Disclaimer: Blech

"…" – speech

italics - Japanese text (translations at end) or emphasis

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The End

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"Kagome!" A figure clothed in red walked slowly across the desert wasteland that had- only moments before- been a lush forest. "Kagome!" His unusual dog-ears twitched as he turned his head this way and that, desperate to find some clue of the girl. "Kago-" Inuyasha's next shout was abruptly cut short as he stumbled and fell heavily onto the cracked ground. "Fuck." The hanyou could taste his own blood. "Fuck."

He gritted his teeth, trying to ignore the deep, throbbing pain that came from somewhere in his midriff. Inuyasha squeezed his eyes shut, definitely unused to this degree of pain. Mouth opening in a silenced cry, he rolled over onto his back and lay there, stilled. Violent coughs shook the half-demon's body. He turned his head to spit out the blood.

Inuyasha's half-lidded eyes turned upwards to stare into the sky. The blood-red sky. Such a suitable atmosphere for what had happened. His mind drifted to revisit the day's events while he rested.

The day had started out innocently enough with the group continuing on their search for Shikon shards. With Hakudoushi dead and Kagura having finally been freed from her imprisonment to Naraku, all seemed well enough. It was simply another insignificant segment in their journey towards completing the Shikon no Tama and defeating Naraku.

Or so they'd thought.

Late morning had arrived with a rather obvious clue towards Naraku's whereabouts. Despite the fact that it'd had 'trap' written all over it, they simply hadn't been able to resist following it. Guided by Inuyasha, they'd followed the trail of clues until eventually, they'd led them deep into a dank forest. And so, the afternoon had barely been spent before the shard-hunting group had found themselves in the fight that would end it all.

Though Inuyasha, Kagome, Miroku, Sango and Shippou had proven themselves as significant forces, it still hadn't been enough to overcome Naraku's sheer evil. He'd drawn forces from all around and released a few more of his 'children', creating a small yet potent army of sorts. And although the group had enough power to overcome the enemy, their strength was quite diminished before cutting through even three-quarters of the demons.

Fortunately, reinforcements had arrived at the last second, saving them from certain destruction. Even Inuyasha would admit that Kouga's arrival gave him a breath of relief. Sesshoumaru was the unseen ally as he came quietly and unexpectedly. With reborn confidence, the group had plowed forward, effectively destroying whatever resistance there was left. And soon, all that was left was Naraku.

However, even the most skilled of prophets wouldn't have been able to predict the outcome of the battle. Even though he was outnumbered seven to one, Naraku still managed to walk around the oncoming attacks and deal several heavy blows. With the power of the full Shikon no Tama, he seemed to be indestructible. It wasn't long before both Shippou and Miroku had been knocked out of commission; one through force and the other through poison.

Kouga and Sango had been the next to fall while protecting the unconscious. When all had seemed bleak for the remaining three, another unexpected turn of events came up; the bright, holy arrow of a miko had announced Kikyou's late arrival. But even then, it had taken their combined efforts to bring down Naraku once and for all.

Not without its consequences.

Inuyasha groaned and sat up, trying to suppress the pain. He pulled open his haori and examined the mangled flesh that used to be his stomach. The hanyou grimaced and closed the jacket. There was nothing he could do about that wound at the moment. His face twisted as he lurched onto his feet with a tremendous effort. Now, to resume the search.

"Kagome!" His shouts were becoming softer as he tried to hold in any remaining energy. Amber eyes swept across the flat land desperately, searching for any sign of the girl. Anything. Anything red… white… or…

or…

Green.

Inuyasha stopped for a moment and breathed, "Kagome." The pause was short lived, however, as he hurried forward and with an effort, rolled a tree trunk over. Beneath, with an expression of almost morbid calm on her face, lay the girl. Thankfully, she hadn't been completely crushed because she was lying in a crater. The half-demon dropped to his knees and shook her roughly by the shoulders. "Wake up. Hey." He swallowed thickly. "Kagome…"

There was no response.

Almost hesitatingly, Inuyashapushed an ear against her chest. Now was not the time for bashfulness. The sound of her beating heart, slow though it was, was a welcome relief to the hanyou. He raised his head and breathed in deeply. "Kagome. Wake up…" He shook her some more, but still with no response. He could feel the unwelcome moisture gathering at the corners of his eyes. "P-please?"

An almost inaudible groan came from the girl's lips.

The half-demon's eyes closed in relief and he leaned back against the tree trunk. He could feel the comfort flush through his body, making him feel slightly light headed. After a moment, he leaned forwards again to brush the hair from Kagome's forehead. Her bright, azure eyes opened.

"Hey." Her voice was soft and hoarse.

Inuyasha couldn't help the slight twitch on his lips. "Hey." But the smile that was yearning to come out was crushed as he surveyed her condition. Her clothes- the 'school uniform' was torn and battered. Blood- most of which was not hers, thankfully- stained the previously white fabric. The red tie that usually adorned the front of the shirt was gone. He vaguely remembered her using it to tie up one of Shippou's injuries.

Her body was arranged oddly- it almost looked like she was lying on her side with one leg crossed beneath the other, but her torso was twisted the other way. Kagome's face was stained with dirt and some evidence of her own blood. There was a fresh, deep cut just on her hairline, and her hair was matted and dirty. One hand lay clenched at her side while the other was bent at an awkward angle- it was broken.

Pushing aside his worries, the half-demon rearranged his legs so that he was sitting more comfortably. "How do you feel?" He was afraid to touch her; to cause her more pain.

Kagome managed a slight smile. "Isn't that my question?" The effort it took to say those few words was evident.

The half-demon almost choked. "I asked first."

She tried to shrug but the action only resulted in a painful convulsion in her expression. "I feel just fine." The hollowness of her voice showed just how she sucked at lying.

"Liar." Inuyasha reached out and flicked a piece of wood off her stomach. He shook his head. "Liar."

Kagome's smile faltered. She lowered her eyes, ashamed. "I… I can't move." She turned away, unwilling to let him see her cry. She didn't want to look weak in his eyes.

"What?" He stared, not wanting to believe it.

"I can't move!" It was the cry of a broken soul. Then, softly she gasped, "Gomen ne, Inuyasha. I didn't… I didn't mean it." She looked at him tearfully before glancing away again, the shame almost too much to bear.

He choked back his own emotion and gently… slowly eased his hands under her arms. Carefully, Inuyasha pulled her closer to himself, feeling a knife cutting through his chest each time she whimpered. "Sshh…" He tried to sooth her, but all the same, he could see the tears that slid silently down her cheeks. Inch by inch, minute by minute, Inuyasha eased her over until finally, Kagome was lying in a more-or-less comfortable position on top of him.

They allowed the disconcerting silence to stretch while they each caught their breath.

"Inuyasha…"

He glanced down. "Yeah?"

"Where do you think the others are?" Kagome whispered softly.

"I think they're with my brother… He wasn't there when…" He drifted off. "Maybe he went to them and got them out of here."

"Do you think they're…"

Inuyasha smoothed a hand over her head, trying to seem comforting. "No. They survived. I know it."

She smiled. "Good…" There was a lull. Then, "Do you think Naraku's really dead?"

He swallowed thickly and knew that they were both avoiding talking about their own hopeless condition. "Yes. Your arrow. That was what killed him." He lowered his head and shamelessly nuzzled the top of her head. There was no room for embarrassment here. Not now, when everything was so desperate. "I didn't know you were that powerful."

A sudden laugh broke from her lips. "Me? Powerful?" She shook her head with an almost mocking smile. "No…" She slid her eyes upwards, trying to look into his face. "You and I both know it was mostly Kikyou. She weakened him."

"But you're the one who killed him."

A flash of comical irritation crossed her expression. "Can't you agree with me just once in this lifetime?" Her body suddenly seized up as several hacking coughs racked her body. Inuyasha tightened his grip, willing the spasms to stop. "Sorry." Her voice was soft.

"What are you apologising for, wench?" The half-demon couldn't keep the worry from weighing on the light comment.

Kagome smiled sadly. "She's dead, isn't she?"

He mocked not knowing what she was talking about. "Who?"

"Kikyou." She was clearly in no mood to mince words.

Inuyasha considered lying. Kikyou had always been a tender subject of discussion between himself and Kagome. But in the end, he decided that there would be no more lies. After all, lies were what had gotten him in this mess in the first place. "Yes."

"Mm…" The girl sighed. "I'm sorry."

Annoyance ran through him as a frown lowered his brow. "You keep on apologising when you don't have to." He paused as a twinge of pain reminded him of his wounds. "How is it your fault?"

"Maybe… maybe I could been more accurate. Then he wouldn't have had time to take her with him…"

"Without you, we would never have gotten this far." Inuyasha breathed out slowly. "Don't think about it. It's done now." He cradled her broken arm carefully.

Blinking, Kagome allowed her expression to slacken. "Yes… it is, isn't it?" A twinge of bitterness spread through her soul. It was only now, when everything was finished that he acted this tender towards him. True, her heart swelled at each loving gesture, but just the very fact that he was being this way was evidence that things were hopeless. "Inuyasha…"

It took a while for him to realise he'd been stroking her injured arm. He didn't stop. "What?"

"My... My hand." She nodded her head weakly to her other hand. "Open it?"

He obediently reached out and drew her hand in slowly. Then, carefully, he pushed back each finger, revealing what she had been clutching.

A bright, pink orb fell out.

He breathed in sharply, causing a sudden pain in his chest- it seemed as though his lungs were damaged as well. "When… when did you…?" He stared at it.

"It came to me. After the explosion." He glanced at her. "I saw it lying beside me when I woke up. Then everything went black…" She smiled again. "Take it, Inuyasha. It's yours."

The hanyou continued to stare. The object of his desires; it was lying there within his grip. Complete. Round. Pulsing with power… All he had to do was take it and make a wish… and everything would be good. But the hesitation was still there. "I… I can't."

Kagome pushed her head backwards, digging gently into his chest. "What do you mean? Isn't it what you wanted all this time? I won't stop you if you still want to become a demon."

He shook his head. "No." Inuyasha managed a smirk. "It would be meaningless now. I-I don't need it." He left the jewel on the ground and instead, closed his hand on hers.

His decision made, Inuyasha marvelled at the relief he felt. It was overwhelming and yet so calming at the same time. He knew that somehow, the choice had always been No. It'd just taken him until now to realise it.

"I'm glad."

For a moment, the two sat there surrounded by the dead, colourless world. Their bodies were broken but their souls, at rest. It was comforting to know that their quest was finished.

"Inuyasha, I've been thinking…"

The half-demon looked down, and smiled slightly. "Do you always have to think?"

She nudged him gently. "For the Shikon no Tama to be purified completely, a person has to make an unselfish wish, right?"

Intrigue piqued, he joined in on the thought train. "Yeah…"

"Well, that's not possible, is it?"

"Why not?"

Hesitating, Kagome tried to make sense of her fading thoughts. "Every wish is selfish. Like when you promised to become human for Kikyou," she ignored the wince from the half-demon, "you were being selfish."

Inuyasha bristled with indignation. "What the hell do you mean?"

"Don't take it badly." She directed a soft smile at him. "You wanted to be accepted. So becoming human… that would make you normal among humans. And you wanted to be accepted. Selfishness was at the centre of your wish."

He wanted to retort with something witty, but once he thought about it, she was right. Kikyou had offered him the perfect solution and he had agreed to it because he'd been thinking about himself. He didn't have time to continue his thoughts; Kagome had continued relaying hers.

"So maybe it's not an unselfish wish that would purify the jewel." She narrowed her eyes in effort, trying to clear up her fogging mind. "Maybe it's a wish made with the right… feelings."

The half-demon frowned. "Huh?"

"We've only seen people use the jewel or the shards for power. Maybe, if somebody wished for something with the right feeling…" She shook her head roughly. "I don't know. I… I can't think clearly."

Inuyasha nuzzled her head. "Then don't. Save your energy."

Kagome breathed out softly, a sort of settled sadness in her whisper. She knew how badly injured she and Inuyasha were. In the past, she'd thought that when the mission was over, she'd be able to return home and live a normal life again. It seemed as though that would never happen "I'm not going to make it, am I?" She felt him stiffen. "I'm not coming out of this alive."

"Shut up." There was a rough edge on his voice. "Don't talk like that. We just need some rest, and then we'll… we'll get out of here. We'll find the others and we'll go back to the hag." He continued speaking even though he knew that his words were hollow. "Then you can go back to your world and… and go to school. And take your tests." His breathing quickened. "Everything will be fine."

"Baka." She said it almost lovingly. "Now who's the liar?"

The hanyou stopped talking and looked down. He could feel the tears gathering again. "I'm… sorry."

Shaking her head, Kagome spoke forcefully. "It's not your fault. It was never your fault. Don't…" she breathed in sharply. "Don't apologise."

He could say nothing; do nothing except hold her tightly. "You won't be alone. I promise." Inuyaha nuzzled her head. "That's a promise I won't break."

She felt her indifference cracking as the tears came again. "No. No. You have to survive. You have to live." She stared up at him pleadingly, trying to give him a reason not to make so rash a promise. "You have to tell my family… the others. You have to tell them what happened. You can't die. P-please…" She shook her head as she thought about her family. "My family… Oh gods… what will my family do?"

"Idiot." Inuyasha shook her. "Stop thinking about others and start thinking about yourself. That's your problem. You're too caring." He tried to strike a light air to make the situation less depressing.

It was a losing cause.

A spasm of pain rushed through her body. "Ow…" A whimper escaped her lips.

He flinched and leaned in closer, as if he thought that if he got close enough he could take away her pain. "You'll be okay."

A pause.

"Inuyasha…" Kagome sighed softly as the darkness finally began closing in. "Inuyasha… it doesn't hurt so much anymore."

The half-demon couldn't stop the tears from falling. He wiped them away roughly, disgusted. "Shhh…" He rocked her slowly, nuzzling her. "Ssh… you'll be okay. You'll be okay." He kept repeating his words, mostly for himself.

"Let go, Inuyasha." She urged him gently. "It's… it's getting cold…"

Inuyasha barely repressed a whimper. "Don't leave me alone." He cursed softly. Why did every woman he got close to, die? "Don't…"

"You… don't have to… to worry about me… Anymore." Her eyes became unfocused. "I…"

"Don't…"

"I'll…"

"Please…"

Kagome smiled a last time. "I'll be waiting."

With a last sigh, her body went slack. Her previously bright blue eyes slackened and became half-lidded. Inuyasha tried to push back the sobs heaving in his chest. He hadn't felt like crying this badly since his mother had died. He brushed a tear off her face and realised that it was his own. The half-demon stared into her face, trying to convince himself that she was still alive, somehow.

But no… Despite the turmoil churning inside, Inuyasha knew that she was dead. He knew that she had left him. Like his mother and Kikyou years ago. And then came the anger. He wanted to be mad. He wanted to hate her. Hate her for leaving him.

But he couldn't.

"Idiot." The half-demon gazed at her serene face sadly. "Idiot."

It was only now, when he'd finally lost her that he realised just how much he needed her. He needed her to live. To be happy. Without her, he was lost. And he'd only figured that out now.

"Fuck." The anguish was nothing like anything he'd ever felt before; it was near unbearable. "Fuck!"

And this entirely foreign emotion brought up new questions in his mind. Questions, such as why he never felt this way when Kikyou'd died. True, the first time, he'd been more enraged than sad because he'd thought she'd betrayed him, but the second time- that is, when he'd thought she'd died- the pain hadn't been as crushing as this. And to speak the truth…

Feeling like this really sucked.

Slowly, he reached up and gently closed the soulless eyes. Then, Inuyasha leaned back, energy spent. He had never been used to letting out emotion, and the throbbing in his temples was getting worse. Glancing down, he noticed that he was still gripping Kagome's hand. A slight smile twitched at the edge of his lips.

"You won't be alone."

He sighed and edged the girl's body over a little and removed his haori. Draping it over her, he pushed his undershirt up and inspected the wound. A grim smirk found its way onto his face. There was no way he'd be able to recover from this in time. He would slowly and painfully.

Suddenly, his gaze was distracted by a sudden glimmer. Inuyasha turned his head tiredly to spot the Shikon no Tama glinting in the disappearing light. He let go of Kagome's limp hand, grasping the small stone.

That's right. He could use it, couldn't he? He could use it to regain his energy and make it home. But then… what would be the use in that? Kagome was still dead. And besides, using the Shikon no Tama would probably cause his demon nature to overcome his human blood. The danger in that was just too much. He couldn't risk it.

Shaking his head, the hanyou sighed and dropped the stone into his other hand. Then, he returned to gripping her cool one.

So this was how it was going to end, eh?

Inuyasha could feel his half-demon body attempting to heal itself. Just as he knew he wouldn't make it, he also knew that death wouldn't come as quickly as it had for Kagome. His demon blood programmed his body for survival, and it would fight to the end.

So there was just one solution he could see.

Releasing Kagome's hand once more, he untied Tetsusaiga from his side and lay it- sheath and all- across himself. Gathering his energy, the hanyou wretched the katana out in a sudden movement.

It remained a decrepit sword; no transformation. After all, there were no enemies to destroy; no humans to protect.

Looking at his father's blade, Inuyasha felt another smile making its way onto his face. Over hundreds of years, it had slain thousands of demons. "There's just one more demon for you, Tetsusaiga." He could almost feel a sort of pulse from the fang, but dismissed it. "Then, I don't care who you choose as your master. It can be Sesshoumaru for all I care." The smile slid off.

The half-demon held it by the cutting edge- the sword was too long otherwise- and directed its tip towards his heart. Hesitating, he felt the comforting weight of his sword and breathed in deeply, preparing himself.

"Maybe it's a wish made with the right… feelings."

Kagome's words echoed back, causing him to lower the blade for a moment. "A wish, eh?" He glanced at the jewel and considered it for a moment. He didn't have to think long, however, before he realised what his deepest desire was. He had no idea what the 'right feelings' were, but this was his best shot at the moment.

Closing his eyes, the half-demon gripped the Shikon no Tama hard and made his wish. Then, in a sudden, swift movement, he forced Tetsusaiga through his chest. Too late, he realised he should have chosen another way to die as the horrible, exploding pain consumed him. And then, just as suddenly, the world began to slip away. He was barely aware of pulling the sword out of his chest.

His arm slumped down and his body became lax. A wonderful darkness was beginning to settle around his senses- it felt as though his head were being dunked in water. His awareness began to slip away, drifting to lands beyond that of the physical world. A few seconds more and Inuyasha breathed his last.

Just before he fell into the clutches of death, Inuyasha noticed, at the edge of his darkening mind, a bright pink light. Indeed, if somebody had been watching, they would have noticed the rosy glow enveloping the two fallen ones.

And then his eyes fell sightless.

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See chapter 374: Wind – Kagura dies

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Translations

Hanyou – half-demon

Haori - jacket

Shikon no Tama – jewel of four souls

Gomen ne, Inuyasha – Forgive me, Inuyasha

Baka – idiot; stupid; fool

Katana – sword; blade

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Okay. Be prepared for a long author's note here.

1. Regarding the oneshot
I purposely left Naraku's end as ambiguous as I dared. This story wasn't about him dying. It was about Inuyasha and Kagome dying. I've been itching to write a tragedy for a long time. Miroku, Sango, and the others' fates are left to your imagination. As are the final fates of Inuyasha and Kagome. It is my liking to think they met in the afterlife. As for Inuyasha's wish, that's up to your discretion as well.
While writing this story, the song Bu Gu Yi Qianby Boy'Z was my mood setter. I have no idea what the words are, but the music is a good reflection of the story's mood.
Also, I feel that this is one of the only ways Inuyasha and Kagome can truly be together. I don't think he would leave his world. Nor would she hers. There might be bittersweet Escaflowne-esque ending. I don't know. That's up to Takahashi-sama to decide.

2. Regarding my very disappointed Readers of SG
I'm horribly, horribly sorry about my… I can't even think of an adjective deep enough to describe what I'm feeling. I'm disgusted with myself, as stated in my bio. I don't wish to put more here. If you wish to read my full reasoning and feelings, please direct your attention to my weblog, which is right here:

www(dot)xanga(dot)com(slash)home(dot)aspx ? user (equals)Mirrored(underscore)Identity
Fill in the fields and get rid of the spaces.
I thank you for your patience.

My inbox is always open for flames and criticism.

Till the next time we meet…

Ja.