"What are you doing, Gaara?! Get up!"

I was half screaming, half pleading as Sasuke slowly pulled me from my wrist away from Gaara. I struggled as best I could, but it was all so hopeless.

What good was I if I couldn't even defend myself? The power of my Sharingan was useless against Sasuke's own. My connection to Toboe was pointless while he was knocked out (at least I hoped that was all he was).

Sasuke laughed at my pitiful cries and changed back into his normal self. His hair darkened and his skin paled and those hideous wings shrunk back into his back. But now, his mocking red eyes and confident expression were more disgusting to me than his 'transformation' had been. At least when he was changed, he had physically looked like the monster he was inside. Now, seeing an attractive sociopath was really unnerving.

"Please, Sasuke," I begged, "Don't do this!"

"Dokuhebi, finish the job," Sasuke said quietly to the snake. It hissed in response and bared its fangs, its large head raised above Gaara.

He didn't move. He didn't look at me or say anything. I couldn't believe he would just sit there and wait to die.

Everything I was told about who he used to be, and everything I used to think he was, it was all trash. This man in front of me was no heartless killer, no psychotic monster, but my husband willing to die for me! Nothing could have been more giving, more loving, then this moment. But I couldn't, I wouldn't let it happen.

"No! Gaara, please!" I pulled with a force that made Sasuke hold on to me with both hands. He was grunting under the strain. I didn't even feel the pain from my cuts, I didn't care that my wrist was pulling and straining under his grasp.

"Shut up, girl!" he yelled out, "He won't fight back - You're an Uchiha now." I'm pretty sure he would have hit me if his hands weren't in use.

"That's it!" I turned to him, fist raised, and used all the strength I had left to clock him square in his nose. I put every ounce of energy into it, remembering all the trouble Gaara and I had to go through to stay together. I may not have been anything near as strong as Sasuke, but I was still alive and would try to save Gaara no matter what.

Sasuke shouted a string of curses and released me, covering his face. All I saw of it was a mess of dark blood leaking through his fingers. I think I heard myself shouting in pain, and my vision momentarily blurred from the sudden throbbing in my fist.

I inhaled sharply to overcome the pain. Although, Sasuke must have felt worse. I glared down at him, cradling my hand against my stomach.

"I'm not an Uchiha, asshole," I spat at him. I spun to face my husband. The snake hadn't attacked, and seemed distracted by the action.

"Gaara, fight!" I called out, limping towards him.

He looked up, amazed, but he assessed the situation right away. Instantly a column of sand grew behind him. It caught and enveloped the huge snake, crushing it in an explosion of innards.

Gaara, now splattered in snake's blood, rose to his feet. His face was down but he looked up at Sasuke with murderous intent in his bright blue eyes. His sand smoldered and swirled around him, rising up above him and splashing down again, all while he stepped towards Sasuke.

He may have looked vicious and lethal, but seeing him up again gave me the strength to keep walking, finally staggering into his open arms. I buried my face into his chest and felt his arms wrap around me.

"Please Gaara, let's get out of here."

"This won't take more than a minute, Seluni."

He was going to kill him, I could tell from his voice. Sasuke did deserve to die, but it didn't feel right to resort to his level. Gaara and I weren't murderers. And with everything Sasuke had put us through, I didn't want to see him killed. "No, Gaara, let's just leave –"

"I won't let him get away with this." Gaara held me tightly with one hand and raised the other one towards Sasuke, who was now stumbling to his feet.

Sand pooled around Sasuke's ankles and rose to cover his legs once more. This time, the sand moved swift and strong. In a matter of seconds, only the Uchiha's head was visible from a coffin of sand. He was looking stubbornly at Gaara, clearly defiant to the end.

I dug my face into Gaara's arm, not wanting to see the bloodbath that would take place.

"Hold it right there!" yelled a thunderous female voice. It was Tsunade, running into the clearing with Kiba, Akamaru, and Naruto.

Gaara didn't move, but silently watched the group approach. They surveyed the scene; three bloody figures, me clutching Gaara, Sasuke wrapped in sand, Toboe in a fluffy pile and three giant dead snakes. Kiba and Akamaru ran to Toboe, while Naruto and Tsunade stopped between the men. Gaara finally let his hand drop.

"Well," Tsunade said, putting her hands on her hips and tapping her foot, "Would anyone like to explain?"

She looked back and forth between us, like a schoolteacher waiting for an answer. Sasuke looked away, still trying to act smug even with blood all over his nose and being up to his chin in sand. But even I could see how he winced slightly at her voice. I closed my eyes and leaned back into Gaara. I was too exhausted to answer, and at the moment, explaining this all seemed far less important than sleeping.

"Sasuke!" she shouted suddenly. "I order you to tell me what happened here!"

No answer. Finally Naruto spoke up, his voice more reserved than usual. "I think . . . Sasuke was at fault here."

I glanced up. Naruto's eyes met Sasuke's in a bitter understanding.

Tsuande stalked over to the Uchiha, calling out for Gaara to release his sand. Gaara hesitated, but did as she asked. It was over now; Sasuke wouldn't fight anymore. Naruto rushed to follow the Hokage.

As the two of them pummeled Sasuke for answers, he sat in silence and took the verbal abuse. I looked back at my husband.

"Gaara, can we leave now?"

He gave a small smile and nodded, reaching to squeeze my hand.

That hand suddenly seared with intense pain that made me gasp for breath. I felt dizzy and saw black spots around Gaara's concerned face.

"Ow," I mumbled stupidly, before blacking out.


I woke up slowly to the sound of faint voices and the hum of incandescent lights. I was lying on a soft bed, probably in the hospital, and had to fight the urge to fall back asleep. The voices that had woken me seemed to be right outside the door.

". . . decent amount of blood loss, bruised throat and cheekbone, a sprained wrist, a fractured hand and broken ankle." I recognized the speaker as Tsunade. She still sounded angry.

A second voice was Sakura's. "But if none of them told you what happened, how do you know it was his fault?"

"Sakura!" Tsuande hissed back, "You've been a wonderful apprentice, but don't start questioning me now. Sasuke's actions were insane and selfish! I can only hope the Kazekage will forgive us for letting this happen!"

A pause. "I have to go see him."

"You'll wait until he's out of questioning. And I hope you know that Team 7 will be going on missions without him for a long time."

Good thing, I thought, and at least he's being detained. Someone like Sasuke should not be allowed outside this village.

I suddenly realized that something was touching my leg. Opening my eyes, I saw my husband, sitting in a chair pulled up to my bed. He was sleeping peacefully with his head resting on the bed, his hair just grazing my calf.

I watched him sleep, noticing the bandages on his arms and forehead. His eyes flickered open and met mine.

"You're awake," he said, leaning over to kiss me gently. I smiled and reached up to brush his hair out of his eyes with my good hand. The other was in bandages and hurt to move.

I hardly knew what to say. What do you tell someone who risked his life for your own? I could do nothing but drink in the sight of him, healthy, safe, handsome, and mine. I never wanted to let him out of my sight again.

"There's something I have to show you," he said suddenly, looking oddly excited for the moment. "This morning, I spoke with Naruto about Shukaku, and he told me about a new seal that would suppress Shukaku's power to overcome me." He lifted up his shirt, revealing a small spiraled tattoo around his navel.

"It's related to the seal Naruto had placed on him some time ago. I can now control Shukaku's strength without worrying about him escaping from me again."

My mind was still groggy from sleep but I realized that this was something important.

"That's why you were able to turn back into yourself, isn't it?"

He nodded and grinned. "No more hurting you, either."

I laughed and pulled him in for another long kiss. Meanwhile, the door flew open. In ran Temari and Naruto, with Kankuro and Tsuande following behind.