An hour later, Sasori returned with his mother. Her arm was still linked with his. Sandaime came out of the workshop to greet them. “How was your lunch date?” he smiled.
"It was wonderful," Sasori's mother patted her son's shoulder with her free hand. "It was very refreshing to catch up with my prodigal son."
Sasori rolled his eyes but smiled. "We went to the new place that opened up a month ago," Sasori said, kissing the back of his mother's hand before untangling them.
“Oh, a new place?” Sandaime hummed. “I may have to go there.”
“Definitely,” Sasori’s mother grinned.
Back in the workshop, Azumi was cleaning the enclosures for the snakes. She heard Sasori and his mother come back and hoped that his lunch date with his mother put him in a good mood.
"Okay, my love," his mother walked into the back. "Show me..." She stopped short, seeing the snakes. She turned around slowly to look at Sasori as he walked in behind her. "Since when did you start keeping snakes?"
“Since I found a use of their venom,” Sasori told her easily. “According to her, the different snakes produce different venom. And they are all useful.”
Her nose wrinkled a little, looking at the snakes before she moved closer. "How do you know?" she asked Azumi, bending over to look at them.
"Mother, be careful please," Sasori warned.
"She can handle herself," Sandaime chuckled, joining them back in the room. Sasori sighed, shaking his head. He climbed up the ladder to the second floor and to look over the work Gaara was finishing for him.
“I have worked with snakes my entire life,” Azumi answered her. “Each breed has a different composition in their venom that serves a different purpose.” She placed the snakes back into their original tanks.
"I see," she hummed. She eyed Azumi for a moment longer before turning on her foot. She walked up the ladder to lean over Sasori's shoulder to see what he was working on.
Sandaime looked at Azumi with a little concern. He had seen that look on his sister-in-law's face. There was the air of plotting in her eyes. He walked over to her and leaned down to whisper in her ear. "Has she said anything strange to you?" he asked.
“Not at all,” she whispered back. “Only those looks that seem a bit judgemental. But that is nothing a girl my age should not be used to.”
He nodded, glancing over his shoulder to the mother and son. Gaara shook his head, burying his nose in a book. "We should get going soon, Sister," Sandaime called up to her.
"Why?" There was a pout to the woman's tone. "I'm not bothering them." She ruffled Sasori's hair. "Am I, darling?"
Sasori chuckled. “Not at all, Mother,” he said with a tight smile.
“You’re kicking me out,” his mother gasped.
"He could never," Gaara called up to her with mirth in his voice.
"No, a mother knows when her son is done with her," she sighed dramatically. "I miss the days my little boy would come find me to take walks and read to him." There was a pinch of real sadness to her voice.
Sasori sighed with a lopsided smile. "You'll need to make up your mind, Mother." He turned to pull her into a hug. "Are you marrying me off or am I your little boy?"
"Oh, you will get married," she said sternly, causing Sasori to tense up just a little bit. His mother's face softened and she wrapped her arms around him to hug him back. "But you will always be my little boy," she grinned.
He sighed again, relaxing against his mother. "Yes, Mother," he smiled, standing up to kiss her cheek.
She stepped back first to descend the ladder. Gaara and Sandaime just barely hid their grins. "Take me home," she sighed with a smile, reaching for Sandaime's offered arm. "And let's get churros on the way home," she giggled.
"Absolutely," Sandaime chuckled. He nodded his goodbye to Azumi and Gaara. Azumi bowed as they turned to leave.
Once they were gone, Gaara let the laugh out that he was trying to hold in. "Aaah, you're still such a mama's boy, Cousin."
"Shut up," Sasori snapped. "Don't make me come down there."
"I think it is adorable," Azumi chuckled.
"I don't want to hear it from you," he told her. "You admitted to being a daddy's girl."
"That I did," she hummed.
Gaara giggled harder. "You're both pretty bad off then," he grinned cheekily at Azumi. He pulled a few more books and set them down on the workbench.
"Please, if you had the chance you'd be the worst of us all," Sasori grumbled.
“Which there is absolutely nothing wrong with,” Azumi said. She smirked at Gaara and lowered her voice. “It would also be very cute.”
Gaara flashed her a smiled with a hint of sadness. He started to pull out ingredients and other containers. "Sasori..." he called up to his cousin without looking away from Azumi. He let his hand drift over to take hers. "Did you need me to write up any more schematics?"
"Hm?" Sasori hummed, shifting through a couple of papers. "Oh. Yeah. We need a few."
"Okay, leave them out for me and I will take them home with me tonight," Gaara said back as he lifted Azumi's hand and kissed her knuckles. She bit her lip in a smile, feeling her face get a little warm again.
"Have Kankuro doublecheck a few of these," Sasori said, getting up from his stool.
Gaara dropped her hand gracefully and made himself look busy. "Uh, I think he's away until the day of the party, but I'll pay him a visit to see if he's home."
"Just have them back by the end of the week," Sasori said as he descended the ladder. "I'm not exactly in a rush for them, but I also would like to have them done." He placed them on an empty counter for Gaara.
"They'll be on your desk the moment I'm done." Gaara refrained from rolling his eyes. Sasori paused to look at Azumi and Gaara. "Something wrong?" Gaara asked. He kept his face and body schooled.
Sasori's face pinched slightly. "No...did you eat?" he asked them both.
"We did," Gaara answered. "Uncle bought us food when you were out with your mother."
"Mmm," he hummed, looking at Azumi. "Good. Then when we get back, you can jump right into the new project I want to make for the party," he grinned evilly.
She hummed through a frown as she looked back at him. 'I do not like that look,' she thought. She said nothing to him but nodded.
"I'll leave you to close up the shop," Sasori waved over his shoulder as he started to clean up the other workbench. He grabbed a basket and filled it with various bottles. As he did that, Azumi and Gaara cleaned everything else to close the shop. When they were done, Azumi gave each of the six snakes a goodbye tap on the nose and then met Sasori by the door. Gaara said a soft goodnight to each of the snakes. He said goodbye to his cousin and Azumi before turning to lock up the front of the shop. Sasori rolled his eyes at the little display. He started to walk down their usual path towards the mansion. "I want you to wear your dancing outfit for the party," he told her.
"The red one?" she asked. "Alright..." She thought about it for a moment. "Will there be another 'surprise' performance?" She wanted to know ahead of time if he was going to make her perform so she could mentally prepare this time.
"It wouldn't be a surprise if I told you, now would it?" Sasori smirked. "I haven't decided. It's been a while since I've been asked to perform and I'm not particularly close to the Akimichis."
"I see," she hummed. They made it back to the mansion quickly, ignoring the other servants they passed through the halls on their way back to Sasori's room. Naga was coiled up on the daybed. He lifted his head when they walked in, bowing his head a little bit.
Sasori chuckled, seeing the small bow the snake gave them. He walked into the workshop. "Bring him with you if you want," he said, taking a seat. He flipped open a journal and started to write down a long ingredient list.
Azumi looked at Naga who immediately started to move toward her, slithering up her body to take his normal position of being wrapped around her waist and resting his head on her shoulder. She followed Sasori into the workshop. "So, what is this project you want to work on?" she asked.
"Just a little something to keep the boredom at bay," he smirked. "And a little test for you."
"A test?" she asked. She stepped closer to him, peeking at the list he was writing. None of it was a recognizable composition to her. 'What is that?' she thought.
"Yes," he grinned. "You're going to make this and then we'll test it," he smirked.
"I...alright," she said, leaning against the desk next to him to look over the ingredients. She had no idea what this was supposed to be but putting it together seemed easy enough. She studied it for a minute before stepping away to gather the ingredients. 'He said this was for the party,' she thought. 'What could that possibly even mean?'
He could not keep the grin off of his face as he passed her the list. "Let's see what you can do," he chuckled. "I'll be right back." He stretched then stood up and left the room.
Azumi watched him leave then turned back to the ingredients in front of her. Carefully, she combined them into a container, setting it over a small flame to incorporate it all. She looked at the list one more time to make sure she got everything. She was missing one thing. "Mm," she hummed, picking up a small empty vile. She held it up to Naga. "Please?" she asked. Naga hissed softly and injected venom into the small vile. Once there was the right amount of venom, she added it to the rest of the ingredients and left it alone for a couple of minutes.
Sasori walked back in with a very large book labeled ‘Party.’ "If that works then it will be added to this book," he smirked, putting it down on the workbench. The full weight of it made things on the workbench jump.
"And this book is what?" she hummed as she lowered the flame gradually until it was off. She set the vessel down on the counter to let it cool and then looked over at the book Sasori brought in.
"It's everything Komushi and I have ever made that worked the way we wanted it to." He flipped open the book. "Just for party entertainment."
She looked down at the vessel on the counter. 'What did I just make?' she thought. She stepped closer to him to look at the book, reading over the details of each item and their effects as he flipped through the pages. "Poisons," she hummed. "I should have known." She glanced at the one she just made again. "So what does that one do?"
"We'll have to find a test subject," he grinned. "But first, go get dinner for us."
She nodded and left the workshop. She was about to set Naga down on the daybed but he coiled tightly around her, not wanting to be away from her. "Alright," she sighed, petting him as she left the bedroom and went to the kitchen. The three usual servants were practically waiting for her when she walked in.
"You and the young master are looking pretty happy," the first said with a smirk.
"We heard you made him personal scents!” the second whispered.
She and Naga shared a look and she looked back at them. “And who told you this?” she asked, making her way to the cabinet to grab dishes and serve herself and Sasori.
"Oh, you needn't worry," they grinned. There was a soft tinkling of coins being exchanged in the room.
"The point is that you just confirmed it for us," the third one giggled.
Azumi resisted the urge to slam the bowls onto the counter, tensing up a little as she set them down a little loudly. She turned around and looked at them. "Okay, I did make him some scents," she said. "But I also made them for his mother, his uncle and his cousin, so exactly what do you think is being proved?" Naga shifted to her other shoulder and hissed warningly as if acting as a meter for Azumi's rising anger which she tried to keep off of her face.
"Oooh," all three said in unison. There was another round of jingling.
"No need to get worked up, dear," the first one gave her a smile. The other two hid their smiles behind a set of fans.
She squinted hard at them. How many bets had they placed pertaining to her? However many it was, she hated it. "This is absolutely ridiculous," she growled softly. She turned around and picked up the bowls. "You all know how he is. I think you would find it in your best interest to mind your business," she told them as she walked out of the kitchen. Naga hissed at her softly, trying to calm her down as she walked through the halls back to Sasori's room. Once she was in there, she placed Sasori's food in front of him. "I think I have a few test subjects for you."
"Oh?" Sasori looked up at her with a raised eyebrow. "Who?" A grin slipped over his lips. His little snake was worked up. Who had pulled out such rage in her? Who had made her willing to play the game? He picked up his bowl and looked at her expectantly.
"Those three servants that seem to never leave the kitchen," she answered. "As I said earlier, I try not to let their comments get to me, but I draw a line at placing bets on me."
Sasori practically moaned. "I've been dying for a reason to punish them," he grinned. "And now they've upset my little snake." He breathed in with an excited glint in his eyes. "Prepare the poison and brew some tea." She let out a quiet angry huff through her nose and set her food down on the desk. She stepped into the workshop and started a small flame to boil water over for the tea. The poison she made was finally cooled down so she poured it into a bottle to be kept in. She still had no idea what the effects of it were but at that moment she did not care. Sasori could not keep the grin off his face watching her move about the workshop. He leaned his back against the workbench, picking up his bowl to eat. "You only need three drops of in each cup," he chuckled. "But you're welcome to make it stronger if you'd like." He was living to see her this wound up.
"Tempting," she said, putting three drops of the poison in each cup. Once the tea was done, she poured it into each cup as well. She did not want to be responsible for killing them if she put too much so she left it at three drops.
Sasori pouted a little. "How boring," he sighed, his smirk returning. "Let's go see them." He stood up and put his bowl down then made his way to the door. He was too excited to watch this unfold. Azumi found a small tray and placed the three cups on it. She tucked the bottle of the poison into a fold in her dress, in case she decided on the way there that she wanted to give them a higher dosage and then met Sasori by the door.
"Let's see your handiwork in action," he nearly giggled. Leading the way back to the kitchen, he did not bother to stifle his excitement. He leaned against the wall of the kitchen so he would not be seen. He nodded for her to enter, folding his arms. He could hear the servants still chattering in the kitchen.
She took a deep breath before entering the kitchen with the tray. The servants noticed her almost immediately, stopping their conversation to watch her. "You're back," the first one said.
"I am," she said with a nod. "And I realize my temper was a bit irrational. I came here to apologize," she lied, setting the tray down in front of them.
"Ooh," the second one smiled as she set the tray down. "It's alright, dear."
"We remember what it's like to be young," the third said.
"Ah, I wish we could be that hot-blooded again," the first sighed. "Is this one of Lord Sasori's blends? You must be careful with stealing from him like this!" they cautioned her.
Azumi nodded and took a step back. “I do not think he will mind,” she said.
“Well, we won’t tell him if you won’t,” the third one chuckled.
All three servants giggled to themselves as they took a sip of the tea. "What a...different taste," the second one hummed.
“I believe it is one of his newer blends,” Azumi lied. “Imported from somewhere in the south.” They finished the cups and the moment their cups touched down on the table, their stomachs let out a nasty, loud, wet gurgling sound. All three of their faces dropped. Azumi tucked the tray under her arm and bowed slightly, a smirk forming on her lips. “Have a good night,” she told them before turning to leave the kitchen. They gave her horrified looks as she left the room.
Sasori grinned at her, holding up an arm to keep her from walking down the hall. He pulled her close. "Ready," he held the "y" for a moment. He pressed a finger to her lips so she could hear a gut-wrenching sloppy, wet sound hit the ground three separate times followed by screams.
"Ew," Azumi whispered, wrinkling her nose at just the sound of it. She knew exactly what happened and she could not help but chuckle at their suffering.
"That'll teach them," he chuckled softly. He nodded for her to follow him back to his room. Once they were inside, he turned to her, lifting her chin with his fingertips. "I'm so proud of you, little snake," he whispered, looking into her eyes.
She never thought she would hear those words come from him. It was not exactly what someone wants to be told about what she just did, but she knew this sort of niceness was rare from him so she was going to accept it. "I would be lying if I said that did not feel great," she hummed. She would not make this a common thing, however. Her own morality was grey so she did not have a problem doing this under specific circumstances. "How long does that last for them?"
"About an hour or two," he smirked. He pulled away to sit down on the edge of his bad. "They'll empty themselves out and then some," he grinned.
She raised an eyebrow. "And you want to use this at the party?" she smirked, pulling the bottle out of her dress and setting it on the desk next to the tray. She picked up her bowl and started eating the food that she almost forgot about.
"It's going to be unbelievably entertaining," he sighed with joy. "Too bad Komushi won't be around to witness the chaos," he hummed.
"And where will Lord Komushi be that he is missing out on all of this...exciting fun?" she asked. She finished her food quickly and placed the bowl back on the desk before moving to sit on the daybed.
"He's going to visit a girl his parents want him to marry," Sasori sighed, tucking his hands behind his head as he leaned back against the wall. "She's a higher status than him so he has to travel to meet her."
Her brow furrowed slightly. "Interesting..." she hummed. She thought about how it would have worked for her if she was in that situation. Then she remembered that she was the daughter of the village's leader. That was an automatic higher status. The few suitors her father suggested all came to her. A small smirk appeared on her lips at the thought of being of a higher nobility status than Sasori if she was not his slave. "Are his views on marriage the same as yours?" she asked.
"His change depending on the mood he's in," Sasori chuckled. "Some days, he wants to settle down and be a father," he hummed. "And other days, the very thought of matrimony is like being tied to a set of bricks at his feet and being made to swim in the river."
"I am hardly surprised," she said, laying back on the daybed. "He seems like a wild-swinging pendulum." She would not tell him that she thought the same of him as well in terms of his emotions.
Sasori laughed, nodding in agreement. "We both sort of are," he sighed. "I won't make a good husband." He rolled his eyes. "Not unless the woman is very impressive. And I don't know if there is a woman in the world who could handle Komushi in his full force." He smirked at her. "You can barely stomach him."
"So you have noticed," she deadpanned, looking through the skylight of the domed ceiling. "Speaking as a woman, he is hardly husband material. But that is not to say he cannot be groomed to be. It seems like it would take a while, but I think it could happen." She smirked and let out a soft chuckle. "You, on the other hand..." she started, "...your views on the subject are set in stone." There was no hope for him.
Sasori's eyes narrowed, his lips curving into a thin smirk. "You seem to think you've got us all figured out." He tilted his head. "Humans can be very unpredictable," he reminded her. "But you're mostly right. About me, that is. You're missing some information about Komushi."
"Oh?" she smirked, sitting up to look at him. "Like what information? He does not seem like the kind to have that much hidden information about him."
"What kind of scientist doesn't assume there is always more to something than meets the eye?" He folded his arms over his chest. "I won't give away all his of secrets but he's actually a hopeless romantic," Sasori chuckled. "He's always the one getting hurt in relationships."
"I could deduce that he was a romantic from how much he touches me," she hummed. "It is unfortunate that he gets hurt but...I can only assume it is because he comes on a little too strong." Something she also deduced from how much he touches her.
Sasori chuckled again. "He does tend to come in a little too hot," he smirked. "But the girls that usually respond to him are only trying to get to me." His smile faltered.
"Oh, that is very unfortunate," she hummed. "For each party, if I am honest. It is unfortunate for Lord Komushi to not get the girl, for the girl to not get you, and for you to have to be bothered in the first place," she smirked.
Sasori did not even try to stifle his laughter. He shook his head, taking deep breaths to calm down. "You are so right!" he grinned. "But I'm sure there is a sucker out there for him somewhere."
"Hopefully he is about to meet her," she said, laying back down.
"I'd like to think I have the same sentiment, but," he frowned, "from what I remember of the girl he described, this won't amount to much."
“I see...” she whispered with a frown. She was beginning to feel bad for Komushi. Other than him wanting to test a poison on her when they first met, he was not that bad of a guy. “How many relationships has he actually been in?”
He took a minute to think. “Three serious ones and a lot of flings.” He drummed his fingers on his lower lip. “Too many week-long ‘relationships’ to count.”
“Is his mother as...adamant as yours is about marriage?” She refrained from using the word ‘terrifying.’
"No, the lucky bastard," he grumbled. "His family is very different from mine. They are still well-off but they don't pressure Komushi to do anything beyond showing his face at gatherings." He rolled his eyes. "And I'm not entirely sure why considering we're usually causing some sort of ruckus."
"Is that so?" she hummed as she rolled onto her stomach and poked Naga's nose.
They sat in silence for a few moments before it was broken by the shrill voice of Chiyo. "Sasori!" she yelled.
Azumi looked at Sasori, immediately noticing the smirk on his face. "It's about time," he chuckled.
Chiyo came storming into the room. "What have you done?" she demanded.
"I haven't the slightest idea what you're talking about," he grinned cheekily. "I've been here since I got home from the shop," he lied.
Chiyo glared at him. She took a long, slow breath. "I don't have time for this! I thought you outgrew this kind of behavior when you were fifteen but clearly, I overestimated you." She pinched her nose. "Go give my maids an antidote or I will tell your mother!"
Sasori squinted at her. "You wouldn't dare," he said.
"Oh, wouldn't I?" Chiyo challenged.
"I didn't even make an antidote."
"Then go make one!"
Azumi and Naga looked back and forth between them as they spoke to each other.
"They will be fine in twenty minutes!" Sasori snapped back. "Just get someone to bring them some damn water and salt soup!" He was sitting up now. "I'm not making them anything! They can deal with some diarrhea after what they've been spreading around!"
"What have they been spreading around that was so bad that you thought you needed to do this?" Chiyo asked, her anger toward her grandson still rising.
"That I plan on having sex with my slave," he narrowed his eyes. "If they have time to run their mouths and place bets then they can run to the bathroom and clean themselves up," he shrugged.
"You know better than to let such stupid rumors like that get to you," she said.
"They know better than to spread such stupid rumors," he countered. "They know to mind their own business."
Chiyo ground her teeth. "You never cease to amaze me." She shook her head, giving him a look of pure disappointment.
"I do my best," he smirked. "They'll be fine and hopefully they learned to not bother my property." He relaxed back into his pillows.
"If you pull another stunt like this that effects my own personal servants, then your mother will be hearing about it," Chiyo told him sternly.
Sasori rolled his eyes. "Keep your servants in line and we won't have to tell anyone anything," he grumbled.
Chiyo glared at him then sighed heavily as she left the room. "Shape up, Sasori!" she called over her shoulder.
Sasori rolled his eyes again, laying back on his bed. Azumi sat up to look at him. "Would she really tell your mother?" she asked softly.
"No," Sasori clicked his tongue. "She's been threatening that since I was twelve." He rolled onto his side. "She thinks she can lord my mother over me my whole life but one day, this mansion will be mine and I won't have to hear about it from her anymore," he shrugged.
"Would you like some tea?" she asked, hoping it would put him in a better mood.
He frowned, staring out of his window silently. "Fine," he said. "Use the container over the workbench to your left," he told her. "Make yourself a cup, too."
She nodded as she stood up and went into the workshop to start brewing the tea, using the exact one he told her too. "Hm," she hummed, noticing the pleasant scent it had. She poured two cups and went back out to his room, handing him his cup and then sitting down on the bed. "This smells nice," she hummed. "What is in it?"
"It's a blend of things," he said, accepting the cup. "Get changed first. You're staying here tonight." He took a sip of his tea, closing his eyes as the warmth traveled down his throat. She set her cup down on the side table and picked up her older dress to change into quickly then sat back down to drink her tea.
"It's good for when I need to de-stress fast but the ingredients are a little hard to come by," he told her. "So I stockpile them when I can."
She took her first sip and groaned contentedly. "This is really good," she hummed. "I like this a lot." She took another long sip. The immediate fatigue snuck up on her very hard.
"Good to know," he chuckled, finishing his own cup quickly and settled into his bed. He watched her finish her cup and smirked as she fell asleep before her head hit the pillow. He took her empty cup from her hand and placed it with his on the nightstand. He could feel the tea beginning to affect him as he moved her into a better sleeping position. He quickly got comfortable just before falling asleep.