Annafic. "Even after Heaven's tried to teach her the same lesson in the harshest ways possible, she resists as hard as she can, because she knows they're wrong." Anna's struggle to retain hope and humanity in the worst of circumstances. Gen.

Hold Onto the Center

Once the silence settles, they leave her alone for a minute. It's a good idea. Anyone else's head might have literally exploded by now.

She rests her head back against the wall, she tries to pull in a breath, she tries to think, but it's --

Fallen. You're fallen. And there's no running anymore.

Anna. Ananchel. Anna. Anna. How did they know, how did Rich and Amy Milton know what to call her? Is God's plan carved so deeply in stone that she can't even escape her name?

She can feel her chest rise and fall, feel the relief of every breath, the pulse at her throat, the rush of fear, anger, outright terror, loss and sorrow -- the harsh remainder of tears still raw against the back of her throat -- and none of it makes any sense at all. Anna. Ananchel. Both at once. Angel, human, warrior, writer, indestructible, breakable, logical and undone.

Either way, she wants her daddy, and well, neither one is there.

Hopeless, overwhelmed, she sinks into the silence. But after a weary moment, logic prevails. She pulls herself together, more Ananchel than Anna already. The humanity is already starting to slip from her fingers, even though she'd give anything, anything to have it back.

Humans are both body and spirit, created to straddle that line. It's what she envied most of them, as an angel. Their hands, their minds, their animal natures and their call to the divine. The way a song could bring them to pray or bring them to dance or, well.

There's nothing more human than sex. Mental, emotional, physical. She didn't know the difference before but she knows it now, because she remembers how it felt, and more than anything, she wants to feel it again before she dies. She wants to lose herself in this skin, in Anna Milton, reclaim this feeling she gave up everything to experience.

She's just lucky Dean's interested.

He's better than the boyfriend she had before they dragged her away to Connor Beverley, or maybe Anna Milton took it all for granted, but she can't now, she doesn't have the luxury. It strikes her midway, in the heat of the moment, that she's lost all sense, that this was never how it was supposed to be, who it was supposed to be --

She fits her hand against the handprint on Dean's shoulder. She has a moment where she lets herself believe what she has to believe, justify it to herself, the most human thing she can do, and she throws herself headlong into sensation.

Anna stares across the barn at Castiel. At Uriel. And it's as true as it ever has been.

They've never had a choice. Not a real one. The only escape is death. It seems reasonable to them. Simple. But nothing is as simple as Heaven would like them to think.

She doesn't know why, but she plays along, even though she knows what this will mean for her. As the force of her grace explodes around her, she feels a cold lash of terror strike through every inch of her body. In a way, it's incredible.

Then there's nothing. Then, she flees. She made her choice, for whatever reason, and now, it won't ever end.

She calls herself Anna, ignores the way Haniel regards her when she senselessly requests a vessel like her incarnation on Earth, and forces herself to remain as human as she can. Even after Heaven's tried to teach her the same lesson in the harshest ways possible, she resists as hard as she can, because she knows they're wrong.

She knows that humanity is the better life. She knows, even if she'll never be allowed to live it.

Irrationality, sentimentality, memory, inclination, she drifts according to her feelings, struggling against every last impulse to be reasonable and orderly. Not for the first time in her very long life, she would like to scream.

She's fallen, so she understands. She's still strong enough to save them both from falling, in their own ways. She can do this.

"What you're feeling? It's called doubt."

Castiel says nothing.

"These orders are wrong and you know it." His head twists away from her. "You're afraid, Cas. I was too. But together, we can still -- "

He yanks his hand away, and after all this time, through all her doubt, he never, ever withdrew -- but then, he never knew...

The pain that used to overwhelm her -- it's nothing. It's the lack that hurts her now. She's lost everything.

"I am nothing like you. You fell. Go."

The worst part is that she knows he'll make the right choice. It just won't be for the right reason. Somehow, that matters more than she ever thought it would.

Castiel comes back to her. There are reasons for both of them to meet, to talk. The seals continue to fall. Heaven has no answers, only orders. Angels have turned on Heaven, more than Uriel, and there's no telling a traitor from the others.

There are reasons. And then there are inclinations, memories, history. But they don't discuss that.

"You have every reason to doubt," she tells him, and he's even doubting her.

Anna does her best to guide him through the dangers of doubt, pulls him closer, doesn't acknowledge but doesn't resist the pull that's always existed between the two of them. It's ridiculous, but she carries on, though nothing has changed. Nothing will change.

Just as suddenly as she has him back, he's gone. A frantic search gives her nothing, Heaven is too dangerous, too busy, too full of enemies for her to verify her suspicions, but it's clear what's happened.


Her head tilts in Anna's direction, her eyebrows raise, and she says nothing.

Anna doesn't hesitate. "I won't bother you again."

Sariel used to take her every order, listen to her every word, but now their garrison is a handful of angels put under her control for lack of anyone else Heaven can trust. She was never the type. It has to be a relief for her to receive orders again. "But now?"

The easiest question she's fielded since waking up in that panic room. "Talk to me."

There are so many things that cross Anna's mind when, on the eve of the Apocalypse, two of Heaven's best seize her by the arms and she looks Castiel in the eye. There are so many things she could say when he looks at her, aching in a guilty way that she recognizes more intimately than he could ever guess, but she says nothing.

The moment she reaches Heaven she pulls herself away from the angels, and she turns to Zachariah. "Why didn't you just kill me?" she demands.

Zachariah seems surprised. "We couldn't do that to Castiel, now could we?"

Anna doesn't know who to be angry at, doesn't know if she can even be truly angry, not without a vessel and hormones and the human will, but she's close. "It couldn't be worse than what you've already done to him."

"Please. Don't be naive. We only fixed the damage you did to him. Filling his head with all those ideas, what were you thinking?" He dismisses it. "Now, he understands his role in all of this. It's a very important one."

"Letting Sam Winchester start the apocalypse?" she demands.

Zachariah couldn't care less. "They were both born to it. You know that. They're stepping into the roles rather neatly already. You can watch from here, if you like."

Anna was never the sort to laugh, but she does find that funny. "You can't hold me here."

"Oh yes we can. We have plans for you. But later." He indicates to his guards to stand forward. "Look at it this way. You have a front-row seat."

It's ridiculous, against everything she once prayed for, but now she wants to believe that doubt flames eternal. She wants to believe that she was right, and the revolution in her soul, the one that drives her to defend humanity and scare Heaven to the core, is raging inside Castiel as she watches.

For the first time in a very, very long time, against all reason and logic, Anna has hope. She has faith. Angel, human, whatever, the treachery of Heaven and Hell isn't enough to rewrite who they are, who they really are, and what they know is right. And there's nothing more human than that.