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'.

I would like to thank those who have left a review. I read every one and they mean a great deal to me.

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.

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 six: Ranmaru

Ranmaru woke.

Out of habit he remained still and kept his eyes closed. He could feel the warmth, the pressure and the texture of another person’s skin against his own. He could smell that other person, and himself, and the aftermath of fucking.

And he could sense that other person in his mind; his sleepy contentment.

He liked Konohamaru. There was very little about Konohamaru not to like. He was the complete opposite of the men on the Hellion and that, in itself, was wonderful.

Ranmaru shuddered at the memory.

Even in his sleep Konohamaru was disturbed by Ranmaru’s display of discomfort. He stirred slightly and the arm about Ranmaru tightened.

There had been very few people in Ranmaru’s life who still looked good once their emotions had run, second-hand, through Ranmaru’s mind. It was one of the reasons he hated being an empath. It was why he liked people to keep their distance. He shied away from being touched; when he was skin to skin with someone it was as if he was plugged into their emotions.

Konohamaru had passed the test with much to spare.

He opened his eyes and slowly, carefully, turned over. Konohamaru had bed hair and a trail of dried drool running from the corner of his mouth and across his cheek. He looked... Konohamaru.

Ranmaru slipped out of his grasp, judging each small movement against Konohamaru’s emotions and not doing anything to disturb his happy dreaming. He pulled on sleepshorts, climbed down from the bunk and walked soundlessly to the head.

Sumaru had finished training and was in the shower. He was as reliable as a chronometer. Ranmaru filled the time by sorting clothes but was ready to enter when Sumaru left.

The older cat was amazingly handsome, with his beautiful features and incredibly toned body, but Ranmaru was sure he had made the correct choice. Konohamaru wanted him and trusted him. Sumaru wanted no one and only fully trusted the sharkman.

The sharkman, Kisame-san, was interesting. He looked terrifying but exuded kindness. Ranmaru had considered him, but he had eyes only for Itachi-san.

Itachi-san’s emotions rolled, yawed and pitched beneath his impassive surface. Ranmaru had imagined being tossed about by that storm and resolved to keep his distance.

Inari-san did not find him attractive.

Tayuya-san had not trusted him and, anyway, Ranmaru did not have a clue how to begin seducing a female.

Konohamaru had been the correct choice.

He and Sumaru had prepared everything required for breakfast by the time Tayuya appeared. She acknowledged their contribution and started cooking. Within a few minutes Sumaru was making inroads into a hugely piled plate of food.

“Are you sure that you do not want anything cooked, Ranmaru-kun?” she asked. “I am not convinced you eat enough.”

Ranmaru liked Tayuya a little more each day, even if the feeling was not mutual. He liked her honesty. “Thank you for offering, Tayuya-san, but I prefer the cereal and the fruit.”

She watched him as he poured the cereal into a bowl and spooned fruit on top. He found him adding more than he would have taken, so that she would be satisfied.

He was halfway through the bowlful of food when Konohamaru and Inari entered. Konohamaru came close and, as Ranmaru looked up at him, kissed him gently on the mouth before sitting down beside him.

None of the other three thought it at all odd. Apparently morning kisses between lovers were commonplace. It reminded Ranmaru of what he had been meaning to ask. He took the double-sided medallion from his pocket and placed it on the table.

“Who are they?” he asked.

The four of them stared at him. Inari recovered first. He turned the medallion to show the dark-haired male.

“This is Sasuke Uchiha. He is the leader of Uchiha, our leader,” he informed Ranmaru. He turned the medallion to show the blue-eyed blond. “This is his partner, his lover, Naruto. Naruto is a fox-human hybrid. He is the patron of the Hybrid Defence League.”

Ranmaru picked up the medallion and fingered it. “Why are they on spacers’ good luck medallions?” he asked.

What followed was a disjointed explanation with everyone contributing different parts, some of which were contradictory.

Ranmaru tried fitting the pieces together. Uchiha was a famous spacer clan, or organisation, or company. That made sense because Ranmaru had seen how the spacers on Quaiden reacted to them once they were wearing the Uchiha badge.

The Uchiha clan had been wiped out, by what means none of the four had said, leaving one child, Sasuke Uchiha. As he was heir to Uchiha, his training had been in secret and had been on the very ship they were on, the Silver Leaf. Naruto had been another cat who had been acquired when the crew responded to a challenge.

“They fell in love,” Konohamaru said, as if that explained everything.

“Sasuke was already famous,” Inari clarified. “Everyone in the Inner Fringe was waiting for him to appear and take control of Uchiha. Then, when he did, he had his gorgeous fox-human hybrid with him whom he openly acknowledged as his lover. It caught people’s imagination.”

“You need to have met Naruto-san to understand,” Sumaru added.

Ranmaru tapped the medallion. “The people who buy these have never met him,” he pointed out.

They responded by showing him the holovids of two interviews; one made three standards before and one more recently. None of the four had mentioned that Sasuke Uchiha was also beautiful; night to the golden fox hybrid’s day.

The holovids were interesting because they explained why complete strangers had fallen under the lovers’ spell. Ranmaru already had no doubt that they inspired those who met them. He had the evidence of the four people in front of them; their shining eyes, their love and their loyalty.

He felt like that about Konan-san.

Slowly he began acquiring information. He knew he had to be patient. It was like building a mosaic; the small pieces came together to make a whole.

Itachi and Kisame came from before, from the Uchiha led by Sasuke-sama’s father. Itachi looked like Sasuke but was not a member of the Uchiha family; everyone remained evasive on the issue. Konohamaru’s family had cared for Sasuke when he had lost his own; Konohamaru had been taken into the new Uchiha to repay the debt. Tayuya had been acquired. Inari had been chosen.

Sumaru’s dying mother had asked Sasuke Uchiha to take her son. Hence the purpose of this mission, to return her remains to her home system.

There were others, many others. There were others from before, like Itachi and Kisame, and the people who had been there when Sasuke had been training on the Silver Leaf; Inari spoke of Kakashi and Tayuya of Iruka. There was someone important called Shikamaru. Itachi and Kisame shared a lover called Haku.

There were children but even Konohamaru avoided speaking of them; it reminded Ranmaru that he was still very much an outsider.

They should not trust him as much as they did.

“What will happen to me?” he asked during the meal one evening.

There was a short silence before Inari spoke.

“I am not sure,” he said. “You are in an unusual situation. You are a member of an Uchiha crew but you are not sworn to Uchiha.”

“I was in that situation for a short time,” Tayuya admitted. “I had to make a decision. If you don’t take the oath you will have to go. I imagine Sasuke-sama would call in a favour and find you a decent crew. Maybe a Fire Shadow crew. That’s the organisation led by Konohamaru’s grandfather.”

An oath; the notion sent a prickle down his spine, which surprised him. It was merely one more lie.

“Is there a reason you would not want to join Uchiha?” Konohamaru asked him once they were alone.

Ranmaru could feel how upset he was at the suggestion Ranmaru would do otherwise. “It is a major commitment,” he countered.

“Lifelong,” Konohamaru admitted. His chin came up and he looked Ranmaru directly in the eyes. “You would not regret it.”

He might not but Konohamaru would. Konohamaru would be shattered once Ranmaru had what he needed and left.

Acquiring Ranmaru had caused Inari to change their route. At first Ranmaru had not known why but slowly the pieces came together. Quaiden had a light speed communication relay; they had been sending information to their home base. Information they had not expected to have to send; information about him.

The new route to Hoshigakure, Sumaru’s home system, did not take them past anything worth visiting. On the Hellion, Ranmaru had dreaded the days in space between drops. The men had been bored and Ranmaru had been their main source of entertainment.

On the Silver Leaf it was different. There was a relaxed domesticity. Everyone did their duties. Everyone trained; Itachi-san had assessed Ranmaru’s skills, shaken his head and taught him some simple routines to practice. Ranmaru and Konohamaru fucked.

The others had hobbies. Tayuya played her flute. Inari studied. Itachi performed mesmerisingly beautiful physical routines that helped him meditate. Sumaru vanished into the small storage bay or tagged along after Kisame-san. Kisame watched Itachi and carved children’s toys.

“What do you do in the storage bay?” Ranmaru risked asking Sumaru nine days after they left Quaiden.

Sumaru studied him. Ranmaru wondered if he would decide not to answer. Sumaru’s emotions were difficult to follow. They were well buried and Ranmaru knew he would need to touch Sumaru skin-to-skin to feel them.

“I will show you,” he said, which was unexpected.

Inside the storage bay there was an object as long as Ranmaru was tall and two hand breadths’ wide. It was like a miniature spacecraft with a nose and vanes. The surface was painted with symbols.

Ranmaru watched as Sumaru selected a small pot of paint and a brush. He stood motionless. Then he spoke some words. Finally he painted a new symbol on one of the few unadorned parts of the object’s skin.

“They will burn off as it gets closer to the star,” he explained. “The prayers will be released.” He studied Ranmaru again. “This is my mother’s coffin,” he added. “I am giving her to the red star, to Natushiboshi. It is the greatest honour one can give to one of the Chosen.”

Ranmaru did not know what to say. He had only vague recollections of his mother and those were confused with his first memories of Konan-san.

“Sasuke-sama did not have to do any of this,” Sumaru was saying. “He did not have to respond to my mother’s plea. He did not have to send a mother ship to retrieve me. He did not have to foster me. He did not have to stop me using my symbiote because it was slowly killing me. He did not have to ask Rin-san to find a solution. He did not have to give me permission to operate as one of the Chosen. He did not have to arrange this mission so I could give my mother to Natushiboshi.”

Ranmaru did not understand all of what Sumaru said but he made careful note of it.

“When I first came, I could only see Naruto-san and then Kisame-san,” Sumaru continued. “They were great warriors and I understood what it meant to be a warrior. Now I understand that Sasuke-sama is a great man. I am his Knife. When Naruto-san grows old I will be his shield. I have dedicated my life to protecting him.”

Was that a statement of fact or a warning? Ranmaru did not know.

“It will be an honour and a great privilege if Sasuke-sama invites you to swear to Uchiha,” Sumaru informed him.

Ranmaru was relieved that Konohamaru was somewhere else other than in the crew room. He needed some time alone to make sense of his reaction to what Sumaru had told him. He lay on his own bunk and allowed his mind to drift.

Konan-san; it felt like forever since he had last seen her. She had touched his cheek and told him that the time had come for him to demonstrate his loyalty. They had a task for him that required his particular talent. It would be very hard for him but once it was over he could come home.

She was his home; the sight of her, her smell, her smile and the flow of her emotions through his mind. She was fond of him. She knew of his talent and, unlike all the others who knew what he could do, she did not shy away.

She was so beautiful.

He yearned for that golden time when he had lived with her and she had been a mother to him. There had been a house and a garden. He had gone to school and played in the garden. Every day she had been there at breakfast and in the evening. She had asked him about his day and helped him study. She had tucked him into his bed and kissed him goodnight.

He wished he could remember it more clearly.

He remembered before Konan-san. He had lived on the streets, always hungry and often cold. He and the others had lived in terror of the child-catcher. Unlike the others, he could use his talent to select targets and beg from them. It made the difference. Many of the others died of starvation or were kicked to death because they approached the wrong person.

Ranmaru had survived on the streets for four standards before he was finally caught.

The child-catcher had run his genetic material through the analyser. That was the law. There had been a case, many standards before, where a kidnap victim had been exterminated. His family had been outraged. The child-catcher responsible had been executed. Now they checked.

Whatever he found made a difference. The rest of the catch was gassed and their bodies recycled. Ranmaru had watched from his cage. Another batch had come in and been dealt with; then another.

A man had come. He had bought Ranmaru from the child-catcher. Ranmaru had been shocked. Slavery was illegal. Selling children into slavery was immoral; exterminating them was considered a much more humane alternative.

The man had pressed a hypospray to his neck, sending him to sleep.

When he had woken up it had been under a sun that gave a different light. Konan-san had been there. She had held him in her lap and told him that he was a good boy. She had taken him home to the house with the garden. She had bathed him and washed his hair. Once he was dressed in warm clothes and with shoes on his feet, she had taught him to sit at a table and eat with a knife and fork. She had tucked him into bed and read him a story. When she said goodnight she had kissed his cheek.

Three standards later, when he was eleven, everything had changed again. He had been sent away to be trained. The nameless men who trained him knew what he could do and were wary about allowing him too close. One of them was the man who had bought him from the child-catcher.

Once every ten days he was allowed home. He and Konan-san sat in the garden and shared tea. He told her everything. She was sympathetic and encouraging. When he left she would kiss his cheek and tell him that she was proud of him.

Then that day arrived. The day she told him that he had a mission and that it would be hard.

This was that mission.

So far the mission itself was easy. They had accepted him. He had attached himself to someone, as instructed. He watched and he listened. He was to do nothing other than to live the life of Ranmaru, the Silver Leaf’s cat. By doing so he would worm his way in. At some time in the future they would contact him.

There had been hints that getting him into one of the target crews was a challenge. His only preparation had been to learn his back-story. They had used some form of hypnotherapy; when he was asked a question it was as if he had lived at the orphanage, as if the children there had been his friends. He could see the faces of the staff in his mind and he knew which of them had been mean and who had been fair. He could even remember feeling their emotions, which was amazing.

When he had entered the plaza it had felt as if he had always planned to offer himself to a crew as their cat.

There was no doubt in his mind that the sequence of events that led to him being on the Hellion was planned. The target crew had to feel sorry for him. The abuse had to be real.

He told himself that Konan-san did not know. She, like the men who had trained him, knew he was an empath. She would never have sanctioned him being handed over to a crew like the Hellion’s. The best of them had been careless and unfeeling, focused only on their own lust. The worst of them had been sadists and Ranmaru had felt every moment of their perverted pleasure as they raped and beat him.

No, Konan-san did not know. They had not told her. Ranmaru was certain of it.

Konan-san cared for him.

And he adored her for it.

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