AN: Here is the first chapter of the official story Children of Heaven. More to come soon, if all goes well, so I hope those of you who have been patiently waiting years for this enjoy it.
Warnings: D N Angel AU, child enslavement, mild cursing.
Standard Disclaimer: Sugarpony does not own D N Angel or X-Men: Evolution. No profit is being made from this fanfiction and no copyright infringement is intended.
Children of Heaven
The circus. A place full of bright colors, exotic smells, exciting sounds, and overall wonder and merriment. A place where lions were as tame as house cats, twenty men could fit in one tiny car, fire was a gourmet meal, and people flew.
This particular circus boasted its main attraction to be actual angels, winged humans who were as comfortable in the air as a falcon. It was for this reason that Warren Worthington III had journeyed to the slums outside of New York City on this chilly early September morning. He wanted–needed–to see these "angels" for himself.
Children raced past him toward the colorful tent where the show would shortly begin, kicking up empty candy wrappers, old newspapers, and elephant manure. Harassed parents brushed his shoulders in a hurry to catch their kids before they lost them in the crowds. Warren pulled his brown trench coat tighter to himself against the many bodies and the biting wind.
The ticket taker gave him a once over before letting him pass, briefly looking for any items the valued customer may need "taken care of" during the show. He didn't find any. Warren never brought anything of worth with him to these shady places, keeping only his I.D. and checkbook tucked safely away in a concealed pocket of his coat. He never wanted to be seen as a wealthy snob, an easy target, when in a disreputable establishment, and for good reason; he felt no less than five wandering hands dive in and out of his pockets in search of a wallet, a wad of money, or a loose credit card on the way to his seat.
It was a tight squeeze on a too small bench on which sat too many people. Stale popcorn, sticky soda, and smoking cigarette butts covered the floor, and Warren was fairly certain he was sitting in a wad of recently chewed gum. But one way or another this would all be worth it; if he was lucky there would be no good reason for him to be there, and he simply would have lost a few hours and a set of street clothes.
Before long the lights went out and the show began. The acts were mostly mediocre at best, but that didn't matter to this audience. Most of the people sitting under the big top slaved away for too many hours at jobs that payed much too little, and this was one chance of far too few to spend time with their children. They laughed at the clowns' crude attempt at humor, gasped at all the right places of the lion tamer's act, and cheered as a beautiful young woman rode a small elephant around the center ring. And then the tent grew dark once more and a spotlight was shone on the ringmaster. It was time for the main attraction.
"And now, what you've all been waiting for!" The fat, greasy man in a tight suit with two missing buttons and a frayed, graying top hat moved about in grand gestures and spoke in a booming, sensational voice. "From the far reaches of the East, a land full of mystical powers and magical wonders, we present tonight for your entertainment, the Children of Heaven!"
The center spotlight went black and two smaller lights went up, one on either of two platforms raised high above the crowd. On each platform stood a young boy, perhaps in his early teens. One had bright red hair and wore a black skintight suit with a backless top, while the other had platinum hair and wore a matching uniform in blinding white. Each wore a glimmering silver collar around his neck. The room was silent, all eyes on the two performers, everyone waiting for the show to begin.
At once both boys hunched over, and slowly a pair of wings blossomed from either of their backs, one crimson red, one the palest of blues. In unison the boys straightened from their crouches and dove from the platforms into the open air.
They fell toward the ground, and the audience watched with bated breath until, meters from the hay strewn floor, the boys stretched out their wings and soared.
The young boys, the "Children of Heaven," flew synchronized in a graceful and beautiful dance in the sky, working in tandem as two halves of a whole, yin and yang, dark and light. Not a single person dared move, hardly even dared breathe lest the magic spell be broken and the angels vanish. Not a sound could be heard but the rush of the air and the soft flutter of feathers. They flew for what seemed to those watching like hours, though it could only have been mere minutes, until they began to circle one another in a steep, spiraled climb to the peak of the tent.
And then, all at once, the white angel shuddered and began to plummet to the earth, and the spell was broken.
The crowd gasped as one, and the red angel abruptly changed directions, folding his wings tightly against his body in a sharp dive toward his fallen comrade. He grasped the arm of his partner with both hands and beat his wings frantically to slow their descent enough to gently land them on the ground.
The lights went out, and the crowd erupted in cheers.
Suddenly Warren was aware that he was standing, fists clenched in tension and fury. He vaguely realized that the ringmaster was once again in the center ring, but a loud buzzing filled his ears and blocked out any words of farewell he might be saying. His head felt like it was stuffed with cotton, and Warren could feel a sharp pain in his palms where his fingernails were cutting into his flesh. Instead of wincing, though, the man embraced it, using the pain the center his thoughts.
This was bad. Very bad. And two Children of Heaven needed an Angel to rescue them from their fall from grace.
The acrid, distinctive smell of pot and stale, rancid piss assaulted his nostrils, and he raised one gloved hand to cover his nose with the sleeve of his long brown coat. Backstage was no better than the midway; it was crowded with performers carrying props too and fro across the floor strewn with straw and elephant shit. Fortunately, it only took Warren a few minutes to find the ringmaster.
The portly man was directing a pair of stage hands lifting a crate the size of a small horse. It wasn't long before he noticed his visitor.
"Alright boys, take five," he shouted. He wiped his hand vigorously on his waistcoat as he turned then thrust one in Warren's face.
"Normally I'd be throwing any trespassers out on their asses, but you, sir, look like a man of means. Any chance yer lookin' to sponsor my humble circus?"
Warren kept his hands tucked firmly in his pockets. "Sorry, but no," he said. The ringmaster withdrew his hand. "I'm interested in making an acquisition."
"Yeah, well, ole Mozzie's not sellin' nothin', so yer outta luck, kid." He scowled and folded his arms across his chest. "Now I've got a show to run, so beat it."
Warren didn't move. "I'll make it worth your while," he said, reaching into his coat and pulling out his checkbook. He paused, tapping it thoughtfully against his chin. "Of course," he mused, "if you're not interested in selling, I'll just have to take my business elsewhere."
Mozzie's eyes were fixed firmly on the checkbook, but he didn't budge.
"No?" Warren turned to leave. He counted five steps before–
Warren hid his smirk and pivoted. "Have you changed your mind, then?"
Mozzie had stepped forward with one arm outstretched. He grabbed the brim of his hat, tipping it forward. "Well, uh," he said, licking his lips anxiously, "maybe we kin come to some kinda agreement. We're both men of business, yeah?"
"Of course," Warren agreed. "Still, I wouldn't want to put you out if you're not looking to sell, so perhaps it would be best if I left..."
"Now, now, Mr. Big, I'm sure we kin make a deal, here." He slung an arm around Warren's shoulders, leading him away from the exit. "After all, a man kin be persuaded to sell jus' 'bout anythin' fer the right price." Mozzie grinned wide, showing off his three gold teeth.
"Now then, jus' what are you fixin' to buy from me, Mr. Big? I cain't assess my losses an' give you a price if I don't know what ya want, kin I?"
Warren pulled away from the man's clingy hands and straightened his coat. "I only want one thing," Warren told him, staring straight in his beady little eyes. "The Children of Heaven."
Mozzie laughed in his raspy voice. "HA!" he bellowed. "You got guts, kid, I'll give ya that. Those two are my biggest money makers, ain't no way you kin afford 'em. Now, whaddaya really want?"
"The Children of Heaven." Warren flipped open his checkbook and slid out a pen. "How much?"
Mozzie frowned. "Alright, kid, the joke's wearin' thin. Ain't no way you got enough to cover the losses I'll take if I get rid o' 'em."
Warren quirked an eyebrow. "Try me."
Mozzie thought for a few moments, stroking the stubble on his chin. "Hmm. Well," he said, "it could take me a while to find a new act to replace 'em, might even be a coupla months. An' o' course I'll never find an act that pulls in as big a crowd as the boys. An' then I'll hafta redo all the posters an' make new flyers an' ads. All in all, it could be as much as..."
(He paused to smirk greedily.)
Warren didn't blink. Fifty thousand dollars was probably more than the crooked man would make in his entire career, but he wasn't at all surprised that the ringmaster was trying to hustle him. "Who should I make the check out to?" he asked.
Mozzie coughed and wheezed in shock, not having expected his guest to actually be able to afford his price. Then he thought of a way to turn the tables to his advantage.
"Now wait jus' a minute, Mr. Big," he said. "I weren't finished yet. You see, I was about to say fifty grand per kid."
"Mhmm." Warren nodded, pen poised. "I need a name, Mozzie."
"Hmm..." Mozzie frowned, squinting at his buyer. "I'll fill in the name, but first I wanna see that check o' yers."
Warren obliged, writing down the amount and passing it into his filthy hands. Mozzie held it up to the flickering light, turning it this way and that until he was satisfied. "Seems legit," he muttered, "but there's a little somethin' ya fergot to do."
"I'll sign the check once you hand over the boys," Warren told him. "As you can see, my name isn't printed on there, so there's no way you can forge it. No boys, no money."
Mozzie made a face like he'd swallowed a lemon–that, or he'd suddenly regained his sense of smell. With an insulted hurumph, he pocketed the check and waved Warren out the back, leading him to a group of five or six smaller tents. He stopped at the one on the far right.
"Wait here," Mozzie instructed. "Jus' need ta check on somethin'." He was only gone for a few moments, and then Warren was beckoned to duck under the tarp after him.
The tent was empty save for the two boys, who were sitting on the floor of a barred metal cage similar to one used for transporting large animals. Up close, Warren could see they were both small and very thin. Their skin had an unhealthy pallor to it. The boy whose hair Warren had thought was platinum actually had locks a very light shade of blue. Their wings were nowhere in sight, but as the boys had grown them on cue during the show, they were likely retracted at the moment.
The two were huddled together against the far wall, eyes pointed at the ground. Mozzie sneered nastily at them as he turned the key in the lock and opened the cage door. "Alright, brats, up ya git," he barked. He pulled a small remote out from his front pocket and jammed a button on it. "Up an' out!" The boys flinched for a few long seconds before standing and rushing past their owner.
"Well, here ya go, Mr. Big," Mozzie said, "two angels, all fer you. Now sign my check an' git gone with 'em."
Warren signed his name with a flourish, examining the silver bands around the boys' necks as he did so. They were made of metal, an inch tall and a half inch thick, and they appeared to be seamless. With check in hand, Mozzie was eager to rush his benefactor out of his circus, but Warren decided he wasn't finished quite yet.
"One more thing," he said, stepping between the ringmaster and his boys. "I want the remote to those collars, and I want you to show me how to open them."
Mozzie snorted. "Whatever ya say, kid, but it'll cost ya. You want this," he taunted, waving the controller in the air, "you gotta gimme another tweny-five grand."
Warren rolled his eyes, but he obliged and signed over another quarter million dollars to the greedy man. Mozzie reached to grab the check, but Warren pulled it out of reach before he could snatch it. "Remote and instructions," he reminded, holding out his empty hand.
The crook growled. "Top right button opens the collars. Now gimme my money an' git outta my circus!"
Warren gladly handed over his payment and gently ushered the boys toward the exit. He kept a protective hand on each of their backs until they were safely in a taxi cab on the way back to his penthouse, making a short stop along the Hudson River to dump the collars and remote into the murky waters.
Daisuke clung to Satoshi's hand. Less than an hour ago, he had half carried his friend backstage after he'd been shocked out of the air during the performance. That disgusting jerk Mozzie had made a habit out of randomly electrocuting one of them every few nights in order to "spice up" the show. So far neither of them had been seriously injured, but tonight had been a close call.
Not long after the show Mozzie had come into their tent and activated those stupid collars until he and Satoshi had pulled in their wings. Then he had growled at them to keep quiet and behave until he sent someone to retrieve them.
Daisuke hadn't been surprise when the man in the long coat followed him in a minute later. This wasn't the first time Mozzie had sold the two of them to some unsuspecting sucker. He and Satoshi had escaped the circus barely a week after they'd been grabbed off a street in Tokyo only to have the crook catch up to them in less than an hour. The collars, they had learned, were not only for control; they both had tracking devices installed in them. Since neither Daisuke nor Satoshi had been able to unlock the collars, they had been stuck in the circus for the past eight months.
But then the strange man had demanded the remote for the collars, and a short while into a taxi ride he'd deactivated them and tossed them into a river.
Now the three of them were standing in the entryway of a beautiful large mansion. Daisuke couldn't help but observe the expensive paintings hanging on the walls and statues standing on pedestals (force of habit). Now that the collars were gone, he and Satoshi could finally run away like they'd planned so long ago. They could escape later that night when their new "owner" was asleep, taking some of the artwork to fence for cash.
Satoshi squeezed his hand and nudged him in the direction of a Raphael, and Daisuke knew he was thinking the same. For now, they just had to keep their heads down and bide their time.
The strange man finished locking up and turning on his security system, turning toward the pair of boys. Immediately, they focused their eyes on the floor, but Daisuke could hear the man heave a sigh and shuffle uncomfortably.
"Do either of you want something to eat?" he asked.
They stayed silent, not moving. The man sighed again. After a few quiet moments he walked forward, putting a hand on their shoulders.
"I don't know everything you've been through," he said, "but I'm not going to hurt you. I just want to help."
More silence. The man stepped back and started to take off his coat, saying, "Look."
At first, Daisuke didn't budge. There was no good reason for him to believe this stranger. True, he'd gotten rid of the collars, but he may have suspected that there were tracking devices in them. He probably wanted to exploit two little "angels" just like Mozzie and the circus did.
But then Satoshi crushed Daisuke's hand, and he heard him gasp. Then he heard the rustle of feathers, and he looked up to see–
–two enormous white, feathery wings stretching from the stranger's back, and Daisuke thought that maybe they wouldn't leave after all, and maybe things would be alright from now on.
AN: And here is the first official chapter of Children of Heaven! I know some of you have been waiting a few years for this, so I hope you all enjoyed it. I welcome constructive criticism, so please leave a review.
What did you like? What did you hate? Anything you tell me will only help future chapters be more enjoyable!