Author's Note- Well ah… this is the end of the fic. It's a very long chapter, and I'd like to thank my beta reader Tailfluffgirl for a lot of help on the editing and writing.

Anyway- She (Tailfluffgirl) also did a few fanarts from the story:

From the end of chapter three:

http/ www. deviantart. com / view /5757745/

From the end of this chapter- the last scene in the fic:

http/ www. deviantart. com /view /6625301/

I've had a lot of fun writing this story, and it feels really odd actually finishing a fic. This is the first "Inuyasha" fic I've ever completed except for some one shots.

UPDATE 04-05- Revision as per the previous chapters.

Anyway, read, review, and I hope you enjoy. :)

"In Order To Break Me"

Part 4

Feels Like Flying

By Kelly O'Connor


Inuyasha let out a deep sigh as he stared up at the starlit sky, taking in the silver crescent moon that spread its milky light across the night. Discontentment crossed his face when he reached up and took a forelock of hair into his hand and glared at it, its inky black color appearing even darker under the night sky.

"Dammit," He exhaled deeply, and snapped his gaze next to him when he heard a light murmur. "Kagome…" Inuyasha tightened his hold on her waist as she snuggled into his shoulder a bit more. She was resting, not sleeping- her head on Inuyasha's shoulder and his arms wrapped securely around her waist. Her eyes closed and her position relaxed. Kagome couldn't sleep. The threat of the barrier breaking down when she was unable to control it was too great. But we can't go fight my other half in the dark of the night… Inuyasha thought. We'll be at enough of a disadvantage when it's light out.

"Mm, Inuyasha," Kagome blinked and looked up to him. "How much longer until dawn?" Inuyasha glanced up at the sky.

"We're about halfway there Kagome," he answered, used to the ways of the night sky. The miko shook her head.

"I don't know how much longer I can hold it without falling…" The dark haired girl covered her mouth in attempt to stifle a yawn. "Asleep…" Inuyasha's eyes widened.

"No, no you can't!"

"I know but… I'm still so tired." She leaned her head against his chest and sighed. Inuyasha stroked her back absently. He was tired as well, and the only thing keeping him up was the fact that he was in his human form. The new moon was a night of constant danger to him, so this night- although the moon was present, was no exception in his mind. The idea of sleep was so foreign that his fatigue barely registered. Keh- I guess I'll have to get used to it or I'll never get any sleep again. The teenage girl was fast slipping into unconsciousness, and Inuyasha bit his lip, wondering how to keep her up.

"Umm Kagome," he began, scraping for some way to make conversation.


"Well uh, there's a crescent moon tonight…"

"I know that Inuyasha," The schoolgirl shrugged.

"Ah uh…I wonder Kaede-baba is doing right now," He fidgeted awkwardly.

"She's probably asleep…"

"Oh yah, true," the dark haired boy grumbled. "So… once this is done will you still take me to the grocery store?

"Of course I will!" Kagome stretched her arms in exhaustion.

"Does your… arm still hurt?" he asked with concern as he placed his hand on her forearm.

"Not really, I told you it wasn't bad…" Kagome groaned in fatigue and closed her eyes, sleep finally beginning to take over for good.

"Wait no…" Inuyasha said frantically. "You should look at the moon, it's a crescent…"

"You already said that Inuyasha," she replied, her voice thick with sleep.

"Keh- well there's not much to talk about is there?" She didn't reply. "Kagome, Kagome wake up!" He shook her lightly.

"I'm awake..." She mumbled incoherently. "I won't fall asleep… don't worry." The miko leaned a bit further into his chest and relaxed- her eyelids heavy.

Kagome cracked her eyes open and let out a deep yawn, wincing when the dim rays of twilight entered her line of vision. Twilight? The miko panicked, wondering how long she'd been asleep. "Inuyasha, you let me fall asleep?" She turned around to look at the boy, and her eyes widened at what she saw. "He's asleep…" Kagome stated breathlessly as she took in his peaceful sleeping face. Was he that tired… to fall asleep in his human form? Reluctantly, she placed her hand on his shoulder and shook him.

"Hmm?" Inuyasha's violet eyes slid open and he looked up, noticing the first rays of morning. Shit! How did I fall asleep? Kagome was still spooned against him, clearly having slept in his lap. Why was I able to relax enough where I could sleep? But deep down he knew the answer, what had comforted him to the point where he could rest. Kagome…

"Inuyasha!" Kagome bit her lip in fear, "We fell asleep and the barrier…" She hesitantly glanced out, expecting the worst. Her eyes met with the figure she least wanted to see.

"Shit!" the black haired boy growled.

"I—I—would have had to release the barrier anyway."

"Keh- I know!" Inuyasha pounded his fist into the ground as he made eye contact with his youkai half outside the barrier. He stood alert and ready, similar to how he had the night before. Like a predator waiting for prey, his red eyes boring a sinister gaze at the miko and the human boy.

"He must have been standing there ever since my barrier broke." Her face held a look of confusion and worry. "How long will he still wait?"

"As long as it takes for him to finish us off," Inuyasha replied sullenly. "We have to do it now Kagome, there's no waiting." The girl's eyes brimmed with a sudden bout of tears at the thought of what he was asking her to do. "The barrier is here protecting the village, but it still isn't safe… we have to fight… we have to defeat him Kagome."

"Inuyasha…" She wiped a few tears away, and brought herself against his chest once more. "How?" Inuyasha swallowed nervously.

"I-I'll get him away from the village," he stated, the shake of his voice betraying any sort of confidence he may have been trying to put forward. Kagome's eyes widened in realization of what he was planning on doing.

"Inuyasha- no!" she exclaimed. "You'll be killed…" She threw her arms around him, but he pulled away and began walking towards the edge of the barrier. However, not before reaching down next to him and tossing Kagome her bow and arrows.

"I'll be fine Kagome…" His eyes met with hers and he smiled in resignation of the situation. "You'll just have to protect me."

"Please, Inuyasha, no!" She reached forward, but Inuyasha was far out of her grasp.

"Kagome…" He gave her a comforting look. "You'll be okay… I trust you."

And with that he walked out of the barrier.

"Wait, Inuyasha!" she screamed desperately. "Oh no…"

Inuyasha's eyes narrowed as he stepped outside the barrier, his violet gaze once again meeting with the blood red one of his other half. "I'm here if you want me now." he said coldly, and the youkai took him up on the offer- flashing him a feral grin before lunging fully at him. Inuyasha rolled out of the way as quickly as possible, terror apparent on his face as he made a run for the nearby forest out of the corner of the silver haired youkai's eyes. Kagome covered her mouth, horrified.

"He's going to die if I don't… I have to go out!" she decided and adjusted her bow, trying to instill confidence within herself.

Inuyasha felt the adrenaline that came with fighting for your life course through his veins as he ran, cursing loudly when his doppelganger turned his eyes to him once more. Flexing his deadly claws, the youkai turned fully towards Inuyasha once more, preparing to strike.

"Over here!" Kagome yelled, arrow cocked in the silver haired youkai's direction. He turned in her direction, distracting him from his other half.

In the moment he was distracted, Inuyasha took the opportunity to run, his blurred red figure dashing with all the speed he could muster as he entered the dark forest.

The youkai growled with a primal desire for blood as he glanced between the young miko and the human boy- trying to decide which would be the easier prey. The moving target holding a higher appeal, he took off after his human side, leaving Kagome to chase behind them. We've got to stop him. Inuyasha…he's…he's already tired.

Hearing the crackling of twigs and branches behind him, Inuyasha looked up just in time to see his other half rushing in for the attack. Dodging not a moment too soon, he skidded to the side, sharp rocks cutting into his feet and pain shooting up through his legs. Gasping for breath, he continued his run, his legs carrying him forward with the energy he didn't even know remained in him. Away from the village. I've got to get him away from them…

Increasing his speed and knowing his other half could easily overtake him, Inuyasha just kept his sights straight head, knowing just by listening that he was being followed closely.

Kagome kept up, following the two sides of the boy and pulling her bow and arrows into place in case they were needed. Her legs protested at the strain she was putting on them- muscles demanding that they be allowed to rest as the chase continued.

Onward they went, the youkai half striking out at his human side with a vengeance and each time coming closer and closer to drawing the blood he wanted.

Adrenaline pumping through his veins with renewed fervor, Inuyasha knew he had to keep at a safe distance from the stronger half of himself.

If he didn't… not only was he in danger, but so was Kagome.

As time flew by as fast as the blurs of trees past them on their run, Kagome could see that her companion was tiring severely. Each time, he slipped a little closer to a fatal blow, and quickening her pace, she knew it was up to her to keep that blow from connecting.

Stumbling over an upturned tree root, Inuyasha fell forward, his face meeting the dirt. With a guttural growl, his other side pounced, fully intent on savagely murdering his other half.

Pulling back the arrow in her bow, Kagome let it fly forth, the arrow soaring between the two halves, and causing the youkai half to jump back at the purifying aura of it. Using what time she had, Kagome ran forward and grabbed Inuyasha's arm, pulling him upright and continuing to run forward. We can't give up now… it's like when we were fighting Naraku. We just have to keep at it!

Their bodies aching as each hasty footstep fell on the hard ground; the two continued fending off the continuous attacks from the other side.

It was then that Kagome began to recognize the forest area they were in- The forest of Inuyasha.

As the youkai jumped up into the trees to attack from above, a large form flew up from the trees it rested in.

Not sure what it was, but caring naught, Kagome and Inuyasha used the distraction to put some more distance between them and their pursuer.

A moment later, the carcass of a large bird youkai fell to the forest floor; the youkai half savagely reveling in the blood his claws had tasted. On seeing that prey easily killed, he turned his attention back to the two he'd been after since the start.

Up ahead, Inuyasha and Kagome found themselves drawing closer to the most familiar part of the forest- the Goshinboku. The great tree loomed like a beacon as the two approached it. "Keh- so we ended up here eh?" Inuyasha remarked. Kagome nodded.

"I—I… Inuyasha!" She threw her arms around him in an embrace. Inuyasha returned it, rubbing her back as he did so.

"Kagome we're not done, he'll be here any second," He paused. "Now is the only time…. We have to kill him." Kagome gulped, and her gaze hardened with resolve as she thought of his vicious attacks the youkai had inflicted upon her dearest companion. It's not Inuyasha… that's all I have to remember. She was allowed little more thought as the other half caught up with them. Instinctively, Kagome nicked her arrow and cleared her throat.

"This…this is it," she said shakily. With a growl the youkai lunged towards the girl in attack.

A flash of red and black leapt in front of Kagome, rusty blade unsheathed. It was impractical, but it was all Inuyasha had to fight with. The fang proved useful though, as it struck the lunging youkai- warding him off temporarily with a painful slash across the chest.

"Kagome, NOW! Shoot now!" Inuyasha yelled as he dodged away. The miko nodded and pulled back her bowstring, preparing for the shot. One look at the silver haired youkai though, and she found herself faltering.

"Oh, Inuyasha, I don't think…" She cut herself off when Inuyasha leapt back from another attack. His other half had regained his ground, not about to be thwarted by a small injury.

"It doesn't matter, just…" The boy stepped in front of her and slashed once again at the attacking youkai. "I can ward him off with this a bit but its now or never… Kagome…" Her eyes widened in terror as she took in the current scenario. Inuyasha's youkai half, standing right in front of the Goshinboku- her, with an arrow cocked in his direction, about to deal him a death blow.

She nearly dropped her bow in shock at the irony, and felt herself fighting back a sudden wave of tears. Could she possibly go through with this? It's as if it just gets more and more difficult… Inuyasha struck his other side once more with the dull Tetsusaiga before looking back and noticing Kagome's distress. "Kagome…" he said gently, figuring out the situation. Quick as a flash, he ran behind her and placed his hand on her shoulder.

"I…I can't…"

"You can, but you have to hurry up before he regains his ground." She nodded resolutely, and pulled back her bowstring quickly, faltering when she got it to a point of release. "Kagome… I'm… I'm right here. You're not hurting me, I'm here." Reaching up, he placed his hand on the bowstring, guiding it back the rest of the way. "Now," he whispered in her ear as the flash of red and silver descended upon them once again.

Kagome closed her eyes and, with the help of her companion, released the string- sending the purifying arrow straight in the direction of the boy's other side. Her eyes still clenched shut, the miko awaited possible impact… had she hit or missed? Kagome's question was answered when she felt a pair of strong arms wrap around her in relief.

"Inuyasha…?" She slid open her eyes and smiled at him, before turning to the Goshinboku. "Did I-I… oh my Gods." His silver hair was splayed behind him, an arrow straight through his heart, his body hanging piteously from the bark of the Goshinboku. Kagome felt the inevitable tears well up in her eyes as she approached the defeated youkai, collapsing on her knees in front of the tree. "Did it have to happen like this?"

"Kagome…" Inuyasha ran up beside her, kneeling down and placing a hand on her shoulder in comfort. "You did it, that's all that matters. You saved our lives." Kagome nodded and smiled weakly, gasping when she looked up at the figure once more.

The pink glow of her miko powers still surrounded the arrow and they were beginning to flower out across the body of Inuyasha's other half. As they did so, the pinned figure began to dissolve into an array of raw miko energy- Kagome's purifying powers at her strongest.

Still, somewhat disturbed by the image, she looked down and leaned into Inuyasha's fire rat coat. Inuyasha looked down as well, glancing up a moment later to see only two items left on the tree. Kagome's arrow--- and rung around it, a pair of familiar rosary beads. "How…? Kagome!" He shook her to look up and her eyes widened. "Your powers are stronger than ever," The dark haired boy gave her a weak smile, and reached up and removed the rosary from its place around the arrow, handing it to Kagome.

"No, Inuyasha, let's leave it…" She gave him a light lopsided smile. "Let's leave it all behind as best we can." The miko stood up and with a tug, pulled the arrow out of the bark of the ancient tree, placing it and the rosary at the base. A memorial that wouldn't last forever, but whether the visual was there or not- the companions knew that this was an ordeal that had changed them more than just physically, and one they could never forget.

Silently, the pair of them stood up and glanced up at the branches of Goshinboku- their hair sifting behind them as the morning finally rose up the horizon- brilliant sunrise lighting up the skies. "It's… all over now," Kagome stated breathlessly. Inuyasha nodded.

"Yah… yah it is," and with that, they began their walk back to the village.

He'd been silent for a few minutes, both of them had been. They were in the clearing that the familiar bone eater's well lay in before Kagome finally spoke up. "Inuyasha…?" Kagome glanced over in attempt to read the expression on his face. "Are you… okay?" She knew the question was a bit ridiculous, considering what they'd just been through- and the results; neither of them was okay.

Inuyasha didn't reply. As the sun beat down upon him, he looked up and squinted his eyes under its unyielding light- the first time he'd ever done so in his human form. He felt a pang of resentment course through his heart, unbidden. No, that's not fair… it's not her fault, but the thoughts remained.


"It's… ironic…" he began in spite of himself.

"Hmm?" Kagome inquired.

"That this would happen… its like, well… Kikyou and I got our wish after all." Inuyasha smiled somewhat sardonically. Kagome's mouth formed an 'o,' and she reached over to take Inuyasha's hand in hers, pleased when he squeezed back. "I shouldn't resent her, I know she never expected to…"

"Inuyasha," she assured him. "It's okay, I understand." Her grip tightened on his hand. Kagome bit her lip and shot a tentative glance to her currently quiet companion. "Inuyasha… can I say something?" she ventured.

Inuyasha turned to her for a moment and nodded slightly. Kagome lifted her face to the sky, her loose hair catching in the breeze. "I think… things have changed between us, don't you, Inuyasha?" A gentle smile crossed her features. He snapped his gaze back to her. There was confusion reflected in the depths of his violet eyes, but that quickly gave way to a look of unmistakable doubt.

"I see…" He dropped her hand from his grasp, turned away, and lowered his face; his thick dark bangs shadowing his eyes from Kagome's view. "I… didn't want them to." Inuyasha said quietly, but with a small amount of contempt that she picked up on. Her eyes widened in realization.

"Inuyasha, that's not what I meant at all!" She gestured in the negative and placed her hand gently on his forearm. "I don't mind… this doesn't change a thing."

"It doesn't?" He looked back towards her, a tinge of hope entering his voice. Kagome shook her head, and moved her hand up to his shoulder, using her other arm to turn him to face her.

"Not at all, you said it yourself, Inuyasha…" Kagome paused and gave him an encouraging smile. "You're still here." The doubt that filled Inuyasha's eyes gave way momentarily, but then a somewhat sour expression crossed his face.

"You said things have changed though…" he retorted in a low tone. Kagome moved her hands off his shoulders and reached her arms around him, enveloping him in a cautious but warm embrace.

"I meant that in a good way," Kagome soothed, "I'm sorry… that this happened, but I'm only sorry because I know it hurts you." She raised her eyes to meet his. "I want to see you happy, Inuyasha, so when you're hurt… I hurt." She paused and took a breath, organizing her thoughts. "Nothing will ever change that; nothing can ever change the fact that I'll… always want to see you happy." Kagome's cheeks tinged light pink. "So Inuyasha, whatever you're thinking… stop, please."

"Kagome…" Inuyasha's voice caught in his throat, and he impulsively wrapped his arms around her, returning her embrace. "You… mean that?"

"Of course I do," She pressed her cheek against his chest, "Because even though this hurts, and even though it's going to take some time… for you..." Pausing and shaking her head, she amended that, "No, for us... to get used to this Inuyasha." She sighed, "We still have what's important right?"

Inuyasha's eyes widened as he recalled her comment the previous night. "And if everything doesn't work out as we want it too Inuyasha, we'll make do with what we have. Besides, we'll still have what's important right?" The dark haired boy felt a small smile cross his features, unseen by the schoolgirl.

Kagome meant… we'll still have… each other? he thought to himself, making the connection as to what she had meant with that statement. "Yah, I guess we do." Inuyasha replied after a few moments. Kagome's face brightened and she tightened her embrace a bit.

"When I said it seemed like things have changed between us, I meant that…" Kagome sighed and attempted to put her thoughts in order. I meant that… if possible I feel like I love you even more. She looked up and placed her hand on his shoulder, then tentatively moved it up to his cheek. "I feel closer to you now," She blushed lightly as she thought of the kiss they'd shared the night before. "What we've been through, I guess I just… well I figure that if we made it through this together… we can make it through anything." Inuyasha's face took on a surprised expression that quickly changed to one of slight contentment.

"Kagome," He pulled out of her embrace and placed his hands on her shoulders, looking down to meet her gaze. Inuyasha gulped and blushed heavily, lowering his face to hers and hesitating before catching the surprised girl's lips in an awkward kiss. Kagome smiled under his touch and wrapped her arms around his neck, returning the kiss and steadying his uncertain motions in the process. Pulling away after a few moments, Kagome took his hand and squeezed it gently.

"I'm… sorry for thinking…"

"Don't be sorry Inuyasha, but don't you ever, ever doubt me," She gave him a stern but kind look, letting him know how serious she was. He took Kagome's free hand in his own and felt a small smile cross his lips.

"Oi- I won't."

"Good," Kagome replied and adjusted her bow and arrow to a more comfortable position since it had slipped while they'd been embracing. "I know we'll have to go pick up Kaede-baachan from Shokubai-sama's after we're rested, but should we be heading back to the village now?" Inuyasha didn't reply for a moment. "Inuyasha…?"

"Yah, I guess," He bit his lip nervously.

"You… don't want to go back?" Kagome looked over to try and read his expression.

"Keh- I just don't want to have to explain it to everyone," he answered, his eyes narrowed in irritation.

"Well then you don't have to explain it, Inuyasha," Kagome reasoned. He shook his head.

"Hmph, yes I do… it's not like they won't notice," The teenage boy reflected upon the stares he'd received when he walked through the village the previous night. Kagome shrugged.

"Well you don't have to explain it yet then," She tightened her grip on his hand. "Come on, just hold your head up and we'll deal with all that later." Inuyasha cocked his head as he looked at her, her smile warm as sunshine.

"Okay fine," he grumbled, and began walking back with her hand still in his. "Kagome…" the dark haired boy ventured tentatively after they'd started their journey back.

"Hmm, Inuyasha?"

"Bah- never mind," he replied. Kagome swung his arm and turned towards him. "Well uhh… you're really serious about not minding?" She gave him a firm look.

"I told you not to doubt me Inuyasha," she answered in a definitive voice. The dark haired boy rubbed the back of his head.

"I'm not! I just…" He cut himself off. Kagome switched her eyes up to the sky and closed her eyes.


"Keh, yes… honestly," Inuyasha clarified.

"I'll miss the way you could hold yourself with such confidence in battle, headstrong, Tessaiga always ready, as stupidly reckless as you were--- I'll miss it." She paused, "But then again… I suppose that won't change. Somehow I doubt you'll ever stop entering battles with that reckless abandon." Kagome grinned lightly. Inuyasha 'keh-ed' in retort. "I'll miss how if I didn't know where you were--- I could always go and find you lounging impossibly high up in the branches of the nearest tree." Kagome sighed in reminiscence. "Or you'd watch over Shippou-chan and I from those high up branches when we slept at night."

"Hmph- I wasn't watching Shippou…"

"If you were watching me, you were watching Shippou-chan," Kagome laughed. "Anyway, I suppose that won't change either. For some reason I'm always able to find you, even if you aren't in a tree—and I know you'll always watch over me at night." She and Inuyasha both blushed lightly. The teenage girl went silent for a moment as if considering something before she switched her gaze from the sky above to her companion beside her. "I think what I'll miss the most though… is…"

"What…?" Inuyasha asked cautiously, almost afraid of what she was going to say.

"I'll miss riding on your back… soaring through the treetops or along the ground," She closed her eyes in remembrance, "I always felt so safe, no matter how high up we were or no matter how dangerous it was… it felt like… flying." Inuyasha flinched.

"Flying huh? Well I can't do that anymore," He sighed in disappointment. Kagome shrugged and opened her eyes meeting his violet gaze with her own.

"It doesn't matter, Inuyasha," She squeezed his hand and momentarily went quiet, "You know, even though you and Kikyou ended up getting your old wish… in a strange sort of way." Kagome paused, "I think I got my wish too." Inuyasha's eyes widened. "For such a long time… all I've wanted when I've been with you is to be able to stay by your side, to be able to help you live, to be able to… make you happy." she said, with as much confidence as she could muster. "So as long as I can do that, then… I won't ever have anything else to wish for here." A wistful smile crossed her lips.

"Kagome…" Inuyasha replied, her name being the only word he could manage at the moment, inwardly too touched and thankful to the girl who so graciously held his heart in her hands, whether she knew it or not. The dark haired girl pulled her hand away from his and clasped both of them behind her back. A sudden thought struck Inuyasha. "It will be… hard to guard the Shikon no Tama now won't it?"

"No, it won't," Kagome answered optimistically, "I've been working on developing my miko abilities, and I should be every bit as active in guarding it as you anyway. After all, I'm the guardian." She grinned. Inuyasha nodded.

"Keh- I guess."

"We can do it, Inuyasha; we can make it through anything… as long as we're together." Inuyasha blinked and Kagome playfully nudged his arm. "I'm serious!"

"Oi, I know, I know… you already said all that stuff." he grumbled and crossed his arms. The teenage girl gave him a lopsided grin.

"Well then, let's continue heading back, all right?" Kagome snatched his arm and hooked it in hers. Inuyasha went silent for a moment, and pulled away from her hold. "What…?" He stepped in front of her, his back facing her. The miko eyed him in confusion. "Huh?"

"Get on, okay?" Inuyasha felt a blush creep across his cheeks in spite of himself. Kagome blinked.

"You want me to…"

"I know it won't be the same… but… if it makes you…" He cut himself off, "Keh- just get on if you're going to!" Kagome shook her head in the positive, and pulled herself onto his back, wrapping her arms around his center, and resting her cheek against the thick black hair that spilled down his back. Inuyasha pulled her legs under his elbows and stood up, starting back on the trek back to the village they'd come to call one of their homes.

His pace was steady and smooth, lacking the usual speed and agility, but hardly what one could call a slow walk. Kagome quickly found herself - in spite of that - feeling comfortable, warm, and safe. The light breezes were slightly whipping Inuyasha's hair and clothing as if he were moving much faster than he actually was. With a sigh, Kagome nuzzled further into his back, and with a gentle squeeze, tightened her grip on his center, a sudden fit of drowsiness coming over her. "Kagome… are you okay?" Inuyasha asked and glanced back at her. She simply nodded. "I can put you down if you want me to… it's probably just slowing us down anyway." he mumbled, discouraged.

"No- no, I want to stay here." she replied. Inuyasha raised his eyebrows in question.

"Why… it's just…"

"Because Inuyasha," She leaned up and kissed him on the cheek, eliciting a deep blush from him. "It feels like I'm flying."

"Kagome…" he could only say, overwhelmed. A genuinely happy smile crossed his features--- and with that he sped up as much as he could and continued towards the village.

They were together, and there was nowhere either of them would rather be.