A Cardinal Affair

Epilogue: Someday We'll Know

Sam laughs as Misha smacks Dean and dangles a caramel apple in front of the boy in an astronaut costume, turning the key in their room door. As he opens the door, he spots people inside, and immediately draws his gun.

“Who are you?” he demands, moving forward, ready to shoot.

Dean turns at the sound of his voice and runs in. Spotting the people, he hurries to Sam’s side. “Sam! Sam, wait! It’s Castiel.” He pushes the gun down. “The angel that looks like your boyfriend.”

Stunned, he watches as Castiel turns. He truly is the spitting image of Misha, only older and dressed like a tax accountant in a trench coat. Dean glances at the other person, a tall African American man by the window.

“Him, I don’t know.”

There’s an ethereal air about Castiel. An angel. He’d always believed they were real, but to finally meet one… Blue eyes settle on him, and it feels awkward — he must be smiling like an awestruck idiot.

“Hello, Sam.”

Oh. His voice is beautiful, just like Misha’s, but deeper. Ah, that’s right, he spoke! Um… “Oh my God— err— uh— I didn’t mean to— sorry. It’s an honor, really. I—I’ve heard a lot about you,” he says in a rush. Smooth, Sam, so smooth, he chides himself mentally. You open your mouth, and the first thing you do is blaspheme. Get a grip on yourself, Sam. You’ve fought monsters and killed demons. You can talk to an angel without embarrassing yourself. Or not. He’s quite ready to sink right into the floor, so instead, he steps forward and offers Castiel his hand. Castiel looks at it like he’s not quite sure what to do with it, which only makes the whole scene more awkward.

Fortunately, Misha rescues him by walking in right then, pushing the door shut behind him. He gasps, stopping short. “Holy— you weren’t kidding,” he breathes, pushing forward to take a closer look. “It’s like looking in a mirror. Are you sure we’re not related?”

Castiel looks at Misha and tilts his head. “Misha. Yes, Dean mentioned I greatly resemble you. I looked. Unbeknownst to all of you, eight years before your birth, a woman bore your father a son and gave the baby up for adoption. This vessel and you are indeed related by blood.”

Misha gapes. As he digests this, Castiel turns back to Sam who is still trying to decide whether it’d be better to drop his hand or indicate subtly that one is supposed to shake an offered hand. Now that the angel’s attention is back on him though, it seems more awkward to drop his hand, so he shakes it a little. Castiel seems to understand and places his right hand in Sam’s. His hand is warm, a little smoother than Misha’s, his grip firm but gentle.

“And I you, Sam Winchester,” he continues their previous conversation as if Misha hadn’t interrupted. Turning their hands a little, he covers Sam’s hand with his other one. “The boy with the demon blood. Glad to see you’ve ceased your extracurricular activities.”

The boy with the demon blood. Impure. Abomination. He should have known.

“Let’s keep it that way,” the other stranger, another angel most likely, chimes in.

His face must have fallen, must have registered his sinking heart, because abruptly, Misha is pulling him backwards, away from Castiel. “Don’t listen to them, Sam,” Misha says sternly, placing himself between them. “They have no right. They don’t know anything about you.”

Castiel’s eyes widen in surprise.

Misha turns to him and cups his face to make their eyes meet as Dean steps in front of them both. “Listen to me, Sam. The only thing that matters is here.” He places his palm flat over Sam’s heart. “So don’t you pay their words any mind.”

“Yeah, okay, chuckles.” Dean turns to Castiel. “Who’s your friend?”

Blue eyes look at him sadly before turning to Dean, but Castiel doesn’t answer, instead asking, “The raising of Samhain, have you stopped it?”


“Dean, have you located the witch?” he asks more insistently, still not answering.

“Yes, we’ve located the witch,” Dean finally answers impatiently.

“And is the witch dead?”

Back to business, back to business. Get a hold of yourself, Sam. Sam takes a deep breath. “No, but—”

“We know who it is,” Dean finishes.

Castiel walks over to the table by the bed. “Apparently, the witch knows who you are, too.” He picks up a hex bag and shows it to them. “This was inside the wall of your room. If we hadn’t found it, surely one or all three of you would be dead. Do you know where the witch is now?”

They exchange glances.

“We’re working on it,” Dean replies, squaring his shoulders.

Castiel looks sad. “That’s unfortunate.”

Dean narrows his eyes. “What do you care?”

“The raising of Samhain is one of the 66 seals.”

Dean nods slowly in understanding. “So this is about your buddy, Lucifer.”

“Lucifer is no friend of ours,” the other angel interjects.

Dean rolls his eyes. “It’s just an expression.”

“Lucifer cannot rise,” Castiel states solemnly. “The breaking of the seal must be prevented at all costs.”

“Okay, great,” Dean agrees. “Well, now that you’re here, why don’t you tell us where the witch is? We’ll gank her, and everybody goes home.”

Castiel shakes his head. “We are not omniscient. This witch is very powerful, she’s cloaked even our methods.”

Misha blinks. “Okay. Well, since we already know who she is, if we work together—”

“Enough of this.” It’s the other angel again, still gazing out the window.

Dean turns, clearly irritated and fed up. “Okay, who are you, and why should I care?”

The angel turns from the window and looks at Dean, his expression condescending.

“This is Uriel,” Castiel introduces at last as Uriel walks towards them. Reluctantly, he adds, “He’s what you might call a… specialist.”

Dean looks from Castiel to Uriel and back. “What kind of specialist? What are you gonna do?”

If possible, Castiel looks more discomfited. “You— uh, all of you. You need to leave this town immediately.”

“Why?” Dean demands, more insistently this time.

Castiel sighs, almost inaudibly. “Because we’re about to destroy it.”

Sam, Dean and Misha look worriedly at each other.

“So this is your plan — you’re gonna smite the whole friggin’ town?!” Dean asks incredulously.

“We’re out of time,” Castiel responds. “This witch has to die. The seal must be saved.”

“But there are a thousand people here!” Misha protests, stepping forward.

“One thousand two hundred fourteen,” Uriel corrects calmly.

“And you’re willing to kill them all?!”

“This isn’t the first time I’ve… purified a city.”

Sam can’t believe his ears. They’re angels.

Castiel sighs again. “Look, I understand this is regrettable.”

Regrettable?” Dean repeats in disbelief he shares.

“We have to hold the line,” the angel reasons. “Too many seals have broken already.”

Dean puts his hands on his hips. “So you screw the pooch on some seals, and this town has to pay the price?”

Castiel Looks at him. “It’s the lives of one thousand against the lives of six billion. There’s a bigger picture here.”

“Right. ‘Cause you’re bigger picture kind of guys.”

The angel looks at each of them in turn, solemn. “Lucifer cannot rise. He does, and Hell rises with him. Is that something that you’re willing to risk?”

Sam shakes his head. “We'll stop this witch before she summons anyone,” he decides firmly. “Your seal won't be broken, and no one has to die.”

Uriel turns to Castiel. “We're wasting time with these mud monkeys.”

Castiel turns to face the other angel before saying, “I’m sorry, but we have our orders.”

“No,” Sam interjects, shaking his head. “This is—” Wrong. All wrong. This isn’t what he’s been praying for, been praying to. “You can’t do this. You’re angels! I mean, aren’t you supposed to— you’re supposed to show mercy.”

Uriel smirks, feral. “Says who?”

There’s no hope, no salvation. For him, for anyone. This isn’t how it was supposed to be.

Castiel at least sounds sorrowful when he says, “We have no choice.”

“Of course you have a choice,” Dean retorts. “I mean, come on, what? You’ve never questioned a crap order, huh? What are you both, just a couple of hammers?”

Castiel frowns. “Look, even if you can’t understand it, have faith. The plan is just.”

Sam’s eyes widen. Killing a thousand innocent people is just? “How can you even say that?”

“Because it comes from Heaven; that makes it just.”

Misha shakes his head. “Wow. Suddenly, I feel really good about being Buddhist.”

“Oh, it must be nice to be so sure of yourselves,” Dean drawls, sarcastic.

“Tell me something, Dean,” Castiel says softly, stepping closer. “When your father gave you an order, didn’t you obey?”

Dean looks at the angel and takes a second. Sam has to admit that Castiel makes a valid point there.

“Well, sorry boys, looks like the plans have changed,” Dean declares.

Uriel’s expression is one of disdain. “You think you can stop us?”

Dean walks up to Uriel and stands in his face, defiant. “No, but if you’re gonna smite this whole town, then you’re gonna have to smite us with it, because we are not leaving.” Sam and Misha link hands and nod in concurrence. “See, you went to the trouble of busting me out of Hell. I figure I’m worth something to the man upstairs. So you wanna waste me, go ahead, see how he digs that.”

Uriel frowns, angry. “I will drag you out of here myself.”

“Yeah, but you’ll have to kill me, then we’re back to the same problem.” Dean shrugs. “I mean, come on, you're gonna wipe out a whole town for one little witch. Sounds to me like you're compensating for something.” He turns back to look at Castiel. “We can do this. We will find that witch, and we will stop the summoning.”

Uriel turns to Castiel. “Castiel! I will not let these peop—”

Castiel holds up his hand. “Enough!” He stares at Dean, assessing. “I suggest you move quickly.”

“Misha?” Sam calls, looking around as he runs down the hallways. “C’mon, Mish, where are you?” They’d gone to look for Don Harding’s address, and Misha had suddenly disappeared. He hopes nothing bad has happened. Maybe Misha just went to the bathroom. He looks out the corridor window at the school field. “Misha!” His partner is there with Castiel, the angel from earlier that looks just like him. Sam runs down the stairs and out to the field.

“Promise me,” Misha is saying. “With the kind of promise you angels can’t break.”

Castiel hesitates, then nods. “Very well. I promise.”

“Mish?” He comes to a stop beside them, looking from one to the other. “What’s going on?”

Castiel looks down, seeming sad, as Misha turns to him.

“Hey, baby.” Misha reaches out to take his hands. “I’ve just asked Castiel here to use me as his vessel instead.”

“What?!” He can’t be hearing right. “Mish, no! Do y—”

“Yes, I’ve been warned.”

“Then, wh—”

“Sam.” Misha grabs his shoulders. “That’s my brother he’s in.” He tilts his head to indicate Castiel. “My brother, who has a wife and a daughter. I’m already here with you and Dean whom he is supposed to watch.” Blue eyes soften. “Wouldn’t you do it for Dean?”

Sam covers Misha’s hands with his own and squeezes. “That’s different.”

Misha smiles wistfully. “He’s still my brother, Sam, and my niece deserves her father, even if I’ve never seen any of them till now.” He steps closer, and Sam wraps his arms around Misha’s waist instinctively. Misha has always been kind. Too kind. “Castiel also promised me he would protect you as long as it doesn’t directly contradict his orders.”

“You idiot.” Sam tightens his hold, eyes stinging. “I don’t need your protection. I only need you.”

Misha reaches up to comb his fingers through Sam’s hair, still smiling. “That’s what makes you worth protecting.” Sam shakes his head, but Misha presses a thumb to his lips before he can speak. “Shh, baby, do you remember? Just over a year ago, you died in my arms, Sam, and I couldn’t do a thing. I can’t do that again, Sam, watch you die, powerless to help. If I’d had his powers then, I could probably have saved you with a touch, and Dean never would have had to die.”

Sam continues shaking his head. “Don’t do this, Mish. Don’t you remember? This day, last year, our anniversary — you promised we’d always be together,” but he knows he can’t change his partner’s mind.

Misha turns to Castiel. “Go. Take my brother home.”

Castiel bows his head and vanishes in a flutter of unseen wings.

“Dammit, Mish. You can’t keep doing this. You can’t keep giving everything up for me.”

“You silly thing,” Misha murmurs affectionately, taking Sam’s face in his hands. “You’re my everything, Sam, and I haven’t given you up, okay? He agreed to let me out sometimes, so we can still be together once in a while. Did you think I’d agree to a lifetime without you?”

Sam sobs. “What if he breaks his promise? What if he can’t keep it?”

“Then I’ll fight him. I’ll fight him, take back my body, and come running back to you. You’d better believe it.”

Sam chuckles through the tears. “I know you will.”

Misha smiles, blinking back his own tears and wiping Sam’s away with his thumbs. “So kiss me, Sam. Not goodbye, just till next time.”

And Sam doesn’t hesitate, just pulls Misha close and kisses him fiercely. Misha kisses back with just as much ardor, and God, Sam wishes he could convey in this single gesture everything he feels for this man he’s come to love so strongly. You’re too good for me, Mish, too good for this world. You’ve always been an angel to me, you know? In my darkest moments, you were my only light, and I never needed anything else.

He feels it, the precise moment Castiel takes over — the other’s posture shifts, and he stops kissing back. Sam presses his forehead to the other’s and lets out a shuddering breath, keeping his eyes closed. “Take care of him. Please. If you can answer just one prayer…”

“Of course.” He’d expected the angel to step back, to back away from him and his tainted soul, but Castiel doesn’t move. Instead, a hand —familiar, yet unknown— reaches up slowly to touch his left cheek, hesitant, curious. “He asked the same for you.”

And it seems presumptuous, but he can’t help covering the hand on his cheek with his own and pressing into it one last time as he opens his eyes. “I don’t think I ever told him enough just how much I love him.”

Castiel smiles, gentle. “He knows, Sam. And his memories of you…” Blue eyes fill with wonder. “They’re so beautiful.”

“And mine of him,” he wants to say, but Castiel looks him in the eyes gravely, serious once more. “Go, Sam. Save this town. Stop the witch. Hurry.”

He nods as Castiel disappears, letting his hand fall to his side. He takes a deep breath, then runs back into the school to get Dean. Misha would have wanted the same.

“Hello, Sam.”

Sam doesn’t turn where he’s resting his arms on the railing, gazing out at the town from the rooftop of the school. Milling below, going about their daily lives, a thousand people who will never know how close they were to being obliterated. He doesn’t regret saving them.

“If you’re here to warn me against using my powers, your friend already gave me the lecture.”

“No, that’s not why I’m here.”

It’s Misha’s voice, but Castiel always speaks in a lower register, and Sam doesn’t know if he dares turn around to see once more how different everything has become.

“I… can sense your disappointment, Sam. In… this vessel’s memories, you had such faith. I’m sorry.”

He turns at that, surprised, and Castiel is looking at the floor by his feet, a look of deep sorrow and regret on his face, Misha’s face. “I—I’m sorry we couldn’t save the seal in time,” he blurts then, chagrined. “B—”

“I was praying that you and your brother would choose as you did.”

Sam blinks. “You were?”

Castiel smiles a little at that. “You two truly are brothers. Dean reacted much the same way.”

And even though he knows it’s not Misha he’s talking to, he can’t help mirroring the expression. “Could you blame us after what you said yesterday?”

The angel shakes his head, stepping closer. Sam instinctively reaches out to touch, then stops, remembering who he’s really with, but Castiel catches his hand, pressing his left cheek into it like Sam had done yesterday.

“You need not refrain. He already misses you terribly.”

At that, Sam pulls the other into a tight hug. “Can he hear me?”

“Yes.” Gingerly, as if he’s not sure he should, Castiel wraps his arms around Sam.

Sam buries his face in chestnut hair, inhales deeply of his beloved’s familiar scent. There’s something different about it now — a hint of ozone, an otherworldly cleanness. “I miss you too, baby,” he murmurs desperately. “So come back to me, Mish. Come back to me soon, okay? I don’t want to do this without you.”

The arms around his waist tighten slightly, and Castiel leans on him. “Tomorrow.”

Sam leans back to see the angel. Castiel looks up at him.

“If I can, if nothing of import happens, I’ll let you spend some time together.”

“Thank you,” he says sincerely. “F—for what it’s worth, I… I’m glad it’s you in there.”

“And not Uriel?” the angel asks with a hint of a grin, and Sam blushes, ducking his head. “One of my brothers —you have yet to meet him— has a personality much like this vessel’s. Perhaps you would have liked him instead, impossible though that is.”

Sam shakes his head. “It’s better that you’re different. Less painful.”

Castiel drops his gaze, nodding slowly. “I see.” A pause, then “I have to go.”

Sam nods, letting go. “Of course.”

Castiel reaches up to take Sam’s face in his hands, makes their eyes meet once more. “I came to tell you, Sam: Don’t lose faith. It’s not too late for you.”

Sam blinks, and he’s gone, just as the door to the roof opens, and Dean sticks his head out. “Sammy? There you are. Ready to hit the road?”

Sam takes a deep breath and nods, squaring his shoulders as he walks over to Dean’s side. “Yeah. We’ve got work to do.”


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