a quarter of what would be required, Chamu and his subservient alphas were languishing at under a fifth.

“I am working as a runner,” Five told Naruto brightly. “Lots of people tip me because I am small and quick.”

Chamu scowled but, to Naruto’s surprise, he stood and bowed formally. “I wish to thank you, Naruto-san, for providing for my family while I am unable to do so.”

Naruto bowed in return. “It is an honour, Chamu-kun. I too grew up feral in a space station. Many people helped me. I hope that, in the future, you will be strong enough and successful enough to help others. Have you spoken with Ebisu-san about business ideas?”

“We are discussing various options,” Chamu admitted. “I am learning the skills that are common to all businesses.”

Naruto looked about the generously sized kitchen. “What about bento boxes for workers?”

Chamu blinked. “I cannot cook,” he mumbled. Then he pulled himself together. “I shall do some research. If there is a market I shall approach Hina-san. Hina-san is an excellent cook. I shall speak to her about the possibility of teaching us.”

“That’s the spirit,” Naruto replied encouragingly.

He cuddled the babies, hugged each child and took his leave from Sickler and the other adults. Then Denka appeared to escort him to Kotohime.

He had requested a private discussion with Kotohime and was shown to a receiving room where she was waiting.

“I think Sasuke will want children who carry both our genes,” he explained. “But I have to be absolutely certain that your technique will create a baby that works before telling him. No having to have to decide if the foetus is functional. No killing forty-nine babies to get a fiftieth that works. No thinking everything is wonderful and then having a child that sickens and dies. No discovering that the child has my lifespan rather than his.”

Kotohime was silent for a time. Naruto braced himself for her to tell him that there were drawbacks. It was probably for the best. They already had ten children who they loved.

“Fuma developed the technique generations ago,” she told him. “Not to make purebreds but cat-human hybrids. They chose not to use it extensively because it produces a fertile, breeding population and, as my father would say, where is the profit in that? However, because it is so reliable and the hybrids it produces are so functional, Fuma did use it for the occasional high-paying customer and to produce its showcase hybrids. Denka, Hina and Yugito were all made using it.”

Naruto stomach clenched. Denka, Hina and Yugito were perfect. “And the purebred version?” he asked.

“I created it over a decade ago at my father’s behest using the cat-human version as a model. It was for someone like your Sasuke, who had fallen in love with a hybrid. He was willing to pay an obscene amount of credit for healthy, purebred children who carried his lover’s genes.”

“And?” Naruto whispered.

“The embryos tested perfect. The children are healthy adolescents. Their telomere analysis indicates that they will have a purebred human’s lifespan.” Kotohime confirmed. “One warning, you are what you are because you are part fox. The children will be human. They may resemble you less than Sasuke-sama would wish.”

Sasuke would love them regardless; Naruto knew that. He stood up and bowed. “I thank you, Kotohime-san.”

She followed his example. “It is truly an honour to be of assistance, Naruto-san.”

Naruto was too quiet when he returned from the space station. His eyes were distant and his whiskers twitched occasionally. Sasuke recognised the signs; Naruto was on the edge of making a decision. The worry was that Sasuke had no idea about what.

So he was both nervous and relieved that Naruto wanted to talk privately after the evemeal. They sat cross-legged on their bed facing each other. Sasuke tried a smile.

Naruto managed a smile in return but his eyes were still lost in thought. Then the bombshell came.

“What would you say to more children?” he asked.

Sasuke was stunned. More children had not even entered his head. Was Naruto unhappy with the feral children’s progress in Haven? Did he want them back?

“Babies,” Naruto clarified.

More babies; it was unexpected but Sasuke could cope with the idea. “Little sisters for Hoshi,” he suggested, determined to go with it. “Two or three?” he asked, rather hoping that Naruto did not want more than that.

“Three,” Naruto informed him. “Two girls and a boy.”

Another boy; Sasuke would not have chosen another boy. “Two girls and a boy will be excellent,” he agreed. “Any restrictions on the other genetic parent?” he asked. Did they want another Haru? Sasuke could see advantages and disadvantages.

“Yes,” Naruto replied.

There was a strange gleam in his blue eyes. Perhaps he was thinking of someone other than Shikamaru; maybe Iruka, or Kakashi. “Who?” Sasuke asked.

“Me,” Naruto answered.

Time slowed. Part of Sasuke thought it was some misconceived joke or that he had fallen asleep and this was an unusually realistic dream that was about to warp into a nightmare.

“Kotohime has a way of making human chromosomes using my genes,” Naruto told him. “Rin says it will work and is safe.”

Sasuke pinched himself. It hurt and he did not wake up. His mind started whirling. “Is Rin certain?” he asked, surprised how weak his voice sounded.

“Yes.” Naruto was surprisingly certain. “Fuma has tried it. It works.”

“The children it produced were fine?” Sasuke checked.

“Yes, they are fine,” Naruto assured him. “Normal, purebred children.”

Sasuke tried to order his thoughts. “I love all of you, every little foxy bit,” he insisted.

Naruto smiled at him. “I know that.”

“I love the kits,” he added.

“I know that too,” Naruto confirmed.

“I love Hi-chan and Ha-chan and Ho-chan and Ry-chan. I would not want them or you to think I love them less because they do not contain little bits of you,” Sasuke told him.

“No one would ever think that,” Naruto replied. He smiled. “We do not need to make a decision now. As long as you know that I agree to you using my genome like that to make babies.” He pulled a tablet from under the pillow and looked into it, placing his thumb in the depression that would read its print.

“I, Naruto, partner of Sasuke Uchiha, give my permission for my genes to be converted into human chromosomes using the technique developed by Kotohime Fuma and those chromosomes to be combined with those of Sasuke Uchiha to make babies who will be the legally recognized offspring of Sasuke Uchiha and Naruto.”

He removed his thumb and proffered the tablet to Sasuke.

Sasuke took it. He pressed his thumb against the depression and looked into the screen.

“I, Sasuke Uchiha, witness the statement made by my partner Naruto,” he confirmed.

He understood the message. Naruto was saying that there was another alternative. Sasuke could have those children after Naruto was gone. His eyes filled with tears but he blinked them back.

“Thank you, dobe,” he whispered. “And thank you for getting me to think about more children before telling me that you could give your genes to them. That was clever.”

Naruto’s whiskers twitched. “We could talk about it over the next few divs,” he suggested, “once we are in Tarrasade and Mai has been decanted.”

Sasuke went and put the tablet in a drawer. He turned back towards the bed and smiled. “Perhaps what we should do now is clear our heads,” he suggested.

Naruto’s eyes lit up and he gave a foxy grin. “We haven’t tried for three yet,” he suggested.

Sasuke rolled his eyes. “Three! Dobe, do you have any idea of how much hard work it is to get you to climax twice?”

Naruto made a show of considering. “I know, I will make the third time easy for you by fucking you.”

Sasuke was immediately hard. They had been concentrating on perfecting their technique for Naruto climaxing without switching. The times they missed they ended up with fluffy-soft-Naruto. He missed growling-possessive-Naruto.

“I’m not sure if I can wait that long,” he admitted.

Naruto growled.

Sasuke ran. The chase would not last long but it would be fun.

Ranmaru was not surprised that Naruto-san was absent from breakfast. There had been a great deal of howling and screaming the night before and then more screaming this morning. He helped Kiba with the children while Kamatari and Moegi took over some of Ranmaru’s usual tasks.

“To-chan and Papa are having extra cuddles,” Yuki told him.

“That’s nice,” Ranmaru replied, filling three cups and one bowl. “Haru-chan, please put your tablet away.”

Haru’s eyes went to Kiba, who was frowning at him. He swiftly put the tablet in his satchel. “Do you and Konohamaru cuddle?” he asked.

Ranmaru wiped up the milk Keizo had spilled. “We have talked about this before, Ha-chan,” he reminded him. “Questions are for finding things out, not to distract people.”

Haru flushed slightly and decided to pay attention to his food.

“Yuki and I get to visit Mai today,” Hoshi announced.

Ranmaru decided not to mention that she too was distracting the adults from Haru’s poor behaviour. At least Hikaru had not joined in; he was too interested in his food.

Kazuki had finished eating. He was wriggling in his chair, desperate to get down. Normally he would be next to Kiba-san but with neither Naruto-san nor Sasuke-sama present, Kiba-san was at the head of the table and no one had taken the third adult’s chair.

“Ka-chan, please could you take the empty bowls and cups to Kamatari?” Ranmaru asked. It took a while for the bowls to be passed and Kazuki to make a neat stack. He then hopped down and took the stack of bowls over to Kamatari. By the time he had ferried the cups across the kitchen one by one the others were ready to go.

“You go with the children, Ranmaru-kun,” Iruka-san instructed. “Moegi and Kamatari will pack away the children’s things.”

Ranmaru hoped Moegi would do it because then everything would be in the correct place. To Kamatari away was away and the order did not matter.

Once they were in the playroom he supervised teeth cleaning, hand washing and face wiping. Then it was a matter of getting each child involved in one of the educational play activities. Kuuya was feeling grumpy, so Ranmaru played with him and Keizo for a while. He could feel Kiba-san watching them so he was not surprised when Kiba suggested that he read them a story while Ranmaru took Hoshi and Yuki on their promised trip to visit Mai.

The children were visiting Mai in pairs. Ranmaru noticed that Haku treated each pair slightly differently but always appropriately. With Hoshi and Yuki he served tea, which fascinated Hoshi and Yuki was happy to go along with. He was also wearing a particularly beautiful kimono, which Yuki could not take his eyes off of.

It was nice to see the nursery and the baby in its gestator through the children’s eyes.

“There is something I would like to discuss with you, Ranmaru-kun,” Haku said as the children looked through the toy chest.

Ranmaru knew he had not done anything wrong. “Yes, Haku-san,” he replied.

“We have a tradition of gift giving the day before a baby is decanted,” he explained. “Some of my fighters are anxious about selecting a present. Their anxiety is well-placed in that their choices are likely to be inappropriate. While some of them will ask C-san or Iruka-san for advice, others will be more likely to ask Kono-kun. I would like you to brief Kono-kun and, perhaps, to suggest he offers your services as gift selector.” Haku produced a list from the sleeve of his kimono. “Here are some suggestions. I know I can trust your taste. I shall not blame you when some of them fall in love with something entirely inappropriate and insist on buying it.”

Ranmaru bowed. “I would be honoured, Haku-san,” he acknowledged.

Haku sniffed. “Even Kisame cannot remember the colour scheme in the nursery,” he complained. He sighed. “At least Itachi has impeccable taste.” He looked to where Hoshi and Yuki were admiring the dolls. “Ho-chan, Yu-chan, please put the toys away. I am afraid that I must get changed. Kisame-san will be here soon. He is accompanying me onto the station.”

That confirmed that Haku had worn the kimono for Yuki. Ranmaru was impressed. Hoshi thanked Haku for the tea and Ranmaru wished him an enjoyable visit with Five and the other feral children.

Once they were back in the playroom Ranmaru studied the list. It was very precise and Ranmaru hoped he would not let Haku down.

Konohamaru was under strict instructions from Ranmaru to organise a shopping trip as soon as possible after they docked in Tarrasade. Between them they had persuaded most of the fighters to select gifts off Haku’s list but Hamaki, Terai and Fu were insisting on accompanying them. Konohamaru was fine with that; he wore a knife and Tarrasade was civilised but a cat as gorgeous as Ranmaru might prove too much of a temptation to some crews.

Given that it was shopping, which was not Konohamaru’s favourite activity, it was fun. Hamaki, Terai and Fu were showing great interest in anything to do with babies, including having a protracted discussion about whether girl children were intrinsically different to boy children. Ranmaru was slowly managing to find appropriate items, although Konohamaru struggled to understand why so many of them had to be such a specific shade of yellow or blue.

They had worked their way through a selection of the larger shops with many stops at bars or snack stands to fortify them through the arduous process. They were now in one of the bazaars. Ranmaru had been looking through yet another stall, this time one that specialised in handmade lace. Konohamaru’s attention had wandered; he was wondering if he should tell Biwako-san that he was planning to visit his grandfather.

“Where’s Ranmaru?” Hamaki demanded.

Konohamaru looked about in alarm. Ranmaru was no longer in sight. He called but Ranmaru did not appear.

“You were watching him,” Hamaki said. For a moment Konohamaru thought the comment was directed at him but it was to Terai.

“He was here,” Terai complained. “Perhaps he went through to the back.”

Fu was swearing. Konohamaru felt sick; Ranmaru would never go more than five paces away from him and would always come when called. Had another crew stolen him?

Tradition allowed a crew to fuck a captured cat. Konohamaru had promised Ranmaru that he was safe; that nothing like what had happened on the Hellion would ever happen again.

Perhaps the stallholder had seen something. Konohamaru went through to the back of the stall where the expensive goods were kept.

She was dead. Her throat was cut. There was blood everywhere; sprayed across the curtains of delicate lace and pooling around her lifeless body.

Crews did not murder stallholders to steal cats. He managed a croak to alert the others. Fu appeared at his side, glanced at the body and called out to Hamaki and Terai.

Konohamaru did not comprehend what he was saying.

Then he heard a woman screaming and ran with Fu towards the sound.

The screamer was another stallholder some way along the corridor. Behind her stall there was a pool of blood. In it was a horrifically familiar arm. Fu grabbed him and tried to stop him looking along the gap between the back of the stalls and the wall but Konohamaru saw what he thought was a lower leg.

Hamaki and Terai burst through the adjacent stall and sprinted along the gruesome trail. Fu held him, stopping him following.

After that it was a blur. Fu swearing at station security. The stench of blood. The awful moment when he heard someone whisper, “They’ve found the head.”

Then the place was swarming with Uchiha and Naruto was there. Fu finally yielded his grasp and Konohamaru made an another bid to go after Hamaki and Terai only to have Naruto pull him close.

“He’s dead.” Konohamaru told him.

Naruto hugged him closer. “I know, Kono-kun, I know,” he confirmed, obliterating the tiny shred of hope to which Konohamaru had clung.

None of it made sense. Ranmaru could not be picking out presents one moment and chopped into pieces the next. Nothing made it any better but being held by Naruto stopped it being worse; Konohamaru clung as they made their way home.

Sasuke and his grandmother were waiting for him but their words were meaningless. Then Inari arrived, his eyes apologising for taking so long. Konohamaru reached for him, blinded by sudden tears. He knew Inari’s touch would help and it did; a little.

He wanted to see the body. He kept asking, no matter what Inari or Sasuke or his grandmother said to him. In the end they gave in and Inari walked with him to the infirmary. Rin had done her best, placing the parts correctly and concealing the joins with bandages.

They, whoever they were, had carved the symbol for traitor across his face.

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