Well, this took awhile. I had to jump through hoops in order to get Rin to cooperate with me.
“I don’t think she slept at all last night,” Mrs. Ladybug confessed as she and Mr. Grasshopper stepped onto the porch. Though the sky was overcast, the day was warm and already the park was filling with people. Mr. Grasshopper watched fondly as James and several of his friends situated themselves inside their fort of branches.
'A vision of a young King Arthur and his knights, that,' he mused before turning his attention to the large oak tree planted close to the family’s house. Rin was curled within its limbs, as usual, but had elected to perch in the higher branches where she would be concealed by the thick leaves.
“If she napped as late as she did, it would surprise me if she slept through the night,” Mr. Grasshopper admitted. “And considering everything that happened yesterday, I doubt she’d want to be confined to the house.”
“Still though, I don’t like the idea of Rin running herself ragged, especially if she’s set a strict training regiment for herself. Though what for, I don’t know.”
“Half-demons have a lot more power and energy than humans. It is likely that Rin just wants to keep herself in top shape. Or at least burn off any excess energy.”
The tree’s leaves suddenly rustled and Rin poked her head through the foliage. The half-demon’s ears swiveled widely and her brow was furrowed in worry. Before anyone could blink, she had shot out of her tree and had landed on the ground.
“What is it, Rin?” Mr. Grasshopper asked as he and Mrs. Ladybug approached her.
“Trouble.” Rin’s ears stopped moving and she nodded. “Big trouble by the lake.” Darting forward, the young half-demon launched herself skyward and was out of sight.
“Best call Centipede and Chief Beatcom,” Mr. Grasshopper told Mrs. Ladybug. “I’ll go after her and see what has happened.”
“Be careful,” Mrs. Ladybug told him. “Both of you,” she added as the taller insect left.
“Mrs. Ladybug!” Mrs. Ladybug turned as James and his friends joined her at the base of Rin’s tree.
“Don’t you worry, dears,” Mrs. Ladybug soothed, running a hand over her son’s face as she spoke. “Whatever it is, I’m sure it’s nothing Rin can’t handle. I just need to let the police know, that’s all.”
'Please let it be all,' Mrs. Ladybug silently prayed as she smiled at the group of children. 'Please let it be nothing at all.'
“Easy, friend. I’m here to help.” Rin knelt beside the unconscious man laying in the wreckage of hamburger and hotdog shack. The bat-like girl shuddered; the smell of freshly cooked meat was barely discernible from the stench from the nearby and freshly-exposed sewer. Shoving aside pieces of broken wood and torn metal, the young half-demon clenched her teeth in fury.
‘Damn! Damn! Damn! How could I-’
“What’s going on?”
“What’s she doing here?”
“SHUT UP!” Rin roared, baring her fangs at the crowd. It was amazing, she reflected, how people could vanish into thin air when trouble was afoot and could magically reappear as soon as there was an aftermath to see.
The screeching of sirens joined the voices of the crowd and Rin watched warily as a few police cars and an ambulance joined the fray.
‘Well, at least they show up when needed. Unlike the sheep here, who mill about and bleat whenever there’s a disaster,’ she thought, still watching the crowd with disdain.
The groans of the man captured Rin’s attention and she watched as he came around. Judging by the caked blood on the side of his head, he was lucky to be coming around so quickly, though Rin guessed a trip to the hospital was in his near future.
The man’s eyes opened and locked onto Rin’s face.
“It’s alright,” she soothed. “I’m here to-”
“Get away from me!” the man shrieked, scuttling backwards as best he could.
“Hold, friend, I mean you no-”
“You… you… monster. You did this!”
Rin, who had tried approaching the man again, halted as if struck. Hearing the accusation aloud was like a knife into a still-bleeding wound; a wound that hadn’t healed since the death of her father and the end of his protection from human prejudice.
“I saw you!” the man insisted, pointing at Rin as the EMTs swarmed around him. “I saw your eyes! Those horrible red eyes.” Rin frowned.
“A good try, sir, but perhaps you need your own eyes tested. Mine are gold, not red.”
“Hah!” the man snorted. “As if everyone in this city didn’t know your eyes turn red when your demon blood’s up. You half-breeds are all the same, once you’re in hunting mode!”
“As if I’d-”
“I know what I saw!” the man spat at her. “You destroyed my shack. You tried to kill me. I’ll never forget those eyes! Those eyes…” The man’s body shook and he began to gasp.
“Shock,” one of the EMTs diagnosed and before Rin could say anything more, her accuser was bundled into the nearest ambulance.
“Rin.” The young half-demon turned to see both Mr. Grasshopper and Chief Beatcom approaching. Nodding at her adopted kin, Rin eyed the police chief with suspicion.
“Well, then, Chief, going to arrest me now?”
“What? Rin, what’re-”
“You heard him!” Rin thrust an arm at the crowd. “And you can damn sure everyone here is echoing his words.”
“Rin,” Mr. Grasshopper said, placing a gentle hand on her shoulder. “There is no way anyone with half a mind can take what that man says seriously. He has a serious head injury and his food shack was adorned with flashing lights. He could have seen anything. Is that not so, Chief Beatcom?”
“Yeah, that’s right. Besides, now we have proof; your family can testify that you were home when this occurred, so-”
“Do you take me for a fool?” Rin snapped. “As anyone will believe that.”
“Mr. Grasshopper, you’ve read up on half-demons since I came around. You know what happens when trouble strikes and who gets the blame.” The elder insect gazed at his adopted daughter sadly, but nodded in agreement.
“Yes, I know.”
“Then you know that as far as this city is concerned, I am guilty.” Rin wrapped her wings about her like a cape, as if to shield herself from the notion. “So, if you don’t mind, I’d rather train like a demon than bow down to humans.”
Unfurling her wings, Rin darted away from the crowd and took to the air. Like the previous day, she was soon lost to sight and, like the previous day, Chief Beatcom had a feeling that she’d be pushing herself past the limits of physical exhaustion.
“Surely there has to be something you can do to give her some protection,” Mr Grasshopper asked him.
“The most I can do now is explain that the sole witness to today’s… accident has a head injury, which makes his statement inadmissible. Beyond that…” Beatcom made a helpless gesture.
“In other words, you can do nothing?”
“Look, I believe Rin’s innocent. You know she’s innocent, but the fact is that people will always look for a scapegoat. Not a day goes by when I’m not swamped by calls blaming a purse-snatching on a local gang. But, innocent till proven guilty.”
“So you say,” Mr. Grasshopper muttered.
He only wished he believed it.
“But that’s what it [being guilty] does mean when you’re different. Nobody trusts you. You’re always the first to be blamed and it is always, ALWAYS your fault!’- Inuyasha