Disclaimer- I don't own Inuyasha.

Nazuna hates spiders. And demons. Especially spider-like demons.

Understandable, but odd.

Especially considering she nears the castle of a demon with a spider on his back.

Naraku, on principle, does not like spiders. They remind him too much of what remains on and in him.

As the pseudo-lord of the area, he must listen to the petty complaints of mortals and pretend he cares, all the while thinking only of the demons fighting in the near mountain, waiting for the coming day when he will have his new body.

Pretending to care is so much more difficult than caring, Naraku thinks.

So when they bring a dirty, unkempt waif of a thin girl before him, Naraku pretends to care. He pretends to look over her, see the callouses in her hands, the subtle scars and traces of burns on her flesh, the dirt lodged in her tanned skin.

And then a small spider, barely noticeable in the dying lights of the fierce sunset, grabs both his and the girl's attention, as it drifts down lazily in front of Naraku.

Naraku pretends not to care.

This is even more aggravating than pretending to care.

However, what the girl does amazes him. She lets out a low growl, pushes aside his (strange to think they are his) villagers and smashes the spider with two small, calloused hands.

In a voice that is meant to be heard for her alone, Naraku hears her words.

I hate spiders.

His eyes move fractionally, but Nazuna does not care. That is the easiest thing to do.

They drag her back, and she moves with struggle and ferocity.

Naraku pretends that he is not studying the girl, watching her with his eyes and laying bare her inner workings.

For the voice she spoke in was beyond mere dislike.

It spoke of blood and fire, darkness and death.

The sound of it was a drug that invigorated him.

He orders the villagers to leave him and the girl.

They are confused.

Naraku does not care. And chooses to show it.

He asks the girl why she hates spiders.

Nazuna is confused, but explains.

Naraku does not care about a village slaughtered. But the description of a half demon and a strangely dressed girl does interest him.

However, he must pretend that he does not care.

Naraku has mastered that art.

She talks about her parents slaughtered and their blood everywhere.

She thinks Naraku cares.

He is a master at that.

And then Nazuna asks him why he asked.

Naraku merely replies he was curious.

The girl nods, and blushingly thanks him for listening to her story, suddenly aware of how darkly handsome the lord was.

Naraku pretends not to notice, not to care about the sudden sparkle in her eyes as she stares at him, or the way that from time to time as she talks, she would sneak looks from the corners of her eyes.

After all, he's above such things.

The spider in him would have spun a web of seduction around the girl, allowing her to become his.

He hates the spider.

So instead he pretends not to care.

After all, he is a master.

He tells her to stay at the castle for a few days to rest. He does not say that he feels a curiosity in him, something not felt since the first time he saw the strangely dressed girl who looked like a woman long dead.

Nazuna smiles but pretends that she does not care.

She is far from a master at it.

She becomes his shadow after that, watching him out of the corners of the castle, persistently trying to talk to him.

Her voice is eager and thin, as if one word from his lips would shatter her.

Naraku pretends to care... and finds that the line between real and pretend is thin.

Her laughs and her voice become the wind in the castle, drifting and singing and whipping around him. The darkness of his castle is brightened with the soul of a single mortal.

Naraku pretends not to care.

He finds that his mastery of the art is slipping.

He wonders briefly what she would do if she saw the spider on his back. Would she speak again in that voice of darkness?

That would be exquisite.

So he decides to do it. Manipulation is, after all, another of his great arts.

The girl comes by his room as is her custom.

As if he were testing her, Naraku allows her to see the mark on his back once, full and bare, naked for her eyes for a moment until his clothing falls over it.

He hides a smirk, and dares a look.

Nazuna smiles, and does not care.

Naraku wishes he was as good at the art as her.

On the third day, the sun shines its endless glee.

Naraku dislikes the sun.

It reminds him of fire.

Nazuna looks sad, her face clean and bare before his own, the sparkle dulled by parting.

Naraku pretends not to care.

And when the girl looks up at him, face full of shining hope, asking to visit again, Naraku finds that he may not be a master of the art at all.

He should say no, really.

After all, once he is done building his new body, he will leave this forsaken place.

But this terribly luminous hope is breaking his ability to not care.

He must say something soon, or he will shatter.

So he says yes.

An euphoric look spreads over her face as she looks at him, and for a moment, Naraku wonders if she will try to embrace him.

He wonders if he will care.

But the moment passes.

Then she skips away, looking back with undisguised joy.

And Naraku tries very hard not to care.