The rain fell over the sinful city. A twelve-year-old girl with reddish-brown hair hugged her knees with trembling hands in an attempt to save what little warmth remained in her body. She had not eaten for three days, and her vision was growing blurry from the hunger. The soft rumbling noises and the pain in her stomach made her feel extremely weak.
[I told you before that we should just steal food! You're so stubborn. We are going to die at this rate.]
'No. Mama said that stealing was bad. We can't continue to steal!'
[Good grief. Just let me take over and I'll solve this problem. You don't have to dirty your hands.]
'No! No means no!'
The young girl was tired and she didn't want to continue the argument. She was already very hungry, and getting angry only made things worse.
The other voice sighed deep inside her head and backed down.
[Suit yourself. Don't come running to me for help!]
The young girl bit her lip and hugged her knees tighter. She prayed that the rain would stop soon, so she could scavenge the trash cans for food.
Her ears perked up when she heard footsteps in the distance. She raised her head and tried to move her tired and aching body. An opportunity had arrived, if she was lucky, she might be able to eat something today. Using all her willpower, she managed to stand up, albeit shakily, and raised her empty can.
"Please sir, can you spare some coins. I haven't eaten anything for days," the young girl said in a hoarse voice, akin to a whisper.
The man, who appeared to be in his early thirties, answered with a snort. "That's what you mongrels always say. Stay away from me, lest you dirty my clothes!"
The man threatened to hit her with his cane which made the little girl back away in a hurry. Her weakened legs weren't able to support her sudden motion and she fell backwards onto the hard pavement.
"Filthy mongrel," the man spat in disgust before hurrying away.
The young girl laid helplessly on the ground. She didn't even have the strength to wipe away the spit that was on her clothes. She sighed out of helplessness and felt bitterness inside her heart.
Moving sideways, she tried to use her arm to support her body in order to stand up. A minute passed, and then two, yet she was still lying on the ground, under the mercy of the elements.
With a sigh, she lay on her back and looked up at the dark gray sky. The rain continued to fall with no signs of stopping. Peals of thunder roared in the heavens accompanied by brief flashes of lightning.
For a moment she thought that the heavens were laughing at her, mocking her, adding insult to her injury. For the first time in her life, the girl felt like giving up, she had enough.
"Mama, Papa... I miss you." the young girl said as she closed her eyes. The tears that she had been holding back flowed unceasingly and mixed with the rain as it continued to wash over her body.
In the darkness behind her eyelids, she remembered a time when she was happier. She was eight years old then, and her mother would tell her stories before she slept at night.
On that particular night, she asked her mother a question after the latter finished reading a bedtime story for her. One of her playmates said that she wanted to meet an angel one day. The talk about angels caught her interest and she decided to ask her mother what they were.
"Mama, what are angels?" the young girl had asked in an innocent tone.
A beautiful lady with the same reddish-brown hair as the young girl smiled sweetly. "Angels are the messengers of God. They protect good children like you." The woman patted her daughter's head lovingly.
"What do they look like?"
"Well… they are very beautiful. They also have wings sprouting from their back like this."
The lady flapped her arms at her side and made the young girl giggle.
"Are they more beautiful than Mama?" the young girl asked in a disbelieving tone.
Her mother lightly chuckled before nodding her head. "Yes. More beautiful than me."
"Mama, what color are their eyes? Do angels smile?"
"Well," the lady tilted her head to the side and quickly thought of an answer. "They have blue eyes, and their smile…"
"Their smile will melt your heart."
"Will I meet an angel one day?" the young girl asked in a sleepy voice.
"You will meet an angel. I'm sure of it." The lady covered the young girl with a blanket and kissed her forehead. "Goodnight, Kate."
"Goodnight Mama, I love you."
"I love you too, baby."
The happy memory faded away and she returned to that cold and empty street against her will. Her body felt numb from the cold, and only the tears streaming down her eyes had a semblance of warmth in them.
She heard a pair of footsteps approaching her from behind, but she didn't have the energy to react. The young girl had enough. She just wanted to close her eyes and sleep forever. Perhaps, the next time she wakes up, she would be with her mother and father once again.
"Well, well, well. What do we have here?" A middle-aged man with an umbrella stopped at the young girl's side, appraising her.
The girl had been under the rain for quite some time and the dirt smearing her face had washed away, revealing a pretty face. The middle-aged man gave her a lecherous gaze, and a sinister smile appeared on his face.
"Boss, this girl looks promising," a fat guy who seemed to be in his early twenties commented from the side. "A bit skinny, but she's certainly a looker. She'll be a real beauty after a few years."
The middle-aged man nodded his head in agreement. Although the little girl was wearing rags, and clearly malnourished, he could tell that she would become a valuable asset in the future. He lightly tapped the little girl's cheeks to check whether she was alive. Seeing no reaction from her, the man gently caressed the side of her face.
The girl felt a hand caress her face and it made her skin crawl. She forcefully opened her eyes and looked at the middle-aged man who was staring lasciviously down at her.
"Good morning, sweetheart. What are you doing lying here on the pavement when it's raining?" The man asked in a gentle tone. "Why don't you come with me? I can give you a place to stay. You would also have clothes and warm food. Sound good?"
The man touched the little girl's hand and smiled. The little girl felt a sudden jolt in her body which made her break away from the man's grasp. For the second time in her life she felt that she was in grave danger.
In that moment of danger and panic, the little girl was able to stand up. She felt a hidden strength aid her. She darted away from the middle-aged man, only to find an obstacle. Unfortunately, the fat man was watching nearby and immediately blocked her path of escape. She slowly backed away only to find the other man behind her.
"What's wrong? We won't hurt you," the middle-aged man said. "We're only trying to help."
"No! Stay away! I don't need your help!" the young girl screamed using all the strength she could muster. She was hoping that someone would be able to hear her voice and come to her rescue.
The middle-aged man sighed and made a hand gesture. The fat man nodded and the two of them moved together towards the girl. Seeing a small gap from their outstretched hands, the girl ran in that direction, hoping that it was a path that would lead her to safety.
The two men shared a knowing smile and followed closely behind her. The girl ran with everything she had, before making a right turn into an alley, only to find a dead end blocking her path.
It didn't take long before she realized that it was all part of their plan. There was a chance that some people would've been able to help her if they were on the main street, but here in the alley, no one would be able to see them.
"Make sure not to hurt her too much," the middle-aged man whispered in a volume that was only audible to his underling. "I'll train her myself."
"If you come with us you won't be hurt." The fat guy moved forward and stretched out his hand. "In fact, we will treat you like a princess. You will be well-fed and cared for. You wouldn't have to live in the streets like a rat scavenging for scraps for the rest of your life. Don't you want to leave this place?"
For a brief moment, the little girl was tempted. The thought of being able to sleep in a warm comfortable bed and eat delicious food again almost made her accept the man's offer.
However, she remembered the way the middle-aged man's hand caressed her skin. His touch had felt vile and disgusting, like she was being tainted.
She backed away into the corner of the alley and crouched, covering her body with her hands.
"I see, so you want to play hard to get," the fat guy chuckled. "Fine by me. I like girls who play hard to get."
[Don't be stubborn and switch with me. At this rate...]
The fat guy reached out and grabbed the little girl's arm. He didn't notice the hands of the little girl has curled up into fists. Any moment now, she would give a fatal strike that would end this scum's life.
The side of the middle-aged man's lips curved up. He knew that the game was over. He was looking forward to training the young girl and making her submit to him. He was about to join the fat guy in silencing the girl when he heard a voice behind him.
The middle-aged man and the fat guy immediately glanced at the direction where the voice came from. Standing at the mouth of the alley holding an umbrella was a boy. A boy that seemed to be around ten years old was glaring at the two of them.
"Let her go." the boy said in a threatening manner.
The fat guy whistled in appreciation. "Boss, it seems that today is our lucky day. The heavens is on our side. That's one beautiful boy right there."
"Indeed." The middle-aged man appraised the boy in front of him. "This boy will fetch a very high price on the black market. Those eyes, plus that face, will have the top bidders fighting with everything they have."
"You take care of the girl. I'll handle this boy." The middle-aged man stepped forward.
The boy stood his ground and glared at the man. His small hands were clenched into a fist. "Heinz, take care of them," the boy commanded. "Teach them a lesson they will never forget."
"As you command, young master."
Nine men wearing black suits stormed inside the alley. Behind them, a man with gray hair, who seemed to be their leader stood beside the young boy. What followed afterward was a one-sided beating. Only the wretched cries of the two men were heard in the background as the rain fell unabated.
The men wearing black suits dragged the two men from the alley and left their young master alone. The little girl was still sitting on the ground with her mouth agape. She stared at the young boy who was looking at her from the distance.
Her eyes widened as she saw a pair of wings sprouting from the boy's back. She rubbed her eyes and took a second look, but the wings were no longer there. The young girl watched as he moved towards her.
The boy had blonde hair, and a pair of the most beautiful blue eyes that she had ever seen in her life. The closer he came, the more she was able to see his facial features and the more entranced she became.
When he was close enough, he bent his knee and used the umbrella to block the rain that pelted her body. The umbrella was not big enough for the two of them so the rain fell on him instead, but the boy didn't seem to mind.
"Are… are you an angel?" the young girl asked shyly.
"Angel? No. I'm not an angel," the boy replied while his light-blue eyes scanned her body for injuries. "What is your name?"
"Ka-Kate. My name is Kate Williams."
Seeing only small bruises the boy sighed in relief. "Kate, do you want to leave this place?" the boy asked. The genuine concern in his voice made Kate feel a warm sensation bubbling inside her heart.
"Who are you?"
"Sorry, I forgot to introduce myself. My name is Ciel Summers." The boy smiled. "Nice to meet you, Kate." Ciel reached out his hand for a handshake, and Kate unconsciously reached out her own hand in return.
Kate finally understood what her mother said to her years ago.
"You will meet an angel. I'm sure of it."
The two of them held hands for a long time, both not wanting to let the other go. As if waiting for that moment, the rain stopped completely, and sunlight shone down from the sky. The dark alley where the two children clasped their hands together was bathed in light.