Disclaimer: I do not own Inuyasha. Inuyasha & co. belong to the illustrious Rumiko Takahashi. I do not profit from these fics.

Chapter 1 – A Magical Gift (red)

The girl was absolutely infuriating. Her moods shifted so quickly that following them using her scent was impossible and her face… well, her expressions could be misleading. Like with Inuyasha for example, there were times when she'd give the hanyou the sweetest smile just seconds before subjugating him repeatedly. She could go from angel to demon in the blink of an eye and it was unnerving to say the least.

He wanted to understand her… needed to understand her, but it seemed impossible without some kind of crystal ball telling him exactly what she was thinking or feeling at any moment. His solution was, surprisingly, not that far from it. He'd stumbled upon the concept accidently and, after a few weeks of dealing with one very frustrating miko, the taiyoukai had decided that it was worth the time and effort it would take to gather the necessary supplies. It was even worth the cost of having it made. He would have given anything to give him the slightest chance of holding on to his sanity. Now finally it was ready. He just hoped it worked.

-

He was doing his best to appear that he wasn't paying the slightest bit of attention to his ward as she approached the miko where she sat on the other side of the campfire. He wasn't necessarily succeeding, but he was trying. His mask of indifference was becoming harder and harder to maintain of late and he was certain that somehow Kagome was to blame. He watched as Rin plopped to the ground beside the object of his near obsession and listened in as the little girl spoke, trying her best to stick to the script he'd gone over with her repeatedly for the last few hours.

"Rin has something special for Lady Kagome," she started, crinkling her nose as she thought of what she was supposed to say next. "Rin picked it out and Lord Sesshoumaru let Rin buy it because Rin thinks it would look really, really pretty on Lady Kagome." She glanced to her right, hoping she was doing a good job, and Sesshoumaru quickly motioned for her to continue, praying the miko hadn't noticed. "It's… umm, it's very imp… important to Rin that you wear it," there was a long pause before she remembered the rest of her line, "that you wear it all the time. Will you, Lady Kagome? Will you wear it?"

Kagome gave the little girl an appraising look before glancing around at the faces of her friends as if for help or input. Finding no assistance, she smiled. "Rin, will I wear what?"

He nearly facepalmed. He'd actually felt his arm twitch in its attempt to get his hand to his face. Where was his famous composure? He repeated a calming chant in his mind over and over as he tried to keep his cool. The kid was blowing it!

Rin paled and glanced around nervously before running her hands over her kimono in search of the item she was supposed to be giving the miko. She didn't, however, find it and after a moment she got up and scampered over to the taiyoukai's side. "Lord Sesshoumaru, Rin is sorry. Rin lost the…"

Her whispered apologies came to a halt as he lifted his hand, holding a small silver ring between thumb and forefinger. He would never admit it, but it was his fault after all. He'd forgotten to give it to her! After all their rehearsing he'd managed to send her off without the ring! There was definitely a facepalm in his future if things continued on in this fashion.

The little girl took the ring and skipped back around the campfire to where Kagome sat with a strange grin on her face. "Here, Lady Kagome. I hope you like it. Will you wear it for Rin?"

Kagome's grin turned to a sweet, caring smile and she accepted the gift from the girl's tiny hand. "Oh, it's beautiful, Rin! Of course I'll wear it. And how many times do I have to tell you to just call me Kagome? I'm nothing special, not special like your Lord."

The sarcasm in her tone irked him and he had to fight to keep his lip from curling into a frown. He watched as she slipped the ring on her finger, paying close attention as the black stone changed colors. He felt the sleeve of his haori in search of the scroll that had come with the special item so that he could finally be certain of how the miko was truly feeling, but there was one problem. The scroll wasn't there.

The taiyoukai rose swiftly and stalked away from the campsite in silence, slowing only to punt Jaken into the forest. The toad, by the way, didn't leave the campsite silently but with a long drawn out wail that faded as he flew further and further away.

Kagome shrugged her shoulders and admired her new ring. There was something about it that wasn't quite right and it was apparent that Rin hadn't exactly been telling the truth, so the miko set her mind on getting to the bottom of it. Still, that didn't mean she couldn't wear the sparkling and obviously special gemstone in the meantime. She had a right to feel pretty, didn't she?

"Would ya quit lookin' at that piece of junk and make dinner already?" Inuyasha grunted from his usual perch high above the ground. He knew better than anyone that Rin was absolutely full of shit, but he didn't have a clue as to why either, which only made him cranky. He didn't like it when anyone else had the nerve to give Kagome gifts of any kind. Really, if they kept it up the wench would start expecting presents from him and he wasn't gonna do it. No fucking way.

The miko sighed and rolled her eyes but stood anyway. "Alright already. Sheesh. You don't have to be such a jerk about it. And it's not a piece of junk," she said while shooting a grin at Rin. "It's beautiful. Nicer than anything you've ever given me, that's for sure."

Inuyasha growled under his breath. He knew it! She had that damn ring on her finger for less than a minute and already the wench was getting uppity.

She made her way around the campfire to her overstuffed bag where she knelt and began pulling out packs of ramen. The miko glanced around for a moment before spotting the pot they'd used earlier to cook lunch and leaned backwards in an attempt to grab it without having to stand back up. Her hand landed on something, but it definitely wasn't the pot, and she picked it up and brought it to her face for inspection.

It was a small scroll, a scroll that she quickly stuffed in her pocket before anyone else could see. Kagome continued with dinner preparations as if nothing strange had occurred and once the water was heating over the fire she excused herself to use the 'facilities', which in reality was whatever patch of bushes seemed least likely to have thorns or be infested by ants or something equally awful. She left Sango in charge of the instant noodles, like they really needed babysitting, and strode quickly into the forest in the opposite direction than Sesshoumaru had sent Jaken flying.

Once she'd found a private enough spot she whipped out the scroll, unrolled it, and gave it a quick once over. The miko's eyes widened and she read it through once more, a little slower this time. Her eyes shifted to her new ring and she laughed darkly. "That sneaky bastard," she growled softly. Without a second's thought she grabbed a pen out of her pocket and quickly made a few changes to the scroll before rolling it back up and tucking it away once more. "We'll see how he likes it now."

-

"Where is it?" he hissed at his quaking subordinate. "You gave the ring back to this Sesshoumaru, but not the scroll. Now where is it?"

"I… I…" Jaken stuttered as he searched himself repeatedly. He'd had it the last time he checked! If he really had lost it, the little toad demon did not doubt the next thing he would lose would be his head and he really would rather avoid that at all costs. "I'll find it, my Lord. This Jaken is so sorry!" He pressed his green beak to the ground as he spoke, muffling his words somewhat. "I will retrace my steps and find it for you immediately, my Lord. This Jaken will not let you down."

"You mean again," Sesshoumaru growled. "You will not let me down again." His tone clearly got his message across. If Jaken failed, it would be the last thing he ever did.

-

The taiyoukai and his now very nervous personal assistant entered the clearing just moments after Kagome had returned, dropping the little scroll back where she'd found it as she passed. She turned from where she knelt, stirring the noodles a little harder than necessary, and shot him a smile that nearly made his skin crawl. He needed that scroll! That smile was anything but a sweet, friendly smile but he was clueless as to what was going on inside that apparently twisted little head of hers. He wondered if she even knew how she was feeling from moment to moment.

He returned to his usual spot to attempt to analyze the look she'd just sent him, knowing before he even started that he would fail like always, but then what other choice did he have? Without the scroll, the ring was useless to him! Why did he keep Jaken around anyways? The little irritant never did do anything right and he didn't smell too great either.

It was that telltale smell that alerted him first to his vassal's presence at his right and he turned cold, warning eyes to the side. Jaken shivered at his Lord's expression and wondered if it might have been smarter to let Sesshoumaru cool off a little before drawing his attention again. Still, the terrifying taiyoukai said he wanted the scroll and Jaken of all people knew just how little his Lord enjoyed waiting for anything.

"The… the scr… scroll, my Lord," he muttered nervously, bowing low to the ground and holding the much desired item out away from his body as far as his short little arms allowed.

Sesshoumaru snatched the scroll from shaking green fingers in a rather undignified manner, unrolling it so fast it nearly flew out of his hand and into the campfire. His eyes snapped from the paper to the ring and back several times before he rolled it up and tucked it safely into his haori. He knew better than to entrust Jaken with something so important again.

'Hn, feeling mischievous, is she? She is a strange one, indeed. This Sesshoumaru would have assumed she was angry from that look. I wonder what the little minx has on her mind,' the taiyoukai thought as he stared at the bright red stone shining from its place on her finger.

'I'll kill him, I'll kill him, I'll kill him,' Kagome mentally repeated like a mantra while gritting her teeth to keep from screaming. 'How dare he? What the hell is the matter with him anyway? I'm absolutely going to kill him!'