Externally, the Doctor was frowning a very concerned frown. Internally, he was marveling over the fact that processed cow and soggy buns could taste exactly the same over any amount of distance or time, but externally he looked very serious.
"Castiel, what you're suggesting - changing the past - it can't be done." He pointed at the angel with one of his chips, which drooped a little. One thing he'd say about American chips - they were rubbish. Small and thin and droopy, not like the proper giant chips you'd find in England. Chips and tea, that was why he liked England best. "As I'm sure you already know."
"Angels are agents of fate," Castiel said, solemn as ever. It was a little impressive, that he could act so solemn while trying to figure out how a chicken nugget worked. "It's my understanding that the past cannot be changed because any changes made are reversed by the actions of angels."
The Doctor frowned. "No, not quite. Though there is an external force trying to keep the balance, it's not angels. Your lot may think it's angels, but even if all of you tried to change the past, it wouldn't stick." Castiel's expression kind of drooped a little, like the Doctor's chip, and he felt a twist of guilt in the bottom of his stomach. "Sorry." Though maybe that feeling was the bad chips?
Castiel shook his head. "It's fine. So long as the future isn't set in stone - "
" - technically, it is. But not set in stone by your brothers."
Castiel stared at the Doctor. It was quite the impressive stare, made the words kind of dry up in the back of his throat. Castiel continued, "So long as the future isn't set in stone, there is still hope." His face fell - just slightly, as with all of his expressions, but enough for the Doctor to notice. "However small a chance it may be, now that Dean has..."
Martha put a hand over Castiel's comfortingly. He looked down at it, brow furrowed, and didn't move. When Martha looked to the Doctor for confirmation or denial that she was committing some kind of angelic faux pas, all he could do was shrug. He hadn't known they existed before today, after all - how was he to know if they had some kind of skin contact phobia?
She removed her hand, and said, "I'm sorry about your friend."
Castiel shrugged, and nodded. "He gave up. There's nothing more I can do about that."
On that somewhat depressing note, they returned to their food.
Once all the chips were gone, and Castiel figured out which of the four sauces he liked best (sweet chili), they left the restaurant, each lost in their own thoughts.
When they reached the TARDIS, there was an awkward moment where it looked like Castiel was determined to just leave them here and go off on his own again. Before he could fly off, the Doctor grabbed his arm and said, "None of that, Castiel. You're coming with us."
Castiel frowned. "Why - "
"Well, A: your flesh and blood may be alright, but that bit that makes you an angel isn't all there yet, now is it? Two: I told you Martha and I were going to help you, and we are. And B: because I said so." With that said, and a firm tug (and a push from Martha, who Castiel seemed less likely to ignore), they got the angel inside the TARDIS.
He was still frowning. "I think you numbered that list incorrectly."
"Did I?" The Doctor thought about it. A, two, B, C, three... "Maybe," he said. "But that's hardly the point."
"What is the point?"
With a twist of some knobs and a tug on some ropes, and a lever or two adjusted, the Doctor got the TARDIS moving. He smiled at the familiar whirring sound, and said, "The point is, we're helping you."
Martha, clinging to the console, asked, "So, where are we going?" She frowned. "Castiel?"
He was curled in a ball, clinging to one of the coral-colored supports. "I don't like this," he said. "I feel... very uncomfortable."
The Doctor scoffed. "That's what you get, time-traveling without a proper time-traveling ship! You get time-sick the first time you travel in style." Castiel groaned. "Relax," the Doctor said. "It'll pass in a few minutes." He adjusted some more levers, to assure that they wouldn't be traveling too far temporally, then turned to Martha. "You have a point.
"Castiel, where are we going?"
Still groaning, Castiel muttered, "Bobby Singer. Sioux Falls, South Dakota."
Adjusting a few more dials, the Doctor shouted, "Right, then. We're off!" Castiel groaned louder as the shaking increased. The Doctor didn't see what he was complaining about; compared to some of his other landings, this one was downright smooth.
He peeked outside the moment the dust cleared, and threw open the door when he saw the name on the sign above the salvage yard. "This the place?" he asked as Castiel stumbled out the door, clinging to the blue-painted wood. Castiel looked up at the sign, and visibly sagged with relief.
"Thank you, Doctor."
"Any time." He and Martha stood in the doorway of the TARDIS and watched the angel walk past the towers of cars, approaching the house at the back of the property.
"Ooh, hang on!" the Doctor said, racing back inside. He climbed down under the grating, grabbed an old chest and sorted through its innards, until he found what he was looking for. He tossed his prize up to a surprised Martha, who caught it. "Read the last few pages of that, would you?" he asked as he climbed back up. "I have a hunch."
Flipping through the book to the end, Martha frowned at the American spelling but began reading, her expression and tone growing more incredulous as she read. "How Castiel made his way back to Bobby's, no one would ever know. But, miraculously, he turned up there a month after he first disappeared, looking almost completely back to normal.
"The first time he saw Dean again was awkward, to say the least. Castiel was climbing up the stairs of Bobby's house, and Dean was coming outside to drink and watch the sunset. They stared at each other for a long, long moment, until the sound of Dean's bottle of beer smashing on the porch pushed them into action.
"Dean stepped closer to the friend he'd thought was lost, not sure what he was going to do. Castiel stepped closer to the friend he'd been sure was lost, and punched him with an impressive right straight. Dean stumbled back from the not-insignificant force, but managed to not fall over. He only came close to being knocked over when Castiel hugged him and refused to let go, cursing Dean out all the while.
"Dean fell back against the door, swearing, and hugged back just as tight.
"Sam found them out there a minute later, and was torn between laughing at them and joining in." Martha stopped reading. "Doctor, what is this book?"
"Shh," he said, and motioned for her to come back to the door of the TARDIS. In the distance, he could still see two figures wrapped up in each other - one wearing a tan trenchcoat, and the other a dark blue plaid.
Martha stared at the figures, then at the book in her hands. Handling it like it was something incredibly delicate, she passed it back to the Doctor. He flipped through the pages idly, and said, "The reason why a book becomes popular sometimes gets lost in the passage of time. There I was, thinking twenty-first century readers had no taste, and now I find out Mr. Edlund here was some sort of biographer for these boys, writing down their adventures and passing it off as fiction."
He walked back into the TARDIS with a small grin on his face. This day had been full of surprises. He flicked on one of the consule screens and blinked, several times. Look at that, even more surprises than he'd expected.
"So," Martha said, approaching the consule. "How are we going to help them?"
"As it turns out," the Doctor said, staring at a screen he'd just turned on. "We're not."
He turned the screen towards Martha. Her jaw dropped. "You are."
On the screen, a familiar face labeled Dr. Martha (something conveniently covered by the Doctor's hand)-Jones was warning the British public about safety during these dangerous times. She recommended several procedures both the Doctor and Martha recognized from what Castiel had told them earlier.
"See," the Doctor said, grinning smugly. "I knew you were going to be great." He tilted the screen back towards himself and flicked it off.
"Hang on," Martha said suddenly. "There was a hyphen before my name."
"I suppose there was," the Doctor said, scratching the back of his neck.
"I took somebody else's name."
"I suppose you did."
"Then, in 2010 - in two years - I'm married?"
"It appears so."
Martha frowned. "I hyphenated my name? I never wanted to do that."
"Maybe it's a good name," the Doctor suggested, smiling to himself. "The right good name, you might want to have it attached to yours."
"Oh, I don't know... Smith?" The Doctor grinned. Martha narrowed her eyes.
"You know something, don't you?"
"Me?" the Doctor's grin turned innocent. "Not a thing."
"Liar! Tell me!" Laughing, the Doctor dodged Martha's attempts to catch him, and started up the TARDIS's engines to take them somewhere else. Outside, Sam Winchester was just finding his brother clinging to an angel, and wondering whether to laugh, leave them be, or ask for a hug of his own.
Relatively speaking, all was well.