A while back one of his girls gave him a book about a reporter and a motorcycle race and a drug-soaked weekend in Las Vegas, a city Cas wished he could have visited before the government nuked it into glass. The pages sang with disillusionment and despair and the fall of something called the American Dream and Cas read it until it fell apart in his hands.

The book was also how he'd first discovered mescaline. He hadn't known the word when he'd first read it so he'd gone to the girl who'd given the book, an striking woman with blonde roots growing into purple hair and three silver bars through her eyebrow. She'd seemed like someone who would know and, most importantly, like someone who might have some.

She didn't disappoint. "Sure, baby," she'd said, her tongue running along the edge of his lip as she curled his hair around her fingers. She'd pulled a little packet of pills out of her pocket and popped one into his mouth. "Be careful, though, it has a hell of a kick. You'll see heaven on this stuff." Two days later she was caught by Croats and Dean wound up having to shoot her. It seems like Dean winds up having to shoot all of his girls sooner or later.

She hadn't been wrong about seeing heaven, though. Not wrong at all.

He lines up three pills and swallows them dry, staggering back to his bed to wait for them to kick in. He hears someone shuffling outside his window and Cas laughs, a nice long giggle fit that tells him the nitrous is still in his system. "You would think a prophet of the Lord would have better things to do," he says, making sure his voice carries. He sees Chuck's head peek up over the window sill, throws an empty whiskey bottle in his general direction and gives in to another laughing jag. The mescaline finally kicks in, patterns on the walls flattening into fascinating fractals that grow even more detailed when he closes his eyes. He keeps them closed, counting to sixty or at least close to it, before he speaks again. "Do you think he's gone?"

He hears a soft sigh next to the bed. "Of course he is. He's terrified of you."

His chest clenches when he hears the voice. "No, he's terrified of Dean." No matter how many times he does this, he's never quite sure it's going to work. "He thinks I'm hoarding supplies."

"Of course it works. I'm a hallucination." There's a pause, and then he hears amusement drift into the voice. "And in all fairness, you are hoarding supplies."

He smiles. "Hello, Anna." He opens his eyes and sees her standing by the bed, red hair spilling over one shoulder. "You're beautiful."

She rolls her eyes, crossing her arms over her chest. "You're intoxicated."

"I am high," he corrected. At least he thinks there's some distinction. His grasp on the terminology still isn't the best. "And you are beautiful. I've always thought so."

She sits beside him on the bed, tilting her chin up as she tucks a lock of hair behind one ear. "You could've let me know."

"Oh, no, no, no. You were my commanding officer. It wouldn't have been..." He loses language for a moment. "Proper. We all know I never do anything out of line."

"Oh yes. You're a paragon."

He pulls her to him. She's cold, she's always cold, but of course she would be. Heaven's cold, cold and dark and abandoned like the old buildings they sleep in when Dean puts them on the move. That he'd learned his first time trying the drug; he'd wandered through the silent halls, not bothering to call for his brothers and sisters, not when he could feel they were gone, until he came down from the high and found himself in some woods twenty miles out of camp. He was hypothermic by the time Dean found him two days later. He vaguely recalls pulling out his gun, shoving it at Dean and begging Dean to kill him. "He lied to me," he says as Anna begins to trail her fingertips through his hair.

"About what?"

He thinks about that cold night often, the promise Dean had forced out of him. "He said he needed me."

Anna just gives him a look. He shivers as her icy fingers trail under his jaw and down his throat. "This is new," she says, finding a half-healed scar along his collarbone.

"Shrapnel. We were raiding for supplies in a hot zone, then apparently the army decided they wanted to raid that hot zone, and obviously the Croats decided they didn't like any of us being there, then there were grenades and, well, we all know how that ends."

She shakes her head at him. "Do you even try to dodge anymore?"

"I try. I'm just...not very good at it."

"I can't get over how much you talk now." She sits with her legs pulled up to her chest, her arms resting on her knees. "Do you remember that mission in...Porphyreon?" she asks, the old name of the city bringing back the scent of sea air mixed with sulfur. He knows it's called Jieh now; he'd gone back there once when he'd been still naïve enough to think he could find God. He recalls standing on the beach and listening to the humans talking amongst themselves in mixed French and Arabic peppered with the occasional voice in English and Greek and Armenian, so different from the Canaanite tongues he'd remembered. He remembers watching the ghosts of the ancient galleys still sailing the waters, the long dead sailors waving to him as they'd passed. If he'd known it would be the last time he would see the ocean he would have lingered. "We triggered that demon sigil and were trapped in a cave for two weeks," she says, gently pulling him from his reverie. "I don't think you said more than four words the entire time."

"I was never...good at conversation," he says, remembering those weeks. "I've improved as of late, I think."

She scoffs at that. "Intoxicated rambling is not conversation."

"Those two weeks were very happy for me," he confesses, his gaze sliding away from her.

She quirks an eyebrow. "You were trapped in a twenty square foot cave. Wounded and trapped in a twenty square foot cave. And I wasn't very patient about the whole thing."

Cas thinks saying he was wounded is overstating things; he'd received blowback from the sigil triggering but it was never life threatening. And Anna had talked him through the pain, ordering him to be well, her voice a steady, soothing constant. "You were there," he says softly.

She clicks her tongue at him, as if that's the saddest thing she's ever heard. She rolls up his sleeve and traces the line of bruises dotting his inner arm. "You said you were going to stop this."

Cas thinks it's probably pitiful how much he's missed her scolding him. "It feels better with the needle," he protests weakly, knowing he's been caught.

"You're going to get an infection." She scrapes her nails lightly over the bruised skin and his eyelids flutter. "Promise you'll stop."

"But..."

"Castiel."

His breath catches. It's been so long since anyone's called him by his true name. Sometimes he forgets he's ever had a name besides the one Dean Winchester gave him.

"Promise me."

He nods yes. Anything for her to say his name like that again.

Her lips curl up at her victory. She opens his shirt, shaking her head at his collection of bruises. "Is this a boot?" she says, sighing at him. "Castiel, learn to dodge." She traces around the borders of another bruise, this one further up on his sternum, and Cas doesn't think this is very good incentive to stay healthy.

He closes his eyes and feels his body relax as she continues the careful examination, her fingers finding each of his cuts and scrapes and bruises, the cool touch a balm. Cas slides one hand up under her blouse, lightly tracing his fingers down her spine, and the sigh of pleasure that draws out is better than any drug he's tried. She begins to ease him out of his clothes; he feels her lips close over the cut on his collarbone and his whole body arches up, his breath stuttering in his chest. He leans up on his elbows and finds her lips with his own; her lips part and she's the one who deepens the kiss, wet and slow and he could do this forever if she'd let him. "You should be here," he whispers when the kiss finally breaks, forming the words in Enochian; he knows Anna is one of the few beings who could still understand them. The words feel unfamiliar on his lips and he's terrified he's losing the language. It's one of the last pieces of his old self he has left. "They should have trapped you here instead of leaving you there. You would be so much better at this than I am."

"Well, I could hardly do worse." She answers back him in Enochian, indulging him, her tone light and teasing but there's no escaping the tension behind the words. Neither of them needs to say whose fault it is that Anna isn't on Earth.

"You should be here," he insists again, like a stubborn child insisting on having his own way.

"But I'm not," she says, her voice blunt but not unkind. "So we should make the best of our time, shouldn't we?"

Cas whimpers when she kisses him again; he starts to free her from her clothes – he's become quite practiced at undressing women as of late – but he's too desperate to have it done and his hands are clumsy from the drugs. She finally moves his hands away and takes care of it herself; he tangles his hands in her hair and starts kissing her again, pulling her close, which he supposes isn't helping very much. When there's finally nothing but skin between them he wraps his arms around her, the clinging chill of Heaven making him shiver as he holds her. He wants to make her warm. He would give his life gladly if it would make her warm.

He traces one thumb over her cheekbone, memorizing the contours of her face, then cradles her head as he kisses her again, his tongue running over hers and tracing along the inside of her lips. She makes a soft little hum of pleasure that goes directly to his groin, the steady pressure building there; he moves against her, trying to relieve some of the tension and she laughs. When she wraps her fingers around his already hard cock he lets out strangled groan, his hips jerking up. "Lie back," she orders, the exact same tone she'd used with him so long ago and his lips curl into a smile as he obeys. In a very real sense Cas knows he was created to follow her orders.

She straddles him, her slight weight resting on his hips for a moment. She traces her thumb along the edge of his lower lip as she grinds against him; he's already almost breathing too hard to speak and he's not even inside her yet. He makes little desperate sounds urging her to hurry up but Anna doesn't listen, taking him in inch by slow, torturous inch until he's writhing beneath her. When he's finally all the way inside he braces his hands against her hips, gasping for breath. "I think you like torturing me," he groans.

She trails her fingers over his shoulders, down the paths of old scars. "You have so many bite marks," she marvels, leaning down to him and rocking her hips once in a way that makes him clutch onto her.

"Croats think I'm tasty," he says with a shrug, tracing the curve of her breasts. "I can't catch it, so better me than the others, I guess."

"You'd think you liked it," she teases. She scrapes her teeth very lightly against the side of his neck and he feels that down to his spine. "Do you like it?"

He moans and turns his head to the side, shivering as she nips and sucks the delicate skin along his neck, her fingers twining through his hair and trailing over his lips. He rocks his hips, urging her on and she bites harder, hard enough that he knows he'll have a new bruise there by morning. "Don't stop that," he whispers, clenching one hand in her hair. "Please don't."

He feels her smile. She works her way down his body, teeth and tongue and lips teasing and sucking and biting until all he can do writhe and beg, across his collarbone, down his chest, the edge of her teeth closing just hard enough on his nipple to make his eyes roll back. Anna scrapes her nails down his ribs and his whole body arches; she finally starts rocking her hips in a slow rhythm and Cas whispers broken snatches of old Scripture, barely even aware of what he's saying. Anna straightens up, tossing her hair back over her shoulder; the moonlight streaming through his window makes her pale skin glow like marble and Cas can't breathe for a moment. He sees beauty so rarely that he hardly knows how to function in its presence anymore.

Anna begins to ride him in earnest in now, her hands braced against his shoulders; he cups his hands over her breasts, his thumbs teasing her nipples until they get hard and she's breathing in soft moans. "Castiel," she murmurs, her voice so very, very faint but each syllable is an electric shock to his spine. He keeps one hand teasing her nipple and trails the other slowly down her body, over the curve of her breasts, down her ribs and across her stomach, down between her legs and he rubs. She shudders, her breath forced out between her teeth and her nails digging into his skin. "Oh, that's...oh," she says, her eyes bright as she stares at him.

"Been practicing," he gasps out. Her long hair frames her face, her eyes dark, dark pools, her lips curled up into a blissful smile as she rocks against him. It's all he can do to keep his rhythm steady; all he can see is the way her lips part as she says his name again, all he can feel is the slick tightness of her around him. He feels the first tight contraction and throws his head back, his voice broken and wrecked as he moans her name; each of Anna's breaths come faster and harsher until finally she falls forward, her lips finding his as her orgasm shakes her. She moans into his mouth, moans Castiel and he can't hold out anymore; he comes apart too, sensation shooting down his legs and up his spine and he can't touch her enough.

He holds her tight against him, his heart a jackhammer in his chest. Her breathing is ragged against his cheek as they lie there for several long perfect minutes, their limbs entwined and sweat drying on their skin. She rouses first, her head tilted to the side as she brushes his hair out of his face. "Do you want me to say it?"

He shivers. "Yes," he whispers, tracing circles on her skin.

Her eyes are wide and sad as she watches him. "How many times will it take before you believe it, Castiel?"

There isn't an answer to that question. One more time. Never. He doesn't know. "Please," he says, his voice faltering.

There are words humans get hung up on, declarations they need and demand and bleed over; it's the same for angels and deep down Cas is still an angel, for all that he knows he's a broken and ruined one. It's just the three particular words that are different.

Or at least one of them is. She kisses his cheek, then the delicate skin just below his ear before she speaks. "I forgive you."

For a moment there's light inside him again, something bright and alive filling that dark pit where his soul would be were he truly human, where Grace had lived before it withered and died and left him with nothing more than an empty ache. He kisses her gently, reverently, his fingertips trailing along her cheek as he clings to the feeling of being whole for however long it will last.

Finally she sighs and shifts against him, brushing her lips against his forehead like a benediction. "Do you feel it?"

He does. He would say it's like dying except he's felt that and knows this is so much worse. He tightens his arms around her. "Please don't."

He would have as much luck begging the sea not to drown him. She kneels above him, cradling his face in both hands. "Be stronger than you are, Castiel," she says, her voice steady and sure and desperate all at once."All right? Be that for me."

Cas closes his eyes. He doesn't know that he can follow that order. "Anna..." he says, reaching back for her.

There's nothing but air. He opens his eyes and sees he's alone; he presses his hands to his face as he struggles just to breathe. He wonders if maybe it would be better if he stopped.

There's a knock at his door – a banging. Loud banging. "Cas! You up? Team meeting in ten!"

Cas groans when he recognizes Dean's voice and rolls over, his head throbbing as the withdrawals start to hit him. After a minute the banging starts up again. "Cas, you okay in there?"

Cas pretends to himself that Dean's concerned but he mostly just sounds frustrated, that Son of a bitch, if you OD'd again... tone in his voice. Cas pushes himself up and sits on the edge of the bed, his head in his hands. It takes a few tries to put any volume to his voice. "I'm fine," he finally rasps out, an obvious lie. "I'll be there."

He hears Dean say something he can't make out through the door before stomping away. Cas reaches under the bed, pulls out a half-filled bottle of vodka and takes a long, burning swallow, wiping his mouth with the back of one hand. Dean's meetings usually take around an hour, then there'll be some kind of bullshit mission, a supply run, something. That's half the day gone, easy, the long hours stretching ahead of him like a prison sentence; he knows where he can get some more pills, he just has to hold on long enough to get there.

He just has to hold on.