ANNA--

When she was left alone in the church, she didn’t blame Matthew. She had upset him. She had been distrusting. Right off the bat. It was a terrible trait, and something that she didn’t used to be. But… she had her reasons. Betrayal caused so many things.

But she walked up to the altar, looking to the old cross behind it, sighing and shaking her head some. Her faith was shaken, her trust in everything so broken. Her trust in herself most of all.

It was quiet, so much so, and she was curious, why was she here?

After what she had did in her previous life… why on Heaven or Earth would she be brought back? She shook her head. There were better people to bring back to life. Ones that hadn’t lost their way, ones that were stronger in the end.

Lucky.

She knew that she was lucky for such a chance. Such a gift. And she wouldn’t mistreat such a gift. But… why. Who was behind this. How… long had it been? Where was she? She had no idea. Nothing was coming to her.

Lost.

Even… in the hospital she hadn’t felt quite like she did now. It was a different feeling. One that she … was unsettled by. Entirely so.

A cool breeze crept through that church, some of the windows were long gone, but there was still stained glass behind the cross. A shiver crept along her spine, as she was taking in a slow breath. Goosebumps raising along that skin.

“Why here… why now?” She said it so softly. Her fingers brushed the altar, looking down as she rounded it. This… was different for her. A strange moment. She came back down before the altar, falling to her knees there, her face in her hands.

Entirely overwhelmed.

She knew… this wasn’t a dream. She did something… she hadn’t done in so long.

Prayed.

“I know… I have no right to ask for guidance… or…. Anything at this moment. I…. lost my way…” Her voice broke, that red hair falling into her pale face. She always had been so fair skinned. Tears slipped down those cheeks, as she took in a shaky breath, “I don’t know what to do… or where to go….” She cast her gaze up to the cross, and then higher.

“I… ruined…so much the last time. I chose… all wrong. I was …. so very wrong.” She said it quietly. “I’m sorry for that. I… will never be able to atone… for all that I have broken.” She knew that the two people she actually cared for on this world… had to have been so disappointed in her. Had to hate her.

But did she blame them?

She’d been betrayed… certainly. And in the grand scheme of things… she was never going to be the one that was saved. She knew that too. She had gone off the rails, and had to be stopped. And …again she couldn’t blame them.

Trust?

Was such a fickle thing. She didn’t feel they would ever trust her again, not that she blamed Dean or Sam. … Or Castiel. Perhaps… that one hurt the worst of all.

The deepest cut. Betrayed and chosen over time and again. Her head bowed again, her fingers clasped in prayer, as she tried to get some sort of guidance …. Some sort of sign… that perhaps there was some sort of hope in this world for her.

A true weeping angel.


CASTIEL--

Meg was resting once again, sleeping peacefully – or, at least, she appeared peaceful when he'd last looked in on her. It was something that seemed to be happening more and more frequently. It troubled him, even if he understood the reason for it. Castiel was sitting quietly in the main room of the cabin, using the stillness and the quiet to cautiously reach inside himself and feel out the extent of the changes to himself.


With all that had happened, he still found it startling when the thought occurred to him that he was a changed thing now, reborn in many ways. Often, he felt exactly the same as he always had. He was just...himself. Broken, but slowly putting himself back together. But, then, sometimes, something would happen, sometimes a small thing, sometimes much larger – especially when Castiel was feeling particularly threatened or protective, he'd discovered – and he would be forcefully reminded that he was no longer a broken, fallen seraph, but that he contained the ferocity and absolute might of an archangel.


It was while he was feeling out the power that sometimes felt only barely contained within him that something began to tease at the edge of his awareness, something both familiar and strange, all at once. It was...a prayer. Oh he'd felt them over the few thousand years that humans had been making them, so that part of it was nothing new or strange. But this was different. There was a sense of familiarity to it, and it was – as odd as it might seem – that very sense of familiarity that made it so strange.


Whoever was sending out the prayer, thoughts filled with desperation, and confusion, and loss, and a hopelessness that cut at him...whoever it was, they knew him, and he knew....her.


<i>Anael.</i>


There was no doubt in his mind. It was Anna, somehow returned from the oblivion that was the only thing left of an angel after death.


She was in need.


The instincts that lay mostly buried, instincts that seemed to have come along with the raw grace that had changed him, filled him. With nothing more than the briefest thought, Castiel fixed on the feel of her coming through her prayer, and the main room of the cottage was empty, only the faint sound of wingbeats in the silence left behind...


...and then Castiel stood – his grace and his presence cloaked out of the same instincts that had brought him here in the first place – in the center of an old church, small, the kind often built to serve small, poor, rural populations, and mostly abandoned in this day and age with the waning of faith and the greater ability to travel further distances to newer, flashier institutions for those who still retained a faith in God. This one was, unsurprisingly, obviously abandoned and left to the cruelty of the elements, windows broken in many places, letting in cool air, the breeze ruffling the feathers of his unseen wings gently.


Anna knelt there before the altar at the end of the room, tiny sobs sounding in the silence, beautiful, vivid red hair falling over her back, and, though he couldn't see it from here, he suspected over her face, as well. He stood silently, watching her, taking in every little detail. He could see her grace burning brightly within her, beautiful, restored and complete, just as his had been each time he'd been mysteriously resurrected.


Though, with that focus on her came the realization that she wasn't actually praying to him, not specifically. Somehow, he'd felt her prayer across the distance, even though it wasn't really directed at anyone or anything...except, perhaps, their Father. She was asking for guidance. She was asking...for a sign. And...this was the desperate prayer that had drawn him to her like a moth to a flame.


Her betrayer, her betrayed, her former subordinate...he was all these things to her. Why, of all the angels, had he felt the call to answer her prayer? He could only imagine he would be the last angel in existence she would want to see. Regret filled him, and he considered, for one brief moment, simply leaving, finding someone else, anyone else, to help her. Calling Dean, perhaps.


But Castiel couldn't do that.


He couldn't leave her like that. There was simply too much between them. He'd felt her prayer, he had to answer it. This was <i>Anna</i>. He had to.


He sighed softly and allowed his grace the freedom to reach out toward her – though he himself remained standing in the center of the room, unwilling to move closer to her, not...yet – no longer hiding himself from her, if she would even notice him in her despair. “Anael.” The single word was hardly more than a murmur, his voice rumbling into the silence, filled with a welter of emotion, a far cry from the closed off, still primarily distant thing he'd been when he last saw her.


ANNA--

Out of anything in the universe that she could have ever expected. That she could ever, honestly fathomed. The one that would appear… was the one she least suspected.

And god knows, had he left, after coming here, and called Dean? Dean would just end her. She knew that. She felt that, there would be no forgiveness for what she had done to his parents. To Sam.

Forgiveness… it was such a fickle thing. And with what she had done?

There were so many more questions than answers. There was such… a sense of confusion that she hadn’t expected. She’d been brought back before, but this was different. So very much so.

That vessel… that… favor… the third time she had been in the body. Of sorts. But instead of her normal apparel, it was just a white dress, simple, but rather fitting for the occasion. Coming back in such a fashion. She… was… so very much herself. More than she had been before.

But guidance… a sign. From a Father that she had felt had forsaken them for so long. Two thousand years was a long time to go without speaking to the Father. After all. And with everything that had happened? There were so many questions.

Doubt.

But then, he was there. That grace, that perfect, grace. He was so much stronger than her now. Funny….how things happen no?

She couldn’t speak, but then she heard… that murmur, it was unmistakable.
She was so very quiet, for the longest of times, unable to trust her voice. Unable… to trust herself.

“Castiel…” It was a broken whisper. Was…. this her sign? Her hands had been so sweetly clasped, and they parted, as she was moving. She didn’t get up. She didn’t want him to mistrust her. She moved, to where she could sit on those steps. Her head still down, her face, still hidden as she couldn’t bring herself to get up. To… reveal herself. Feeling… so terribly … human.

When she hadn’t immediately been able to feel him, it was a sign… that he was so much more powerful. That… things.. were different for her too.

Once upon a time, yes, he had been her subordinate. My how the tables turned now… piece by piece… things continued to change.

To evolve.

Anael wasn’t above change, learning…. Growing.

Granted the brothers track record had some flaws in it. But…they were still alive. The world was still turning. It hadn’t been reduced to ash in her absence… so why was she here?

Her fingers trembled, as she smoothed the dress down, such a terribly human thing… and a bit of modesty that she had for certain not shown in the backseat of the Impala.

But… this was Castiel. Cas.

She finally, slowly lifted her eyes to look to him. The look there pretty indescribable. She wasn’t sure what to think… how to feel. Had she missed him? … Did the stars go blue?

There was a push off from the steps, as she was the one to move, but not all the way to him. No. He would have to be the one to take such a step. Such a bold move.

She was searching as she watched him. But for what? She didn’t even understand this.

“Cas…” Tears slipped silently down those cheeks, as she took in a shaky breath.

The last time she had seen him… was as his enemy… but now….

Everything had changed.


CASTIEL--

The silence stretched out, and Castiel allowed it patiently. He sensed, somehow, that she needed the time to come to grips with...well, everything, most likely. He used that time of silence to study her, deep blue eyes, darkened with concern, roving over her form. From the vividly ginger hair spilling down her back, to the simple white dress that, had she not been an angel, would have left her shivering in the cold air of the abandoned church, to the way her grace quivered in reaction to her emotions, he took it all in.


When Anna finally broke that heavy silence, it was one simple word, but one weighted with so very much meaning. His name was achingly familiar on her lips, despite all the time that had passed. She shifted, turning to sit and face him, though her head was still down-turned, hair still spilling over her face in gentle waves. Her movements spoke to him of someone timid, afraid, unsure.


His heart felt like it might shatter into pieces within his vessel's chest, yet, Cas could only watch her, rapt, yet wary. He couldn't help but remember the last time he'd seen her, the last time she suddenly appeared out of nowhere. Then, she'd been intent on killing Sam to stop Lucifer from claiming him as his true vessel, and, eventually, on killing Mary and John Winchester to keep Sam from ever having been born. He'd done his part, then, to see that the Winchesters were safe – though it had cost him dearly at the time - as he'd been doing practically since the moment he touched Dean's soul in Hell, and as he'd done in the ways he'd felt were right ever since.


What she'd done then, though... That had been a betrayal he'd felt for a long time, changing him even further...one step closer on the journey to who he was today. So, he certainly couldn't hate her for it. It helped to make him who he was, for better or worse.


And.. It had still been nothing compared to the betrayal he'd committed against her, even if unwittingly at the time. He wondered, even now, if she'd thought the whole time since that he'd trapped her on purpose, or, as had actually been the case, if she understood she'd been captured simply because they'd been already watching him, suspicious of him, sensing the rebellion and betrayal that had been simmering in his heart even then.


Shaking his head, he pulled himself from the thoughts of the past to refocus on the seemingly frail form now smoothing her dress with delicate hands, turning eyes to gaze at him, moving to stand before the altar she'd been sitting in front of. It was just that – the past. She was here, now, real and alive and nearly glowing with the power of the grace within her; she was made anew, and he had to deal with the repercussions of that, whatever they might be.


<i>“Cas...”</i>


The word fell into the silence of the church, and every suspicion he had was shattered as surely as he felt his heart was. Somehow emboldened by her seeming frailty, he strode forward then, closing the distance between them. If he'd learned anything in the time since, especially during the past year of time spent around humans other than the Winchester brothers – especially with Claire – he'd learned that some things belonged in the past, needed to stay there, if there was any hope of moving forward. He'd learned...to forgive, in ways he'd never experienced even with all the righteousness of Heaven behind him.


He forgave her. Just like that, letting that show on his face openly as he approached her, he forgave her.


Everything was different now. <i>He</i> was different now, in so many ways, he was....different.


Approaching her, he hesitated to search her face, his hands coming up to brush away the tears marking her cheeks with the barest brush of the pads of his thumbs against her skin. Then, he wrapped his arms around her and pulled her against him, every motion gentle, restraining his strength – though she could easily withstand it as an angel herself, he still felt her emotional frailty needed that gentleness – and giving her every opportunity to remove herself from his embrace, if she wished it.


It's alright,” He murmured, trying, somewhat awkwardly, to be as soothing and comforting as he could be. He could only imagine what she must be thinking, feeling. At least his resurrections had always been quick, with little to no real gap of time to contend with. There was simply....oblivion, nothingness, and then...he existed again. He couldn't begin to imagine what it must be like to come back after years like she had – if she was even really aware of that passage of time. “Anna...Anael, it's going to be alright.”


When he could feel she was ready, he released her and took a step back, yet his hand lingered, resting lightly against her arm. This time, however, it was more for his own comfort, his own sense of peace, than for hers. He felt a need to reassure himself that she really was there, that she was real and whole and alive. A sister, a former member of his decimated garrison, his former commander, the one who had shown him the way, the path to rebellion and free will...and, at least once, his friend.


I... I am not sure what to say. How.. I mean. Do you know how this,” he said, finally letting his hand drop from her arm to gesture at her somewhat vaguely, “happened? I... Well.” He paused, a faint smile at his own awkwardness, which he recognized, twisting his lips briefly. “I think we have a lot to talk about, Anael. Where would you like to start?”


ANNA--