Unafraid

Indecently, my college's mascot is a lion named Roary. You'll understand after reading this fic.

"This the place?"

"It is. My God, it's depressing."

Actually, "depressing" was too light a word to describe the house on the hill. The rocky ground was hard and dusty and the one tree in the middle of the yard drooped sadly, its bare branches scraping the ground. The shabby two-story house was painted a drab shade of brown and both the wood and paint were already beginning to crack. The windows were dirty and a few roof shingles were missing. The whole building sagged to one side, as if standing upright was too difficult a task. How anyone could stand to live in such a place was beyond Officers Tenson and Burke.

Although, if what the officers suspected had happened, there was no one in the house right now.

"Let's take a look."

Burke followed his partner out of the car and up the rocky path. Tenson shuddered at the idea of a little boy living here; the yard wasn't fit for an animal, much less a child.

"Car's here," Burke noted. And indeed it was, although judging by the layer of rust and dirt, the car hadn't been cleaned or cared for some time yet.

As the two officers approached the chipped front door, Burke raised his nose.

"You smell that?"

Tenson took a few deep breaths through his nose. "Cinnamon. Cinnamon and sugar. And look."

Burke glanced up and sure enough, there was a thin tendril of smoke rising from the chimney.

"Looks like the place isn't… deserted after all."

Both officers fell silent, each mentally reviewing the assignment that had been given to them that afternoon. The ramshackle house was the home of two women known as Spiker and Sponge, who had recently taken custody of their six year-old nephew after the boy's parents were killed in some sort of freak accident a few months ago. Yesterday, one of the deceased couple's former neighbors had come to the local police station looking very upset.

The woman, one Mrs. Lennel, had stated that she had written to Spiker and Sponge to inquire about the little boy's welfare, but had received no answer to any of her letters. And that morning, she had driven up the hill on her way back from town and saw no signs of life. Fearful for the child, Mrs. Lennel had reported her fears to the police and the two officers had been sent to make sure everything was okay. But smoke and sweet smell aside, there was something strange about the dismal house, a sort of neglected air that sent shivers up both the officers' spines.

Burke raised a hand and knocked on the door.

"Hello? Hello? Police, ladies! Open the door! Open the-" Burke started as the door swung open under his blows. Peering inside the darkened hallway, Tenson shuddered. He felt almost as though he were being watched; like he and Burke were about to be ambushed.

Burke stepped inside, glancing about.

"The place looks clean enough, but… I dunno." Burke swallowed, nodding in agreement. The interior of the house was clearly better off than the rest of the property, but there was a strange sort of air about the place, as if it had been drenched in darkness. Both he and Tenson stepped inside to peer up the shadowy staircase, but there was nothing that hinted of a sign of life on the second floor of the house.

A soft scuffling caused the two officers to whirl about. Standing in the hallway was none other than the little boy they had come to find. He stared up at the officers with large brown eyes, heightened by his light brown hair. He was garbed in a light blue shirt and long brown shorts. In one hand, the child clutched a stuffed lion by its thick mane. In the other, he held a sugar cookie nearly as big as his fist. Still staring up at the policemen, the boy bit into the cookie, his pearly baby teeth sinking into the soft dough. He did not look the least bit frightened.

Burke was the first to recover.

"Hello there, young man. You must be James." The boy nodded, his little nose lightly dusted with sugar crystals.

"Are your aunties home?" The boy swallowed his bite of cookie and shook his head.

"Where are they?"

"Gone," James replied, clutching his lion to him. Burke and Tenson exchanged a look.

"Gone? Did they go into town."

"No."

"Well, then, where did they go?" Burke was trying not to lose his temper; Heaven knew the poor boy had been through a traumatic ordeal and if his aunts had truly left him behind for some jaunt, he was likely not to be in good shape.

"They went away and they aren't coming back." James didn't seem in the least bit upset by this news.

"Is that what they told you?" Burke asked, dislike for the two women flooding him. James shook his head.

"My aunts hated me. They beat me and didn't give me food and made me do all the work." His large brown eyes were filled with some emotion, but it was not the pathetic sadness of a victim. "But then, my big sister came to find me and she made my aunts go away. Now I live with her and no one is mean to me anymore."

"Lad, what do you mean your big sister sent your aunts away?" Tenson asked, taking a step toward James. As he did, the heel of his boot crunched down on something sticking out from under a small table set against the wall. Both officers looked down… and let out equally horrified screams. Tenson had stepped on the bones of a human arm.

The door slammed shut behind the policemen and a deep growl sounded. Slowly, Tenson and Burke turned to face the source of the growl; James watched them with that calm, unafraid, and unnatural stare, still nibbling at his cookie. And as the officers confronted the creature behind them, he smiled slightly. He seemed eager for Tenson and Burke to meet the only other resident in the house.

A girl of about eighteen was standing in front of the door, but the word "girl" didn't apply to her so much as "monster." The girl's pointed ears twitched from atop her head of fawn-colored hair. Her eyes were a blend of dark gold and blood-red, anger blazing in them. Her fanged mouth was bared in a ferocious snarl and her clawed hands were poised to strike. And from under her arms sprouted two enormous bat wings, their edges bristling with bony spikes.

"Wha…wha…what are you?" Burke stammered.

"That's Rin," James said from behind them.

"Rin?" squeaked Tenson, eyeing the girl's claws.

"Yes. My sister."

"SISTER?" both officers screamed.

"If you wish to be precise, I am James's half-sister," Rin said now. Her voice was soft and her accent hinted at Japanese origins, but her tone still cut through the air as surely as her claws had cut through whoever's arm was now lying on the floor.

"You're a monster!" Burke screamed.

"Actually, I am a half-demon, the result of my mother's first marriage. But you needn't worry about details. You won't be telling anyone about what you've seen today."

James's words about his aunts being gone suddenly echoed in Tenson's mind and he pointed a finger at Rin.

"You murdered your aunts!" Rin grinned, her eyes turning more red than gold now.

"My aunts would have murdered my innocent little brother had I not come along. I only remedied the situation you put James in."

"This ends here, demon!" Burke snapped, reaching for his gun. Rin blinked and then glanced over the officers' shoulders at James.

"Well, James, what say you about this?" The little boy popped the last bit of cookie into his mouth and hugged his stuffed lion. His brown eyes scrutinized the officers with a look that was not in the least bit childlike.

"They want to take me away. I don't like them. Make them go away, Rin."

"With pleasure, sweet brother."

Before Tenson or Burke could react, Rin swiped her right wing at them. The bony spikes clipped through flesh and bone like a hot knife through butter and Burke, who had managed to draw his gun, shrieked twice as loud as Tenson as the hand, gun and all, was severed from his body. Blood sputtered and gushed from the officers' wounds as they fell to the floor, screaming in utter agony. Rin watched them for a few seconds and then began to work the two over with her claws, paying no mind to their screams.

All the while, James watched. He didn't seem upset or horrified by his sister's actions and indeed, he wasn't. Once he might have been, but not now. Not since he came to live with his aunts.

Entering Spiker and Sponge's home was like entering the hell many accused Rin of coming from. Everyday was filled with endless chores, little or no food, and merciless beatings. His aunts seemed to take a cruel delight in seeing how many bruises they could inflict on James's small form at once and when the beatings were over, James could barely stumble to his hard little bed where he would curl up miserably under his thin blanket until roused at dawn the next day. There was no relief, no hope, no light at the end of the tunnel. James's only solace was the idea that maybe, just maybe, he would soon be dead from the horrific treatment and escape his aunts forever.

Then Rin came.

Up until then, James hadn't known that he had a sister, but Spiker and Sponge had, if their shocked screams were any indication when they found the half-demon waiting for them in James's room. James remembered how his sister had asked him what James wanted her to do and the little boy spoke the first two words that came to mind.

"Get them."

And she had. James remembered how his aunts had screamed and cried under his sister's claws and fangs, but Rin didn't cease her torture of them. The young half breed was intent on paying them back for every bruise, every cut, every ache that they had inflicted upon James and the boy enjoyed every second of the punishment.

After Spiker and Sponge were gone, (though flayed alive would have been the better description), Rin and James removed all traces of them from the house. All their aunts' possessions, pictures, and documents were either burned or destroyed. Now, James had a much comfier bed, tons of toys and books, and he never went hungry again. Any whim or wish of his only had to be mentioned to Rin and she would fulfill it to the best of her abilities. And more than anything, James wished to stay with his sister.

"There, they won't bother us again." James watched the slain officers' bodies still leaking blood and nodded.

"Are you going to put them with Auntie Spiker and Sponge?"

"Tonight," Rin replied, walking over to her brother. Kneeling before him, she tenderly brushed a few strands of hair from his face. "Now, I know you had cookie, but how about some real dinner?" James nodded, smiling.

"Yes. I'm still hungry and so is Roary." The little boy waved the stuffed lion in front of his sister's face.

"Well then, why don't you and Roary come with me and I'll make us something good?"

Taking his sister's hand, James followed her into the kitchen, where the lingering smell of cookies still hung thick in the air. The little boy smiled to himself. Maybe he and Rin could move to a different house soon, maybe even go to New York City. Yes, that would be fun. And if anyone tried to hurt him, Rin would make them go away. He only had to point to the person he wanted gone and Rin would take care of it. She always did.

Nestling into his sister's wing, James felt no fear of anything in the world anymore.

It was the world that should fear him now.