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 MikaSamu, YamanashiOchinashiIminashi, richon, Dark Catalest, Prism0467, satterb, disembodiedvoiceofthedying, Darling425, Midnight Essence, Aflyingmonkey123, sadie237, angelj232000 and Dorkchic who reviewed after chapter 90 was posted.

Reader feedback helps me write; thank you.

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 ninety-one: Unpredictable

When he woke on day 2, Sasuke knew it was late rather than early. He rolled over to check the chronometer and promptly forgot about the time. He ached; moving hurt.

He forced himself to his feet and staggered to the shower. His skin was covered with bruises that his nanobots had yet to resolve and his muscles were broadcasting their objections to even the slightest activity.

He had fought Kakashi until he could no longer put one foot in front of the other, never mind punch or kick. Even when the anger was gone, Kakashi had encouraged him to continue.

Sasuke knew he had landed many blows, but he doubted that Kakashi felt like this.

Pride rather than energy or functional limbs had got him back to his room. At least he had been too exhausted to miss Naruto. Once there he had passed out or fallen asleep; he was not sure which.

He showered, dressed and made his way to the kitchen. In the doorway he stopped. Ayame was sitting at the table. Kotetsu was beside her.

It was not as if he had told any of the parents that the children should stay podded. He had just assumed that they all would, at least until he decided otherwise.

She looked at him with Izumo’s eyes.

“Kotetsu-san, Ayame-chan,” he acknowledged.

“Sasuke-sama,” Kotetsu replied.

“Sasu-sam,” Ayame echoed.

Sasuke made tea and toast. Ayame watched him, obviously intrigued to see him doing such a thing for himself.

“And what are you going to do today, Ayame-chan?” he asked when he had sat down.

“Going to see Dada in the firmy,” she replied. “Then go to the playroom.” She sighed. “Hoshi and Yuki are still asleep.”

Kotetsu rubbed her back. “We talked about it, Ayame-chan. Sasuke-sama is too busy to look after Ho-chan, Yu-chan and the others without Naruto-san and Kiba-san.”

Sasuke felt awful. Should a father ever be too busy for his children?

She looked at Sasuke hopefully. “Just wake Hoshi and Yuki up?”

“I can’t do that, Ayame-chan,” he admitted. “It’s all or none.”

“Sorry about that,” Kotetsu admitted. “She’ll be fine with Biwako-san in the playroom. Misora and Keitaro have agreed to help look after her.” He smiled at his daughter. “Ayame and I are going to get the new apartment ready for Daddy Izumo, aren’t we Ayame-chan?”

Ayame smiled back before turning to Sasuke. “I’m going to do lots of pictures ‘cos all the old ones are gone.”

“That’s a good idea,” Sasuke confirmed. “Perhaps you could show me them.”

Ayame promised that she would and waved to him when he set off for his office.

He had barely activated his desk before Shika was through the door. His eyes studied Sasuke anxiously.

“You all right?” he asked.

Sasuke did not like the idea that he had scared Shika the day before. “Fine. My apologies for yesterday.”

“No need. Neji says it was normal. You were too calm before.” He sat down opposite Sasuke without waiting to be asked. “I need your permission for something.”

Sasuke’s frowned. Shika was usually completely unaware of boundaries. What was so out of the ordinary that he had decided he had to ask?

“I want to show In-san and En-san some of the evidence we have collected,” Shikamaru explained cautiously. “I want to see if they recognise the technology. Neji could be there to pick up if either of them is lying,” he added.

Sasuke was still uncertain about Zetsu; having Neji involved was a good idea. “Yes,” he agreed, “but only if Neji is watching and if Itachi knows exactly what you are going to show him in advance.”

Shikamaru hesitated. “Itachi is not comfortable with the idea.”

Sasuke sighed. “I will speak with Itachi,” he promised. He studied Shika. He looked pale and tired. “How are you?”

Shikamaru’s eyes unfocused. “I can pretend it didn’t happen. I lived so far away from them for so long.” He sighed. “I won’t be able to do that once we unpod Su-chan.”

“Naruto and I would foster her if you would prefer it,” Sasuke reminded him.

Shikamaru scowled at him. “I would prefer her to be adopted by a wonderful family somewhere on the other side of known space,” he admitted. “It doesn’t mean I am going to do it. We’ll adapt. Neji’s being marvellous, as always.”

“Kotetsu’s unpodded Ayame,” Sasuke said suddenly; not entirely sure why it was important.

Shikamaru looked at him. “And?” he asked.

Sasuke found himself spiralling towards the most ridiculous of ideas. “When should I unpod the children?” he asked.

“What about turning the question around?” Shikamaru suggested. “Why should they stay podded?”

Sasuke did not like his answer to that question one little bit. The crisis was over and the all-clear had sounded; the children were no longer in danger of being spilled into space. They were still podded because it would be inconvenient to have them running about with neither Naruto nor Kiba to look after them. Just like the minkies they had acquired on Jewel stayed podded because it was never the right time to deal with them. Like the foetuses that Shikamaru had rescued from the Akatsuki were still in stasis because he had yet to decide if they were Uchiha’s responsibility or Shikamaru’s.

Shikamaru answered his own question. “They would be unhappy without Kiba or Naruto.”

That was true but Sasuke wasn’t sure it justified keeping them podded. How would they develop as people if they were put on ice every time something bad happened? In a weird way, it was like he was lying to them; he was saying that bad things don’t happen or, if they did, Papa made them go away.

One day there would be something so bad that Papa couldn’t make it go away and it would hit them, like a sledgehammer, and they would break because they wouldn’t have built up any resilience.

He thought of Ayame going to see Izumo in the infirmary and painting pictures for the new apartment.

Kotetsu was right. Like Biwako had been when she decided not to pod Misora and Keitaro.

“I am going to unpod the children,” he announced.

Shikamaru’s eyes went completely circular. “You can’t, not right now.”

Sasuke scowled at him. They were his children. It was his decision to make.

“Sasuke, you have to think it through,” Shikamaru pleaded. “Carefully. Like you usually do. Who is going to look after them? You? All day? If not, you at least have to talk to the other people involved.”

As much as Sasuke disliked admitting it, Shikamaru had a point. He stood up.

“Where are you going?” Shikamaru demanded.

“To talk to Biwako-san,” Sasuke replied, walking to the door.

“What about Itachi?” Shikamaru asked.

Sasuke had momentarily forgotten about speaking to Itachi. “Later. After I have seen Biwako.”

He set off for the playroom.

Shikamaru watched the doors shut as Sasuke exited. One minute he was there and the next he was gone. It was like the evening before only that had been scary because Sasuke had looked as if he was going to murder someone.

This time he was going to unpod the children, which was almost as bad. Kakashi would freak.

He had to find Neji.

He found him in Iruka’s office, sitting at Iruka-sensei’s desk and looking utterly calm.

“Sasuke’s going to unpod the children,” Shikamaru told him.

Neji did not even blink. “All of them?” he queried. “When?” he added.

Shikamaru had not even thought about the babies, and Su-chan, and Ran. “I don’t know how many and I think now. He went to speak to Biwako. I am worried about him, Ne-chan. First what happened yesterday evening and now this.”

Neji eyebrows moved slightly in what Shikamaru recognised as a frown. “Sit down, Shika,” he ordered.

Shikamaru did not want to sit. He wanted to run after Sasuke and stop him unpodding Sumiko. He wasn’t anywhere near ready for Su-chan.

Neji came out from behind the desk and held him. “It will be fine,” he whispered.

“You think Biwako-san will persuade him out of it?” Shikamaru asked, hopefully.

“No. I think she will agree with him,” Neji answered.

“Why?” Shikamaru wailed.

“Because unpodding the children is the right thing to do,” Neji told him.

Shikamaru froze. Neji pushed him to arms’ length and held his gaze.

“It will be fine. We will go and contribute to the discussion. Maybe we can persuade Sasuke to delay a little.” He frowned again. “Perhaps there is an argument for not unpodding the babies. They are too young to understand what is going on.”

They set off for the playroom. Shikamaru had to make himself keep up. There wasn’t any argument for keeping Sumiko podded. Her carer wasn’t tanked; Ma and Pa were dead and her carer was him. He was going to have to try to explain to her that Ma and Pa weren’t coming back. He was going to have to persuade her that he loved her when he didn’t.

He didn’t even realise he had stopped until Neji’s arms were around him.

“Shika,” he whispered. “Tell me what you are thinking.”

“I’m not ready for Su-chan,” he admitted. “I know I should be but I’m not.”

Neji hugged him. “Shika, no one is going to unpod Sumiko without your say-so.”

Shikamaru had not thought of that. He leaned into Neji’s strength. “We can wait a bit?” he queried.

Neji smiled slightly. “We can wait a bit. Perhaps until she has a room and a bed and some clothes. Now, do you want to continue to the playroom to see what Sasuke is up to?”

Shikamaru pulled away and started walking. “We have to get him to reconsider,” he insisted. “Kakashi will freak.”

Neji watched Shika walk away from him for a few seconds before catching up.

It was going to be a very long five divs. Neji was acutely aware that his life would not return to anything like normal until Iruka was up and about. Even then they would have Sumiko.

He was worried about his Shika. The main reason that Shikamaru was one of the few sane typed-geniuses, the only recorded sane typed-seven, was his relationship with his parents, particularly Shikaku. Losing his parents at any time would have been bad but the circumstances had made it worse. Shikaku and Yoshino had been in Tarrasade because Shika had thought it made them safer. Instead it had led to their deaths. It did not help that Iruka and Naruto were badly injured, Kakashi was on the edge of spinning out of control and Sasuke was behaving strangely. Finally, they were suddenly parents to a tiny girl whom Shikamaru disliked because she reminded him of his mother, which was certain to make Shika feel even more guilty.

Shika was wrong, having the children about would be a good thing. It would distract Shika and others from their grief. It would remind the crew of the future they were building and stop them becoming obsessed with vengeance and retribution.

However, it would be common sense to stagger the unpodding and to sort out who was going to supervise the playroom before unleasing Naruto and Sasuke’s litter of ten.

When they entered the playroom Sasuke was sitting at one of the tables with Biwako, Misora, Keitaro and Ayame. They had a large piece of paper and were, apparently, constructing a plan.

Neji placed a hand in the small of Shika’s back and guided him towards the table.

“Neji-san,” Biwako acknowledged, “and Shika-san. Please join us.”

They perched on too-small chairs. Neji studied the plan. The names of the podded children were written in groups according to their parents.

“We’ve decided that the babies might develop separation anxiety disorder if they were unpodded and neither Naruto or Kiba were there,” Sasuke began.

Neji breathed a silent sigh of relief. Shikamaru’s was less subtle and Neji caught the edge of the scowl Sasuke directed at him.

“We have decided that Sumiko should remain podded until Shika and I have had time to prepare a place for her,” Neji countered.

Biwako nodded. “Su-chan’s situation is very different,” she confirmed. “It would help a great deal if she had the playroom to come to in the mornings, preferably with Kiba-san present as well as the children.”

Neji saw some of the tension in Shika’s shoulders dissipate.

“Are you going to be Su-chan’s daddy?” Ayame asked Shikamaru.

Neji waited.

“No, I will still be her big brother,” Shikamaru answered, “but I will do some of the daddy things as well.”

Ayame considered. “Neji-san can do daddy things too,” she suggested.

“That is a very good idea, Ayame-chan,” Neji replied. “I shall do that.” He looked directly at Sasuke. “May I make a suggestion, Sasuke-sama?”

Sasuke frowned slightly but nodded.

“We wait for the Maple. Having Shino, Anko, Inari and Tayuya would make it much easier to run the household and arrange supervision of the playroom.”

There was silence. Neji waited. He had done his best. He had been careful to mention running the household as well as supervising the children. He watched Sasuke’s eyes go to Biwako, presumably considering her age, and then to Shikamaru, hopefully accepting his fragility.

“There is sense in that,” he conceded.

This time Shikamaru managed not to make a sound, although he looked at Neji with such gratitude in his eyes.

Neji found himself having inappropriate thoughts of all the ways Shika could thank him later.

“That’s settled then,” Biwako declared. “How long will that be, Sasuke-sama?”

“Five days. There is a good route,” Sasuke told them.

Shikamaru wanted to kiss Neji’s feet, as well as various other parts of his anatomy. He had managed to establish that neither Sumiko or the babies would be unpodded until Kiba was up and about, which would be at least a div if not longer. He had even secured a five day delay before the children were unpodded.

Not that Shikamaru did not want to see the children, he did, but he did not want Kakashi blowing a gasket.

He decided to risk mentioning Itachi again once the three of them had left the playroom.

Sasuke scowled at him and changed direction. “Fine, come on then,” he challenged.

To his horror, Shikamaru realised that they were going to speak to Itachi now. He had imagined being far away when the confrontation took place. That was the way it usually worked. Sasuke did his thing and, next time they met, Itachi gave Shikamaru a look that hinted of horrible things he would like to do to him if he wasn’t an utterly irreplaceable typed-seven genius.

“Perhaps I should get back to what I was doing,” Neji suggested.

Shikamaru could not believe that Neji would abandon him in the crossfire between the two brothers.

“You are coming too,” Sasuke ordered. “It won’t take long.”

Shikamaru caught the look Neji gave Sasuke. At least he wasn’t alone in thinking that Sasuke was behaving oddly. Maybe this was what adult-Sasuke was like without Naruto. It was not a good thought.

Or maybe Sasuke was seething with barely suppressed fury that someone had attacked his home, killed his people and almost taken away his beloved.

They were soon at Itachi’s office, which was deep in elite fighter territory, surrounded by gyms, steam rooms, communal baths, simulators and weapons rooms.

It was not a part of the household where Shikamaru felt comfortable.

Sasuke stabbed the announcer. It opened immediately. Itachi was standing at one of the display walls, scowling at the the images of evidence displayed there. He glanced towards the door and then, seeing who it was, spun about.

“Sasuke-sama,” he acknowledged. “Neji-san, Shikamaru-san.”

Itachi never called him Shika-san.

“Itachi-san,” Sasuke replied. “Shika is going to show some of the evidence to Zetsu. I know it is a risk, but it might prove to be a shortcut.”

Shikamaru did not miss the look Itachi gave him.

Sasuke sighed. “Itachi, the whole point of a typed-seven genius is that he thinks in ways we can’t. The downside is that he doesn’t quite see the world in the same way we do.”

Itachi’s eyes bored into him. “I know he’s worth more than a hundred decent planets. I just hate the way he runs to you rather than bothering to make his case to me.”

Shikamaru had never thought of that. He felt himself flush.

“You have to stop scaring him if you want him to talk to you,” Sasuke replied.

Itachi smiled in a way that sent shivers up Shikamaru’s spine. “Frighten you do I, Shikamaru-san?” he asked.

Neji growled. Shikamaru stared at him. Naruto growled. At a push, he could imagine Sasuke growling. If he had not just heard it, he would not have believed that Neji would growl at someone.

“Stop that!” Sasuke ordered. “Itachi, stop playing games. Shika, he is teasing you. Neji...”

“Itachi-san and I understand each other very well,” Neji stated as if he was oblivious of the fact he was interrupting Sasuke.

To Shikamaru’s increasing confusion, Itachi nodded. “Indeed we do, Neji-san,” he agreed.

Sasuke shook his head. “Work together,” he ordered and left.

Sasuke stalked back towards his office. In a strange way he was pleased that Itachi was teasing Shikamaru and butting heads with Neji. It showed that Itachi had healed enough to begin living at least some of the life that had been stolen from him by their father. Neji growling had been clever. It had reminded Itachi that, whatever his looks and his skills, Neji was not a Hyuga. He was not like the man who had persuaded Father that Itachi was ruined and should be replaced.

Halfway there he changed direction and headed for the infirmary. Looking at pictures of Naruto was not enough; he had to see him.

They were working on Iruka, preparing him for the supergens. Sasuke slipped into Naruto’s room, unnoticed, and perched on the counter at the side; he would have to bring a chair next time.

He started telling Naruto what had been happening. He began by admitting that he had lost his temper. Then he moved onto his concerns about Shika and how protective Neji was being.

Then he told him about his decision to unpod the children.

“You are going to do what?” Kakashi demanded from the doorway.

Sasuke had not realised he was there, which was not surprising given that there was no door, the noise of the infirmary and the fact that Kakashi was more stealthy than a cat.

“I am talking to Naruto,” Sasuke replied.

“We need to concentrate on finding the bombers and eliminating them,” Kakashi continued. “Ships should be out following up leads. We can’t spare people to babysit.”

Sasuke stayed sitting on the counter. “Go away, Kakashi-san. I am talking to Naruto. If you wish, you can go and wait for me in my office.”

“Is there any point?” Kakashi asked.

Sasuke studied Naruto, picking out the tiny signs that showed he was alive. Was that a twitch of a whisker? “I will listen,” he promised.

“Will you change your mind about unpodding the children?” Kakashi demanded.

Sasuke looked at him. “No.”

Kakashi left. Sasuke considered going after him but decided not to.

He had not finished talking to Naruto.

You need to be logged in to leave a review for this story.
Report Story