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In Truth (Everyone Is Expendable)

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Anna kind of liked Castiel's orgy cult. They were fun, and on Thursdays, they had organized a Stitch 'n Bitch that was a blatant excuse to get together to gossip and recruit new participants.

"What else is there to do around here?" Maria asked. "Knitting is only good for so much entertainment."

"And hey, it's better than cable," Sarah said with a grin.

"It's like live, interactive HBO," Britney added. "You should come." It was obvious from her wicked smile the pun was intended.

"Thank you," Anna said, laughing despite herself, "but I think knitting is enough to hold my attention for now."

"The offer's open," Maria said. Then, "Do you think I'm ready to try gloves for my next project? I was looking at this pattern—"

Anna didn't make the same mistake twice and she was never one of Dean's flings in the months that followed the angels jumping ship and leaving her and Cas to drown with the rest of humanity, but that didn't stop most of the camp from assuming. The Tuesdays they didn't have supply runs, she and Dean met for target practice. Early on, his firm hands had carefully corrected her posture, each gentle touch like an apology for getting her into this. In answer, she took aim and fired, fired, fired until she didn't miss, because would've-been failure of a Messiah or no, she wasn't down here for Dean fucking Winchester.

Risa said, "Are you sure you never—"

"Have at him," Anna said. "Or don't. It really doesn't matter to me."

Risa looked doubtful.

"Seriously," Anna said. "I'm more likely to join the weekly orgies."

"You mean you haven't?" Risa said, and that was genuine surprise on her face.

"Is everyone getting laid at this camp but me?" Anna asked. Then, "Don't answer that."

Becky didn't go on supply runs.

"Still not a good enough shot," Becky said. She smiled and shrugged self-deprecatingly. "But hey, someone needs to stitch up the wounded, right?"

Becky didn't go to Stitch 'n Bitch because she said she already had enough needles as unofficial camp nurse, putting back together the people who went out and came back with cuts and bruises and hadn't bought a bullet in the head with their victory beer. Anna had brought an extra can because she had no people to bring Becky this time and said, "We should start a book club."

Becky laughed, the sharp sound all jagged desperation. "Sure. And then we'll form our own mini fic exchange."

"I don't write RPF," Anna said and took a sip of her beer. She pretended not to notice when Becky's laughter turned to tears, just pushed the beer her way and sat there on the stoop, trying not to think how close the Croat had gotten before Castiel's unerring aim had taken it down, how long it would be until she earned a victory bullet of her own.

"Do you think Heaven's closed to all comers?" Anna asked, her feet hanging over the edge of the mattress and her head pillowed on Castiel's chest. "That those assholes closed the doors to even the ones who earned their place?"

Castiel was playing with the ends of her newly shorn hair, tickling her scalp. He could keep at it for hours when he'd mixed the Lortab, acid, and vodka like this. "I don't think it matters," Castiel said absently, his voice a deep and comforting burr, his heart thudding a steady beat against her left ear. "They revoked our invitation."

"You're not worried about the humans?" Anna asked. The room still smelled musky and rank, and Maria was passed out on the floor, her dark curls an appealing contrast with the wood.

"What's the point?" Castiel had never been human before; he wasn't taking the loss of grace well.

"You're like a junkie experiencing withdrawal for the first time," Anna said contemplatively, feeling like she had a contact high despite having missed all but the aftermath of the festivities; considering the lingering pungent stench of marijuana, it was a distinct possibility.

"I don't come down that far anymore." Castiel's voice was distant, but his fingers just kept trailing through the locks of her hair.

"How much further is there to go?" Anna kicked her feet through the air, wishing for a breeze, for anything to break this stifling summer heat.

The drum of Castiel's heart was the only sound for a long time, his chest rising and falling in steady counterpoint. Finally, "I don't want to know."

Castiel was sprawled on the ground, and glimpses of his flexing, straightened forearms were visible through the Croat's long hair, which obscured her view of Castiel so badly that Anna couldn't tell if it was worth it to take the shot, couldn't tell which was a more worthy way to spend the bullet, the boy or Castiel. She could only think, not first, please don't go first. She chambered the bullet anyway, fired smooth and easy the way Dean had taught her, and the Croat went down, revealed Cas and skin blessedly unblemished by bite or scratch marks.

They reached the Jeep hand in hand, no time for "Are you okay?"s or "Thank God"s or Cas to pop another pill to crest the adrenaline rush. Anna's bag of supplies was abandoned at the alley mouth by Harry's dead body, and she was down to her last two bullets. Castiel had lost all three guns he'd started the trip with, had left his knife buried in the Croat shaped like a little boy they'd left like litter to mark their retreat. The Jeep door was locked, and Dean wasn't letting them in.

For a long, tense moment, Anna wondered if Castiel would forgive her if she flaunted procedure and used the bullets on the window and Dean instead of saving them for themselves.

I swear to God— she thought, and she didn't know if it was a vestige of her human days and blasphemous teenage mouth, or if she was back at prayer, at making terrible promises she had every intention to keep, but there was the soft click of the lock disengaging, and less than a second later she was pulling Castiel in behind her, on top of her, and Dean didn't even wait for them to slam shut the door before he threw the Jeep into drive.

Castiel wandered off soon after they got back because he'd lost his drugs with his second gun when his coat pocket had torn—as he'd lamented at length the entire drive back, his face curled into the crook of Anna's neck like a small child seeking comfort.

("Jesus fuck," Dean had said. "You've got more at camp."

"Not the point," Castiel had replied, and Anna had cradled the nape of his neck with one hand and snapped, "Give it a rest, Dean," feeling every tiny tremor as Castiel started to come down.)

There was an entirely different sort of soft click as a hammer drew back behind her, and Anna just sipped her flat, sour beer like she didn't fucking care anymore. She'd found her price. It was worth it this time, would be worth it the next time if there was one, and at least she wouldn't be the one left behind like another empty meat-suit if Dean found the nerve to shoot someone he'd cared about for once in his goddamned life.

"Not going to face me?" Dean asked, quiet and dangerous, his voice all edges these days, like Becky's laughter gone wrong.

"If you're going to shoot me," Anna said levelly, "get it over with."

"Maybe I thought I'd let you finish your beer."

"Then you're crueler than I'd thought," Anna said, the humor flatter than the damn drink. "This beer sucks." When she turned, Dean had already lowered the gun.

"The mission comes first," Dean said. "None of us—none of us—are anything but expendable."

"Not even you?"

"Especially not me."

Dean looked away first. There was no satisfaction in it.

"I'll remember that," Anna said.

"No, you won't," Dean said bitterly.

"I'm an angel," Anna said, and even she didn't know how much of a lie it was. "We don't forget."

Rick was an arrogant asshole, and the three days Dean disappeared with Castiel on another ridiculous and unlikely mission for the Colt, Risa ran point. Rick didn't tell Risa that in the four seconds he'd been hidden around the corner, he'd managed to get his goddamn arm bitten like an amateur turned meat-shield. Neither Risa nor Anna had Dean's gift with sensing another lucky winner of the Croat Darwin awards, so when Rick said, "I'm for the med tent. My head's pounding like Castiel's fucking mattress," Anna had shrugged and thought she'd check in on Becky later, because there was no way she was exposing herself to Rick on the wrong end of a bender any longer than she had to.

Anna gave it thirty minutes, and by then Cas was checked out, slumped awkwardly on the steps in front of his cabin, looking up at the sky and muttering about how he could almost pretend he could feel his wings. Anna loved Castiel, her last, best brother, but even she couldn't deal with that sort of morose bullshit.

She'd missed it all.

"It's okay," Maria kept repeating, and Becky was a shivering mess. Her clothes were stained with blood—"Not hers," Sarah said shortly in response to Anna's stare, protectively flanking Becky's other side—and she was scrubbing her hands in the basin. Martinez was already dragging away Rick's body, but Britney remained on the dirty floor, her eyes glassy and her throat ripped out. Someone'd put a round in her forehead to be sure.

"Book club—" Becky said, with a little laugh like a hiccup, or maybe that was a sob, "—didn't work out so well."

When she next saw Dean, Anna decked him before he could get a word out about the Colt or the devil or his righteous man mission and daddy issues. "What the shit," Dean said. "Did I sleep with you, too?"

On closer inspection, Anna realized that this was not actually her Dean.

Castiel popped his head out of his cabin and said, "I warned you not to linger."

"You didn't warn me I'd had sex with half the camp," Dean said accusingly.

"Don't flatter yourself," Anna said. "I'm not here for you."

Dean looked at Cas with a mixture of speculation and horror, like he was trying to picture fallen angel sex. Castiel cracked up, and from the smile, it looked like he'd found more Valium.

"Are you coming?" Dean, her Dean, their fucked up, broken vessel savior asked, the twist of his smile like a challenge.

Anna smiled tight in return. "Wouldn't miss it."

"One thing," Anna said when they all piled out of the car, and she pulled the past Dean in close for a hard kiss, used his distraction to slide into his jacket pocket a slip of paper with four words plus her name in Enochian scrawled in almost angel blood and charcoal.

"I thought you said we weren't—we didn't—" Dean stuttered while his older self looked on in something that might pass for amusement under a dim light.

"I've always liked past you," Anna said in deliberate echo of Castiel the day previous.

"Everybody ready?" Dean asked, and she and the others nodded their agreement.

"Wait—" Dean said, and then they were whispering furiously and moving away.

In the time they were gone, Castiel leaned close and asked, voice placid and eyes sharp, "You know what you're doing?"

"Do any of us?"

Castiel didn't have an answer for her before Dean returned, alone.

When Anna broke out of Heaven the second time around, her first thought was to go to the Winchesters, help forestall the apocalypse and save her chosen home. Her second thought was to notice and wonder what exactly was attempting to draw her attention, niggling at her consciousness like a poorly executed summoning. She closed her eyes and reached, and when she withdraw her hand, a slightly charred scrap of paper rested between her thumb and forefinger. The blood it was written in was her own—and not—and the message made her reconsider her first impulse.

Anna was the sort of person to take action, but now, she thought, was the time for careful deliberation.

Sam Winchester must die.