The Feast of Saint Valentine had never been a massive event for Crowley, not only because it always meant a special report – Human holidays are crucial to our goal, is what some sniveling middle-management demon had told him, because they foster an environment which is hyper-conducive to temptation – but also because he had just never seen the point.
The very idea of canonizing people as saints was laughable to him, and the idea of celebrating each one individually with their own holiday was downright ridiculous. People did wonderful, marvelous, magnificent things all the time without that sort of recognition, without anyone acknowledging them, much less this borderline deification. Plus, it created so many issues with idolatry and iconoclasm and all that, and he supposed he should have appreciated the discord it brought, but all in all it was simply tiring.
And then there was – well. His only constant, his one companion, had been off on an assignment for the better part of the century, so the connotations of this day in particular didn’t exactly appeal to Crowley, especially in recent years. Romantic love was little more than a distant fantasy for him, and if he tried for a more abstract appreciation of the concept of love, then he inevitably became mired in thoughts of how truly hateful humans could be. His general bent was toward a positive outlook, but it was difficult to stay optimistic sometimes in the face of profound, incessant suffering. And it was difficult to stay optimistic when he was alone.
The past hundred and fifty years had been, to say the least, a bit rough for Crowley. He was meant to tempt people, to corrupt them, to make their lives difficult and their souls grimy, but he found himself in the position of being outperformed all too often. Between the famine, the plague, the war, and the way humanity continued to find increasingly horrific ways to treat one another, Crowley almost began to wonder once or twice if this wasn’t the beginning of the end of things.
He had been back and forth between England, France, and Italy for the first half of the century, at first just trying to see the sights, then trying to gauge the depth of the damage done, then trying to run away. When the famine came to a place, it stayed for a while, so Crowley learned quickly that it was best to leave when he caught the warning signs, rather than stick around while everyone starved to death. When the war started, he thought it wasn’t as big a deal as they were making it, thought the French and the English were being dramatic as usual, and then it just didn’t end. When the plague swept through, he couldn’t stomach it for long.
That was when he hid himself away in hopes that it had all been a bad dream – not literally, of course, he had to keep up his demonic work even if the world was doing it for him. No, he hid himself away on the inside, locking up the parts of him that cared for safekeeping, to set free again when the worst was over. The worst had been over for a while, now, but he had kept his guard up for another few decades, just to be sure. It made him bitter, and it made him sad, and it made him completely, completely alone.
He was now in the early stages of emerging from his cocoon, trying to acclimate himself to living among people and engaging with them again, and he thought the town festival for the holiday was as good a place as any to jump in. It was cold, not cold enough to make Crowley’s organs shut down, but cold enough to make him regret leaving the comfort of his home. He steered his mind away from a dangerous place (You know who’s always warm, a little voice said, and he couldn’t entertain that train of thought without going insane) and steered his body toward a mug of hot mead.
Although he did need the drink, he reconsidered upon entering an ale house full of drunken revelers, wondering whether he wouldn’t be better off just going home. It was loud, and everyone was happy, and he couldn’t stand it. He purchased his drink and then used a small miracle to ensure that nobody noticed him as he walked right out of the tavern, holding the mug in his hand. There was plenty of revelry out in the street as well, but it was much easier for Crowley to avoid it, not being in a confined space.
He was just cruising, really, taking in the sights and sounds and trying to remind himself that this was why he loved it here, this was why he loved people. They were rowdy and rude and they got drunk and insulted each other’s mothers, and then they sobered up and wrote poetry, and they chopped firewood and they played with dolls and they celebrated love. These creatures had always been Crowley’s favorite thing about the whole stupid planet, and he thought the best way to fall in love with them all over again was simply to exist among them. It wasn’t working, so far.
Either too immersed in humanity or too caught up in himself, he wasn’t paying enough attention to avoid running face-first into a man. Crowley’s sunglasses were knocked off his face by a very sharp shoulder; his eyes followed the trajectory of their fall before he whipped back around to glare at the owner of said shoulder. He opened his mouth and took a breath to make a snarky comment and then carry on with his day, but the man interrupted him before he could begin.
“Oh, that’s brilliant,” he whispered, full of childlike awe and glee. “How do you do that?”
Crowley tried to say “Do what?” but this man did not seem to be in the mood to let him get a word in edgewise.
“Haven’t seen colored contacts this far back,” he muttered wonderingly, and took a step forward, raising one hand slowly to hover near Crowley’s face. “May I?”
Frowning deeply in confusion, Crowley could do nothing but nod. The man cradled his face in both hands, staring into – no, staring at his eyes, tugging gently at his eyelids to get at different angles, shining a small light in front of him. It might have been an awkwardly intimate first meeting, Crowley thought, if it weren’t so awkwardly clinical.
The man pulled back after a minute, pocketing the tool with the light in it, and beamed at Crowley. “What’s your name?”
“Crowley,” he answered immediately, a reflexive response.
“Crowley… good name, Crowley,” the man nodded thoughtfully. “Can I just say, you have got the most beautiful eyes.”
The comment was enough to jar Crowley out of his stupor. His brain finally catching up with the world around him, he jerked his head back, blinking rapidly. “Who are you, then?”
The man kept smiling, just smiling so brightly that his teeth could have been stars. “I’m the Doctor,” he chirped.
“What, an eye doctor?” Crowley folded his arms petulantly over his chest. “I don’t need any medical attention, thanks, these are just my eyes.” That was one thing he hadn’t missed during his time in relative emotional isolation – wiping people’s memories after they saw his eyes, on the rare (but not as rare as he would have preferred) occasion that he let them be seen.
“No, just the Doctor, that’s my name. So they are real, then? Your eyes?”
“Course they’re real,” Crowley snapped, quickly losing his patience. He summoned a bit of his power to plant the suggestion in this Doctor’s mind that it would be a good idea to stop thinking about the eyes, and also perhaps to bugger off.
“That’s not very nice,” the Doctor said lightheartedly. “I thought we were getting along nicely, and you go messing about in my brain? Hang on a minute…”
Crowley looked sheepish, giving a quiet, nervous laugh and shuffling his feet. “Sorry,” he mumbled. “It’s just I have to, you know, because – wait, what?”
“You’re not human, are you, Crowley?”
This was a dangerous question, one that he normally would have laughed off, but he felt an inexplicable kinship, an innate sense of trust. This was not a man who would stone him to death for being an abomination against Heaven, he just knew it. Plus, he had known when Crowley planted an idea in his mind, and no ordinary human could do that. So he told the truth. “Not entirely, no,” he said as smoothly as he could, “but neither are you.”
“Not entirely, no,” the Doctor echoed back at him. As he spoke, he turned around to face Crowley and began to walk backward, beckoning for Crowley to follow him. “So what are you? Alien? Never met one like you, before. Where are you from?”
Crowley broke into a brisk walk to keep up with the Doctor’s stride, cursing his unbelievably long legs. “Hell,” he deadpanned, if only to see the reaction. “I’m a demon from Hell.”
The Doctor frowned. “That’s not possible.”
“Well, what are you, then?”
“I’m a time lord from Gallifrey.”
Crowley barked out a short laugh. “Now you’re just speaking gibberish,” he said, waving an accusatory finger at the Doctor. “What’s that even supposed to mean, time lord?”
The Doctor shrugged. “It’s what we’re called. Probably it’s because we’ve harnessed the energy of the time vortex and mastered time travel, but I’m just spitballing.”
“Are you crazy?” Crowley looked up at him, furrowing his brow in genuine concern. “Time travel is a fantasy. Time is ever marching forward as the whole world rots.”
“You’re telling me you’re a demon from Hell, but the idea that we've mastered time travel is too outlandish? Well, I say mastered,” said the Doctor, sheepishly amending his statement. “Definitely hasn’t been perfected. And won’t be, either, because it’s just me now. Nobody else to – anyway.” He sniffed, digging his hands into his pockets. “You’re right, though, time keeps going, doesn’t it? Some things are just… inevitable. But that’s okay. Can’t put it off forever, but you can have fun while you’re here, right?”
Nodding slowly, the demon wondered when he had so thoroughly lost track of what was going on. “Right,” he muttered with a strong edge of apprehension. “So, what exactly… do you do?”
“Oh, I just pop around,” the Doctor replied, the melancholy in his tone replaced once again by a bright sort of innocence. He turned again, moving to walk beside Crowley rather than in front of him. “I’m a traveler. You?”
“I, well – I mean, I’m, you know – I’m – I’m a demon. I tempt people to sin.” Crowley decided to omit the part about filling out mind-numbing reports, and the part about not wanting to harm anybody at all, and the part about his angel best friend, but he added, “I’ve been here since the Garden of Eden.”
“Wow,” the Doctor whispered, awestruck. “I’ve been here since about ten o’clock this morning. Just wanted to grab a drink. It's a good feast, this year.”
Crowley couldn't help a twinge of curiosity: the man said time travel, after all, and while he didn't quite believe it, he was perfectly willing to entertain a certain amount of interest. The Doctor was giving him the same respect regarding the whole demon business, anyway. "Where were you before that?"
"I shouldn't tell you," said the Doctor. "Revealing the future, kind of against the rules."
The sparkle in his eye brightening, one eyebrow raised, Crowley leaned in for his low murmur to be heard. "You don't seem the type to follow rules."
The Doctor grinned, a wide, toothy smile that didn't reach his eyes. "Alright, if you must know, I was just visiting an old friend in the late sixteenth century. Wanted to stop in, tie up some loose ends before – well."
The smile was gone now, replaced with a look that hovered between self-pity and self-loathing, guilt and pride and resignation and a fierce will to fight all wrapped up in one. It was a look Crowley had only ever seen in the mirror. The Doctor took a deep breath. "Before I die," he murmured eventually. "It's coming soon."
"Oh." Crowley felt like he'd had the wind knocked out of him. He didn't enjoy discussing mortality, he never had, especially the mortality of people he liked. And he liked this Doctor, much as he hated to admit it. Something about him felt safe and familiar, an instant connection of kindred spirits, and Crowley didn't want him to die. “How soon?”
The Doctor sighed, a quick huff of an exhale, and looked away, as if ashamed. “Soon as I decide to go face it, I suppose.”
“Well, that’s easy, then,” Crowley said desperately. “Just don’t go, and you don’t have to die.”
“I have to,” murmured the Doctor, his soft voice full of regret. “Everything has its time and everything dies. My time is coming, and that’s – that’s okay. There's a thing we do, my people, and I'll – well, I could keep existing, but I wouldn't be me."
Crowley shook his head frantically, grabbed the Doctor and clutched the man's upper arms tight in his hands, pulling them both to a halt. “No, not everything dies, no. I don’t die! I’m immortal, I’m a demon! You could – you could – I don’t know. Just don't go! You don’t have to go.”
The Doctor shook his head, tutting ruefully. "It doesn't work like that, I'm afraid. Theoretically, I can keep putting it off as long as I want, but it's going to happen, and it's meant to happen to me soon. I can't rewrite this part, it's just…"
"Ineffable?" Crowley offered up bitterly.
The Doctor nodded, unaware of what the word represented for Crowley. "A bit, yeah. And inevitable. I think it's – think it's really the end, this time."
Crowley felt hot tears pricking at the corners of his eyes, a distant relation of rage bubbling up inside his chest. "Why bother, then? What's the point? Why come here at all, or go anywhere, or do anything?" He was shouting now, and they were standing in the middle of a packed square, and he didn't care. "Why would you – why can't you – everybody always leaves," he wailed, his voice breaking miserably. "If they're not dying, they're just leaving, always leaving, and I'm sick of it, okay? I can't do it anymore."
"I'm sorry," the Doctor murmured, low and soft enough to make Crowley's chest hurt. "I am so sorry, Crowley, really. It's lonely, isn't it, having to keep going while everyone around you slips away. I know."
Crowley raised his chin, summoning the dregs of his angry energy. "Do you?"
"Trust me, I've lost a lot of people in my time."
"Sorry," Crowley muttered, feeling guilt overtake his fury, sniffing pitifully.
"Can I show you something?"
That pulled Crowley up short, for perhaps the sixteenth time since he’d run into the Doctor. He shook his head to clear it, catching up to the shift in tone, watching the Doctor brighten with what looked like excitement. "Er – yes."
The Doctor smiled again, positively beamed down at Crowley, and grabbed his hand like a reflex before taking off through the throng of partying townspeople. He wasn't quite running, but he was moving fast enough that Crowley had to run to avoid being dragged along behind him. Crowley thought dryly that it was a good thing he didn't need to breathe, or he'd be wheezing by now. He stumbled over his feet, not daring to ask where the Doctor was taking him, not even worrying about it too much, but simply going where he was led; it was good, it reminded him of – but no, that was a bad line of thought. It was cut off before it got into really bad territory, fortunately, by the Doctor pulling to an abrupt stop at the opening of an alley.
"Here we are," he declared, making a sweeping gesture with his free hand toward… something.
Crowley stepped closer to get a better look at it. "Why did you want to show me a big wooden box?"
The Doctor pulled him even closer, until they were right in front of the box. "That big wooden box is my transport," he explained as he reached for the handle, pushing the door open, bathing the dank little alley in a golden light, revealing the interior of the box.
"Gosh," Crowley murmured under his breath, "that's something."
"Come in," said the Doctor, and Crowley did.
"It's… well, it's… wow," Crowley whispered. "It's really pretty."
The Doctor laughed brightly, jumping on over to the panels with buttons and levers and screens that Crowley didn't understand. "It's not just for looks," he said with a grin, "it can travel in space and time. Fancy a quick trip?"
"I don't know," Crowley stammered, frozen where he stood.
The Doctor tilted his head to the side, cracked a cocky grin; he was trying to tempt the demon, and they both knew it. "Come on, I'll give you a lift. Anywhere you wanna go."
Crowley took a moment to collect himself, to take a few deep, steadying breaths, to come to terms with the reality of the situation. He gave himself a quick pep talk in his head – You're a demon, he told himself, you can't be awed and disbelieving. You're the thing that awes and is disbelieved. It's your job. Get a grip.
"Can we go someplace high?" The question came out without much thought, but Crowley stuck with it once it had been said aloud. "So I can jump off it?"
“Hey now, none of that,” said the Doctor, his voice soft and gentle, his eyes suddenly full of pity.
“Oh, no, I didn’t mean – sorry,” Crowley said sheepishly.
He had been thinking about discorporation, something he could pass off as an accident so his superiors wouldn’t ask too many questions, just to get him away from it all for a while. Not that being down in Hell would be a vacation, but whatever desk job they stuck him with while they pushed through the paperwork for a new body would pass the time marginally better than what he had waiting for him in London, Crowley thought. With any luck, he’d be able to stay down there at least until – well, he didn’t plan his life around any ethereal being’s travels, but it would be convenient if his return to London coincided with somebody else’s.
But there was the issue of the fact that the Doctor really was dying, and Crowley had just stumbled over the most insensitive comment he could have made, and guilt began gnawing away at his insides as he thought about what to do next. It was dreadfully selfish of him to be flippant about this, nagged a voice in his head that sounded annoyingly angelic. He took a deep breath and screwed his eyes shut tight. The Doctor was talking – babbling, really, about something entirely unrelated, sounding like an excited child again, and Crowley didn’t hear a word of it.
“Africa,” the demon muttered eventually, under his breath, almost ashamed.
“What was that?” The Doctor stopped talking, stopped moving around like a frantic squirrel, looked up at Crowley curiously.
Crowley shook his head, looking at his feet. “S’nothing,” he said, “it’s stupid, you don’t have to – don’t worry about it. I was just thinking out loud.” He didn’t look up to see the Doctor’s face, but he had a sinking feeling that he was giving him that sympathetic look again, the one with the big eyes. “I was just saying, I think I’d rather like to go to Africa. If you don’t mind.”
“Of course,” the Doctor answered, unhesitating, setting to work immediately on the dials and buttons. “What part of Africa? What time period? The possibilities are endless.”
Stepping over to the console, Crowley looked over the Doctor’s shoulder. “Er, maybe – Timbuktu, I think,” he said with a great deal of uncertainty. He wanted to sound nonchalant, like it had just now occurred to him on a whim to visit the city, but the words came out more like he had just now figured out how to pronounce them. “But this time period. Today, even. I just – just want to see it.”
“You sure?” The Doctor was frowning, looking as if he wanted to ask if Crowley was okay, but he knew better than to say it. “You can go anywhere, anytime, I mean it.”
“No, I want Timbuktu,” Crowley said, firmer this time, then added as an afterthought, “please.”
“Alright, here we go. Hold on tight.” The Doctor grinned, waited for Crowley to get a grip on a nearby rail, and then gleefully pulled a lever, prompting a massive jolt that knocked Crowley to the ground.
It wasn’t anything like riding a horse, or being in a carriage pulled by horses, or even flying, in Crowley’s experience. It was more like being in a big box that was trying very hard against all odds and the laws of physics to not be torn into pieces. Crowley was just beginning to thank whatever power was keeping that from happening, and then the shaking stopped, and the Doctor extended a hand to help him up off the floor.
Crowley blinked at the Doctor, then at the door. “That was it?”
“Yup. Other side of that door is Timbuktu.” The Doctor turned to look at one of the screens on the center console. “Big library, it looks like.”
“How – I mean. Nevermind,” Crowley muttered, biting his lip. It must have been a wild coincidence, he told himself, that he ended up exactly where he wanted to be, in such a big city. No way the Doctor could have known – he certainly hadn’t told him.
But the Doctor was looking at him, giving him a smile that could only be described as knowing, and Crowley didn’t even have time to wonder what he knew before he started talking. “Psychic interface,” he explained, sounding almost smug about it. “She always takes you to where you need to go. Library’s never a bad place to be, I think.”
“So I can – I can go out there? And walk around?”
“It’s just a library, Crowley, honestly. You didn’t even want to dabble in time travel?”
“No,” Crowley replied, swallowing nervously. “No, I’ve got quite enough time already, without overcomplicating things.”
The Doctor nodded, and then he gestured to the door, giving Crowley an expectant look. Waiting for him to walk outside. Crowley noticed with a dull sense of shame that his knees were wobbling, his hands shaking. He was being stupid, he told himself, completely stupid. He wasn’t reacting to the novelty of this form of travel, or the Doctor himself, or any of the strange and foreign concepts he’d yet to adjust to; that would have made more sense, would have been less embarrassing than the reality.
Crowley pushed those feelings down, took a deep breath, and threw the doors open, finding himself in a small, secluded corner of one of the biggest libraries in Timbuktu. He took one shaky step outside and almost fell to his knees as he immediately caught sight of a shock of golden hair.
Aziraphale was sitting across the room, his nose buried in a book, looking utterly contented, and Crowley’s chest squeezed tight at the sight of him. The demon was overwhelmed with something like relief, something like joy, something he hadn’t felt in well over a century, and it brought a few tears to the surface, which he didn’t allow to fall. He hadn’t been worried about Aziraphale, because there was nothing to worry about, but he suddenly felt the angel’s proximity filling up a hole inside him that he hadn’t known was there.
“Is he special?” The Doctor had followed Crowley out into the library, sneaking up on him unnoticed, and followed his awestruck gaze with unbidden curiosity.
Crowley nodded, his lips parted slightly, breathing out a soft, “Yeah.”
“Are you gonna go to him?”
Ducking behind a pillar, Crowley cleared his throat and shook his head. “More trouble than it’s worth,” he murmured sadly. “Just wanted to make sure he was doing okay.”
“Haven’t got the hang of writing letters just yet, I suppose,” the Doctor teased, craning his neck to sneak another peek at the subject of their conversation.
“No, I – that’s the point,” Crowley protested, completely missing the lightness of the Doctor’s tone. “Can’t write a letter for the same reason I can’t let him know I’m here.”
“And why’s that?”
“Because we’re meant to be enemies.” Crowley blew out a long breath. “M’not supposed to…” He paused for a long moment, studying the Doctor’s face, reading his eyes, and then continued, “Not supposed to miss him.”
The Doctor narrowed his eyes, placing a hand on Crowley’s shoulder, firm but gentle. “But you do, don’t you?”
“Quite a bit,” Crowley said, nodding his head. He could hear the usual protests in his head, screaming at him to shut his blessed mouth, stop talking about his feelings, but these feelings were ones he had kept under wraps for far too long, now. The chance to be honest about it, out loud to another person, was irresistible, especially knowing that he would likely never get the chance to say it when it mattered most.
“I miss him all the time,” he said, drowning out the voice in his head. “Think he’s written this off as a research trip,” he continued with a soft laugh. “He told me, before he left – their empires are flourishing down here, the trade and the architecture and the intellectual production is just off the charts, and he didn’t do it, they did it all by themselves.”
“Humans,” the Doctor muttered with a smile.
Crowley smiled back at him. “They’re amazing, sometimes,” he agreed. “So Aziraphale – that’s his name, the angel Aziraphale – he just told Heaven he would nip down for a few years and observe. Won’t even take credit for any of it, he’s too good, he just wants to see them succeed. And the manuscripts are a bonus, I’m sure. But, erm. It’s hard, with him gone. Harder to… see the point of it all.”
The Doctor looked at Crowley, then back at the angel, then back at Crowley, his eyes wide and sad again. “Can I give you some advice?” He waited for Crowley to give him a bemused nod of permission, then continued softly, “Tell him how you feel.” The demon took a breath, prepared to protest, but the Doctor interrupted him. “Just think about it, alright? Don’t put it off forever. I mean it, Crowley. It’s a lot easier to lose people than you think, even if you have all the time in the world.”
A lump grew in Crowley’s throat as his heart rate sped up unnecessarily, and he chewed on his lip, stuck so deep in his thoughts and worries that he feared he might drown. “How do you do it? Keep going while everything around you goes to shit?”
The Doctor gave Crowley’s shoulder a reassuring squeeze, making his heart do even more ridiculous things. “To be perfectly honest, I’m usually the one making a mess of things, and then I do my best to fix it. Or it’s not my fault, and then I still do my best to fix it.” He looked earnestly into Crowley’s eyes with such naked kindness that Crowley was forced to look away. “Because I help people, it’s what I do. Sometimes I forget that, but people do a wonderful job of convincing me that they’re worth fighting for, of reminding me who I am.”
“Oh.” Crowley spoke in a low, ragged whisper, his eyes fixed on the floor, and then inhaled deeply. “I think I’d like to go home now, please.”
“Of course,” the Doctor murmured, standing and leading the way back into the box. He pressed a few buttons and turned a few dials, watching Crowley the whole time, and he didn’t speak again until he was about to pull the lever to take off. “You know you can’t keep running forever. I’ve tried it, believe me, it doesn’t work.”
Crowley swallowed thickly around the lump in his throat. “I know,” he said quietly, and then cleared his throat and said it louder. “I know.”
The Doctor nodded, satisfied, and Crowley braced himself against a chair as he pulled the lever. The ride seemed smoother the second time around; the movement failed to knock Crowley off his feet, and he was able to focus for a few brief seconds on the issues on his mind, despite the shaking. He wondered vaguely if the Doctor was even operating the thing properly, and then they landed.
“Here we are,” the Doctor announced. He jerked his head toward the door to the outside, giving Crowley that knowing look again. “London, same alley, about ten minutes after we left.”
Crowley stood frozen, staring wide-eyed at the door, his hands balled into fists at his sides. “What are you gonna do next?” he asked, deflecting, stalling.
The Doctor let out a short laugh. “Me? I’m on my way to the Phosphorous Carousel of the Great Magellan Gestadt. Always wanted to see it, you know, and seeing as it’s my last chance…” He cleared his throat awkwardly. “And I’ll face the music, I suppose, do what I have to do. What about you?”
“I’m…” Crowley pursed his lips, turned slowly to look at the Doctor. “I’m going to break into unprecedented levels of temptation. I think I’ll start teaching people how to read. And… maybe I’ll write a letter.”
Prepared to leave, Crowley extended a hand in a friendly gesture, and before he knew it, he was enveloped in the Doctor’s lanky arms, being held tightly. After taking a moment to get over the initial shock, he wrapped his arms around the Doctor’s middle, squeezed him just as tight, dug his face into his chest. It was nice, though unexpected, to be hugged like this, and by a person who knew what a bath was. When the Doctor let go of him, Crowley almost didn’t want to pull away.
“Thank you,” he said thickly, looking up at the Doctor, memorizing his face. “Really, thank you.”
The Doctor smiled, cocking his head to the side. “For what?”
“For the trip,” Crowley murmured, “and for the advice. And… for reminding me who I am.”
“It was my pleasure,” said the Doctor, his smile widening, all those bright teeth on display. “And thank you, Crowley. For… feeling so much, for caring so deeply. For having such wonderful eyes. Demon or not, I think you’re a very good person.”
Sneering in mock disgust, Crowley groaned, “Oh, don’t say that, we were doing so well.”
“You’re brilliant,” the Doctor insisted, “and I’m sure your angel would agree. Now get out there and make some trouble, yeah?”
Crowley snapped his fingers, manifesting a new pair of sunglasses, and put them on in the smoothest possible manner. He put a hand on the door and paused to take a deep breath, steadying his nerves, thinking soothing thoughts – You’ve been doing this for millennia, he reassured himself, and then he allowed a hint of hope to slip in: The angel will come home soon, he thought, which he couldn’t know for sure, but it helped to think it.
“Goodbye, Doctor,” he said finally, feigning confidence. “Good luck.”
“Good luck,” the Doctor echoed.
Crowley stepped through the door, out into the dirty London alley where they’d started, and looked around him, taking it in. There was a sound like whistling wind or clashing metal, and Crowley turned around to see the big wooden box fading away into thin air, and his jaw hung open as he watched it go. Then it was gone, and he had to think about where to go now, what to do next.
“Right,” he muttered aloud to himself, cracking his knuckles. The war was over, the plague was gone, the famine had passed, the city was celebrating. And Crowley didn’t have forever, so he got to work.