Chapter 1

A year before the Chunin exams in Konoha - when Temari was only tweleve years old - Temari was able to venture out of the Kazekage's careful watch and into the streets of Sunagakure. For hours on end, she would explore the city, even being bold enough to sneak out of the village's border completely. She loved the outside world and thrived to see everything the world had to offer. She made the best with what was given; even though her father kept her on a leash, Temari managed to enjoy it. In a year she would be able to travel to Konoha, anyway, so she didn't mind waiting.

Sitting on the wall that bordered Suna, Temari lazilly hung her legs over the side, appreciateing the view of the dessert surrounding her village. It was nighttime; she was supposed to be inside the village, but technically the only part of her outside of Suna was her legs. She was in Suna - sitting on its wall was being within the border.

When exploring - or even when she wasn't exploring - Temari's favorite passtime was simply thinking; she loved to analyze things or situations, loved outsmarting people. Exploring usually helped her to think up new loopholes to her father's orders, and so she did it often.

Silently, Temari fell back onto the wall's width - the walls of Suna's border were thick enough for her to lay down on comfortably, she had learned - and stared up at the night sky, appreciating its beautiful moon and stars.

Night was her favorite time of day; it was when the dreadfully-hot sun finally laid to rest, when the true beauty of the moon and her stars were visible. Temari loved astrology - she enjoyed the idea of telling her fortune at night, of forecasting the weather according to the position of the moon.

Night was the time when the most dangerous predators came out of hiding. That was always Temari's favorite part of roaming the streets after hours; the adrenaline rush that swept over her when danger was near, the newfound strength that always powered her limbs.

She was a little sadistic for this, perhaps, but with a brother like Gaara, anyone would agree with her.

Feeling the need to walk, Temari sat upright - grabbing her fan - and jumped down off the wall, into the village. Her training with the large fan had gotten her used to falling from great heights, and so she landed safely. As always.

Temari strapped the ran on her back again and began her night walk. She was supposed to be in her room sleeping right now, but what her father didn't know wouldn't hurt him. On more than one occasion she had left the Palace after hours. The adrenaline rush was exhilirating.

Her favorite part of Suna was the old abandoned house in which Akasuna no Sasori had lived; people avoided that place as though the Scorpion had left millions of the vermin behind. Elder Chiyo had moved out when her grandson had abandoned the village, and ever since then, it had remained unused.

Save for Temari, of course. She absolutely loved the place and always found herself going back for more. There was always something new for her to find; photographs of Sasori and his family, notes he had left behind, poison attempts that had failed. But most of all, she loved the collection of puppets that had been abandoned. Their macabre faces, their decaying bodies that lost another part whenever Temari touched them, their rotting scent. They were like ghosts, living as a testament to the broken Akasuna clan. Since childhood, Temari found herself completely obessed with puppets. She originally had wanted to become a puppeteer like her brother, only to find that she didn't have the skill. So, instead, Temari took up her current occupation, although she didn't enjoy it half as much as she enjoyed puppets.

Creeping inside a broken window - one that she herself had broken a while back - Temari cautiously entered the abandoned Akasuna household. Although she had done this dozens of times before, Temari was still struk with uncontrollable excitement. She was inside Akasuna no Sasori's home, the greatest puppeteer Suna had ever seen. Even Elder Chiyo paled to Sasori's greatness. No one could beat him.

Walking down the hall, through the rooms Temari had familiraized herself with long ago, Temari found herself in what she concluded to be Sasori's room. As she looked around, she felt herself heave a heavy sigh. The large circular window beconed to her, and so she approached it. Carefully, Temari huddled herself into the circle's ledge and admired the view. She was somewhat surprised that it had survived when most of the others hadn't; this one directly faced the main road, and so anyone could see inside during the day.

Another good thing about night: it cloaked everything, blinded people who were too used to the day.

She thought she heard soft, almost inaudible footsteps coming from down the hall, and so she quickly assumed the worst and ran into a nearby closet.

Just as she closed the closet's door, someone entered the room. Panting in fear, Temari pressed herself up against the door and peered through the crack between it and the doorframe, trying to get a look at who had entered.

The person padded around the room, their footsteps barely detectable. They seemed to know what they were looking for; they opened certain drawers, dug through certain things in a way that made Temari think they used to live there.

Kami...What if it was Elder Chiyo or...Akasuna no Sasori himself?

She'd be killed on the spot, that's what. Why would someone like Sasori spare someone like her? Her only hope was that it was Elder Chiyo in the room, not her grandson.

The person had red hair.

A surge of adrenaline ran through Temari, one she didn't like. It washed over her, causing a small gasp to escape her lips.

An audible gasp.

Taking in another breath of fear, Temari quietly slapped a hand over her mouth and stared, wide eyed, as the redhead pulled his head up from the contents in his hands. Another breath ran through her lips as the redhead looked over his shoulder and at her closet.

He's looking at the window, Temari desperately tried to convince herself, He's looking out the window. He doesn't know I'm here. He doesn't suspect anything...

The redhead came dreadfully close, then turned off to the left for the window. Temari exhaled deeply in relief, still tightly gripping her mouth shut. She was safe - soon enough, the redheaded male would leave and she would be able to do the same.

Just as her breathing calmed, an eye met her gaze through the crack between the door and wall, causing a scream to escape her lips as she stumbled back in surprise, unable to control her fear.

In a split second, the redhead flung open the closet door, grabbed her by the collar, and pulled her out roughly. Covering her mouth with his left hand and holding it tightly with his right, the redhead hissed, "What are you doing in my house?"

Her worst fear - and yet biggest dream - confirmed, Temari was unable to reply as she blinked away the tears that welled. They rolled down her cheeks, and she couldn't come up with a response.

Seemingly annoyed at waiting for a response, Akasuna no Sasori cruelly threw her up against the wall and repeated the question, this time adding, "Don't make me wait too long or repeat myself again." His voice was full of venom, which only scared Temari more, further paralyzing her mouth.

Rolling her eyes away from his, Temari desperately looked around for some inspiration to say at least something, even to scream. But she was just so scared, and all of the responses she thought of were so childish, she was sure Sasori wouldn't believe her.

Frowning at her silence, Sasori smacked her cheek and threw her to the ground, pinning her arms down as he threatened, "If you continue to remain silent, I shall drive a knife through your belly and make a puppet out of your carcass. Would you enjoy that, little girl?"

Open-mouthed in shock, Temari stared into his mercury orbs before whispering, "You...smell like...cedar...Akasuna no Sasori..."

Obviously surprised, Sasori stared her down for a moment before replying, "So? What I smell like is of no concern to you."

"So you are Akasuna no Sasori," she mused, gaining confidence. Loopholes always did this for her.

Sasori hit her again, and the confidence was lost. "We're interrogating you here, girl. Now, I will repeat myself one more time before I loose my patience: What are you doing in my home?"

"I was..." Temari began, looking away from his piercing gaze, "I was...exploring..."

This was not what Sasori wanted to hear, because he hit her again and spat, "So you think my home is a playground for you to 'explore'? You think it's okay to go through my things any way you please?"

"N-no," Temari whispered, looking up to him again, "you abandoned it...I - " He hit her again.

"You just admitted to going through my things," he sneered. "Beat you at your own game, didn't I?"

By now, her cheek was on fire and she just wanted to go home. "P-Please, Akasuna-dono, I-I just wanna go home. I won't tell anyone I saw you..." The tears were overtaking her, flowing down her cheeks as they impaired her speech. "P-please...I'm sorry..."

She feebily rolled her eyes up to meet his gaze, surprised to no longer see anger, but simply annoyance. "Tsk," he murmured, rising up off her and pulling her to her feet, "here, lie down on my bed." He motioned to it. Temari was still alert enough to shoot him a suspicious glance. Upon seeing this, he snapped, "If you think I'm vulager enough to do that, I will burn you alive."

Okay, he's really pissed, Temari though as she quickly climbed onto his bed.

"Stay there," she heard the Akasuna gruff before leaving the room. It was a useless command; Temari was too shocked and tired to object or attempt escape.

He returned a moment later with a thick, old blanket and a small cup of water. Temari quickly took the blanket, wrapping it around herself, then the sup. She forced herself to take a sip, not wanting to offend him again.

Temari stared down at the water in her cup, the tears slowing. All was silent for a while before she asked, "Akasuna-dono...?"

"My name is Sasori," he whispered softly, his tone surprising Temari, "call me that."

"Gomen...Sasori-sama." Sasori nodded his approval as he sat at the foot of hid bed, only mere inches away from where she was. "Sasori-sama," she forced herself to continue, "are you going to kill me, like you said?"

There was a pause, in which Temari's eyes took the oppertunity to tear up in fear. But then, "No. I'm sorry for all of that," he whispered, studying her red cheek. "I lost my temper. That normally doesn't happen, especially with girls."

Shocked, Temari slowly managed a nod as she looked away. "It's my fault," she murmured. "I'm sorry." She thought of how gentle his voice had become, how resentful he sounded, and instantly forgave him, even if she didn't want to. "I'm Temari," she told him.

"The Kazekage's daughter?" Sasori asked.

She nodded and he groaned, pinching the bridge of his nose. "I-I won't tell anyone!" She said quickly, causing him to look over. "I won't," she promised with a blush. "If you...promise to...come back again." Her blush deepened when she realized what she was saying.

"You want to see me again after what I did?" He sounded surprised as he relinquished his nose.

Temari managed a nod.

"Hmm," Sasori mused, "interesting. It's only been five years since I've left this village, and yet a mere child such as yourself knows my name...I'm honored."

"For the Kazekage's daughter to know your name is no great honor," she murmured, looking away when he shot her a glare, "But the commonfolk,"-She looked out of his window--"they avoid this place as though it's a nest for scorpions." When she looked back to him, she realized he was smiling with satisfaction.

"How old are you, Temari-chan?" he asked suddenly.

"Tweleve," she replied.

"Kami, you're young..." he mused, studying what he could of her, Temari noticed with a small, uncomfortable grimace, "I'm nineteen. By my next birthday, I won't have to worry about ageing or dying." He put his hands behind his head as a pillow and fell back againd the bed, appreciating the ceiling.

"But of course, you hate the waiting." Temari said as she put her cup on the bed's headboard and snuggled in the blanket. "This blanket is nice," she noted.

"It was my favorite when I was a kid," he told her with a wave of his hand that told her not to worry about it. "And yes, the waiting is hell."

Temari knew why he hated waiting: he was forced to wait for his parents to return, and they never had. He didn't despise waiting simply because it was boring - he loathed waiting because of an underlying fear that the people he was waiting for would never come. She wanted to repeat this to him, but changed her mind when she remembered how painful his slaps were. So instead she asked, "You really know how to make human puppets?" She let the awe slip into her voice, unable to stop it.

Sasori smiled, now with only his left hand behind his head. His right lay on his stomach, his finger tracing a small imaginary circle. "You sound amazed at the prospect," he mused, looking over at her.

She nodded, waiting.

If he was going to answer, there was no oppertunity to. Something small - about the size of her fist - and with six sharp, pointed legs crawled over her foot, causing her toes to twitch in fear. The creature crawled up her leg, brushing two large pinchers against her as it did so. Temari froze, not even breathing. But the creature contiued to crawl up her leg, unrelenting.

Sasori noticed her fear, asking, "What is it?" as he sat upright, creeping over.

"Don't - " Temari began, but stopped when Sasori quickly pulled the blanket off of her.

The scorpion, small but deadly, reacted in a natural way and tried to defend itself by pulling its stinger back and stabbing it into her shin. Temai cried out in pain and kicked out her leg in fear, automatically moving every muscle she had.

In a split-second reaction, Sasori grabbed the scorpion and put it under Temari's cup, then turned to her leg and held it down tightly, bending down to it. "Stop moving," he hissed, his mouth dreadfully close to the quickly-swelling wound. She could feel his breath as he said that.

Even through the fear and cold-fire that was attacking her right leg, Temari could help but feel odd shivers run through her when Sasori pressed his mouth against the wound, expertly milking the poison out of her. What were those shivers that ran up her leg, down her spine, and throughout her entire body? Surely the poison couldn't travel that fast. She could tell the difference between where the poison was and what she was feeling, so what exactly was that feeling? Temari couldn't put her finger on it - it was something she had never felt before.

Sasori's fingers were on either side of his mouth, carefully pinching her skin upwards to draw out more of the poison. They weren't very soft, but they weren't bone-hard either; they felt more like fingernails, still alive and feeling her skin. His lips were wonderfully soft, his tongue and teeth expertly collaborating to milk out the poison. She was so confused that the newfound feelings, Temari found she didn't know how to react. And so she didn't; instead, she focused on remaining still and calming herself, taking deep, steadying breaths.

The redhead sat upright then and spit out the poison he had collected in his mouth. After lolling it around for a bit, Temari noted with a grimace.

"The rest of the poison should wear off in a few hours," he told her, looking over at her face. "Can you move that leg at all?"

Temari attempted to wriggle her toes. She thought she had been sucessful, until she glanced down at them.

They hadn't moved at all.

"No," she told him with a groan, "not at all."

"Tsk," Sasori grunted as he turned his attention to the captive scorpion, "that's troublesome. Dawn will come in about four hours, and it'll take at least six for that poison to wear off fully." He took the scorpion by the tail and held it close to his face, deeply studying it. Seemingly unsatisfied, he let the scorpion down on the nightstand and crushed it with the side of his fist. "A scorpion like that one deserves to die," he murmured, looking over at her.

"W-why?" she managed, curious.

"Because it hurt you." Temari studied him for a moment, surprised, before he turned away from her and to his desk, sitting at it. "You won't be able to leave on your own and sneak back into the Palace, so you might as well sleep now."

"D-demo - "

"I know," Sasori interrupted her, not breaking his concentration on whatever he was doing, "You have to be back. That's common sense. But you can't move - if you try, you'll just hurt yourself more and spread the poison. So, for now, you're my guest."

Exhaling deeply in defeat, Temari made herself comfortable on the bed, trying her best not to move her right leg. Holding the hem of the blanket close to her face, Temari called, "Sasori-sama..."

"Hn?"

"Are you mad?" She was afraid of what the answer would be.

"No," he answered, much to her relief, "Getting stung by a scorpion is no one's fault. And you never vandalized my things when you snuck in, so I suppose I can't be angry at you for that. So stop worrying and let your body get some rest."

"Will you be here when I wake up?" Normally, she was an independant person; she explored Suna on her own, expressed her thoughts with herself, and did things of her own accord. But now, for some reason, Temari felt that she needed Sasori there with her, or she wouldn't make it.

"Hn," he barely answered. But that was enough for her; satisfied, Temari made herself as comfortable as possible and allowed her eyes to close.


A/n

Okay, so there's the first chapter! I like how nice and slow this is going, and this pairing is definitely an experiment for me. I like it, but I'll need to write more before I'm a real fan. And what's up with Sasori? Really. That and much more is revealed in the chapters to come! Also, I realize that the time between when Sasori turned into a puppet and ran away from Suna left Temari at like, five in the story, but I wanted it this way, so the timing's a little off.

Translations:

Kami - God

Sasori - Scorpion

Akasuna - Red Sand

Demo - But

Gomen - Sorry