As soon as Yashamaru revealed the lit explosive tags covering his chest, Gaara's sand rushed forward to try to save him. It curled all the way around his tiny body to protect him from the oncoming explosion. But it misjudged the magnitude of the explosion caused by the tags. The force of the blast propelled Gaara forward far too quickly for the sand to get out of the way. It took only a second for the frail child's neck to snap, ending his life in a relatively painless manner. Gaara barely felt anything as his soul left his body, unaware of the sand that had only been trying to help him collapsing in a lifeless heap or of the enraged screams of Shukaku as his spirit was scattered back into the desert to regenerate until it could manifest once more.
After leaving the world of the living, Gaara was suddenly aware of himself lying sprawled out in some warm sand. Feeling a bright light against his tightly shut eyelids, he wondered what could have happened to him. Hadn't it been a cool moonlit night just mere moments ago? Noticing the utter silence in the corner of his mind where Shukaku had been sealed for the first time, Gaara shuddered in fear and curled himself into a tight ball. Time seemed to slow down to an unbearable drag as he struggled to understand what had happened. After some time, Gaara heard a muffled gasp come from someone nearby followed by hurried footsteps. Feeling himself get picked up carefully by a pair of gently arms, Gaara opened his eyes ever so slightly. The woman who was carrying him had most of her body and all of her face concealed by a cloak. As the gentle swaying of the woman's arms lulled Gaara off to the first few hours of sleep he had experienced since he was just a baby, Gaara pondered why anyone would suddenly go out of their way to help him, especially after what Yashamaru had said and done.
The next time Gaara awoke, he found himself tucked into a small, cozy bed. After examining the tiny bedroom for a moment, Gaara became aware of a shooting pain in the back of his head. He let slip a soft moan of pain which attracted the attention of the same strange women. Slipping quietly through the door, she came to Gaara's bedside. Not needing to lean in closer to feel the heat radiating from the child's head, she gently stroked Gaara's hair and carefully adjusted the sheets into a more comfortable position. The woman stayed in the same position and hummed a soft lullaby until Gaara fell asleep once more.
Once Gaara's fever finally broke, he stumbled out of the bedroom and eventually found the kitchen where a glass of milk and a plate of bacon and eggs were waiting for him. After hearing a light rumble from his stomach, Gaara took a seat at the table. The enticing aroma of the freshly prepared meal tempted him enough for him to appease his stomach before doing anything else. After about half of the breakfast had been eaten, the woman casually strolled into the room. After spotting Gaara, she smiled and sat across from him. "It's good to see you're feeling better. Are you enjoying your meal?" The woman waited for Gaara to nod before continuing. "I wanted to make sure you had something nice and warm to eat as soon as you woke up. That high fever of yours had given me quiet the scare, so it's a wonder you recovered so quickly. Most people take much longer to recover, but then again they tend to suffer through quite a bit before coming here."
After finishing of the remains of his breakfast, Gaara tried to learn more about his situation. "Thank you for helping me. I have been wondering one thing though." Gaara had to pause and bite his lip to keep the tears from coming. "Am I dead? Before you found me, my uncle, Yashamaru had tried to kill me. I remember him with dozens of explosive tags on his chests and a big explosion, but I don't remember much of what happened after that. I just don't understand why anyone would help me since my own father sent Yashamaru to kill me and apparently both Yashamaru and my mother had never loved me."
The woman gasped at the last sentence. Trying to compose herself for the boy's sake, she still could not keep her voice from cracking a little as she answered. "Yes, you are dead. I have been watching you for a long time, so I am aware of a lot of what happened. You see, sometimes the deceased watch the world of the living for a while. We can only focus on one person and the events around them at one time and we can't influence how things will play out most of the time, but it feels good to know about the people we left behind. I have heard of people who were resurrected, but even they couldn't change much since anything they learned while they were dead could not be passed on to their reanimated bodies. I am one of the few people who has been able to reach through to the world of the living, but I don't think I can do that anymore." Sobbing a little, the woman got up and hugged Gaara tightly. Taking that moment to reveal the identity of the woman, Gaara managed to move the hood that had been covering the woman's face only to recoil in horror.
Gaara bolted out of his chair before the woman could react. Gasping for breath through a stream of tears, Gaara tried to distance himself from the brown haired figure. "Why are you doing this to me? I know you never wanted or loved me, so why are you here?" The woman tried to approach Gaara only to stop when even the smallest step on her part sent the child into further hysterics. "Go away! Hasn't everyone hurt me enough already?" Gaara screwed his eyes tightly shut and sobbed. Tears were still rolling down his face when he heard the woman's irregular breathing. Peeking out at the woman he had once wanted nothing more than to meet, Gaara saw her slumped over with her chest heaving and her face in her hands. He slowly stopped crying in shocked amazement as the woman's previous attempts at a calm demeanor shattered.
Karura, upon hearing her son calm down, tried to rasp out an apology. "I never wanted to leave you. Day and night I have tried to watch you and your siblings grow up while Yashamaru and my husband took care of you. Yashamaru seemed to love you with all of his heart, so I still can't understand why he attacked you. All I know is that my husband has been pressured by the council for months about you. It sounded like he was trying to test you somehow, but my brother must have made a mistake somehow. If your real father had finally returned maybe he could have beaten some sense into the council. But he hasn't even been near the village since before you were born. Takeo never found out about your real father; he probably still thinks Sasori died lost in the desert years ago." Karura forced a weak smile onto her face. "I wish you could have met him. You two really could have helped each other. I tried to help you as much as I could from here, but it was my fault you died." Karura could barely breathe as another, more forceful round of sobs shook her whole body.
Silently, Gaara walked over to his mother. He hugged her as hard as he could until she managed to stop crying and wrapped him in an embrace of her own. After stretching up and giving her mother a kiss on her still moist cheek, Gaara told Karura exactly what he had always wanted to be able to say to her. "I always loved you. I missed you too, but I knew you would always watch out for me. I could feel it." Gaara placed his right hand over his heart. "You've been right here my whole life. I couldn't hear or see you, but just knowing you loved me filled the hole in my heart for a long time. I just don't know why Yashamaru would ever say you hated me."
Karura scooped Gaara up into her arms and kissed him on his forehead. "I don't know either sweetheart. Sometimes, people just can't act like themselves when they loose someone precious to them. I have seen Yashamaru stare at my picture and pray for hours on end. My husband had the same sort of wounded heart. I doubt many people have seen him do it, but sometimes he cries over my picture. That's why I can't honestly believe either of them meant for you to die." Jus then, mother and son both heard a knock on the front door of the small house. Rushing to the door and throwing it wide open, they could only watch as a man who looked nearly identical to Karura ran into the distance. On the ground by the door, a tiny note lay folded up. 'I'm sorry our lives had to end this way. I couldn't bear to see you suffer any longer. Hopefully now you can enjoy your mother now as you should have been for the past six years. I will be back soon. First I must make sure my former leader understands what he did to his family.' Holding the note and each other tightly, Karura and Gaara headed back inside for Yashamaru to return.