Epilogue: To London and Beyond!
"Holly! Where have you been?!" Cas threw his arms around his best friend the next morning when he saw her, sitting calmly on the patio of the Golden Lion, chatting with Ingrid as though nothing had happened.
"I've been to Durango, Cas." She said mysteriously once Cas had released her, and pulled out a small package wrapped in silvery foil. "Happy birthday, by the way. Hope you like it."
Cas smiled. It was so like Holly to remember his birthday, even though he himself had half-forgotten.
She'd made a big deal of it the previous year, insisting that she come and visit him at the Malone household, and give him the now-broken silver pocketwatch that he still treasured as one of his few belongings from what he now viewed as 'his life before.'
"Well open it!" She pushed enthusiastically. Grinning in mock anticipation, Cas carefully undid the tape and slid the small cardboard box out of the silver foil, opening that to reveal a pendant made of a strip of leather and a small piece of brilliant scarlet petrified wood.
"Thanks, Hol." Cas grinned and slipped the pendant around his neck.
Nimrod came out onto the patio, yawning largely. "Oh, Cas, is it your birthday today? I'm sorry, it must have slipped my mind. I see you're back, Holly. Good, good." Nimrod interrupted himself with another yawn. "I'm sorry I'm so tired, its just that my cell phone wouldn't stop ringing. I had to turn it off. Anyway, happy birthday, Cas. I do have another surprise for you both... er, where's Mark?"
Holly shrugged. "Upstairs still, I expect. Want me to go fetch him?"
Nimrod shook his head. "No, that won't be necessary until later. We're headed to New York for Christmas."
Both Holly and Cas gasped in delight. New York! They hadn't visited New York since summer, nor had they been in touch with the Gaunts at all!
"Really?" Holly was the first to recover, and she leapt to her feet, itching to begin packing that very instant.
When Nimrod nodded, she grinned even more broadly, and went immediately to her room to gather up her things.
Cas lagged behind a little, sensing that Nimrod wished to speak with him. Even as he opened his mouth to speak, Cas forgot what he was going to say, because a tiny object, probably no larger than a cough drop, was hurtling up his esophagus. Cas choked, and wretched until the object was finally expelled.
"Djinnternal mail," muttered Nimrod, examining the lozenge-shaped golden capsule. "But what is it? More importantly, who is it from?"
"What's djinnternal mail?" Cas asked, also looking with fascination at the object he'd just coughed up.
Impatiently, Nimrod explained what djinnternal mail was, and began poking at the capsule with the end of a fork. After the third prod, the golden capsule burst open on an invisible hinge, almost like a blooming flower, and a paper that had been concealed inside unfurled until Cas and Nimrod could read the crabby, spiked handwriting on it.
"21 December 2012. . Happy birthday, Castiel. It begins. 12/21/12. December 21, 2012."
"Well this is ominous," said Nimrod, and tucked the paper and the capsule into his pocket without another word.
The transition from the arid desert climate of Alexandria to the near-arctic conditions of New York in winter was not an entirely welcome one for Holly and Cas, even if they did get to visit the Gaunts once again.
Christmas and New Year's passed in a blur, and Cas and Holly reconnected with John and Philippa for the first time in months, which was good.
All too soon, however, it was time for Holly, Cas, Mark, and Nimrod to board a flight bound for London from New York's JFK airport.
Holly slept fitfully on the plane, receiving blurry snippets of something that she couldn't quite make out.
A calming lullaby echoed in her head until finally, Holly couldn't take it anymore, and stayed up reading her chapter book.
After what seemed like an eon, they had arrived at Heathrow airport, and Nimrod hailed a cab to take them home, as Groanin was (presumably) still on holiday.
The cab ride was done in relative silence, although Nimrod prattled on (somewhat nervously, it seemed to Cas) about this and that, until at last, they reached Number 7, Stanhope Terrace.
"I'll unlock the door, shall I?" Holly offered, and Nimrod tossed his house keys to his daughter, and she caught them easily, walking over to the front door while the others unloaded their luggage.
Before she could unlock the front door, however, it flew open to reveal a tall, very glamorous-looking dark-skinned woman.
"About time, Nimrod!" She said impatiently. "I've been waiting for you for weeks!"
Holly, Cas, and Nimrod turned, wide-eyed, to Nimrod, searching for an explanation, even as the cabbie drove off.
Nimrod sighed and polished his gold-rimmed spectacles. "Hello, Alexandra."
Author's Note: Mwahahahahahah! I have left you with another cliffhanger! Don't worry, though, I'm beginning another one: It'll be called Blessing of the Phoenix or something similar... and I'll drag some new characters in, as well as make Alexandra a major character. She really deserves it, poor dear... See you later!
And thanks to sibunasiren10 and Violet Jenkins for the reviews :) buh-bye!