AN: For those of you who have already read this, just note that it has been edited somewhat since its original posting—nothing major, only slight spelling and format changes. But I advise possibly reading it over before going on to Chapter 1—if not because it's different, but simply to refresh your memory before you read the new stuff. NOTE ~ no longer lets me center anything. If you wish to read this fic in its proper format, please head to my fanfiction ML (link provided on my Profile page.)

~* To Be Yours *~

By Nichole (Neko-chan) Johnson

Written: October 22, 2002

Revised: July 23, 2003

For Yuuhi's sake…

Prologue

"Ani-ue! Ani-ue!"

The child's laughter drifted to Aya's ears from the garden; sharp, insistent and riddled with childlike joy, momentarily dispelling the shadow that clouded her heart. A soft smile touching her lips, the young woman moved to the shoji, sliding it softly in its track to peer out into the sun-dappled garden beyond.

"Ani-ue, looky!" squealed the tiny child's voice once more; dashing across the sliver of a view Aya had allowed herself. Something in her wanted to keep her observance unknown, so she kept the shoji open only a crack.

Out on the lawn, the child came to a halt, crouching over some unseen treasure in the grass. Wonder shown in the child's large, expressive eyes; eyes that reflected the sunny green of the grass in which he gazed, and a playful breeze tugged at the child's shock of golden-red hair as he once again called to his unseen playmate, pointing a chubby, baby finger at whatever had caught his attention so.

Amused, masculine laughter rewarded the child's summons; a sound utterly unlike the high, bell-like laughter of the child, and somehow equally as melodic to the young woman's ears, which overheard the entire exchange from the shadowed recess of the house.

"Sora! You shouldn't run off so fast!" chided the masculine voice, the sound of a man's calm, assured strides crossing the lush lawn. A young man—lithe and fit, with loose, sun-touched brown hair and hazel eyes alight with laughter—came into Aya's skewed view, leaning inquisitively over the child crouched intently in the grass. Aya's smile deepened, a sadness touching her eyes as she watched.

"What did you find, Sora?"

"Looky, ani-ue!" crowed the towheaded child eagerly; looking up at the young man crouched over him intently.

Yuuhi blinked curiously, crouching down beside the child and peering at the small bud peeking through the thick blades of grass. "Huh… It's a flower," he murmured thoughtfully, brows furrowing slightly in bewilderment.

"F'wower?" echoed the small child inquisitively, looking back down at the small bit of color peeking through the endless green of the lawn.

"What's it doing in the middle of the lawn…?" continued Yuuhi softly, musing over the tiny wildflower's sudden appearance.

"Pwetty," cooed Sora happily, ignoring the young man's bewilderment. Eyes still wide with youthful wonder, he extended one chubby little fist, grasping eagerly at the little budding flower.

"Matte!" cried out Yuuhi shortly, catching the small fist before it could do any damage with gentle deftness. Sora looked up at his companion curiously, and the young man laughed assuredly, dispelling any fear the child may have had of having done something wrong.

"Ne, let's let it bloom, okay, Sora?" he told the boy, swinging him up in his arms and onto his shoulders.

The child let out a squeal of joy, swinging his arms in excitement from his perch on Yuuhi's broad shoulders.

"But for now, you and I need to go inside," Yuuhi's voice could be heard, fading away as he walked towards the house.

"Why?" came little Sora's innocent query.

"Somebody has to make your Mommy's breakfast."

"Ohhhh…!" came the boy's frustrated reply. "But I wanted you to pway with me, ani-ue…!"

Aya wondered how outside, it could be so bright and carefree while the shadow in her heart left her feeling bathed in darkness.

It was the anniversary of that day; the day when the sun had ceased to shine quite so brightly in her world. Every other day of the year, she could retain her cheerfulness; the zest for life that being with her beloved Sora and all the people still with her, who cared about her so dearly, could bring. But this day she could never escape, not for the last two years.

Touya… The ache in her heart seemed to constrict momentarily, burning with the memory of a beloved's soft touch. Clutching the seashell tightly in her fist—her most treasured memento—the young woman gazed dolefully back at the image that accosted her in the mirror. Her golden, bleached hair had continued to grow unfettered in the last several years, ever since her pregnancy, and the long locks now fanned out beyond her shoulders; only a hand's-width from her waist. Her lavender-blue eyes weren't quite as wild and innocent as they had been; they had grown wiser, and more pinched with age. It was the face of a woman who looked back at her now, not that of a strong-willed and harassed teen.

She had known it wouldn't last long, their marital bliss. He'd begun to show signs of wear even before the birth of their child. But he had always remained cheerful, always supportive; never once had he allowed the illness to control him, and they had celebrated the birth of their beautiful baby boy, Sora, together. Happy. So utterly happy, they had been.

Tears pricked at the back of her eyes, threatening to spill, but the young woman held them back with amazing restraint.

It had remained that way for a year. The three of them—together and perfect; a loving family. Touya had been such a loving and gentle father; had seen to his infant son's every need, watching over him with a look of overwhelming joy and wonder at this small being he had helped to bring into the world. Even when his body had begun to fail him; when he could no longer leave his bed, that look of overwhelming love and happiness had never left his eyes.

"Aya…"

His young wife nodded gently to him, choking back the sobs that tried to join the tears already escaping down her face. Touya extended his hand, and she leaned her cheek eagerly into his touch, allowing him to wipe the glistening trails away with his thumb.

"Aya," he murmured again, green eyes dull with pain. "Sora…"

Aya held the small baby up to him obligingly, a hesitant smile hovering over her lips, although her eyes still wept silent tears.

The red-haired man let a small sigh of content escape his lips, as he reached out a gentle hand to stroke his sleeping child's hair. Gold, like his mother's, with just a hint of his red.

"Sora… Our little piece of heaven," he whispered gently.

A sound, somewhere between a sob and a burst of short-lived laughter escaped Aya's lips, as she turned her gaze to the sleeping baby in her lap. The look of grief replaced itself with a mother's soft, loving smile.

Watching them, mother and child, a soft smile graced the dying man's lips. "There," he murmured, a touch of wry humor coloring his dry voice.

"That smile, Aya… Sora should always see that smile."

Aya looked up, meeting her beloved's intense gaze. The smile on Touya's lips deepened, reaching his eyes, and lighting them briefly.

"I wish for you…to always smile, Aya."

Tearing her eyes away from the mirror, and the reflection that had begun to weep before her, Aya clutched the seashell more tightly to her chest, fighting the pain of the past washing over her.

I have! I have kept smiling! she insisted fiercely to the dead man's image. It's only this day…that I cannot…

A gentle knock at the shoji interrupted her thoughts.

"Aya-san?" came the old woman's voice, tone gentle.

Wiping the last traces of tears from her eyes, the young woman straightened herself, composing herself at last in light of emerging memories. The shoji slid open softly, and the concerned face of Q-san peered unobtrusively into the room. Aya smiled assuredly at the old servant, pushing the memory of Touya's dying face from her mind and focusing on the present.

"Hai, Q-san. Is breakfast ready?"

"Hai, Aya-san. Yuuhi-san asked that I check on you," replied the woman. She cocked an eyebrow suspiciously, giving the room a cursory glance.

Aya pretended to not notice the elder woman's concern, still smiling cheerily. "Domo. Tell Yuuhi I'll be down to breakfast as soon as I've gotten ready, okay, Q-san?"

"Hai, Aya-san," replied the family servant, still somewhat concerned. Bowing slightly, she turned to leave, but Aya quickly moved to stop her.

"Oh, that reminds me, Q-san! Is Sora with Suzumi? I woke up and he wasn't in his bed this morning…"

The young woman feigned concern, already knowing the answer to her question but wishing to hear it from the other woman.

A nostalgic smile lit up the elderly servant's face. "Oh, I wouldn't be concerned, Aya-san. The little Master Sora is in the kitchen with Yuuhi-san."

With that, she turned, and softly sliding the shoji closed behind her, left the young woman to dress and prepare for breakfast.

Glossary

Ani-ue – big brother; usually used to refer to an older brother, but also for someone (male)

older than oneself.

There are many forms of 'brother' or 'big brother' in Japanese, but I chose this one

because I thought it fit a small child's voice well. In Inuyasha, Sango's little brother Kohaku addresses her as 'ane-ue', (older sister) and the small sound of his voice crying out "Ane-uue!" has always stuck in my mind, and I thought it a fitting sound for little Sora to be making.

Sora – sky; air; heavens

I thought it a fitting name for Aya & Touya's 'lovechild'—Aya being the descendant of a

celestial being, and Touya, created from her mana. Also, their child was looked on as so

important between the two of them; really symbolic to the end of the series, so I felt it should have an equally symbolic name.