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.
Warning: This story features male/male relationships. If you are uncomfortable reading about gay male relationships do not read this story.
This story is set in a very different world to ours. In 'known space', different societies and communities are often very isolated from each other and have very different histories. There is no common shared knowledge of Earth's history; in fact all knowledge of Earth as the home of mankind is lost. There is no shared law, no shared agreement of what what is 'right' and 'wrong', no pervasive religion.
Warning: The views, standards, mores and morals of the different groups in this story, including those of 'spacers', are not those of our world. They are the product of a fictional future history. Many of the behaviours they consider acceptable we do not; some of them are wrong by my definition in that they are damaging to one or more of the individuals involved and/or suggest that one individual has more intrinsic value than another.
I would like to thank the regular readers of 'In the cold of space you find the heat of suns' who left reviews or sent emails. This a series of short stories that bridge a 'time skip' to the major new arc.
Partcular thanks to xxShadowheartxx for reviewing tales 1-7 and kaname-luvr for reviewing tale 3.
Apologies if the characters have grown differently in their new environment.
Many thanks to 'Small Fox' for beta-ing.
You need to have read In the cold of space you find the heat of sun to fully appreciate this fic.
If you haven't...
...Sasuke's crew live in a space station called Tarrasade when they are not travelling. Naruto, Gaara, Kiba and Kisame are humans with some genes from other animals; they are hybrids. Yukie Fujikaze is a journalist who interviewed Sasuke and Naruto when Sasuke first returned to Tarrasade to assume the role of leader of the Uchiha clan. Want to know more? Read 'In the cold of space you find the heat of suns'.
Tales in Tarrasade 8 - Patron
Chapter 1 - Entreaty
This tale overlaps with 'Kisame's miracle' and 'Honour your parents'. This tale is told slight differently than the others, with the venues described at the beginning of each section.
The day after the finals of the dance competition; Naruto and Sasuke's bedroom.
"I would like to meet with them," Naruto admitted when he had viewed the message that Yugito and Roshi, the hybrid dancers, had sent to Uchiha.
Sasuke sighed. He knew better than to try and dissuade Naruto when fellow hybrids were concerned. "Not before Shikamaru has run a check," he insisted.
"But they are only going to be in Tarrasade for another two days," Naruto complained. "They are booked as a headline act on one of the cruise liners."
"We cannot afford to take that level of risk," Sasuke reminded him, softening the message with a kiss. "Contact them, explain that we will have to conduct a background check and see how they respond."
Eleven days later in Sasuke's office at the end of the regular strategy meeting; Sasuke, Shikamaru, Neji and Kakashi are present.
"They are hybrids," Shikamaru was telling them, "so you don't expect a continuous record. They first appear as adults, already together and already dancing, five standards ago. Problem is, even for the last five standards, the record is patchy. Most of it is contracts to perform and the occasional dance competition but every so often they vanish for four or five divs at a time. Also, they earn credit but never seem to have any. I can't find any evidence of bad habits. Either someone is taking it away from them, or they are giving it away, or one of them is a miser and they have a stash of gold credits somewhere."
"Risk?" Sasuke asked.
Shikamaru considered. "Medium. We don't know what they are up to but if they were professionals after Naruto they wouldn't have backgrounds that are as holey as a net."
"Medium," Sasuke echoed, considering the alternatives.
"If a suitable venue is selected the risk will be reduced," Neji reminded him.
"Perhaps we should take this opportunity to build a high security meeting room in the outer compound," Kakashi suggested. "Jiraiya, Shikamaru, Neji, Itachi, Rin and I could collaborate on the design."
Sasuke's mind boggled at the prospect. "Their schedule has them back in Tarrasade in two divs' time," he reminded them.
Kakashi nodded. "We should have it operational by then."
Seventy-eight days later on the Oak
"It is kind of you to agree to see us, Kisame-san," Yugito acknowledged as Kisame, Gai and Tatsuji met them at the entrance to the new meeting complex.
"I did not agree to see you," Kisame informed her. "I am on duty because you are hybrids and there are two of you. While I have no doubt that Naruto-san could kill one of you, it is possible that the other might harm him."
Yugito cowered slightly and Roshi bristled. "We are only dancers, Kisame-san," Yugito assured him.
"So you say," Kisame replied, indicating that they should enter the first anteroom. "All weapons, including your personal knives, should be left in this room," he told them, gesturing towards two open boxes. "You are welcome to lock the box and retain the key for the duration of your visit."
"We are dancers, Kisame-san," Yugito repeated. "We do not wear knives or carry other weapons."
Gai led the way through a corridor to the second anteroom. Kisame listened for the all-clear from his earpiece, confirming that the scanners built into the walls, ceiling and floor of the corridor had found no sign of weaponry or explosives. They were about two thirds along the corridor when Itachi's voice told them to proceed.
The inner anteroom was more welcoming; Neji had designed it to put visitors at their ease. Fu was there looking uncharacteristically unthreatening. He took their cloaks, guided them to chairs and offered tea. They refused the tea. Yugito's hand crept into Roshi's.
Itachi, Kakashi, Shikamaru, Neji and Sasuke watched and listened from the control room. Sasuke had wanted to be in with Naruto but he had been overruled; a pair of hybrids who were known to have super-fast reflexes was too much of a risk.
"They do not look dangerous," Sasuke observed. "They look scared but determined."
"Hybrids are difficult to read," Neji reminded him. "You cannot extrapolate from purebreds, you have to get to know each as an individual." He took in Sasuke's sceptical expression. "They do, indeed, look scared and determined," he agreed.
"How long are we going to keep them waiting?" Sasuke asked. "We do not want to appear rude."
Itachi gave a ghost of a smile at Sasuke prioritising politeness over security.
"I was hoping that they would accept the tea," Kakashi admitted. "Proceed, Fu-san, Kisame-san," he instructed into the microphone.
Fu showed them into the smaller of the two meetings rooms. Naruto stood to receive them. Kisame and Gai did not move from their positions at the side of the room.
"Yugito-san, Roshi-san," Naruto greeted them. "Please excuse the over-the-top security. Sasuke worries too much."
Yugito managed a small smile. "It is a great honour to meet you, Naruto-san. Please excuse Roshi, he does not speak. We understand about the security. Everyone knows how much Uchiha-sama cares for you."
"Please take a seat," Naruto requested, indicating two of the comfortable chairs. He took one of those facing them. "How may I help you, Yugito-san?"
"Here we go," Kakashi muttered in the control room. "Did he really have to start off by offering to help?" He turned to Sasuke and Shikamaru. "I hope one of you is feeling generous."
"We are not here for ourselves, Naruto-san," Yugito began.
"What did I tell you?" Kakashi added.
"We think you may have some idea what it is like for hybrids out there, Naruto-san," she continued. "It is hard enough for those like you and me and Roshi, who are high-functioning and who have managed to achieve some measure of independence or someone to care for them. Life is short and brutal for most hybrids, particularly those who do not meet their creators' expectations. The lucky ones are put down. Many are sold to recoup costs. They are used by their new owners. The ones that survive are discarded.
"We represent the Hybrid Defence League, the HDL." She gave a small, sad smile. "We are an odd organisation because one of our aims is to stop the production of hybrids and therefore eliminate our kind. We believe that the lives most hybrids lead are so poor that it would be better if they had not lived. We work, so far with no success, to put the hybrid engineers out of business.
"The other thing we do is help hybrids. We give them small loans. We encourage them to find jobs. We try to provide sanctuaries for those who are too low functioning or too damaged to cope in society." Her lips thinned. "It is hard. We have few resources. On most planets hybrids cannot own anything and the local laws offer them no protection. We are reliant on the generosity of purebreds and there are very few of them interested in our cause."
She took a deep breath. "We are here to ask you to be our patron, Naruto-san. You are high-profile and beautiful and complete strangers imagine themselves in love with you. One holovid in which you said that you felt sorry for your fellow hybrids and wished that people would not hurt them would put a stop to vast amounts of casual cruelty. Even if your commitments to Uchiha mean that you cannot be our official patron, we beg you to consider giving us some unofficial support, such as the holovid I described."
"She's good," Kakashi observed.
Sasuke scowled at him. "That's because she is speaking from the heart," he replied.
"It is not our concern, Sasu-kun," Kakashi warned.
Sasuke stood up. "I have six sons who have to live as hybrids in this world. It is my concern. I am going in there." He looked at Shikamaru. "Are you coming?"
"Sasuke-sama, please think," Kakashi asked. "It could be a trap."
"It could be," Sasuke acknowledged. "If it is, I trust you to extract the three of us alive. Are you coming, Shika-san?"
Naruto had not known what to say. The woman was so passionate and cared so deeply. His every instinct was telling him to offer to help but his first duty was to Sasuke and then to the babies and then to the kits and then to the rest of his family. He did not know how doing what she asked would impact on them.
So he was extremely grateful, if surprised, when the door opened admitting Sasuke and Shi-chan.
The dancers sprang to their feet. Naruto stood. He smiled at Sasuke, who smiled in return.
"Yugito-san, Roshi-san, I would like you to meet Sasuke, my partner, and Shikamaru, my best friend," Naruto told them.
They bowed deeply, "Uchiha-sama," Yugito acknowledged. They bowed again. "Shikamaru-san," she added.
"Please sit down," Sasuke requested and waited until they were all settled. "We heard what you said. We will help you but, at this moment, we cannot commit to exactly how. Shikamaru-san will consider the problem and formulate some strategies. The more information you can give him the more likely one of the strategies will be worth pursuing."
Thirty-three days later in the sitting room of Gaara's apartment
"The more I look the worse it is," Naruto told Gaara and Kiba. It was rare for the three of them to be together, usually Kiba or Naruto was with the kits and the babies; Lee was, as usual, training.
"Then why do you look?" Gaara asked.
Naruto considered giving the easy answer, that Yugito-san had asked him to, but decided against it. "There was this moment, after I flipped and attacked Sasuke, when Iruka-sensei and Kakashi-sensei might have exterminated me or abandoned me on the next planet. They should have done one or the other; I was dangerous. They didn't. They gave me a chance. If I get involved with this, more hybrids might get a chance. They might get a moment, like that one."
Gaara considered. He found it hard enough to care about people he knew, Temari and Kiba and Naruto and Lee. He could not imagine caring about strangers. "Show me," he decided.
Naruto stared at him. "Are you sure?"
Gaara turned to Kiba. "Have you seen?" he asked.
"Some of it," Kiba admitted.
They walked to Naruto's office. Gaara was almost certain that Naruto had not had an office and therefore it must be new. It did not look new. It looked well used. There was an odd mixture of pieces of paper and tablets and voice recorders across the surfaces. One wall was covered with display frames. Gaara could see two holoprojectors.
Naruto rubbed the back of his head and smiled. "I have never tried to understand something so complex," he admitted, as if that explained the mess. "Shi-chan is working on a system that I feel comfortable using but this is it for now." He walked in, cleared two chairs for Gaara and Kiba to sit on and then walked along the display frames, touching them to bring them to life.
Each one showed an image of a hybrid. Gaara studied them in turn. The longer he looked, the harder it was to keep doing so. Some had developmental abnormalities; there was a woman with two heads and a child with feet but no legs who was sitting on a trolley and pushing himself along using his hands. Some had amputated parts or huge scars or implants. Some, mostly odd-looking children, were on the edge of starvation. One tiny child with furry ears and whiskers had been interrupted in his mission to find food in a trash can. He was looking at the camera with brown, feral eyes.
"I was like that," Naruto said when he realised where Gaara's gaze had stopped.
Gaara's childhood may have been deeply unhappy but he had never starved. His eyes strayed to the boy with no legs. He found his fingers going to the controller around his neck.
"You and I," he said, "we are as deformed as him." He nodded towards the image of the boy. "Only Shikamaru-san gave us these, like the boy could be given a powered walker." A thought insinuated itself into his mind. "You gave me my moment, my chance, when you stood in front of me on the first day we met and insisted I listen."
Naruto's smile was like sunshine; it warmed Gaara's soul.
"Sasuke-sama knows that you are in this room looking at these pictures?" Kiba queried.
Naruto grimaced. "No, he would throw a fit and forbid me to have any more to do with it." He walked along the display frames, touching the left side of each frame instead of the right.
Other images appeared of the HDL's work; clean, proud hybrids making the most of their lives.
The only image that stayed the same was the tiny child scavenging food.
"I know that one gets to him," Naruto admitted.
Lee was there when Gaara returned to the apartment. Gaara found himself looking at him properly. He was using his symbiote regularly and the intense exercise had honed his body to chiselled perfection. It was in marked contrast to the damaged, deformed and skeletal hybrids in the pictures.
"Does Rin-san have any improvements or developments to your nanobots planned?" Gaara asked.
Lee looked at him in surprise. "No, we have decided to go with this version for five divisions and then review. We are only one division in."
"I have decided that I have hidden here long enough," Gaara told him. "I may never have the control that Naruto demonstrates. I may always lose control and pass out. I will not hide from the world because I am frightened of my vulnerability. I accept that it is the price I pay for having the controller. It is a small price compared to the alternatives."He took a deep breath. "I need a minder, Lee, someone who will be at my side when I am trying to cope with new situations and failing. Someone whom I can trust utterly. There are only two people I trust that much; you and Kiba. Kiba's life is here, with Naruto's children. Will you be my minder, Lee?"
Surprise gave way to pride. "It would be an honour, Gaara-san," Lee replied. "What do you have planned?"
"I am not sure as yet," Gaara admitted. "I need to speak with Shikamaru-san. I must then return to Kaze and speak with Temari."He looked at Lee with determined eyes. "I shall work to give hybrids their chance, their moment, like Naruto gave me."
Twenty days later, in the larger of the two secure meeting rooms on the Oak
"We apologise for taking so long to formulate a proposal, Yugito-san, Roshi-san," Sasuke began. "We hope that the small amount of funds we forwarded to you is some compensation for the delay."
Yugito smiled. "For us the amount was not small," she insisted. "It has been very useful, Sasuke-sama. Thank you."
"I would like to introduce Gaara. Gaara-san is a friend of Naruto's. He wishes to become involved in your cause. This is Lee, his companion."
At the mention of Gaara's name both Yugito's and Roshi's eyes widened. Roshi shifted towards Yugito, as if to protect her.
"Yugito-san, Roshi-san," Gaara began. "I would be honoured to be involved. I have contacts, access to funds and leadership experience. I hope I can be of help."
"Your reputation goes before you, Gaara-san," Yugito admitted. "Although what I had heard is somewhat at odds with your kind offer of assistance."
"Naruto changed me," Gaara told them bluntly. "He does that to people." He pointed to his collar. "This is a controller. It sends me unconscious when I go berserk. I have spent the last two and a half standards developing the emotional control I require to function in company without losing consciousness. It is still a problem for me but I have Lee to rely on if it happens and it is better than living in isolation so that I do not kill people who do not deserve to be killed."
Roshi's hands flew back and forth in the sign language he used to communicate with Yugito.
"Roshi wants to know if such a device could be made available to other berserkers," she asked. "So many of them cannot trust themselves around others."
Gaara and Naruto turned towards Shikamaru.
"I think so," Shikamaru admitted. "I could document the process I went through to adapt the controller to Gaara-san's needs. I could specify the equipment required. It should be possible to train someone with the appropriate skills." He considered. "I shall have to think more on it but we can add it to the spec for the assessment centre."
"Assessment centre?" Yugito queried.
"A place where hybrids go to have their potential and their needs assessed. It is part of the strategy we are proposing," Naruto told her.
Yugito and Roshi listened intently to the detail of Naruto's presentation, from the network of funded and staffed HDL offices through the mother ship that would be the mobile assessment centre and on to the possibility of a hybrid home planet in the future.
"We are investigating a number of possibilities at the moment," Naruto admitted. "In the short term, it may be more realistic to have a large sanctuary on an already occupied planet or in space."
"In my home system of Kaze," Gaara told them, "we have a newly discovered planet. There are many employment possibilities there. It may be a good place for the sanctuary in the short to medium term."
Yugito was speechless. Roshi's hands were motionless in his lap. He recovered first.
"Roshi wants to know who will pay for it all," Yugito interpreted.
"A fund has been set up," Shikamaru told them. "Some philanthropists have been inspired by your unselfish giving. However, these individuals wish to remain anonymous."
"Why do I feel certain that some of those philanthropists may be in this room?" asked Yugito with a smile. She turned to Naruto, "Have you thought any more about the holovid, Naruto-san?"
Naruto grimaced. "We are going to commission a documentary to promote the work of the HDL. We will then sell to the media networks. The profits will go into the fund. It will include the type of appeal you suggested."
Twenty-nine days later, in the smaller of the two secure meeting rooms.
"I confess I was surprised that you should request us, Shikamaru-san," Sandayu admitted. "Given Yukie-san's deviation from the agreed questions last time."
Yukie Fujikaze scowled at her manager.
"It is easier than beginning again with another interviewer," Shikamaru replied. "Also, I have been intrigued at how you have used the opportunity we previously gave you as the basis of a promising journalistic career, Yukie-san. It implied that you might welcome the possibility of a more serious piece. However, you must understand that this time we will have full editorial control. The games you played last time will not be tolerated. This time we have written the contract that you have ratified and we will make sure you never work again if you break it."
Yukie paled slightly. "That is certainly clear, Shikamaru-san," she agreed. She rallied, giving one of her best smiles. "I have studied the outline you sent, Shikamaru-san, and I believe I have discovered a problem. The Hybrid Defence League states that it is against the production of hybrids, yet six of Uchiha-san and Naruto-san's legally recognised children are widely believed to be hybrids."
Shikamaru gave her a cold look but he admired her audacity, as he had during the last time they had worked together. "If you are angling for pictures of Naruto with the children, you can forget it," he said bluntly.
The way her expression changed momentarily confirmed his suspicions.
He sighed. "However, you have raised a valid point. We will discuss it."
Forty-four days later, fifteen days after the kits' and the babies' second birth anniversary, at the temporary HDL hybrid sanctuary in Farrellez.
"Do we have to do this?" Naruto asked yet again.
Shikamaru looked to Neji for assistance. "We have to make people sympathetic, Naruto-san," Neji reminded him. "The best way of doing that is for them to see your sympathy and relate to it." He could see that Naruto was unconvinced. "The only other alternative is to show you with the kits."
Naruto's expression hardened. "We are not using the kits or the babies," he confirmed. "It is bad enough using these people, but at least it will benefit them and other hybrids."
They began. Naruto went from room to room, from hybrid to hybrid, followed by one man with small shoulder-mounted cameras. Shikamaru and Neji watched the live feed. At first Naruto was stiff, Shikamaru wondered if they would obtain any useable footage, but then one of the hybrids said something. Naruto forgot the camera, forget why he had come, and focused all his attention on the aged dog-human hybrid in front of him who had asked him whether he thought his master would come back for him soon.
Shikamaru's vision blurred. It was too easy to imagine Kiba in twenty standards' time. Naruto rested his hand on the dog-hybrid's shoulder and told him that he had given excellent service and that he should be proud. The dog-human hybrid straightened a little and smiled.
After that they could relax. Naruto was Naruto and there were no more doubts that they would obtain what they needed. The tour proceeded as planned, ending in the nursery. Naruto played with children who were too young to know how deformed they were or the lives to which those deformities condemned them. Shikamaru could see how it hurt him. You did not have to be his best friend to realise how painful it was for him; it was in his glorious blue eyes for anyone to see.
One tiny child refused to play. He was some type of canine-human hybrid; it was obvious from his tail and his ears. He was sitting hunched in a corner with his back to the world. You could see every rib and every vertebra of his spine; he made Kazuki look fat.
The woman looking after them warned Naruto but he ignored her and crouched down beside the kit. He gave a high-pitched growl, snarled and attacked. He snapped twice and, when Naruto did not retreat, sank his teeth into Naruto's forearm.
Naruto did not even flinch. He waited for the kit to let go. The kit looked at him in disbelief. Naruto gently wiped the blood from the kit's chin, stroked his back and rubbed behind his ears. He made soothing noises that Shikamaru guessed meant a great deal more to a kit than a purebred.
The kit whimpered and crawled into Naruto's arms.
Naruto completed the tour with the kit on his hip. He did not put him down when the woman in charge of the nursery insisted on treating the bite. He was still holding him when they left.
"Na-chan..." Shikamaru began.
"I am not listening," Naruto interrupted. "I am not leaving him and that is that."
Shikamaru decided that they were lucky it was only one kit and made a mental note not to allow Naruto to tour any more sanctuaries.
"The kits may not react well to you arriving with a kit from a different litter," Neji warned once they were safe on the Sakura and preparing for the short journey from Farrellez to the Oak. "Perhaps you should call ahead and speak with Kiba."
Naruto hugged the kit closer but nodded.
Shikamaru and Neji exchanged looks. "And perhaps you should tell Sasuke-sama," Neji suggested, "rather than just arriving with him?"
Naruto scowled at him.
In the end, after a number of exchanges between the Sakura and the Oak, it was decided that it would be kinder to sedate the kit. That would give Rin an opportunity to examine him and Naruto the time he needed to plan now to introduce him to the kits and the babies.
Shikamaru looked through the records the woman running the nursery had sent to the Sakura. As he had suspected, the kit had been sedated on a number of occasions. Dan-san went to the Sakura's infirmary and programmed the synthesiser to produce the drug the sanctuary had used at an appropriate dosage. Shikamaru then placed the hypospray within Naruto's reach.
Naruto sat holding the kit. He knew it was madness. Kiba's reaction over the communicator had been understandably blunt. Sasuke's silence had been worrying.
He waited until the kit was sleeping soundly before administering the hypospray.
He stayed with the kit when they docked, even when the others disembarked. He sat on the bunk he and Sasuke shared when they spaced on the Sakura and waited. Reluctantly, he began considering alternatives for the kit when Sasuke said no.
Sasuke appeared at the entrance to the crew room. He looked annoyed. Naruto's gut twisted.
Sasuke had been grateful to Kiba for being so horrified. While Kiba ranted about Naruto's sudden insanity, Sasuke had begun wondering why his dobe would even consider such a thing.
He had known that Naruto would find visiting the sanctuary hard; Naruto had always wanted to help and protect those he saw as defenceless and vulnerable. Seeing a kit who was so like one of their own must have been too much.
Once Naruto recovered his sense of perspective they would find the kit a good home.
Then Sasuke saw him. He was about Kuuya's size and build but painfully thin. His ears and tail were like but not like Kazuki's. His fur was brown and thicker than the kits'. He had whiskers. His mouth was slightly open and Sasuke could see his fangs.
Sasuke imagined one of their kits alone in a nursery surrounded by strangers who could not understand him.
His gaze finally went from the kit to Naruto's face; his dobe was determined not to cry.
Sasuke walked over, climbed up and sat next to him on their bunk. He stroked the kit's head.
"We will try, dobe, but only this once. After this one, we find other parents, other families, for them."
Five days later.
Sasuke rubbed Naruto's back as they walked towards the playroom. Naruto was carrying Ryuu. Rin had proclaimed him healthy other than the malnourishment. He had reacted well to Kiba. He was extremely wary of the other adults he had met, although he was beginning to trust Sasuke.
They had sprayed him with the kits' pheromone mix. They had added traces of Ryuu's pheromones to the nursery, the playroom, the babies, the kits, Naruto, Kiba, Shikamaru and Sasuke.
The kits invaded the kitlock, as always, but once they saw and smelt Ryuu they milled about in confusion. Sasuke picked Kazuki up and held him as Naruto was holding Ryuu. Kazuki gave a small growl and Ryuu laid his ears back against his head. That seemed to satisfy Kazuki, who then settled for studying the newcomer.
Within ten minutes Ryuu was running about and tussling with the kits. Occasionally he would run back to where Naruto was sitting on the floor but then he would return to the latest game.
"He's been part of a litter," Kiba told them. "It is obvious. He knows exactly how to behave. His record shows that someone abandoned him at the HDL's office on a planet where a hybrid engineer is known to operate. My guess is that one of the assistants, perhaps a hybrid, was told to dispose of the cub with the tail. Instead he smuggled him out and left him with the HDL."
"Cub?" Sasuke queried.
"He's a wolf-human hybrid," Kiba confirmed. "Wolves are pack animals, like dogs. That's a good thing. He should be loyal. They are usually bred as fighters. They can be vicious, but not to pack members. They make excellent bodyguards."
Sasuke frowned. "Kiba-san, can we begin calling them all children? I've never been sure about distinguishing between the kits and the babies. Now we have kits, babies and a cub. I think I would be happier if we called them all children."
"Will you be adopting him?" Kiba asked.
Kiba watched Ryuu tussling with Kuuya. "I will try to call them all children," he conceded.
Continued in chapter 2