Disclaimer: I do not own Inuyasha.

This didn't come out quite as I had planned, but I do like how it turned out! MAJOR spoilers for the end of the series. This is a oneshot, but I may write some accompany pieces. Haven't decided yet. Please review, good or bad. Thank you. =)

Exhale by Isle of Solitude

He took a breath in, and before he had finished that simple function, she was gone. He half heard the explanations and speculations. Everyone's pain was masked by the thud of his own heart beating. Even the fact that Miroku's curse was gone, that Naraku was gone, was masked by the sound of his breath.

"The Shikon no tama…what happened to it?"

Inuyasha snapped his head up at the question, and then pulled Tessaiga out. Please, take me! Take me to where Kagome is!

His next breath was taken in agony, feeling as though he was suffocating. Then it passed, and he was in the endless black, following nothing but a feeling.

His ear twitched and he spun. He recognized those voices. Kagome's family…he had to try.

"So Kagome didn't go home!" He knew the second he said they heard him. When they shouted back that the well was gone on their side too, Inuyasha felt his heart stop for just a second. Where was she? It started only when her brother asked his question.

"Is Nee-chan ok?"

A slight hesitation was all Inuyasha gave. "She's fine! And I'll definitely find her! Just wait!" Not waiting for their reply he resumed running.

He had promises to keep.

When he heard what the jewel had in store for Kagome, his blood ran cold with fury. He wanted to rip apart every single one of them. But the pounding in his chest wasn't from anger, it was from fear…fear for Kagome. She was strong, he of all people knew her strength, but she was scared. Lonely. He let out a breath when he realized just how vulnerable she was. No doubt the jewel had lied to her, led her to believe there was no hope.

To make her wish…and then pit her in an eternal battle with Naraku and the others…he would die before that was her fate! He clenched his jaw, grabbed Tessaiga, and exploded.

"You're wrong! That is not the reason Kagome was born!"

Kagome taught me…

Friendship. Trust. How to smile, how to laugh. She taught him the true meaning of strength, kindness, how to cry, how to rely on others. There was not a single thing that Kagome had not taught him, or helped him with. Every single piece of his life was changed through her. Every aspect of him changed for the better. She was born to meet him. And he was born to meet her. With a shaky breath, he cast his eyes upward. She was there. She needed him. They needed each other.


She was waiting for him. She had heard him, and she was waiting for him. Despite what the demons in the jewel said, she would wait for him. He couldn't hear her anymore, was she silent? Was their communication cut off? He didn't know, but he was fighting attack. The demons were fed up with him, less confident that Kagome would wish. He dodged and sliced, feeling the frustration mount with each swipe.

The demons suddenly were silent, stopping in mid attack. All gazed up, to where Kagome's voice had come from earlier. Inuyasha paused, then felt his frustration melt away—as it always did around her—as her words came echoing down.

"Inuyasha will come. I believe in him."

Where the voice came from, a small sliver of light suddenly caught his attention. Tessaiga pulsed in his hand. Cut there, huh? Inuyasha took a deep breath, and then jumped, slicing the light.

He breathed her in, his eyes meeting hers in the flickering light. Her eyes were tearstained, her nose was red and puffy, and she was breathing in little hiccups.

She was beautiful, and real. "Kagome…"

New tears came flowing down. "Inuyasha…I wanted to be with you…" And then he wrapped his free arm around her, supporting her as she returned the hug, burying her face in his robes. He let her calm down, stop sniffling and let her breathing return to normal. She gave him one more squeeze and then shifted, facing the jewel that she no longer feared. He refused to let go, and so did she.

"Shikon no Tama, I'm ready to make my wish." Her voice didn't shake or quiver, and he was so proud of her.

"Shikon no Tama, DISAPPEAR!"

The pink jewel that had led them to this point shook, cracked, and shattered. The feeling of floating increased, and gradually a pillar of light enveloped the two but neither Kagome nor Inuyasha was afraid. They had each other.

Between one breath and the next, she was gone.

He stood there, staring at the well, trying to wrap his mind around what had happened. They had arrived in the well house, and Kagome had run to her family. They surrounded her, all crying. Inuyasha shifted, set a foot forward, and then he was frozen. There was a wind, and a light, and then suddenly Kagome and her family were gone from his sight and the only thing he saw was the well, only thing he felt was the sun on his back.

He honestly had no idea how long it was until he realized Miroku and Sango were talking to him, asking questions he had no answers for.

"Kagome is safe."

Having been interrupted, his friends just stared at him for a long moment. Miroku recovered first. Walking over, he placed a hand on the hanyou's shoulder. Then the monk and demon exterminator left him to his thoughts.

He counted his heartbeats. One. She's gone. Two. She's safe. Three. She's gone. Four. She's gone. Five. She's gone.

He couldn't move. He stood there, staring the well down. He registered Shippo keeping a silent vigil with him, sitting beside him but just a little back.

Inhale. She's gone. Exhale. She's safe. Inhale. She's with her family. Exhale. We're her family too. Inhale. Kagome. Exhale. Kagome. Inhale. Exhale.

The decision was made unconsciously. It was a simple function. A heart beats not because of a resolution, but because it is a necessary part of functioning. Inuyasha never made the choice, he just did it. There was still a life to lead. Talk to Miroku. Slay demons. Annoy Kaede. Make Sango laugh. Make Shippo angry. Smile at Rin. Wait for Kagome. Punch Jaken. Argue with Sesshoumaru (Although blades were never drawn). Get confused by the villagers. Jump down the well. Repair houses. Fight with Kouga (The first time hurt.) Cater to Sango's cravings. Worry about Shippo being on his own. Knock sense into Miroku. Play uncle to the cutest two humans he's ever seen. Inuyasha was content.

Kagome was worth waiting five hundred years for.