Word from the Author: So. Here I am, once again, throwing my weight to the SaiNaru ship, may it continue to float freely. This really started off simply as an itty, bitty plot bunny, which just grew, and grew, and grew, then ate some growth hormones and was exposed to a not quite lethal amount of radiation that caused it to further mutate and, well, you get the idea. So, yeah, I hope you all enjoy this!

Dedicated to baka bakashi, for whom this fic was written.

Disclaimer: Alas, very much not mine.

The Trust 'Verse - Part I


Chapter I

The Uchiha clan's revival had begun just after the War. Upon his return, Uchiha Sasuke settled down with former team mate Haruno Sakura, to bond and be wed within days. It wasn't long before the arrival of their first child who they named Iwa. Iwa was a beautiful baby, perhaps a little stern in appearance for all his cuteness, but nevertheless the stoicism seemed to drive almost every woman who got a good look at him into an ecstasy of cooing.

He was considered supremely adorable, and Sasuke couldn't help but think that his son's taciturn personality, much like his own had and potentially would still do were it not for the death glares that were his wife's specialty, seemed to tug at any female within a ten metre radius to come and dote upon him.

Their second son, Toshirou, born only two years later, helped to dissipate some of the adoration; or rather it provided another individual upon which it could be lavished. Toshirou, unlike Iwa, however, was an exuberantly cheerful baby, all laughter and sunshine. He practically lit up as soon as attention was turned to him.

Sasuke looked on in fond exasperation, and, if he were to be honest with himself, the tiniest sliver of apprehension, at the way they interacted. Iwa was, to both Sasuke's pride and dismay, turning out to be as much a genius as his aniki. There was a hint of coldness in Iwa's eyes that sometimes made him shiver, as if, even at the tender age of four, he was already calmly assessing the situation, and coming to whatever conclusions tensai such as he came to.

Sasuke had never really been able to tell what his aniki was thinking. It was not a little discomforting to find the same to be the case with his son. Sasuke couldn't help but wonder whether his own father had had similar feelings, looking on as his sons played with each other. And just like Itachi, Iwa was nothing if not kind and gentle with his otouto.

The thing about Iwa though was that he never allowed himself to act like a child. He had an adult's bearing, an adult's expression… and far too adult eyes.

It thus came as a surprise that when other children his age started to learn to speak, Iwa remained silent; silent and watchful. Both Sasuke and Sakura, given all they'd seen of their son, had simply been expecting him to begin to babble far sooner than the other children of Konoha.

They really shouldn't have been surprised. When Iwa started talking… It wasn't so much a beginning, as it was a fully fledged capacity. They should've known. Their son had remained silent until he could speak like an adult, too.

In some ways, Iwa spoke more like an adult than some of the adults Sasuke knew. Then again, it also amused him to see his son goad people up to five times his age into flustered, blithering rants or highly embarrassed stuttering. Sakura, of course, would always chide him for the slanted smirk that would slither across his face. He never took her words seriously though, as he could easily see that she too was amused, in spite of her forbidding stance, her hands placed firmly on her hips while she mock glared at him.

It also amused Sasuke to know that very few people in the village, and from outside, could tell which glare was which. Tsunade-hime had certainly taught Sakura much during their years training, so much so that Uchiha Sakura was now the reigning head of the Medical-nin facility of Konohagakure, potentially the most specialised clinic in the realm.

Pregnant with their third child, Sakura was currently on light duties, mainly administration and overseeing. Sasuke didn't think he could be happier with his life.

Okay, well, scratch that. There was one more thing that Sasuke wanted from life. He wanted his best friend back. After everything had gone down, after Sasuke had returned from the dark side, to repent and come home, Naruto had simply upped and left, without a backwards glance.

Sasuke knew that Naruto had been sent on some long-term mission for Tsunade-hime, what he didn't understand was why he hadn't been there to welcome Sasuke home. After all, apart from becoming Hokage, which Sasuke knew was still Naruto's ultimate dream, getting Sasuke back had been a huge part of Naruto's life. Sasuke was willing even to go so far as to say that it had been one of the driving forces behind Naruto's struggle to become a better shinobi.

But instead of being there with open arms, hell, even with an open mouth, spouting insults and complaints, all Sasuke had gotten was a note. One that wished him all the best in life, and threatened that he had better make Sakura-chan happy or else.

When he was feeling nostalgic, he would sometimes draw the crumpled piece of paper from his side table, sometimes simply to stare at it and think of all the things he would've done, all the things he should have done, had he been a better friend. Sometimes he would sit and wonder if there wasn't something he didn't know – he wasn't blind, and it was pretty hard to miss the slightly pained smile that would flit across Sakura's ever-expressive face whenever he felt the need to hold the only thing he had of Naruto in his hands.

When Iwa had been born, he'd even had a momentary lapse into insanity, where he had considered naming Iwa after Naruto. But Naruto wasn't dead, and Sasuke didn't think it was right to name a child after someone who was still alive. It felt too much like replacement.

He hoped that wherever Naruto was, and whatever he was doing, that he was happy.

A year passed, and Furiko was born into the Uchiha family. Sasuke was slightly dumbfounded at the thought of having to raise a girl. Sakura assured him that seeing as she was going to grow up to be a kunoichi like her mother that he had nothing to worry about.

He had looked at her as if she were insane, before pointedly asking her whether she recalled anything of her youth as he did. She'd slapped him, for her it was lightly, on the arm, causing him to wince slightly at the strength behind the blow. It always amazed him how much control she displayed when she played with their children, but then again, she was a master of her art, an art which required an inhuman amount of concentration and finesse.

It was on Iwa's 5th birthday that news of Naruto arrived. He was on his way back to the village. Sasuke had no idea how he felt about this. He supposed that Naruto shouldn't be too pissed off at him. After all, he figured he'd more or less managed to do what Naruto had asked of him in his note.

He felt as though he should go and meet him halfway. It was the least he could do, after everything. Sakura, however, had insisted that he shouldn't, that until Naruto reported in, he was still on a mission. He'd acquiesced, partially because he was worried how to act when he finally came face to face with the… man, they were men now, who had risked everything, time and time again, to save him, even when he had refused to save himself.

Putting his daughter down for the night, tucking her in, before sliding under the sheets and wrapping himself around his wife, gently kissing her shoulder as she sleepily murmured his name, he wished again that Naruto was happy.

Naruto was incredibly pissed off. Okay, so perhaps that was a bit of an exaggeration. At the very least, he was irked.

Ichiraku was gone… which meant that Naruto had no idea where to find ramen in Konoha. He'd just gotten out of his report meeting with Tsunade-baba, he was finally home after years of training and reconnaissance and negotiations and there was no ramen.

Sai lounged silently against a nearby tree, the shadows of twilight swaying about his slight form, as Naruto raged. Most of the streets were already empty, lanterns burning and lights illuminating swathes along narrow alleys and onto broader streets where the light leaked through curtains and blinds.

"It might have moved," Sai finally cut in. "You could just ask someone."

Naruto paused, before sucking in a sharp breath to snap, "But I shouldn't have to! It was… it was like a tourist gold mine! And it should still be here!"

Naruto winced at the pitch he hit on that last bit. Sai merely looked exasperated, before straightening and gracefully gliding to stand close by Naruto's side, a pale hand brushing up along the length of Naruto's arm til it reached his shoulder. The hand gave a slight squeeze before moving away.

Naruto sighed, taking the comfort, knowing that no one but Sai would've understood precisely why the fact that Ichiraku was gone would upset him so. Anyone else would have taken his reaction at face value – that Uzumaki Naruto wanted ramen and was incensed that he couldn't get it, right here, right now.

But it was much more than that; it was the fact that the shop that had been his own personal childhood haven was gone, when it had stood there, a constant presence practically his entire life. What it meant was that he had no idea what else could have changed, for better or for worse, while he'd been gone. What it meant was that… maybe he no longer belonged.

Naruto was no stranger to solitude. He'd almost always been alone, in one way or another, for as long as he could remember. That, however, was another thing that had changed in his time away. After the War, it was Sai that had become his haven, the always constant presence that nearly never spoke in words, but who said so much through the smallest gestures.

Sai was a lot of things to Naruto. First and foremost though, they were blood brothers, not in the traditional sense, but Naruto thought they were entitled to call themselves that if only because of the amount of blood they had shed for each, their own blood as well as the blood of those who stood against them.

To Naruto, Sai was the one person whom he trusted. That didn't go to say that he didn't trust anyone else… It was just that with Sai, Naruto felt as if he could allow all of who he was to be seen.

This of course led to the other bond between them; the kind forged between lovers. Naruto loved Sai, probably as much, if not more than, Naruto knew Sai loved him. They weren't particularly romantic about their relationship, if you could even really call it that. They enjoyed each other physically, but even without the sexual component their relationship likely wouldn't change.

Naruto had already loved and lost once, while Sai, well, Sai wasn't particularly inclined to much by way of emotion. That was, at the very least, one thing that had remained consistent. Still, the emotion that Sai did show Naruto, was always so completely without guise, was so utterly pure and honest, it was breathtaking.

Naruto hated bullshit, and with Sai he got none. And as such, Naruto was able to open himself up to Sai and give exactly the same in return, in spite of all the distrust that usually clouded his view of others.

For quite some time now, Naruto's world hadn't consisted of much beyond Sai, the intermittent visits to see Gaara and the other two suna kyoudai notwithstanding.

It was one of the things that Naruto was most worried about returning to – the friends and family-like ties that he'd left behind. He was happy for Sakura-chan, that her dream had finally been fulfilled. And he was happy for Sasuke, for the happiness he'd found with her. He'd made sure to keep an ear out for the going-ons back home.

The nostalgic feeling returned with a vengeance.

"If you're not too hungry," Naruto began, clearing his throat before continuing. "Maybe we should just wonder 'round. You could be right, maybe it's just moved, and if we look, we'll find it."

Sai nodded sharply in agreement, setting off into the semi-dark of the half-lit streets. With a short burst of speed, Naruto was by Sai's side. They walked in comfortable silence, taking in all that was the same and all that had changed, communicating silently with glances, raised eyebrows, tilts of the head and flickers of their fingers, hands and wrists.

They blended in with the shadows, the only sound to give them away being the soft rhythmic brush of cloth on cloth where their shoulders bumped. Their footfalls were as non-existent as always. There was little point in walking with noise when walking without seemed so much more natural after all their time in the field.

In essence they'd been on an S-ranked mission for the last six or so years. With Sai's training from Root and Naruto's increased access to kyuubi's chakra and a greater control over his own they had made a formidable team, even to begin with. Now, with their joint combat experience, they were nigh on unbeatable.

And yet, Naruto knew there was much more to be done, should he ever wish to actually achieve the title of Hokage.

"There," Sai's voice, more or less toneless, slid effortlessly through Naruto's thoughts.

"Huh?" Naruto replied, distracted.

"Ichiraku," Sai clarified.

Naruto glanced at the sign in shock. It was exactly the same as Naruto remembered, only, not where he remembered leaving it.

With a bright grin, and a peal of laughter, Naruto sprinted the few metres separating him from his favourite restaurant in the whole wide world. Slipping under the material flaps vividly proclaiming ramen, Naruto, practically bursting with happy memories of the past, whispered, just as Sai moved in his cat-like way to take his habitual place by Naruto's side, "Tadaima."

Sai watched in cloaked amusement as his sometimes lover, honorary brother and best friend, ate with gusto, arms waving about madly as he exclaimed over the flavour, the décor, over anything and everything that came to mind. From what Sai could tell, the owners of the store hadn't changed, and he saw no reason why they would have, especially as from what he knew from Naruto, Naruto had visited this place ever since he'd been a gaki. Not that he wasn't still one, of course.

Sai ate slowly, savouring the warmth of the soup, enjoying the various textures and tastes available therein. He even let a bit of his smirk show through in his eyes as he tongued at a naruto before sucking it into his mouth with a moan.

He even almost let himself actually smirk, as he watched Naruto's cheeks tint slightly. Instead, he just bumped his knee lightly against Naruto's and continued eating, watching out of the corner of his eye as Naruto's smile widened further, even as he slurped the noodles noisily from his bowl.

The feel of Naruto's warmth and joy like this somehow made all those muscles that he normally kept tense even at the most peaceful of times, and even those few that he made sure were ready for him to react even after a mind-blowing orgasm, relax.

Seven bowls later, one of which he himself had eaten, they paid, stood, said their thanks and then headed off to their temporary lodgings.

Sai wondered whether he should have stopped Naruto before the sixth glass of sake… but then again, generally speaking, Naruto could hold his alcohol as well as he could hold his food, most poisons, his breath and Sai's cock.

He repressed a shiver as Naruto's hot breath grazed across his neck. They'd travelled hard to get back quickly, resting in short bouts and only when they really had to; it was only fair that they take advantage of the present accommodation, to… relax.

Naruto was such a horny drunk. Sai knew that he wasn't holding on as tight as he was because of inebriation. Sai could feel Naruto subtly rub against him even as they walked, feigning a drunken state in order to press closer than he would in public under normal circumstances.

When Sai glanced over his shoulder to look Naruto in the eye, all he saw was the usual clear-headed sharpness of intelligence that was always there, when you knew what to look for, that is.

Sai thought fondly on all the times that supposedly elite shinobi made the most embarrassingly amateurish mistake of underestimating Uzumaki Naruto. Sai wondered if it was because everyone who met him felt compelled to categorize him within the 'dumb blond' stereotype, before further allowing themselves to be fooled into believing that someone built like Naruto hadn't gotten that way through rigorous physical and mental training.

If not shinobi, then Sai thought of himself as an artist, and being an artist, he knew how to appreciate fine art from both sides of the brush, as creator and appreciator – and to Sai, Naruto was potentially the most beautiful master piece he'd ever had the pleasure of lying his eyes, and hands, and tongue, upon.

What made Naruto even more precious to Sai was the fact that he had a name. For so long Sai had subsisted without ties or connections, but Naruto changed all that, much like Sai knew Naruto had changed the lives of so many others, both here in Konoha and during their time spent travelling. Sai had borne witness to things that even those of the littlest faith, could call miracles.

And it was because Naruto was miraculous; even if Naruto couldn't see it himself.

But that was just another thing that Sai loved about Naruto. He loved that the only pretences Naruto had were ones there for good reason. It had been a slow and arduous process, as any true work of art is, Sai acknowledged, but for quite some time now, whenever they were alone together, all the masks fell away and Sai was left to bask in the essence of who Naruto was as a person.

Sai would compare it to an antique building; exquisitely designed, but after much neglect, destined to fall into disrepair. The only problem was that, in this case, Naruto had tried to cover up his unique and distinguished features with contemporary expectations and modes, completely out of sorts with the beauty hidden beneath.

It came across as garish and tasteless when, in fact, all that was really needed was time and patience. They had had plenty of the former, and Sai abounding amounts of the latter. His eye for detail had helped to uncover much of what lay within, helped to reveal what should have always been displayed for the world to admire.

In some ways, Sai found himself feeling selfishly grateful that it hadn't been so. If life had been different, this, what they had, probably would never have been. If Naruto hadn't been as he was, he probably wouldn't have been able to draw Sai in, connect with him, and then draw him out once more.

In a lot of ways, Sai considered himself as much Naruto's master piece as Naruto was his.

And for Sai, there was probably no higher form of praise than that.

Sai paused as he shuffled Naruto into a better position for him to get the keys they'd been given out from his pack. Tsunade-hime had just looked at them and informed them that there was no need to waste commissions on giving them separate places when they would probably end up in each others "pockets" as she'd put it quite delicately, while Naruto had sniggered and he himself had raised an eyebrow at her euphemism.

Thinking as he fumbled with the keys to open the door to their small, shared apartment, Sai felt his lips twitch as their temporarily stationary status allowed for Naruto to press his erection more firmly against him.

His breath even hitched slightly as a hot tongue lashed across the sensitive skin just beneath his ear.

Deftly shoving the door open, he pushed Naruto in, watching hungrily as he stumbled for a moment, before lightning fast hands grabbed his wrists and hauled him in, slamming him against a wall.

Naruto kicked the door closed behind them.

Naruto watched through hooded eyes, as Sai arched against him, fighting him for control. Pressing in closer, Naruto shoved a thigh between Sai's legs, forcing them to part for him. As if with much deliberation, Naruto slowly increased the pressure, taking pleasure in the involuntary way Sai's hips stuttered forward, seeking him out, wanting more.

Of course, as soon as Naruto eased up in the slightest, he found himself being spun and slammed hard against the relatively solid concrete at his back.

Naruto growled.

Sai huffed a laugh – which did what it always did; it made Naruto turn into puddle of goo.

Naruto absolutely adored the sound of Sai's laughter. It was melodious and made Naruto smile just from hearing it. In fact, one of the hottest things ever, weird as it may seem, was that one time that Naruto had actually made Sai laugh while he'd been sucking Naruto off.

It brought the phrase 'your happiness is my happiness' to a whole new level.

Naruto smiled goofily at the thought.

Sai paused in his nuzzling to ask, "Do I even want to know?"

Which, of course, just made Naruto smile wider in response, "Probably not."

"Alright, then," Sai murmured, before sliding his fingers into Naruto's hair to pull him into a kiss that was filled with heat and tenderness.

Feeling breathless, Naruto pulled back to whisper against Sai's lips, "Kami-sama, I've missed that."

He felt the smirk, as Sai whispered back, "Bet I know something you missed more."

Naruto laughed out loud at that, "I'm sure you do. But you know what else I missed?"

"Anything more than me is superfluous."

Rolling his eyes, Naruto shot back, "Even if that were the case, I think we're entitled to a little hedonism now and then. Particularly now."

Sai licked at the pouting lips before him, "Bed, I take it?"

"And so well, too," Naruto said, flashing Sai a smirk of his own.

Sai raised an eyebrow at that, before retorting. "I see you're feeling cocky."

"Well, you're at least part right," Naruto grinned this time, getting in a good grope before slipping under Sai's arms and stalking across the room to flick on the light. Naruto spotted their belongings unobtrusively placed in the far right-hand corner of the room.

Probably sent from the tower in the interim, Naruto thought to himself as he bent to start unpacking things.

Sai moved further into the room, looking around and inspecting it. "Not bad," he eventually declared.

Naruto hummed in agreement, and kissed him as he passed from the bathroom back into the living room where Naruto was currently sorting through stuff that was of immediate use, such as toiletries and pajamas.

"Do you think we should shower first?" Naruto asked, frowning as he took in the state of their attire, without doubt the condition of which being attributable to the amount of time they'd spent travelling and the kind of terrain they'd crossed.

"You want to waste energy getting clean, when we'll just end up dirty again?" Sai enquired, seeming almost curious about the concept.

"Actually," Naruto explained. "I was thinking more along the lines of getting dirty whilst getting cleaned."

Sai mock frowned at Naruto, before demanding, "I thought you wanted the bed?"

"It'll still be here in the morning," Naruto remarked with a smile, as he tugged the set of bandage-wraps on his left arm free. Letting them fall to the floor, he unwrapped the right side, and dropped those as well. Clenching his fists to flex the muscles in his forearms, Naruto looked down at the seals on his flesh, the ones that granted him further connection with kyuubi. He still wasn't used to the sight of them, black and thick with smaller threads twining about both arms, splayed across his flesh, locked about his wrists.

Naruto wasn't sure he'd ever get used to seeing them; they looked disturbingly like manacles to him.

Pale hands engulfed his own as he stood staring at them. With gentle insistence they were pulled up to be kissed, knuckle by knuckle.

"Naked, now," Naruto commanded huskily, feeling steadier now thanks to the reassuring touch.

Without a word, Sai stripped with precise and efficient movements that were nevertheless incredibly arousing. Once naked, Sai proceeded to peel layer upon layer of black material from Naruto, until all he was left clothed in was his own skin, and even then Sai looked at him as though he wanted to get inside it… which he would, soon enough.

Hugging Sai close to him as they stepped under the stream of hot water, Naruto started by washing Sai's hair. Sai sighed in contentment, relaxing back against him. Once Naruto had finished, Sai turned around and returned the gesture.

Languidly they continued, just enjoying the feel of each other's skin beneath their hands, kissing and caressing with no real desire to speed things up, as they washed away the dirt and grime of nearly a week's worth of travel.

This was how they were, usually, when they weren't pressed for time, or strung tight enough to snap because of something that had happened. Things were different when one of them, or both of them, almost died. Then there was franticness, a need to reaffirm that they were still alive, and that even if there was no one else in the world, at the very least, they had each other.

This, though, was just as much an affirmation, in some ways more poignant in its easiness, its gentleness, its soothingly warm affection.

Stroking himself, Naruto leaned forward to rest against the shower wall, shivering slightly at the dual sensation of cold tiles against his arms as he braced them there for support, and the feeling of hot water raining against his back, as well as the even hotter feeling of 

Sai's fingers preparing him, slick with conditioner, as they stretched him, first one, then two, then three, scissoring until he was on alternate breaths demanding and pleading for Sai to get on with it.

Not changing the pace in the least, Sai pressed against him, before slowly pushing in. Naruto gritted his teeth against the slight burn of muscles; it'd been quite some time since they'd last had a chance to do this, too busy, too tired. Half the time they could barely manage to get it up, they were so exhausted, and when they did, they usually took the way of least resistance, either by stroking each other to climax, sucking each other off, or expediently thrusting, cocks aligned, hot and hard and slick, until they found release.

This? This was a luxury. And even though neither of them were usually particularly inclined one way or the other, top, bottom, seme, uke… Naruto was more than happy to be on the receiving end of Sai's attentions.

Gasping as Sai finally slid the whole way in, Naruto acknowledged that there probably wasn't anyone he would ever trust enough to let them in this deep. He could probably manage to fuck as seme, but as uke? He wasn't sure he was willing to surrender that much of himself over to anyone other than Sai.

Even if Sas—Naruto cut himself off, before he even let himself think the thought. Such matters were things of the past.

Naruto jolted a bit as strong arms wrapped around him from behind, curling about his chest, and bringing him upright, leaving him to throw his arms back around Sai's neck, his own head lolling back against Sai's shoulder, as one of those exquisitely talented hands barely whispered along the sensitive length of his erection.

"Shh," Sai whispered soothingly into his ear, "you know I've got you."

Naruto whimpered on a sob. This was why he would never be able to let anyone else in. He wouldn't be able to let go like this with anyone else, to be so dependant, so helpless, so vulnerable, as he was, in this moment, with Sai.

Sai who he trusted with his everything. Even his heart. Although it sometimes seemed like a huge chunk of it had died, back when—

"Nnngh!" Naruto moaned, as Sai nailed his prostate on a sharp inward thrust.

"Don't think," Sai husked into his ear, finally, finally, finally, taking Naruto firmly in his grasp, "just feel."

And so he did, until he came apart at the seams.

With Sai there, falling apart with him.

To Be Continued.

Another Word from the Author: So, there you have it, the very first installment of 'Return' - more to come soon!