SANDCASTLES

a DN ANGEL fic by MEG

for SHI-CHAN'S BIRTHDAY.

DN ANGEL belongs to the

almighty Bunny-sensei. Not

Meg. This fic, however, is

Meg's. Take and d13.

----

The boy had red hair and was clinging to his mother's hand, looking up at her and chattering. He was smiling. He was glowing with health and joy and love.

So that was a Niwa.

Satoshi stood at the side of the man he'd been told to call father and hated him. He was supposed to hate him, but more than that, he was not like that boy, bright and shining with everything he did not have.

"Niwa Emiko and Niwa Daisuke," said his father, in the same tones that Satoshi's tutors used to identify specimens. Things, not people. "You see them."

"Yes, Father," he said. The boy -- the Niwa -- skipped joyously and laughed, and Satoshi hated him even more. Satoshi never laughed. Satoshi moved quietly unless he was excercising or training.

"An ordinary boy."

"Yes, Father."

"You are not ordinary."

"No, Father." Perhaps the Niwa boy's mother tucked him into bed, left a light on so he wouldn't be scared. Perhaps she hugged him while he tried to wiggle away. Perhaps she came to him when he woke from nightmares.

Did that boy have nightmares? He didn't look like he even knew what the word meant.

"I have things to do," said his father. "Wait here." A slight smile. "Play like a normal child."

"Yes, Father."

The Niwa boy's mother knelt beside him and smoothed his hair -- pointless, really, his hair sprang straight back up, but affectionate. She stood and left with a wave.

Satoshi found an empty swing and sat down, still watching the Niwa boy. He stood and watched his mother leave, and then turned and ran to the slide. He was singing, Satoshi realized, a simple silly song that he might have learned in nursery school.

The Niwa boy went down the slide ten times. Then he helped a younger child climb up it and slid with her twice. He climbed all over the jungle gym for ten minutes, and hung off the monkey bars and did around-the-worlds for another ten. Then he went back to the jungle gym and climbed to the very top, and sat there and watched the rest of the playground.

Satoshi hated him more with every second that passed. He hated him so much he finally couldn't stand to watch him any more, and began to swing. He liked swinging; liked the way the air sliced past you and the way the chain would hesitate for a second and then click back into place with a jolt if you swung too high. He even liked the hollow feeling in the pit of his stomach at the very top of the arc. It made him feel real for a second.

When he finally put his feet down and braked to a halt, the Niwa boy was standing on the swing next to him, staring at him. "You swing really high."

Satoshi stared back without speaking.

"Are you waiting for someone? I'm waiting for my mom."

Satoshi nodded. His head was still buzzing from the motion of the swing and he was so surprised at the Niwa boy's approach that he felt like he was still on the swing, or like the chain had broken after all and sent him flying.

The Niwa boy smiled at him. "Do you want to play?"

Satoshi opened his mouth to refuse. What came out was "I --"

"Nobody's in the sandbox," said the Niwa boy. "My name's Daisuke."

Satoshi realized that the Niwa boy thought he was shy. "No, I --"

"Let's build a castle!" He smiled at Satoshi again and jumped off the swing, landing at a run.

Satoshi followed slowly, dazed. Obviously the Niwa boy didn't know who he was. He looked at Satoshi and saw someone to play with. Surely the Niwa boy wouldn't do that if he knew who -- what -- Satoshi was. And yet somehow he was still following him.

They built the castle. It was a beautiful castle. It had turrets and a moat and an inner courtyard and the Niwa boy found sticks and Satoshi silently tore strips off a tissue he had in his pocket, and they had flags, too. And all the time they were building the Niwa boy chattered at him like he had at his mother, about everything and nothing. The Niwa boy lived with his mother and grandfather. He liked his mother, but she was kind of strange sometimes. His grandfather wore a yukata all the time. His father was away on some mysterious business trip, but his mother said he looked like him. They had a rabbit named With, who liked strawberries and slept on his bed. He had a friend named Saehara who was good at soccer.

The Niwa boy was good at building, his hands patting the sand into shape carefully and firmly. He smiled all the time, as if he was enjoying himself, as if he liked being with Satoshi. It was a real smile, too, not the fake smiles that Satoshi's tutors and nannies sometimes forced around him.

"Daaiiii-chan!"

The Niwa boy looked up. "Oh, there's my mom," he said, looking disappointed. "I've gotta go now."

Satoshi nodded silently.

The Niwa stood up and brushed the sand off his clothes. "Maybe I'll see you again some time," he said, still smiling, still acting like he was enjoying himself. "See you!" He ran toward his mother, stopping once to wave at Satoshi.

Satoshi lifted his hand in a small wave, and watched as the Niwa boy's mother greeted him. She ruffled his hair and he squealed and ducked away. She laughed and handed him a small bag to carry, and they walked off, her hand wrapped firmly around his, keeping him safe.

Satoshi watched them until they were out of sight, and turned to the castle. He took down the flags and threw them away, and then he carefully flattened the castle until the sand in the box was exactly level again. It was hard to do because his eyes were blurry and drops of water kept splashing onto the sand and soaking into it.

He hated the Niwa boy.

----------30-------

Uh... ok, this comes from a line in volume nine as quoted by Ann. Satoshi says "I am always jealous of you." to Daisuke when he's asleep. _; Long story, but honest to God, if it was any gayer they'd have to run it in Ciel, the boy's-love version of Asuka. ^^;;

And happy birthday, Shi-chan! I'm sorry that it's late. And weird. ;_;