Castiel entered the upscale restaurant and looked around. At a far corner table, a petite red-haired woman waved at him. Gripping the bag he was carrying tighter, he made his way to her.
“Castiel. The second most famous Fallen angel. Please, have a seat,” Rowena greeted in a soft Scottish accent.
Castiel sat across from her and a moment later someone placed a glass of champagne in front of him.
“So, to what do I owe the honor of your contacting me?” she asked.
“I wish to hire you.”
“Hire me? What happened to threats?”
“This is different. I want your best work.”
“Well, I'm intrigued.” She paused. “My best work doesn't come cheap.”
Castiel set the bag he'd been carrying on the floor and pushed it to her.
She discreetly peeked inside. Seeing the stacks of money and jewelry, she smiled. “Consider me hired. What can I do for you?”
“I want to bring somebody back.”
“No. A demon.”
“How were they killed?” Rowena asked.
“She was stabbed in the midsection by an angel blade,” he said.
He remembered finding her lying in front of the warehouse, her vessel empty. A stab of pain went through his grace.
“I see,” Rowena sighed. “This isn't my best work you're asking for. This is… Are you aware of where demons go when they truly die?”
Castiel shook his head. That was privileged information.
“The same place angels go. It's quite humorous, really. Together and equals in death. Anyway, it's called The Empty. You sleep there for eternity. Nothing escapes The Empty.”
“You can't do it,” he replied flatly and struggled to suppress his grief and agony.
“I didn't say that. It will be a challenge. We're messing with the cosmic order. So, I want to know why.”
He stayed silent, and Rowena slowly grinned.
“No… Oh, this is wonderful. Not only did you Fall, you went and fell in love. With a demon, no less! Now you're willing to tear apart the cosmos for her. This is delicious. And pathetic.”
Castiel bristled at the insult. “She died trying to kill your son. Bringing her back will infuriate him.”
“Oh, why didn't you say so in the first place? I'm hired,” she said and raised her glass at him before taking a swallow.
Rowena gave him a list of ingredients to gather. He could have tracked each one down individually, but that would have taken days. The bunker's stores had them all. So be borrowed. Without asking.
Okay, he stole, just like he'd stolen the payment for Rowena.
He figured Meg would approve. She'd admired his being “a little bad” now.
He was placing a packet of herbs into his bag when Sam wandered in. The younger Winchester blinked in surprise.
“Good afternoon,” Cas greeted.
“Uh, good afternoon.” Sam looked at the bag of ingredients and back at Cas. “Everything okay, Cas?”
“Everything is not okay. There are many things wrong in this world,” Cas answered, deliberately misinterpreting the question.
He left the storage room and headed for the library.
“No, uh, what I mean is…” Sam stammered, following. “Cas, those are heavy-duty supplies.”
Dean was in the library and looked up, suspicious.
“I'm sorry. I should have asked before borrowing them.”
“No, that's fine. Do you...need help?” Sam asked.
“What's going on?” Dean demanded.
“I'm fine,” Cas replied, grabbed the rest of his supplies from the table and left the bunker.
He met Rowena in a wooded area where he'd buried Meg's vessel. Approaching the spot, he was overwhelmed by the grief he'd felt since her death. The constant ache that had slowly eaten at him until he'd needed to do something about it.
Rowena was waiting for him and took the bag, all business.
“How deep was your bond?” she asked, outlining a sigil on the ground in herbs.
“Were you lovers?” Rowena pressed.
“We were never sexually intimate,” he answered. Meg had wanted to ‘order pizza and move some furniture’ if they had survived. Before her death, he had been going to take her up on her offer. “We did kiss once.”
A wonderful kiss that had confused him and made him feel for the first time.
Rowena huffed. “I'm not sure that's enough.”
“She died to protect me,” he said quietly.
Rowena paused as she was mixing ingredients in a bowl. “Well, I'd say that's a powerful bond.”
“You disapprove,” he said after a few minutes of silence.
“Of a demon and an angel together? I really don't care.” She paused and set out a black candle. “But no. I don't disapprove. Now strip.”
She held up the bowl. “You're the one who's going to call her back. You need to call on your bond to wake her up. I need to paint the proper sigils on you. So, strip.”
He looked away and slowly pulled off his clothing, aware of Rowena's gaze on him. He started to tug on his underwear when he heard a small chuckle.
“Those can stay.”
He felt relieved. Nobody had seen him out of them. He wanted Meg to be the first and only.
Rowena painted complicated sigils on his vessel's skin with foul-smelling red paste. Stepping back, she lit the candles and set another bowl of ingredients in the center of the sigil.
“Now, focus, Castiel. Focus every bit of your being on her. Call to her to awaken and come to you.”
Castiel closed his eyes and concentrated. He pictured Meg. Not how he'd last seen her—her vessel injured and blonde—but how she'd been when he first met her. Brunette, full of insults, innuendo, and fire. He remembered what it had been like when she'd kissed him. How he had kissed her back; pushing her against the wall and touching her. How shocked she'd been, yet also slightly pleased.
He pictured her in her nurse's uniform. How when he'd first woken from his catatonia, he'd seen her true form in the vessel, yet somehow he'd known she wasn't an enemy anymore. She was there for him when others weren't.
He pictured her annoyed patience, and how it had evolved into something else. Something she tried to keep buried, but that he'd caught glimpses of.
That matched something in him.
And so, picturing everything Meg was—her violence, her sarcasm, her perversions, her beauty, her grudging kindness, her thorns—he called out to her.
Distantly, he heard Rowena began to speak in Latin.
Immediately, she tried to sit up but found she couldn’t. Something was holding her still. Opening her eyes, she saw...nothing. It was dark. Darker than the deepest pit of Hell.
She could sense nothing around her.
Where the hell was she?
She felt more than heard her name called. It was a voice she knew well.
“Clarence?” she managed to whisper.
Gathering her strength, she forced her limbs to move and stood.
At least, she thought she stood. She couldn’t feel anything solid beneath her feet, and it was disconcerting.
“What am I, a dog?” she muttered but started to walk towards the voice.
Behind her, at the edge of her awareness, she suddenly felt another presence. For some reason, it filled her with a deep, instinctual dread. She began to run, and she felt it increase its speed also. Somehow, she knew that if it caught her, she would be finished. Done. No more Meg. No more anything.
“Castiel!” she called, and felt something, some kind of force, grab a hold of her. It was warm and comforting and familiar. It tugged and she blacked out.
“--the fuck were you thinking!”
Dean Winchester’s voice was the first thing that Meg was aware of upon reawakening.
“I had to,” Castiel answered.
“Had to? No, Cas, you wanted to.”
“You are wrong. I had to.”
“Could you keep it down?” Meg asked without opening her eyes.
“Meg!” Castiel cried and she felt a hand against her shoulder.
Opening her eyes, she first saw fuzzy light that sharpened into sunlight streaming through a canopy of trees. She became aware that she was laying on the ground.
“Where am I?”
“Pokagon State Park.”
He stayed silent and she turned her head to look at him. He had that expression of dismay and was avoiding looking at her.
Sitting up, she was suddenly aware of the fact that she was nude, covered only by his trench coat.
“Answers. Now,” she demanded, letting her eyes flick to Black.
“You died, Meg. Crowley killed out outside of Lucifer’s crypt,” he admitted quietly.
Suddenly, she remembered. Sending Sam inside to save Castiel and Dean. Crowley. The feel of the angel blade piercing her meat suit’s flesh deep into her true form. Burning.
And then nothing.
She clutched the coat against her as though it would protect her from the truth. Yeah, she’d not expected to survive, but at the same time, she’d expected to somehow make it, like she had before.
“How am I here then?”
“Because this idiot decided to make a deal with a goddamn witch and—” Dean was cut off she Cas grabbed her arm. She felt a rush, heard wings, and was suddenly someplace else.
“Never...do that again…” she said, tugging out of his grip and trying to calm the sudden nausea.
“I am sorry. Dean—” he broke off. “I needed to get away.”
“Understandable. I feel stabby anytime Dean opens his mouth.” She took his coat and put it all of the way on, tying the belt tightly. On shaky legs, she stood and looked around.
They were once again in trees, but these were tropical. Bright flowers bloomed, and somewhere nearby there was a waterfall.
“I come here when I need to be alone,” he explained.
She looked at him. “How am I here?”
Thankfully he didn’t insult her by pretending that she was speaking of their current location.
“I hired a powerful witch to perform a ritual. I called to you in The Empty and awoke you from your eternal sleep. Then I…” he trailed off and looked away.
She thought of the force that had wrapped around her. “You what?”
“I used our bond to pull you back here.”
She looked away. She wanted to tell him that there was no bond, but she couldn’t. Yes, lying was in her nature, but for some reason, she couldn’t lie about this. “Why?”
“Because I couldn’t continue to exist without you,” he said simply, as though he were telling her the weather.
“Why? I… I’m not…”
She wasn’t worth the energy or risk. The payment he had to have made for a ritual of that magnitude had to have been huge. Everything had a price, and he was too...too…
She wasn’t worth it.
“Meg, I have experienced loss. Brothers and sisters. My Father. Being cut off from Heaven. Even my own sanity. Losing you… I could not live with it.”
“You’re an idiot,” she said coolly and walked off into the trees.
She found the waterfall and sat down on the edge of the cliff. She should just get as far away from him and his feelings as she could. She was a demon, an old one, and feelings were not a part of her life. Well, unless she was twisting someone else's to suit her own needs.
It turned out she was an idiot too because she couldn’t make herself leave.
Who was she kidding? The brain fuzziness was wearing off and she remembered more of her final day. Her rescue from Crowley’s imprisonment. Castiel carefully bandaging her wrists. Her finally accepting the fact that yeah, she did have feelings for him, deep ones. Promising to “order pizza and move furniture” if they survived what was coming up.
Well, that was out. She hadn’t survived.
“Meg?” Castiel asked quietly. She sensed him approach.
“Are you angry with me?”
He’d asked her that question so many times when he'd been insane. She looked up and him but didn't see the same fearful, puppy dog expression. He looked dismayed and confused but was the strong angel she knew.
“No,” she said with a sigh and sat up. Carefully, she stood. “I'm not angry.”
“Then what's wrong?”
“What were you expecting? Me to fall into your arms full of gratitude?”
“No,” he answered with a quirk of his lips. “But not this.”
“I already told you. I don't know why I'm 'sweet on' you. I can't explain it, but I am,” he replied.
She shook her head and looked over at the waterfall for a few minutes. “So what now?”
“Now you do whatever you want.”
“I expect nothing from you. I just...needed to know that you're...here.”
She had nowhere to go. Laying low was second nature to her by now, but ultimately, Crowley would find her again.
And now she really, really wanted to stab him in the face.
“But, if you want, you could come back with me.”
She laughed. “Yeah, I'm sure the Hardy Boys would love that. No thanks. I'm not that eager to die again so soon.”
“I'd protect you.”
“I'm a big girl. I can protect myself,” she replied, crossing her arms.
Her attitude felt a little flat considering that she'd been dead not a half an hour ago.
He seemed to be thinking the same thing because he frowned. She stared him in the eyes, daring him to say anything. He didn't, but she could see the pity in his eyes.
Rage flared in her and she wanted—no, needed—to wipe it from his expression. So she did the only thing she could think of.
Reaching out, she tugged on his tie and pulled him into a kiss.
It wasn't a gentle kiss. It was punishing. He responded instantly. Instead of shoving her away, he gripped her shoulders and pulled her closer. She moved her hands to his head, her fingers threading through his hair. Nipping roughly at his lips, she coaxed him to open and deepen this kiss.
He pulled away. “Meg...”
“Shut up,” she said and shoved him up against the nearest tree. Giving him a firm kiss, she tugged at his jacket. “Didn't I say we were going to move some furniture?”
“Yes, but not like this.”
He kissed her, but gently. One hand cupped her face and the other caressed the side of her neck. A part of her instinctively wanted to run at this tenderness, but the bigger part of her, the part that had changed because of him over the years, craved it. She felt her rage fade and reached up to clutch his suit jacket. His lips moved to her chin, then her neck and she sighed. Once again kissing her lips, he carefully moved them both down to the soft ground.
Later, they both sat at the edge of the cliff watching the water.
“I have no cause,” she said. For almost her entire demonic existence she'd devoted herself to a cause. It directed her actions, emotions, everything.
“Maybe your cause can be you. You've always devoted yourself to someone else. Azazel. Lucifer. Killing Crowley. Maybe this is your chance to truly do what you want now.”
The idea was foreign and strange. “I...”
“You have free will now. Like I do. So, what do you want?”
She didn't reply, but after a few minutes, she wrapped her arms around his arm and leaned against him.