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 Midnight Essence, Kat Saama, disembodiedvoiceofthedying, Prism0467, sadie237, richon, unneeded and YamanashiOchinashiIminashi who reviewed chapter 81.

Reading reviews and readers’ emails encourage me to keep writing and do influence the decisions I make about the story. It is lovely to hear from those readers who communicate regularly but it would also be wonderful to hear from others. If you cannot bring yourself to review or email (my email address is in my profile), you could consider using the ‘rating’ function.

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 hoping for Sasuke/Naruto or Naruto/Sasuke action in every chapter.

Chapter eighty-two: Wanted

As he climbed and then walked, Udon’s fear had been swept aside by curiosity. The other levels were different to Sublevel C. They were brighter. The corridors were cleaner and had fewer broken bits. There were more people. The people were different. They were a lot healthier and they moved faster. There were many more of them.

The place where they had stopped was on Level 4; Udon could tell because there were signs. They stopped in front of a door that the thin man unlocked. Udon found himself in a space with many doors. He was pushed through one of them into the room beyond, his wrists untied and he was pushed down into a chair at a table

It was all much nicer than anything in Sublevel C. His aunt would have shaved off her hair for even one of the pieces of furniture.

The thin man sat down opposite him. On the table was a machine with a screen that showed pictures that changed and moved. It was like a control panel but much bigger.

Udon rarely wanted anything, but he wanted a machine like that.

He stuck to his story about the inspection team. He did not waver, even when they told him no team had been in Sublevel C at the relevant time. He kept repeating that they were Outsiders, so they had to be Inspectors.

In the end the thin man gave up and accepted what he was saying. Instead he concentrated on getting accurate descriptions of the Outsiders.

Udon found the process fascinating. The more he told them, the closer the images on the screen matched what was in his head.

Once they had finished all four the thin man nodded and leaned back.

“You haven’t asked one question,” he observed, “or complained once.”

Udon did not say anything. What was there to say?

The thin man left and the big man manhandled him out of that room and into another.

“Have a shower,” the big man ordered. He turned to the scarred man. “See if you can find some decent clothes for him.”

The door was slid shut and Udon heard a lock engage.

The room was lovely. There was a proper bed and a table and a chair. Through a doorway there was a toilet and an enclosure with a high faucet, which he thought must be the shower the thin man had mentioned.

He investigated possible exits. There weren’t any. Even the grills across the ventilation ducts were welded in place.

He decided to do as instructed and wash. It would be good to get rid of the smell of the phenol.

It was nice. Fiddling with the controls made the water warm. The soap came out of a pump and didn’t make scum when it was mixed with water. There was a large towel with soft pile and no bald patches or holes.

When he went back into the room there was a pair of pants, a shirt and a pair of sandals. He put on the pants and shirts but left off the sandals. The floor felt soft under his feet.

There was also food that looked good and tasted better. Once he had eaten he laid down on the bed, which was much more comfortable than his pallet, and slept.

Sasuke was pleased. Sakura’s visit had gone without a hitch. The baby was healthy and doing well. Shizune was sequencing his genome and would upload it with a brief description as soon as it was ready. The apartments were secured; they were being furnished and stocked ready for the Maple’s arrival the next day.

He went back to reviewing the reports from their allied crews. Some of them were doing extremely well. He would have to begin planning in more detail what they would expect of them when their probation was over.

The intercom clicked. Sasuke sighed. The way things had been lately, it had to be for him.

“Kamatari here. Sasuke-sama, Kono-san has Chikara-san, the owner of Tarrasade Hydroponics, on another channel. He says we have his grandson. He’s demanding to know whether we killed his daughter.”

Sasuke pushed his hand through his hair. “Sasuke here. Tell Kono-kun put him through to my desk as soon as I have activated the cameras for a live link.”

He inputted the correct commands and heard the cameras powering up. A holographic projection formed on the other side of the desk. It was a very large man with sideburns who looked vaguely familiar. He was shouting and, if the puce colour of his complexion was anything to judge by, he had been doing so for some considerable time.

“ baby-stealing monsters!” He stopped. “Uchiha-sama?”

“Chikara-san,” Sasuke acknowledged. “I am very sorry to hear about the death of your daughter. Please accept my condolences.”

“Her body turned up in the Recyclers’ morgue yesterday. Scavengers sold it to them. The baby had been cut out of her.”

Sasuke flinched. “Again, my condolences to you and...” He reached into some long unused part of his memory. “...Fuku-san. We do have a newborn that was brought to us yesterday. He fell into the hands of an ally and was handed over to us because we have child care facilities.”

Chikara’s colour was returning to normal. “One of your medicos uploaded an abandoned baby report with a genome. He’s my daughter’s baby.”

Sasuke decided to attempt some damage limitation. He did not want new Uchiha associated with the old Uchiha practice of taking people’s babies. “I expect the Scavengers realised the baby was alive and rescued him. They gave him to someone who they thought could see that he would be safe, which is what happened.”

“I suppose so,” Chikara conceded. “Fuku and I will be over directly by shuttle to collect him,” he announced and cut the link.

Sasuke sighed again. Chikara-san was a prominent and high status resident. Fuku-san had visited his mother regularly. Sasuke remembered playing with their son when they were children. Despite the lack of time to prepare, it would have to be a formal meeting. He stabbed the intercom button.

“This is Sasuke. Please can Iruka, Shizune and Itachi come to my office. Naruto, please could you join us?”

Udon was woken by the door of the room opening. It was the thin man.

“You can go,” he said. “They have found the baby. The family are satisfied. I didn’t tell them you killed their daughter. Get your things. You can keep the clothes.”

Udon struggled to clear his sleep-fuddled mind. He was still wearing the pants and shirt he had been given. He put on the sandals and gathered together his own clothes and shoes, using the cover from the bed to make a bundle; fabric like that was worth something. The thin man did not stop him. Instead he gave the smallest of nods.

At the door to the corridor the man took his hand and pressed two coins into his palm.

“Saving the baby was the right thing to do,” he said. “I now think better of Scavengers because of you.”

Then he was pushed over the threshold and the door slid closed behind him.

Udon did not look at the coins. He had seen his uncle handle coins. You never gave anyone watching the slightest indication you had them. The pants had pockets. He slid one coin into this other hand and then put each into a different pocket so they would not clink. Then he looked about him.

He would not panic. He had got here from Sublevel C, he could find the way back.

There were signs. He asked two people the way to Sublevel A and they spoke to him. It was obvious that they didn’t know he was a Scavenger. Probably, after the phenol-based disinfectant and the fancy soap in the shower, he did not smell like one.

He decided he liked Level 4. It was bright and busy; full of life.

The third person gave him directions to a map. Udon stared at it. There was a large red arrow labelled ‘YOU ARE HERE’. It pointed at the second of four rings that shared a centre. The ring outside it was called Level 3 while the two inside were labelled Level 5 and Level 6. In the centre was the Hub.

Above the four part ring way were various others but Udon was interested in the other way. Below Level 3, wrapped around the Hub were Sublevels A, B and C.

Udon traced his route. He needed to find a spoke and walk towards the Hub. That would take him past Levels 5 and 6. Once he was at the Hub he would climb down, as they had climbed up.

Once he reached the Hub he followed the signs saying ‘LADDERS TO SUBLEVELS’. He was careful to select the one labelled ‘DOWN’ and ‘SLOWER’ so that no one would need to pass him.

Being able to read had never been so useful. He was on his way home.

Sasuke stood with Naruto to his left, in the position of a life-partner, rather than to his right, the place for a bodyguard. Sumaru had been to his right but Sasuke had asked him to stand down when Chikara-san and Fuku-san left their bodyguards in the shuttle.

Naruto had not wanted to be present. He had pointed out that Iruka was much more comfortable in such situations. Sasuke had almost yielded but then had decided to insist; Fuku-san had been a friend of his mother.

There was a moment of stunned silence when Fu showed Chikara and Fuku into the room. Sasuke decided to put it down to Naruto’s beauty rather than the sight of an Uchiha recognising a hybrid as his life-partner.

He bowed. “Chikara-san, Fuku-san,” he acknowledged. “Please allow me to present my life-partner, Naruto.”

“Uchiha-sama, Naruto-san,” Chikara replied. “Where’s the baby?”

Fuku placed her hand on her husband’s arm. “Uchiha-sama, Naruto-san. Please excuse Chikara, it has been a terrible time for us.”

“I understand, Fuku-san,” Sasuke replied and turned. “Kiba-san?”

Kiba came through from the adjoining room. He had a large bag and the baby beautifully presented in a carrier.

“This is Kiba. He is Guardian to our children,” Sasuke told them. “He has prepared supplies for a newborn, including suitable milk concentrates. As twelve of our thirteen were gestator births, he is very experienced.”

Chikara blinked. “You are nothing like your father,” he declared. “Which is good,” he added.

Fuku gave a small, sad smile. “But very like Mikoto-san,” she told him. “Thank you, Kiba-san,” she said, stepping forward to take her grandson. “Look, Chikara, he is beautiful.”

The big man blinked back tears. “Yes, he is. We won’t be staying. It’s not the right time for a social visit. How old is your youngest?”

“The triplets are six divs,” Naruto replied.

“Maybe they can play together when they are older,” Chikara suggested. “We will be going now. Uchiha-sama, Naruto-san, Kiba-san.”

There followed a truncated version of the usual polite leave-taking and then they were gone. Naruto gave a sigh of relief and stripped off his uniform jacket. He slapped Kiba on the back.

“Great job with the baby, Kiba-san. What’s the glum face for? Did you fancy another tiny one to look after?”

Sasuke had not even considered what Kiba might feel about the situation. He felt slightly guilty.

“He was not an Uchiha baby,” Kiba admitted. “Will they look after him properly, Sasuke-sama?”

“Yes,” Sasuke replied with confidence, relieved to be able to offer Kiba reassurance. “Chikara-san is a kind and fair man. Fuku-san was a friend of my mother’s and I played with her son when we were boys. They will do a good job of raising him.”

Naruto looked thoughtful. “Maybe they would support the orphanage.” He smiled at Sasuke. “Maybe we should support the orphanage.”

“What orphanage?” Kiba asked.

Sasuke thought quickly. It was a bad idea to have a direct link between Uchiha and the orphanage. Some people, like Chikara, would accuse them of stealing children. Others would abandon their children at the orphanage door in the hope that Uchiha would offer them a future. He decided to stick to Shikamaru’s plan.

“Chaaruzu-san, the philanthropist who helped us in the Warren, is working towards opening an orphanage in Tarrasade,” Sasuke told him. “There isn’t one at the moment and some babies and children die or fall into the wrong hands before suitable families adopt them.”

“What wrong hands?” Kiba asked in alarm.

“Child abusers. Pimps. Organ harvesters,” Naruto suggested.

Sasuke stared at Naruto in alarm. He had been thinking of foster families who took the credit despite not truly caring for the child. “I am sure that does not happen,” he replied. “This is Tarrasade.”

Naruto scowled at him. “I have been to Sublevels A and B. Also, some very rich people have very bad habits. There are some very rich people in Tarrasade.”

“A properly supervised orphanage seems an excellent idea,” Kiba suggested. “If Fuku-san is as nice as you suggest, perhaps she would like to be patron. How rich are she and Chikara-san?”

“Super-rich,” Sasuke admitted. “Tarrasade Hydroponics is huge.”

“Perhaps the charity could be named after their dead daughter,” Kiba suggested. “Then she might get all her friends involved as well as them giving credit themselves.”

“That’s a great idea,” Naruto agreed. “What was her name, Sasuke?”

Sasuke reached back. “Cho,” I think.

“Butterfly? That’s perfect. A butterfly in her favourite colours could be the emblem. Maybe it is a good idea to socialise with the bigwigs after all, teme,” Naruto acknowledged.

Sasuke had a mental image of Naruto and Shikamaru insisting on him visiting all the high status ladies in Tarrasade.

If he had to do that, Naruto was doing it with him.

Udon could not hide his return because there were always Scavengers watching the ladders; it was amazing what people dropped when they were climbing.

He knew he should head directly home so that he arrived before the news of his return but he did risk ducking into one of his hiding places to conceal his two coins. They were bright and heavy. His heart beat faster. They could be the ‘gold credits’ he had heard about.

As soon as he arrived home, he gave his aunt the cover as a gift. For a moment he thought she might be grateful but she threw his old clothes at him and demanded the ones he was wearing.

Doubtless they would be altered to fit Tanishi.

He quickly set off to find his uncle and his trolley, only to find his cousin walking beside him.

“You went Outside,” his cousin said, his eyes bright.

Udon quashed the urge to talk about it. His aunt would never forgive him. “It’s like this but there are even more people who hate us,” he replied; his tone harsh.

Tanishi’s face fell. He stopped walking and Udon kept going.

His uncle appeared genuinely pleased to see him. They did not talk about the men or going outside Sublevel C. They did the things they always did and when Udon asked if he could check his usual places his uncle agreed.

None of his people had run out of water, which was a relief. One was dead but Udon thought he may have died anyway.

He saw to the others and then took the body back to his uncle.

“Your mother wasn’t really my sister,” his uncle said suddenly as they were trolleying the body to the Recyclers.

Udon gaped at him. What did he mean?

“Your mother came here as a baby. My father found her with a dead woman,” his uncle told him. “My mother was feeding my younger brother. My parents were kind people.”

His uncle never spoke about his family. Udon knew they were all dead. He had not even known about a younger brother.

He wasn’t even a blood relation to Uncle Sukune; no wonder his aunt resented him so.

“She was special, your mother," he continued. “She died after having you.”

Udon knew that; his aunt had reminded him often enough. Maybe that was one of the reasons his uncle and aunt hated him.

“I never thought you were much like her, until this business with the baby,” his uncle confessed. “You’re so silent and distant and cold.”

Udon wanted to scream at him; to tell him that being distant and cold was the only way he could stop his aunt’s and his cousin’s taunts from cutting the life from him. Only he didn’t.

“I know I am a disappointment to you, uncle,” he admitted.

His uncle looked at him. “You think that do you? I wish Tanishi was a tenth the Scavenger you are. He never will be. He is too stupid and his mother has spoiled him.”

Udon was frozen with shock.

“I love him though,” his uncle added. “Can’t help it. He’s my son.”

They reached the Recyclers before his uncle could say more, which was a relief. Udon found himself blinking back tears.

He would much prefer to be the much-loved, feckless son than the disregarded, effective, non-nephew.

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