Title: encore une fois

Summary: And again, and again, and again.

Inspiration: Crack/cocaine.

Disclaimer: I don't own InuYasha.

Note: Another filler chapter. This story will soon become more provocative in nature.

Scheming didn't come very naturally to Kagome; it had always been a skill she invested a lot of time in developing. Of course, there had always been ideas wafting around her mind; on how to best coax InuYasha into friendliness with strangers, or how to disengage any situation that Miroku flirted his way into. She had even come up with numerous pitches on how bathing could be 'fun-fun!' in the eyes of Shippou when he protested against them. Kagome engaged in this type of word play education before falling into Feudal Japan, and over the years since had managed to build intermediate artilleries of words, body language and facial expressions to be used in persuasive measures; measures to use for things people didn't want to, or normally wouldn't, do. Just because she hadn't been born with the skill didn't mean she couldn't be good at it. However, even Kagome doubted the lengths she was considering to go to with this newcomplex plot of hers.


The word nagged at every nerve in her being. Sweet seventeen. Innocent as a rice ball. It bothered her, lately; how pure she was; how being virtuous kept getting her into hot water. Everything about being Kagome seemed to involve the uncorrupt image of a fairytale priestess who was destined to purify everything that was tainted around her. And though, being pious had previously made her proud, the young woman was beginning to have some serious doubts about the whole agenda.

A puff of air escaped her pink lips, and she found herself pouting. The Band of Seven noted her odd reactions dismissively. In the past day they had managed to round-about down Hakuraizen, their destination decidedly having to do with Naraku. Kagome wondered at this sudden change of course for only a moment. She entertained the idea of InuYasha finding her, along with the 'tachi. She really was starting to miss Sango; she supposed she'd taken advantage of having a female confidante. Her heart strings really pulled when thinking of Shippou, though. Who was feeding him? Bathing him? The hanyou could barely take care of himself, and Miroku usually had his mind on… other things.

She didn't miss InuYasha as much as she thought she might have, oddly enough. Kagome had only been half convinced of her own 'fuck InuYasha!' bravado, but she hadn't thought to care this less. It was a pleasant realization when the chocolate hued girl noted she was stronger than him and all his half-empty words. However, maybe she wasn't strong in that sense… Kagome bit her lip, letting out a small noise as she tripped over a rock in the path in front of her.

Maybe she was just distracted.

"You know, we know you're useless to us, but you can at least be useful to yourself."

The voice came from atop the half-machinated Mukotsu, and a snicker from another more shrill voice followed it. Even though Kagome couldn't help the angry flush that spread across her cheeks, she bit tongue from responding- an argument was what he was always after lately. Bankotsu was being snarky, and had been ever since the morning they had started off towards Naraku. He would snap at her and mock her for the smallest slight; he would cajole Jakotsu when the other would tease her about her feminism; hell, he'd act like a prick and pretend to consider Renkotsu's on-again, off-again suggestion that they just kill her, nix the whole plan and go do their own thing.

Kagome was beginning to outwardly despise the leader of these hoodlums. She had been frustrated by the opposite sex before, true. Not like this though. The leader of the Shichinin'tai was frustrating in one way that InuYasha had not been.

Kagome looked down at the worn down trail ahead, nipping at the inside of her cheek thoughtfully. It was getting chilly as the sun further descended. The young girl closed her eyes for just a moment, lulling her footsteps so as not to trip a second time, and let herself enjoy the cool whispers of wind that played across her legs. It wasn't an unbearable cold, yet. It was just cold enough to instigate thoughtfulness.

InuYasha. The half breed had been frustrating, definitely. He made her late to school, and she could never study around him, and she barely saw her family or friends. What frustrated her most, however, was how she loved him so much. Love is frustrating. Kagome sort of hated how much she loved him, because she still did. There was a difference now, because she was sort of glad he wasn't with her. She figured this was probably the most brutal yet effective way she could get over it.

Bankotsu… Her eyes trailed slowly to the high perch he had claimed on his team mates' shoulder. The schoolgirl's pace slowed, and she absorbed the colors of the sunset as they splashed across his clothes, armor and face. Just his sight made her physically react to him out of sheer irritation. The self-proclaimed leader of her captives was arrogant, and everything that had meaning sounded meaningless when he talked about it. And he always argued with her, making her look foolish; this definitely annoyed Kagome, who did not take kindly to having a fool made out of her. But worst of all, Bankotsu would give her these eyes sometimes, right before she rolled over to ignore him and fall asleep. He looked like he was going to swallow her whole, like she was going to drown in the sugary sweetness of his lollypop-gaze. And what was really frustrating was how hungry those eyes made her feel, at times. She unconsciously licked her suddenly dry lips, frowning.

"Hurry up, bitch."

Jakotsu was leveling a glare from in front of her, hip cocked and Jakutsu-tou bouncing impatiently on his shoulder. Kagome frowned and picked up her pace by a few seconds. The feminine sidekick of Bankotsu rolled his eyes, and made to walk just outside of her, so that she was once again surrounded on all sides by them. Folding her arms in front of her, Kagome chanced looking skywards.

Sure enough, there were his candy eyes.

Pure, pure, pure.

Kagome was beginning to feel like a metaphorical suicide, too ironic in preference for her own good. Why was she having such strange physical reactions to the proverbial 'bad guy?' He made her feel so heated sometimes, but not just in the angry way. This self-righteous criminal made her feel not just disdain for his existence, but passion and pity for him as well. She supposed it was because she was seventeen- girls like her were always described as emotional. She was post-pubescent, and fairly hormonal, right? Excuses aside…

Kagome didn't like InuYasha, and she sure as hell didn't love Bankotsu. She barely even liked him. In an odd way, though, Kagome liked how much she disliked him. She liked the arguing and the irritation. She supposed because it was reciprocated, this passionate dislike. Most of the time- though she managed often enough -it was hard to ignore his instigating remarks, but when she didn't, debates of grandiose proportions, with full on foot stomping and cruel laughter would ensue. Renkotsu would literally have to tear Bankotsu's shirt hem from Kagome's deadly fingers as she threated to purify him back to whichever hole in hell he crawled out of. But as soon as the argument abated, Kagome would feel all the built up energy and tension left over from the fight. And she would squirm uncomfortably, and think in very… un-pure ways, to put it lightly. Not too bad. However…

Ugh! This is ridiculous.

Kagome had lifted her hands to cover her ears, attempting to rid herself of such maddening thoughts. Jakotsu rolled his eyes dramatically, folding his hands into the opposite sleeve while looking up.

"Oi, 'aniki. Let's stop here? Being near this wench makes me want to bathe." He was whining. Kagome twitched.

"Eh, Jakotsu? I'm sure she can cleanse you of all your dirty habits…"

Bankotsu landed swiftly between them, one hand on the ground, before pushing himself up and cracking his back. Jakotsu snorted dryly, and Kagome eyed them wearily.

"She wouldn't know a dirty habit if it groped her on the ass." Jakotsu muttered sarcastically, moving off the trail and into the woods. He made a motion with his hand over his head as if to say he would be back, courting no desire for a response.

Kagome was clenching her fists, wanting to say something but not quite able to form logical words. Should she be offended? She was offended! Why did she feel offended? Bankotsu looked at her from over his shoulder, smirking in satisfaction at her physical display of contradiction.

"Yes?" There it was again: the patronizing remark that had started each of their meaningless arguments over the past two days. And he had that look again, too. Kagome glared at him, facing off with her arms over her chest.

"I know what dirty habits are, thanks." Not like she had many of her own, this was true, but anyone who had ever been near, or met, or known Miroku knew what dirty habits were. Bankotsu didn't argue with her this time, didn't even skip a beat. He just pushed back his braid over one shoulder, leaned in close and narrowed his eyes.

"Prove it." His posture was a condescending challenge, but he dropped it and turned away to set up camp for the night.

She glared after him, pondering the pros and cons of her latest scheme, as well as her own purity.

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