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Sacred Rituals

Chapter Text

Five Months Before

Sasuke stared down at the growing town below his family's castle. He was bored. He was always bored. His 121st birthday was coming up and he was not in the mood for the new responsibilities his uncle was going to push on to him. It was almost comical that vampires even had ages that they celebrated as if it actually meant something the way it did to humans. He didn't understand why they bothered imitating them. He took a swig from the glass bottle that he smuggled out of the castle.

"Are you going to share or am I going to have to find my own bottle?" Azumi asked, walking up behind him.

"What's the point of it all?" Sasuke asked, noticing she brought her own bottle with her anyway.

"Oh, I see we're starting the existential questions early tonight." She sat next to him and put her arm around him. They had grown up together, being part of the same generation. A generation for vampires included all those born or turned within the same half of a century. In their generation of vampires, she was the only one he could tolerate being around. And she thought the same of him. "Are you upset because you're technically really old but still super hot?"

A smirk ghosted the boy's lips. He passed her his bottle. She took it, taking a long drink from it herself. "Super hot, you say?" He gave her a sly look. "Too bad this hotness hasn't done much for me in a good twenty years."

"Didn't you just take your third bride?" She had voiced to him before that she thought it was odd that Madara kept picking out brides for him. They understood it was purely political but all of the wives were the same age and still alive.

Sasuke rolled his eyes, grunting softly. "Did she remotely look like my type?" He took the bottle back from Azumi and finished it off. "They have nothing but stars in their eyes for me and it's sickening. They don't even care that they're nothing but a blip in this lifetime, because all he wants is to see me 'happy,'" he grimaced.

"Well, look at it this way," she laid back in the grass, "they're all mortal. They'll be dead soon and you'll be alone just like you want."

"Sixty years is soon to you?"

"Sixty years is a mere minute to an immortal, my love."

Sasuke hummed in agreement. "I suppose you're right." He laid back, too.

"Enjoy the title of a husband while you have it for now."

"Maybe we should just get married." He stretched. Strangely, he liked the sound of the title but he would never own up to it. "Ah, but maybe not with how your father is."

"I doubt I'll be getting married any time soon."

Sasuke hummed, closing his eyes for a moment. "My brother seems to be settling in for a life of celibacy which is killing Madara," he chuckled. "I can't believe you're even able to slip away from your father."

"He's gotten really...strict lately. I haven't been allowed to leave but luckily Kimimaro is nice enough to cover for me should my father notice my absence. He might think that I will only marry a man of his choosing."

"He'd never choose me."

Azumi laughed. "I wouldn't choose you. I see how you treat your current wives. I may be a vampire, but I need actual love."

Sasuke laughed. It was a nearly hollow sound but it was what he could manage. "I'm capable of love. Just not for them." He turned his head so they brushed noses. "I'd never treat you the way I do them. Madara just has shitty taste."

"That's sort of refreshing to hear. Maybe you should kill them," she smirked. "Make it look like a natural cause."

"Now that would make for a fun afternoon."

"Do it," Azumi smirked.

"Ah, but my disdain for them is so known. And then it'd be over." He sighed and it was like his soul hovered above them for a moment.

"Madara would just pick you another."

Sasuke looked at her, a half-smirk pulling at his lips. "And the cycle would simply repeat. I think we'll just leave them alive for now and let them waste their time in the castle." He tilted his head to take a sip from the bottle. "Don't worry, no one could replace you."

"Aw, but then we can't make a date of it."

"Ah, but now we have a new plaything for sixty years," he chuckled, pressing a kiss to her forehead. There was no one else in his endless lifetime that he could be more himself with than Azumi. There were times he almost thought he could say he loved her but what did that word even mean to him. She was the perfect person to waste their endless nights away with. He slid his arm under her neck, giving her head a little cushion. The horizon started to turn pink in the distance. The first rays of sunlight would be upon them sooner than they cared for. "Fuck. The nights only seem to get shorter and shorter, I swear." He hissed, closing his eyes. "I don't want to go home yet. Itachi is still moping about the house and I'm really not in the mood to deal with that. Let me come over."

"That is such a horrible idea," she chuckled. "Sure." They both sat up. "We can finish this in my room." She held up the bottle of wine she had with her.

"Oh, thank god!" He jumped up, pulling her up with him. "It's been so long since I've been to the Snake House." He led the way, moving quickly as the sun rose.

"Someone's excited to visit the snakes," Azumi smirked. She had told him a couple of new ones hatched and he had not met them yet. "I think you'd like the newest one. We named him Aoda. When he reaches a foot long, you can have him." Quickly, they approached the tunnel entrance to Azumi's home.

"You'd really give me one of your snakes?" Sasuke asked as they entered the tunnel and quickly moved through it to the castle.

"This one...this one belongs to you. I hatched him for you."

There it was. The momentary spark of life flashed in Sasuke's eyes. "I think I might cry." He sneezed instead. "Wait." He chuckled, but the excitement was genuine and could not be kept out of his voice. "I don't know why I don't visit more often. Orochimaru banned you from going out, not from having visitors."

"Remember that one time, about fifty years ago when he caught us in bed? Yeah, he hasn't really let that go. But you're right, he never said I couldn't have visitors and he technically never mentioned you not being able to come over anymore." They reached the castle and entered through the kitchen trap door.

"Oh, yeah," Sasuke smirked, laughing much softer now that they were inside. He followed after his friend as she led him deeper into the castle. "Fuck it, I'll visit you then. It's much quieter here." Azumi pushed another door to a hidden staircase that led them to a steaming hot room. "It's been so long since I visited the nursery."

Sasuke could see she was just as excited to show him the baby as he was to meet it when she moved to the newborn tank. "Look at them," she smiled. The neonates squirmed quickly around the tank. She picked one up and held it out to Sasuke. "This is him. I think he's perfect for you."

Sasuke took the pencil-sized baby in his hands and let him move around his fingertips. He loved him already. His heart felt something more than contempt for the world, looking at the wiggly little one. Sasuke raised his hand to his face and the snake squirmed out to tap his snout to Sasuke's nose. "Oh," he smiled.

"I think he likes you."

Sasuke laughed, not looking away from the young Aoda. He already knew this little guy was never going to leave his side once he took him home. He was the most adorable thing he's seen in years. "Azumi, you spoil me."

"Well, I don't have a man, so I need to spoil someone." She opened a small container of dead mice and dumped them into the tank for the other snakes to feed. "Let's go finish that wine."

He smiled and booped Aoda once more on the nose before placing him gently back in the tank to let him eat. He followed after Azumi quickly. "Maybe I should kiss you more often." He teased but there was an undertone of seriousness.

"You don't need to kiss me for me to spoil you," she laughed, opening the door to her room. "But it wouldn't hurt." She led him in and opened the bottle of wine they had left.

"Good to know," he smirked, smoothly moving through the door bee-lining for her bed. He stretched out like a cat.

She closed the door and joined him on the bed, handing him the bottle. "When was the last time you went to the town?" she asked as he drank from it.

"It's been a while," he answered. He passed it back to her, closing his eyes in comfort. Absentmindedly, he began to play with a piece of her hair. "How about you?"

She set the bottle down and laid down next to him. "It's been a couple of years for me."

Sasuke raised his eyebrow. He pushed himself up onto his elbow to look at her better. "The people are never very thrilling but some of the shops are nice to wander into. The bars are much better." Sasuke took the bottle and sipped from it again. "Want to go next week?"

"I'd love to," she smiled. "How is that invention your cousin was working on going? The little pouches of blood?"

"He's actually doing pretty well with it. I saw a prototype on his workbench the other day." Sasuke was mildly impressed with his cousin's invention. "I'm not sure how he's getting the blood but when it's done, I can tell it's going to be perfect for our weekly meetings."

"I'm excited and tell him I'm willing to work as a tester for it." She stretched her stiff limbs and turned to her side. "If he's willing to have testers, of course."

"He has to have testers. He can't rely just on himself," Sasuke said. He also wanted to be a tester. "I'll see if he'll tear himself away from Itachi or Mei long enough to be asked when I get home," he chuckled. Sasuke's eyes landed on Azumi's desk. The basket of scrolls beside it and the small pile of documents on top of it reminded him of what Orochimaru had been keeping her busy with to prevent her from leaving. "Has your work been going well?"

Azumi groaned. "It's been going fine and that's what I hate. There's no challenge in deciphering and decoding anymore. I've been alive so long that I just translate at this point."

"I'd say teach me something but I'm not sure I care," he laughed. "Madara has some ancient texts that Orochimaru's been dying to get his hands on. Maybe I can smuggle them out for you."

"Ooh, you'd do that for me?" she smirked. She laughed quietly. "While you're at it, you should attempt to smuggle a prototype or two from Shisui. But that's if you even go home, considering you never want to be there."

"Being home only sucks because no one's ever around for very long." He took a deep breath. The death of his parents was still felt in the castle. And it had affected everyone in different ways, but mainly everyone receded into their own holes. It made eternity even lonelier. "And like you said numerous times in our lifetime, you're my only friend." He flashed her a smile but it was much sadder than all the others.

"If I can't find a husband before your wives die, then marry me," she said. "That means the potential one too. They all have to be dead. But given you don't find the One before that."

Sasuke looked at her hard for a moment and nodded. "I'll hold you to that." He was serious this time. He knew he would not mind spending the rest of eternity with the only person who seemed to fill even the tiniest bit of the void. She was his best friend.

She closed her eyes for a moment, relaxing everything. "Hm, also, if at any point you want them dead, you know where to find me."

"I'll save that for a rainy night." He watched her face for a moment before leaning down to kiss her softly. "For Aoda." he chuckled, stretching to lay with her. "We could just go to sleep. Not like anyone will notice I'm gone."

"Mhm, way ahead of you," she smiled. She had felt herself drifting off to sleep only a couple minutes after laying down. "It also isn't like you need to explain to them where you are."

"You're absolutely right." He snuggled in next to her, pulling one of her blankets up so it cocooned them perfectly. He fell asleep easily next to her.

The next week, the night was early, giving Azumi and Sasuke plenty of time to get to the town, explore, and get back before the sun rose. "Ready?" she asked as she approached him at their usual weekly meeting spot on the cliff.

"I almost want to say I'm excited," he smirked. They traveled quickly to the town below, making their way through the forest and down the hills. The nightlife was blooming, the lights were flickering on, and the music was on the air.

"Humans are very festive," she said. "So, this is the noise I hear so faintly up there..." She listened to the music. "It's kind of nice." She grabbed his hand, looking around at the scenery of the town.

Sasuke smiled, taking the lead into town. He gave her hand a small squeeze. "There is a festival coming up actually," he chuckled. "At the end of this week, they are going to set off fireworks." He smiled at her, pulling her towards his preferred bar. "We should watch it together if you don't find someone first."

"I'd love to." They sat down at the bar.

"What do you want?"

"Mm, surprise me. I doubt they serve AB here," she laughed. The bartender placed two napkins in front of them. Upon sight, they knew he was one of them. Although, his super pale skin was something he had before he was a vampire, and they could tell. "Or maybe they do?"

"What can I get you?" the bartender asked.

"Two spiked rosés please," Sasuke said.

"Preferred blood type?"

Sasuke pointed to Azumi. "AB. And then B for myself." The bartender nodded and disappeared below the counter. "He's new," Sasuke spoke lowly to Azumi. He turned slightly in his seat to scan the room.

"He's cute," she said.

"Maybe he's The One?"

"Just because I said he's cute doesn't mean he's The One," she laughed.

"Are you two talking about me?" the bartender said, setting their glasses down on their napkins.

Azumi smiled at him. "Quite possibly."

The bartender flashed a huge smile. "Thank you." He tipped his head to the side. "You are Orochimaru's daughter and you are the youngest Uchiha, correct? Lady Azumi and Lord Sasuke? My name is Sai." He grabbed Azumi's hand to place a gentle kiss to the back of it. The two of them looked at him hard. Azumi looked at his eyes. They were similar to hers, with a slit pupil. But they were a duller gold than hers. She did not recognize him as someone Orochimaru would have turned. Maybe there were other snake-like vampires around?

Sasuke picked up his glass. "What's your parentage?" he asked over the rim of his glass.

"I actually don't know." The smile never left the bartender's face. "It was an attack and they left me immediately after."

"Aw," Azumi frowned.

"Tragic," Sasuke said. It did not sound sincere, but Azumi knew that he genuinely thought it was tragic.

"Hey there, cutie," a woman swayed herself over towards them through the crowd. She had a full glass of something in her hand and the intoxicated gall to place a hand directly on Sasuke's knee. She smiled, giggled, and leaned towards him.

Sasuke glared at her, his eyes flickering down to the woman's hand. "What do you think you're doing?" he asked dryly, pushing the woman gently away from him.

Azumi moved to get in between them, ready to make up some story about her being his girlfriend or wife. But just as her hand moved, someone else's appeared, wrapping around Sasuke's shoulders.

"I see you're coming onto my boyfriend," a raspy voice said. Everyone looked to see a very handsome blond man standing before them with his arm around Sasuke. The glass in his hand smelled of stronger alcohol than what Azumi and Sasuke had. The girl immediately backed off, giving the new man a dirty look before receding into the crowd. The blond smirked, letting out a raspy laugh. "Sorry, man, I couldn't watch her do that to you." He backed off from Sasuke and took a seat next to him. He took a sip of his drink and winked at Azumi.

Azumi could not protest this one. He was too charming. Plus, she felt something when he approached that she could not get in the way of.

"Wow," Sai said. "I've never seen two vampires fall into such a trance so quickly."

"It's in my nature," Azumi said. "But for him," she looked at Sasuke, "this means something." She could see that Sasuke was at a loss for words. The man in front of him smelled amazing. And his smile was cuter than the bartender's.

"What's your name?" the cute blond asked him.

"I...Uchiha," Sasuke stammered, looking into the boy's blue eyes. He shook his head and the boy smirked, taking another sip of his drink.

"Uchiha, eh? You live in one of the castles up there, right?"

"He is the youngest Uchiha," Sai smiled. "His name is—"

"Sasuke. I'm Sasuke Uchiha." Sasuke shot Sai a glare.

Sai shrugged. "It did not look like you were able to do it so I thought to help." He smiled again as he began to clean a glass.

"Right," Azumi said, clearing her throat. "I'll let you two get to know each other." She looked at Sai. "You. Let's get to know each other over there."

Sai flashed his smile again. "Okay." He followed after his new-found evening partner. They moved to a table on the other side of the bar.

"How long has it been since you've been turned?" she asked him.

"About a year. I got through the newborn stage on my own."

Azumi frowned again. She felt bad that there was no one to help this guy through the first stages of becoming a vampire. It was not an easy process to go through even with the help her family usually provided and she had to commend those who could do it on their own.

Sasuke tapped on Azumi's shoulder. She saw the grin that split his face as soon as she turned to him. "I'm stepping out, but you know how to find me," he said. He nodded to Sai. "Treat her well." There was an undercurrent of a threat to his words.

Sai nodded and Sasuke left with the cute blond. "I'm having a hard time reading your relationship with him," Sai said as Sasuke walked away.

"Yeah, try not to think too hard about it," Azumi said. "How old are you?"

"I am twenty-one years old," Sai responded with a smile. "I was told to never ask a lady her age so I will refrain. But I will say I have never seen you here before. I've been working here for about six months."

"Let's just say I'm of a similar age," she said. "And I do not frequent this bar." She looked him in the eyes. "You seem to be doing okay...for someone who is basically self-taught."

"I will take that as a compliment," Sai bowed his head slightly. "It is good to know I am assimilating decently."

"It must have been hard to do all of that on your own. I'm sorry that happened to you. And that you don't even know who it was. Honestly, what a shitty vampire."

"Yes, it was hard, but I can mostly control myself." The smile was there again. "And I've managed to keep away from humans when it gets too hard, but I still struggle. I've been reading a lot of books."

"Resourceful. Well, if you ever need any help, you know where I live." That was her formal invitation for him to seek asylum should he ever feel the urge to go on a rampage. "You seem to have been sired by a serpent vampire, like myself. You would find great refuge in my home should you need it."

Sai bowed again. "Thank you, Lady Azumi." They continued their conversation for a while. Sai asked questions on how he should go about certain things that came about when he was turned and she answered them easily. After a while, he looked around to see if Sasuke had returned with his new friend. "Should you not go looking for your friend?" he asked with slight concern.

"Oh, yeah, he just found The One. I'm going to give him a little more time," Azumi smirked. "I'm so happy for him."

"The One?"

Azumi nodded. "For every person, there is The One for them. It's not rare to find them at all. But vampires hold the concept very dear and we take it very seriously. It is also much more common that The One for a vampire is a human. We can also feel when someone else has found The One."

Sai gasped slightly. "Is that what that was?" he asked. "I felt it when they looked at each other."

"Yes, that's it. That feeling is called a Verification and vampires can verify if two people are the Ones for each other. We were there to verify for Sasuke."

"Fascinating. Thank you for this information, my Lady."

"You may have learned how to control your urges and how to adapt to being a vampire, but when it comes to customs, you may need to be taught. Should you need some lessons, you can come and find me. My brother and I teach new vampires and help them assimilate."

"I appreciate that."

"I should probably go find Sasuke now," she laughed. She stood up to leave.

"Until next time, then, Lady Azumi," Sai said, taking her hand to kiss the back of it again. With that said, she left, off to find her best friend and the new love of his life.

Azumi found Sasuke relatively easily. He and the blond had moved just outside of the town. She stopped just beneath the hill they were on top. "Wow...it's like he came down here to find a husband," she mumbled. She watched as they pulled apart and went their separate ways.

Sasuke noticed her and made his way down the hill, immediately pushing his body weight on her with a longing sigh. "I invited Naruto to the fireworks." His voice was light and airy and nothing she had ever heard in him but she was happy for him. He looked over his shoulder to Naruto and felt that giddy feeling again as he watched the other man leave.

"The fireworks we were supposed to see together?" Azumi smirked. "Nice. I've always wanted to be a third wheel to you." She could see he was literally floating about a foot off the ground. She laughed at how in love he was. "Come on," she said, grabbing his hand to prevent him from floating any higher. "Let's go home."

He chuckled, but it was a far-off dreamy sound. "It'll be great." They reached the Uchihas' front door and she floated him inside. "Goodnight, Azumi." He cast her a smile.

"Goodnight, Sasuke," she smiled. "Make sure you get to your room okay." She watched as he floated further into the house before she closed the door behind her and went home. The sky was beginning to turn pink and she needed to get back into her house before her father noticed she was gone.