Notes: Welcome to the next story! Thanks to all of you that have stuck with me so far! There were two script versions of this episode, each with different flashbacks. I liked both versions, so I decided to just integrate them both! Hope you like!
20 Years Ago
A young Balthazar sits on the couch doing his homework for advanced physics. He didn't know why someone going into a business like his father's would ever need to learn this goh se, but he wanted to get a good grade anyway to please Father. He was a good son. His thoughts are disrupted as the couch suddenly is bumped hard from behind, making Balthazar's pen scratch over his paper messily.
Heaving a great sigh Balthazar glances behind the couch to see Castiel giggling after running into it, at least that's what he assumed had happened.
"What are you doing Cassy?" He asks patiently. He could never be angry with his little brother.
"We're in big trouble! We're cut off!" Castiel tries to whisper, but in his excited state it comes out more like a loud squeak.
Balthazar puts on a concerned face indulgently, "Cut off from what?"
Cassy rolls his eyes like he couldn't understand how his brother could be so clueless, "From our platoon, Balth! The whole Garrison! We got outflanked by Hunters and we're never gonna make it back to our platoon….We need to resort to cannibalism." He finishes solemnly.
Balthazar raises his eyebrows, "Well that escalated quickly. Don't we have rations or anything?" He asked playing along.
"They got lost. So we're gonna have to eat the men."
This pulls another smile from Balthazar, "Don't you have some homework due tomorrow? A book report perhaps?"
Cassy sighs dramatically, "I read that book when I was four. I can write that report in my sleep."
"Well that's your fault for reading every book available in the library that you are tall enough to reach….which is like a third. I still can't believe you actually tried reading the dictionary."
"How else would I learn what erinaceous means?!" Castiel says seriously. That makes Balthazar laugh. He looks down at his own homework and frowns before sliding it off his lap and onto the floor. This seemed a lot more worth his time than gravity. He turned to his little brother, ready to play along with the game.
"Okay, so how did the Hunters cut us off?" He asked curiously.
Castiel seems to consider this before answering, "They were using dinosaurs!"
…..okay… "Alright….so are we running or fighting?"
Castiel's answer was to squeal in laughter, jumping off the couch and darting out of the room, Balthazar following behind. The pealed around the house laughing happily. Their noise seemed to draw Gabriel from his own studying as he suddenly grabbed at Castiel as he ran past, picked him up and swung him around with the amount of momentum the little guy was packing.
Castiel pretended to fly for that small moment.
"Whoa kids, where's the fire?" Gabriel asks, trying not to smile.
"We're running from dinosaurs!" Informed Castiel happily, like running from dinosaurs was the best thing that could happen. Balthazar shrugged behind them, trying to catch his breath from the run.
Gabriel picks up the game quickly, "Oh well then you should be careful then! You almost stepped on that fish there! I hear there are some big plans for that fish." He whispers to Castiel like it was some big secret.
Castiel giggles behind his hands.
Gabriel hates to break up this moment and wants nothing more than to play with his brothers for the rest of the day, but their father had left them instructions for the night, and it was his duty as the older brother to deliver the message and see it done. There had to be some way for him to not ruin the game though….
"Hey guys! I just heard from our Commander. He has a mission for us!"
"What is it!?" Asks Castiel in amazed wonder.
"You need to complete a report on a certain scroll by tomorrow that can help us cast a spell on the Hunters, and Balthazar needs to figure out the trajectory we need to deliver that message! If we finish in time then our reward is paradise and ice cream." Gabriel informed them. Balthazar rolled his eyes, but didn't say anything that would ruin the illusion for Castiel.
"The Commander wants me to write a book report?" he asked, his face scrunched up.
"Yup! And then you get ice cream!" Balthazar said, backing up the new story line, just as eager to keep the game going.
Castiel looked at them and rolled his eyes, "I'm not stupid guys. Ice cream wasn't around when the dinosaurs were."
10 Years Ago
"Cassy! Congratulations! I just heard the news from Joshua. Job well done I say."
Castiel smiles shyly, "It's not a big deal, Balthazar. It's just a diploma, you have one after all."
Balthazar grins anyway, "But you're my baby brother. Anything you do above tie your own shoes is a grand accomplishment in my book. Now let's plan a party for you to commemorate your graduation…"
"Not much of a party, I hardly know anyone," Castiel reminds his brother, rolling his eyes.
"Then I'll just call some of my friends as fillers!"
"Your friends don't like me much. They call me a stiff." Castiel looked at Balthazar with sad eyes. It made Balthazar's heart clench too think about how lonely his brother was. Gabriel had left over a year ago for the special training program and they hadn't heard from him for a while. Probably too busy to pick up a pen to write his brothers. And their Father was also quite busy since they hadn't heard from him for a long time as well, but that was nothing new.
What was new was that Balthazar also wasn't around much anymore. Without Gabriel keeping him in line, or their father spouting orders or sending projects for them, Balthazar had started to drift off to fill his time with alcohol, women, and any type of rebellion that he could get his hands on. Cassy seemed to be the only one who was trying to keep the family together.
He reached out to hold on to Castiel's shoulders and looked him in the eye, "Okay, how about this. You and me go out to that artery clogger you call a restaurant and order you that greasy monstrosity you love so much. How's that sound?"
Castiel looked like he considered it a moment, "Okay." He answered, a small smile forming on his lips.
Half hour later Balthazar was trying to clean a spot on the sticky table in front of them so that he could rest his arms without getting stuck there. Cassy was happily munching on his burger and fries, his jaw seeming to magically open wide enough for the ridiculously large sandwich. He paused long enough to look up at Balthazar and smile.
"These make me…very happy."
"I noticed," Balthazar said dryly. He tried to start in on his own meal, but after a few fries he tried to wipe off the accumulated grease on a napkin, only to see it made the thin paper completely transparent. Appetite lost, he pushed the basket of food away.
"Are you going to finish that?" Asks Castiel, mouth still partially full from the last bite of his own burger. Balthazar just shook his head and pushed the basket towards his little brother.
"You are starting to eat like Gabriel did when he was a teenager." He remarked.
Cas stopped eating for a moment and the happy look disappeared from his face, "Well, I'm still a teenager myself. I don't have to worry about my figure, unlike you." He tried to joke, but Balthazar could see that bringing up Gabe had dampened the mood. He was about to apologize when his brother spoke again.
"Do…do you think if we asked Gabriel in a letter, that he might come back for the graduation ceremony?" He asked timidly.
Balthazar opened and closed his mouth a few times before answering, "Cassy, I'm sure he is really busy. That's why he hasn't had time to talk with us. If he doesn't have time to reach us, then I really don't think he can come back here. Even for his favorite baby brother." He reached across the table to rustle Castiel's hair like Gabe used to do, but it didn't look like it helped at all.
"What about Father?"
Jeez, it seemed like Cassy was trying to rip out Balthazar's heart tonight.
"Listen Cassy, you need to think about your future now. Not worry about our brother or father. You have a very bright and promising future ahead of you, I know it."
Castiel finally looks up at his brother and smiles again.
"No! No! I don't want to! Let go of me! Don't touch me!"
"Cas…Castiel, it's okay. Just calm…" Gabriel pleaded.
"It's not okay! You can't just dig into my body, rip me out and replace it with what you want!"
"What? Castiel I don't understand. Listen, why don't you just come with me to your room then, yeah? We can talk with Fern."
"I don't want to talk! I just want everyone to stop telling me all is fine when the sky is spiraling down!"
Sam and Dean walked in to the room to see Gabriel struggling with an irate Cas.
"Um, hey Gabe. Cas." Dean greeted awkwardly.
"Hiya Cap. Sorry about the noise, just trying to get Cas here to calm down a bit. He kept Balthazar up all last night with this. I took over so that he could get some sleep."
"What is this?" Sam asked. Gabe didn't answer, he just shook his head and tried to put his hand on Castiel's shoulder, who immediately brushed it off with a whine.
"Stop touching me! It hurts…." Dean frowned at that.
"Cas, you okay man?" Dean asked concerned. Cas looked at him hard, walked forward to Dean and Sam, stumbling a little. He got up real close to the Captain and wiggled his finger to Dean to lean in closer, once he was a few inches away Cas whispered in his ear.
"Don't ask stupid questions."
It was then that Dean and Sam caught a whiff of Cas, smelling like he had bathed in alcohol.
"Dude, are you…drunk?" Sam asked incredulously.
Cas then turned to regard Sam offended, "No!" then after a beat a reluctant, "Yes."
Gabe shook his head and moved to sit down at the table, rubbing the bridge of his nose. Dean couldn't look away from the inebriated Cas.
"What happened to you man?" He asked.
Cas let out a little hiccup, "I found Bobby's liquor store."
"And?" Sam prompted.
Cas made a lovely impression of one of Sam's bitch faces, "I drank it!" He answered angrily. Dean had heard enough.
"Okay, let's get you cleaned up. We'll be back in a few minutes Gabriel." And Dean steered Castiel away.
Sam walked over to where the pilot was seated and placed a warm hand on his shoulder in comfort and squeezed.
"You okay?" He asked gently.
Sam sighed, "What set him off? Do you know?"
Gabriel glanced up, "Balthazar and I talked to Cas about out Father last night. We told him something that didn't sit well it seems….I should have just kept my mouth shut." He lowered his head to the table, completely exhausted. He had never known how tiring it could be to watch over Cas. Balthazar had been doing it most of the time since they came to the Impala so Gabriel had never known the stress that came with it. His respect for Balthazar went up several notches.
"He'll work through it eventually. Dean's got him for a few minutes. Just relax."
Sam started to rub at Gabe's shoulders, feeling the smaller man become pliant beneath him and the tense muscles soften.
"I can't believe you went and got trashed! That is no way to deal with whatever has been bothering you." Dean scolded as he tried to wrestle Cas out of the smelly shirt.
"You do it." Cas reminded him sourly.
This caught Dean off guard. It was true. "Yeah, well I'm not the best role model." Dean confessed. He was mentally berating himself for introducing Cas to alcohol in the first place. They finally pried the shirt off and Dean was looking for another clean shirt among the pile of clothes that was dumped on Cas' unused bed. Picking out a light blue one he tosses it to Cas who caught it and stared at it, not making a move to get dressed.
"You gonna stare at it, or wear it?"
"He's gone." Cas whispered.
Dean frowned concerned, "Who?"
Cas looked up, his eyes looking red, "My Father."
Oh. Dean wasn't sure how to respond to that. Apparently their talk about dad's back on Lawrence had triggered something. Cas slowly started to pull on the shirt. Once it was on he rounded on the mirror behind him and drove his fist into it, smashing the mirror into a thousand pieces."
Dean rushed forward, "What the fuck Cas?!" He grabbed Cas' hand to inspect the damage done there. He saw blood swelling up in the hundreds of little cuts, but before he could do anything for them Cas wrenched his hand back.
"He left us Dean! He left me to rot in that place!" He cried out, flinging his hand out for emphasis and sent blood splattering on the wall.
"I know he took off Cas, and I'm sorry about that but there is nothing you can do about it." Dean said sternly, trying to get Cas to stay still so that he could start pulling out the shards that had embedded themselves in his fist.
"He knew. He knew we were there, but he left anyway. Started cooking a meal, but left it one the counter to get cold and moldy, unfit for consumption. How sickening. Perhaps he saw the monstrosity and was too disturbed to look upon it again. His wine became poisonous…"
Dean was trying to follow what Cas was saying as he pulled out the glass piece by piece. He was confused by why this was so upsetting to Cas. From what he gathered the Novak's father had never really been around to begin with, these abandonment issues were nothing new to Cas, so why was he freaking so badly right now?
He grabbed one of the older shirts from the pile on Cas' bed and ripped it up into strips to use a bandage until they could get to the infirmary, but when he turned back to put it on Cas, he saw that all of the cuts were gone. Seems that Cas could heal himself too, thought Dean absently.
"Yeah, I know it sucks man, but you don't have to go smashing mirrors. That's seven years bad luck," he told Cas.
"Without bad luck we would have no luck at all," mumbled Cas darkly.
"Jeez Cas, you aren't going to win over many hearts with that sparkling personality." Dean told him sternly.
Cas regarded him with a less than impressed look, "Personalities don't sparkle, Dean."
"Is everything okay in here? I told Gabe I would check on you two when you didn't come back right away." Sam's concerned voice came from above the ladder.
"We're fine Sam, just a little accident with a mirror, but everything is fine now. I'll send Cas up now." Dean turned to the somber young man and motioned with his head for Cas to head up and back to Gabe. Cas complied, but not without a dirty look first and then he moved up the ladder. Dean followed him out of the room but stopped to address Sam.
Once Cas was out of earshot Dean turned to Sam.
"Okay, I know you talked to Gabriel. Any idea what set Cas off?" Dean asked.
Sam sighed heavily, "Yeah, I got it out of him, but it took a while and I'm pretty sure that I didn't get the whole story yet. It looks like while Gabriel was at the Host, he found out that their father was one of the sponsors for the "program". But what Balthazar dug up a few years later was even worse. He wasn't just a sponsor, he was practically the creator of it! All of the funding came from him and he chose who ran the thing." Sam informed him sounding horrified at the idea that their father was capable of starting such a travesty.
Dean was also feeling a little sick, "So he allowed his first born to attend that "program"? And then didn't lift a finger when Cas got involved?"
Sam nodded sadly, "That's what it looks like."
"Jeez, no wonder Cas is so pissed. I would have gone and gotten drunk too." Mumbled Dean.
"Yeah well, you have the emotional maturity of a fetus. Cas is going to take a while to process this and alcohol won't solve anything." Sam said looking pointedly at Dean. Looks like Sam figured out who introduced Cas to Bobby's liquor, thought Dean guiltily.
"Well all the best to Gabriel then. Balthazar is likely to sleep for the next few hours and I have a delivery to make. Can you go let Gabe know that I need him to land us on the planet?"
"Actually, he's got his hands full with Cas, so I offered to land us this time," said Sam awkwardly.
"You can do that now?" Dean asked surprised.
"Yeah, Gabriel has been teaching me a lot and I've sat in on enough landings to do it myself, so we should be fine." Dean nodded, seemingly satisfied. And with that, Dean headed off to the hold and Sam moved to the control room. It was time for work.
Woooo! That was a long one! On to the next one!