Postlude
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Years later, they are buried together in Suna, as they would have wanted to be.

The Naras arrange at first to buy a bit of land as close to the Sabaku family's plot as they can manage, but Gaara insists they bury Shikamaru in his family's compound. There is already a place for his urn in the mausoleum. His name has been engraved to the left of Temari's, the opposite side of the spot where Kankurou's sits.

There they will stay, sharing her between the two of them until the inorexable desert at last beats down the old graveyard, and everything is reduced to sand and dust and patchwork memories.

The spot Gaara chose for himself, if he should die - if he can die - is on the shelf below. Close enough to watch, if not to be truly near them. Far enough to give them their space.

Gaara has learned this from watching his brother, you see: That to truly love something is to know when to let it go.

As a child, he wondered what it was like to be human.

But he has discovered somewhere along the way that he already knows.
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