Gaara gasped and spluttered for air. The unexpected cascade of water had completely caught him off guard and had easily shot him back into the arena. His sand had barely managed to keep him from being crushed beneath the sheer force of the wave, but most of said sand had been brutally washed away until Gaara was uncomfortably exposed for the first time in his life. He was on his hands and knees, struggling for air, eyes wide as his gaze darted around to stare dazedly at his sand responding sluggishly to his commands.

"What a useless weapon you are," sneered a breathy voice. Gaara froze. He turned slowly to find a long haired man glaring down at him with yellow eyes. "Useless weapons are to be discarded." The man threw a sword at him at alarming speeds.

His sand wasn't responding like it was supposed to. His sand was hardly moving. He was completely defenseless. Gaara stared emotionlessly into the face of death, completely unprepared and motionless.

But Temari was there. She was just...there, standing in front of him with her arms outstretched protectively. What was she doing?

Gaara stared blankly, unable to fathom what was happening as his sister stood defiantly in front of him as the sword came bearing down on her with incredible speed.

Time seemed to slow as his heart lurched in his chest. What was happening? What was going on?

A second blur, even more unexpected than the first, as Temari came crashing into Gaara's frozen form, sending him toppling backwards.

A shrill scream ripped through the air, and everything felt incredibly heavy.

Gaara found himself scrambling to get free, struggling to sit up and give Temari a once over. She was heavy, heavier than expected, and he took a moment to struggle beneath her before he finally managed to push out from underneath her.

"Wh-wha-what?" Her voice was shaking, and as Gaara pushed her up into a sitting position, felt tremors running through her body.

There was an inarticulate scream, the roar of a large blast of fire, and an odd lurching rumble that shook the ground.

Gaara simply stared silently at his sister. His sister who had stood in front of him, his sister who was willing to die for him, for his life.

"N-n-no. No!" Tears gathered in Temari's dark eyes, but not a single one fell. "Get up. Get up!"

Gaara finally noticed the second head of blond hair, hair more yellow gold than Temari's softer and lighter blond.

The weird loud blond kid was half sprawled in her lap on his side, the sword the yellow eyed man had thrown sticking out of his gut. The kid let out a painful huff of a poor facsimile of a laugh, struggling to remain twisted a bit to make sure the sword didn't touch Temari. "Fancy seeing you here," he said weakly. His face puckered in pain due to the effort.

Gaara was even more dumbfounded. If Temari was unexpected, this kid wasn't even a flicker of forethought. Why? Why?! Gaara's hand tightened on Temari's shoulders even as his face remained slack.

A large explosion in front of him drew his attention as he noticed his sand still struggling to respond to protect him.

The raven haired boy and the pink haired girl from the blond kid's team were fighting viciously against the yellow eyed man. Said man looked unholy gleeful as he fought them. It was clear he was above them in skill level, but their outright furious onslaught was somehow keeping the dangerous man at bay. The method that they fought was downright terrifying, as they seemed to be pulling out every underhanded trick in the book and it was actually throwing the man off guard as he started chuckling to himself in delighted surprise.

Just as he seemed ready to turn the tables on them, Gaara's whole world turned upside down.

Rasa came raining down in a golden curtain of power on the man with a fury Gaara had never actually seen before. It allowed the two Konoha genin to back off and slip nasty little surprises in whenever there was any sort of opening. Between the three of them, they were starting to make headway on the man's seemingly impenetrable defenses.

And then the Hokage showed up.

The strange man attempted to flee, but Rasa and the genin made damn sure he couldn't as Sarutobi beat the living snot out of his former student.

When Orochimaru attempted to summon the coffins, Rasa's gold dust yanked them back underground while Sarutobi unleashed a whole nother level of terror on the traitor's head.

Gaara was pretty sure he watched the traitorous snake get decapitated three separate times, and he honestly wasn't sure if the man could be killed…until the pink haired genin slapped something on Sarutobi's staff when he wasn't looking that caused the next swing to slash forward twice its normal speed and ought right plow through Orochimaru like he was nothing but paper.

When the little white snake attempted to flee the body, Rasa mercilessly crushed it with his gold dust, clearly not willing to take any chances.

Gaara remained motionless, too shocked to move throughout the entire battle. Temari was still in his grasp as she clung to the blond in her lap who was gasping for breath. The blond genin from Konoha had broken out in a cold sweat and his eyes were drifting in and out of focus. Temari was clearly torn on what to do. She didn't know if the medic nin were still in the arena or not, and she knew you weren't supposed to remove things that were impaled in the body, as the blood loss would be more dangerous than leaving it in. Still, clearly something more was going on, as the blond in her arms was clearly getting progressively worse at an alarming rate.

Rasa had been the closest to them, his dust allowing him to fight at a greater range. He stepped up and gazed down at his children with the forgein sense of concern tickling at his senses. "Temari." His gaze flicked to Gaara's before returning to his eldest.

"I-I don't understand," she stammered. "He's getting worse. He shouldn't be getting worse like this." She looked up beseechingly, not fully comprehending that she was speaking to her father. "He's getting worse." She couldn't fully articulate why that was worrisome, why she was so upset.

Rasa slowly squatted down in front of her and glanced over the kid in her lap, not sure how to feel about the boy taking a hit for his daughter and by proxy, his son. The sword didn't look like anything fancy, but like any tool a shinobi used, looks were deceiving.

Sarutobi arrived next, expression grim as he took in the scene. "It's Kusanagi, a poisoned blade." He glanced around, noting that most of the fighting was already starting to die down.

The other two genin appeared, the pink haired one pressing forward and nearly unbalancing Rasa as she tried to assess the damage. She looked worse for wear, half her face swollen, her nose bent at an odd angle and her whole appearance battered and disheveled. There were several places she was bleeding, but she seemed intent on ignoring her own injuries to check on her teammate. She even ignored her raven haired teammate who looked just as abused as her as he took up a defense stance behind the kages while trying to hide a limp.

Sakura's lips pulled down at the corners as she gently pressed her fingers to Naruto's sweaty brow. His forehead was hot, even as he started shivering uncontrollably. So far, there wasn't a lot of blood, but she debated if that would be the safer option if the blade was poisoned. "Do we have the antidote?" Her voice was raspy.

Sarutobi's grim expression tightened. "No. It's a very complex method and the only person I can think to pull it off is currently outside the village."

"Tsunade," murmured the pinkette as she pulled out a cold compress and put it on Naruto's brow. "Is there time for her to be recalled?" The tone of her voice made it clear she thought it might be a long shot.

Sarutobi paused.

For just a moment, Gaara spotted the tremble in Sakura's hands before she pulled them away and turned to glance up at the Hokage.

"There might be." His tone was steady, but all of them could see his conflicting doubt in his eyes.

"There will be," interrupted a voice. All of them were startled to find a silver haired man covered in blood standing next to Sasuke, a hand on his genin's shoulder.

Gaara was stunned by the sheer intensity in Kakashi's eyes. The man's unwavering presence seemed to put both of his genin more at ease. Even Sarutobi straightened a bit under his unblinking stare.

"I will send Jiraiya as soon as everything is quelled here."

"We can handle things here," rebutled Kakashi, making Rasa raise an eyebrow at his moxie. "Jiraiya can leave tonight. Others will need Tsunade's assistance, not just Naruto." He paused, seeming to assess his own Kage. "She's needed."

Sarutobi sighed, seeming to wilt into his own memories. They all watched him for a moment, waiting. He closed his eyes and firmed his stance. "Finish clean up," he commanded sharply. "When there are no longer any fights in the streets, we'll talk further on this matter." He gave Kakashi a hard look.

Kakashi paused but faintly tipped his head forward. "Hokage, Kazekage." He disappeared in a small flutter of leaves. Sasuke was also missing.

Sakura seemed torn when she noticed her missing teammate, but shook herself and refocused on Temari and Gaara. "We need to get him to the medical staging point. The hospital might be compromised." Her gaze locked on Gaara. "Can you move your sand yet?"

He frowned and looked at the sand puddled beneath them. His sand was still wet and heavy, making it incredibly hard to manipulate like he usually did.

A large stream of fire caught all of their attention.

Sasuke was standing off to the side, blowing a stream of fire over the sand and sending up hissing waves of steam. Gaara's eyes widened at the assistance while Sakura faintly smiled.

The pinkette turned back to Gaara. "Can you carry him with your sand, once it's dry?"

He gave her a side eye, not really sure how to respond. He'd never helped anyone with his sand before, not like that. He hardly kept Temari and Kankuro safe most of the time, figuring it was their own responsibility to keep themselves alive and well.

She seemed to understand this as a sharp glimmer of command filled her eyes. "Your sand is the most versatile and safest way to move him without causing him more injury." Despite the fact Suna had clearly backed out of their deal with Orochimaru and had been fighting alongside Konoha, it was obvious that Sakura still doubted their intentions. She was holding him partially responsible for her teammate's current predicament.

He was about to open his mouth and deny her, when Temari shifted. When he looked down, he was uncomfortable with the amount of pleading he found in his sister's face. He nodded before he was aware of what he was doing and was rewarded with Temari's expression softening into the most tender smile he'd ever seen her wear.

"Thanks." She leaned into him a bit more as a physical show of appreciation, considering her arms were still full with the Konoha genin.

Gaara woodenly nodded, not sure what had happened to the world today, but it was not one he recognized in the least.

Sasuke shunshined next to them, scowl firmly in place. "Most of it should be dry now." He was still on edge, shifting and alert to the things still going on around them. His voice sounded a little rough too.

"The hospital is clear."

Sakura twitched while Temari yelped when the group turned to find a head with a blank porcelain mask sticking out of the ground to their left. Sasuke snorted.

The disembodied head tilted slightly in his direction before turning once more to Sakura's form hovering over Naruto. "Zabuza is standing watch. I will escort you."

Sakura faintly smiled. "Thanks Haku." She turned to Gaara. "Are you ready?"

Still weirded out by the whole experience, Gaara frowned faintly as he carefully stood and began gathering his sand below Naruto's body.

Temari hesitated to release Naruto. She knew it was foolish, but ingrained concern for Gaara's more erratic behavior and uncertainty of Naruto's condition for saving her stilled her hand.

A hand touched her shoulder, and Temari looked up at Sakura's smiling visage.

"Gaara's got this. We need to set up a mobile defense. We don't know how many more Oto ninja are still inside the walls." The pinkette sounded so certain that Temari found her grip loosening.

Gaara's spine straightened a bit, shocked to feel a sense of pride fill him at the confidence Sakura had in his ability to transport her teammate safely. He discreetly touched his forehead, a mimicry to what Sakura had done for Naruto. Gaara pulled his hand away and frowned at it, realizing he had no idea what such an action was supposed to accomplish. What special knowledge had the pinkette gained from such an action?

He had no way to tell if there was an affliction of some sort affecting his perception. He didn't have any experience with anything but a few genjutsu. However, the redhead was certain something had to be wrong. After all, today had been far too odd to be rational. His own reactions were also under due scrutiny once this mess was sorted and he wasn't transporting someone (carefully) with his sand.

His gaze darted to the side to the blond carefully cradled in a cloud of his sand. Somehow, he was certain that all of this somehow centered on the blond and his teammates. His eyes trailed from the inert blond to his sister's familiar locks. Gaara was uncertain how he felt, considering he had an odd premonition that they would end up seeing a lot more of Team 7 in the future.

His head hurt just thinking about it.