A/N: It's been a long time, but I've finally pushed myself to write this. I know I told everyone that this story would be out quickly, and yet, after months it has yet to come out until now. Aside from life, there is a reason why I haven't put this out yet, and as loyal readers, I thought I should at least give you my reason. The story is already in my mind. I know what's going to happen, how its going to end. I've always known since I wrote the first Chapter of "The Minister's Son". That hasn't changed, what has changed, is my preferences. I no longer ship the main pairing of this story, and thus, I find it very difficult to write a fic with them. That in a nutshell is the reason why its taken so long to write this piece. So, this will be my last story, centering around them. Expect any future stories to have another main pairing. Thank you for your patience.
- The Book of Counted Sorrows
Two Centuries Later
One by one, the people passed by the ancient cathedral, their lives to concerned with everyday affairs to glance at the once illustrious structure that still dominated the center of the city. The timeworn structure loomed above the city, spinning a tale of the its ancient past… a tale no one had the time to listen to… a tale no one wanted to listen to. And so, the edifice stands alone, a few stragglers entering the stone walls every now and again. The spacious place could hold hundreds easily, yet the pews only filled during holidays when the city's inhabitants were reminded of its presence. The same residents left soon after the service, or sooner, never to enter until their calendars reminded them once more of that task they begrudged yet adhere to for beliefs they thought they held.
Time passed slowly for Grace Cathedral. The old place of worship becoming nothing more than a relic of the past. This was one of the reasons why the young man praying inside found it so comforting. The stone walls never changed, sculptures remained the same, and the underground maze once used by his beloved forever remained undiscovered.
Head bent in prayer the young man with more years on him than most of the buildings in the city recited his prayers. Ancient prayers that his unc—father had taught him when he was still young, still human.
On the altar, an array of candles bathed the area in meager light. The soft glow barely reached the silent worshiper. Wisps of rich brown hair fell forward as he finished his daily prayers. When he was finished, he rose to his feet and moved to the altar. There he picked up a familiar silver candle snuffer. Like the nights before and the nights to come, he extinguished the light. Finished with his routine, he turned to face the empty space before him, and pearl-like eyes peered into the darkness beyond, hoping to catch a glimpse of a solitary figure that no longer watched him from afar. Like a slow burning fire disappointment slowly swept through quickly followed by an all consuming pain that held no physical origin but spread from the core of himself and fanned out in every direction.. Gradually, the small hope he held for that second subsided leaving a cold dull ache behind.
"... where are you?" he whispered into the darkness, eyes hopeless roaming around the room, desperately searching for any signs of another, but like the night before and the ones to come, he found none.
He was alone.
Silence offered nothing but continual heartache, yet it was preferable to false hope. The structure was old, and with time creaks sounded to much like footsteps to someone who listened for them. They would stir the embers of hope like a Phoenix rising from the ashes, then smash it against granite when no dark-cloaked figure stepped out from the shadows. He had fallen apart more than once when the ancient groans caused him to think that he was not alone, to think maybe his beloved had returned once more.
It was agony itself.
Yet despite the pitfall he knew was edging closer to, he still strained his ears now, swallowing his breath to better listen for the faintest of sounds.
A cacophony of silence was his only companion. His shoulders slumped forward. The palm of his hand pressed intensely against his forehead, while his eyes clenched shut in quiet agony.
"Where are you…?" he whispered to himself again, while his free hand clutched at his chest in hopes of stilling a broken heart. He'd been born a Minister's son, the teachings from his childhood would not let him seek out the ultimate peace.
He wanted to die. He couldn't stand the cold motions of a life that held nothing but heartache and traitorous hope. It was torture, but relief meant a sin he could not commit, so he pushed forward on tired legs that had nowhere to go.
He couldn't forget his rescuers words from long ago, couldn't ignore the sliver of hope the pair of vampires had given him before disappearing into the night.
With more strength than he thought he possessed, he battled back the waves of sorrow, and on shaky legs, he knelt on the footsteps of the altar. Quietly, he let his head hang down in dejection, while long strands of hair fell forward hiding his sorrow from the world.
A tall handsome man walked into a dark-edged room where the only light came from two lone candles set a-light by one of the servants most likely. He walked further into the room, and caught sight of his sleeping mate. An ancient book he had acquired for him lay open, cradled between his fingers. His eyes softened immediately, and suddenly the weeks of separation were all but forgotten as his mate slowly roused himself from a light slumber.
Dark sleepy eyes gradually opened, and barely caught sight the approaching figure.
His eyes snapped open, as he realized he was back. Briskly, Sai shook away the last cobwebs of sleep, and set the book aside.
"What came of the meeting?" He asked, anxious to hear the results.
Itachi stopped a few feet away from the chair his mate had been napping in only moments ago, and quietly shrugged out of his long coat, taking his time to set it down as Sai rose to his feet. Once the coat was removed, he walked to his partner's side, and captured his hand in his own. Silently, he asked him to sit with him, gesturing to the loveseat before them. Sai looked down at their joined hands, but said nothing for the moment. Instead, he yielded to his silent request, and seated himself next to him.
"How are you, Sai?" Itachi asked. His free hand reached out to brush his hair away from his face, so he could better see the features that would forever capture his rapt attention.
He had missed him.
The succession of meetings, which had served to gather the information his mate was keen on obtaining had taken him weeks to secure. Now all he wanted to do was bask in his mate's presence. It was a foolish notion, but he knew just how foolish one could be when it came to their other half.
No price was too high to simply witness a real smile from the male sitting next to him. He'd been given more fake smiles than he wished to admit that now he'd do almost anything to behold real emotions... to have a real mate.
It was foolish, he knew, but that didn't stop him from pursuing that smile, from seeking those even rarer kisses. Each, a prize for his hard work, and how he treasured them. Every gesture further fueling his hope that maybe, one day Sai would be—would act like a true mate to him. Such a notion always spread warmth inside his heart.
Maybe one day…
… what a wonderful dream he pursued.
Sai didn't move away from the hand that came up to cup his cheek, but neither did he lean into it, not that Itachi would expect it of him. They both had their own way of being around each other which didn't involved pretty words or gestures that mates often shared amongst each other in the privacy of their own home. They weren't like regular mates, and Sai preferred it that way.
They had their own understanding.
"I'm well," Sai finally answered his question vaguely, but truthfully.
Itachi knew he wasn't talking about his emotional state, but his physical health. He nodded in response, his thumb sliding across his skin. These small touches were enough to make the grueling weeks he'd experienced almost worth it.
"I know its location," he murmured as his eyes strayed to his lips, mesmerized by them. Sai's eyes widen slightly as his breath caught for a moment, a reaction his partner easily noticed, considering where his attention lay at the moment.
"Where is it?"
He asked quickly, not at all hiding the edge in his voice. Itachi already knew he wanted this particular information, and luckily for Sai, the older vampire had long squashed most of the instinctual jealousy he initially felt when he first learned of his mate's intentions. He had a right to be jealous, anyone in his position would be, but he understood… somewhat. He tried to at least, for Sai, he tried to understand. Besides, he knew his mate was doing this out of a sense of duty, and nothing more, certainly nothing his possessive mind had conjured up many a time.
Itachi didn't answer his question right away, much to interested on the supple lips before him. Gradually, he relaxed in his mate's presence, his aura slowly wrapping around the younger male, making Sai hyper-aware of just where his thoughts had drifted off to. Amorous intent lay behind the warm atmosphere slowly curling around his slim form, coaxing him to relax along with the older Uchiha. If Sai hadn't been sure of what was happening before, the clear possessiveness behind Itachi's eyes when they finally lifted up to look at him, immediately confirmed his thoughts.
His breath hitched, warmth spreading across his flushed skin. Feeling desperate, he shut his eyes just as dark tingles swept across his lean form, igniting his senses. He could feel Itachi's power enveloping him, calling on the beast within, luring it out with dark promises Sai wasn't even aware he craved.
Sai exhaled slowly, a shuddering breath falling across his companion's lips.
"...!" His eyes instantly flew open.
When had he moved closer? Being at such close range to his mate's power, Sai felt trapped, and instinctively fought against his hold, afraid. Afraid of losing control, and for someone who had very little of it for most of his life, it was a frightening thing to lose.
His identity, his destiny, it had always been in the hands of another. He had been raised to be used by another-a tool and nothing more. Tools were used and discarded. Every order, every whim, was to be obeyed, but his body… his mind. That at least had always been something he could control, even if he could not control his life. Yet, at times like these, when his partner's alluring power swirled around him... it was as if he lost control of his body and mind, both falling under the older vampire's spell.
He bit his lower lip, telling himself to control his breathing as his chest began to rise and fall, faster and faster, until it became hard to even catch his breath. He clenched his hands, fingers twisting the cloth of his pants. He told himself to speak up, but he couldn't find the words, not when his senses were being decimated with seductive promises he didn't want to acknowledge.
Itachi was far older than him and with age came experience, but most of all power. The two didn't necessarily come in hand-in-hand, but they often did. The older Uchiha had always been powerful for a vampire, and experience had only made him even more so. It frightened him, this power Itachi seemed to have over him. Sai had yet to fully accept his role as his mate, let alone the duties that came with it. Time was what he needed, and it was exactly what Itachi had given him, but it was at times like these when his senses were robbed from him in this manner that he really hated being anyone's mate.
"… stop," he finally managed to breath out, feeling his throat ache from uttering the simple word.
Itachi had been watching every small movement, every gesture captured his attention. When he heard his name said in that breathless tone it made his heart beat just a little faster. His blood rushed through is veins making him want things he knew Sai wasn't ready to give him just yet. But, maybe this time would be different.
A groundless hope.
It brought him back to reality, only then realizing what he'd subconsciously been doing. He hadn't intended to use his powers to sway his mate, but it seemed he was doing it more often now. As more and more time passed between them it was harder and harder to control his innate instincts. It had been 200 years since he found him. He wasn't made of stone.
"I apologize," he said, clamping down on his aura, pulling it away from him as he physically pulled away as well. He dropped his hand from his cheek, dark eyes falling to the ground, hiding the weariness behind them. How long would he have to wait for him? It was torture, worse than when he was young and merely thought about finding his mate. Back then, he didn't have Sai within his reach, so close he could touch him, but that was all he could do. He couldn't take—merely touch.
It was the worst torture he'd ever had to endure.
Once Itachi's power released him, Sai slowly regained control of himself, and with control the shards of fright began to fall away. After some time, he shifted his focus back to his dismal companion, the sight pulling at something inside of him, and before he knew what he was doing he placed a hand over Itachi's larger one.
"...?" The Uchiha looked up at him, his eyes shifting back to their hands, before rising back up to meet his gaze again.
Sai knew the source of his confusion. He didn't often touch him of his own violation, instead, he let Itachi initiate most contact.
"Thank you, for everything."
He elaborated. He took it a step further by placing a gentle kiss across his cheek. When he pulled away a strong hand wrapped around his exposed waist, keeping him in place. Sai didn't pull away right away, and instead silently questioned him with his eyes. Itachi didn't explain his actions, nor did he release him. These gestures were so rare he didn't want it to end just yet.
"Do you want the location, Sai?"
That question put him on high alert for Itachi knew the answer already, but for now, he played along.
The Uchiha mentally smiled receiving the answer he expected. So, maybe he wasn't above some manipulation, he thought to himself as he gazed back at the younger vampire. An idea formed at the back of his mind. It wasn't much what he wanted, not compared to what he could ask for information his mate was so intent on acquiring.
"I like your kisses."
It wasn't subtle, but he wasn't trying to be, not now. He knew Sai's nature. He understood and even respected directness.
"… I see."
He shifted forward, and raised a hand to Itachi's face. Slim fingers skimmed across his cheek. He knew what he was asking of him, knew that this wasn't an attempt to manipulate him. Itachi didn't play games, not often, and Sai had long ago learned the difference between this and his subtle manipulation. Without exchanging any words, the younger vampire leaned forward and pressed their lips together. He moved against the soft pair with firm intent as his hand traced the line of his jaw. Itachi pulled him closer, even as Sai began to pull away.
Long fingers traced the column of his spine
The Arctic! He would never have guessed. How did they even get it up there? Sai made sure to hide his surprise.
Itachi lifted his lips in a wry half-smile. He wasn't foolish enough to give his independent mate the exact location. It was the only leverage he had, without it Sai would be gone as soon as he gave him enough room to escape his sight. He had every intention of accompanying him.
"The ocean," he said, giving him at least that much information as he pressed another kiss to his cheek, his hands sliding down his waist possessively.
"The Arctic Ocean?"
"Yes," he older vampire answered, as he pressed another kiss to his throat this time.
Sai didn't like that he was keeping the coordinates to himself. Maybe later he'd try to coax it out of him when Itachi's guard was down, but for now, he focused on what he could get out of the amorous Uchiha.
"Is it reachable?"
Soft lips skimmed down his collarbone, which had his mate trembling slightly in his arms.
"It is…" another kiss. He was enjoying himself. "If you have the resources…"
He was losing his breath with each kiss, but he had more questions to ask, so he remained in place, clamping down on any traitorous noises.
"Do you have those re-sources?" The older vampire almost smirked at the small lapse, and wisely kept any comments to himself.
"I do," he buried his face against his neck, his hands sliding up and down his sides, touching the skin there.
This time, he couldn't stop the small noise that fell from the back of his throat making him breath out slowly in order to catch his breath.
"Will you…" he was losing quickly.
"… will you help me?"
Dark eyes filled with desire immediately flicked up to the younger male. This was the first time Sai had ever asked anything of him. All the other times, Itachi had volunteered, wanting to be near him, needing to help him, but now… Sai was actually asking him for his help. It was... he squashed down the flare of possession that threatened to undo everything he'd worked for. He didn't want to scare him off, not now that he was finally breaking down his defenses one by one.
"I will always help you, Sai."
A burst of warmth spread through him at those simple words making him feel awkward.
It was all he could say, before he gradually pulled away from his partner, and for once, Itachi wasn't crestfallen with his actions. He'd gotten a small taste of his mate, his willing mate, and for now, it was enough.
The private jet sped through the blue sky, ripping through wispy clouds as it pushed forward toward its destination, while its occupants gathered around a small area, going over their plan of action.
"Do you know where to begin looking for him?" Itachi asked from across a small table overlooking his mate.
Sai looked up, away from the window. It took him a moment to collect his scattered thoughts. He had already been thinking on the matter when he lost himself in the blue sky beyond the thick layer of glass.
"I believe he would still frequent that cathedral," he turned to his side, pulling out two print-out copies of Grace Cathedral and its history.
His companion picked up the pages, taking a moment to look them over, before setting them back down with a small nod of approval. "We'll start there."
Sai returned the papers back inside his leather satchel. "I'll find him."
Itachi turned to look at him. "We'll find him," he softly corrected.
The words had younger male looking up at him with curious eyes, but the look was quickly replaced with his normal neutral expression as he nodded.
Another few hours passed in flight, the two vampires occupied themselves with their own tasks. Itachi spent most of the time on the phone taking care of mundane things such as transportation as well as business matters like the acquirement of important stocks in very specific companies, while Sai spent his time on other matters, each shouldering half the work.
The plane soon reached its destination, and Itachi's excessive planning made their arrival and consequent departure a rather simple matter. In less than half an hour, the two vampires were approved entry into the country, and promptly headed for their hotel room. The two unpacked little, spending most of their time on matters they had yet to complete. They stayed this way until night fell. Once the twinkling lights of far away stars dotted the night sky, the two left their room and headed for the ancient cathedral that rose up into the sky in a never ending quest to touch the celestial beings above.
"You're here again, my boy?" The old priest cordially asked as he saw the young man enter the cathedral just past twilight as he often did. Sometimes he saw him, other times he only caught a shadow of him, or at least, he thought it was him, who knew with the way his eyes were going. Time had worn his vision away, like it did many things.
The young man nodded at his question. "I came for early prayer."
The priest knit his furry eyebrows together in confusion, finding the statement odd considering he had missed the last sermon by an hour. The cathedral was of course still open, but not many entered its cold walls this late at night.
"Would you like to give confession after your prayer?" The old man asked kindly. He was currently the only minister in the cathedral, and didn't want to wander to far away if the boy wanted to confess.
"Thank you, but I only came for prayer tonight," the boy answered respectfully.
The priest smiled kindly in turn, his wrinkles becoming less pronounced as he did so. "I'll leave you to your prayer then," he said as he humbly bowed his head to him. The boy imitated the gesture and bowed as well, more deeply than the elder.
"Have a good evening, Father," he said, as the old man walked away returning to his tasks before he to would leave the old walls to seek his bed.
Neji watched him walk away only continuing on his way when the minister turned a corner. He moved to the front of the building stopping at the altar to stare listlessly at the array of candles spread across the granite platform. His gaze fell one the central candle, light lavender eyes losing themselves in the bright light. His thoughts wandered along with the flickering light as memories flooded his mind. Old memories…
He came here every night, hoping against hope to find him once again. He had wandered these halls for over 200 years, his only companion a ghost of his beloved. A sound here that sounded like his cryptic voice, the deep red panels that almost caught his coloring, and his scent… it lingered here and there in maze below where he had spent a decade waiting for him when he had still believed himself to be human... a role he had taken up now, as he waited for his beloved.
Day after day, year after year, until a century had passed without a single piece of hope, and then another passed as well leaving him with the same desolate emptiness inside. He didn't know how long he could take it. He missed him. With all his heart, he missed him. It was torture to live without him. He didn't care if he hadn't truly known him until he was taken from him. He loved him. He was his mate. His other half. He'd given up everything for him, and now… and now… he was gone…
"… Gaara…" he whispered silently to himself, his eyes falling shut as he felt his heart tearing apart, his eyes already prickling with the beginning of tears. He didn't know how much more he could take, he—
His eyes snapped open as he realized he wasn't alone. Swiftly, he turned around, white robes fluttering in the wind making the candles flicker in warning. Seconds later, light eyes locked onto one of the few people in this world that he knew didn't mean him harm for what he was.
"Neji," Sai watched him closely, his dark eyes a sharp contrast to the other.
The Hyuuga responded, unsure of what else to say when suddenly finding the vampire before him. How long had it been since he'd last seen him? He couldn't remember anymore.
Sai studied him closely, noticing small details that no human would ever catch with their own mundane eyes. He was pale, malnourished, and his eyes held a dark anguish just behind the light shade of his pupil. Sai knew why Neji was in this place. He'd always known, and after nearly two centuries he could now greet him with the evidence of the words he'd given him long ago when he watched him depart with the older human.
There was a possibility Gaara was being held prisoner. He might still be alive.
Back then, he had told the half-breed of his thoughts without realizing how long it would take to confirm his suspicions let alone the toll it would exact on Neji to wait for so long with only the possibility that his mate was still alive.
"I know where it is," he finally said in a firm voice. Dark eyes remained on the half-breed catching the way those eerie pupils widened in utter shock as his hand instinctively clutched at his chest.
His heart lurched at the news. He didn't believe it, couldn't. But then, he knew Sai was not one to pull such things.
Sai's brows furrowed at the Hyuuga's strange actions, and after a moment he began to ask if he was okay, a question that was quickly cut off before he could finish it.
"Where is he!" Neji demanded, swiftly stepping closer to him.
Sai blinked surprised by the sudden intensity behind those pale eyes. What an interesting reaction, he thought. He studied him, even as he kept his ground, his attention fully on the half vampire before him. How strange, he had only been near his mate for a short while, and yet, it seemed Gaara had affected him this much.
But then... wasn't that how it was supposed to be? Wasn't that what it meant to be half of one soul? If that was true, then...
Then why... why didn't he feel that way toward the man that called himself his other half?
"Please tell me!" Neji stepped closer, his eyes watering at the notion that he could possibly be reunited with Gaara after so long. "… please."
Sai stared at him, unaffected by the tears that threatened to spill at any moment. His thoughts swirled around a subject far removed from the one the half-breed spoke about.
Itachi had been by his side since he had found him. Was that why he'd never felt that deep anguish… that deep aching loneliness of a mate parted from his other half?
He didn't know.
"Come with me," he told him, gesturing to the door, where Itachi stood in the shadows, waiting...
"I'll take you to him."
And with that, the first chapter is complete.
Next Chapter: Off to the Arctic!
As always reviews are greatly appreciated. ;)