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Did it matter?

 

No.

 

Did she really believe that?

 

Did she?

 

She wasn’t so sure anymore, she hadn’t been sure for a long time. She had thought that she was, that first time, that first time she had asked herself that question. She had though that she was sure because no other answer would have made sense. No other answer would fit with how she knew this place to work, but at the same time…

 

At the same time that answer, that ‘no,’ it wouldn’t let her go.

 

At the same time, she couldn’t stop asking, couldn’t stop the question from entering her thoughts, couldn’t stop needing to ask it over and over again. She couldn’t stop wondering, even as she also could not stop the buzzing in her mind, the ringing that reverberated uncomfortably every time she gave that answer.

 

Did it matter?

 

No.

 

Did she really believe that?

 

She wanted to, so very much. She wanted to believe that it was the correct answer, because if it wasn’t, if it was the wrong answer…

 

If it was the wrong answer it would mean that something was out of place, and Heaven, this place, this place couldn’t be wrong, which would mean that it was her, it would mean that she, Cat, was the one that was faulty. And she did not want that, because who would? Who would want to find a place like this, only to realize that it wasn’t where you belonged? Who would want to realize that you were someone who could be offered Heaven, and somehow, for you, it wouldn’t be enough? Because if she couldn’t be happy here, of all places, something must be wrong with her. Maybe she had been brought here too soon, maybe she was supposed to have had another life, to be reincarnated again, maybe…

 

She could see the potential of this place, see how she should feel, and sometimes, sometimes she could even reach out a grasp that feeling, if only for a moment. Sometimes she could block out her mind, when she was busy doing something, when she had other thoughts to occupy her. Sometimes she really could forget about that question, just as she had forgotten about the reason to ask. Sometimes she could, but it never lasted, and eventually she would find herself asking again, even as she wanted to just make it stop.

 

It wasn’t like she wasn’t mostly happy, she was, it was impossible not to be here, but she wasn’t complete. She wasn’t… she didn’t have… whatever it was that everyone else seemed to feel. And she wanted to feel that way, to be completely at ease, completely confident in this place, this existence, because this was supposed to be the only place where you could find such perfection. Where you could find everything. It was supposed to be, but for her? For her it just…

 

And so she wanted her doubts to stop, did whatever she could to push them aside, tried so very hard, but still, still, no matter what she did, she could not stop asking that question.

 

Did it matter?

 

No.

 

She couldn’t stop, but at least, even if she couldn’t prevent herself from asking, at least she could keep saying no, and maybe, maybe she would eventually be able to make herself believe it, really believe. It was what she hoped for, every time she asked. She hoped that if she just kept giving the same answer, that maybe it would become the truth, that maybe that ‘no,’ would be real. And so she kept giving the same answer because if she did, if she could believe it even for just one moment, she knew the buzzing would go away for the rest of eternity. If just once she could accept that answer with her entire being, whatever had been plaguing her for so long would just… fade away.

 

Which was what she wanted, wasn’t it? Because she was afraid of what would happen if she gave a different answer, if she admitted that maybe it did matter. She was afraid, because then she would have to find out why, and what would happen to her then? If she found out why, if she understood why she felt so, so distant, sometimes, would she have to leave? Maybe knowing would also make the buzzing stop, but would it be worth it? The risk? Was there anything that was worth losing this place? This place where there was the potential for such, such total joy? Where she could have everything, if only she could grasp it. And so that reason, whatever it was, how could it possibly be worth it?

 

She didn’t know. She didn’t, because she didn’t understand how there could be anything that was so important, so meaningful to her, that it could permeate her peace of mind even in Heaven. She didn’t understand how it was even possible for something to be so important, that it was holding her back.

 

That first time she had asked, asking herself if it mattered that she couldn’t remember that word, that word that had been with her when she had first woken up, that first time she had answered ‘no,’ she had given that answer because it had seemed like the obvious response, because whatever it was, whatever that word had been, she knew that she would only remember it if it was actually important.

 

Because wasn’t that how Heaven worked? The knowledge of how this realm worked, of how everything came into being, that stuff, the important stuff, it was the information that she, that they all had woken up knowing. It was the information that was given to them, a gift, and shouldn’t that be all that she needed? That, and the two other pieces of knowledge that she had carried with her? Because they did get something, they didn’t wake up completely blank. Even if none of them remembered their previous life, or lives, they all still remembered their first name, as well as what they had been before. And so she knew that her name was Cat, and that she had been human, and Heaven allowed for that, but the other stuff? The rest of the knowledge about her past? That was all gone.

 

And that word, whatever it had been, it was something from her past human life, something that shouldn’t matter here, in this new existence, because this was a new life, and only the important stuff remained in her mind. And so it shouldn’t matter, it shouldn’t but…

 

She tried to believe that argument, to believe that it was something from the past, something to leave behind, something that wasn’t important. She tried so very hard to believe that, but it never quite worked, it never quite convinced her because she had remembered, at least for that first moment. It had been wiped from her mind by now, not even the first letter remaining, but for that first instant, for one brief moment, she had remembered.

 

Did that mean that it was important? Did that mean that it mattered?

 

No.

 

She wanted the answer to be no.

 

So why did she still ask?

 

There were other questions she could ask, other questions that would help her figure out what was missing, why she was… whatever it was that she was. There were questions that she knew could help her, but she held them back.

 

She held them back because she knew that if she asked, that Carter would answer, and then, once she had those answers, there would be no going back. And would it really be worth it?

 

Carter seemed to think so, but was that enough?

 

Carter was always trying to get her to ask more questions, always giving her that look that she knew meant he had things he wanted to share, but that he could only tell her if she asked for them. And at first she had even given in to that, had asked a question, but that had been before she had realized that the answers were bringing her closer to, to something. It had been before she had realized that the questions and answers, that they were responsible for the itching in the back of her mind, that they were pulling her away from what should be complete peace. And so at first she had asked questions, but once she had realized what was going on, realized what she was risking, she had stopped.

 

She had stopped, but not before she had asked about the crest, even as she often found herself wishing that she hadn’t. But she had, had asked if the two of them were related, her and Carter, and he had told her that yes, they had been. Without going into details he had revealed that he had been sent back to Earth to finish growing up as part of his training to become an Archangel, and that they had known each other, been family there.

 

As he had spoken he had been staring at her, pleading, almost, begging her to ask the next, obvious question. She had opened her mouth to do it, almost let it slip, but in the end she had turned away. She had turned away, and so she hadn’t asked about the meaning of the crest, hadn’t asked if he had made it himself, or if he had been given it by someone, and if it was that person, or Carter that had given the mark to her.

 

She had told herself that it didn’t matter because she could guess, could assume that he had given her the mark, because she knew that all the original Angels and the Archangels had such crests, another thing she had woken up knowing. She could have asked him for confirmation, but she had never seen another Angel with that same marking, and so it was easier to assume that Carter had made it for himself when he achieved the appropriate rank. That he had made it, and then, because they had been family on Earth, he had given it to her as well.

 

And so she hadn’t asked, even as the facts, as she put them together in her mind, her guess as to how the crest had come to be, how it had been given to her, even as that chain of events seemed off, even with that feeling she hadn’t asked. She hadn’t because, just like the answer of ‘no,’ thinking about another possibility, another way she could have gotten that mark, it was another thing that felt strange in her mind, that felt wrong. She hadn’t asked because even if it didn’t feel quite right, it was believable, and she did not want to look further.

 

Instead she had asked that other question, asked if it mattered, and once again, her answer had been ‘no.’ No it didn’t matter because as long as she didn’t think about it, didn’t ask questions, she had so many other reasons to be happy, so many other things that could almost be enough.

 

Like her other family, her friends that she had known on Earth. It was common, here, common to collect together, to be drawn to the people you had known in your previous life. Even without memories some bonds were strong enough to outlast death, and so Cat had found herself meeting with people, some of whom had come before, some after, and when she had seen them, when they had seen her, she had known that she loved each and every one of them.

 

And that made her happy, being with them, but more and more it had also started to seem like maybe it wasn’t enough. It wasn’t because if it really didn’t matter, then why did her family, those people, why was it that sometimes, even when she was surrounded by them, that when she was with them and smiling, why was it that even then she would find herself asking that question? Especially once Alex and Astra had started to train to become Archangels, especially then, because it had forced her to think about her own path forward.

 

She had briefly considered following them in the training, and she knew she had surprised them all when she had decided against it because she was not the sort of person to let opportunities pass her by, not the sort not to want to stay back and avoid a challenge. But she had refused anyway because there was one challenge that was too much for her, the one that she wanted to avoid, the one that had to do with that question.

 

Which was why she had decided against it because she had just known that it was the wrong path for her, she had known it, because thinking about advancing in the Angelic ranks had been another thing that had made the buzzing appear in her mind, another thing that made her feel wrong, another thing that made her feel like she didn’t belong. Because she didn’t want to advance, she wanted something else, and pushing forward, it would only force her to confront, to contemplate, her real desire.

 

It would make her consider that maybe her desire wasn’t to answer that question with ‘no’ and mean it, but rather, that her real desire was for something else entirely.

 

But slowly it had started to break, her resolve, it had started to fade away because it was just so hard to keep avoiding the question, and there were points, times when she would be feeling adventurous, when the buzzing just would not stop, and where her frustration would push her to ignore her logic, ignore her preservation instincts. There were times when she would find herself reaching out to her friends, asking them if they ever got the sense that they were in the wrong place, asking them for answers, even as she was also careful to keep her questions limited, to avoid exposing herself too much, to avoid asking for anything that would push her too far.

 

Alex had been the closest to understanding, she had said that she never felt like she was in the wrong place, but that sometimes, sometimes she felt like she was missing something. She had said that it felt similar to how she had felt before she had found Astra in this realm. Astra hadn’t been human in the previous life, and so the woman had had a longer life span, and Alex had explained that until she had found Astra here, she had felt like she was waiting for something. She still got that feeling now, not as strongly, but she said that she thought they must all be waiting for someone else, another person that they had all cared about. And when she had spoken about that, Cat had seen a flash on Alex’s face, a recognizable craving, the same kind of craving that made Cat ask herself that question over and over.

 

But it wasn’t as strong for Alex, or anyone else, as it was for Cat, and it never hurt them the way it hurt her. It didn’t because they had faith. Faith that whatever it was, it would fix itself eventually, faith that if they were waiting for someone, that person would come, would join them, in the end.

 

It didn’t hurt anyone else the way it hurt Cat because they had faith that this was where they belonged.

 

But was that right? Was Cat waiting for someone? Was there someone coming for her that would take this all away? Someone that would fix her? She didn’t think so. It was almost right, almost… but if she pressed herself, if she really thought about it, instead it felt like someone was waiting for her. Which was why she always made herself stop when she got to that point, not just because the buzzing would be so strong, but also because she didn’t want anyone to be waiting for her somewhere else. She just wanted to be happy in this place the same way everyone else seemed to be happy.

 

She would stop herself from fixating on it, and she would ask the question, asking if it mattered that something didn’t quite fit, and as always, she would answer with ‘no,’ hoping that that time she would believe it. But it had gotten harder and harder to ignore. It had gotten harder to pretend like it was the correct answer, it had gotten harder to convince herself that whatever it was, it really wasn’t worth it.

 

It had gotten harder because Cat was one of the few Angels that paid attention to time.

 

Of course time didn’t really matter, didn’t exist properly in this place, but she always felt like she was paying attention to it, always felt like she could feel the moments passing, the non-time slipping away. She felt it because she was constantly striving, constantly searching, and no matter how many times she asked and answered that question, no matter how many times she wanted to stop, she knew that there would be a next time, that there would be a next moment where she would find herself asking, once again.

 

And so she had taken to wandering, physically searching this realm because maybe, maybe then she could find something here in Heaven that would put her at ease. Because as long as she was looking, was moving, she didn’t have to ask the question. Because exploring the world was easier than exploring her own mind.

 

It had actually been Carter’s idea, her exploration, and even if she sometimes wondered if maybe there was more to it, that maybe this physical search was just another way of trying to push her into asking questions, she would ignore that as well. She would push those thoughts aside and throw herself into flight.

 

And it worked too, to a point. Carter would fly with her, exploring Heaven, and he would have her describe everything to him, nodding with each detail and seeking it out himself. Sometimes she felt like he was quizzing her, like he was testing to see if she could see something he couldn’t, but she never took that next step, never asked the next question. She never asked what he was looking for, because every time she thought about asking, the temporary relief that the search would give her, it would come to an end and the buzzing would return.

 

And so instead she would ask herself that other question.

 

Did it matter? Did it matter that she didn’t feel right? Did it matter that she was looking for something? Did it matter that he was looking for something as well? Did it matter that he so clearly wanted her to ask more questions, did it?

 

No.

 

But if it didn’t, if it truly didn’t matter, then why was she different? Why was it that it wasn’t just that one word, the one that had slipped away? Why was it that there would sometimes be other things, flashes of understanding that the other newer Angels seemed to be lacking? Why was it that there were other things that would enter into her mind? Why…

 

Because it would happen sometimes, knowing things, things that other Angels didn’t. She would overhear something and she would know that it was wrong, and she would correct the speaker before she had time to process, to distance herself. It was like the way she had woken up knowing about this realm, about Angels, and God, knowing how it all operated, but for some reason, while everyone knew about Lucifer, and the fall, Cat seemed to know more.

 

It wasn’t much more, and maybe it was all a mistake, but in those moments she was always so very certain. In those moments where she heard someone refer to the demon as male, she always felt that it was wrong. The same thing would happen whenever she heard people speculating about Hell, or about Lucifer’s personality. She would get that strange feeling, and it would tug at her, whispering that she should look closer.

 

She never did.

 

She never did because every time she overheard, or somehow got drawn into a conversation about that person, she would get that awful ringing in her ears, that buzzing, and she would turn away because she was afraid.

 

Sometimes she thought about asking Carter, asking if that extra knowledge had come from him, asking if she had inherited it with the crest, but she didn’t, because what if that wasn’t the case? What if there was something else, another reason why she had this knowledge? What if there was another reason she knew about the Devil?

 

What if… what if she really didn’t belong in Heaven, because the truth was, that she belonged in Hell?

 

And that was not a question that she wanted to ask.

 

So did it matter?

 

No.

 

No it didn’t, because as long as it didn’t, Cat wouldn’t have to face the truth.

 

And the truth was, it was…

 

It was that how could it not matter? How, when she was in Heaven, but she spent most of her time running, searching, trying to force herself to be happy? How could it not matter when she should be at peace, but nothing every quite fit? How, when whenever she looked at the crest on her shirt, whenever she allowed herself to actually contemplate it, in those rare brave moments, how could it not matter when that contemplation would make the vibrations in her mind seem to scream out with an almost physical pain?

 

How, because it wasn’t just her? It was Carter, who was constantly looking at her, trying to read her, trying to push her. It was Alex, who would also get that look sometimes, staring at Cat’s mark. Alex, who would reach out and touch it absently, but who would eventually drift away, not feeling the pull as strongly, but still clearly feeling something. It was everyone else, everyone else who she knew also felt that something, but who, unlike her, didn’t suffer as a result.

 

And how, because here, in this moment, staring at the door, she felt better then she had ever felt before, and Cat finally had to admit to herself that maybe this was not enough, that maybe it had never been enough. That maybe it did… maybe it did…

 

She had been searching by herself this time, spurred on by yet another the overheard comment and correction, driven by that need to continue to run and hide away. But while normally the exploration itself would have been enough to calm her down, to stop her mind from reeling, this time, something had been different.

 

It had been different because she hadn’t been able to make herself stop searching, because she had ventured into the Light Field, the one place she had never been before, and it had made her realize in stark reality, just how different she really was.

 

She was different because people stayed away from this place, this vast stretch of space with neither ground nor sky, just light, as it was aptly named. The original Angels, they never even came close to this place, it was too bright for them, and she knew that it made them uncomfortable.

 

Once, she had seen one get just a little too close, his brow furrowing in a distinctly displeased expression, followed by a moment of, what she could only assume was surprise, before he had stepped back, rushing away and she had watched his face smooth back into a pleasant, content expression. It had almost been as if getting too close to the light, it had been too strong, and it had started to make him feel. Nothing permanent, nothing extraordinary, but perhaps just a little more than he usually did.

 

And so the original Angels all stayed away, but the others? Even they tended to avoid this place. They avoided it because it was just so very bright, and while it didn’t bother them as much as it did the original Angels, it still made them uncomfortable because there was too much power here, and it was overwhelming. And so most of them stayed away, most of them, except for Carter, and now, apparently, Cat as well.

 

Carter had tried to make her come with him, on occasion, he seemed to have a higher tolerance for this place than most, but he had told her that that tolerance had only surfaced after he had returned to Heaven. And after he had told her that, he had tried to make her come here with him, but Cat had always refused. This time, however, she hadn’t been paying attention and she had ended up on the edge of the field, and by the time she had noticed where she was going she had already taken that first step, that step where she felt the ground disappear from under her, but instead of falling, or flying, she had simply continued to move forward, swimming with ease through the light.

 

And she had felt it, felt the power, but somehow… somehow it hadn’t, didn’t, feel strange to her, as she had heard others describe it. Somehow it felt right, natural, almost, as if just like Carter, she also had a tolerance to this level of brightness and power, a tolerance acquired from something she didn’t quite know.

 

Except that she did, because Carter liked it here, and she and Carter both bore the same crest, the same family mark, and that had been the beginning of the end for her, the start of her search that she could not stop. It had started the exploration of this place that continued on well past the time she would normally have stopped and returned to her friends. But this time, this time she couldn’t stop, because this light, it felt so beautiful, so wonderful, that for the first time since she had woken up, for the first time she was truly able to consider that maybe, whatever it was, the answer she had been avoiding, that maybe it was worth it.

 

That maybe it was because she knew it was here, she knew that she was close, and while she was still afraid, she had spent so long running, and here in this place, feeling the light around her body, for the first time the pull was stronger than the fear.

 

Because this place…

 

Did it matter?

 

Did it matter whether Carter had gotten his crest from someone else, or if he had made it himself? Did it matter that she felt different? That she felt better here, that she continued to feel better, the further in she went it? Did it matter that this place was light, and that it made her think about Lucifer, the Light Bringer, about the fact that she knew more about the demon than others seemed to?

 

Did it matter?

 

She had been about to answer ‘no,’ again anyway, out of habit, but that was when she had found the door.

 

It looked like it was made of some strange, foreign black metal, a material so blindingly dark that it seemed to be radiating a glow. It gave her the impression that this entire field was comprised of just one small spark of light, one tiny ember that had burst into brilliance when it had come into contact with the reflective surface of this door. It was a door of darkness and light, of shadows and possibilities, it was a door that made her think of black, beautiful wings, and it was a door that made her wonder, made her crave, made her…

 

That word, the first one she had uttered, all that time ago. Did it…

 

“Does it matter?”

 

Cat hadn’t realized that she wasn’t alone, not until the voice had spoken at her side, but she couldn’t bring herself to look away from that door, and even if she could have, she didn’t think that she should. She shouldn’t, because that voice was not the voice of another Angel, she could tell that even without looking, just as she could tell that if she, or any being who wasn’t immensely powerful in their own right, anyone who wasn’t vastly more powerful than her, if any of them looked for the source of that voice, their minds would never be able to handle what they found.

 

“Does it matter?” It prompted her again, that voice without form, and she felt it wrap around her, securing her, comforting her, even as it also unsettled her, because she knew it should not be speaking, not be interacting, especially not with her, the Angel could not accept Heaven.

 

But it had spoken to her, it had, and should she answer? Could she even answer?

 

“Does it matter?” A third time, and now, now there was a command in that voice, and suddenly she could no longer not answer. And what's more, she could no longer not answer truthfully. She couldn’t answer with ‘no,’ or even ‘maybe,’ because both of those would be a lie. She knew that, had known it for such a long time, but she had persisted in it because she had been afraid, but now?

 

Now there was only one truth and she had to give it, because did it matter?

 

“Yes,” she uttered the word softly, her voice cracking with the effort of finally speaking this one syllable. “Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes…” because now she couldn’t stop. Yes, for all the times she had lied in the past. Yes, for every moment that she had run away. Yes, for every instant that she had been searching, and hadn’t found this place, this door. Yes, because of course it mattered, because of course whatever it was, that word, of course it was worth any risk, every risk. Yes, because she still did not understand, but she knew that she wanted to know.

 

And yes, because she knew what was beyond this door, knew that it was the gateway to Hell, but she also knew that that word, whatever it was, that she would find it beyond this gate. That she would find it, and that she would finally know, finally understand what it was, and why it was so very, incredibly, intrinsically, important.

 

“Then go,” and now the voice was different, that first voice, God’s voice, replaced by another.

 

“Carter?” She still didn’t look away from the door, but she felt a hand on her shoulder, and she smiled because she should have known. She should have known that he had been following her, that the moment she had entered this place of light, he would have felt it, and come. She should have known because he had wanted her to come here for so long, because after he had come back as an Archangel, after he had felt how the crest protected him in this place, how it had made him love this place, how could he not have guessed what was hidden here?

 

“I can’t see it, you know,” and she did know that, somehow she knew that she was the only one, the only one aside from God, that is, aside from the father that had drifted away as soon as she had given her answer, that could see this door. “I wish I could, it must be beautiful,” and his voice was wistful now, and even without looking she could hear the hint of a frown on his face. Not a full frown, of course, because she seemed to be the only one who had ever been able to emit a deep frown in Heaven, she was the only one who hadn’t quite fit, but he was still sad.

 

“Do you want to come with me?” She asked, already knowing the answer, because it was so clear that he did. Not in the same way, of course, yet another thing she knew. Because she could feel it now, that pull. She wanted to go through this door, and he did as well, but for him, the pull wasn’t as strong. For him, this place, Heaven, it was stronger. But Carter still wanted to join her, and it was the same tone she had heard in Alex’s voice, whenever Alex also would pause to consider the crest. It was the same, her family, her people, all of them wanted to see what was beyond this place, even if they didn’t realize it, but for her, for Cat, this call was more.

 

Why?

 

Because for as long as she had been afraid, now she was not. Because the idea of Hell, of understanding, it was something that had been terrifying to her before, but now? Now that she could actually see this gate, she realized that it was not something that she could be afraid of, ever. She couldn’t because it was so beautiful, so perfect, and it called out to her in a way that made her soul race with anticipation.

 

“I can’t,” and there was that sadness again, “right now you need to go alone, and once you’re gone no one will be able to find this door, again. Not unless the illusion is lifted, not unless…”

 

And there, what was she hearing? What was it?

 

Hope. There was hope in his voice, hope that this didn’t have to be the end. And did that matter?

Yes. All of this mattered.

 

It mattered, it did, it mattered so very much, and so, moving forward that last, small step, Cat pushed against the door and left Heaven behind, no longer able to wait even one moment more.

 

She felt the change instantly, and at first, as the doors closed behind her, she almost turned and raced back the way she had come. She almost did, because this place, it was…

 

Because this place was not Heaven, and even if she hadn’t been happy there, it was still Heaven, and once again Cat had to wonder if whatever it was she was searching for, even if it did matter, she had to wonder if it mattered enough. She had to wonder if it was worth leaving Heaven behind.

 

Because she was an Angel, and didn’t she belong in Heaven?

 

No.

 

On some level she did belong in Heaven, but only because she was physically an Angel. She only belonged there because of what she was, not who she was. Because who she was? Who she was, was not someone who belonged in that place, she couldn’t, because even as strange as this place felt, it also felt like home, it also felt… it felt like what she had been missing, all of this time.

 

And so, steeling herself, Cat stepped further into Hell, and the more she advanced, the more her surroundings began to take shape, the easier it became to push forward, her feet moving instinctually. She moved through a vast palace, already knowing her way, somehow guessing what was beyond certain doors, even as she didn’t bother to stop and check to see if she had been right.

 

She didn’t stop to check because the constant flow of time, time that didn’t exist, and yet that she had always been able to feel, it was getting stronger, and now she knew what it was. Time wasn’t real here, of course not, but for her, time had existed. Time had existed because she had been counting the moments, was still counting the moments, and she would continue to do so until she found whatever it was that was in this place, until she found that word.

 

Which was why she could not stop. And now she was moving through rooms that seemed familiar, rooms that tugged at her mind, but that she couldn’t place. There were pictures on the walls, and she tried to study them as she passed, but they were blurry and out of focus. She had a feeling that if she stopped and concentrated she would be able to make something out, that if she stared hard enough, the images would begin to take shape, they would, because she had almost enough information to put them together, and here, the further away she got from Heaven, the weaker that power became, the one that defined her Angelic nature, that made her forget the life she had led on Earth.

 

And so if she stopped, if she looked, she knew the pictures would become clear, but once again she didn’t stop. She didn’t, because she was so close, and she needed to know. And then she was pushing open one last door, one final shove, and finally she did stop, did halt because… because…

 

“Kiera,” that was the word, the name. Kiera was the name that had been on her lips, in her mind, when she had first woken up. Kiera was the name that she had been searching for, all this time. Kiera was what Cat had lost. Kiera, standing there, motionless, her wings falling gracefully down her back, naked except for the collar around her throat, Cat’s mark still so very clear. Kiera was here, and now Cat knew why she didn’t belong in Heaven, because how could she ever belong anywhere that kept her away from this girl?

 

Because Kiera was here, and Cat already knew what she would do, how she would change this place, how she would remake her Kiera. She knew, because she finally understood why it all mattered, and why it was all so very, very worth it.

 

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She heard the name first, the sound seeping into her, holding her, claiming her.

 

“Kiera,” that word, just one word, and yet it held so much power. It had the power to remake her, when it was spoken here by this woman. It had that power because hope was something, hope had let her build this place, hope had let her survive, exist, but it hadn’t been enough. It hadn’t been enough to stop her from being Lucifer, from being the Devil, from being Kara, even. Hope hadn’t been enough to stop her from being a creature who was defined by her fall, defined by suffering. Hope hadn’t been enough, would never have been enough. But this…

 

Cat was calling her name and she felt her nature shift, alter, to accommodate this woman, twisting as the other names, everything she had been called before, every meaning she had had, drifted away. Replaced only by this, by Cat and Kiera.

 

Kiera didn’t know how it had happened, she had been with her father, and he had…

 

And then she was waking up to Cat calling her name. Cat was saying that name as her hands reached for Kiera, possessing her and protecting her, as hands held on to her, as lips found her own, as Kiera felt herself give in to the embrace of her Angel.

 

Kiera woke up to find Cat in Hell, and she should have been sad, should have cried out because Cat was here. She should have apologized, fought against it, told Cat to go away. Maybe she should even have picked Cat up, dragged her to that door, and thrown her out. She should have, but she didn’t. Because Cat was here, and Cat was smiling at her, Cat was holding her, and Kiera couldn’t do anything but smile back. Kara could have, Kara or Lucifer. They could have fought against this and sent Cat away. But not Kiera, never Kiera.

 

“Kiera,” she closed her eyes as the name washed over her again, falling to her knees and closing her arms around the other woman, encircling her, even as Cat, still smiling, ran her hands through Kiera’s hair, holding tight, “I found you, my Kiera, I’m here.”

 

“Cat,” she looked up at the woman with such wonder, because Cat was an Angel in Hell, Cat was here, Cat had found her, and more than that, Cat had renamed her. Not even she, the first born Angel, had had that power. Sure, she had given herself new names, called herself Kara, but that name, it hadn’t been so… so…

 

So complete.

 

She had never been whole before, not even during her time on Earth, but now… her name was Kiera now, now and for the rest of eternity. It was Kiera, because Cat had had that power, the power to redefine her, to give her new purpose. She was no longer the Angel that had fallen, no longer the demon trapped in Hell, no, now, now she was Kiera. Now she was happy because she was where she belonged, in Cat’s arms, and everything would be all right.

 

And then a hand, one of Cat’s, was slipping from her hair, moving down to grace the collar, tightening, “I’m calling in my favor, Kiera,” and at those words Kiera felt her own hand shoot up to the collar, her eyes widening slightly in fear.

 

Had she been wrong? Was Cat going to leave her? Was Cat just here to take her collar, and settle their score, so she could return to Heaven and forget? Was Cat…

 

But no, she could see in on Cat’s face, feel in in the reassuring way Cat was stroking her, holding her possessively. She couldn’t think that of Cat now, couldn’t doubt this woman, she couldn’t because Cat had entered Hell to find her, Cat had left Heaven already, and she knew that Cat was never going to let her go.

 

But Cat still wanted to call in her favor? But she had promised… she had…

 

“I promised I would never call in my favor while we were on Earth, but we’re not there anymore, Kiera. I’m going to call in my deal now because it’s time to set you free of your past. Because this collar, it was a promise between a human and the Devil, and we are both so much more than that now, you know we are. This was a promise of another life, but I’ve found you now, Kiera, and you’re still mine, you are going to be mine, for all the future in eternity.”

 

And it was true, Kiera knew. It was true because she could feel it, feel the way she was different now, the way they were both different. She could feel that they did have a future together, a real one, not just one born from hope or memory.

 

“Anything, Cat,” and she meant it. Whatever she could do for this woman, she would, but she would miss it, miss the collar.

 

Cat saw it, of course she did, and a smirk rose to her face. Leaning closer, the woman tightened her grip in Kiera’s hair. “Don’t think that this means I’m not going to make you a new one, Kiera. You can’t honestly believe that I would let you get away with it, get away with leaving me for so long, with not telling me that I would forget. You can’t honestly think that I’m not going to bind you to me again, not going to make you a new collar, not going to make sure you can never leave me behind, ever again.”

 

There would be nowhere to go, they both knew that, but even so…

 

“Yes, Cat, please,” she looked up at the woman, at Cat, and she understood what Cat was really saying. She was saying that she was going to give Kiera a new mark, not one connected to any deal, not one that could be taken away again, not one that meant anything other than the very simple truth that Kiera was Cat’s, and that that fact would never change.

 

It wouldn’t change because it would be a symbol of who they both were now, and because she, the person she had been before Cat had woken her up, that Kara had needed the collar, needed the lifeline to tie her to Cat when she didn’t really believe that the woman would ever come for her. But she was Kiera now, completely and irreversibly, and she didn’t need that promise, she just needed Cat.

 

And so whatever Cat wanted, whatever…

 

“Take down the illusion, Kiera,” and suddenly her certainty wavered again, because how could that be what Cat wanted? How could Cat ask for that? Because the illusion? She knew what Cat meant, the illusion covering the door to Hell. “There are other people who will want to come. Carter, for one. He’s probably still out there, still staring at the place where I vanished. He’s been searching for you as well, you know. And it’s not just him, the rest of your family, they’re all here as well. They didn’t feel this, the need for you, not as strongly as I did, but they still felt something. There’s a sadness, Kiera, even in Heaven. And so you are going to take down the illusion, and let your family find you.”

 

“Cat…”

 

“No, you won’t be able to get me to change my mind, or convince me to ask for something else. You worry that others will fall? They won’t. It’s hard enough to even approach the gate for anyone without your crest. There’s so much light surrounding it, Kiera, and even once they do find it, they won’t be able to stay long, they’ll feel the pull to go back, but they’ll still come. They love you, we all do, so let them come, Kiera. Trust me.”

 

Trust? Yes, she did trust Cat, she trusted that this would be all right, she trusted in her Angel, because staring into Cat’s eyes, she couldn’t not trust this woman, couldn’t help but believe that maybe Hell didn’t need to be closed off, after all. That maybe, maybe she had earned this, deserved it, even. That maybe she didn’t have to be afraid.

 

“The illusion, Kiera. Now.”

 

And at that command she gave in, removing the illusion with a simple thought, exposing herself and her realm. For so long she had believed that it was better that way, better to protect people, better not to even give them the opportunity, the chance, to be corrupted. But she gave in now because Cat had asked, because this person, this person who had once been human was strong enough, powerful enough, to remake her, and now Kiera could see that maybe she had been wrong. That maybe there were other people who could be just as strong, who didn’t want, or need her protection. That maybe it was time to have faith in the people she had always tried to protect. Have faith that the light she had given them, that it was enough to let them make their own decisions, faith that maybe Hell didn’t have to be so lost.

 

She didn’t have to say anything when the illusion fell, Cat could feel it, Cat could feel her power now in a way she had never been able to before, and in response, Cat’s hand tightened around the pendant, and with a small tug the lock broke. It broke and as Cat pulled it away the material dissolved into dust, and the last remnant of a past where Kiera hadn’t though there would be a future, faded away.

 

And Kiera could only smile, only feel joy, only believe that this had been the right thing to do. She could only be happy as Cat closed her hands around Kiera’s now bare neck, tracing the skin and making Kiera shiver.

 

“I hate the windows, by the way,” Cat arched an eyebrow at her as she spoke, her face still smiling through the comment.

 

“I know,” and Kiera was so happy because she had known that Cat would say that, and this, right now, this was her new future, a future with this woman who she knew so well.

 

“Before people come, you’re going to have to put clothes on, again,” and now Kiera blushed, reminded of their first night together, where Cat had also pointed out her lack of clothes, reminded of that other time that Cat had remade her, that Cat had given her new meaning.

 

“I know,” although with the way Cat was looking at her now, Kiera through that maybe the clothes could wait, at least for a little bit.

 

“I’m going to fall now,” and while once that statement would have hurt Kiera, would have caused her to push back, now it brought only love because Cat had chosen her. Cat had chosen her and finally, finally Kiera believed that maybe she was worth it.

 

“I know, Cat, I know,” because how could she not know, how could she feel anything else? She couldn’t. Not when Cat was looking at her like this, not when Cat was touching her like this. And how could Kiera have any last doubts because with everything that Cat must have experienced in Heaven, Cat had still chosen her, and Cat looked so very happy.

 

Cat looked happy, and she also looked beautiful as she reached for the power that was around her, as Cat reached for the shadows that were present in this place, that were mixed in with the light. She looked stunning as she called those shadows to her, as Cat seeped herself in the power of Hell, as Cat used them to form a new collar around Kiera’s neck. Cat looked magnificent as her wings turned to black, as she stood over the girl and remade herself as easily as she had remade Kiera.

 

Cat looked like everything because this was where she belonged, where they both belonged. Not in a Hell of isolation and loss, but a home, an eternity, the place where light and hope and love had all been born.

 

When they had first met Cat had told the Devil that she wasn’t going to sell her her soul, but now, now Cat gave it willingly, gave it freely and joyfully to the creature that had once been Lucifer, but who was now just her Kiera.

 

Now Cat gave Kiera her soul because some people, some people were worth falling for.

 

The End