[A.N.--This fic was originally going to be a chapter in a much longer fic, taking place when Touya was ten years old. However, I gave up on it because 1) I realized that the only reason I wanted to keep writing it was to get to this scene and 2) when I try to write Touya ten years old, he keeps ending up sounding like Syaoran! So, instead, you get this. Enjoy.]

Disclaimer: I didn't invent them, they just live in my head.

Ghosts
by Ladylupin
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When Touya got home from school that afternoon, he was only marginally surprised to find that the door was locked. He dug his key out of his backpack, let himself in, and looked around to see if his dad had left any message saying where he was. Sure enough, taped to the fridge was a note:

Touya--
If I'm not here when you get home from
school, then I'm still at the hospital with
Mom. Sakura is with me. I'll be home as
soon as I can.
Love, Dad

Touya sighed. His mother's illness seemed to have taken his father away from him as well; he was almost always at work or the hospital. Listlessly, he went upstairs and dropped his school stuff on the floor of his room, changed out of his uniform, then flopped down on his bed and tried to think of something to do.

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"Nadeshiko."

Fujitaka wasn't sure if she was still awake or not. He'd spent the last half hour just sitting in silence holding her hand. However, he always made it a point to say goodbye to her when he left, even if she didn't hear him. He stood up, leaned over and kissed her gently on the lips.

"Fujitaka," she whispered, without opening her eyes.

"I have to go now, dearest--Touya will be getting home from school. I'll see you again tomorrow. I'll bring Touya with me too, alright?"

"Wait." She seemed to be speaking only with a great effort. "Fujitaka, when I die..." He felt a sharp sadness grip his heart. This wasn't the first time she'd talked about her own death. She seemed resigned-no, accepting of the fact. "When I die, please--promise me you won't cry. Be happy, and make our children happy too. Always. Promise me that."


He squeezed her hand tightly. "Yes, Nadeshiko. I promise." He then called to their daughter from where she had been quietly sitting on the floor playing with a doll. "Sakura, come say goodbye to Mommy."

The young girl toddled over to the side of the bed. "Bye bye, Mommy."

"Goodbye, Sakura."

Then, unprompted, the three-year-old added, "I love you."

Nadeshiko put all the energy she had into a soft smile. "I love you, too, sweetie. You--all of you--will always have my love."

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That night, Touya awoke suddenly from a dream he couldn't remember. He tried to roll over and go back to sleep, but somehow, he couldn't. Gradually, he became aware that he could feel something...a *presence*...in his room. It felt like...one of *them*.

Noiselessly, he sank down under the covers until only his eyes showed, then glanced around furtively, trying to catch a glimpse of whatever was haunting his bedroom.

There. He saw what he thought at first was only a patch of moonlight, but it shimmered and changed and seemed to be coalescing into something more.

"Who are you?" he said out loud. "What do you want?"

The being continued to take shape. It began to exhibit form, a human form, and even some vestiges of color, though it was hard to tell in the darkness. The thing gave off only a very small amount of light on its own. As its face took on recognizable features, it turned its head directly toward him. "Touya..."

"M...Mom?" he said in disbelief.

The ghost, fully formed now, floated toward him as if blown by a gentle breeze. "I'm so sorry, Touya... but I wanted to say goodbye to you so badly, and I didn't get the chance..."

She drifted down to kiss him on the forehead. It was an odd feeling. Not wholly substantial, but not completely immaterial either.

"I can't stay long, Touya. They're calling to me--I can hear them."

"Who?" he asked.

She looked upward, and her face seemed to be illuminated with an unseen light. "A beautiful place...above the sky... They want me to join them..."

"Wait! Mom, no!" Touya cried as she began to fade out of existence.

"Goodbye, Touya..."

"No! Mom! Mom!" he yelled over and over.

Alerted by his son's voice, Fujitaka entered the room and flipped on the light just as the apparition disappeared completely. "Touya? What's the matter? Were you having a nightmare?"

Touya sat up in bed as his father sat down on the bed beside him. "No, I..."

At that moment, the phone rang. Fujitaka glanced at the clock on Touya's nightstand. It was nearly one o'clock in the morning. "Who would be..." He looked at Touya. "I'll be right back, okay?" He left the room and went downstairs to answer the phone. After a few seconds, Touya crawled out of bed silently and followed his father.

Downstairs, Fujitaka picked up the phone. "Hello?"

A kind-sounding female voice answered on the other end. "Hello, Mr. Kinomoto?"

"Yes, this is he."

"Mr. Kinomoto, this is Nurse Renato at Tomoeda Regional Hospital. I...I hate to be the one to tell you this, but..."

"Oh, no..." Fujitaka breathed.

"...your wife, Nadeshiko, she...passed away during the night."

"No..."

"She died in her sleep...there was no pain. You...if you could come down to the hospital in the morning and take care of all the formalities..."

"Yes, yes, that's fine." The small part of his brain that was still functioning, not numbed by grief, told him he would need to get Tsurukawa, his teaching assistant, to cover his classes...

"I'm so sorry..." the voice on the other end of the line was saying.

"Yes...thank you," he said. He hung up the phone, and turned around to see Touya there, looking up at him.

He sighed heavily. "Touya...come sit down, over here...that's right...just... Okay, now...there's..." He was having a hard enough time believing it on his own; he couldn't seem to be able to break it to his son. "Touya..."

"Mom's dead," Touya said it for him.

"How did you..."

"I saw her ghost in my bedroom."

Fujitaka stared at him. "You...you really do see ghosts, don't you?"

Touya nodded. "She said...she wanted to say goodbye to me, 'cause she didn't get the chance when...when she was alive. She said she was going to a--a beautiful place above th--the sk--" At this point Touya could speak through the tears he was trying so hard to fight.

Fujitaka placed his arms around his ten-year-old son and held him close, "Shhh, Touya, it's alright to cry, it's alright..." He wanted so badly let his own grief show similarly, but...he'd promised Nadeshiko. He needed to be strong for his children.

After several minutes, Touya sniffled and abruptly stopped. "She's here again. I can feel her," he said.

"Where?" Fujitaka whispered.

"Sakura's room..."

They headed up together, caught between an anxious rush and an almost frightened hesitance. Touya arrived first, cracked open the door, and peered in.

His mother's ghost, who had been hovering over Sakura's bed, whirled around as if startled as Touya looked in. More confidently now, Touya entered, his father close behind him.

"Is...is she there? Do you see her?" Fujitaka asked.

"Yes," Touya answered.

"I...I had to talk to her, one last time," Nadeshiko explained. "She won't remember me, but... I just can't let her go through life not knowing how much I loved her."

"I'll tell her," Touya told his mother. "Every day."

"Touya? Are you speaking to her? What did she say?"

Touya turned his head and looked at his father. "She's afraid Sakura won't remember her."

"We'll tell her, won't we Touya? We'll tell Sakura about her mother every day, so even if she can't remember, it will be like she knows her. Tell her that."

Nadeshiko smiled. "She hears you, otousan," Touya said.

Then Nadeshiko floated over and kissed Fujitaka lovingly on the lips. He closed his eyes, and for a moment appeared almost as if he could feel her next to him.


"Goodbye..." she whispered and faded away once more.

Fujitaka entered the room then and checked on Sakura. She was still sleeping soundly. "Your mother loves you, Sakura," he murmured. "Never forget that." He turned to Touya. "Alright, Touya, why don't you go back to bed, try and get some more sleep. We'll talk more in the morning." Touya obeyed and was soon in a fast, dreamless sleep.



As Fujitaka lay in bed later that night, not even attempting to fall asleep again, he realized that there was one other thing he needed to do the next morning, perhaps the most painful of all.

He would have to call Sonomi...

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[A.N. again--THE END. Well, did you like it?

Touya: I thought it was pretty good. I don't sound too much like the gaki, *thank goodness*

LL: Yay!

Touya: I do sound kinda like that kid in 'The Sixth Sense' though

LL: I SEE DEAD PEOPLE! Well, that's what this fic was about. Can't be helped.
If this was too depressing, don't worry--I'll write a more light-hearted fic next. In the meantime, read, review, and...RELEASE!!!]