Pick up pick up pick up pick up!
She did with a very normal, "Hello."
No time for checking journals. Amy whispered fiercely into the mobile – that very special and modified mobile."Melody? Mels? "
River immediately got the shorthand."Mother, what is it?"
Amy pressed harder with her knuckle in her other ear, backpedaling, reaching the top step and moving around the corner into the hall. Rory had his arm around her – pulling her to keep up before she turned to run. She tried shutting out the phaser fire downstairs, her mother's and father's yelling as they got pulled along too, shouting at Rory, at her, shouts of what is happening – A shot burned a hole into the wall, and a part of the banister crashed to the floor. Then footsteps – boots, heavy boots – running, chasing them-
River had her answer. "Where!"
The gunfire changed: different pitches, more of them. Rory hit the switch for the hall lights and everything got as dark as it was downstairs where the lights had been shot out.
"They're attacking my parents' house! I don't know who, I don't know what they want!"
The firing downstairs grew worse, somehow more intense, and she would never be able to hear anything over it.
But River made herself heard. "When!"
"The date – it's – it's- What the hell is it!"
"I have that from your call - how long ago did this start?"
"A couple of minutes ago? I can't give you coordinates-!"
"Don't worry, I have those too, for all your locations."
"What!" Something else crashed or exploded – crashed and exploded – downstairs, but the running boot steps stopped – or paused? She and Rory pushed her parents the last few steps – at least, Rory did while she pressed the mobile painfully hard to her ear.
"Where are you in the house?"
"Upstairs!" Rory slammed the bedroom door. "My old room!"
Rory snapped on the small light on the nightstand and Amy half expected to see the old picture of her and Mels together, when they were teenagers. But she had moved that with her to the new house.
He went to her mum and dad, touched their shoulders in quick comfort, then pressed his ear to the other side of the mobile. Amy moved backwards so her parents were right at her back. No, not a good idea. She couldn't let them hear what was said.
"Stay where you are. Hear me?"
Amy started to say no, but River didn't give her the chance.
"Stay there! This gets difficult if I have to worry about you coming into the middle of it!"
Rory whispered fiercely to himself, "Gets difficult?"
"I mean it, Centurion, I know you're listening. Stay upstairs!"
Amy struggled against the promise and sidestepped it. "Stop arguing and get here!"
The fighting below grew hotter, the sounds rattling the door. Even so, she swore she heard River smile.
"I already am."
Amy stared at Rory. "What? How!"
"It is time travel. It's why I asked you when they came in. I can't go further back or the timelines get dodgy. I will call to you when it's safe."
"Be-!" Rory started, but River had hung up. "- careful." He shared Amy's stare.
"I know," he said.
They listened to the sounds of two guns firing, then an aching quiet, then a quick, hard volley hit again.
Earlier, when she had heard the different phaser fire – that had to be River. It sounded like River's gun, now that she thought about it. It explained why whoever had started chasing them up the stairs never got further. Why no one did.
"Was that the police?" Amy raised her eyes to see the held back tears in her mother's own.
No, it's your granddaughter. "Help's here."
Her mother and father made noises of some relief and clasped each others' hands. Augustus turned sharply. "Did you say Mels before? "
"-No, uh Wells," Amy thought quickly. "The person on the other end said their name was Wells."
Her dad took this as truth, thank god. "Of course. Imagine Mels working for the police."
Tabitha patted his hands, diverted for a half-second. "Wherever she ended up, poor thing. I'll always wonder."
Amy gnawed her bottom lip.
Quiet again. Rory spoke low. "Amy, if we have to, you lead your mum and dad into the next room while I keep watch in the hall. That window's right above the overhang for the back door. We can reach the ground-"
"How are we going to get my dad and mum out a window to a-"
He held a hand up suddenly, listening. It stayed quiet. No more shots.
Amy stared at him, at River's father, and they glanced together down to the mobile in her hand. No call.
No shout from River downstairs.
Give her a second- give her-
Rory went to the door and put his ear to it. He shook his head and then raised his eyes back up to his wife's. "She's fine."
"She's River Song."
Still - nothing.
Tabitha broke in, "What are you two whispering about?"
Amy licked her lips but turned around, making her voice cheerful. "It sounds like they got it under control. We figure someone will shout up the stairs."
"Never mind," Rory said. "I'm going down to meet them."
She immediately moved. "I'm going with you."
"Amelia, no!" There was an unexpected note of command in Augustus Pond's voice. "I will go downstairs with Rory. You stay here."
"Dad, no. It's okay."
"It is not okay-"
"I'm just going out to the landing."
She ducked out and avoided his hand grabbing her. His instincts to protect her mother and not risk anyone else would kick in. At least, she gambled on that happening. Give her a minute – just a minute, to see what was happening.
Rory shook his head suddenly.
"What?" she whispered.
"We're overreacting. How many of the Silence did she handle herself? That day in America-"
Amy hadn't seen it; she was in the TARDIS when River stood alone against them. But she managed a weak smile. "Eight for you, honey."
Rory groaned. "Don't remind me about the flirting."
They took another couple of steps and now she heard voices. Someone male, a rumble deep in the chest. Or possibly male. Could just be some enormous – whatever. And then, (relief) River. An angry River. She could make that out at least.
Everything was dark; only the streetlights bleeding in broke up the blackness into shadows. Rory stopped to duck in and out of the middle room, coming back with her dad's old cricket bat. They inched to the top of the stairs and hugged the wall.
"-is not here. So you lot, move on."
They inched further down the steps until they could just see her, her back to them and lit from a slash of light as she faced off against two –no, three. Hard to see them in their all dark clothing.
The one in the middle spoke, skin pale in the filtered light from outside. "The trail ends here."
He wasn't the one Amy heard earlier. His voice reached only half the depth of that other one. His arms were folded oddly across his chest.
River said, "Last time: no one here is harbouring a Time Agent. And I don't care that he managed to throw you off the scent. Go pick up the trail wherever it is."
The one on River's right shifted weight onto his other hip. Smaller than her, but something in the way he looked her up and down... "What do you care?" His hands dropped down and Amy saw they still held their weapons. That's what had been so odd about the one in the middle; he dropped his arms too and she could see the large weapon – like a machine gun – that had blended with his body before. A machine gun – River! "Why you here?"
"You must be new to this or you'd know a professional contract pays you to have no curiosity."
"She's right." There was that booming voice she heard before, but he stayed in the darkest part of the room, out of sight. "You get a reputation for straying out of the contract, you'll never get another job."
The smaller one answered. "Someone might pay to know River Song has a soft spot."
Rory's body subtly changed next to Amy on the stairs. He rebalanced his weight and the bat in his hand took a different angle to his leg, the flat side now parallel like a blade.
The one in the middle grinned. Amy itched to slap the expression off his face. "Someone might even pay to know she's not in Stormcage. "
Everyone held in that moment, then he lunged at River. Her left hand darted for something at the small of her back as the little one on the right grabbed her gun hand. Rory reached for the rail to vault over it –
River fired into the body of the one holding her gun hand without taking her eyes off the one still grabbing her left. He brought it up, snarling something, and found she had-
Nothing. And he had let go of his weapon to grab her.
"Amateur." She drove her fist hard into his chest with the gun still in it. Air left in a rush and a lot of pain went in. He collapsed to the ground writhing.
That left one of them and that one was still armed.
Rory stilled on the steps and grabbed Amy before she went running down to their daughter.
That deep voice only noted, "Something broke in his chest. You're not human to do that."
River only said, "Take them and the bodies if you want. Move on."
Sirens sounded in the distance. Somebody had heard something and called the police.
Amy saw a glimmer of the only one left as some shadow moved. He had shrugged. "My business is elsewhere."
He stepped over the others on the floor and River struck for the last time. Amy bit back the surprised yelp as he fell.
But not far. River had him by the collar and hauled him into the light. Weaponless now. And not the big heavy – thing – Amy expected. Just a normal man, gray in the light, with a black strap on his wrist that looked very much like the one on River's. "You're the Time Agent they want," she ground out.
He groaned. "What gave me away?"
The sirens got closer.
River stared down at him. "I don't have time to school you in your job. Just remember to never bring your trail around these people again."
She abruptly let go and he dropped to his knees. She reached into one of the pouches on her gun belt and bent over the two on the floor. Amy tried to see, but Rory still blocked her with his body.
The Time Agent bit out, "My information is too important, it takes priority. Sometimes we have to make sacrifices- "
River was back in his face, her voice hard. "Not here, not these people. Now take this." She shoved something in his hand. "You know what it is. Or you can answer to Torchwood when they come in that door with the police."
He snorted at that and Amy pushed against Rory's back. "Torchwood disbanded last year. They don't exist anymore."
"Torchwood doesn't exist and River Song is in Stormcage. Want to test your theory? Wait to see if I did contact them and you'll answer for bringing alien weaponry in their jurisdiction. That will delay your mission."
He tried staring her down and then cursed, grabbing whatever she had in her hand and swallowing it.
She nudged the men on the floor with her boot. "You're going to take these two back with you. The bodies don't matter. The only thing any of you will remember is that you won the fight on the other side of town. Plus this bit that you'll keep in a part of your mind you're not conscious of: keep your battles away from this family. All of this family. The Ponds and Williams are off limits. Ignore that and there's no discussion next time."
Amy thought she saw him blink a few times, but whatever it was, he knelt by the two moaning on the floor and flopped their hands on to his wrists. He jabbed at his vortex manipulator and they all disappeared.
River looked sharply over her shoulder right at them. "You promised to stay upstairs!"
Amy rushed down the last steps right alongside Rory. "Actually, we didn't."
He got to River first, and somewhere between his first step and the second, he became just Rory again. Rory the nurse, Rory who was River's father. The cricket bat dropped from his fingers and he grabbed her by the shoulders. His eyes searched her up and down. "Are you alright?"
Amy thudded into her before she could finish and wrapped her in a hard hug. She didn't even care River was in her prison clothes, and Amy hated seeing her in those clothes.
"Stop yelling at us," she scolded cheerfully. "Mind your elders."
"Oh for the love of-"
"Are you alright?" Rory repeated.
"I was until I heard you two coming down the stairs!"
Amy's grin got even bigger. "Rory almost jumped over the banister to help you out."
River looked at him. "Please tell me that's not true. That you weren't going to face armed men like that!"
"Well," he said, in that wonderful, rumbly Rory way, "I had a cricket bat."
"And you would have done the same thing, River."
"That's different," she answered Amy. "That's me."
Police strobes broke into the darkness and voices shouted orders as car doors slammed. More importantly, Amy heard her bedroom door creak.
River's hand darted back into the belt pouch. "Listen, we don't have much time and you need to make a decision." She dropped something into Amy's hand. "These are Retcon pills. Take one and it removes the memory of the last several minutes. You can even implant false ones. I used it so the people who attacked you won't remember I was here. Or even that they were."
So they wouldn't remember to offer up that information for sale. A knot Amy didn't even know she still had in her stomach disappeared. She pushed the pills back. "We don't need these."
"They're not for you."
Above their heads, the floor settled under someone's weight. A pause and then softly, "Amelia?"
She looked back down wide-eyed at River. "What could I tell them instead? There's a burn hole in the wall!"
"How we going to explain what actually happened?" Rory pointed out.
River hurried on. "Whatever you think is best. I just want them spared as much fright as possible. If you want, you can ask the Torchwood agent. They have a lot of experience with Retcon. They can help you with it when they're cleaning up this mess."
"Who's Torchwood?" Rory asked.
That knot came back to twist Amy's stomach. "Can they make trouble for you?" She grabbed River's arm. "You said something about their jurisdiction."
River smiled and patted her arm, but Rory was closest so he got the kiss on the cheek. Then she was already tapping against the vortex manipulator on her wrist as she stepped back. "How can they?" The smile quirked at one corner. "I'm in Stormcage."
Amy barely had time to call out, "Come back soon for a proper visit!" before the smoke and manufactured lightning took River away.
Someone knocked on the door, calling out they were the police. Augustus, with Tabitha right behind, stepped down the stairs.
Rory looked from the pills in Amy's hand up to her face. "Any ideas?"
"I thought to call River." She dumped the pills in his hand. "You take this one."