Being Grown Up Isn't Half As Fun
"They… They'll hear us, Doctor," she murmured, "They'll do exactly what they did to my mother, what they did to... Please. We've answered your question. Just go and leave us alone!"
He turned away and looked at the young girl. True horror was written all over her face, along with lines of loss and sadness. Whoever was here had done damage to this family. "If what you say is true, then they already know you've said something to me," the Doctor pointed out, "Now, I can help you, Akna. I can stop them from hurting you and your brothers, from hurting everyone here, but you have to tell me what I'm dealing with."
She swallowed and seemed to be holding back tears. Akna knew the Doctor was right. It was too late. They were probably going to come back for her and Bacab and Tepeu. She didn't look at her brother who was still sitting on the dirty ground. She knew he must feel guilty, but Akna knew he had a right to feel that way. He had seen firsthand what happened with people who talked about the One-Eyed people, who thought about rising up against them and make them leave the civilization. "They're in the main temple in the center of the city," she whispered, not meeting the Doctor's eyes, "Today, there's supposed to be a sacrifice, which is why everyone's in the town square."
"But not you?"
Her eyes flickered up to his and stayed there, finding an odd sense of comfort in them. "No, I'm here for Tepeu," Akna replied, "My mother… She's not with us anymore." Because her mother had started asking questions, questions that were not allowed, questions that could start an uprising. So the One-Eyed people got rid of her.
"What do they look like, Akna?" the Time Lord persisted.
"They're just like you or I, Doctor," she said, "Except that they-"
"Have one eye?" he finished, getting an irritated look from Akna. He held his hands up in apology. "Right, sorry. Continue."
"They don't really have one eye," Akna explained, "We call them that because you only see one of their eyes. The other is covered by a black piece of… I don't know. But they told us it helps them communicate with the gods. That's why they're in our temple right now." The Doctor's brow furrowed for a split second before it finally became clear who they were talking about. Someone who hid in the shadows and manipulated people quietly, who were always there but remained unseen… The black pieces… They were eye patches. And the Doctor was dealing with the Silence.
Back with the girls...
Things weren't actually as bad as Amy had thought. River was being pleasant along their trip to where everyone seemed to be heading, like a festival of sorts. "So, what year is this exactly?" she asked, looking at the blonde, "You're the one that set in the coordinates. How did you kn-"
"Archaeologist, dear," River smiled, already knowing what she was going to ask. "We're in the 9th century."
"And what makes this century so special?"
"Well, for two hundred years, Mayan civilizations went through a major decline," River explained, using her knowledge of history to impress her mother. The little child that was abandoned still yearned for as much attention as she could get. When River was growing up with Rory and Amy, she'd sought bad attention, getting into so much trouble. But this was a new regeneration and it was a fresh start. And she was going to prove that she wasn't that heartless war criminal her parents and the Doctor had seen in Berlin. "There are different theories for it: foreign invasion, peasant revolt, failing trade routes, and the main one being a drought."
"It doesn't look all… Drought-y here," Amy said, looking around her. This bustling city was in a sort of valley, mountains all around them, in every direction they turned their heads. The grass below their feet was lush and green and Amy could see farmlands in the distance with workers hunched over and working on the harvest. They didn't seem to be revolting either and there were no suspicious soldiers or anything to assume there was foreign invasion. It could be something as simple and boring as the trade routes… Except it was never simple and boring, not when the Doctor got involved, anyways.
"Well, it is a theory after all," River shrugged, and then turned her head to look at Amy fully. The mood turned serious and the redhead could feel it, looking up quickly to catch her daughter's eyes. "You're running from him again, aren't you?"
"From w-" Amy began to ask.
"Oh, from Daddy," she sighed, then smiled softly at Amy's puzzled expression, "You didn't think I really believed that 'asleep' thing, did you?" When you regenerate, you remember things, but not really at the same time. When River thought about her life as Mels or even as little Melody Pond, her brain seemed to only come up with an overall summary of how her everyday life had seemed and who'd she'd met. She had to really think hard or be reminded of something to bring in perfect details or a certain event like the time she was caught shoplifting after going grocery shopping with Amy and her mum. Needless to say, Tabetha Pond never took Mels shopping again.
What wasn't hard to remember, because it was so constant in Mels' life and one of her big missions, was the fact that Amy never really saw how much Rory was in love with her. Of course, Mels found it amusing at times, when they'd play hide and seek and leave the poor boy waiting for hours in some cupboard around the house, already moving onto their next game. But as they got older, it just became irritating. She knew they were supposed to be together, yet Amy was still stuck on her imaginary friend, no matter how many times Mels shoved Rory in front of her. She remembered practically begging Amy for that whole week when she'd told Rory she'd consider getting engaged. She remembered her expressing doubts even after they were married and the anger she'd felt towards her mother when she found out that she'd escaped with the Doctor the night before her wedding. Yes, and now she was doing it again.
"No, River," Amy rushed to explain, wondering how much this woman had already assumed, "It's not like th-"
"Amy," River interrupted again, a tiny bit exasperated by this happening again, "I know the Doctor makes you feel young and happy with all his running around and adventures, but I thought we moved past this idea that you and Rory were going to spend your whole lives in the TARDIS."
"But what's so wrong with wanting to do this forever?" she murmured softly, crossing their arms. The crowd from the festival was getting louder. They were getting closer. "Don't you know what it feels like to want to stay on the TARDIS?" River must know how it felt to watch the Doctor leave her. Soon enough, she would know it better than anyone.
"You're right. But I've been studying the Doctor for the past two years, Amy. I've seen the records, read about the lives he's touched and the companions he's traveled with. Don't you think they all thought they were going to stay with him forever? And where do you think they all are now?" She paused, but Amy didn't answer, knowing it was a rhetorical question.
"Maybe it's different with us, though," Amy argued. She could pass it off like she was just talking about their friendship, but the Doctor loved her and she him. Didn't that count for something?
"No, he leaves them all," River said, shaking her head, "Even the ones he really does love. Has he ever told you about Rose Tyler?" Of course she knew about it. She'd seen the report on the blown up building that Rose worked at where Torchwood found evidence of the Nestene. She'd seen the investigation going behind the 19-year old girl's disappearance who suddenly showed up out of nowhere one day. She saw pictures of them taken on websites that followed the Doctor. Rose Tyler was even on Torchwood's files after somehow meeting the Queen Victoria. Torchwood Two was closely tied into the event where Earth was moved to a completely different part of space and they'd written up reports on it. And one spoke of the lovely Rose Tyler and what had happened to her, how she was in a parallel universe with a copy of the Doctor, one who only had one heart and could live out a normal life with her.
"No, but I've heard about her," Amy replied, feeling a bit self-conscious. Jack had talked about Rose at one point, as well, and the Doctor refused to talk about her or any of his other previous companions. "Why?"
"Never mind," River said, realizing she was shying away from the point she was trying to make. Rose wasn't a big deal to her. The Doctor had moved on, and besides, it wasn't like he was the only person she'd been with. Mels was not a perfect angel. She did much more than just telling off teachers and stealing cars. The only thing River didn't like about it was that Rose got the Meta-Crisis Doctor. She would be able to grow old and have children with him. You wouldn't think that River was the type of girl to settle down and pop out some kids, but the idea of being able to have a normal life with the only man she'd ever truly love sounded just a bit appealing. Still, River assumed that after her studies, the Doctor would come back for her and take her on adventures, just like he'd done with her mother and father. "My point is, Amy, that you need to go back to Rory. You need to stop dreaming of the stars for five seconds and realize that you have a home, a family, a safe life, and a loving husband back on Earth."
Amy swallowed back the lump rising in her throat. Was she really being silly in thinking that this could last with her and the Doctor? River was right. Amy was going to grow old and the Doctor was going to look like his stupid self forever. Well, unless he somehow died… And then he'd get a new face. The Doctor had even told Amy that she should choose all that stuff back home. But she hadn't wanted it. She still didn't want it. Not without him, anyways. But she gave River a convincing smile. She wasn't going to leave unless the Doctor made her. And that was that.
River smiled back, pleased to see that Amy seemed to be listening. She wrapped her arm around her shoulder and hugged her loosely. "Alright," she said, "Now that the serious stuff is taken care of, let's go see if there's any bad aliens enslaving a whole civilization, shall we?" Amy laughed and nodded, so glad that she'd mastered concealing her emotions after all that psychiatry.
They'd reached the pavilion by then and the place was crowded with people who were drinking some strange liquid that was no doubt alcoholic and eating strange foods that actually made Amy kind of hungry. They were all talking loudly and both the women picked up on something immediately. Some women looked scared, their husbands or fathers or brothers telling them to stop it and smile because this was a joyous occasion. Other women were smiling, but not with their eyes. Their eyes were the same as everyone else: worried. There were even some men standing off to the side, looking on with pity and sadness. "What the hell is going on?" Amy asked, "Doesn't look like much of a celebration to me."
"You've never seen sad drunks?" Rive returned teasingly, "And I thought you were Scottish."
Amy rolled her eyes and the women continued into the busy place. The redhead's nose wrinkled at the smell of the sweating bodies and, despite her hunger, that food was not smelling all too delicious and was causing Amy to feel a bit queasy. She looked over at River. "How can you stand this smell?"
"Oh, it's not that bad, Amy. Besides, I live in the 51st century. Believe me, I've experienced worse," she laughed. They weaved through the crowd and Amy immediately went towards a corner of men that weren't holding back on their drinking. She smiled and flirted, easing them up and making them laugh before she started dropping seemingly harmless questions. Girls had never really liked her, so she doubted anyone of them would open up. River took care of that, though. Since she looked to be older, she got along with the women more, who knew that this woman was older and more mature, had more authority and had things to say. That and she was positively good at making jokes, just like her mother, but it was harder to open the girls up. After about 25 minutes, Amy and River found each other towards the front of the party by a step of stairs that led up to the main temple.
"Okay, this is hopeless!" Amy cried, trying to be heard over the crowd of people.
River groaned. "You didn't get anything either?"
"Just a marriage proposal and some man groping my legs," she answered, tone irritated. Every time she'd tried leading up to what they were all there for, the laughing stopped and tension resumed. If she tried asking about any weird occurrences, they'd all be ignoring her and too busy staring at her short skirt and what it didn't hide. "You must have had some luck, River. Women love talking."
"Oh, trust me, they do," she said, shaking her head in slight frustration, "They talked about their husbands, their sons, recipes, the harvest, the latest gossip… I could hardly get a word in edge-wise and even when I did they all just got quiet for a second and gave me this look before resuming the conversation as if I hadn't said anything at all! Amy, you can see it in their eyes, though, can't you? They're scared."
"Yeah, but of what?" River was about to shrug and start brainstorming. Amy was just going to suggest going back and waiting for the Doctor in hopes that he'd found something. But then it got very, very quiet. The two women looked at the Mayans, who were all bowing their heads, staring sorrowfully at the ground, their bodies all turned towards Amy and River. They looked at each other, confused. "Why are they staring at us?" Amy stage whispered.
River turned her head ninety degrees to her left and her eyes widened. "Oh, my God." Amy turned her head to the right, eyes locking with the person standing by the doors. She felt pure fear rise up and flame up through her whole body and all the air was sucked up out of her lungs. Amy couldn't even speak. And that was saying something.
"Well, well. Isn't this a lovely surprise? Is that you, Melody Pond? All grown up? Very interesting." She didn't know this person, not at all. But Amy knew what that black eye patch meant. It was a woman, brown hair in a tight bun behind her, her lips a thin line and her skin was a soft brown tan. She was older, maybe in her mid- to late- thirties. Her voice was smooth and sultry-like, a bit of a Hispanic accent just on the edge of it. "And you're just in time."
"Time for what, Perez?" River shot back. Unlike Amy, the woman before them was no stranger to River. She knew who she was. And she had a bone to pick with her.
"Don't you know what we're all celebrating?" Perez giggled. The two women didn't answer and she sighed, and then looked at the rest of the crowd. "The Gods have chosen!" The crowd clapped and cheered, but the energy was stale and the villagers looked about, worried, wondering if it was them. Four men in familiar uniforms that Amy recognized from her time on Demon's Run came out of the temple's entrance. She said something quietly to them, something no one else could hear, and they all nodded, heading down the stairs. Before either Pond could guess what was going on, they surrounded Amy, grabbing her arms and holding River back.
"What are you doing?" Amy cried, "Get your hands off me, you numpties! Do you know who I am?" They ignored her, avoiding her wild legs that were kicking at anything it could reach.
"Oh yes, Amelia Pond. Of course we do," Perez answered, then turned back to the crowd, the volume in her voice booming and an excited grin gracing her lips. "That's why you're the lucky chosen one. Oh, they'll be so happy to hear who's dropped by for a visit."
"What does it mean, Doctor?" Akna's questioning voice reached his ears. He hadn't talked to them in a while. His eyes just lit up with some sort of recognition, a mixture of fear. And then he'd started pacing, mumbling to himself, looking all around and checking his wrists before mumbling some more. "Doctor, you said you could help up. What are you going to do?"
He didn't answer. Too many questions were swirling in his head. The Silence? What were they doing here? What was the point of coming to the Mayans and when did they start time-traveling? Where did they get the technology? Of course, the actual Silence had always been around, influencing Earth. They'd always been hiding underneath the surface and staying at the corner of your eye, forgotten as soon as you looked away. The Doctor didn't know how long the religious order had been around, though. He knew hardly anything about them at all, which was so infuriating since they were so bent on killing him and him and Amy had been choosing to simply run… That snapped the Doctor out of his reverie. "Amy… Oh, no. No, I have to get Amelia out of here."
"Who is Amy?" Bacab asked, tilting his head in confusion at the Doctor.
"She's my… My friend," the Time Lord replied, "And I have to go find her. She went towards the main temple. There was a celebration of some sort going on and she went to-"
"That's where my father is!" the boy grinned, "Children aren't allowed to go to it! And Akna had to watch us, but that's okay because she could have gotten picked!"
"Picked?" the Doctor asked, his nose scrunching in confusion. He looked back at Akna. "What does he mean?"
"That celebration… It's run by… By them," the girl explained, shifting uneasily. She didn't seem to regret missing out on the party either. "My mother was picked because she asked too many questions. They do not speak to the Gods like they say. I know they don't."
"Yes, but what do you mean by 'picked'?" he repeated. Akna's answer had given him little to no answers. Of course it was run by the Silence. Everything in this village was. "Picked for what?"
He watched Bacab and Akna eye him like he was a complete idiot. "Don't you know what that celebration is for, Doctor?" she asked, "It's a sacrifice."