Title : Brothers in arms

Author: nerwende90

Pairing : none, because I'm a sucker for friendship and brotherly moments

Warning : angst, spoilers for 6x17 and 6x18. Characters might be a little OOC, as per usual.

Disclaimer : If I owned them, Sam would have given Cas that damn hug!

Author's note: I'm back, people! I've been on hiatus for a while, since my muse had deserted me but she decided to come back and strike again. Hope you like it!

With Bobby and the boys sleeping upstairs, Castiel was left on the lumpy couch, alone with his thoughts. He was still recovering from the wound Rachel had managed to inflict him, and his precarious health (and Bobby's reprimands) had convinced him to stay. Of course, his friends would be pissed if they knew he wasn't resting as they'd ordered but instead was listening to his brethrens' talk, but with all that was going on in Heaven he probably had an excuse. It seemed his presence on the battlefield was not absolutely necessary at the moment, which was good because he still hadn't recovered enough to fight. With a weary sigh, the angel sat back in the couch, rubbing absently at the faint scar on his chest. It had been close, he knew, far too close.

As he thought about his encounter with Rachel, her death, however regrettable, wasn't what upset him the most. No, what bothered him was the lie he'd told Bobby to justify it. He, Castiel, the angel who for the life of him couldn't lie convincingly, had made up a story without even thinking about it. And Bobby had believed him, just like the brothers had believed him as he'd told them he had nothing to do with the un-sinking of the Titanic. They all believe him, because they trusted him. They had faith in him. A feeling of shame washed over him, and he buried his face in his hands.

"It's war, Cas. There's no place for shame."

Castiel's head snapped up so fast his vessel's neck popped. The desk chair, which was empty just a second ago, was now filled by another angel, one he could almost trust. Almost.

"Balthazar." He acknowledged. His older brother smirked at him as he put his feet on Bobby's desk. For a moment Castiel thought about telling him that he was being rude, but he dismissed the thought almost instantly. Balthazar probably knew what he was doing, and didn't care. If anything, a remark would encourage him. Sometimes Castiel found himself envying his brother's carefree spirit. He really wished he could go through life without worry like that.

"Well I hate to tell you this, Cas, but you look like hell." The mischievous angel said. "Is it because of the fight with Rachel?"

Castiel nodded. "You know?" he asked, though it wasn't really a question.

"You're not the only one to listen to gossip." Balthazar shrugged. "You okay?" If Castiel didn't know better he would have sworn he saw concern in these bright blue eyes.

"Yes." Castiel said, "Or at least I will be." He quickly added as the other angel shot him a doubtful look. He wasn't sure Balthazar believed him, but the older brother nodded all the same.

They both stayed silent for a while, Castiel looking down at his hands and Balthazar intently studying his shoes. This behavior puzzled the younger angel. His brother was a lot of things, but quiet as reserved weren't among them. He knew Balthazar had come there to tell him something, because really, why else would he be at Bobby's house in the middle of the night? But then it wasn't like him to beat around the bush. Castiel started to wish he could look through Balthazar like he did with humans, but it wasn't nearly as easy. Unlike humans angels were used to guard their minds and their thoughts from others.

When the silence became unbearable, Castiel cleared his throat, causing his brother to look up. "Why did you come here, Balthazar?"

The blonde angel made a hurt face and put his hand over his heart in mock offense. "Are you saying you're not happy to see me? I'm hurt, Cas, really I am!" Balthazar chuckled, then rolled his eyes at his brother's blank expression. After making a mental note to try to get him to loosen up, he went on. "I just thought you might need company, is all."

Castiel frowned. "Why would I…?" he started, but was immediately cut off.

"Because, brother mine, I know you. And let's face it, it's not like you're surrounded by angels willing to listen to you. Besides," he added as an afterthought, "There's something I'd like to know."

Castiel mentally scoffed. Of course there is. "What is it?"

Balthazar put his feet off Bobby's desk and sat up, looking his brother dead in the eyes. "Why didn't you call me?"

The dark-haired angel tilted his head to the side in confusion, something Balthazar had always seen him do, as far as he could remember. "Why didn't I call you… when?" he asked, half expecting the answer to be some kind of joke. With Balthazar you could never tell.

But the other angel was dead serious this time. "When Rachel stabbed you and you were too weak to get Martin and Lewis back from the Wild Wild West. Why didn't you call me? I could have done it."

For a moment Castiel could only stare at his brother, causing Balthazar to smirk bitterly. "Oh that's right, I forgot. You still don't trust me." He sat back in the chair, folding his hands in his lap. "I stood for you in Heaven, saved you from Raphael, helped you get the weapons you needed, un-sank a ship and took whole responsibility for it but hey, I understand how you'd still doubt me." With that he stood up, straightening his jacket. "Well then, sorry I disturbed you. I'll go now."

Before he could realize what he was doing, Castiel stood up and grabbed his brother by the wrist, effectively stopping him. The older angel arched an eyebrow in surprise and locked eyes with him. "Stay." Castiel simply said, and if Balthazar heard that touch of desperation in his voice he chose to ignore it. As it was he slowly nodded and sat back down, quickly mirrored by Castiel. Another silence filled the room, during which Balthazar's eyes never left his brother. As he shifted uncomfortably under his scrutiny, the younger angel briefly wondered if this was how Dean felt when he stared at him. He'd have to apologize for that later.

Again he was the first one to break the silence. "Can I ask you a question?" he asked in a voice so small he had a hard time believing it came from him.

Balthazar shrugged. "Sure."

Castiel took a deep breath. He needed to ask, but he was so scared of what the answer might be that he almost backed down. But when he looked up and saw his brother waiting patiently, not an ounce of mockery in his eyes, that was all the push he needed. "Do you… Do you believe what we're doing is right?"

Any trace of smile left Balthazar's face as he took in the question. He inhaled sharply as if he'd been cut, and seemed to fumble for a suitable reply. But it wasn't necessary. Some silences speak louder than words, and this one screamed at Castiel everything he'd feared. He sank a little further in his seat and rubbed at his temples. He'd never felt so tired and so… defeated in his life.

"You know," Balthazar's voice finally spoke, "I meant it when I said you were still my brother no matter what. And after all you've done, all you've accomplished, I can only admire your courage and the force of your will."

Castiel gave a grim smile. "But?"

"But… I'm starting to worry about you, kiddo." The older brother said. "I mean this whole plan, this thing about souls, it's…"

"Wrong, I know." Castiel interrupted him, standing up to walk to the fireplace, needing to do something with himself and, more than anything, to avoid Balthazar's gaze. "It's all the others have been telling me. It's what…" he trailed off, bowing his head in sorrow. "It's what Rachel said."

He could feel everything in the room go completely still as Balthazar put the pieces together. "Is that why you…?" the oldest angel asked in a low, cautious voice.

At this point Castiel almost wished he hadn't said anything. But now it was too late to turn back. "Yes." He sighed after a while. "She said I was changing. She attacked me. I didn't have a choice."

He heard the sound of a chair being slowly pushed, quickly followed by tentative footsteps coming his way. He tensed for a second, a gesture Balthazar seemed to perceive for he stopped a few feet away from him. "Look," he said, "If you say you didn't have a choice, then I believe you. But Cas, I think she's right about one thing."

And Castiel knew what he meant, because he'd been thinking it too. He knew he'd changed, breaking the untold promise he'd made Dean one night on the side of a road. And he knew what he'd been doing was wrong. He knew that if, a few years earlier, another angel had done what he had done, he would have killed them. He'd become the kind of thing he used to hunt. He was no better than Raphael.

"Now let's not be too melodramatic here, okay?" Balthazar said, trying to laugh but only managing a nervous chuckle.

"I thought I'd told you not to spy on my thoughts." Castiel stated, surprised by the sound of his own voice. Even to his own ears he sounded like a lost, frightened child. Embarrassment colored his cheeks as he cursed himself for this display of weakness. And to add to his humiliation, he soon felt two drops of saltwater fall from his eyes and roll down his cheeks. He wiped at them angrily, shame coloring his face.

Behind him, Balthazar gasped. "Geez Cas, how human have you become?"

It was meant to be a joke, Castiel knew that, just Balthazar's way of lightening the mood, but it only accomplished the opposite. The younger angel whipped around, fixing his brother with an angry glare. "What do you want from me, Balthazar?" he snapped. "What does everybody want from me? If you all think what I'm doing is wrong, then take my place! I'll gladly leave it to you."

Balthazar looked at him with a smile that didn't quite reach his eyes. "Calm down, Cas…" he started.

But Castiel's walls had tumbled, and they wouldn't go down quietly. "No, Balthazar. I'm getting tired of others doubting me. It's like," he sighed and looked around the room, trying to get a grip on his emotions. "It's like whatever I do, I won't get any credit. But what you, and everybody else seem to forget, is that if I lose against Raphael, we all lose. You, me, humanity, and everyone who's chosen to join us. And everything we care about, everything we're fighting for, will be lost. Is this what you want?" Fresh tears were making their way down Castiel's face, but this time he didn't care enough to do anything about it.

The older angel looked down at his feet, unable to hold his broken brother's gaze any longer. The sight of his glistening eyes was unbearable, a painful reminder of how far Castiel had fallen. Sure he was still an angel. Hell, he was the angel that even the great Raphael feared. But he was also the angel that had rebelled against Heaven and become essentially human two years earlier. And even if he'd come back 'new and improved', there was a part of him that would always be human.

And for a moment Balthazar wished he could be human himself, just so he could have an idea what to say to make Castiel feel better. He wanted to tell him everything would be alright. He wanted to tell him he was sure Castiel would win this fight and that peace will return to Heaven and on earth. But they weren't humans, they were angels. Hope was a very human thing, he reflected. Only humans could be plunged in darkness and still think they might see the sun. Angels didn't have that luxury. Things were as they were, and they were not promising. Balthazar just didn't know how to convince his brother of something he didn't believe himself.

"I can't do this alone, Balthazar." He heard Castiel whisper. The older angel finally looked up, and suddenly the words came to him.

"You won't have to." He answered. 'I'll always stand by your side' was left unsaid, but he knew Castiel understood.

"I know you will." Castiel said softly. "But I need…" He swallowed hard and looked up at the ceiling in an attempt to stop the flow of silent tears. "I need you to tell me what I'm doing is right." He said finally, and Balthazar knew a human would have felt his heart break at the pleading tone Castiel's voice took. Angel or no angel, power or no power, right now he was nothing but a scared child begging his big brother for help. "Please tell me I'm doing the right thing."

Balthazar put a hesitant hand on Castiel's shoulder, giving a light squeeze when the other angel didn't pull away. "You are." He said firmly. "Any soldier will tell you that war makes us do things we might not be proud of. But that's how you win a war, right?"

Castiel nodded and wiped his tears on the sleeve of his trench coat. "I know that." He said, "But what scares me the most is how far I'm willing to go."

'And that scares me too, more than you imagine' Balthazar thought grimly. "I know. But you wanna know something?" he gave his brother his most confident smile, "No matter how far you go, I'll bring you back on tracks. I'll even kick your ass if I have to."

This actually made Castiel smile. He wondered briefly if he should tell the other angel how much he sounded like Dean Winchester. He decided to save that remark for a happier time. "Thanks, Balthazar."

Balthazar's whole composure changed as he let out a dramatic sigh. "Is the moment over? Oh good," he said, clasping his hand together, "I was starting to feel like I was in Saving Private Ryan here. Now," He added as he went to Bobby's kitchen, getting a whisky bottle and two glasses out of a closet, "On to the human therapy."

Castiel tilted his head to the side again as his brother filled both glasses. "Why would we drink? We don't require fluids." He said, earning a chuckle from Balthazar.

"If people only did what they need to do, life would be very dull." He said as he handed Castiel a glass. The other angel took it without protest and watched curiously as Balthazar took his own glass and raised it. "To Raphael. He may or may not be the death of us one day, but for now," he added with a sly grin, "He can kiss my ass."

Castiel smiled as they clanked their glasses together and downed their drinks. He didn't feel particularly more confident about the war, he still wasn't sure what he was doing was just, and he sure as hell was still feeling guilty for lying to his friends, but somehow he felt better. Now he knew he wasn't alone in this. He listened as his brother talked about his experience on earth, which was more… carnal that his own. Suddenly a thought occurred to the younger angel. "Balthazar?" he asked, interrupting a quite heated monologue about the benefits of a ménage à douze.

"What?" Balthazar asked somewhat worriedly.

"… What's Saving Private Ryan?"

The end.

*sighs* Well that took me more time and energy than I thought. It was supposed to be short too but there you go, 2 600 words. Ah I don't care, it's good to be back.

Anyway, I know I'm not the only one to worry about Castiel these days, since we don't know what he's been up to. Frankly now I don't know if I'm afraid for him or afraid of him. But for now I'll wait for more info before judging him. I just can't bring myself to hate him!

Reviews are hugs to Castiel. Show him you still love him too!