A world of not mine.
In Heaven and Hell, Sam's research uncovered that Anna Milton had had a psychotic episode when she was two and a half years old, during which time she was convinced that her "real" father was angry enough with her to want her dead. This is a "what if" scenario exploring what might have precipitated it.
Thanks go out to Like-A-Raven-14, not only for her beta fu, but for collaborating with me on the project that led to this fic, and then urging me to write it up.
I am but mad north-northwest;
When the wind is southerly, I know a hawk from a handsaw.
(Hamlet: Act 2, Scene2)
Ohio -- 1988
Anna no longer exists for Castiel.
At least, she is not supposed to.
Her name is almost never mentioned in the Garrison. And when it is, only quietly, spoken with either venom or warning. A cautionary tale about where discontent and disobedience can lead.
Betrayal. Desertion. Flying in the face of God, Himself.
She is not even afforded the sort of attention that an angel found guilty of profound disobedience would warrant—namely, a death sentence. Anna's Fall made her human.
And being human made her untouchable.
All the Host of Heaven can really do is try to obliterate all memory of her. Ignore her continued, bastardized existence. Pretend she was never one of them. It is not an order, but it is strongly suggested.
Castiel wishes he could obey.
But knowing that she lives on, even in such an alien form, is like a wound that he keeps worrying raw. That he can't allow to heal. And so, three years and two months after he last saw his sister, Castiel, quiet and unseen, appears in the home of Rich and Amy Milton.
He shouldn't come. Castiel knows this. He is already the subject of too many whispers in the Garrison. Some look upon him with suspicion for his close attachment to the traitor. Who is to say that he was being truthful when he said he didn't know of her plan? And who is to say that he might not decide to stage a Rebellion of his own?
Still others regard him with pity. Castiel had lost his closest sister that day. Not only lost her, but lost her by her own will. She had chosen to leave him behind.
And there are others, higher on the chain of command, who have watched with mild concern. Watched as Castiel, one who was always curious about and appreciative of the world, had, in the wake of Anna's Fall, begun to quietly draw into himself, and lose interest in the workings of Creation.
All good reasons why he should give northwest Ohio a wide berth.
And yet, here he is. In a room of pink and yellow. It's early afternoon, but the room is darkened, shades drawn against the sun. Nap time in the Milton household.
But Anna is not asleep.
Anna—or rather, this small person that she has become—is sitting up in her bed, whispering some secret or story to a large, stuffed bear. She is a far cry from the angel that she was. Her hair is sticking up in small red tufts, mussed by her pillow. A small smudge of something decorates one cheek. One knuckle is scabbed over, and there seems to be paint under her fingernails.
Castiel drifts closer, trying to see if there is anything at all of his sister left inside this human child.
Anna abruptly stops talking and raises her head, looking around her room, eyes wide.
Castiel stops in his incorporeal tracks.
He has come here to see, not to be seen. It never occurred to him that she would have any idea of his presence. Indeed, if he thought there was a chance, he would not have come at all.
Anna does not appear to see him. But she seems to know that there is something here. Something that she recognizes.
And, by the look on her face, she doesn't think that that something is a good thing at all.
Her eyes grow ever wider, and she clutches her toy tightly.
"Hello?" she says, more loudly.
Castiel knows he should withdraw. By rights, he shouldn't even be here. And yet there is a small part of him that wants to speak to what remains of his sister, just one more time.
Even though it is likely futile. Even if she will not hear.
Even if it is not really her.
Castiel doesn't know what happens when an angel undergoes a transformation such as Anna's. Clearly, some part of what she was persists, but that part is fading, like a dream half remembered upon waking. And what is left is being filtered through the limitations of a human mind.
A very young human mind.
A very young, and obviously frightened human mind.
Anna responds to Castiel's question in normal two-year-old fashion. She pulls her blankets up over her head and waits for the scary thing to go away.
Proof enough that this is not really his sister anymore. The Anna that Castiel knew would never cower in fear.
But there is a glimmering. A part of her that is still there.
And Castiel suddenly wants that part of her to see him. To have to acknowledge him. To have to face at least this one consequence of what she has done.
She had gone away and left him. And Castiel had never really understood, before that day, how much that kind of loss can hurt.
Why should she be allowed to simply forget?
The blankets are tugged down off of her head by a hand no human being can see.
LOOK AT ME!
The light overhead begins to flicker and spark, and Anna scrambles backward across her bed until she reaches the wall, and screams.
The scream is pure humanity. Anna as she has become, not the Anna who was.
Castiel has been met with fear before. There are reasons why angels so often open with, Be not afraid. And in the course of his duties he has used that fear to carry out his Father's purposes. And he has dealt death and destruction, also in the line of duty. With resolve and efficiency.
But this is different. This? What he is feeling now?
This is wrath.
And it is wrong.
So when Castiel retreats to the far corner of the room, it's as much to protect himself as it is to spare her.
"Mommy!" Anna screams again, eyes glued to the corner where Castiel hides.
Footsteps come running down the hall. But it's Rich Milton who bursts though the door, looking as if he has taken the stairs three at a time.
"Anna?" Rich Milton only briefly follows his daughter's gaze over to the apparently empty corner. "Anna, honey, what's wrong?"
Anna violently shakes her head.
"It's okay, honey. It's okay. Daddy's right here." Rich reaches for his daughter.
Only to be frantically smacked away.
"You're not my daddy!" she yells. "You're not!"
"Anna, calm down. You just had a bad dream. That's all, honey. You're fine."
Anna scrambles out of his reach.
"You're not my daddy. My daddy's mad. Daddy's going to kill me."
Rich Milton, his face by now beginning to mirror his terrified daughter's, shouts downstairs for his wife.
He never should have come.
He won't come back.
But Castiel cannot help but look back at the house. At the window of the pink and yellow room where the words of comfort of a mother and a father are doing nothing to quiet the child's screams. And where Anna is certain that her brother had come to herald a punishment laid forth by their Father.
"He does not want that," he says.
Before racing away toward the horizon.