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One Heart

Chapter Text

The Doctor stood in front of his box, leaning lightly on the blue door. Eddies of brown dust swirled around his feet, and the wind tugged at his jacket. He was almost completely still- a rarity. Only his eyes moved as he took in this new place, a crossroads in a quiet corner of some unknown state, where the only sound at this time of night was the wind in the pines and the soft clicking of the far-off cicadas, sitting in the trees across the fields. The moon was hiding behind slight wisps of cloud, not enough to shed complete darkness, but almost.

The Doctor sighed. A heart wrenching sadness was in his eyes, though they were dry- for now. He knew that he couldn’t keep it together forever. He was alone again, and so old. So tired.

He patted the box tenderly, and walked shakily into the middle of the crossroads. Bending down slowly, he dug a hole in the dirt with his hands, and placed a package wrapped in brown sacking and tied with string. It looked like a gift, but the Doctor knew that if this went the way he wanted, he’d be one receiving the favour.

He stayed on his knees for a few seconds, his eyes shut tight. His heart had begun to beat so hard that he could hear it. He placed his hands on his chest, as if that would help. When he felt able, he reached forward and pushed the dug up dirt over the hole, now filled with the offering, and smoothed it over. He stood and stared in the middle distance for a moment before turning around.

He saw nothing but his box.

What?

Was this right? He’d been told it was instant, but this seemed wrong. He didn’t want to think about what he would do if it was.

And then suddenly, a cough came from behind him, where he’d just been looking.

He spun around and saw a man, shorter than him and dressed in a plain but expensive looking charcoal suit, standing there casually with his hands in his trouser pockets.

“Oh,” said the Doctor. “I expected you to be...” he floundered for a moment, waving a hand vaguely in front of him.

“Taller?” the man finished for him, bemused.

“Yeah,” he replied, standing still again and looking at the man with a mixture of wonder and nervousness in his expression. How had this man managed to arrive so suddenly, without a sound or a warning? It made the Doctor uneasy. Nothing new, though. When things made him uneasy he knew exactly what to do with them.

“Stop that,” the man scolded.

He put the screwdriver away.

“You’re a demon,” he said. “You’re a demon, and you just came from... from...”

“It’s better if you don’t think about it,” he said. “You can call me Crowley. Names might make this easier, I think.”

“Crowley... the demon.”

The man shrugged and huffed slightly, though he clearly wasn’t exactly itching to get going. His eyes had been studying the Doctor- his odd clothes, his floppy hair, his young yet old face, the strange pen that made the loud alien noise- since he’d arrived. Or appeared. From nowhere.

He seemed about to start flailing again so the demon- Crowley- stopped him by saying, “you’re not human either, are you? You’re something else.”

“Oh, I’m something else.”

Crowley raised his eyebrows.

“I’m a Time Lord.”

Nothing.

“From Gallifrey?”

“What now?”

“It is... was, my home. My planet. It’s gone now,” he admonished, and the sadness in his old eyes deepened.

“This is all very touching, er, what was your name?”

“Just call me the Doctor.”

“Yes, well I am sure you’d love to give me your little sob story right now but we have to, as they say, get down to business. I’m a busy man. The only reason I’m here right now is because you interest me. You’re different.”

The Doctor scratched absently at his elbow. Now, that he knew already.

Crowley suddenly noticed the blue box across the road. He leaned slightly to the left, his eyes narrowing.

“What is that?”

“That’s my spaceship,” he said slowly, watching for Crowley’s reaction.

Crowley nodded. Of course it was.

“So, what can I do for you, Doctor?”

The Doctor looked past Crowley, up at the cloudy night sky. There were no stars visible. Just dark grey shapes and the muted shine of the moon. How many worlds up there, just a few million miles away, had he saved? He’d done so much, saved so many people. But he hadn’t saved her. His best friend, his companion.

“You have to bring her back,” he said softly.

“Sorry? Didn’t catch that.”

“Bring her back. Bring back Amy Pond. Please.”

“You’re here to bargain your soul for a girl? Touching.”

“She’s not just a girl, alright? She’s... she’s my girl.”

“Your girlfriend? Wife?” his eyes smiled a little. “Lover?”

“No,” he said, frustrated. “She was supposed to stay! And she left me! She left me like they all do and I want her back. I need her back. She can’t leave. They all leave...”

Crowley listened to this strange being trip up and over all his words, stringing his sentences together with such an angry urgency that Crowley rocked back on his heels a little, uneasy. But at whom was he angry, exactly? It wasn’t often that Crowley wondered at the story behind his clients’ wishes. Usually, in fact, they were pretty simple. Oh, I want you to cure my illness, make me the best violinist, help me win an Oscar- all quite straight forward, all quite selfish.

“People leave,” he taunted. “Get over it.”

“She didn’t want to go. She died.”

“People die too.”

“Are you going to help me or not?” he suddenly shouted. And then, even more suddenly, he took off his thick brown jacket and threw it aside, shrugged the red suspenders off of his shoulders, loosened his deep blue bowtie and undid a few button of his shirt, revealing the top of his pale, hairless chest. He walked over to Crowley and grabbed his hand, placing it over his heart. Crowley felt it beating, hard and fast and strong as a drumbeat, so aggressive he swore his hand jumped a little.

“Do you feel that?” the Doctor said softly, slightly dangerously. “One heart. That’s all I have now. One heart, and it certainly doesn’t make anything any easier,” his voice rose. “I miss her more than anything, and I can’t handle it. She’s a human! Just a girl! Just some Scottish girl whose garden I crashed in one night, and I love her too much to let her simply... go, like that.” He dropped Crowley hand as tears welled up in his eyes, spilling over onto his cheeks. “She wasn’t supposed to... they... they took her from me. They took her and they killed her.” He sobbed into his hands, wracked with grief and pain and guilt.

Crowley hadn’t moved during his outburst except to blink several times in quick succession as the Doctor had seized him. Awkwardly, he put a hand on the other man’s shoulder, and squeezed. It felt odd, but right. He didn’t want to a make a deal with a sobbing wreck. It made everything seem so pitiful.

“I will help you. For a price, and not a small one either.”

“That’s fine, I don’t care.”

He really didn’t. Let this demon take all he had. He just wanted her back again.

“Before we do that though-“ the Doctor looked up sharply- “I have one question. What happened to her, exactly?”

“Oh, do we really have to go over this?” he sniffed.

“I would like to know.”

“Amy was my companion. We travelled together for a long, long time. We ran into some bad people, bad things... and she died. I couldn’t save her in time.” The tears threatened to start again, so he pressed his palms to his eyes, hard, trying to keep them in. “What is it you want from me?” he said thickly. “I’ll give you anything.”

“Oh, you already know what I want. What you really want to know is, how much time with her will it give you?” Crowley watched the Doctor carefully as he stared into his eyes. He flicked his own over to black, and the Doctor flinched.

“Because you know, you’re special. I think we can make a very, very good deal here, don’t you? Your soul would make a nice addition to my collection.”
“And just how many souls do you have?”

“Oh, a lot. You wouldn’t believe, or maybe you would, just how selfish humans are. And Time Lords, apparently.” He grinned, and his eyes flicked back again.

“She was young, demon. She didn’t deserve to go, she was meant to stay with me!” He was shouting again, and he didn’t care. “Let’s just get it over with, alright?”

“Fine. You give me your soul, and I’ll give you ten years.”

“Ten years?” the Doctor blinked. “Is that all? Ten piddling years for a Time Lord soul? You’re ridiculous.”

“Ten years is a long time-“

“No, it’s not. Nine hundred years is a long time. I need more.”

“Selfish and greedy. Great combination, really. I’m impressed. You’ve far exceeded my expectations of you, Time Lord.”

He received no response. The Doctor was simply looking at him. He crossed his arms over his thin chest, and suddenly Crowley felt rather smaller than usual.

What was this man doing? He’d made Crowley interested in him, then he’d shot down his offer. Made him want his soul, then blatantly told him he couldn’t have it. Pardon him, but it wasn’t fair.

Crowley thought for a moment. This man was very old. Not as old as Crowley of course, but close. Usually a crossroads demon’s offer depends on the person’s age, what they want and how good- or bad- their souls are. Because the badder the better, and, oh my, this man’s soul had been very, very naughty...

He named his price, and the Doctor’s eyebrows shot up into his fringe. Crowley considered that this was the highest offer he’d ever made, and it was probably worth it, because this was one of the strangest and most interesting people he’d ever met, by a mile.

“Fine.”

“Wh- fine? Really?”

“Yes, fine, bring her back now.”

“Woah, tiger. We’re not done.”

Incredulous, the Doctor said “I just gave you my soul, what more do you want from me?”

“Oh, it’s just one tiny thing. A formality, really, but a necessary one,” he grinned. “I just need... a little kiss.”

After a moment’s indecision, the Doctor shrugged, and took Crowley’s face in his hands and kissed him, hard. Crowley shut his eyes in response and kissed him back, holding the Doctor’s arms in place, pulling him forward, imprisoning him. His feet shuffled on the ground. The Doctor’s kiss was aggressive, perhaps because he was so eager for the deal to be done.

Finally Crowley let go, and the Doctor stepped away. He held his arms out wide and said, “there!” like a small child who’s just completed what he feels to be an unnecessary task.

Crowley stood still, a little in shock. It wasn’t often that one of his clients attacked him like that... but he wasn’t sure he was complaining.
He smirked and said simply, “done.”

The Doctor heard a click behind him.

The TARDIS door.

Footsteps on the gravel behind him, hands on his waist and a voice with a Scottish lilt in his ear. The wind blew wisps of red hair around his face, and he closed his eyes in relief. “Hello, Doctor.”

“Amy,” he breathed.

And when he opened his eyes again, Crowley was gone.

Chapter Text

Amy steps out of the TARDIS, squinting in the sunlight. Once again, she and the Doctor have essentially dropped out of the sky, into some unknown country, on some unknown planet, and- wait.

"Doctor," she says. "Are we still on Earth?"

He's standing a few feet away with his hands on his hips, grinning at the trees.

"Yep! Still Earth! Don't know why; I'm sure she has a good reason though."

Amy knows that by 'she' he means the blue Police Box behind them, parked smack bang in the middle of a grassy field on the outskirts of an ordinary Earth town.

"We're in America," he says. "Close to your time, too." He takes his screwdriver out of his coat pocket and points it straight down between his feet. His eyebrows furrow a little, and though Amy doesn't know it, he's wondering exactly why they've been dropped just a few years and a few hundred miles away from the location of his last visit.

"It's the year 2009. We're somewhere in Texas, I think." He puts the screwdriver up to his ear and shakes it up and down. "That's odd. Something's interfering with the sonic."

He looks at her and shrugs, then grins and says, "I guess we'd better find out why."

She smiles back, but something seems off about his mood. Something between sad and concerned, though he's trying hard to cover it up. She knows him too well to fall for his facade.

There's been something off for the last couple days, actually. It's not just now that she's noticed the shift. She's also quite sure that she's missing a small chunk of her memory. Last night she dreamed of a bright white light, a shout of horror and then a strange ringing silence. She woke up scared, and didn't know why.

Amy notes that it's getting dark already. The golden glow of the sun is bright, but it's sinking over the horizon and she can tell that they have maybe an hour until full dark. She's about to mention this to the Doctor when suddenly a thin, wavering scream floats through the air. It's the sound of someone who's been screaming for a long time, and that frightens her more than she can say. Of course, the moment they hear it he's spinning around on the spot, trying to figure out where it came from, and then running clumsily away towards it.

And by now she knows better than to try and stop him, so she follows. Soon they emerge onto a dusty back road, close to what looks like a power station. A few wooden houses, with dry front yards and closed curtains, flank the sidewalks. There's no one around save for a creepy looking blackbird and a plethora of mosquitoes, which Amy brushes irritably away.

She shivers, and watches as the Doctor points his screwdriver every which way until the noise starts to stutter and cough, and they carry on, saying nothing, in that direction.

Sitting on a knoll of dead grass and purple-flowered thistle is a brown house, not unlike every other house on the street. There's something off about it though. They stand in front of it, the Doctor tapping his screwdriver with his palm as it continues to stutter.

"Are we going in there?" she says. She's not sure why, but this house gives her the creeps.

He frowns; he feels it too. Though the sinking sun is bright and warm, and the air is quite humid, he feels the chill in his bones and the cold flush rising in his cheeks. The hand holding the screwdriver starts to tremble, and for the first time in a long time he finds himself wanting to turn back. The TARDIS, sitting merely metres away, offers safety and warmth, while this place just feels wrong.

"We're going in, Pond. Old Sexy bought us here for a reason; we have to trust her judgement."

Amy lets out a little sigh and shoots him a sideways look. She knows how much he loves his "Sexy", but right now she thinks it would be better for him to listen to her.

"Fine, but don't say I didn't warn you."

"Oh, you're always warning me, and I'm always fine." He sweeps his arm in the direction of the house and walks towards it, calling back, "come along, Pond. In we go."

The windows of the house are dusty, and so is the porch. The house looks lived in, though; there's a muddy trail leading from the door and down the steps, and the lawn is clipped- though dead. They walk slowly down the garden path and up the stairs. Amy glances at the wind chimes hanging next to the door. They're clinking slightly, as if from a soft breeze. Only there is no breeze; the air is completely still.

The Doctor turns the brass handle and pushes the door open. Amy takes his arm and moves to stand slightly behind him, so anyone looking at them from inside would see her head peeking over his shoulder, her bright brown eyes wide and suspicious, and her red painted nails clutching the sleeve of his jacket.

He fiddles with the settings on his screwdriver and points it directly into the house. From it comes a strange keening noise, like a child wailing from miles away, or a small dog waiting by the front door for its master's return.

Amy realises that she's forgotten to breathe.

They move forward. Through the door and into the corridor, where the light is dim and the only furnishings are a small end table on which rests dirty lamp. Amy reaches over and quickly switches it on, ignoring the jerk of the Doctor's shoulders as a pale light illuminates the walls.

The very first thing Amy sees is the fresh streak of blood on the floor.

The Doctor feels her hand leave his arm and he whirls around, slightly clumsily, and grabs her. The tightness of his grip is uncomfortable. Amy struggles for a few seconds, but as she stares out the open door into the light and freedom of the still bright outdoors, his words come back to her. They're here for a reason, and whoever that blood belongs to needs their help.

He knows that he doesn't have to explain it to her when she turns to face him. He simply gives her a brief but tight hug, then gently takes her hand and leads her towards the only open door in the hallway. It's then that Amy gets to thinking about the last few months. Random images flash through her mind: Rory stepping out the TARDIS and Amy closing the door slowly behind him; the Doctor standing at the console, frantically trying to stop the klaxon from blaring; red light filling the inside of the control room; landing in London in the middle of a lightning storm; white light, a shout and a scream... Before she knows it she's shaking, but the Doctor's hand is gone and so is he, and she realises she's stopped in the doorway and her eyes are shut tight and she knows she shouldn't open them but she doesn't know why. It's a bad idea; she should turn around, run away. She should have listened to her own advice, she thinks later.

Amy forces herself to peek into the room from behind her lashes.

"No... no no no- Amy, don't look!" he says.

It's too late. Amy's kneeling on the floor in an instant, half fainting, half about to vomit. She holds her gorge down with some effort, then stands and stumbles out of the room. The Doctor finds her on the porch, sitting next to the door. She has her scarf scrunched up in her hands, and her skin, usually pale, looks almost translucent, covered as she is in a thin sheen of sweat. She feels cold, and there's a persistent ache in her belly, like there's a monster of terror trying to tear its way out.

He sits carefully down beside her and sighs, his hands in his lap.

"I really wish you hadn't seen that, Amy."

She sniffs and says, "Me too." There's a few second's pause, and then she says, "Do you still think we should be here?"

He doesn't answer her at first; he's obviously thinking hard. "Yes, Amy, I'm afraid I don't think we can leave now. There's obviously something very wrong here."

"I knew you'd say that." She sniffs again, and presses her palms into her eyes, trying to force the image of what she'd just seen out of her brain.

It wasn't like anything she'd seen before. The room was a mess- furniture overturned, ornaments and shattered glass all over the floor, curtains shredded and spattered with blood... and in the fading light cast by the sinking sun lay a woman, though she was barely recognisable as human. Her chest and stomach were ripped open, her dead organs laid bare for them to see. Vast amounts of her blood had pooled around her and on her; Amy noticed before she closed her eyes that her mouth was full of it, and so were her empty eye sockets. It was, in a word, horrific, and though Amy would try hard to erase it, she never could.

And so she was both disgusted and terrified when the Doctor stood and went back into the house, carrying his screwdriver.

Chapter Text

Sometimes Amy wonders whether anyone on Earth misses her, or if they've all forgotten her completely. There's Rory, of course, but she tries not to think about him. Rory, sick of dying, decided about a month ago that he needed a break badly enough to leave her to roam space without him. Apart from the Doctor Rory is all she has and it's strange not having him with her anymore. She feels quite alone sometimes, because her sole travelling companion has by now become so used to having her around that it's almost as if he's forgotten how much he needs her- at least, that's how it seems. For all she knows he's actually sick of her.

She's definitely missing something, she thinks. There's a vital chunk missing from her memory, something she's forgetting. Maybe he's not sick of her. Maybe he's avoiding her a little.

Every now and then she sees him caressing his chest, right over his hearts. It's strange, but she hasn't questioned him about it yet. The look on his face when he does it is so sad that she's not really sure she wants to know.

Right now he seems okay, though, if a little shaken by what they'd both just seen. He suffered what she saw as a moment of madness by disappearing into the house again, carrying his sonic screwdriver. She'd uttered a little shriek and called out his name, and he'd calmly called back, "stay there Amy."

She listens to him for once. This is a far cry from their usual planet hopping adventures but as horrible as everything is right now, it feels nice to be back on Earth. The porch she's sitting on smells of wet wood and moss, and it reminds her of her childhood home. She can feel the damp seeping into her skirt, but she doesn't really mind; she's too busy worrying about the Doctor and looking out at the field of dead grass in front of her, over which they just ran to get here. Strands of her hair, now longer than ever, blow around her face. She doesn't move to brush them away as she usually would.

He appears in the doorway and she jumps a little. She looks up, but he isn't looking at her. He's focused intently on his screwdriver and his frown is deepening by the second. She nudges his leg and says "Doctor?"

He looks down, finally, and smiles a sad smile.

She shifts over a little as he sits a little clumsily on the porch beside her, and waits while he tries to get his thoughts in order.

"I had a little look around... I can't quite tell what did this to that poor woman, but it's not anything I've seen before." He sighs, long and tired, and adds, "And that's saying something."

"Okay," she whispers. He puts a friendly hand on her knee and smiles at her again.

"This is beyond my expertise, Pond. I would completely understand if you protested us staying on this case."

Suddenly she can't look at him, and there are tears welling up in her eyes. It's stupid, she thinks, but she's so glad that he still cares about her opinion. It's probably killing him inside to think that they might leave this mystery unsolved, because when has he ever done that? Never. He's the Doctor, healer of the universe, a force against evil, bad dreams, and corruption. He's the one who shows up at your door with his screwdriver and his psychic paper, gets you to trust him and fixes all the bad around you, makes you love him, makes you want him never to leave you. That's how Amy feels, and it's all spilling out of her in a hot gush of tears. She blinks hard and swipes at her eyes, but they keep coming, and he pulls her into a one-armed hug.

She sniffs. "I thought you said we had to stick this out."

"That was before..." he trails off, and she nudges him again. "Like I said, there's something very, very wrong here. I'm very old, Amy, and I've been," he waves his arms around, "everywhere. Well, not literally, but you know what I mean. I've been around the block, and it's a very long block. It's been non-stop. Maybe this is the time for a rest, hm?"

Suddenly, oddly, she feels the need to convince him to stay. It's completely crazy, but she can't bear to see him give up.

"You'll never stop wondering though, if you don't do this. You'll never stop thinking about what you could have done."

He opens his mouth to speak and she cuts in on him, "And didn't you say the TARDIS bought you here? Doesn't she always put you right where you need to be?"

He sighs. It's true. He leans back against the wall and closes his eyes.

There's a flash of white light and a horrible scream.

His eyes fly open and he jumps quickly to his feet, scaring the heck out of Amy.

"What is it? What's wrong?" she says, standing and stumbling a little in her haste.

"Nothing! Nothing's wrong Pond." He spins around on the balls of his feet, apparently deciding which way to go. The decision's easy- to her right is the town, to the left is a thickly wooded hill. He runs off to the right, and she follows. Of course she follows.

The outskirts of town are dimly lit. Amy follows ten feet behind the Doctor as he waves his screwdriver around, the green light making trails against the night. She finds herself following it like a moth attracted to a flame. She's barely thinking about where to put her feet and that's why she stumbles up the curb, falling heavily on her butt. She lets out a grunt of pain and he looks around, screwdriver still singing.

"What are you doing on the ground?"

"Nothing," she says, a little reproachfully.

"I think we're close," he says, exasperated. "Can you please get up?"

She gets to her feet , wincing at the pain in her tailbone. She's brushing herself down when the Doctor tells her to shush.

"I didn't say anything," she says indignantly, and he shushes her again. She stops to listen, and realises that there's a distant purr coming out of the darkness.

It becomes a roar.

The Doctor jumps onto the curb and Amy scurries back as a sleek black car whisks past them, travelling so quickly it's turned the corner before she's really registered what just happened. It's heading in the direction of the house.

Not a single word passes between them. They're running back in the direction they'd just come without a moment's hesitation. Weird though it may be, Amy knows exactly where that car's heading. Something like this happens this late at night in a sleepy town in Texas and she's to believe that whoever it was in that car was a boy racer? Nope, not a chance.

They reach the house and yes, sure enough there's a black car parked outside. It's not as sleek as Amy had first thought, though. The speed it was going at had masked the angles of its design, though the body is as shiny as it had looked going 100k an hour. It looks well-loved. She looks at the licence plate and sees that it's from Kansas, and on the grill above the plate is the emblem of the Chevrolet brand.

As she's looking she realises something. She grabs the Doctor's arm. He's stopped to see what she's looking at and is training his screwdriver on the car. "Seems clean..." he mutters to himself.

"Doctor," she says. "What if whoever's in there right now is the one who did that to that woman?"

"Can't be!" he says cheerily. "The car's clean, unlike the house. Come on!"

He pulls her along with him and she releases her hold, choosing to trust him.

He pulls the door of the house open and marches right inside. They can hear voices... voices! Two people, at least. Her better instincts are telling her that this is probably a very bad idea, but she follows him anyway, walking into the room with the dead woman still lying on the floor in time to see a tall, muscular man with long hair throwing water in the Doctor's face.

He's spluttering and coughing and she can see him getting a bit angry. She catches the man with the canteen turning to his shorter companion and saying what sounds like, "Not a demon."

The short one nods and looks at her, then looks her up and down. She finds herself crossing her arms and looking at him with an expression she hasn't used in years. She never has to worry about leering with the Doctor. "Who are you?" she says.

"I could ask you the same myself," drawls the leerer.

She takes a closer look at the two of them. The one with the canteen, as well as tall and muscled, is dressed in a plaid shirt and jeans. His chest, she notices, is quite wide, and his nose is small and pert. The other is smaller and paler and has short hair, freckles and a larger nose and, she notices, rather full lips. He's also wearing plaid and jeans. She looks fleetingly down at herself. Plaid.

The Doctor speaks up. "I'm the Doctor, and this is Amy. Who are you?"

"I'm Sam," says the tall one, "and this is my brother Dean."

"Older brother," says Dean, and Sam rolls his eyes.

"So, uh," says Sam, "what are you two doing here?"

"We were here first," says Amy.

"Yes," says the Doctor. "We were. We flew here and found her." He points at the woman but doesn't so much as glance in her direction. Sam and Dean look at each other.

"Oh... kay." Dean looks sceptical, to say the least. He perks up a little when his brother mutters something to his that sounds to Amy like "test them?"

"Good idea." He pulls out a silver knife.

Amy jumps and the Doctor puts up his hands. "That's a knife," he says.

"Yep," says Dean, tossing it into the air and catching it deftly, watching Amy flinch. "We need to make sure you're not a monster."

"What?" says the Doctor.

"You know, like a shapeshifter or a werewolf or a ghoul or something creepy like that."

"Right, of course. Is that why you threw water in my face?"

"It was holy water. That's how we know you're not a demon."

"Did you say werewolf?" Amy says incredulously.

"Yep," says Dean. Amy closes her mouth and continues to stare at the knife. The presence of the dead woman weighs on her mind more and more as she watches the silver glint faintly in Dean's expert fingers. She attempts to speak, but finds only a whisper. Clearing her throat, she tries again.

"Can we please go somewhere without... you know..." Amy trails off, but the way her eyes travel to her left makes the meaning of her hesitation clear.

"Sure," says Sam. He gestures towards the door and they all move to the room across the hall; the kitchen.

Dean heaves a heavy bag onto the countertop and pulls out a variety of things, one of which, Amy notes, is a gun. It's a small one, but still a gun.

"Woah, why have you got that? Are you going to kill us?" she says, a little panicked.

"I hope not," says Dean shortly, and continues pulling things out.

Amy's fears aren't assuaged at all by the time the two strangers have gone through their rituals, but she's considerably more confused. She's been submitted to holy water, that silver knife and several other things before the two of them conclude that she's human, and so is the Doctor. He, of course, prattles on the entire time asking questions about what this and that is for and what new species they've ruled out. He's accustomed to a lot of things, but ghouls and shapeshifters aren't part of that.

"So," he says, "tell me who you are."

"We're hunters."

Sam shoots a sharp look at his brother that Amy guesses means they aren't usually this forward with strangers.

"Hunters."

"Yeah, we hunt stuff."

"And save people," says Dean.

"Brilliant, me too!" says the Doctor. Dean coughs in surprise. Sam's eyebrows rise considerably. Since they've been honest with him the Doctor decides to return the favour.

"Amy and I travel through space in time in my TARDIS, rescuing people from aliens."

"Are you crazy?" says Dean.

"No, are you?"

"Not the last time I checked."

"What don't you believe about what I just said?"

"Oh man, I'd say 80% of it."

"How are aliens any less believable than monsters?"

"He's got a point," says Sam.

Dean huffs breath out of his nose in a rush, suddenly looking very exasperated. "Look man, I'd really appreciate it if you didn't screw with us. We're here on a job and you don't want to get in our way. There're lives at stake here."

"There's been a life lost already," says the Doctor, pointing in the direction of the room across the hall. "You're doing an admirable job."

"I don't need this. Could you just leave?" Sam folds his arms.

"Nope, no can do."

The kitchen is quiet for a second, before the Doctor pipes up again.

"Wanna see my time machine?"

Chapter Text

Dean scrunches up his nose and looks the blue box up and down. "It's a Police Box," he says, looking to Amy with an expression of expectation, as if he thinks she's about to burst out laughing and admit that of course they're just kidding, there's no such thing as time travel!

"Yes," says the Doctor. "That's what it looks like on the outside. It's... stuck that way. It really is a time machine, though- a TARDIS, which stands for-"

"Time and Relative Dimension in Space," says Amy slowly. She likes saying the words; they still sound so promising to her, just like the first time she heard them.

"You're pulling our legs, right?" Sam says.

"I'm not, but if you want to believe that then I suppose there's no point in looking inside. I like open-minded companions, you know."

The two brothers exchange a glance. Sam stuffs his hands in his pockets and Dean shuffles his feet a little, but neither make a move to leave. The Doctor's face splits into a wide grin and he pushes the door of the Police Box open. Golden light spills across Sam's face, and his eyes widen a fraction. He moves forward, pushing the door in further, raising a foot to step inside.

Dean follows him and Amy grins as she hears the two of the make some very satisfactory exclamations, although she tries to ignore that most of it is made up of swear words. She follows the Doctor inside and shuts the door behind her, watching as Sam and Dean look around in awe.

"But... how?" says Sam. "How can it be bigger on the inside?"

"Er, something about a big box and a little box, very complicated! Most people don't ask how, you know. They just say it is. That's refreshing. Don't touch that!"

Dean moves his hand away from a big purple lever and looks around sheepishly at the Doctor, who's giving him quite a stern look.

"I think it's best that we get past the whole "oh golly, a time machine!" phase. Now that you've seen that I'm not mad, or at least not completely, you'll have no qualms letting me help you! I can be quite useful, you know. Lots of experience and all that..."

"Lots of experience?" says Sam. "You don't look very old."

"No. Not this time anyway."

"Huh?"

"Oh, I didn't tell you? I'm an alien, too- well, alien to humans, not alien to Time Lords. You should have guessed that; since when did humans have time machines? Anyway, I'm 920 years old, I think. Time can be hard to keep straight when you're... a time traveller."

"Wait," Sam says, suddenly looking quite overwhelmed and not at all sure of which point to address first. "You're an alien? Is she?" he points at Amy.

"No, she's just a human-"

"Hey!"

"But she's not entirely useless and that's why I let her stick around. I'm from a planet called Gallifrey. Although it's gone now. Has been for rather a long time."

Sam leans back against the console. "This is insane!"

"You're telling me..." says Dean, who looks quite pale.

"Any more questions?" says the Doctor.

Amy thinks the two of them have enough to digest already, but the tall one, Sam, seems to have an insatiable hunger for information. Even his brother gets bored after a while and leaves the console room to explore. Amy follows him, not wanting him to get into trouble.

"Holy crap, this thing has a swimming pool!" he says, closely followed by, "Are those bunk beds? Bunk beds, in a time machine! This is unreal..."

"Yes, well, we need somewhere to sleep."

"You bunk with an alien?"

"No," she says, looking down at her feet. "The bottom one was my husband's, before he left."

"Oh, I'm sorry... so you're divorced?" Amy pretends not to notice the hope on his face.

"No, he just wanted a break from all of this," she says, gesturing vaguely.

Dean nods and looks around the little room that Amy used to share with Rory. "What's it like?" he says suddenly.

"Oh, it's amazing," she says.

Dean raises an eyebrow. Amy sits on the bottom bunk and he lowers himself carefully to sit next to her, and waits.

"I met him when I was a little girl," she says. "And then he left me for a long time- not that he meant to; it was an accident- but I never forgot him. And then he came back and all of a sudden I'm travelling time and space and it's so overwhelming, you know? You wouldn't believe how much there is out there. It's actually kind of frightening."

"I know what that's like," he says. "In a way."

"I hadn't been on Earth in months, until now," she sighs.

"I don't think I would be either, if I had a time machine."

She stands up suddenly, looking rather sad. "Come on, I'll show you the rest of the rooms."

ooo

"Let me get this straight: you regenerate every time you're about to die?"

"Yes. It's a painful process, too. And you never know what you're going to get."

"So you live forever?"

"No, sometimes the damage is too great and even regeneration can't save a Time Lord. Some things you can't come back from. Who would want to live forever, anyway?" His eyes, Sam notices, look much too old for his face. He sees a deep sadness in them, and a great wealth of knowledge.

Sam stares at him thoughtfully. He could tell this Doctor that death in his life isn't always permanent. He wonders what he would say about that, but for the sake of simplicity doesn't mention it. The man looks quite pale enough as it is. Something about him suggests that he's not used to disembowelment, so Sam just nods, deciding to keep the more gruesome details of his life to himself.

"Why don't we find the others?" Sam suggests. "Then we can figure out what to do."

ooo

It's only just midnight when Sam steps out of the TARDIS. The wind is gone and sprays of stars have appeared in the sky, along with a small sliver of moon. He pulls out a sleek black phone and presses the number one; Bobby's number, on speed-dial. The phone rings only a few times before Bobby picks up and gruffly greets him.

"Bobby, it's Sam. We've, uh, come across something- someone... new." He clears his throat, frowning.

"So what're you calling me for? Research? 'Cause I was just about to go to bed."

"Actually, I think we already have all the information we need. He told us."

"He told you? What is he?"

"He says he's from another planet."

"Well that sounds like a load of crap. And he didn't jump you? Throw you around? Nothing like that?"

"Nope, we all sat in a circle around the campfire and had a nice little chat. Me, Sam, him, and his redhead girlfriend."

"You're gonna have to explain properly, Sam, or I'll hang up on you. I'm tired."

"Alright, listen. This guy claims to be over 900 years old. He says he's from a planet somewhere- as in not Earth- and he said, get this, that he can travel through time. He even showed us his 'time machine'. It's this blue police box, like the ones they had in the 50s. It's full of weird gizmos and random rooms, and..."

"What?"

"It's bigger on the inside."

There's silence on the end of the line. Sam waits.

Finally Bobby clears his throat and says, "Do you believe this guy?"

"I'm... not sure. He sounds kinda crazy, but I don't think he's dangerous."

"Alright, well call me tomorrow morning. I'll see if I can find anything."

"Okay. And Bobby?"

"Yeah?"

"He wants to help us on our case."

"Sorry Sam, you're gonna have to figure that one out yourself."

Sam exits the call and looks behind him at the blue box sitting innocently on the grass.

"It's official," he sighs. "I've gone insane."

ooo

The four of them gather in the console room. Sam and Dean stand side by side with their backs to the door, both staring at the Doctor, who has their father's journal in his hands. Amy peers over his shoulder, looking at the strange pictures and the scrawled writing, describing monsters she always thought were the stuff of nightmares and fairy tales. The dragon, the werewolf, the shapeshifter... and things she's never heard of, too. She frowns as the Doctor turns the page to "Djinn," and runs her finger over the pencil drawing of a bald man with frightening blue eyes and black wavy tattoos all over his face.

They both look up as the Doctor slowly closes the book.

"You're experts, then?" he says.

Dean nods once, but says nothing. His expression is unfathomable to Amy. He has a perfect poker face, and so does his brother.

"And you think we would get in the way." It's not a question; the Doctor knows the answer already.

He nods to himself, rubbing the cover of the thick book between his fingers, still paused on the Djinn's yellowed pages.

"Are you sure there's no way I can help you?"

Dean's expression softens a little, and Amy sees a hint of a smile. "We're used to working alone," he says shortly, gruffly, though not unkindly.

"Then it's settled." He smiles at them, then at Amy, but only she sees the mischief in his eyes.

Chapter Text

The next morning Sam opens the paper to a headline that screams, "MYSTERY KILLER STRIKES AGAIN." Dean reads it over his shoulder, and the two of them quickly decide to grab their fake FBI badges and head on over to the scene of the crime. It's not difficult to find. They just ask around until someone points them to the right street. They duck swiftly under a line of yellow tape and show their badges to the man standing guard at the door, keeping their faces straight as usual.

The crime scene is busy, despite having been open for several hours. Just as with the other murders, the corpse on the floor has been heavily mutilated, though the injuries are different. While the first victim bore a deep gash in their neck and the second had been ripped open from clavicle to groin, this one has bloody holes where his eyes had been and a massive hole in his chest. There are markers around the room, placed near blood spatters, loose hairs, and footprints, though the Winchester brothers know that all 'evidence' will eventually be discounted as the victim's own, or perhaps that of his pet's. All of the doors were locked from the inside when the police came calling, and all windows latched or open only a small fraction- certainly not near wide enough for a person to enter the house through. The man's house, located on a pretty street near the centre of town, is clean (of paranormal activity, that is) but for the sitting room, where the body sits slumped in an armchair and the remnants of a ghost's presence still linger.

The police are stumped, but Sam and Dean already have a good idea of the culprit. The injuries may be different in each case, but the presence of a vengeful spirit at all three crime scenes is doubtless. Of all supernatural beings, they've had the most experience with spirits, so hopefully this case'll be a breeze.

They're conferring quietly in a secluded corner of the room when one of the deputies, a stocky man with pale blue, watery eyes and thin red hair asks for their identification. "We're doing an ID check," he says in a heavy Texan accent. They hesitate, looking at each other. "It's standard procedure," the man says, exasperated. "You must be new."

Sam gives him a pained nod and hands over his fake badge. Dean follows suit. The deputy studies their badges and frowns. He looks at Dean. "Why does your badge say that you hunt monsters? Yours too," he says to Sam. "Is this some kind of joke?"

As Sam and Dean flounder, trying to find an explanation for this strange, sudden turn of events, who should come through the door but the Doctor and his redhead companion, Amy Pond. Sam gapes and Dean stutters while the deputy watches him expectantly, still holding the treacherous badges aloft.

"Agent LaChance, Agent O'Connell, you left your badges in your office. You must have taken those ridiculous fakes we found by mistake!" The Doctor darts up to the three of them, brandishing the badges with a sly grin.

The deputy looks at the strange man with suspicion written all over his pale features. "And you are?"

"Special Agent Smith," says the Doctor, "and this is Miss Pond." Amy waves at them, looking pretty pleased with herself. Dean will later learn that the badge switch was her idea. "She's visiting from Scotland Yard, hoping to help me crack a case."

"Scotland Yard? Are you-"

"Don't tell her, but I'm only helping her out because she's my brother's wife! Haha, but I'm sure she'll be brilliant. She always is." He grins at her, while the deputy stares. It takes them ten minutes to get rid of him, since he insists on closely studying their identification, but in the end, after a few not-so-subtle hints, he takes his leave.

"Whew!" says the Doctor. "That was close. Well, not really. I knew exactly what I was doing, but you two, taking the wrong ones. So silly, I-"

"Perhaps you'd like to explain to us why you swapped our badges," Dean interrupts tersely.

"Alright, fine." He takes the badges out of his coat pocket. "This is psychic paper. The person you show it to will see whatever you want them to see. Obviously you had no idea what they were so when you showed them to that deputy your mind wandered and the paper fixed on your, er, real profession. In other words, it showed you for what you really are, not what you wanted them to believe."

"That's... amazing," says Sam, aghast. He takes one of the badges and shows it to Dean. "What does it say?"

"It's says you're a professional tiger trainer with a degree in making pottery..." Dean says, laughing.

"Can I keep this?" Sam says, his smile wide.

"Oh yeah, sure, I have plenty in the TARDIS."

The Doctor feels someone grab his arm and he starts, turning around to see Amy, staring at the body with a frightful shade of grey and green on her face.

As he helps her out of the room, to the amusement of the watery eyed deputy, he calls back to Sam and Dean, "I'll see you outside! And don't think of trying to lose me, because I'll find you."

ooo

"I'm sorry Doctor," Amy says. She's sitting next to him on the curb, hugging her knees tightly to her chest. She still looks green, though not nearly as much as she did before.

"Don't apologise, Pond. It was grisly in there." He looks sad and pale, and a little apprehensive. Her tone suggests that she's not done. He's right.

"No, not for that," she sighs. "I've been thinking about everything that's happened since we got here, and I don't know if it's something I did or not, but it must be, because you barely speak to me now and I feel... I feel like I'm burdening you." There are definitely tears in her eyes. He's not sure what's worse; the tears, or the way she can't seem to look at him. "I keep having these weird dreams and sometimes I hear you muttering in your sleep. I want you to tell me what's going on, Doctor, please."

"Of course," he says. " Of course you do..."

She scuffs her shoes back and forth among the wet leaves in the gutter while she waits for his response. It's autumn, but the air is still warm, though humid. The whole street reeks of the typical American suburb. You would never guess that someone had died violently in the house behind them were it not for the police cars and the curious bystanders.

She looks up and sees him blinking at the ground, his mouth opening and closing with no words coming out.

"Why don't I help you?" she says. "Tell me why you can't look at me right now. Tell me why you never tried to stop Rory from leaving. Tell me why you're intent on helping those nutcases on this horrible job of theirs. And please, please tell me what happened that still makes you cry out in your sleep and jump like an electro-shock patient when you wake. I can't stand not knowing anymore, it's driving me crazy!"

He speaks so soft she can hardly hear him. "You died, Amy. You died and I couldn't bring you back. You weren't even... you weren't just dead, you were gone. Lost. And I almost forgot you. Rory forgot you. He left me." Tears start to fall down his cheeks, and he wipes at them frantically. Amy can't move, she can't breathe; she can only stare at him as he tells what she's needed to hear for so long. "We were on a case, just the usual stuff, trying to stop a nest of Sontaran from blowing up London, but they took you. I wasn't paying attention; I was trying to shut down their missiles. It was a tricky job. I had to do it from a space shuttle. Anyway, they took you and... they executed you. And then they shoved your body into a crack in time so you never existed and I almost... I almost forgot you, Amelia Pond."

She still can't speak, so she takes his hands and smiles, and finds her words in his eyes. "Thank you for remembering me, and thank you for bringing me back, Doctor." And she leans forward and kisses him, just lightly, just a little, while their tears fall and gather on the pavement below them.

"There's more," he whispers. "I tried to get you back by myself, even though I knew there was no way." His words are so quiet she's straining to hear. "One of the Sontaran shot me, stopped one of my hearts."

"So... you only have one now?"

"Yes. I'm okay though, "he says, trying to smile, reassure her. "Just can't run so much. Maybe after this I'll go to the hospital on New Earth X14, see if they can do anything for me."

She sits in silence for a moment, then realises he still hasn't told her how he bought her back. She asks him, and he says, "I had to make a trade to bring you back. With a demon."

"What?" she pulls back from him, but he holds her hands tight.

"I traded my soul for you, Amy, I had to."

"No," she says, "no you didn't! That's your soul, you need that."

"The demon gave me time, to spend with you."

"You don't want to waste it on me."

"Oh, but I do. I really do."

She forgets what she wanted to say next because the words demon and soul and dead are swirling around her mind. "I don't understand," she says. "If I died, why was everything so... so normal, when I got back?" She sees his face and takes it back, "It's not normal. It's completely different, but why don't I remember anything? Don't you think I would remember dying?"

"You would think so," he says, as he rubs her fingers between his, her hands still in his grip, "but I'm no authority on cracks in time. They're an enigma, even to me. I'm guessing that's it a side effect of the fact that you were essentially erased and then bought back again. It's bound to be a tricky process for whichever magical forces the demon had working for him."

"What was it like, dealing with a demon? Was he... scary?"

"I sure hope so," she hears. The Doctor jumps up and twirls around, and Amy follows suit. There on the pavement is-

"Crowley?"

"Correct. Well done, Time Lord," says the man. Amy notes his black suit and dark eyes and the way he's looking at the Doctor. It looks as if he wants to eat him. Then his eyes flicker to black and back again and she flinches, stumbling back. "Did you miss me?"

"Can't say I did," says the Doctor.

"Who is he, Doctor?" Amy asks, gripping his arm tight.

"This is Crowley."

"The King of Hell," the man quips.

"He's a demon."

"Is he... is he your demon?"

"His demon? Oh honey, I don't think so." His gravelly voice grates at her like fingernails on a chalkboard, although she has to admit that it's rather pleasant, in a strange way. She shivers and forces the thought out of mind, trying to remember who she's dealing with.

"If you're a demon," she says, "why do you look like that?"

"What, like a human? I know, isn't it disgusting? I don't understand how you people put up with it." He gestures down at himself. "This is my meat-suit. It's much more presentable attire for when I'm on top. Down below I can be very, very scary."

"A meat suit? So you mean... that's a real person? Is he still in there?"

"A little, yeah, but I wouldn't dwell on it too much, dear. All he ever does now is sleep, anyway."

"This is insane," she says. "I'm going back to the TARDIS." She doesn't look at either of them or policemen gathered on the front lawn as she walks away.

"Why are you here?" the Doctor says quietly, crossing his arms.

"Oh, I'm friends with the Ken dolls that are currently sniffing around inside. You might have seen them, they're the ones-"

"I know. Sam and Dean Winchester, the hunters and part time FBI agents. We've met."

"Oh, you have been busy! Tell me, how long has it been since we made our little deal?"

"About a week."

"Really? That is fascinating. So you really are a time traveller..."

"You didn't answer my question, demon." The Doctor is still speaking quietly, and it's starting to unnerve Crowley. He can see it in the way he's begun to fiddle with his fingers, and the way his eyes are darting back and forth, from his bow tie to his face to his shoes to his hands. He's searching for anything that he can take advantage of, but he's not finding it. Infuriatingly enough, the Doctor is the most impenetrable fortress of a man that he's ever met. "Why are you here?"

"I thought I'd pay you a visit. Oh, that and the fact that some of my demons are wrecking havoc in the next town over. I have a whole horde of naughty demonic children- it's a little difficult to keep track of them all at once."

The Doctor stares at him and says, "With every new thing that you say, I have about a million more questions."

"Talk show later, Time Lord. I'm busy." And he's gone, leaving the Doctor standing alone on the pavement, looking through the spot where the King of Hell used to be.

At that moment Sam and Dean come out of the house, talking with their heads together and so distracted that they don't see the Doctor until they're nearly on top of him. Sam straightens his tie and looks at him as if he's never seen him before. "You're still here?" he says.

"I am," the Doctor says, crossing his arms. "The case is still open, isn't it?"

They look at each other. Sam clears his throat. "Uh, technically, yes. Although now we know what it is and we know how to kill it."

"But?"

"We still need to find it."

"Well, I can help you with that. I think."

"You can? How?" Dean says.

"...Perhaps tell me what is it that's been killing people first?"

"Right," says Sam. "We're about 99 percent sure that it's a vengeful spirit. They're usually a person who died with unfinished business, and most of the time we can get rid of them just by burning their bones."

"Come back to the TARDIS with me. I have lots of cool stuff in there. Something's bound to help us find him. Or her." And he's off before they can say anything, whirling around and striding down the road in the direction of his time machine. Sam shrugs at his brother and follows. Dean sighs and does the same, all the while thinking that despite all they've seen, this is definitely in the top ten for weirdness.

When they step through the TARDIS door Amy is leaning on the console with a huge mug of tea cupped in her hands. She looks at them in that incredulous Scottish way that she has and says, "What are those two doing here again?"

"Amy, Amy, be polite to our guests! We're going to help them find a ghost. Can you pull that screen behind you down? Good. Is there any tea left?"

"Yeah, there's loads," she says. "What's the screen for?" she calls after him as he runs up the stairs to the kitchen.

"Just press the purple button! And then the green one!"

She does what she says. The little screen goes white, then comes up with an hourglass while the words "loading current location" flash underneath it. In a few seconds it has the exact city pinpointed, and the words change to "searching for alien activity". She hums to herself while she waits, and Dean and Sam exchange looks behind her back. The screen starts to beep at the exact moment that the Doctor emerges from the kitchen, carrying a pot of tea and three mugs on a tray. He pours Sam and Dean and himself each a cup while Sam grins and Amy hums. Dean still looks out of sorts in the time machine. He fingers with the butt of his gun, but stops when he sees the Doctor eying it disapprovingly.

The screen gives out two long beeps and the Doctor turns the screen to face him. "Aha!" he says. "See, there's some activity here and... a lot in the next town over. That must be what Crowley was talking about-"

"Wait," Sam chokes, almost dropping his mug, "Crowley's here?"

"Oh," says Amy, "you know the scary demon?"

"We've met, yeah," says Dean. "He's a total dick, in case you didn't notice."

"What did he do to you?" Amy asks.

"He, uh..." Sam looks at Dean, who shrugs. That seems to be the go-ahead, because Sam says, "He tried to open purgatory and got one of our closest friends jumped up on souls then killed in the process, and now we're sort of in the middle of a hunt for some really nasty creatures. But really, we don't have time to get into that. We have to find the spirit."

"And burn his or her bones."

Amy says, "Does that mean...?"

Dean nods. "Yep. If all goes well, you two will be helping us dig up a grave!"

The Doctor grins and says, "Can't say I've ever done that before."

Amy looks slightly less enthused, but she drains her mug and grabs her coat all the same, saying "Let's go then, boys," before stepping out the door without so much as looking back to see if they're following her. The Doctor almost runs out, and the Winchesters follow, albeit much slower. Sam calls out to ask why they can't just use the TARDIS to get there, but the Doctor, from ten metres ahead, says that if they want to be accurate they should use the car.

The sky is darkening when they emerge, the air humid and the breezes few and far between. As Sam steps out, behind Dean their new companions, he notes the clicking of cicadas and the red of Amy's hair flying in the wind. Dean saunters along beside him as they walk slowly behind the others to the car, which they'd parked right outside the victim's house. When Sam and Dean reach it Amy and the Doctor are already there. They're talking, but stop abruptly when they see the brothers, exchanging meaningful looks. The Doctor looks angry and Amy slightly sheepish. Sam doesn't inquire as to why, just opens the passenger door and gets in.

It's only five minutes to the spirit's location; a small cottage near the outskirts of town, set back from the road at the end of a gravel driveway. Dean parks at the mailbox and they get out and walk up, Sam and Dean with guns and Amy and the Doctor with iron bars that the brothers supplied for them. Amy starts to sweat as they draw nearer. She can feel her hair sticking to her forehead and goose bumps on her arms and legs. She's expecting another slaughter.

What they see when they reach the porch isn't what they'd expected at all. The door swings open as Dean puts a foot on the first step, and standing there in the doorway is the King of Hell. The demon Crowley.

Chapter Text

Sam and Dean cock and raise their guns instantly, but Crowley seems unworried by it. He merely chuckles, and steps outside onto the porch, his hands resting in the pockets of his charcoal-black suit pants, and an amused expression on his face. The Doctor notes that the brothers both have tough-guy faces on; Sam's lips are tightly pursed, and Dean's eyes are stone-cold. He remembers that his crossroads demon and his new companions have met before, and he can now make the assumption that they're not the best of friends.

"Ahh, boys, ever trusting..." Crowley says, raising an eyebrow at the guns.

Sam growls, "Only a fool would trust a demon." He stares stonily at the King of Hell, his hands holding the gun steady.

Crowley starts to splutter with laughter. "Oh Sam, you're too cute! I'm guessing you've decided to... conveniently forget that demon bitch that followed you around for months. What was her name again? Ruby?" Sam doesn't reply, but the fury on his face is enough to convince the Doctor that this Ruby is not someone the two of them should be discussing anytime soon.

It's then that Crowley finally realises Amy and the Doctor, standing behind the Winchesters (and the guns, for which Amy is thankful). He calls out, "Come out of hiding, Doctor. I may have your soul, and I may be a demon, but you've no reason to be afraid of little old me."

Sam looks like to choke. "He has... he has your..." he splutters, his eyes leaving Crowley for the first time and landing on the Doctor, wide and... worried? Or is that disbelief? Whatever it is, the expression on his face is almost comical, he looks so surprised. Dean manages to finish for him, "Did you sell your soul to him?"

"I had no choice," the Doctor says. He takes Amy's hand in his. "Amy was gone and I had to bring her back before I forgot her."

Amy brushes her hair out of her eyes and looks down at the ground. Sam can see the sadness in her eyes. She didn't want this. Neither had he. He'd found it so hard to deal with the fact that Dean was going to die for him, and he couldn't do anything to stop it. Every time he'd looked at his brother the words "One year to live" – or some variation of them depending on the time – would run through his head. His hands would shake, and sometimes his eyes would burn with tears threatening to spill down his cheeks. But now his brother was alive and well. They were still hunting. Everything was okay.

"Yes, it's all very touching," Crowley says, taking slow steps down the porch stairs, each footfall a timed emphasis on his words, "but I have business to do here, boys."

"So do we," says Dean, and Crowley raises an eyebrow.

"Whatever it is you think you need to do, you're wrong. I have everything under control."

Sam takes a step toward him, and Crowley raises a hand, stopping him in his tracks and pushing him backwards onto his arse. Dean does the same a second later, and is unceremoniously shoved into a tree. Crowley looks at them and smiles ruefully. "I'm honoured that you think you can help me, boys, really I am, but- excuse my French- piss off now." His tone is suddenly quite angry. He glares at them as they stand, saying not a word, with his eyebrows raised, waiting for them to go. Dean scoffs at him and says, "If you think we're going to just leave, you're either crazy, stupid, or both."

The two of them glare at each other, while the other three watch with bated breath. Amy doesn't quite know what's going on, having never met Crowley before today. She does know, however, that he's the demon who bought her back from oblivion and back into the Doctor's life. He's also the demon who holds the Doctor's soul. She doesn't quite know whether to praise him or curse him.

Even the birds in the trees have quietened. A warm breeze drifts by, and Crowley's gaze drops. His anger is evident as he says, "Fine, you can come in, but I can promise you that you're not going to like what you see." He turns his back on them and stomps up the porch stairs, not looking to see if they're following. Dean walks forward just as the demon disappears through the door, swallowed by the old house. The others move slowly after them, apprehensive. Amy suddenly feels rather afraid, so she holds onto the Doctor's hand. He gives her a squeeze to reassure her. He's glad that she seems to have nothing to say to him, because he wouldn't know how to respond to her; not now, not now that she knows everything. He's grateful for her silence because it allows him time to think about how to tell her she has to leave him once this job is done. He can't imagine her taking the news very well. They reach the door and she releases his hand. He sighs, and treads heavily after her, into the gloom of the house.

Cobwebs adorn the corners of the hallway and the walls are damp and mossy green. The Doctor looks to the end of the narrow corridor just in time to see Crowley disappear through the door at the other end, Dean and Sam and Amy hot on his heels. His hand lingers on the doorknob, remembering the last time he entered a house unknowing of what he would find. The last shaft of light slides away as the door clicks shut, creaking as it goes. Amy looks back briefly, and raises her hand, saying "come on, Doctor." Her voice is soft and lilting in the dark of the house, like happiness breaking into a bad dream.

Through the door is a dirty kitchen, and to the right of that a lounge. Dust coats everything – the floor, the sofa, the air. Amy covers a cough with her hand, and looks back at her footsteps, dark and obvious in the layer of dirt that covers the room from floor to ceiling. She turns around and sees what she failed to see on her entry, what Sam and Dean and her Doctor are already gaping at; a young girl in a embroidered dark green dress, embraced by heavy chains, sitting in a chair with her back to a huge fireplace, just sitting there quietly... and flickering like bad reception on a TV. "What's going on?" Amy says. "Who is she?"

Crowley shrugs. "Oh, she's the one who's been killing those poor women all over town."

"Is she... is she a ghost?"

Crowley claps once, sarcastically, and says, "Well done, points to the red-head! Yes, dear, she's a ghost, and an angry one at that."

Amy takes a closer look. The chains are dark and scratched with strange symbols; no language she's seen before. The moment she looks at them they change, and become English words, though they're still rather hard to understand. She looks back at once and beckons The Doctor, who moves forward and mouths them silently to himself, nodding as he realises that this a binding spell, engineered to keep the spirit from escaping. He looks around and spies a ring of salt around the chair. Sam says, "Those are iron chains etched with a binding spell, am I right?" He doesn't wait for Crowley to reply. "What do you want with a ghost, Crowley?"

"She is, I suppose you could say, a deal gone horribly wrong." Dean and Sam raise their eyebrows simultaneously, adopting the same "So?" face which makes it clearer than ever that they're brothers, and more like each other than the Doctor had thought.

Crowley paces slowly towards the girl, who squirms as he nears her. She doesn't make a sound, only wriggles in her seat like a child in time-out. She looks shameful, abashed, and contrary – a small pale figure with a pale slit in her throat and a swelling to her wrists that Amy has only just noticed, having focused only on her face and pretty dress. "She's been a very naughty girl indeed," Crowley muses. "You see, ten years ago she proposed a deal to me at a dusty little crossroads in Alabama. She wanted to be respected, feared, idolised, as teenagers sometimes do, so she called me up, but when I told her I'd come back for her in ten years she tried to kill me." He shouts the last words, making the girl flinch. Her eyes are wide and scared. Sam and Dean look on without, it seems, a hint of either surprise or confusion, only curiosity. Even their anger has faded away; the girl's performance has convinced them that the demon is not lying.

"She had a knife and a bottle of holy water," Crowley drawls, seemingly calm once again. "I had to stop her, of course. She was young and stupid and it got her killed."

The Doctor catches the girl, who can be no more than sixteen, staring at him, silently pleading with him or simply studying him. Whatever it is, her innocence is striking. He moves forward and attempts to touch her shoulder, his stomach flipping in surprise when he realises that he can. She's a ghost, but she feels like a real person, though the coldness of her skin and the constant flickering of her form gives her away. He speaks softly to her, "Why did you do it?" Her eyes, green like her dirty dress, watch him unblinkingly. She gives a huge shudder and opens her mouth, but only a whisper escapes.

"She can't speak. That's what happens, dear, when you're slit from ear to ear," Crowley says in a sing-song voice.

"You haven't explained everything, Crowley," says the Doctor. He moves away from the girl, towards the demon. "What exactly was it that she wanted?"

Crowley looks at the girl, almost fondly. On a man it would seem fatherly, but on a demon it's quite creepy. "She wanted to be... grown-up," he says. "She wanted me to make her an adult, and I told her I could, so long as she loaned me her soul. She asked me how long it would be for, and I said ten years. She asked what would happen then, and I said she would die. She seemed about to give up... until she pulled out the demon-killing knife."

"Where would she get a knife like that?" says Sam.

"She can't say, with her neck in that state. The dead do that, you know; take secrets to the grave, it's really quite frustrating-"

"Why do you have to keep her chained up like this?" Dean gruffly interrupts. "Why not just burn her bones?"

"I never buried her," Crowley shrugs. "And why should I? I just tossed some gasoline and a match her way and that was that. She burned ten years ago, boys. I don't know what to tell you."

"She must have left something behind, then."

"What do you mean?" Amy says.

"It could be a lock of hair or some other body part – enough to keep her from moving on," Sam says.

"So we have to find it?"

"You don't have to find anything," Sam says, looking at the Doctor. "It's not too late to just go home."

"I can't go home," the Doctor says, staring at Sam. Sam can hardly hold his gaze – a young face and old eyes, wise beyond his imagination and perhaps his ability to comprehend – but he does, and he can see... what? He thinks respect, because the Doctor seems pleased that Sam doesn't look away as so many people must do. Sam doesn't view this man as a monster in the slightest, just something different. Like himself.

Sam nods and The Doctor grins, childlike again. "We'd better get started then!" he says.