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Bed of the Scorpion

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Sasori pushed the door of the shop open and then stopped dead in his tracks. He heard Gaara talking to someone. His fists curled up tightly and he fought to keep his composure. His uncle was here.

Azumi watched him stop and then caught the voices as they spoke. She hid a smirk as she walked past Sasori to set the box down on a counter and tended to the snakes.

"Good morning, Azumi," Gaara lit up when she walked into the workshop. Sandaime nodded politely as he set an empty cup that had contained tea Gaara had made for him down on the table.

"Good morning," she grinned at them. Both of them were such mood changers for her. The snakes hissed excitedly at her and she tapped each of their noses to calm them down.

"Did you get a good night's sleep?" Gaara asked brightly. He walked over to join her beside the snakes. Sasori busied himself with setting up the new display on the floor of the shop to avoid his uncle.

She chuckled softly. "I actually did not get to sleep until the sun rose," she said. "And it was pretty good for how short it was. How about you?" She turned to look at him, still smiling. "Did you sleep well?"

"Who says I slept?" he chuckled.

"I am truly sorry that I interrupted your sleep," Sandaime said to her with a slight frown. "I don't take it he let you go back to sleep since you are here now."

"Do not worry about it," she smiled softly at him. "I have had many sleepless nights in my life, this is no different. I will be fine." She looked at Gaara. "But you are a doctor, you should have slept. You need to sleep."

"Don't you know a doctor's work never stops?" he chuckled. "I had an urgent call as soon as I got home and before I knew it I had to come here to open the shop."

Sandaime shook his head and sighed heavily. "When you get to my age, you will not be able to do that anymore," he chuckled.

"It is not something we do on purpose," she said to Sandaime with a chuckle. She gently put her hand over Gaara's and turned to him. "But promise me you will try to get more sleep," she said softly.

His face softened, looking down at their hands. He smiled, looking up at her. "I promise," he whispered.

She smiled back at him. "Thank you," she whispered. She heard Sasori walk by the workshop door and immediately retracted her hand, not wanting to get caught. Sandaime caught the quick action and shifted to stand between them and the doorway.

"Azumi," Gaara looked at her face closely. "I didn't know you wear makeup. I didn't think Sasori would let you."

She stood quiet for a moment, looking him in the eyes. If she mentioned the bruises, it could potentially make it worse for her. "He...made it this morning..." she said softly. "I suppose he is still on a kindness streak."

Gaara frowned and took her hand again. He looked at her hard and shook his head slightly. "Did...did do something to you?" he asked. "My cousin isn't this nice for this long."

She looked down at their hands, not saying anything. It took her a long moment to nod. "It is...to cover the bruising," she whispered.

Gaara's eyes narrowed. He gripped her hand tighter and then pulled away. He walked up to his uncle, grinding his teeth. Sandaime did not move from in front of the door. He simply shook his head.

"I knew he couldn't keep up his behavior!" Gaara hissed.

"I know, but stooping to his level will accomplish nothing," Sandaime said softly.

Azumi grabbed his hand again and squeezed gently. "If you confront him about it, it will only make it worse," she whispered to him. "I understand you are angry, but please...listen to your uncle."

Gaara seethed for a moment before regaining his composure. He squeezed her hand back gently and glared up at Sandaime. "You better work fast, Uncle, before I wind up in prison," he hissed.

Sandaime nodded. "I am doing my best, Gaara," he said softly.

Azumi put both her hands over his. "I promise, I will be fine," she said, bringing his hand up to press a kiss to his knuckles.

Gaara's entire body relaxed and his face grew heavy. "This shouldn't be your life," he whispered.

"Move," Sasori's voice interrupted their moment from behind Sandaime. "I need to get in here since I seem to be the only one working in this shop today," he said, irritation evident in his tone.

Sandaime gave them a second to separate before moving out of the way. Azumi moved to the counter she set the box down on and started taking out a couple of bottles to put them out on the shop floor.

"It's nice to see you again, too, nephew," Sandaime said to Sasori.

Sasori ignored him. Instead, he walked up to Azumi and tilted his head. "You've been in here for almost twenty minutes and you're just now doing this?" He glared at her. "The snake should not take that long to care for," he snapped, sending a glance towards Gaara.

"It's my fault," Sandaime said. "I kept her in here for conversation."

Azumi frowned, looking at Sandaime who nodded at her. She nodded back and took the bottles out to the front.

Sasori turned to glare at his uncle. "You aren't their parent," he growled. "You can protect Gaara all you want, but her life is mine," Sasori kept his distance from his uncle. "So go on, test me!"

Sandaime looked at him sharply but Sasori's glare remained. Gaara took a step back at the tension between them. "What good would it do me?" Sandaime sighed.

"Exactly," Sasori huffed. "Now don't you have someone else's day to ruin?"

Sandaime rolled his eyes. "I hardly think the two visits I've paid you today remotely ruined it."

"I've been in a bad mood since your first visit," Sasori grumbled. "I would count that as ruined."

"Sasori, why don't you go home and sleep?" Gaara spoke up. "You're acting on impulses right now and lashing out for no reason."

"I think you of all people should know I can run on less sleep than I am right now and that was a poor attempt to get rid of me."

Sandaime sighed again. "Then I shall leave," he said. He looked at Gaara and gave him a nod. "I'll see you again soon."

Azumi fixed the display up and watched as Sandaime came out of the workshop. "Are you leaving?" she asked him softly.

"For now," he nodded. "It would seem I've made the little lord a little more than cranky," he said with a smile. "But I might be back again today. I think his mother wants to come into town."

Sasori froze in the workshop. His mother was going to visit?

"Oh..." Azumi hummed. "I see. Well, as always it was nice to see you," she smiled with a bow.

Sandaime nodded to her and gave her a proper bow. As he came up he winked at her before stepping out of the shop. She could not help but grin as she watched him leave.

"What does he mean my mother is coming into town...why?" Sasori's brows furrowed. He looked at Gaara in confusion. "Did he say anything about this to you?"

"No, but why is this stressing you out so bad?" Gaara smirked. "What? Can't have her know her son is a monster?"

Azumi went back into the workshop and grabbed a couple of more bottles for the display. She noted the look on Sasori's face and hid another smirk. 'Is he afraid of his mother too?' she thought. She went back out to finish the display.

Sasori glared at Gaara. "No," he snapped. "She's going to hound me about getting married and starting a family."

"Hound, huh?" Gaara smirked. "Your mother should be praying nothing ever crawls between your legs."

Sasori blinked wide at his cousin. "What's made you so bold, Cousin?"

"Maybe it's the lack of adequate sleep," Gaara shrugged.

Azumi returned back to the workshop. "The display is finished," she told Sasori.

"Then maybe you should go home for the day," Sasori grumbled, pushing past Azumi to look at the display.

"Maybe we all should," Gaara shook his head. "We all need to sleep." He rubbed his face. He looked at Azumi and sighed. "Did you eat yet?" he asked her.

Azumi frowned, remembering she refused to eat earlier when Sasori told her to. She shook her head. "No..." she said softly. "But it is not because he did not let me. I just refused to."

Gaara's face softened. "I'll go get you something," he said, taking her hand and pressing a kiss to her knuckles.

"Thank you," she said quietly, smiling a little at him. She watched as he slipped out of the back door of the workshop and then moved to start organizing one of the shelves under the counter for some of the ingredients they bought at the night market.

Sasori walked back into the workshop to grab a few more things. He said nothing about Gaara not being there. Gaara returned fifteen minutes later with two covered plates.

"I hope you like rice and chicken," he said softly, walking up to the second level.

"I do," she smiled at him. She walked up to him and took one of the plates. "Thank you."

"Eat and I'll keep him distracted," he smiled. He climbed back downstairs and walked out to the shop floor to keep his cousin occupied.

She uncovered the plate and inhaled deeply, feeling her stomach rumble as soon as she smelled the food. She did not want to admit how hungry she was but there was no denying that she had been very hungry. She started eating quickly, not wanting to take too much time and cause Sasori to be suspicious. She took a couple of minutes to finish her food and then cleaned up a little bit before heading back down to the first level.

"Gaara, you're starting to irritate me!" Sasori said, storming back into the workshop at the same moment. He almost slammed into Azumi. "Go fix the display," he ordered her.

"What is wrong with it?" she asked him. "So I know what to avoid doing."

"Literally nothing," he told her. "Just put it back the way you had it," he told her.

She closed her eyes and took a deep breath and let it out slowly, not wanting to let her growing irritation with him get the best of her. "Fine," she said, walking out to the shop. 'Unreal,' she thought when she saw the display completely messed up because of him.

"Sasori, maybe you really should close the shop for the day," Gaara pleaded with his cousin. "You're being a little erratic and I can handle the shop. Just go get some sleep."

"I swear, Gaara!" Sasori growled. He stopped, smelling the food. "Did...you get food?"

Gaara nodded. "I did. It's upstairs if you want some." He started moving up to the second level and Sasori followed quickly behind, wanting the food and fixing himself a plate immediately.

Azumi fixed the display again and went back into the workshop. "It is fixed," she told Sasori. 'Do not fuck it up again,' she thought.

Sasori hummed from the second floor, his mouth full of food.

"He says thank you," Gaara called down then grunted when Sasori elbowed him hard in the stomach.

Azumi sighed and sat down on a stool in front of the snake tanks. The youngest of the snakes poked his head out of the tank and hissed at her. She smiled softly at it. "You want to dance?" she whispered. It hissed again and she picked it up, wrapping it around her and getting down from the stool. She moved around the workshop with it, fulfilling small tasks as she moved around. She figured she had a moment since Sasori was busy eating. Gaara leaned against the railing of the second floor, eating off of his own plate. He smiled dreamily, watching her dance from task to task. A couple of minutes went by before Azumi stopped at the sound of Sasori moving to the ladder to come downstairs. She placed the snake back in the tank and tapped its nose as Sasori came down the ladder. "What else would you like me to do?" she asked him.

"We're going to go to bed," he grumbled. He pressed the balls of his palms into his eyes.

"I'll send Uncle and your mother over to your house then," Gaara said, walking downstairs.

"Fine," Sasori huffed.

Azumi looked at Gaara and smiled. "Thank you for the food," she said, giving him a bow. "The moon will be full tonight," she told him softly. "I hope you get to enjoy the moonlight reflecting off of the river." She stood up straight and winked at him before turning to join Sasori by the door.

Sasori was too tired to deal with their affections. They left the shop and made their way back to their house quickly, making sure to avoid all sunlight on the way and especially avoiding contact with the servants as they entered the house. "Sleep in your room," he waved her off as he flopped down into his bed.

Azumi nodded and left his room without saying anything to him. She could not wait to sleep either. She made her way back to her room where her window was still open and Naga was coiled on her bed. He hissed at her, concerned. "No, I am fine," she smiled at him. "Gaara and Lord Sandaime are here to make sure of that." She laid down on the bed and tapped his nose. "Wake me up when the sun goes down," she said to him before drifting off to sleep.