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Bed of the Scorpion

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Gaara walked along the water's edge with a basket tucked into the bend of his elbow. He smiled, thinking about having a moment alone with Azumi again. He was enjoying their stolen moments at the shop but he really wanted to freely express how he felt about her without the threat of his cousin hanging over them. They were playing a very risky game every time they got too close to each other at the shop. He stopped at the spot that they usually met in, reaching into the basket to pull out a palm mat and laying it out on the ground.

Azumi approached him just as he sat down on the mat. She crept up behind him and kneeled down, wrapping her arms around him just as he did to her earlier.

He tensed up before relaxing against her. He tilted his head back, letting his lips find hers. "You smell amazing," he said softly.

"Thank you," she smiled, still smelling the cologne she made for him. "As do you." She moved to sit next to him.

"All thanks to you," he grinned, opening the basket. "Did you have dinner?" he asked, as he pulled out a lidded dish and a small jug of wine.

"Very little," she answered. "And then I slept it off during my nap," she chuckled.

"Ah, I should have made something savory then," he said with a small pout. He pulled the top off of the dish to reveal a pile of zalabya.

Azumi's eyes widened a little as she looked at the dish. "You made this?" she asked softly. "This looks amazing."

"I brought wine too," he smiled. "But I forgot the cups so I hope you don't mind sharing the bottle." He looked at her a little worried.

She smirked at him, placing her finger under his chin and pressing a gentle kiss to his lips. He smiled dreamily, pushing back into the kiss. "I do not mind at all," she said softly. "I have not had a drink in..." She paused to think about how long it had been. "...months," she sighed.

"Then I'd say you deserve one and should get the first sip," he smirked. He picked up the bottle and broke the wax seal before passing it to her.

She chuckled softly, taking the bottle and taking her first sip of alcohol since she left her village. It left a dry burn in her throat and she grunted quietly. "Ah, that is so good," she groaned, tilting her head back a little bit and then handing him the bottle back.

"Did you drink often in your village?" he asked, popping one of the sweet pancake balls into his mouth. "I don't do it often but I like to keep a stash of my own stuff."

"Not very often," she hummed. "It was more occasional. During big social events, I would drink a little if I really did not want to be there. After I performed, I would drink a little to calm my nerves."

Gaara nodded thoughtfully. "I do the same thing for the parties here," he hummed. "I can't drink much for my nerves," he laughed. "I'll admit though...every time something happened to one of Sasori's slaves I...drank myself stupid. Like it made a difference." He paused, frowning. "Ah...I'm sorry. I got a little dark there." He popped another pancake. "Does it taste good?"

"It tastes amazing," she grinned, eating one of the sweets. "And so does this." He passed the bottle to her and she took another long sip. She had not realized how much she missed alcohol—or rather how much of her nerves she was suppressing. "I feel like we did not really get to spend much time together today," she chuckled. "Lord Kenzou took you away and then Lord Sasori took me away."

Gaara hummed softly. He slid his hand over to lace his fingers with her free hand. "But we're here together now," he smiled. "And no one is around to interrupt us." He kissed her cheek.

She grinned, squeezing his hand gently. "I value these moments," she hummed. "The ones where I do not have him hovering over me and we are free to be intimate and," she looked at him and smirked, "when you look absolutely amazing in the moonlight," she added casually.

"Shouldn't it be I who is saying that?" He flashed her a grin, lifting her hand to press a kiss to her knuckles. "When my uncle frees you...I hope we can have more of these moments."

She bit her lip, a touch of excitement coursing through her at the thought of being liberated from slavery and being free from the worry that she would get caught with him. "I hope so, too," she said softly. She ate another pancake sweet and looked out over the river. "Have you ever traveled?" she asked.

"I haven't, no," he admired, smiling at her still. He looked away from her up at the moon. "Kenzou suggested I give it a try today, though. Did you before all of this?"

She shook her head. "I have never left my village before this," she said. "I was always told it was too dangerous. But...during the months of being transported here, I saw quite a bit. The urge to travel and experience new things hit me very slightly but it died quickly at the realization that I was being sold into slavery." The smile never left her lips. "However, the possibility of being freed brings that urge to travel back."

His smile wavered for a moment. He pulled her close, taking both of her hands. "Let's travel together," he said seriously with wide, bright eyes. "When you're free, let's...just go! Anywhere! See the world and really experience it all. I...have never really thought about leaving this city. I have it all here but I realize I'm missing out on so much experience." He paused for a moment. "But there is no one else I would want to see it all more than with you now." A blush started to spread over his cheeks.

She let out a small gasp, staring back at him, her grin slowly widening. "I...would love to," she said, wrapping her arms around him in a hug.

He buried his face in her neck, smiling wide against her skin as they hugged. "I can't wait," he breathed.

"Neither can I," she said softly. She pulled away from him, kissing him gently before releasing him and sitting back down. She handed him the wine and ate another pancake ball. "If I am honest...I cannot wait to see the look on your cousin's face when he is told that he can no longer own slaves," she hummed.

Gaara practically moaned when she said that. He took a long drink of wine. "It will be one of the best days of our lives." He let out a laugh that bordered on darkness. "He's had this coming for so long and it will be sweeter than any wine or dessert to watch him struggle and have his life turned upside down."

She chuckled softly. "I will drink to that," she said, putting her hand over his on the wine and using him to take a sip from the jug. "To have my title again in his presence would feel amazing."

"You will always have your title as long as I'm in the vicinity, my Lady," he smirked. He leaned forward to pull her into another kiss. He pushed into it a little more passionately, licking some of the lingering wine from her lips.

She smiled against his lips, gently cupping his face and pushing into the kiss as well. She let out a small breathy chuckle as they pulled apart. "You really know how to make a girl swoon," she smirked.

He blushed a little brighter. "You're giving me too much credit." He smiled, squeezing her hand gently. "I hope tomorrow isn't too eventful," he said softly.

"I cannot get my hopes up too high for that," she chuckled, remembering Sasori's plan for the party with the composition she made and tested on the servants. "However, I do not think any fights will happen this time involving Lord Sasori since your aunt and uncle will be there."

"Oh, no. With them there, he will have to get a lot craftier to entertain himself," Gaara sighed. "I'm sure he's got some sort of tasteless prank concocted."

"Oh, he certainly does," she hummed, taking another sip of the wine. "You may want to bring one of these and drink only from that."

He raised an eyebrow. "Noted and will do." He took another sip. "Any other hints or plots I should be wary of?"

"None that I am aware of," she said. "But it would probably be safe not to eat any of the food either. I saw what this thing can do and while momentarily hilarious, it is not pretty. It would probably be best to eat beforehand," she chuckled.

"That sounds like him," he sighed. "We're lucky that Komushi won't be there." He cracked a smile again. "That party would be razed to the ground."

"Ugh, I can only imagine," she said. She sighed and took one last pancake sweet for herself. "I am also not getting my hopes up for him finding a woman but I am dreading the wrath from his mother."

"I don't think his mother has high hopes either," Gaara chuckled. "Actually...she has high hopes but a very real understanding of how terrible her son is with women." He laughed harder. "Which she really doesn't understand since women flock to him because he's got such a pretty face." He rolled his eyes.

"A pretty face does not make a good husband," she scoffed, laying down on her back. "He needs a woman at least half as scary as his mother. Someone who would keep him in his place. And it seems those types of women are not exactly fooled by his pretty face."

He scoffed, letting out a short laugh as he set the bottle of wine back in the basket. "No woman with that much sense would want to deal with him." He leaned back on one of his hands then used the other to gently stroke her hair. "But I would pay every wage I earn for the rest of my life to see Sasori with a woman like that."

"I think Lord Komushi may actually get a wife before Lord Sasori decides to finally court a woman," she chuckled.

"I'll believe that when I see it," he chuckled. "They might just marry each other."

"I knew it from the moment I saw them together that they were made for each other," she laughed as she stretched hard. "Are you a cuddler?" she smirked, opening her arms for him.

He chuckled, leaning down to kiss her once more. "I can be. Why? Are you?"

She bit her lip in a smile, wrapping her arms around him to pull him close and resting his head on her. He stifled a yelp as she pulled him down. "I am," she said softly, gently running her fingers through his hair. He blinked a few times before relaxing against her chest. He hummed softly, closing his eyes as she stroked his hair. They stayed like that for a while, enjoying the company of one another. Azumi got lost in her thoughts as she watched the scarce clouds move across the sky and the moon drift to the other side of them, mindlessly raking her fingers through Gaara's hair. She did not think she would get to experience moments such as this as a slave. She loved how she did not feel like she was a slave around him. He treated her like a human. She felt him shift on her a little, bringing her back from her thoughts. "Hm," she hummed. "Thank you for the zalabya," she said softly, kissing the top of his head, "and the wine."

"Always a pleasure, my Lady," he smiled up at her. He shifted his weight a little again to press a kiss to her jaw. "We should probably head back," he said softly, his voice almost sounding mournful. "I hope we can see each other at the party for more than a passing moment." He pushed himself up onto his hands so he could lean down and kiss her lips fully. It was a slow, lingering kiss. "And maybe do this again sooner."

"I would love to do this again," she whispered through a smile. She sat up with him, sliding her hand from his hair to cup his face. She leaned in to kiss him one more time before they both stood up. She helped him fold up the mat and he placed it back into the basket. She looked back at the mansion and hummed, noticing that they were in an almost perfect view from Sasori's bathroom. Had they been just a few feet over, they would have been seen. "He has seen me out here," she told him. "But he has not seen you. So I do not think he suspects anything."

Gaara's eyes flashed in fear. "He's seen you?" He took a deep breath, doing his best to stay calm. "We should move further down or back towards my house then," he said, packing the rest of the little picnic away.

"Moving a little further down is probably the better idea," she said. "If he notices me going too far in the direction of your home, it would make it worse. Right now, he does not seem bothered by me being out here because he suspects I am alone or with my snake. I need him to continue to trust that I will not leave." She took his hand and kissed his knuckles. "Do not worry too much about it for now."

He gave her another hard, worried look but it melted the instant her lips touched his knuckles. "I..." He looked like he wanted to say more but stopped short. He paused, thinking of his next sentence. "I just want you to be safe. We'll move down a little the next time we meet like this." He pulled her close and kissed her deeply. He smiled as he broke the kiss and kissed the tip of her nose softly before stepping back to pick up the basket. "Ready?" he asked, slipping his hand into hers.

"I am," she grinned, squeezing his hand gently as they started walking. They went back around the mansion to where her room was and stopped at her window. She pressed her back against the wall next to her window and pulled him into a kiss. Naga poked his head out of the window, watching silently.

When the broke apart Gaara chuckled softly. "I think someone has been waiting for you," he whispered, looking up at Naga. "I'll leave you to your needy snake," he teased, stealing one last kiss. "Sleep well, my Lady." He loved the way her title rolled off of his tongue.

She chuckled softly. "Goodnight," she smiled. She turned to climb through the window, letting Naga wrap around her as she moved. He hissed teasingly at her. "Shut up," she whispered, unable to hide her grin.

Below, Gaara grinned, drunker on love than the wine they had consumed could have made him. He chuckled to himself as he walked back to his own home.