But he's not falling, really. It's not so simple. This is not a trip down the stairs or a stumble out the door. Those are petty, those mean nothing.
He's not falling. He's hurtling towards the ground at the speed of a comet, he's on fire. Everything is a blur of black and gold and burning blue. He screams-
Just before he hits the ground he hears Dean's frantic prayer, "Castiel!"
But then all sound fades from his mind and his wings snap forward, back, tear-
Castiel doesn't have enough breath in his lungs to scream, his agony is a mental ripple of pure, angelic sound that echoes the cries pounding through his mind. He screams, and he screams and he screams.
Something snaps inside him, a tearing pull-
And darkness rushes up to meet him.
The first thing he notices when he wakes is the silence.
His head is clear and completely still. No screams echo in his mind, no, prayers. Slowly, he pulls himself into a standing position. There's wetness on his cheeks and for half a second, half a blissful, wonderful second, he doesn't remember why.
The wind howls.
It's not the kind of howl a thunderstorm would produce, and then he remembers.
No. No, no, no, no
They're all falling. Falling, like he fell, burning comets shooting towards the sky. His brother's and sister's, every single one...
He wants to fall to his knees and sob, wants to hide from the world because it's his fault. Everything, everything that has happened is because of his mistakes. But he doesn't kneel, he doesn't fall. He stands, tall and straight with the wind whipping the tears from his cheeks and he almost wishes he could hear his siblings scream. The terrible, empty silence is worse.
At first Dean thinks he is imagining the voice.
It's been two hours since he saw the angels falling and finally convinced Sammy to go to the ER.
"Dean, they can't fix me."
Dean had shot his little brother a glare because the images of Sam gasping for air in his arms was still fresh in his mind. "Humor me, Sammy."
I've got you little brother. You're gonna be just fine.
Now Dean leans against the back of his car in the hospital parking lot, because he has nowhere else to go, and waits. He can't sleep, he's to goddamn jumpy, and besides, there's really no point in sleeping when heaven's entire population is falling from the sky, and his little brother is tossing and turning and on oxygen in the bed upstairs.
Sam, you're damaged in ways even I can't heal.
Had Cas fallen too? Dean had screamed for the angel, prayed like he never had before, and-
At first, Dean thinks he is imagining it. He must be imagining it, because how can Cas be here, if-
And there is Castiel, his trench coat ripped and filthy, hair a rumpled mess, eyes narrowed to blue slits rimmed with red. He's been crying?
"Cas." Dean doesn't know what to say. He clears his throat, a little awkwardly. "Cas, I-"
"How is Sam?" Castiel moves towards him, and Dean blinks. There is something fundamentally different about his friend now, something new and alien and strange, but he can't place it.
"He's um," Dean's throat tightens, but he curls his hands into fists and pushes through, "He's alive. They aren't really sure what to do with him, to be honest, but I didn't know-" He breaks the sentence off before the tears start.
"Dean." Cas's voice is different too. There is a strain in it that Dean has never heard before. An ache. Something. "Dean, I-"
"You alright man?" The angel, fallen angel, whatever, is shaking. His hands are clenched into fists, head bowed, chest rising and falling with rapid and growing intensity. In the span of only a few seconds his gasps are harsh and audible to Dean's ears. "Cas?"
Dean barely has time to jump forward and catch him when Cas's knees buckle.
The sudden weight pulls them both to the ground. Dean just doesn't have the strength to hold them both up anymore after everything that's happened tonight, he doesn't know if he will ever have that strength after carrying Sammy in his arms, but he tightens his grip on Cas as his friend goes limp in his arms.
"I can't, I can't-" Castiel's whispering soft, frantic words, spitting them out between his choking, dry sobs.
"Shh, okay, man, okay..." Dean clenches his fingers into the back of the familiar trench coat. "We're gonna work this out, Cas. Okay? We always do." He hasn't forgotten how mad he is at Cas, or how all of this is the angels fault. Because, like Sam had said, this was Cas. This was Dean's best friend, really his only friend left in the world, and all of those angry words can be said later.
"I can't, Dean, I can't-" Castiel's soft whispers are growing louder, becoming shouts.
"Shh, Shh," Dean hisses, before worried hospital attendee's come out to see what the commotion is, "you can't what, Cas?"
Abruptly, the angel tenses in Dean's arms, his whole body going rigid. When he speaks, his voice is clear.
"I can't feel my wings."
A heartbeat of silence.
Castiel's breath comes out in a terrible hitch, and then he is howling. Howling like a wild animal, and all Dean can do is grip him tighter as the fallen angel thrashes in his arms. "Easy, Cas, easy-"
"I can't feel my wings, Dean. I can't, I can't, I can't-" The wails have quieted to breathless sobs.
Dean wonders for a brief moment if any of this is actually happening, or if it is somehow another dimension of dream state or if he's simply hallucinating. He's never seen Castiel like this. Never imagined he would ever see him this broken and defeated.
"He took my Grace," Castiel sobs wildly into Dean's shoulder, "he cut me and chained me and took it away. And my wings, my wings-"
"They burned?" Dean asks, making the words as gentle as possible, but they still come out harsher than he intends.
Cas nods. "My brother's and sister's, it's all my fault, Dean. Everything."
Dean doesn't know what to say to that. He cradles the broken angel in his arms, looks at the sky, and wonders if the star shooting across the sky is angel or something else entirely.
Looking across the brightly lit parking lot and the wailing ambulance lights racing into the driveway, he knows he'll find out soon enough.
And even though he told Cas that they'd figure something out, told Sammy that everything was going to be fine, he knows it's not.
So, just this one time, he lets himself cry, while their whole world comes crashing down around them in the form of burning angel feathers.