The Doctor gulped.
He had been expecting Victorian London. Instead, he was parked on a mountainside, in front of a cave, in front of which stood a Silent.
"I ordered a whole planet to kill you on sight."
The creature tilted its head.
"We have both done things we regret."
"I didn't say I regretted it."
The Silent looked at him without expression.
The Doctor swung the TARDIS door slowly shut behind him.
"So how does this work then? The last times I was here I didn't know what you were. I hadn't encountered your sort yet. But this time I have. And I know how you work. So how come when I saw one of you at Lake Silencio and chased a whole army of you halfway across America I didn't remember these meetings?"
The Silent walked towards him, offering him the eye-drive.
"Yes, I know what to do with that by now."
"I meant this is why you do not remember me. This eye-drive is reverse-programmed to me alone. You remember your encounters with others of my kind when you see me, but I have wired it so that you do not remember me when in the presence of others of my species. You only remember me when you see me."
"That couldn't have been an easy job."
"I had the time Doctor."
"Where do you get a screwdriver from in this place?"
"And the means."
The Doctor, keeping the Silent in his line of sight, held up the eye-drive and inspected it, as if the answers he was looking for would be carved into the dull metal surface.
"What if I just refuse to put it on though? I still remember our meetings each time I arrive, as long as I don't look away..."
"A signal has already implanted itself in your brain. Do not worry- it is harmless. Refusing to put the eye-drive on this time would make no difference to that. It would only mean you forget me when you look away. The signal I engineered has been there from the moment you put the eye-drive on at our first meeting."
"Hmm, makes sense I suppose."
The Doctor fitted the eye-drive, then looked up at the Silent
"But that's about the only thing that makes sense round here. I fought you. In an alternate timeline the once. You hurt my friend. You stole her baby. But I fixed it. I waged a war against an enemy I didn't even know was there most of the time. You tried to kill me, again and again, but I survived. And you lot didn't. So what are you doing here? And what am I doing here? And like I told you the last time it's definitely been more than one hundred years, so whatever instruction you're giving me clearly isn't working properly-"
The Doctor's volume had been rising steadily but suddenly he stopped, turned around, and gaped at his time machine.
"It's you," he stammered. He rested his head gently against the deep blue door, "Not always where I want to go, but where I need to go. Or in this case, when I need."
He sighed and turned back around.
The Silent was looking at him.
"Eh- sorry about that, just needed a moment."
He began to stride towards the cave.
"I met my TARDIS- she had a body and everything. Turns out she even overrides silent programmes when necessary. Takes me where and when I need to go."
He stopped and looked back at the Silent.
"And I'm getting the impression I'm needed here."
The Silent, as always, returned his words with nothing more than a stare.
"What's this leading up to aye? What's all this for? I keep asking you that, and you keep saying I'll find out. Well, this face would like to know. There's something stirring out there, something's still not quite right with the universe. I thought I had closed all the cracks in time and space and then one appears in an automated prison cell disguised as a 1980's Earth hotel. Something's there, something's behind those cracks. But I don't know what it is yet and I don't like not knowing. But I think you do."
The Silent tilted its head.
"Not so Time Lord- I too prefer knowledge to ignorance."
The Doctor took a step towards him.
"That's not what I meant and you know it. I've just lost my best friends to the Weeping Angels. I'm not in the mood for vague answers or empty words. If I ask you a question, I expect an answer. Now tell me- what are you doing here, and why do I keep coming back?"
The Silent's face remained emotionless in the onslaught of the Doctor's menace. But it did answer.
"I told you the last time Doctor. This is my penance. I have done something of which I am deeply ashamed, and this is my way of atoning for that error."
"And presumably it involves me?"
"It does, Doctor."
"I cannot tell you now. But you will find out. That I promise."
"Hmm- well, better than nothing I suppose."
"You said you had lost your friends?"
"I don't want to talk about it."
"How did it happen?"
"I told you- the Weeping Angels."
"I am aware of that species."
"Yeah- so am I. More than aware. I could go the rest of my lives without having to stare at another one of those gargoyles and it still wouldn't be long enough. They're parasites, feeding off the life of anything they encounter. They're bad, they're evil, and they took my friends, and now... and now..."
"And now what, Doctor?"
"And now I just want to be left alone."
The two unlikely companions sat quietly for a long time.
"I imagine that is difficult for a Time Lord."
"Extremely difficult. The universe is never done needing help. But what if I don't want to help anymore? Why should I? I've spent most of my life, hundreds of years, answering distress signals and scaring away monsters in the dark and telling people to run. What if I don't want to do that now?"
"Then don't Doctor. Ignore the distress signals, leave the monsters where they are, and stand still."
The Doctor ran his hands over his face.
"Sometimes I think that's just as difficult."
A single cloud drifted across the sky. The Doctor watched it as it rolled lazily over the hinterlands in front of the mountain on which he and the Silent sat.
The Doctor looked thoughtful. Unable to sit still any longer, he jumped up from the rock on which he had been sitting.
"Seriously though- where do you get a screwdriver from round here?"
"I don't understand, Doctor."
"To modify the eye-drive. You can't just do something like that, you need tools..."
"I told you Doctor, I have the means."
"Aaahhh- can you stop speaking in riddles! I am tired of all these mysteries. All these questions. Is it too much to expect some answers once in a while?"
"What questions would you like answered?"
"Everything. Who are you? Why do I keep coming back here? What's behind the cracks in the universe?"
"If I told you that I would risk altering your destiny Time Lord-"
The Doctor almost laughed.
"What does that even mean? How can a Time Lord have a destiny? I can go from the beginning of the universe to the end of it in five minutes. I could invent pasta in the morning and visit Henry VIII that afternoon. I've escaped Badwolf and the Daleks and four knocks. I can go anywhere, do anything... except... except..."
"Except what, Doctor?"
"Except rescue my friends."
The Doctor suddenly looked very old.
And then very angry.
He stormed over to the TARDIS, flinging the eye-drive over his shoulder as he did so.
"I won't be needing this anymore."
The Silent had not moved, but it spoke.
"You can run, Doctor, but remember, you cannot outrun your destiny."
The Doctor made no sign that he had heard as the TARDIS doors crashed shut.