A/N: Hello everyone! This is Melody Williams proper (as opposed to the drabble series). This story has zeppelins, space hamsters, paradoxes, a hand with a mind of its own, a very bad wolf, and the counterpart of a river. Ultimately I blame Zoe Alice Latimer for this; thanks, Zoe.
Expect shenanigans to ensue.
"Oh come on, you've seen it on films. Like an alternative to our world, where everything's the same but a little bit different. Like, I don't know, traffic lights are blue."
~Mickey Smith, Rise of the Cybermen
She was always a very strange little girl. The kids at school all wondered where her head had gone off to. The general consensus was time.
Little did they know that they were right.
Melody Williams was lost in time.
The Doctor didn't happen always. But he happened often enough for Dad to take her to a psychiatrist. He tried, Dad did, but it was hard, raising a little girl all by yourself. Amelia Pond had been hit by a car when little Melody was all of five years old.
Melody still remembers the car screaming, and those screams chased her into her dreams.
Then one night someone else was there dreaming with her. Dreaming about her mother screaming. With her. And it was a soft, light feather whisper person, just barely there. And Melody, naturally as anything, turned away from the scary noise of pain and towards the other dreamer instead.
Suddenly: of course. Of course. The Doctor. Of course it would be him.
She's never heard of the Doctor before (there is no Doctor in this side of the universe) but it really can't be anybody else but him. She does not question it. Because it is her, viewing through a small window the corners of his life that the someone blue allows her to see. Long scarves. Lost granddaughters. Bowties and French for let's go.
Sticks of celery.
She sees it all in little snippets, like cut up pieces of a ribbon. Not everything, though. No other person should be privy to a man's everything.
In the morning after that first night she tells Dad all about the Doctor. All about their adventures inside of that blue someone. At first Dad humors her, and treats her to her fancies. But when she turns thirteen, and the Doctor persists in her dreams still, Dad takes her to the psychiatrist.
She doesn't want to talk to the psychiatrist. So she doesn't talk to any of the psychiatrists. Dad, however, does, and slowly she sees him get better from the death of Amelia Pond. Enough so that he is able to stop drinking. He is able to go back to nursing, which he loves to do. Enough so that when she is Feste in the school's Twelfth Night he is able to go to that, too, and laugh at all the right parts. It makes her so happy, seeing him there in the crowd. He gave her a bouquet of yellow carnations afterwards, and they went to dinner at the fish and chips shop down the road.
That was the first night she remembers him smiling for a long, long while. It made her unequivocally happy.
The Judoon stole Dad's hospital when Melody turned nineteen. While he was slowly asphyxiating to death she was daydreaming about the Doctor, and doodling his tenth self onto the corner of a napkin in the university's cafeteria. Some blond snatches the napkin out from under Melody's fingers at the same time she hears the news about the hospital on the telly.
Dad is more important than stolen napkins.
It turns out he gives the last of his oxygen to a girl named Martha Jones. Melody isn't sure if she can ever forgive him.
The Doctor's dreams are almost too vivid. Too real to be imagined. Splashes of color, and the world always turning, turning inside of his head. Once he says a thousand thousand voices, all chattering away inside her head . . . it must be like being, well, me but little Melody can help him with that, even just a little bit.
All those voices? They almost make her cry. Because they're the sound of a thousand thousand screaming inside of a planet than never always might have existed in the future past present. (gallifrey falling,gallifrey burning)
But the Doctor needs her, now, just as Dad had done, so she does not let the burning turn her away. Instead she lies there with him, in the thin place between dreaming. Hello. Hello. And it's something, at least, even if he is unaware of her presence inside of his head.
Because the Doctor ensures that he never, ever remembers any of his dreams. He cannot bear to. But she is there, and maybe she helps him, because even after his downfall over the Victory of Time he is still somehow able to become a man who is capable of laughter.
(your fingers bleeding gold and you heart being born infant screaming)
In his dreams that night she cradles the memory in her arms (i don't want to go. i know, i know) and rocks him to sleep.
A week after the funeral Torchwood comes to collect her. It's a good thing they do; she's become consumed by the dreams and sometimes she forgets to eat.
It's funny, what can happen all because of a doodle. Apparently they all know the Doctor. That's alright with her, because she knows the Doctor too.
Rose comes back every day smelling of ozone and the blue radiation crackles along her bones. She clutches Melody's doodle in her pocket and goes back again and again.
"I have to find him," she tells Melody. "He needs me."
Melody doesn't argue with her. But she does worry, because dimension hopping is killing Rose, baking her from the inside out until there's nothing left but that hollow sound of blue. Two years later Rose finally hits the right universe.
Two years and six months later she puts the dimension cannon away and refuses to tell Melody why. "Did you find him?" she demands. "Rose, did you find the Doctor? What did he say?"
Rose won't look at her.
But Rose continues to walk down that corridor, the clacking of her heels echoing the only sound besides Melody screaming back
"Rose?" Rose refuses to look at her. Refuses to even consider her. "Rose—what did he say?"
But Rose doesn't answer.
They don't let you do anything but dream about the Doctor anymore. They absolutely, absolutely refuse, and they hook you up to a monitor to record the Doctor's dreams (because they've always, always been the Doctor's dreams, Melody just happens to be the one dreaming them).
Pete Tyler doesn't visit you, nor does Michael Smith. Or Jacky. Not even baby Tony, who you taught how to say the color blue.
The only one who visits you now is Rose, and all she wants to do is ask questions about the Doctor. What is he doing? Where is he now? How can I find him?
You want to tell her But you did find him. Didn't you? Because the stars had stopped going out.
Melody doesn't tell Rose about the Girl Who Waited.
She doesn't tell her about the Last Centurion.
And she definitely doesn't tell her about River Song.
She's never told anyone about River Song. Because if Melody had had a Doctor here in this universe with her, too, she would have been River Song.
And she isn't quite sure how she feels about that.
Sometimes River will kiss her Doctor's brow, and she'll look inward into little Melody, and Melody will look back.
What are they asking you?
About the Doctor.
Don't tell Rose Tyler anything. She'll tear open the universe to get back to him.
But didn't she find him? Didn't she see him?
. . .
She doesn't know how long it's been. Just that she hasn't seen the sun in a while. Her hair has gotten much longer than it was. And someone, somewhere, is singing.
It isn't the Doctor, which surprises her, because she's been wrapped up in the Doctor's dreams for so long now she's almost forgotten that there is something else outside.
And for the first time in a long time she turns away from him and towards the singer instead. (Besides at the moment the Doctor is fine, dreaming of Romana. Tonight he is very, very young.)
Almost as young as:
Goodbye—no, that's not—
Who are you?
Who? Who is who is who?
My name is
Pond. Melody. River River River and abruptly Melody is seeing an image of her red-haired self wrapped up in golden curls and dark brown skin, like a badly overlaid image. Wrapped up in the image is the overwhelming feeling of sister sister sister, and Melody thinks No, that's River. I'm Melody Williams.
Williams? Melody Williams? For the first time there is uncertainty in the other. Melody gets a brief flash of wrong right universe and then—
It came for us.
No. It is coming. Must make things quick for speaking. Mummy told me to tell me will to tell you
Tenses are difficult, I can imagine. Tell me to tell you-Melody-Williams to say that I must tell my John about you. After it comes.
After what comes?
Bad Wolf. And there is a hiccup, and Melody thinks I know that title. Rose is that title now. How had she never noticed it before?
Because Bad Wolf is clever, not even Rose knows yet, but she suspects who she has been will be. Bad Wolf has made my John very sad. No, sorry, it will make him sad. It is clever, and wants its Doctor, and it will make my John sad. My John is not-yet-your John—but yes, I suppose that doesn't really answer your question.
Who is Joh—that's not an answer!
Mummy tried to explain to me once, but I was too little later on. But now I do understand. I'm pretty sure that we haven't properly met yet. What was that word she told me first to say? And why a yellow jacket?
Listen, I'm not sure you understand—
Yellow hasn't happened for you yet. Do not worry, Melody Williams, my John will be speaking about to you eventually. What is that word?
John . . . will meet me? Melody hasn't met anyone new outside-of-Torchwood for a long time.
Oh, yes, the word is hello. Hello, Melody Williams!
Then the Doctor turns over in his sleep, and Melody turns back to dreaming.
Rose comes in again today. Melody is yanked out of her dreaming, put off the drugs that keep her asleep rather early in the day. That's how she knows Rose is coming in. They always make sure that Melody is lucid when Rose comes in.
The change in her old friend startles Melody. (Hollow brown eyes and a broken, jagged grin.)
"Where is Rose?" Melody asks Bad Wolf.
"What was the Doctor doing before I came in?"
Melody closes her eyes, mainly so she won't have to look at that brokenness anymore. "He was very young. Younger than I've ever seen him." Gallifrey young, Academy young. And he met a fellow Gallifreyan who stole his heart. She was blonde and loved loved loved
she loved flowers. Small white ones that smelled like time. She wore them in her hair on their wedding day
"You're not going to tell me?" The tone of voice is incredulous.
and he still dreams about her sometimes, even a thousand years later when he is an old, old man
"No," Melody says. "I'm not. Some things not even Rose Tyler is supposed to know."
it's funny that she was blonde
The sardonic lift of an eyebrow. "Are you sure about that? Because I need to find the Doctor. This would be all so much simpler if you told me where to find him. Then the—" And then she stops, abruptly, as if someone had pressed pause on the remote.
"Then the what?" Melody asks.
Bad Wolf slams her hands down on the table that separates them. "Tell me where he is."
It's the first time she tries resisting.
It's the first time she tries not dreaming. And it's surprisingly easy, because for the first, first time he has someone.
River Song. The other Melody.
What about when you aren't there anymore?
I don't know. How far do you skip ahead in his dreams?
. . . never past you.
So we'll cross that bridge when we come to it. How are you holding up?
. . .
Melody. How are you holding up?
Why does Bad Wolf want to know where the Doctor is?
Because she thinks that the man she was given isn't him. And she can't come through anymore, the walls of reality—
—would collapse, yes. But I don't understand. Who was she given? And please don't say spoilers.
I won't then.
And Melody is not sure why she doesn't tell River Song about the singer who helps her escape from the pain. But she doesn't. It's almost like a secret, all to herself throughout those long hours of saying no.
Because refusal brooks consequences.
When Bad Wolf brings in a Time Agent called Jack Harkness, Melody's little singer tells her all about John.
It helps Melody deal with the pain.
My John is wonderful. And even though he doesn't know me yet he will love me just as much as I love him. Melody Williams will love him too. His favorite color is blue, but mine is red, so I'll be red, and Melody Williams's favorite color is yellow. See? I'm learning about everyone.
Yes. Yes you are. Very good. Very . . .
. . . and my John also loves oranges and has green eyes because his body was still changing later . Then she finally notices the thing that Melody was desperately trying to keep her from noticing.
Melody Williams . . . is in pain?
No, no, I'm—
But my sensors indicate that Melody Williams is in pain. Her voice became frightened. Much pain.
—tell me—tell me about John. What's his favorite smell?
Freshly cut grass. But the little one refuses to be derailed. You are in pain. Melody Williams is crying. Why?
Please . . . tell me about something . . .
Why are they hurting Melody Williams?
Far away in another world entirely Jack Harkness says, "Now Miss Williams. I've been gentle so far, but if you refuse to cooperate I'm afraid that I will have to get a bit . . . rough with you." He did something that made her body scream, but she wasn't focusing on that, she wasn't, she was—"Tell us where to find the Doctor, Miss Williams."
And the little one goes very, very quiet. They are hurting you because I refuse to open my doors for them. They are hurting Melody Williams, who talks to me. They are hurting her.
"N-No," Melody spat.
—they want me to take them to the other Doctor, and I wouldn't open my doors because that I'm too young, I'm frightened of going between spaces, I'd disintegrate—
Jack did the same thing again, and Melody can't seem to stop screaming.
—all inside, and it wouldn't be just me, this whole world would disintegrate—
"How about now? Do you still say no now?"
At first she had been confused, when they'd brought Jack in, because Jack Harkness wouldn't hurt her.
Then she remembered that this wasn't her Jack. This was a Jack Harkness who had never left the Time Agency, a Jack Harkness without the Doctor. And at that moment Melody Williams knew the true inspiration for fear.
"I . . . say no . . ."
And the little singer was frantic. I couldn't let the world disintegrate—my John would be very unhappy—and he will rescue me next Tuesday, because he'll have finally found me by then—Melody Williams, YOU HANG ON. Two more minutes. We're coming. Well, I will be coming.
. . .
Melody Williams? Melody Williams, my John is coming for you, so you just hang on, okay? Melody Williams Melody Williams Melody Williams—
Anything else she might have said was drowned out by Melody Williams screaming.