Soft voices dragged Dean out of unconsciousness. He could feel his body again—a mixed blessing, since it felt like the cast of Riverdance was going to town on his head. He groaned, and familiar low timbre of Sammy's voice broke off. Moments later, he felt his brother's hand on his arm.
"Dean? You all right?"
Dean snorted and quickly regretted it, grimacing at the pounding in his temples. "You mean other than the killer headache?"
Another person cleared his throat and spoke, his accent British. The Doctor, then. "It very nearly was. If she'd had any more time with you, I doubt you'd be alive right now."
Dean opened his eyes and shut them again immediately against the bright white light of the room. He cracked them open again moments later, peering curiously at the room. He was resting on the smooth bed, a small machine near his head beeping periodically. His eyebrows furrowed. "How'd I get to a hospital?"
Rose snickered as the Doctor tugged at his earlobe, casting a glance at Sam. "Yes, well. You're not in hospital."
Dean frowned. "A clinic, then?"
Rose leaned forward from her perch on the counter, a mischievous grin on her face. He noticed absently that she'd changed into jeans and a sweatshirt, and the Doctor had apparently reclaimed his jacket. "Spaceship, actually."
Dean was still for a moment before letting his head fall back to the pillow. "So I haven't woken up yet, is what you're saying." He reached over and pinched himself, wincing at the sharp pain before staring at them. "Wait, what?"
The Doctor seemed to be laughing at him, leaning against the counter next to Rose. His dark brown eyes were bright with amusement. "So you're willing to accept that we just fought off an alien, but the idea of a spaceship is too much for you?"
He flushed and cleared his throat after a moment. "What happened to little Miss Misery, anyway?"
Sam snorted. "Miss Misery? Really?"
Dean shot him a glare. "Come on, dude. I just woke up."
The Doctor interrupted, his amusement fading. "She was… taken care of."
"What does that mean?"
"It means she's gone. Now I'm going to go check on the temporal orbit and see if that jumble from before's been cleared up." He left quickly, and Dean blinked.
"What'd I say?"
Rose bit her lip. "It wasn't anything you said, he just hates havin' to do stuff like that." She glanced at the brothers and slipped off the counter. "I'm gonna go talk to 'im."
She followed the Doctor out the door, and Dean blinked after her before looking at Sam. "Alright, Sammy, what happened? And an actual answer this time, please."
Sam shook his head. "I've never seen anything like it. The symbiote had just barely attacked you when the Doctor, I don't know, exploded. He was everywhere, man. Pulled her off you and kind of… dissolved her."
Dean's eyebrows drew together. "So the symbiote's gone?"
"Far as I can tell, yeah."
He snorted. "So much for all that stuff about her not being able to help herself." Sam made a noise of protest, and Dean glanced irritably at him. "What?"
"I don't think he's very happy about getting rid of her."
"Why the hell not? She was a nutso killing machine."
Sam sighed and ran a hand through his hair. "She was also in a massive amount of pain. You saw her, Dean. She was just a kid when this happened. She had no idea how to deal with it."
Dean rolled his eyes. "Hey, I've got an idea for how to deal with it—not kill people."
A throat was cleared in the hallway, and they turned to see Rose standing there. She smiled at Sam, but her gaze was less warm when she turned to look at Dean. "Sorry to interrupt, but I was makin' some tea, an' I wanted to check if you'd like some."
Sam smiled. "Yeah. That'd be great, thanks."
She looked at Dean, and he quirked an awkward smile at her. "Sure, yeah. Why the hell not?"
Rose raised an eyebrow before leaving, and Sam smacked his brother's shoulder. "Would it kill you to be polite? They saved your life."
Dean groaned and sat up, running a hand through his hair. "Yeah? Why? We just met 'em, Sammy, and I was checkin' out his wife, and now you're tellin' me he got rid of some kid for what? For my life? None of this makes sense."
"'S what he does." Rose entered the infirmary again, carrying a tray with four steaming mugs on it. She set it down on the counter and handed the brothers their mugs before taking one for herself. She gently blew on it, her eyes on Dean. "He'll never let somebody be hurt, not if he can do anything about it."
"Rose?" The Doctor popped his head in, his glasses sliding down his nose and his hair disheveled. "Ah, there you are. Ooh, tea!" He picked up the last mug and settled next to her, sipping it with every sign of enjoyment. After a moment, he realized that the Winchester brothers were watching him thoughtfully, and he blinked. "What?"
Rose smiled. "Nothin'. Everything cleared up, out there?"
"Hmm? Oh, yes. The temporal field's stabilized quite nicely."
Sam frowned curiously. "What was the problem?"
"The symbiote was tangling the timelines around here. Lucy'd been dead for the last hundred years, but because of the Psukhikian, she continued to affect her surroundings." He sighed and ran a hand through his hair, tousling it even more. "Her actions were creating a tangle in time, so to speak. I'm just glad we got here before it got any worse."
Rose bit her lip, her shoulders tensing. "What, would there've been Reapers?"
The Doctor wrapped an arm around her shoulders, pulling her in to rest against him. "No, love, nothing like that." He grimaced. "Plenty of unpleasantness, sure, but not them."
Dean's eyebrows drew together. "What sort of Reapers are we talkin' about here?"
The Doctor sighed. "The originals. Trust me, if you have to ask, you're lucky."
Sam cleared his throat. "So, this is what you guys do? Travel around the universe, defeating bad guys and fixing messes?"
The Doctor raised an eyebrow. "Neither Lucy nor the Psukhikian were 'bad', you know. They were just in terrible amounts of pain, and they didn't know how to do anything but lash out."
Dean snorted. "Save the shades of grey for someone who hasn't seen the list of victims." He swung his legs over the side of the bed and slipped off, stumbling a little. "Am I good to go, then?"
The Doctor watched him consideringly. "If you want to." He paused. "I have to ask, how did you get across the room so quickly? You were even faster than I was, and I've had centuries of practice."
Dean shrugged, pulling on his jacket. "Sam was in danger. Now can I go?"
Sam frowned. "Dean."
"What? We're apparently in a spaceship, Sam. I'm allowed to be a little freaked out."
Rose grinned. "I don't blame you. First time I ran in here, I ran right back out again." She turned to Sam. "Listen, it sounded like you two are used to dealing with stuff like this." Dean snorted, and she rolled her eyes. "The haunting, I mean. If you ever run into somethin' weird like this again, feel free to give us a call, yeah? Himself over there doesn't have a cell phone, but I've got mine on me almost all the time."
Sam smiled. "I will, thanks." As they made their way out of the ship, he paused as Dean strode out the door. "Really, I mean it. Dean may have the manners of a caveman, but because of you, he's still alive. Thank you."
The Doctor shook his hand, one arm wrapped around Rose. "You're quite welcome. It was a pleasure, Sam Winchester."
"Same here." Sam left the TARDIS, grinning at Dean's gobsmacked expression.
"That—that's..." He trailed off, staring at the police box.
"Yeah, I know. Cool, right?" A light wind whipped around the basement, and a low grinding began to echo from the TARDIS. As Sam and Dean watched, the big blue box faded out of existence, leaving nothing but a rectangular imprint behind. Sam clapped Dean on the shoulder, his eyes adjusting to the sudden darkness. "Come on, Dean. Let's go."
"But that—Sam! It just disappeared!"
"Well, yeah. They're aliens, remember?"
Even through the darkness, Sam could feel Dean's stare. "And you think that's normal? There's something wrong with you, Sammy."
He rolled his eyes. "Dean, last month a Sasquatch tried to eat you. Do you really want to argue about what is and isn't normal?"
The click of Dean's teeth was barely audible over the creak of the old wooden stairs. He snorted as they made their way back to the Impala. "Fine, if that's how you're going to be." He paused, the keys in the ignition. "Sam?"
Dean turned to him, his green eyes wide and frightened. "They didn't... they didn't probe me, did they?"
Sam just laughed as the engine roared to life.