Disclaimer: I do not own Supernatural.

Warning: Major SPOILERS for season 6, especially the end of season 6. If you haven't seen it, turn back now.

A/N: Written in 1st Person POV, Balthazar. I'm terribly sorry if he's out of character. Never written for the guy before, but couldn't resist doing this one-shot. Tearing down the fourth wall now...

Did anyone actually believe this could end well? Seriously, I told them to get while the getting was good, I really did. But did anyone actually listen? No. Explain this to me—why is it that, when you're honest for once in your miserable existence, you end up on the wrong side of someone's sword?

I'll tell you why: because honestly leads to honor. And somehow… somehow that leads to you lying to yourself. Convincing yourself that maybe, just maybe, something is worth fighting for again.

Of course, it never really is. And, truthfully, it wasn't honesty that led to the sword being drawn. It was a lie.

I'm going to blame this entirely on the hairless ape—you know the one. The moment he summoned me, I knew I'd fallen for it again, like the complete ass I used to be. Fighting, serving, obeying. What an idiot I was. What an idiot I'd become once more. But… there's always a 'but,' isn't there?

I'm getting away from the point here. My point, the only one I ever wished to make, was that I, Balthazar, Angel of the bleedin' Lord, tried to warn them. How did I acquire such wisdom?

Well, suffice it to say, one angel's royal screw-up is another angel's life lesson.

The obvious case in point is my brother Lucifer. So many lessons to be learned from big bad Luci, but the thing is, he's not the one who really taught me the important ones. Sure, we little angels all sat around the garden to hear our out-ranking big brothers tell us tales of the Fallen One. But, the boogeyman never taught a human child true caution, did he? Not like a stranger in the park. And fairy tales were never so apt at getting the point across like the school bully, were they?

Do forgive the comparisons—the apes are rubbing off on me. But, I suppose you don't mind. Seeing as you are one.

My point is my other brothers taught me far more valuable lessons, whether they meant to or not. Let's take, for example, my old commanders, Uriel and Castiel.

I must say, I was tad excitable under their orders. All ready and willing to fight the big fight, to watch the game pieces line up just right, just like Father wanted them to… or, should I say, just like I'd been told that Father wanted them to.

Lesson the first: betrayal.

I know. I'm a hypocrite. But I learned it from Uriel. Barking orders, standing tall. Hilarious as ever. I did like Uriel. Course, that was before I heard him make an offer to one of my sisters. And when she refused… I'd never have thought it possible, but it was. She'd trusted him. And he'd slipped the blade into her before she'd had a chance to draw her own.

And Castiel didn't have a clue.

So I stuck around a little longer, dodged the offer to pick a side. But I needed a plan. Needed a way out. And I watched as my old leader did something very strange… Castiel went rogue. With a group of humans, no less. He made his own choice, decided to fight against Michael and Lucifer and anyone else who wanted to get the apocalypse on the road.

Quite inspiring. Like The Lord of the Rings with extraordinarily tall hobbits.

Of all the angels in all of heaven, Castiel? Really? And he did it why exactly? Freedom. Such a concept.

So I learned a new lesson. Actually, the lesson was somewhat shoved on me. But how to put the lesson into practice? Well, a little birdie let it slip that big brother Gabriel was alive, kicking, and actually not relocated on Uranus. I lost good money on that bet. Hiding. Interesting idea.

So, of course, I faked my death. Quite easy when you know how. Should have done it centuries ago. And then I took dear Gabriel's lesson and applied it further, with a dose of lechery and a smidgen of greed. Castiel, the angel I admired above all others, seemed to be preaching his message of free will quite whole heartedly, and that helped in the decision making. One could say I practically walked in his shoes.

I learned to live.

It was short. And it was sinful. And it was wonderful.

Then came a cause, a reasonable one. Finish this war. For good. Defeat Raphael before he ruined this beautiful "living" thing I'd started to embrace.

Of course, if I'd actually paid attention to those lessons I've been rambling about, I would have realized where honor would get me. In the end.

Pushing the grief from my face wasn't the hardest part. The hardest part was knowing who I was about to see. Damn, I did hate those Winchesters and their ability to...

"We have a problem. Dean Winchester is on his way here."

Yes, those words did leave my dear brother Castiel's mouth. Shit. And I hear words of confusion leave my own. I can't even recall what they are, in one ear and out the other. But they're careful. I'm a very good actor, you see.

At least, I thought I was.

"Apparently, we have a Judas in our midst," Cas continued.

Damn. Boys and girls, here's a little advice from Uncle Balthazar: if someone brings up ol' Judas Iscariot and you happened to have lied to said someone recently, chances are you're about to find yourself in a far lot of trouble.

So I rambled. Shock, awe! I knew I wasn't pulling it off especially well. Who ever could it be? But Castiel's expression. . . This wasn't working. That much was obvious.

"What do you want me to do about Dean?" I finally asked.

A desperate excuse. Oh, yes, please send me after Dean Winchester—because then, maybe, I'd be able to talk the hairless ape into saving my ass as well.

"Nothing." Castiel turned from me. "I'll handle it myself."

And he would. By God, he would handle it.

Let me take a moment to go back to Castiel.

I love my brother. I really do. He is, after all, my inspiration. It was so easy to fall back into following his orders. So easy to believe he knew what the hell he was doing.

So I didn't want to believe bloody Winchester hearsay when they brought up purgatory and how my brother had big plans of becoming an active nuke. And yet I brushed it off, didn't deny it.

Because all the pieces fit together. Too perfectly. But that feeling, that betrayal, it wasn't there, not the way it was when I realized what Uriel's agenda had been all along. Instead, it was a sense of loss.

My brother Castiel, he taught me sacrifice.

This whole freedom thing, not quite what it's cracked up to be. Not just snorting crack and jumping on beds and hosting orgies beyond Hugh Heffner's wildest dreams. No, freedom has to be bought, even if you're powerful. Especially if you're an angel.

"Castiel, are you alright?"

This was the moment. No more games. I knew my brother loved me, but I also knew… See, I told you there was always a 'but,' didn't I?

"First Sam and Dean, and now this," Castiel said, his voice low. A constant rasp, full of emotion. And entirely too calm. "I'm doing my best… in impossible circumstances…" And my brother loved them even more, I realized. The humans. They were the reason, after all, the only real one. "My friends, they… abandon me… plot against me. It's difficult to understand."

Difficult. Yes. My eyes warily watched his tense back. I knew. I did. But I had to give him one more chance. One more chance to ask me. Just ask.

Cas, please.

"Well, you've always got little old me," I say, and I try to make it sound flippant and sincere at the same time. I achieve in making the declaration pathetic.

The next words my brother speaks come after. After the sword slips in. After my garbled breath of surprise. After the energy that was my existence rises like silver tears, ready to fade from my eyes:

"Yes, I'll always have you."

Talk about difficult to understand. The things people will do because they love.

"Cas?" I breath.

Especially when they love too much.

Looks like we little angels learned something from Lucifer, after all.

Was there a lesson there? Maybe for Castiel. I highly doubt it, though. He'll learn his after, I suppose. Because there will be an after. And there will be regret. And fear. And mourning.

For me, though? No, I didn't learn a bloody thing. I did, however, manage to put a lesson to good use.

See, my dear brother Gabriel—you'll recall what a fantastic teacher he was—left me with a little something else. A trick, if you will.

When you fake it, children, you've got to make it feel real. Even if that means blowing out every bit of energy you have left and leaving yourself weak as a kitten. Even if that means watching the pain on your brother's face turn to hate.

And once that's done… well, what's left to learn?

A moment of honor. I had mine. And I'm done with that.

The lesson, then…the lesson is this: after you finish watching your own sacrifice, disappear. And don't return. Honor is dead, even if you're not.

I think I'll go back to that "living" I was talking about. You should really try it some time. Hell, you bring the wine, and I'll bring the super models—we'll party like there's a new god in town.

End Notes: Ok—I have to tell you how creepy this was. I was in the shower a few moments ago, talking my way though this story (yes, this is common practice for me). I start to use Balthazar's "voice" to talk about Lucifer and suddenly the lights begin flickering. I pull back the curtain. All is well: no sound of looming thunder, no annoying brother trying to scare me. I start brainstorming once more and the lights flicker again. I was torn between being freaked out and letting a smile break my face in half—Balthazar lives, I tell ya! :D